Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Part 1: The Plays

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy New Year and what an exciting year 2016 is turning out to be on the Great White Way! As we steamroll on with the second half of the 2015-2016 season, it is undeniable that the plays on off this Spring will cater to a wide variety of tastes. We have everything from transfers of successful off-Broadway productions, star vehicles, new engaging writing, to re-imagined classics, and even a one-man comedy tour de force.


The first official opening night of 2016 on Broadway has already taken place with last Thursday, 14 January's opening of the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Michael Frayn's classic play-within-a-play farce NOISES OFF. Directed by Tony nominee Jeremy Herrin, the comedy ensues (with an onslaught of slamming doors and sardines) as a group of semi-professional actors in England try to put on a farce by the name of 'Nothing On,' whilst their lives backstage (and most of the set) are falling apart bit by bit. With a stellar cast, which includes Broadway favourite and two-time Tony winner Andrea Martin, "Smash" alum Megan Hilty and Tony nominee Rob McClure, this is a must for all those addicted to laugh-out-loud pandemonium and slapstick physical comedy.

Click HERE for tickets to NOISES OFF!

Switching gears, the second Broadway opening of the year takes place tomorrow, 20 January, at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman with a star vehicle that sees Broadway veteran and Tony winner Linda Lavin return to the stage in a family drama, which promises to be a thoroughly thought-provoking piece. OUR MOTHER'S BRIEF AFFAIR centers on the revelations of matriarch Anna on the verge of death. She describes a past love affair that may shake the foundations of her family unit, but do her words dwell in the realm of fact or fiction? There's only one way to find out - get yourselves down to MTC's Samuel J. Friedman!

Click HERE for tickets to OUR MOTHER'S BRIEF AFFAIR!

It has been a great season off-Broadway so far and one of the stand-out hits has been the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of THE HUMANS. Stephen Karam's harrowing drama has already completed an extended run at the Laura Pels Theatre and has rightfully earned its place on the Great White Way. Previews begin at the Helen Hays Theatre this Saturday, 23 January, with an official opening scheduled for 18 February 2016. Acclaimed two-time Tony-winning director Joe Mantello is at the helm of this exposing piece of new American writing. With just a touch of the supernatural, the anxieties of a modern, middle class American family are explored over the course of a Thanksgiving dinner in an apartment in lower Manhattan. Stephen Karam is truly one of the country's most promising, up and coming playwrights.

Click HERE for tickets to THE HUMANS!


It's always a surprisingly refreshing experience seeing a well-known comedy actor taking on a serious, dramatic role. Recent examples I can recall include Steve Carrell and Jim Carey. Broadway will offer a similar opportunity this Spring as Tony nominee and four-time Golden Globe nominee Jeff Daniels returns to the stage to star alongside three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams in David Harrower's psychological drama BLACKBIRD. Previews begin at the Belasco Theatre on 5 February, before an official opening on 10 March 2016. Daniels and Williams had impressive Broadway outings in 'God of Carnage' and 'Cabaret,' respectively, and it will be interesting to see how their onstage chemistry fares. The play examines the relationship between a middle-aged man and a now 27 year old woman, 15 years after a past illegal sexual affair.

Click HERE for tickets to BLACKBIRD!

Another star vehicle sees the acclaimed Michael Grandage Company, who recently produced 'Photograph 51' in the West End with Nicole Kidman, bring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker to the stage in his Broadway debut. The acclaimed actor will star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's HUGHIE at the Booth Theatre. Previews begin on 8 February, before an official opening on 25 February 2016. The 1964 play was last performed on Broadway in 1996 with Al Pacino in the lead role of Erie Smith and it will be interesting to see how director Michael Grandage re-imagines the play with Whitaker in the role. The two-hander revolves around the conversations in a hotel lobby in 1928 between a new night clerk and a heavy-drinking guest, who faces his inner demons over the course of the play. Be sure to secure a ticket to see this great actor in his very first Broadway outing!

Click HERE for tickets to HUGHIE!

And if one Oscar-winning actor making a Broadway debut isn't enough for you, then how about another helping? Ever since her Academy Award-winning performance in "12 Years A Slave," Lupita Nyong'o has been the talk of tinsel town. After receiving rave reviews at the Public Theater this season, she may well be the toast of Broadway too, as Danai Gurira's resilient drama ECLIPSED transfers to the Golden Theatre from 23 February 2016 (with an official opening on 6 March). Directed by South African-born Liesl Tommy, the play explores the relationships between five female characters during social and political unrest in their homeland of Liberia. The limited run, starring the hugely in-demand Nyong'o, ends on 19 June 2016.

Click HERE for tickets to ECLIPSED!


What season would be complete without a dose of Arthur Miller? Indeed we are luck enough to experience not one but two Broadway offerings of the acclaimed playwright this season and both brought to us by the highly stylised workings of Belgian director Ivo van Hove. As A View from the Bridge plays its final performance on 21 February, a mere eight days later on 29 February, the first Broadway preview of THE CRUCIBLE will bow at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Opening night is set for 7 April 2016. The classic 1953 tale revolving around the Salem witch trials of the 1690s famously symbolises the hysteria and spread of McCarthyism, so prevalent in 50's American society - the era when Miller wrote it. For this revival, Broadway imports two British heavyweights of the theatre - Tony winner Sophie Okonedo and Olivier and BAFTA nominee Ben Whishaw, who is yet another star making his Broadway debut this season.

Click HERE for tickets to THE CRUCIBLE!

Manhattan Theatre Club's next offering at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre brings Broadway veteran and three-time Tony winner Frank Langella back to the stage in Florian Zeller's disturbing drama THE FATHER (translated by Christopher Hampton). Having already played at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre last year with a return engagement at the Duke of York's Theatre set to begin on 24 February, the play is gathering quite some momentum before it hits Broadway on 22 March (with an opening night on 12 April 2016). Langella will take on the central character of Andre, who is battling with Alzheimer's. The play cleverly attempts to put the audience in the same state of confusion as its main character, perhaps offering a unique and moving insight into the world as seen through the eyes of someone suffering with dementia. This is an important piece about a topic, which deserves much higher priority in today's society.

Click HERE for tickets to THE FATHER!


If you prefer your plays a little more light-hearted then how about catching Broadway favourite and five-time Emmy nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson in a zany, one-man comedy FULLY COMMITTED? Becky Mode's play, which begins previews at the Lyceum Theatre on 2 April, before a 25 April 2016 opening, revolves around Sam, a guy who mans the reservations line at one of New York's trendiest restaurants. Ferguson takes on the lead role and every single other role in the script, playing all the callers who will stop at nothing to get a table reserved. Threats, bribes and a whole lot of name-dropping and even more hilarity ensues.

Click HERE for tickets to FULLY COMMITTED!

Lastly, the Roundabout Theatre Company brings us our second Spring helping of Eugene O'Neill. The time, make way for the Tyrone family in LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, which begins previews at the American Airlines Theatre on 31 March, before a 27 April opening night. Directed by Jonathan Kent, the cast includes the phenomenally talented two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange and equally talented Oscar nominee Michael Shannon. The tale of the Tyrone family, who uncover a lifetime of family secrets over the course of an ordinary Summer's day, is sure to be an acting masterclass!


So, there's our brief rundown of what to expect on Broadway this Spring, if you prefer your theatre without the tap dancing interludes or jazz hand choreographies. With all tastes catered to, there surely is a play amongst those for you?


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