Broadway's fall season will be remembered for its extraordinary number of good new plays and its weak new musicals. This spring, we again have a remarkable assortment of new plays, but more new musicals than we expected. Why? Producers hustled after noticing the season was so lame that "Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark" could actually win the Tony for best musical.
We'll have 18 openings in the six crazy weeks between the March 15 revival of "Death of a Salesman" and the April 26 cutoff for Tony eligibility. The annual crush includes many solid offerings, though few as cutting-edge as in recent seasons.
Questions may be answered. Is Philip Seymour Hoffman too young to play the profoundly weary Willy Loman in "Salesman"? Is Blair Underwood too old to be the ravenous young Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire"? Are two revivals by the young Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice ("Jesus Christ Superstar," "Evita") too many? What about two new shows with music by Alan Menken ("Newsies," "Leap of Faith")? And, while we're asking impertinent questions, how many musical adaptations of movies are way too many?
Here is the rest of Broadway, 2011-12, in chronological order.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN, opens March 15, Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St. Mike Nichols' staging of Arthur Miller's crushing 1949 masterwork promises to be one of the big-ticket events of the season. In addition to Hoffman as Willy, the ever-wonderful Linda Emond plays his wife, Linda, and Andrew Garfield (best known right now as Hollywood's newest Spider-Man) is son Biff. What's more, Nichols is resurrecting Jo Mielziner's celebrated original set designs.
ONCE, opens March 18, Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St. This enchanting, intimate musical was wonderful downtown at the New York Theatre Workshop, and fingers are crossed that the peculiar, original charm is not lost in the Broadway transfer. Based on the 2006 indie film about a romance between a Dublin guitarist and a pianist from Czechoslovakia, the songs -- including the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly" -- are by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the film's stars.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, opens March 22, Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St. The first international hit by Webber and Rice comes in from Los Angeles and Canada's Stratford Festival in an acclaimed revival by Des McAnuff ("Jersey Boys").
NEWSIES, opens March 29, Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. As a 1992 Disney movie, this story about the newsboy strike of 1899 was hardly a blockbuster. As a musical, however, the show -- book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken -- was a smash at Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, N.J., in the fall. Jeremy Jordan, no longer starring in the short-lived "Bonnie & Clyde," returns as the head newsboy.
GORE VIDAL'S THE BEST MAN, opens April 1, Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. The country may not have picked its best man yet, but this revival of Vidal's 1960 drama about machinations of a presidential race may well have the season's best cast. Start counting: James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Eric McCormack, Kerry Butler, Jefferson Mays and Michael McKean.
END OF THE RAINBOW, opens April 2, Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St. Judy Garland is making another comeback in Peter Quilter's play with music about the dramas in her London hotel room before a series of concerts. The show, transferring from London's West End, introduces the highly regarded Tracie Bennett as Garland.
EVITA, opens April 5, Marquis Theatre, 1536 Broadway. Broadway's first revival of the 1978 Webber-Rice musical about the controversial Eva Perón. Elena Roger, a London smash in this Michael Grandage production, plays the first lady -- and superstar -- of Argentina. Ricky Martin plays Che -- though, apparently for politically sensitive reasons -- is claiming the character isn't Che Guevara. You know, he's just another guy named Che. The self-challenging Michael Cerveris (Broadway's most recent Sweeney Todd) is Mr. Evita, that is, Juan Perón.
MAGIC/BIRD, opens April 11, Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St. Last season, the NFL co-produced a biographical play about football coach Vince Lombardi by Eric Simonson. This year, Simonson chronicles the friendship and historic basketball competition of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in a biographical play co-produced by the NBA. Broadway always has been a spectator sport, but this trend is another game altogether.
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, opens April 16, Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St. If Broadway loves "Wicked," the prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," perhaps everyone will also love this musical about the early life of Peter Pan. A play with music, the show comes to Broadway after a successful run at the New York Theatre Workshop. (See "Once," see "Rent.") Based on the Disney novel (see "Newsies"), the production has 12 actors playing more than 50 characters. In this creative staging, the actors also play the scenery.
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS, opens April 18, Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. Another play with music, also a hit from London, this one is a Richard Bean comedy that mixes commedia dell'arte and English music hall in a confection about a desperate guy (James Corden) with two gangster bosses. Nicholas Hytner, the brains and taste behind the National Theatre, directs.
CLYBOURNE PARK, opens April 19, Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St. Bruce Norris' tragicomedy about race and real estate won last year's Pulitzer Prize and London's Olivier. The play, which takes place half in 1959 and half in the present day, comes to Broadway after a world premiere in 2010 at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons and a recent run in Los Angeles. The cast, including Annie Parisse and Jeremy Shamos, remains the same.
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, opens April 22, Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St. Blair Underwood plays Stanley, Daphne Rubin-Vega is his Stella, while Nicole Ari Parker plays the febrile Blanche in Emily Mann's new multicultural revival of Tennessee Williams' 1947 classic.
GHOST: THE MUSICAL, opening April 23, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. Yes, another musical based on a popular Hollywood movie, this one transferred from London with British actors playing roles made famous by Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. Matthew Warchus ("Boeing, Boeing") directs.
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, opening April 24, Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St. Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Broderick join their considerable forces in a "new" '20s musical comedy using the songs of George and Ira Gershwin. Kathleen Marshall ("Anything Goes") directs and choreographs, with the book about bootleggers by Joe DiPietro ("Memphis").
THE COLUMNIST, opens April 25, Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. John Lithgow plays admired and feared columnist Joseph Alsop in this new play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn ("Proof"). The multitalented Daniel Sullivan ("The Merchant of Venice," Proof") directs.
LEAP OF FAITH, opens April 26, St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St. Yes, another musical based on a Hollywood movie. This one stars the irrepressible Raul Esparza as Jonas Nightingale, the irrepressible evangelist played by Steve Martin in the 1992 movie. Alan Menken (see "Newsies") wrote the music. Christopher Ashley ("Memphis") directs.
DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER, opens April 26, American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. French playwright Marc Camoletti offers another sex farce, this one a sequel to (yes) "Boeing, Boeing," in which the two fellows face mistaken identities over a weekend in the French countryside. The cast includes Jennifer Tilly.
And, though this opens too late for Tony eligibility, next season officially begins previews May 18 with Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") in "Harvey," the comedy classic about a man who befriends a 6-foot-tall mythological rabbit. Another opening, another show, another giant bunny.