How Is The 2018/2019 Broadway Season Shaping Up?

by Michael Mahany | 11/20/2018 7:15 AM

Moulin Rouge The Musical. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

With the announcement, yesterday of Moulin Rouge The Musical’s intent to transfer to Broadway later this year, and the recent news of Beetlejuice The Musical’s aim for the same, theatre and dance fans are getting the concluding factors into how the 2018/2019 Broadway season will shape out.

Earlier yesterday morning, Moulin Rouge officials announced that the new musical, which made its out-of-town tryout this past summer in Boston, would open at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre late next summer. The theatre is the current home to Jerry Mitchell’s Tony® Award-winning production of Kinky Boots which will end its run April 7.

Interestingly, with previews beginning June 28, and an opening set for July 25, Moulin Rouge won’t be eligible for Tony® Awards until the 2020 season.

"Come What May" as sung by Aaron Tveit. Video courtesy of Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge, which stars Aaron Tveit, Karen Olivo, Danny Burstein, and recent A Chorus Line star, Robyn Hurder, is directed by Alex Timbers and choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Tayeh, well known in the dance world for various theatrical, television, and music industry projects, is set to make her Broadway choreographic debut with Moulin Rouge’s transfer into New York.

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Beetlejuice The Musical, which stars Tony® nominated actor Alex Brightman in the title role, will open at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre next March. The Winter Garden will be familiar territory for Brightman, as it’s the current home of School Of Rock, the show for which he earned his Tony® nomination back in the 2015/2016 season. 

Beetlejuice, which is also directed by Alex Timbers, is choreographed by relative Broadway newcomer, Conor Gallagher.

Gallagher, widely known and respected in the theatrical circles, makes his welcomed Broadway debut with Beetlejuice. Gallagher has previously choreographed Into The Woods for the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare In The Park, The Robber Bridegroom for Roundabout Theatre Company, and the national tour of Elf The Musical.

Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

With the successes of musicals like Mean Girls, SpongeBob, Anastasia, and Aladdin it’s easy to see why “franchise” musicals like Moulin Rouge, Beetlejuice, the Drew McOnie choreographed King Kong, Jerry Mitchell’s Pretty Woman and others based on television and film content seem to be a good bet with producers.

The Denis Jones dance-helmed musical, Tootsie, based on the 1982 film of the same name that starred Dustin Hoffman, is set to open at the Marriott Marquee Theatre early next spring. The musical, which out-of-towned in Chicago earlier this year, features Frozen’s Santino Fontana, SpongeBob SquarePants The Musical’s Lilly Cooper, and a score by Tony® Award-winning composer of The Band’s Visit, David Yazbeck. Jones, who was nominated for a 2017 Tony® Award for Holiday Inn, is currently represented at The Paper Mill Playhouse with their production of the classic movie turned stage musical.

Christopher Gattelli’s The Cher Show, Spencer Liff’s Head Over Heels, and the Casey Nicholaw spearheaded endeavor, The Prom, are the three new enterprises of the season not based on previously known film or television scripts.

While The Cher Show and Head Over Heels do feature jukebox style scores, both also proffer original books. The Cher Show’s storyline is based largely on the iconic singer’s life, while Head Over Heels tells an updated version of Philip Sidney’s Arcadia through the music of the successful 1980’s band, The Go-Go’s. 

The Cher Show, currently in previews, opens December 3rd at the Neil Simon Theatre, while Head Over Heels opened this past July, and runs at the revamped Hudson Theatre.

The Prom, which received a rare rave in The New York Times, marks Casey Nicholaw’s fourth show currently running on Broadway. Nicholaw is also represented at the moment with Aladdin, Mean Girls, and The Book Of Mormon

The Prom, a completely new and original musical, features a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and a book by Bob Martin. The already legendary Nicholaw, with yet another hit on his hands, seems poised for more award nominations to come later this season, and the musical, which opened last week at The Longacre Theatre, seems to be loved not just for its originality, but its relevant and honest storytelling.

The cast of The Prom. Photo credit: Greg Mooney

It should also be noted that the short-lived Broadway run of Getting The Band Back Together, was also a completely original musical. It featured the Broadway debut choreography of Chris Bailey.

So, what’s the season outlook?

Many of Broadway’s favorite choreographers like Jerry Mitchell, Nicholaw, Jones, and even Warren Carlyle— who’s expected to be setting the dances to next spring’s revival of Kiss Me Kate— are all back with exciting work this season, but it’s certainly way too early to count out the newer kids on the block. Even though they might have well-known dance world names like Liff or Tayeh or Gallagher, they’re still new to the lights of Broadway. And, as evidenced by last year’s Tony® winning choreographer, Justin Peck, Broadway loves established dancer/choreographers who make their way to its boards.

The fresh insight and energy these new choreographers will bring will also usher in a certain vim and enthusiasm to the season. As the theatre industry continues to grow exponentially each year, these folks are definitely a necessity, and the anticipation of what will stick out as the new season’s best of the best is still to be determined. Luckily for dance and theatre fans, however, things are just getting started. Stay tuned!

Michael Mahany serves as The New York City correspondent for Dance Network. He is also a professional actor, musician, dancer, and writer. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or click here to find out more.

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