The Broadway Spring 2019 Preview

Squips, Demons, And The Underworld: A Broadway Spring 2019 Preview

What's coming to Broadway this spring?

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Another season of brand-new musicals is set to begin in March 2019, leading up to the Tony Awards this June, to compete with shows that previously opened in the fall and winter. Here are the musicals set to open between these dates.

"Be More Chill" (March 10th, Lyceum Theatre).

"Be More Chill."

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Based on Ned Vizzini's 2004 graphic novel, Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz's musical tells the story of Jeremy Heere, a teenage outcast who gets an alien supercomputer (a "SQUIP") implanted in his brain to get his crush to notice him. The show originally premiered in 2015 in a small regional theatre in New Jersey. After a cast recording was released, the show was long-forgotten, until a recent resurgence on social media in 2017 by fans discovering the cast recording. The show was announced an Off-Broadway run the next year, running from August to September 2018, and was soon announced for a Broadway premiere.

This musical has made history, being re-mounted by fan culture, something that has never happened with corporate Broadway theatre. I am anxious to see how this plays out in the long run, as all shows on Broadway need to keep up with a certain profit margin to remain running. Of course, I am always gunning for the underdog, "Be More Chill" being an obvious favorite.

"Kiss Me, Kate" (March 14th, Studio 54).

Stars Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase.

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This revival of the 1948 musical written by Cole Porter and Samuel and Bella Spewack utilizes the "show within a show" concept, focusing on the offstage romances between characters performing in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." This production will perform a limited run and is set to close in June.

I have always been a fan of the star Kelli O'Hara, set to play the lead role Lilli Vanessi, and I am so glad to see her return to Broadway, with (hopefully) some rave reviews coming here way. This also marks the Broadway return of Corbin Bleu (yep, from "High School Musical"). He's recently found his niche in the golden age genre, recently appearing in "Holiday Inn" and "Singin' in the Rain." I can't wait to see what masterful work he'll be doing with this show!

"Ain't Too Proud" (March 21st, Imperial Theatre).

Cast of "Ain't Too Proud."

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This year's newest jukebox musical tells the story of the R&B band The Temptations, known for their songs such as "Cloud 9," "My Girl," and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." This show has played in various regional theatres starting in 2017 in Berkley, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Toronto before announcing its Broadway run mid-2018.

I have many opinions on jukebox musicals, but I have no doubt this show will be unbelievably well-done (fun fact: there will be two separate shows with the Temptations being portrayed in them… this and "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical").

"Oklahoma!" (April 7th, Circle in the Square Theatre).

Cast of "Oklahoma!".

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A newly reimagined version of the 1943 musical tells the story of the dual romance of farm girl Laurey Williams and her two suitors, Curly and Jud. This version of the show will be immersive and staged in a modern-day setting, originally being staged in St. Ann's Warehouse in 2018. A limited run is scheduled and the show is set to close in September.

Having done this show before, I can't wait to see the updates it'll be given in this recent revival. I'm a huge fan of the women in this show, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Mary Testa are both powerhouse singers, and the delightful Ali Stroker playing Ado Annie will be absolutely fantastic, and I am so glad to see her, a disabled actress, portraying a character that wasn't written to be disabled (Stroker is paralyzed from the waist down, and made history in 2015 as the first actor to appear on Broadway in a wheelchair).

"Hadestown" (April 17th, Walter Kerr Theatre).

Cast of "Hadestown."

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Based on a 2010 folk-rock concept album by Anais Mitchell in a retelling of ancient Greek myth "Orpheus and Eurydice," Hadestown has come from a successful run at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop, Canada's Citadel Theatre, and London's West End. The show is an immersive experience and directed by someone who is no stranger to the immersive theatre experience, Tony Award-nominated director of "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" Rachel Chavkin.

As a huge fan of "Comet," I am so excited to see what Chavkin can do next. "Hadestown" has already gotten rave reviews, and this will be a hopeful long-awaited Tony win for this unbelievable director.

