Coming Soon: Two New Musicals, Two Revivals, and an Update on Broadway

Last time we talked about upcoming productions, we had no official confirmation of the arrival of Lysistrata Jones, the modern adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Well good news, everyone: it's official. Lysistrata Jones starts previews 12 November and opens 14 December. Here's hoping it can find an audience to sustain it past the holiday tourist season. The 2011/2012 Broadway season is shaping up to be an interesting mix of show styles and concepts. Revivals seem to be playing fast and loose with the original productions and brand new shows aren't playing it safe with well-known or even well-remembered inspirations.

The show I'm now most excited for is Ghost: The Musical. I started writing about it in June, mentioning how great the London press reel looks. It still looks great and now it has the reviews to back it up. I've already talked about the score in great detail. What we have here is an innovative staging of a well-known film property reinvented to actually match the demands of the stage.

Amazing. Ghost: The Musical opens in April. I'm going to assume that if they actually mean opening in the Broadway sense that previews will begin in March.

The second new musical just announced for Broadway may not be a musical at all. It's another nebulous "play with music" transferring from London. End of the Rainbow is the story of Judy Garland's last year. It opened to critical acclaim on the West End for its leading lady Tracie Bennett. She will be reprising the role on Broadway. The show switches between Judy performing a concert and Judy talking about her life with her fiance and accompanist in a hotel room. If you believe one of the more popular message boards, there isn't room for another Judy on drugs on caricature. I say it's worth keeping an open mind about End of the Rainbow.

It's over the top in a press reel, yes. But that's what a press reel does. Previews begin 19 March for an opening on 3 April.

Have I covered The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess enough yet? Obviously not. For full clarification: I'm not overworked or mad about this adaptation. If you just randomly found my site on a search for information on the show, you might not catch that I use hyperbole, sarcasm, and a tongue in cheek attitude about most of my opinion posts. If you want to see me upset, go back to that Julie Taymor piece from the beginning of the year. Note the lack of superfluous descriptors and high melodrama of the approach. See the difference? No need for me to relax as I'm perfectly calm over the issue as I imagine Stephen Sondheim is, as well.

I digress. Mea culpa. The following video is the perfect way to suggest they've updated the show without bashing the source material.

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess begins previews 17 December for an opening on 12 January.

The final show we're discussing today has a long troubled history. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a Lerner and Lane musical about a woman with ESP. She seeks help from a therapist to quit smoking only to discover that she has exceptionally detailed memories of a previous life in the 18th Century. The show has a beautiful score but is just odd. It's almost just a showpiece for the music that gets bogged down by the hohum approach to the odd story. They didn't commit one way or the other to the past life and ESP conceit and that hurt the show.

Director Michael Mayer came up with a conceit that could bring a little life to the story. Instead of the main character being a woman with ESP, it's a man. This man goes under hypnosis and reveals that he was a female jazz singer in the 1940s. It still feels a bit silly as a concept for a musical to me, but these few changes might actually serve to create interest and conflict in the story later on as the therapist begins to obsess over his new patient.

That's obviously not footage from the production. There is no footage of it. So I figured I'd go with the beautiful title song sung by Barbara Streisand in the film adaptation. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever beings previews on 12 November for an 11 December opening.

Are you going to try and see any of these upcoming productions? I'm most interested in Lysistrata Jones, Ghost, and On a Clear Day, myself.

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