Broadway’s 2018-2019 season is offering an eclectic mix of plays and musicals that continue the growing trend of productions adapted from movies, TV shows or previously published works; jukebox musicals that are based on the hit songs of an artist; and revivals starring actors and actresses who are best known for their roles in movies or TV. There is also the expected array of U.K. imports and original U.S. plays and musicals. All of them will be competing for nominations at the 73rd annual Tony Awards, which will take place in New York City on June 9, 2019. (Preview and opening dates are subject to change.)
Here’s a roundup of some of these productions:
WHEN: Previews begin Nov. 1. The opening date is Dec. 13.
WHERE: Shubert Theatre
PLOT SUMMARY: Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her older brother Jeremy, nicknamed Jem, are raised in 1930s Alabama by their widower father Atticus Finch, an attorney who defends an African-American man who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. The court case and a mysterious neighbor named Arthur “Boo” Radley have profound effects on the Finch family.
STAR POWER: Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch leads the cast of the first Broadway adaption of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1960 novel, which was also made into an Oscar-winning 1962 film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The play’s book was written by Aaron Sorkin, who won an Oscar for “The Social Network” and five Emmys for writing and executive producing “The West Wing.” Tony-winning “South Pacific” director Bartlett Sher is directing, and multiple Tony winner Scott Rudin is among the producers. The cast of the “To Kill a Mockingbird” play also includes Celia Keenan-Bolger as Scout Finch; Will Pullen as Jem Finch; and Gideon Glick as Dill, a friend of the Finches.
THE BUZZ: Expectations are understandably very high for this play because of the novel’s status as classic American literature and because of the award-winning track record of Sorkin, Rudin and Sher. It would be shocking if “To Kill a Mockingbird” did not get any Tony nominations.
WHEN: Previews begin Oct. 5. The opening date is Nov. 8.
WHERE: Broadway Theatre
PLOT SUMMARY: Film director Carl Denham tricks actress Ann Darrow and several other people into making an exotic jungle movie on Skull Island, where Denham knows that a giant ape creature lives named Kong. Ann becomes a damsel in distress when she is abducted by Kong, and the beauty and the beast form an unexpected bond with each other. The original 1933 “King Kong” film, which is considered a classic thriller, had a 2005 remake from “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker Peter Jackson. The “King Kong” stage musical debuted in Australia in 2013.
STAR POWER: In the Broadway version of “King Kong,” Christiani Pitts plays Ann Darrow, and Eric William Morris is Carl Denham, but the real star is the 20-foot-tall animatronic puppet that serves as the Kong character.
THE BUZZ: The “King Kong” musical was written by Jack Thorne (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”), and has a score by “La La Land” and “Moulin Rouge!” music producer Marius de Vries and songs by “Beetlejuice” musical composer Eddie Perfect. Reviews were mixed for the Australian production, with critics saying that while the music and storyline are mediocre, the production design and lighting design are the best things about “King Kong,” which has “sheer spectacle” written all over it.
“The Lifespan of a Fact”
WHEN: Previews begin Sept. 20. The opening date is Oct. 18.
WHERE: Studio 54
PLOT SUMMARY: Based on John D’Agata and Jim Fingal’s 2012 essay/book of the same name, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” directed by Leigh Silverman, is about a fact checker who must write an essay about the Las Vegas suicide of teenager Levi Presley.
STAR POWER: Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale lead the cast.
THE BUZZ: Radcliffe, multiple Tony winner Jones and Cannavale have all had critically acclaimed, award-winning performances on stage and on screen. Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell wrote the play, which will have its world premiere on Broadway. With no previous performances as a comparison, it’s anyone’s guess how well this play will do, but the talented cast will likely be the play’s main attraction.
WHEN: Previews began July 20. The opening date is Aug. 16.
WHERE: Nederlander Theatre
PLOT SUMMARY: Based on the 1990 hit comedy film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, “Pretty Woman The Musical” tells the story of a romance between a lovably sassy prostitute and a wealthy businessman who is one of her clients.
STAR POWER: The late Garry Marshall, who directed the “Pretty Woman” movie, co-wrote the musical’s book with J.F. Lawton, who wrote the “Pretty Woman” screenplay. Grammy winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance co-wrote the musical’s score. Tony nominee Andy Karl and Samantha Barks play the roles originated by Gere and Roberts.
THE BUZZ: “Pretty Woman: The Musical” first came to Chicago in March. Most reviews of the show’s Chicago production noted that it was solid entertainment that should please fans of the movie, with Barks as a standout in the musical’s cast.
These adaptations are also expected to be on Broadway in the 2018-2019 season, although dates and locations have not been officially announced yet:
“Beetlejuice”—Tim Burton’s 1988 comedy film, about an angsty teen named Lydia Deetz and a wacky ghost named Betelgeuse, has been turned into a stage musical that will have its world premiere in October in Washington, D.C., before its expected transfer to Broadway. Alex Timbers is directing the show, whose score was written by Eddie Perfect and book was written by Anthony King and Scott Brown. The show’s cast is to be announced.
“Moulin Rouge!”—Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo star in the roles originated by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's 2001 musical film, which is about a star-crossed romance between a writer named Christian and a courtesan/cabaret performer named Satine in 1890s Paris. Alex Timbers is directing the stage version of “Moulin Rouge!,” which debuted in Boston in August, and has been getting rave reviews. Tony-winning "Red" writer John Logan wrote the "Moulin Rouge!" book.
“Tootsie”—Tony nominee Santino Fontana stars in the dual role of Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels, originally played by Dustin Hoffman in the Sydney Pollack-directed 1982 comedy film, which was nominated for 10 Oscars. The “Tootsie” stage musical will debut in Chicago in September, and stay there for a month before heading to Broadway. Tony-winning “The Band’s Visit” composer David Yazbek wrote the score, Robert Horn wrote the book, and Scott Ellis is the director.