Winter Guide 2013: A Look At The Coolest Performing Arts Offerings This Holiday Season - Shakespeare To FROZEN!
BroadwayWorld is thrilled to present a special overview of the many exciting theatre-related events and entertainment available to be enjoyed over the coming weeks and months onstage and onscreen as we enter into the most wonderful time of the year and anticipate the release of Disney's newest animated movie musical FROZEN, featuring a plethora of Broadway performers and songs by the composer behind two of Broadway's biggest recent hits, AVENUE Q and THE BOOK OF MORMON, Robert Lopez.
Baby, It's Cold Outside
As the temperature cools and the entertainment industry rolls out the red carpet to the biggest and most hotly anticipated events of the year, today we are taking a look at the topmost items on any serious Broadway baby's list insofar as the must-see sights and sounds soon on offer from Broadway, Hollywood, TV and beyond - from Shakespeare to THE SOUND OF MUSIC to the Radio City Rockettes! Of course, even though our focus on these twelve or so items in particular may initially appear to be largely theatre-hewed, there is indeed a whole wide world of performing arts-related treasures to be saluted and spotlighted this year - and, we are already off to a spectacular start, to say the least!
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG & PRIVATE LIVES
Case in point: the spectacularly successful nationwide screening of Stephen Sondheim & George Furth's time-traveling musical MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG presented by Fathom on October 23! What an unexpected joy this Maria Friedman-directed revival of the showbiz-centric tale of friendships, marriage, performing and the tricks the past plays on us all - or, at least our memories of it. Sondheim's sensitive and compelling score includes such standards as "Not A Day Goes By", "Old Friends" and "Good Thing Going" and the latter's title serves as precisely the recipe for success being served up regularly by Fathom Events with their continuing series of movie theater presentations of plays, musicals and special events - which, to this point, has included LES MISERABLES: LIVE AT THE 02, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, Sondheim's own COMPANY and a glittering HD re-release of WEST SIDE STORY, to name but a few, with Noel Coward's urbane comedy PRIVATE LIVES on the horizon (December 11). Make a date for it!
More information on Fathom Events - including PRIVATE LIVES - is available at the official site here.
FROZEN's very own star Idina Menzel is leading the out-of-town tryout of her eagerly awaited new original musical IF/THEN in November, with a starry supporting cast including her RENT co-star Anthony Rapp and Tony Award winner LaChanze, outfitted with a score by the Pulitzer Prize-winning NEXT TO NORMAL composing team of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, with direction by Michael Greif.
The contemporary musical is set in New York City, depicting an alternating perspective narrative navigating two distinct ways in which the central character's life could play out - or could already be playing out.
The new musical tries out at Washington, D.C.'s hallowed National Theater (where it runs through December 6) before heading to Broadway for an opening in March.
More information on IF/THEN is available at the official site here.
If you are in the market for a more seasonal affair to experience onstage as the snowflakes start to fall this winter, look no further than the colorful and hilarious reworking of film favorite ELF as an onstage musical via the new national tour kicking off in November. Boasting a catchy tune collection by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the movie-based musical also features a charming book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin complete with excellent performance opportunities for the talented cast of actors, filled to the chimney-top with holiday cheer and sure to send you out of the theater with a song in your heart and a renewed sense of joy, to boot.
More information on ELF is available at the official site here.
RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Even though the terrific entertainment available outside of New York City is sublime, there is nothing quite like the experience of attending the Radio City Music Hall yearly Christmas spectacular, particularly during the winter months. The legendary leggy ladies known as the Rockettes may be the most iconic element of the big, big show, but the exquisite pageantry and thrilling opulence of the event cannot be underestimated, either. It is certainly something to see - and then some!
Whether you are 8 or 80, the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular remains a merry mainstay and is sure to endure for many years - and generations - to come.
After all, Radio City Music Hall, like New York City itself, is a classic.
More information on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is available at the official site here.
RICHARD III & TWELFTH NIGHT
The first of two such unique theatrical special events this season, the repertory presentation of both William Shakespeare's historical tragedy RICHARD III as well as latter comedy TWELFTH NIGHT on Broadway via the Shakespeare's Globe theatrical company is sure to warm the heart of the biggest Bard fan on your holiday list were you to deign them with a ticket or two to one or the other (or both), particularly given the presence of masterful Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, as well as the always assured direction of Tim Carroll.
Additionally, the complementary plays are being performed concurrently on certain Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the run for those willing to take in the entire Shakespeare's Globe showcase in one day - particularly applicable for out-of-town visitors or maybe visiting relatives dropping in for some quick city shopping.
More information on RICHARD III & TWELFTH NIGHT is available at the official site here.
If Shakespeare isn't quite your holiday style, the comedy stylings of Billy Crystal never fall out of fashion - and, as if to prove that point, Crystal returns yet again with his unforgettable Tony Award-winning solo showcase 700 SUNDAYS for a special limited run this holiday season, also in November.
An ideal way to introduce tales of a time gone by to the younger generation or a wonderful way to relive a rose-colored past, Billy Crystal's 700 SUNDAYS is a funny and heartwarming family-friendly entertainment guaranteed to warm the hearts and tickle the funny bones while Crystal weaves a wonderful yarn as only he can.
700 SUNDAYS is surefire home run, with a particular emphasis on home!
More information on Billy Crystal's 700 SUNDAYS is available at the official site here.
