Spring Theater Preview: Navigating a Flood of Shows on Broadway and Off

Between now and the end of April a whopping 18 plays and musicals will open on the Great White Way. Here's the best of what's coming, both on and Off Broadway.

Clockwise from top: Eddie Redmayne in Cabaret, Adam Best and Nicole Cooper in Macbeth (an undoing), Ali Louis Bourzgui in The Who’s Tommy, and Sarah Pidgeon and Juliana Canfield in Stereophonic. Mason-Poole; Stuart Armitt; Liz Lauren; Chelcie Parry

Broadway’s spring forecast: Traffic Delays Ahead. Between now and end of April (cutoff time for Tony Award eligibility) a whopping 18 shows will open on the Great White Way. Unless you’re a critic and Tony voter (guilty!) or an independently wealthy theater addict, that’s too darn many plays and musicals. And yet we’ll see ’em all, grateful that New York theater has so much talent—and faith that an audience exists for everything. Below you’ll find a cherry-picked dozen, less than half of the upcoming Broadway avalanche, plus a few choice Off Broadway items, since we can’t let Tony fever suck all the oxygen out of the room.

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Michael R Jackson and Anna K Jacobs Photo courtesy of Playwrights Horizons

Teeth at Playwrights Horizons (playing through April 14)

Based on the 2007 horror-comedy about an evangelical Christian teen with a fang in her thang (we’re talking vagina dentata), this buzzy new musical has lyrics by Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop) and music by Anna K. Jacobs. The savvy stylist Sarah Benson directs. Playwrights Horizons has been on a tear recently (transferring Stereophonic to Broadway, below), so better get a ticket before they’re all, um, chewed up.

Sam Gold, Michael Imperioli, Jeremy Strong, and Amy Herzog. Emilio Madrid

An Enemy of the People at Circle in the Square Theatre (in previews; opens March 18)

Fresh off of playing an ambitious weasel with zero principals, Jeremy Strong (Succession) portrays a man who gives up everything for the truth. Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 social drama is about a doctor who declares the water of his spa town contaminated, threatening the local economy. Sam Gold directs this revival, with a translation by his wife, Amy Herzog—who had a hit last season with another streamlined Ibsen, A Doll’s House.

Ali Louis Bourzgui (center) in The Who’s Tommy. Liz Lauren

The Who’s Tommy at the Nederlander Theatre (previews start March 8; opens March 28)

Back in 1993, when rock wasn’t as common on Broadway as it is in our jukebox present, Tommy was a crossover hit, marrying Pete Townsend’s legendary fable of childhood trauma and religious zeal with stage spectacle and dance. Now director Des McAnuff is back with a spruced up, multimedia revival that got raves out of town in Chicago. Reportedly, Ali Louis Bourzgui makes an awesome pinball messiah.

The company of The Outsiders. Miller Mobley

The Outsiders at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (previews start March 16; opens Apr 11)

In case you thought West Side Story was the only Broadway musical about gang warfare, here comes an adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s novel about rival rumble fish in Tulsa, Oklahoma circa 1967. Featuring music and lyrics by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance (from the band Jamestown Revival) and Justin Levine (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), the score borrows from folk, rock and bluegrass. Seasoned playwright Adam Rapp (The Sound Inside) does the book, focusing on the tender and violent bonds between young men.

The company of Suffs. Jenny Anderson

Suffs at the Music Box Theatre (previews start March 26; opens April 18)

After a promising run two years ago at the Public Theater, Shaina Taub’s stirring feminist musical comes to Broadway. (It’s possible that having Hillary Clinton as one of the producers eased the transfer.) The title is short for “suffragettes” and the subject is indeed about the women who worked tirelessly to get their gender the right to vote. The talented Taub follows in Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s footsteps by juggling not only book, music, and lyrics, but starring as the plucky hero, Alice Paul.

