Thursday, November 11, 2021

B'way Update: Billy Crystal and Audra McDonald Return to the Stage

Billy Crystal and Audra McDonald will return to Broadway after long absences. Crystal will star in and co-author Mr. Saturday Night, a new musical based on the 1992 film comedy in which he played Buddy Young, a once famous TV comedian looking for a comeback in his old age. The musical, featuring music by Jason Robert Brown, lyrics by Amanda Greene and a book by Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel (who also collaborated on the screenplay) will begin previews at the Nederlander Theater on March 1 with an opening on March 31. David Paymer will recreate his Oscar-nominated role as Buddy's brother and manager. Also starring will be Tony winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Fiddler on the Roof) and Chasten Harmon (The Good Fight, Elementary). Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown) directs. The show recently had a presentation at the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts.
Crystal last appeared on Broadway in his self-written Tony-winning solo show 700 Sundays which he premiered in 2004 and had a return engagement in 2013.

“Creating and portraying the 75-year-old comedian Buddy Young Jr. in the film of Mr. Saturday Night was one of the highlights of my career – 30 years ago I needed 5 hours of make-up to play him, now I just show up," Crystal said in a statement.  

Audra McDonald
McDonald will be headlining a Broadway production of Adrienne Kennedy's The Ohio State Murders, first presented in 1992 at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival. The 75-minute play is about an African-American writer who returns to her alma mater, Ohio State University, to give a talk on violence in her work. This will mark the Broadway debut of Kennedy, 90, who has had several works presented Off-Broadway and is considered one of the leading playwrights of the avant-garde. Her plays such as Funnyhouse of a Negro, A Rat's Mass, Sleep Deprivation Chamber, A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White, and June and Jean in Concert have won international acclaim and Obie Awards. Her plays are non-linear, dream-like and unconventional. The production will be staged by Kenny Leon who directed a streamed version of the play with McDonald and directed her to one of her six Tonys in A Raisin in the Sun in 2004. She last appeared on Broadway in 2019 in Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. No dates or further casting have been announced yet.

In other news: Chicken and Biscuits had to cancel three performances (Nov. 9-11) due to COVID-19 breakthrough cases in the company. The cancellations have been extended to Nov. 19 and, as a result, the producers announced the show would be closing on Nov. 28 instead of the originally planned Jan. 2. Is This A Room and Dana H. had also announced they were closing earlier than expected at the Lyceum, but there was a sudden surge at the box office and the two one-acts running in repertory will now play through Nov. 28 and 29 respectively.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule
Nov. 12--Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)
Nov. 14--Assassins (CSC)
Nov. 15--Jersey Boys (New World Stages); Morning's at Seven (St. Clements)
Nov. 17--Diana (Longacre); Cullud Wattah (Public)
Nov. 18--Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)
Nov. 22--Clyde's (Second Stage/Hayes); A Sherlock Carol (New World Stages)
Dec. 2--Slave Play (August Wilson)
Dec. 5--Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)
Dec. 8--Kimberly Akimbo (Atlantic Theater Company); Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons)
Dec. 9--Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)
Dec. 11--Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)
Dec. 13--Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
Jan. 12, 2022--Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 27--Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Feb. 1--MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)
Feb. 3--English (Atlantic Theater Company); Sandblasted (Vineyard)
Feb. 5--The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)
Feb. 10--The Music Man (Winter Garden)
Feb. 14--Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)
Feb. 22--Black No More (The New Group)
March 20--Paradise Square (Barrymore)
March 28--Plaza Suite (Hudson)
March 31--Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)
April 4--Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)
April 7--The Minutes (Studio 54)
April 8--Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)
April 10--Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)
April 13--Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)
April 14--American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)
April 19--How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
April 23--Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)
April 24--Funny Girl (August Wilson)
April 25--The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)
April 28--Macbeth (Lyceum)
April 30--The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)
May 17--Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Fall 2022
1776 (Roundabout/AA)
Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Dancin', Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond
Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future--Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; The Who's Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:
New Plays
Birthday Candles
Chicken and Biscuits
Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)
Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Minutes
Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)
Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)
Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals
American Buffalo
How I Learned to Drive
Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)
Plaza Suite
The Skin of Our Teeth
Slave Play (return engagement)
Take Me Out
Trouble in Mind

New Musicals
Flying Over Sunset
Mr. Saturday Night
Mrs. Doubtfire
Paradise Square

Musical Revivals
Beetlejuice (return engagement)
Caroline or Change
Funny Girl 
Waitress (return engagement)

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)
David Bryne's American Utopia (return engagement)
Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

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