"Tootsie" (April 23rd, Marquis Theatre).

"Tootsie."

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Based on the 1982 film starring Dustin Hoffman with a new book by Robert Horn and a score by David Yazbek (who won big at last year's Tony Awards for "The Band's Visit"), Tootsie tells the story of a male actor who masquerades as a woman to land a job. The show hailed a successful pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre in late 2018 and has been updated to take place on a Broadway stage instead of the soap opera that was used in the film.

Santino Fontana, portraying the title character, is an actor who has been able to blend himself into a variety of roles. I am so excited to see what Fontana can achieve with "Tootsie," with hopefully a Tony statue looming in the distance for this fantastic actor.

"Beetlejuice" (April 25th, Winter Garden Theatre).

Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso in "Beetlejuice."

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The final show of the 2018-19 Broadway season will be the musical adaptation of the 1988 film starring Michael Keaton as a demon to help a recently deceased couple with the home they inhabit. Music is written by Australian musician-comedian Eddie Perfect.

Alex Brightman, portraying Beetlejuice himself, is the perfect choice for this part. Previously seen on Broadway in "School of Rock," Brightman is a comedic actor with the chops that can easily push him forward as a frontrunner in this year's Tony race.

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Top 10 Most Overrated Musicals

Do you agree?
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What makes something overrated? If you google "Overrated" it will spit out "have a higher opinion of (someone or something) than is deserved." This is 100% true, in the theatre world it means something that's so well liked and talked about nonstop that doesn't need to be talked about as much as it is. This was taken as a survey on the All Things Broadway Facebook page and when stated a musical was asked to give an answer. This is my personal list with a mix of my responses and theirs. To be clear just because it is overrated doesn't mean it is bad or that I dislike the musical. Now here we go with what I think are the Top 10 Most Overrated Musicals

10. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

The 2014 Tony Award Musical that lasted for 905 performances on Broadway. This musical made the list simply because it won the Tony award over what I believe was better, even thought this show was very original, Aladdin or Beautiful. The story of the whole thing was decent, the musical wasn't catchy, didn't walk out of the theatre singing the songs.

9. Grease

The 1972 Tony Award Nominee has been done multiple times whether it be on Broadway, Regional theatre, tours, High Schools, and even on TV. This show made the list not just for how often it is done because of how the story ends and the message it leaves behind. The story falls short, a rushed end as the character arcs fall short and the message that you should change for the person you love.

8. Lion King

The 1998 Tony Award winning musical has been open on Broadway for around 19 years, and has played 7,849 performances as of September 4th 2016. This show was been open since forever and it is okay, yet is very unique with the puppets but it is an okay show. But it still has a ton of hype of this musical and it has been open for 19 years, and still brings in the big bucks for Broadway.

7. Les Miserables

The 1987 Tony Award winning musical has been done numerous amounts of time just like Grease. Besides it being done reivial after revival it is a great piece of musical theatre but the hype that the show gets is what makes it keep coming back. The show it's self doesn't need any hype because it is truly great, rather give lesser shows some hype.

6. RENT

The ground breaking Tony Award winning musical was something else when it first came out. Yet it is very overrated, for instance have you seen there rush lines and lotto lines it was basically the Hamilton of 1996. It has not many catchy songs that people leave singing and it is about multiple story lines which for a not so smart audience member won't be able to focus and will end up being not an engaging piece.

5. Chicago

You defiantly had this Tony Award Winning revival of a musical on the list. As when asked people to say why they thought Chicago was overrated someone said "If you want to dance sexy and 'naked' go find a pole. It's time to bring that one back to period dress". Which is interesting because that's what makes Chicago what it is yet that is why it is the Longest Running Musical and it has been open since forever.

4. Wicked

This is one of those shows that was hard to put on the list because of all the conservatory this one had. But at the end of the day Wicked has a good story but it is not the spectacular musical everyone thought it was. It gets so much hype and it has been open since 2003.

