Back in 2016, I published a list on this website of 8 musicals that I at the time felt were due for Broadway revivals. Since then, about 3 of them came back to the main stem. Carousel and My Fair Lady were both revived in 2018. The former had a mixed reception and ended up losing a lot of money. The latter presented by Lincoln Center Theater was much more successful, and is currently out on tour. Meanwhile, Oklahoma! was revived in 2019 with a production that radically reimagined the original musical both visually and vocally. Despite that approach dividing audiences (some of them even left during intermission), critics were won over and the production ended up receiving the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Now, it is currently out on tour as well. This spring, Funny Girl will finally be revived on Broadway for the first time ever with Beanie Feldstein starring in the coveted role of Fanny Brice.
At the end of that list, I said I was planning to do more of those in the future. Over 5 years, I am finally back with Part 2. Although I'm actually going to mention two of the musicals I previously listed in Part 1 here. Why you may ask? Mainly because they still haven't been revived in recent years nor have I heard any chatter about them possibly coming back.
Now onto the list...
Based on the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, and Jackie Wilson, Dreamgirls tells the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called "The Dreams", who become music superstars. Through gospel, R&B, smooth pop, disco and more, this musical explores themes of ambition, hope, and betrayal, all set in the glamorous and competitive world of the entertainment industry.
This classic 1981 musical has so far only been revived on Broadway once back in 1987. It was a remounting of the original production that starred Lillias White as Effie White. Despite the show receiving a resurgence in 2006 with the release of its Academy Award-winning film adaptation as well as the Act I finale, 'And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going', becoming an anthem, it hasn't been back on the main stem since 1987. The musical did finally premiere in London's West End back in 2016 with a production directed & choreographed by Casey Nicholaw that opened with Amber Riley as Effie White. There was even buzz going on for a while that it would make its way to New York, but that still hasn't happened yet due to lack of available venues. The West End production may have closed in January 2019, but it is getting ready to go out on tour in the U.K. next month. If a Broadway run is still on the table, I hope it happens. If not, then hopefully Dreamgirls will eventually find its way back to New York one way or another. Guys & Dolls
Based on Damon Runyon's short stories, The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown and Blood Pressure, Guys & Dolls begins with gambler Nathan Detroit, who is trying to find the cash to set up the biggest crap game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his fiancé and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they've been engaged for fourteen years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result.
This classic 1950 musical comedy has so far been revived on Broadway 5 times. The last main stem production took place in 2009. The cast included Craig Bierko, Lauren Graham, Kate Jennings Grant, Oliver Platt, Tituss Burgess, and Mary Tetsa. Unfortunately, that production was a huge flop all around both critically and commercially as it only ran for four months, closing just the week after the Tony Awards that year. On December 17th, 2020, Andrey Lull posted in a private Facebook group titled 'Broadway By Broadway' asking members a dream revival they want. My suggestion in particular got 13 reactions from people (10 of them were likes while the other 3 were loves). It was Guys & Dolls directed by Scott Ellis with choreography by Warren Carlyle starring Danny Burstein as Nathan Detroit, Megan Hilty as Adelaide, Laura Osnes as Sarah Brown, and Tony Yazbeck as Sky Masterson. If that revival were to actually come to fruition anytime soon, I think Laura Osnes would be the least likely to be cast given the backlash she's received for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine as well as her reasons why. Unless she eventually has a change of heart and gets it, she'll likely be blacklisted from participating in any stage production until COVID is no longer a serious threat, which could be a long time. As for an alternative for Sarah Brown, I think Kara Lindsay would be a great choice. Though nonetheless, I'll be shocked if we don't see a new Broadway revival of Guys & Dolls sometime within the next decade.
Based on Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee's 1956 stage play, Auntie Mame, as well as Edward Everett Tanner III (under the pseudonym of Patrick Dennis)'s 1955 novel of that same title, Mame is set in New York City over the course of many years from the Great Depression to World War II. The story begins when wealthy, eccentric socialite Mame Dennis suddenly becomes the legal guardian of her nephew, Patrick Dennis, following the death of her brother. Mame ends up embracing the challenge as she introduces Patrick to all of life's wonders through a series of adventures.
