I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway — Here Are the Best Ones to See (2024)

Oh, the pressure. When you write about theater, it’s hard to get away from people (friends, family, minor acquaintances) inquiring about the best show to see on Broadway.Understandable, what with tickets so expensive and especially this spring, with 18 new shows opening in March and April alone.

Of course, my opinion (like everyone else’s) is completely subjective. But after seeing most of the new productions that have opened in the past few months, here are the ones I’m encouraging people to see —diplomatically listed in alphabetic order.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (1)

"An Enemy of the People"

Circle in the Square, 235 W. 50th St.; anenemyofthepeopleplay.com

I always get chills when a play written more than 100 years ago is so frighteningly relevant. Ibsen’s 1882 drama about a local doctor who fights to inform the public about pollution in the public baths clearly speaks to our current concerns about climate change. The air of tension persists throughout, to the point that when actual climate protestors interrupted an early preview, many people thought it was part of the production. Of course, some audience members just come to see two big names from television — Jeremy Strong of Succession as the beleaguered doctor, and Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, The White Lotus) as his slimy brother, the town mayor.


August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St.; kitkat.club

The show starts a full 75 minutes early at this production, with audiences invited to come early and have a drink or two — even dinner if you pay enough for your tickets — in the renovated theater, rebranded the Kit Kat Club. A cast of prologue performers wanders the three levels of the club, so by the time Eddie Redmayne as the emcee takes the stage to sing “Willkommen” you’re in the proper frame of mind. The powerful show set in the early days of the Nazi regime is always gut-wrenching, but in this version Gayle Rankin, playing Sally Bowles, really twists the knife with her unhinged rendition of the title song.

"Hell’s Kitchen"

Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St.; hellskitchen.com

Alicia Keys has worked on this show for 13 years, but sorry — she’s not in it. Instead a young up-and-comer, Maleah Joi Moon, portrays Ali, a character clearly inspired by Keys’ life. The show is not completely biographical, but it does depict key elements of the Grammy winner’s upbringing, growing up in a building on West 43rd Street offering subsidized housing for artists. It’s a jukebox musical of sorts, featuring many of Keys’ best-known songs (“This Girl Is on Fire” blows the roof off the Shubert), but she has worked them seamlessly into this sweet coming-of-age story about a teenager defeating her demons and forging her own path.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (3)

"Mary Jane"

Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.; manhattantheatreclub.com

Did Rachel McAdams lose her way? You’d have thought the Oscar-nominated actress, who made a name for herself in the 2004 movie “The Notebook,” would have been a couple blocks away starring in the stage adaptation of the famed tearjerker. But no, instead she chose to make her Broadway debut in this gripping drama about a mother managing the care of her gravely ill child. The 90-minute (no intermission) play moves from a cramped apartment to a hospital pediatric intensive care unit, as an assortment of caretakers (night nurse, music therapist, a Buddhist nun) offer their assistance. But truthfully, it’s hard to take your eyes off McAdams as she navigates this unthinkable tragedy.


The Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St.; suffsmusical.com

In this season of high-profile producers, it’s hard to top Hillary Clinton. And the political nature of the production is inescapable, even before the Biden fundraiser. But forget all that — enjoy Shaina Taub’s musical for what it is, a thoughtful retelling of the suffragists’ struggle to pass the 19th Amendment. With a nod to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Taub plays the lead role herself, and she makes a fine Alice Paul, strident, demanding, unrelenting. And with all the rock blaring at us on Broadway stages right now, her songs are a welcome relief. There were a lot of mothers and daughters in the audience — with good reason.

"The Great Gatsby"

Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway; broadwaygatsby.com

Of all the books getting a theatrical treatment this season, this is the one that has lovers of literature raising their eyebrows. But the adaptation remains relatively faithful to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s treasured classic — it’s no spoiler to say there’s no happy ending. Before the tragic finish, the rich, lavish production takes audiences to the wild, brash parties of the Roaring '20s, with sparkly costumes (I haven’t seen this many sequins since “The Cher Show”), brilliant dancing, music that evokes the jazz age, and some serious pyrotechnics. And yes, there’s a green light at the end of a dock.

"The Notebook"

Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.; notebookmusical.com

The producers know tears will flow, which is why they’re selling commemorative tissue boxes at the concession stand. And it’s true, at times it’s painful to watch this heart-wrenching love story. Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the best seller that’s sold more than a million copies, told Time magazine the story is so enduring because of the universal elements of life and passion. The stage adaptation sticks pretty close to the book and the subsequent movie, though in the stage version the lovers are portrayed by three different couples. The performances are stunning, especially from Dorian Harewood and Maryann Plunkett who play the couple in their declining years, and the ending is as bittersweet as they come.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (5)

"The Outsiders"

Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St.; outsidersmusical.com

Last April, S.E. Hinton joined the cast bringing her 1967 coming-of-age novel to the stage at the Outsiders House Museum in Tulsa (where the story is set). Oh, and joining them was Angelina Jolie, who’s producing the show. But the musical works without all the hype — it’s a powerful, occasionally brutal display of teenage angst as two rival gangs defend their turf, and the music and choreography have audiences on the edge of their seats. Ultimately, though, it’s an endearing story of a family fighting to stay together.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (6)

"The Wiz"

Marquis Theatre, 210 W. 46th St.;wizmusical.com

Wayne Brady as the title character in this lively revival doesn’t even show up until the second act, but it’s OK. The Afrocentric take on “The Wizard of Oz” is a fun theater experience thanks to the great songs — “Ease on Down the Road,” “Home” —and the laudable performances from cast members like young Nichelle Lewis, making her Broadway debut as Dorothy, to recording artist Deborah Cox, whose rendition of “Believe in Yourself” brings tears. Don’t try to compare with the 1978 film starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, and you’ll have a great time.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (7)

"The Who’s Tommy"

Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St.; tommythemusical.com

I loved this album more than life itself as a teen, so it was a big thrill to introduce the musical to my daughter and granddaughter. While story lines differ some between album, movie, and stage show, the plot is pretty much expected: Kid witnesses horrific murder and immediately goes deaf, dumb, and blind. It’s a story of acceptance and redemption, but really the audience comes for the music —“Pinball Wizard” rocks the rafters. The Who’s frontman Pete Townshend has been out and about promoting the show; he performed with the young cast of the rock opera, and let’s just say The Tonight Show might never be the same.

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway —Here Are the Best Ones to See (8)

"Water for Elephants"

Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St.; waterforelephantsthemusical.com

The high-flying acrobatics are worth the price of admission in this new musical, adapted from the best-selling novel and set in a traveling circus during the depression. Seriously, one fearless performer is repeatedly tossed halfway across the stage — I don’t think I ever held my breath so many times in one show. A love story at heart (not always a happy one), the musical is told in flashback as the narrator, once the circus’ vet, looks back on his life. While this is no “Lion King,” the animals are a delight, whether they’re portrayed symbolically (an aerialist portrays a horse in cascading white silks) or the star of the show, Rosie the elephant, a massive, life-size puppet (even if sometimes all you see is her trunk).

I Saw Almost All 18 New Spring Shows on Broadway — Here Are the Best Ones to See (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated:

Views: 5437

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.