3. Phantom of the Opera


This is one of those shows that is full of reprises for most of the show, same consent theme of music if that makes any sense. This show as been open since 1988 and is declared the longest running show on Broadway which gives it a ton of hype. Phantom is "old" but not really fresh with the music type and effects and the show in general. But to me it is one of my guilty pleasures to see.

2. Cats

Cats is very hard to write about because of family connection to the show but it is very overrated. It is people in leotards pretending to be cats and they sing and dance. There is not really a great story in the musical. It is a tourist show for fluffy entertainment.

1. HAMILTON



There is nothing to say to this. But it's Hamilton ..... but I am not paying almost 1,000 dollars to 10,000 dollars to see theater, sorry Lin!

Yours Truly,

David Heguy




Cover Image Credit: Nashville Parent

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'The Jonathan Larson Project': A Tribute For An Artist Gone Too Soon

No day but today.

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I first listened to Jonathan Larson's magnum opus piece, "Rent," when I was fourteen years old. I was a mini-Broadway fan at the time, slowly discovering musicals that I knew meant a lot to other fans. As someone who had only previously listened to strictly rock musicals or the standard musical theatre style, "Rent" was a show that had blended both genres. When I finally finished listening to the show, I was hungry for more. I turned to the internet looking for more shows from this composer, Jonathan Larson.

I knew that "Rent" was Larson's first major show, written in 1996, so I expected to fall through a rabbit hole of eighteen years worth of musicals, each one better than the one before it. I expected to find interviews of Larson on YouTube, talking of his early days as a struggling composer but now having countless Tony Awards, a modern-day Sondheim. But when I typed in his name, I only found two musicals listed, "Rent" and "tick...tick...BOOM!" the latter being a posthumous, off-broadway release.

The morning of "Rent"'s first off-broadway preview performance on January 25th, 1996, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at 35-years-old. He never got to see his show go onto a successful Broadway run (12 years to be exact, and the eleventh longest-running Broadway show of all time), win four Tony awards (including best musical), and receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (one of only nine musicals to ever receive the honor in the Pulitzer Prize's almost one hundred year history). His previously written one-man show "tick...tick...BOOM!" was rewritten and was given an off-broadway run in 2001.

As a young teenager, this was shocking to me, as it had just dawned on me that you could work your whole life toward a certain goal, and never see it come to fruition. In "Rent," the character Roger sings of his "One Song Glory," and unbeknownst to Larson, he was writing his own. "Rent" remains one of my favorite musicals, even after spending almost six years listening to, what feels like at this point, a hundred different shows. This show spoke for a whole generation, and with it's genius score paired with Larson's story, it has always stuck with me.

It's now 2019. "Rent" premiered twenty-three years ago. Larson, if he were still alive, would be 59. And this year, he came out with a brand new album.

Theatre historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper produced and directed a concert, and later this album, titled "The Jonathan Larson Project." The songs that are included a range from cut songs from "Rent" to music that was written, but never recorded or performed. As I sit here, currently listening to this album, I wonder if Larson was planning another show, some of these songs to be included.

The songs received new orchestrations, and five young, well-known musical theatre actors bring them to life. Krysta Rodriguez, one whose voice I can only describe as a force of nature, shines in her solo pieces, most notably "Out of My Dreams." Andy Mientus' contemporary alternative voice fits so well in "Valentine's Day" (a song that was in a few early versions of "Rent") and "SOS." Three newer actors on my radar, George Salazar, Nick Blaemire, and Lauren Marcus have all blown me away with their performances as well, most notably Salazar's powerful "Iron Mike," Blaemire's bittersweet "One of These Days," and Marcus' hilarious "Hosing the Furniture."

I have to give it to Tepper to putting this all together, and I am so happy that this album can open the floodgates to young theatre fans like I was, discovering Larson's genius.

In the final track, "Piano," you can hear Larson performing a demo of the song before it fades into the modern-day, as if Larson was there, performing with them. Through his artistry, he lives on and will continue to live on years after his death, having left a mark on the world.

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