This classic 1966 musical comedy has so far only been revived on Broadway once back in 1983. That production was more or less a remounting of the original with Angela Lansbury reprising her role as Mame Dennis. Someone even suggested to Roundabout Theatre Company once about producing it in a future season. They responded with: “A great show that is overdue for revival. Again, who would you cast in those iconic leading roles? It’s hard to follow Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur!” That appears to be a common reason why the musical hasn't been revived in recent years, mainly because of the whole "Who could possibly live up to the standards set by Angela Lansbury & Bea Arthur?" factor (although there's also a number of people who think the book is pretty dated at this point). I’ve seen several people suggesting Kristin Chenoweth or Jane Krakowski for Mame Dennis with Bebe Neuwirth as Vera Charles.
However, my current first choice for the title role is someone I got to see Broadway back in January of 2008. At the time, she had just joined the main stem production of Spamalot as The Lady of the Lake (a role she had previously originated in London's West End), taking over for Marin Mazzie, who ironically left to join the London company. Since then, the former got to play a factory worker during the ‘At the End of the Day’ sequence in the 2012 Academy Award-winning film adaptation of Les Misérables, had a recurring role as Septa Unella on the fifth and sixth seasons of Game of Thrones, and just won a Primetime Emmy Award for her role as Rebecca Welton in the Apple TV+ series, Ted Lasso. The actress I'm talking about is Hannah Waddingham. I think now that she's a bit of a celebrity, she should be considered.
Man of La Mancha
Based on Dale Wasseran's 1959 teleplay titled I, Don Quixote, which in turn was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th century novel, Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha is set during the Spanish Inquisition where Cervantes is in prison awaiting trial. While he remains patient, he and his fellow prisoners perform a play-within-a-play, telling the story of the elderly Alonso Quijana, who renames himself "Don Quixote" and goes on a quest to right all wrongs in the world.
This classic 1965 musical has so far been revived on Broadway 4 times. The last main stem production opened in 2002, it starred Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and ran for less than a year. Despite Man of La Mancha still getting produced through countless productions in schools, community, and regional theatres all over the world, there hasn't appeared to have been any interest as of late in bringing it back to New York (at least that I'm aware of). Although the musical's signature song, 'The Impossible Dream', is still very much an anthem that continues to be covered by countless vocalists. Even Brian Stokes Mitchell was singing it nightly to a crowd from a window of his Upper West Side apartment in 2020 to thank the first responders and medical workers after recovering from COVID-19.
When Bartlett Sher, the award-winning director behind the most recent Broadway revivals of South Pacific, The King & I, Fiddler on the Roof, and My Fair Lady, was interviewed by Playbill on June 22nd, 2020, a viewer* submitted in a question asking him "Are there any other classic musicals that you have not directed that you'd love to direct one day?" (@5:13). Bart said "there are many" and that one of them was Man of La Mancha. Since he is the resident director of Lincoln Center Theater, it would be interesting for him to stage the musical at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre because its first Broadway revival actually played at that same venue in 1972. As for who I think should star as Don Quixote, two ideas I've thought of are people who happen to have done their own renditions of 'The Impossible Dream', both of which you can find online. They may not necessarily be in character, but they're still worth checking out nonetheless. Josh Groban recorded that song for his 2020 album, Harmony. If and when the four-time Grammy nominated recording artist is ready to do Broadway again following his run in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 back in 2016-17, this could be a great fit for him. Meanwhile, Norm Lewis sang it during a virtual concert he did with Seth Rudetsky in December of 2020. Norm was actually set to play Don Quixote in a regional production of Man of La Mancha at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington back in 2016, but a scheduling conflict ended up forcing him to drop out. In a 2018 podcast interview, he said he's "still waiting to get to that one." With that being said, I hope some Broadway producer out there will eventually find the courage to bring one of the most enduring works of the musical theatre back to New York.
*that viewer happened to have been me.
