Broadway 2014: Debuts to be excited about this season
2014 promises to be a great year for theatre, especially on Broadway. Several big time actors as well as one Canadian singer-songwriter will be making their way to the Great White Way this year. One of the big names is Academy Award nominee James Franco. Franco will be adding 'Broadway performer' to his already extensive resume (teacher, director, screenwriter, producer, author--the list goes on…), playing George in a new play version of John Steinbeck’s classic American novella Of Mice and Men. Also making their Broadway debuts with this production are Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl as Curly’s wife, and Irish actor and comedian Chris O’Dowd as the mentally disabled yet vastly strong Lennie, George’s best friend. While I am looking forward to seeing all these actors together on a Broadway stage for their first time, it’s Franco that I, and I believe most others, am most anxious to watch.
Another Oscar nominee making her debut this season is the talented and versatile Michelle Williams as the lead in the third Broadway revival of the hit Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret. Williams previously sang in her critically acclaimed film My Week with Marilyn, but this will be her first musical; I am certainly looking forward to her performance as Sally Bowles.
It was also recently announced “Call Me Maybe” pop star Carly Rae Jepsen will be replacing Laura Osnes as the titular character in the Tony winning production of Cinderella that’s currently running. This will be her first experience in professional theatre, but hopefully her transition will be smoother than singer Carrie Underwood who performed in NBC’s live broadcast of The Sound of Music. Also joining the cast is Fran Drescher, best known for her starring role as Fran Fine on the TV series The Nanny. Drescher will take over as the stepmother Madame, a role that I believe will suit her talents perfectly and doesn’t require too much singing.
Another TV alum who will be making a splash on Broadway in the next few months is Zach Braff in Woody Allen’s new musical Bullets Over Broadway. The production, based on Allen’s film of the same name, will be directed by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers). The Scrubs alum is a burst of high energy, humor and talent, which should lend itself well to the stage.
But perhaps most exciting of all is the debut of Emmy winner Bryan Cranston, who fresh off the high of the critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad will be moving to the stage as President Lyndon B. Johnson following the assassination of JFK in a limited run of the new play, All the Way. Audiences should rightly expect a strong and captivating performance from Cranston.
Of Mice and Men begins previews March 19 and is set to officially open on April 16
Cabaret begins previews March 21 and has scheduled opening night for April 24
Carly Rae Jepsen and Fran Drescher will both take over in their respected roles in Cinderella on February 4th
Bullets Over Broadway begins previews March 11 with an opening night date set for April 10
All the Way begins previews February 10 has set their opening night set for March 6