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Can any of Broadway’s new spectacles be as pop-uuu-lar as Wicked?
Can any of Broadway’s new spectacles be as pop-uuu-lar as Wicked?
Wicked, Cabaret, Water For Elephants

Wondercade’s 2024 Spring Theatre Preview!

Our Broadway correspondent Gertie is back with show recs that'll keep you busy all season!

Gertie Grable is Wondercade's Broadway correspondent, dishing on the juiciest gossip heard in the wings, the rehearsal rooms and her favorite booth at Sardi’s.

February 21, 2024 4:57 pm

Can I confide in you, Wondercader? Two Sundays ago I, Ms. Gertie Grable, endured the atrocious spectacle of American football and the abhorrent smell of Buffalo wings in order to celebrate the duo of the century.

What? Heavens no. Of course I don’t mean Taylor Swift and the latest boyfriend she’s acquired. I’m talking about Elphaba and Galinda. I’m certain it was the premiere of the long-awaited trailer for Wicked that caused so many people to sit slack-jawed in front of their TVs. The mere taste of Cynthia Erivo’s “Defying Gravity” sent shivers down my arthritic spine.

As giddy as I am for the 20-year occupant of the Gershwin Theatre to make the leap from Great White Way to silver screen this fall, we’re here today to instead chit-chat about the spring Broadway season, which, as it happens, is chock-a-block full with musicals going about things the opposite way. Are you following me, dearies?

Who’ll it be: Allie, Gatsby, Dorothy or…endangered bees?
The Notebook, The Great Gatsby, The Wiz, The Apiary

Before you throw the book at me, I fully admit The Notebook is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, but when I overheard a gaggle at the Lambs Club the other night discussing the new musical before traipsing off to the Schoenfeld, did they mention him? Hardly. It was all about the delicious Ryan Gosling and delightful Rachel McAdams (who, coincidentally, will be making her Broadway debut this season). Oh, and Ingrid Michaelson, who’s behind the music and lyrics. (That singer-songwriter has some catching up to do. Sara Bareilles is on her second!)

Elsewhere in the book-to-movie-to-musical pipeline that’s been gushing for decades, Water for Elephants begins previews on Saturday. I can’t say the tagline of a “spectacle-filled new musical” sways me one way or the other (we all know how King Kong landed), but director Jessica Stone, who we last saw at the helm of Kimberly Akimbo (which closes in two months! Get your tickets!), is now a name that can rope your gal Gertie into anything. For all its promise of pomp, I dare say it will be overshadowed by two even more famous properties: The Outsiders and The Great Gatsby. According to my little birdies in California and New Jersey, where these shows tried out, the former is the one to book if you’re looking for a surefire hit. The latter landed superstars as Gatsby (Jeremy Jordan) and Daisy (Eva Noblezada), but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a green flash in the pan. Fitzgerald’s story is in the public domain now, and Broadway will be getting another Gatsby sooner or later, courtesy of Florence Welch and Rachel Chavkin. And in the theatre, it’s not always the early bird who has the earworms.

Broadway’s Golden Age not your style? Try these new composers on for size.
The Connector, Kimberly Akimbo, Days of Wine and Roses, Lempicka

If all that sounds a little too safe, a little too Sunday matinee for your tastes, there are theaters where boundaries will be pushed this season. Not just pushed — shoved! — like the ladies during the intermission restroom melee. A revitalized version of The Wiz is hoping for a run as long as its 1975 debut (not the 20-performance revival in the ‘80s). Cabaret is offering invitations not to the August Wilson Theatre, but to the immersive Kit Kat Club, emceed by Eddie Redmayne. (Am I the only one who notices that his surname matches his hair color? So is that a stage name? Or just a coincidence?) Staying on the theme of parties that devolve into tragedies, Days of Wine and Roses has one of the best composers of our time (Adam Guettel), one of the best directors (Michael Greif) and two of the best performers (Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James) staging a must-see musical that no doubt leads to the absolute worst bar sales among all 41 Broadway theaters. If alcoholism and the rise of the Nazis aren’t quite your cup, how about a Polish painter? My exquisitely feathered hat is off to Lempicka — the next time someone says we don’t take chances on Broadway anymore, I’m going to toss them in a taxi and send the driver to the Longacre.

Off-Broadway shows may be The Outsiders, but there’s theatrical gold to be found
Between Two Knees, Brooklyn Laundry, Sally & Tom, The Outsiders

I fear I’m running out of room for the usual Off-Broadway oddballs I’ve got my eye on, so let me channel my inner Major-General: Jason Robert Brown’s latest, The Connector, is only around until March 17th (but don’t ask me for a ticket connection). You’ll never see bees the same way again after Second Stage’s The Apiary; and Between Two Knees is the best excuse to visit the World Trade Center’s gobsmacking new Perelman Performing Arts Center. If you’re like me and ready to toss your TV after Schmigadoon! was canceled, Cecily Strong is somewhere even better: New York City Center. Suzan-Lori Parks’s Sally & Tom at the Public is about opening our eyes to uncomfortable truths, while Michael R. Jackson and Anna K. Jacobs’s Teeth at Playwrights Horizons will likely be mostly about me closing my eyes during uncomfortable scenes. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

If you need my thoughts on any of the dozens of other shows packing theaters before awards cutoff time, leave your name and number with Neil. When I’m not at a show or Sardi’s, I’ll be cooped up at home, listening to the original Broadway cast recording of Kiss of the Spider Woman on a loop on my gramophone. Rest in peace, Chita. We thought you’d never leave us. And in many ways, you won’t. (Here’s looking at you, neverending revival of Chicago.)

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