Based on Charles Dickens' 1838 novel titled Oliver Twist, this musical begins with an orphan boy in a workhouse who becomes the neglected apprentice of an undertaker. A conflict with an older boy at the funeral home ultimately leads to Oliver's escape to the grimy streets of London, where he finds acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver later gets captured for a theft that he did not commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes him in. Fearing the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family.
This classic 1960 British musical has so far only been revived on Broadway twice. The last time was back in 1984 with a remounting of the original production that starred Ron Moody (reprising his role as Fagin from the original London cast and the 1968 film adaptation) and Patti LuPone. On August 11th, 2020, Victor William Goldsmith-Fucci posted in the aforementioned 'Broadway By Broadway' Facebook group photos of a souvenir program from the original production with a caption saying "When Broadway's back, we need a revival." Although someone posted a comment on that with "The cast is so big with all those kids. I’m not sure we’ll get this any time soon unless producers can make special arrangements with AEA (Actor's Equity Association)." It's pretty much one of the reasons why big musicals featuring a ton of kids like Billy Elliot and Matilda weren't able to run as long on Broadway. The economics make things much more expensive to produce them in the United States whereas in London, it's cheaper. Thus, Billy Elliot was able to run in the West End for 11 years while Matilda is still running. A successful revival of Oliver! directed by Sam Mendes starring Jonathan Pryce as Fagin opened at the London Palladium in 1994. Yet, it didn't end up coming to New York because according to producer Cameron Mackintosh, "The problem was, quite frankly, the sheer cost of it on Broadway. Because of the union rules on children — and it's a show that's powered by children — and the physical production is so enormous, we just couldn't afford to do it."
I posted a comment saying "Maybe Lincoln Center Theater, a nonprofit organization, could do it with Bartlett Sher directing," which got 2 reactions from people (one was a like while the other was a love). Although if that were to happen, I guess it would have to be a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh since he has owned the stage rights to the musical since the 1970s. He has collaborated with LCT before from having co-produced the 1994 Broadway production of Nicholas Hytner's acclaimed revival of Carousel, which the former previously presented in London's West End. Although from having performed in a smaller than usual production of Oliver! myself back in 2010, I think there is a way of making that musical work with a more intimate, blackbox setting. I've even thought of ways of making the cast a little smaller. Like the roles of Mr. Sowerberry and Mr. Brownlow could be played by the same actor while the roles of Mrs. Sowerberry, Mrs. Bedwin, and Old Sally could be played by the same actress. Please Broadway producers, we want some more. Show Boat
Based on Edna Ferber's 1926 novel of the same name, Show Boat is set around the Mississippi show boat, Cotton Blossom. The story follows the Hawkes family, including the captain’s naive daughter, Magnolia, who wants to be a performer, as she marries a gambler and moves to Chicago with him. When his debts compound, he deserts her and their young daughter. Magnolia's selfless best friend Julie, a performer on the Cotton Blossom, faces arrest on charges of miscegenation, which is illegal, and she spirals into despair. The passing of time from 1880 through 1927 reunites Magnolia and her now-grown daughter with Magnolia's estranged husband, who returns offering a second chance at familial happiness.
This classic 1927 musical has so far been revived on Broadway 6 times. The last main stem production opened in 1994, it was directed by Hal Prince, featured a cast of 71 performers, and ran for over two years. I've seen a lot of people suggesting Lincoln Center Theater should do it. In a 2018 interview with Theater Talk, André Bishop, who's the producing artistic director of LCT, was asked if there were any other classic musicals on his wish list for them to do one day (@7:18). He said "I've thought about Show Boat, which I love, but the book is obviously more than problematic." Recently, Bartlett Sher launched SRO Productions, where he's planning to develop and present new works for the stage, television, and film. One of the projects he already has in the works is a stage musical that Aaron Sorkin is writing. While no specifics were revealed about it in the announcement, I've read that it could be a new book for the classic Lerner & Loewe musical, Camelot, which Bart actually got to direct a one-night-only benefit concert of at Lincoln Center Theater back in 2019. Would Sorkin also be willing to work with him on fixing the so-called "problematic" aspects of the book for Show Boat?
So which classic musicals do you think are overdue for Broadway revivals? Do they happen to be any one of the six mentioned above?