Winer is chief theater critic and arts columnist for Newsday, which she joined in 1987.
Trend-spotting is always slippery business when the holiday tourists are gone and work begins in earnest for Broadway's busy winter-spring season, which officially ends April 24. But here are 10 themes and highlights that, if we squint, we can discern at a distance. How they play out, of course, is for another day.
MORE AND MORE (AND MORE AND MORE) MOVIE ADAPTATIONS, BUT THESE HAVE PROMISE Woody Allen's adaptation of "Bullets Over Broadway," his '20s comedy about theater people and other mobsters, opens April 10 at the St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., directed by Susan Stroman. Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale star in an adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County," based on the book (and film) about surprising love in the Iowa farmlands, opening Feb. 20 at the Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. And don't forget, no kidding, a singing and dancing and slugging "Rocky," opening March 13 at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway. Sylvester Stallone has co-written the book.
FINALLY, NEW AMERICAN PLAYS THAT DON'T HAVE TO TRY OUT FIRST OFF-BROADWAY Terrence McNally's "Mothers and Sons," starring Tyne Daly as a woman whose son died years ago of AIDS, opens March 24 at the Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St. John Patrick Shanley's "Outside Mullingar," featuring Debra Messing and Brian F. O'Bryne as middle-aged Irish introverts, opens Jan. 23 at the Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. Also, musical-theater icon Harvey Fierstein returns to writing plays with "Casa Valentina," about a Catskill hideaway in 1962 where straight men dressed up as women, opens April 23 at the Friedman Theatre.
CAN DENZEL PLAY YOUNGER? This terrific actor, who won a Tony for his 2010 portrayal of a disillusioned garbage man in "Fences," will be 59 when he plays Walter Lee Younger in "A Raisin in the Sun." Lorraine Hansberry described the character in her 1959 landmark drama as "a lean, intense young man in his middle 30s." With Diahann Carroll playing his mother, we're inclined to shush gossips who have renamed the Younger family the Olders. Opens April 3 at the Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St.
HOW SOON IS TOO SOON? Both "Cabaret" and "Les Miserables" will be revived this spring. "Cabaret," which brings back Alan Cumming in his career-making performance as the emcee in Sam Mendes' 1998 revival, opens April 24 at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., where the production last played. Michelle Williams is Sally Bowles. In contrast, perhaps, "Les Miserables," which originally opened its long run here in 1987 and returned in 2006, comes in from the road March 23 at the Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St., in what is called a "re-imagined" production.
DISNEY'S AWESOME RECONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER Now that "Mary Poppins" has closed after more than six years, we have an excuse to revisit the exquisitely restored landmark theater, 214 W. 42nd St. A new stage version of "Aladdin" opens March 20, with a score that incorporates songs from the 1992 film with Howard Ashman/Alan Menken numbers they wrote for early drafts of the movie.