When it comes to star power, the cineplex has got nothing on Broadway this spring. Let’s start with 33 Variations, the new play by Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project) that brings Jane Fonda back to the stage after 46 years, God bless her. In it, Ms. Fonda plays an academic who’s obsessed with Beethoven’s 33 Variations, and who is also in the early stages of illness; Colin Hanks (son of Tom, see p. 15) plays her male nurse. We hear sparks fly between Mr. Hanks and ’90s screen queen Samantha Mathis, who plays Ms. Fonda’s daughter (March 9).
If you’re in the mood to catch another grand dame, try the revival of Noël Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit, starring the ever-delightful Angela Lansbury as a medium who accidentally summons the dead first wife of a man (Rupert Everett, he of My Best Friend’s Wedding) who’s just been remarried. If it weren’t already the name of a best-selling book on the C.I.A., Ghost Wars would be a suitable new name for this play (March 15).
Sopranos fans, take note: March 22 is your day. Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, starring James Gandolfini, opens at the Jacobs theater. The play, about two married couples who end up ripping each other to shreds after their children get into a fight at school, also stars stage favorite Jeff Daniels, the underappreciated Hope Davis and eternally stunning Marcia Gay Harden. Even in a recession, expect this to sell out fast.
And if you need more screen gems on your stage: Tony Award winners Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons star in Impressionism, about an international photojournalist and a New York gallery owner who find each other and, possibly, love (March 12). Meanwhile, New York’s own Susan Sarandon and the Marquis de Sade himself, Geoffrey Rush, star in the comedy Exit the King, in which Ms. Sarandon plays a queen trying to save her kingdom as her husband, Mr. Rush, lies on his deathbed (March 26). On April 26, Matthew (Mr. S.J.P.) Broderick will open The Philanthropist, about a bougie college professor whose life is falling apart.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, the second play of August Wilson’s Century Cycle, covering the African-American experience during the 1910s, opens on April 16 at the Belasco Theatre. And later that month, theater giants Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin star in the play that needs no introduction, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, at Studio 54 (April 30).
Wondering about musicals? Here are three promising choices: a revival of West Side Story at the Palace Theatre (March 19); Happiness, not based on the Todd Solondz movie but about a motley crew of New Yorkers trapped on a subway train; and 9 to 5: The Musical, based on the ’80s film that starred Ms. Fonda (April 30), now with Allison Janney. If that’s not something to sing about, we don’t know what is.