Five Actresses I Can’t Wait to See on Broadway This Season
It’s a wildly exciting season this year. And it is just getting started, but the standouts for me are all the talented women who are coming to Broadway this theatrical season. Most are coming in plays surprisingly, and not so much in musicals. Last season the picks for the Tony Award nominations for best actress in both plays (Jessica Lange*, Laurie Metcalf, Lupita Nyong’o, Sophie Okonedo, and Michelle Williams) and musicals (Laura Benanti, Carmen Cusack, Cynthia Erivo*, Jessie Mueller, and Phillipa Soo) was chock full of super amazing ladies but this year it might be a bit more difficult to fill up the slots, especially in the musical category. (I’d say the same about the musical revival categories in general this season, but that will be another list at another time.)
Of the five actresses on my list, only Bette Midler is headlining a Broadway musical, Hello Dolly! -if you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole would have made my list naturally, as they are appearing in War Paint at the Nederlander Theatre in early April, but I am fortunate to say that I’ve already seen the show in Chicago (https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2016/08/10/war-paint-expertly-applied/). So they are on my ‘already seen’ list, as is Mary Louise Parker, who I saw off and on Broadway in the spectacular Heisenberg last season and last month, happily (https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2016/10/13/heisenberg/). So here’s my list, and let the games begin:
1/ Cate Blanchett/The Present
Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Opening night Jan 8th
2/ Bette Midler/Hello Dolly!
Shubert Theatre, Opening night Apr 20th
3/ Janet McTeer/Les Liaison Dangereuses
Booth Theatre, Opening night Oct 30th
4/ Laurie Metcalf/A Doll House Part 2
Golden Theatre, Apr 27th
5/ Laura Linney & Cynthia Nixon/The Little Foxes
MTC Theatre, Opening night Apr 19th
Ok, so it’s really six, but I couldn’t see how I could separate Linney and Nixon, as I don’t know which I’m more excited to see. I’ve never seen the play, The Little Foxes, so they both get to be my number 5. I’ve seen and loved Linney in so many productions: 2011’s Time Stands Still and 2004’s Sight Unseen, to name only two, and have always loved her simple detailed excellence. Same with Nixon, seen in 2012’s Wit and 2006’s Rabbit Hole. Both tore my heart to shreds.
Metcalf was the best thing in so many plays over the years (The Other Place), even the widely misguided Misery, but A Doll House Part 2 sounds so intriguing, and she is by far one of the most unique and surprising actress around. I can’t wait to see what this will be all about.
McTeer, who I first saw in The Doll House (we might have to star calling it Part 1 if Metcalf has a success) is bringing this classic from London’s Donmar Warehouse dragging some amazing reviews with her, so we shall see how she does with her new leading man. Word on the street is less then ecstatic but I will hold my opinion until I see it in a few weeks. I’m crossing my fingers, but I have a feeling if the show doesn’t live up to the hype, it will not be because of McTeer.
Bette Midler is my second on the list, and I’m sure for many she would be number one. Because of her name above the title, Hello Dolly! supposedly broke records at the box office the day the tickets went on sale, and no wonder. She is a capital D diva, and a force to be reckoned with. Last seen on Broadway (although sadly, not by me) in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, Midler failed to get the nominations many thought she deserved. This time I doubt she will have any problems.
This is Cate Blanchett’s Broadway debut, if you can believe it. Wowing us off-broadway at the City Center and at BAM in The Maids (2014), Streetcar Named Desire (2009), Uncle Vanya (2012), and Hedda Gabler (2006), she is no stranger to the New York stage, but from my understanding, her desire to always bring her Sydney Theatre Company shows fully intact didn’t permit her to stage them on Broadway. This time, in this two hander, a reimagining of Chekhov’s untitled first play called Platonov, she is able and willing. And I can’t wait.
My ‘Already Seen’ List: Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole/War Paint, Mary Louise Parker/Heisenberg
All three of these super talented ladies are must see’s this season. War Paint is a blast, so keep your ears open for tickets going on sale, and if you don’t have a ticket for Heisenberg already, grab one. Ignore the Wall Street Journal. They hated Constellations too, which Heisenberg reminds me of (in its brilliance), so why would they like this intimate jewel by Simon Stephens.
Sally Field (Belasco Theatre, Mar 9th) didn’t make my list I’m sorry to say, and some will disagree with me on that. It’s not because I don’t think she is a talented actress, but I saw Cherry Jones do The Glass Managerie only two years ago, and that was just so beautifully done, I feel no need to see it again. I am curious to see Jennifer Ehle in Oslo but I wouldn’t say she’s the exciting draw. I wouldn’t even say I’m excited about seeing the play. More like curious, or intrigued. In writing this piece, I just saw that Allison Janney is coming in April in Six Degrees of Separation at the Barrymore Theatre. That’s verging on the exciting. Kristin Chenoweth, who I also adore, is doing a concert show (Lunt-Fontanne, Nov), and although I love her in musical comedies, and I’ve seen her in a few, namely On The Twentieth Century, Promises, Promises, and Wicked, she’s not really the performer I would want to see in concert. Don’t take offense, Chenoweth, you are still every bit a star in my eyes, but for me your talents need the comedy and the plot of a musical to shine the brightest.
My Four Off Broadway Picks:
1/ Rachel Weisz/Plenty
Public Theatre, Opening night Oct 23rd
2/ Sutton Foster/Sweet Charity
The New Group, Opening night Nov 20th
3/ Rebecca Hall/Animal
Atlantic Theater Company, Opening night TBA
4/ Anna Deavere Smith/Notes From the Field
Second Stage, Opening night Nov 2nd
5/ Nia Vardalos/Tiny Beautiful Things
Public Theatre, Opening night Nov 15th
On a side note, these are the five leading ladies that I’m thrilled to have the chance to see on stage, whether on or off broadway. All five are so talented, but here again, only one is in a musical. What are all those luscious ladies of musical theatre doing this season? Doing television or something? Making some real money (I’m sorry to say)?
I’ve already seen Sarah Jones in MTC’s Sell/Buy/Date and Judith Light in Neil LaBute’s All the Ways to Say I Love You, so once again, these two uber talented actors didn’t make my list, although they would have had I made this list a few weeks back. I would have added Molly Ringwald in Terms of Endearment (59e59, Nov 16th) but I’m just starting to wrap my head around this as a play, so I’m on my way to excitement, I think.
But the play, Plenty, and the musical, Sweet Charity are both revivals that I love; projects I’m looking forward to seeing in general, and then add to the list of reasons, Rachel Weisz and Sutton Foster, and I’m sold. The other three talented ladies are all doing new pieces, and all of them sound sound fascinated. I’m game, are you?