A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER
While not a whole lot of original musicals with new scores may be planned for an opening this season besides the aforementioned IF/THEN, A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is one glaring exception to that edict. Featuring a score by Steven Lutvak and a book by Robert L. Freedman, A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is highlighted by versatile Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays portraying eight different roles - those of the various doomed heirs of the Earl of Highhurst, that is, who has left a fortune in his passing. And, in this case, eight is just about enough!
More information on A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER is available at the official site here.
Although RICHARD III, TWELFTH NIGHT, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and two ROMEO & JULIET productions may seem to show evidence for a near-capacity representation of Shakespeare in New York as far as the sheer amount of theater space available must possibly be these days, screen star and frequent thespian Ethan Hawke leads a daring new take on the bloody tragedy MACBETH at Lincoln Center this November. Featuring gender-bending witches and a medieval take on the grisly, war-torn drama, Hawke is presented with perhaps the most challenging performance piece of his career to date. Will he deliver? Guided by master director Jack O'Brien, Hawke is certainly in good hands - yet, will he excel in a role that has stymied many greats? Spot him in the show and see for yourself later this month... if you dare (the Scottish play is cursed, you know)!
More information on MACBETH is available at the official site here.
NO MAN'S LAND & WAITING FOR GODOT
The second of the repertory presentations in our winter guide contains not one but two of the biggest star-turns on Broadway this season - that of the iconic theatre and film greats Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, no less - in Harold Pinter's NO MAN'S LAND and Samuel Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT, beginning this November. The eerily elusive, fiercely idiosyncratic nature of both plays is undeniable and surely the star-wattage of these two entertainment titans has raised the stakes considerably insofar as the anticipation for these two productions arriving, at least in a pop culture sense - indeed, this twofer may very well be the hottest ticket in town since BETRAYAL (also by Pinter, as a matter of fact). Whatever you do, don't miss two of the theatre's finest actors in two strange and engrossing modern masterpieces by two of the world's most continually discussed and appreciably re-appraised dramatists.
More information on NO MAN'S LAND & WAITING FOR GODOT is available at the official site here.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
In December, Madison Square Garden will play host to the returning favorite screen-to-stage adaptation of A CHRISTMAS STORY, decked out with a jaunty and jubilant score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with a book by Joseph Robinette, directed by John Rando. Leg lamps to BB guns to flag poles and much more, the faithful and endlessly enjoyable tuner is a true joy sure to get even the grumpiest grinch into the holiday spirit by the big finale. You'll have so much fun, well... "you'll shoot yer eye out!"
More information on A CHRISTMAS STORY is available at the official site here.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
All of the theatrical events on Broadway, in NYC and around the country on tour may very well be enough to thrill and chill you this holiday season, yet one of the most eagerly awaited events this winter is undoubtedly the live TV presentation of one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE SOUND OF MUSIC, starring Carrie Underwood in the role made famous by Mary Martin on Broadway and Julie Andrews in the iconic film. On that note, this will be the first live TV event of its kind since Andrews's own CINDERELLA premiered fifty years ago, making it a must-see TV event of major magnitude.
So, will Underwood create a Maria all her own and cause the soundtrack to be a best-seller in the process due to her industry clout? Will the live three-hour presentation go off without a hitch? Will the starry supporting cast - including Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle - shine in their respective roles? Tune in this December 5 on NBC to find out!
More information on THE SOUND OF MUSIC is available at the official site here.
Disney has redefined the animated movie musical numerous times before and it appears as though their newest feature film may very well proceed to have just as great an impact on a new generation - like BEAUTY & THE BEAST, ALADDIN and THE LION KING did for the last one - this time, with FROZEN.
With the most Broadway talent ever assembled for a film of this kind, FROZEN features Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana in the talented line-up, many afforded with musical moments composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, counted among the many pleasures on display for theatre fans in the film.
A uniquely arresting story with rich characters, a knock-out cast paired with a persuasive score and a jaw-dropping 3D visual design to go along with it all are just a few of the many reasons why FROZEN may very well end up being the most awesome of all these many seriously attention-worthy events discussed today. With FROZEN, cool is hot!
More information on FROZEN is available at the official site here.
SAVING MR. BANKS
Lastly, a look at the man behind the magic and the house of mouse himself, Walt Disney, has finally been committed to celluloid, by none other than very recent Broadway leading man - in Nora Ephron's LUCKY GUY - and international film superstar Tom Hanks, no less, alongside noted thespian and two-time Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson - soon to be Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD onstage next year - as MARY POPPINS creator PL Travers in the dramatic December Disney release SAVING MR. BANKS. Rapturous praise has already arisen from many early viewers lucky enough to attend test screenings of the new film, so it appears as though Disney could very well have not one but two modern-day classics on offer this winter.
Unquestionably, between FROZEN and SAVING MR. BANKS this November and December, definitely be sure to save these dates!
More information on SAVING MR. BANKS is available at the official site here.
So, what winter 2013 entertainment event featured on our list today is the hottest of all to you personally - or, should we say, the coolest? Is FROZEN the movie you can't miss? Will THE SOUND OF MUSIC turn out to be the must-see-TV event of the year? Furthermore, what Broadway show will make the most impact - could A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER be Broadway's next big musical hit? What about Idina Menzel in IF/THEN? Will Ethan Hawke make a memorable mark with MACBETH? Plus, should Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart start clearing some shelf space for the upcoming awards season in a few months? We will have to wait and see how it all happens and how it all turns out, but we are definitely heading into one of the busiest and best winters any Broadway baby could ask for - and, it is just heating up!