By Joan Marcus, courtesy “Matilda”
There’s no better place for live theater than New York, and the city’s Broadway community continues to mount impressive productions that thrill visitors and inspire the rest of the theater world. The 2012-2013 season brought a combination of classic revivals and new musicals that have proven to be favorite shows for groups, and the 2013-2014 season looks to have a number of blockbusters in the making as well.
Here’s your guide to the latest crop of great shows on Broadway, as well as a preview of what is expected to open this fall and next spring.
Motown the Musical
Following in the tradition of jukebox musicals that have become popular on Broadway in recent years, “Motown the Musical” brought the soulful sounds of the 1960s to the stage in New York this spring. The show follows the journey of Berry Gordy, who transitioned from a featherweight boxing career to found Motown Records and introduce such legendary artists as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson to the American public.
The musical’s book was written by Gordy himself, and the show features 36 songs from the Motown era, including classics such as “War,” “What’s Going On?” “My Girl,” “Dancing in the Streets” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.” The songs are woven through the story of Motown Records and the company’s role in helping to break down racial barriers in midcentury America.
“Motown the Musical” was nominated for four Tony awards, including best actress, best featured actor, best orchestrations and best sound design.
Matilda the Musical
When it opened in London’s West End in 2011, “Matilda the Musical” became the most celebrated stage production in the history of British theater, winning a record-breaking seven Olivier awards, including the award for best new musical. This spring, the Royal Shakespeare Company brought the show to Broadway, where it opened in April.
The musical is based on the beloved children’s story by Roald Dahl that tells the story of the 5-year-old title character, who uses her love of reading and active imagination to change the world around her. Eighteen original songs were created for the show. Four child actors take turns playing the lead role, and they are accompanied by a colorful cast of adult players.
Like its West End predecessor, the Broadway version of “Matilda” has been widely heralded by critics. The show received 12 Tony nominations, including best musical, best actor, best director and best choreography.