Suzan-Lori Parks Tammy Shell

Sally & Tom at the Public Theater (March 28–April 28)

A theater couple running a struggling company puts on a new drama about the 30-year relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson—with them taking the principal roles. Art may or may not imitate life in Suzan-Lori Parks’s race-forward dramedy about the politics of theater, the rewriting of history, and how empathy is the only way forward. Director Steve H. Broadnax III remounts his production, first tested two years ago in Minneapolis.

Eddie Redmayne Mason-Poole

Cabaret at the August Wilson Theatre (previews start April 1; opens April 21)

For some reason, London has been best at reviving Kander & Ebb’s smashing 1966 musical about decadent Berlin before Hitler came to power. In 1998 Sam Mendes’s bleaker, queerer take (originally staged at the Donmar Warehouse) made a star of Alan Cumming. Now comes another West End transfer, with Eddie Redmayne as the slinky Emcee and Gayle Rankin as doomed chanteuse Sally Bowles. Director Rebecca Frecknall’s big concept? Immersive queer club culture. Audience members are greeted by a group of dancers and musicians whose clothing spans the decades from Weimar Germany to today. Care for a glass of schnapps?

Jessica Lange. Courtesy of Second Stage Theatre

Mother Play at the Hayes Theater (previews start April 2; opens April 25)

Paula Vogel’s newest work in nearly a decade opens at Second Stage Theatre’s Broadway venue. With its triangulated family—mother, son, and daughter—there’s a whiff of Glass Menagerie about Mother Play. Set in 1962, it concerns a strong-willed, gin-swilling matriarch (played by Jessica Lange) dispensing advice about how to succeed to her teenage children (Jim Parsons and Celia Keenan-Bolger). Expect much breaking of the fourth wall. 

Steve Carell Alex Berliner/ABImages

Uncle Vanya at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (previews start April 2; opens April 24)

Chekhov is sublime but generally not the hottest ticket in town. That may change when film and TV star Steve Carell hits the stage as a depressed, horny, middle-aged loser who realizes too late that he wasted his life. The immensely gifted Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me) has translated the melancholy Russian classic for Carell and a jaw-dropping ensemble (William Jackson Harper! Alfred Molina! Anika Noni Rose!) at Lincoln Center Theater. 

Sarah Pidgeon, Juliana Canfield, and Tom Pecinka in Stereophonic. Chelcie Parry

Stereophonic at the John Golden Theatre (previews start April 3; opens April 19)

David Adjmi’s play is marvelous fly-on-the-wall theater. The wall in question is a Sausalito recording studio in 1976. An Anglo-American rock band (faintly resembling Fleetwood Mac) is slogging through meltdowns and blowups to record a seminal record. Is Stereophonic a minutely re-created retro homage? A celebration of music-making craft? All that and more: two discs and liner notes that blow your mind. Groovy tunes by Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, meticulous design, and perfect cast make three hours too short. 

Adam Best and Nicole Cooper in Macbeth (an undoing). Stuart Armitt

Macbeth (an undoing) at Theatre for a New Audience (April 5–May 4)

Note the subtitle of this London import, an adaptation by Zinnie Harris. Shakespeare’s familiar lines for the “Scottish Play” alternate with Harris’s contemporary dialogue, giving a feminist spin to the witchy tragedy of ambition, loyalty, and conscience from the POV of Lady M (Nicole Cooper). Harris’s characters break character to address the audience, summon stagehands for props, and generally upend our expectations in pursuit of an alternative story about women and power in bloody times. 

Dave Malloy Rebecca Greenfield

Three Houses at the Signature Theatre Company (April 30–June 9)

One of our most gifted musical-theater writers today, Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) provides book, music and lyrics for this “post-pandemic open mic night parable” set simultaneously in Latvia, New Mexico, and Ireland. Three isolated individuals bond over the ghosts of grandparents and the fear of a Big Bad Wolf lurking outside their door. Annie Tippe stages the world premiere at the Signature. 

Spring Theater Preview: Navigating a Flood of Shows on Broadway and Off