If you’re a theatre person like me, you’ll be looking forward to new Broadway shows every year. Every show, even old revivals, brings a new voice and relevance to the theatre world. Here’s a look into the upcoming 2020 Broadway musicals.
West Side Story
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, “West Side Story” is well known for its 1961 movie starring Natalie Wood. It’s a tale of two people in love, but not only are they associated with rival gangs, the female love interest Maria is Puerto Rican, while her romantic partner Tony is white, making their love taboo. The musical is known for casting white actors and it’s racist undertones.
Not much is known about the 2020 revival. One short video exists featuring some clips of cast members. It is being described as a “thrilling new interpretation”, so we can expect a very new show. Because “West Side Story” has a lot of outdated aspects, hopefully this production will bring an old romance into the modern era.
Composed by the esteemed Stephen Sondheim, “Company” has an unusual plot structure with short scenes, with no chronological order. The show is about Robert, an NYC bachelor, who has issues with commitment. Having numerous productions over the years, the 2020 Broadway version will certainly be different. The production is genderbent, so Robert is now Bobbie, a woman with commitment issues. Lyric and line changes have been added as well to make the show work present day.
Genderbent revivals have recently become popular, possibly due to the fact that seeing the same show over again can be boring. Furthermore, switching up genders brings a different dynamic to the show. Now in “Company”, we get to see how a woman in Robert’s situation may act. This new dimension makes for a fresh show that modern audiences can enjoy.
Girl From the North Country
“Girl From the North Country” may sound familiar. That’s because it is the name of a Bob Dylan song. In fact, the whole musical features Bob Dylan songs. The story takes place in a Minnesota guest house during the Great Depression, dealing with race, love, family, and hopelessness.
Bob Dylan has always been known as a talented songwriter, even if he wasn’t the best at singing those songs. The themes in “Girl From the North Country” appear to be in tune with themes that Dylan often wrote about, such as injustice and hope. But at the same time, they bring these themes to a time before Dylan, the 1930s. So while Dylan’s music serves to tell of an older time, the story itself is new. The show will hopefully demonstrate the universality of Bob Dylan’s music, showing that his sorrowful tunes are still relevant today.
“Six” is probably the most unique show on Broadway right now. Originally running in Britain, the musical retells the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives, but in the form of a pop concert. The pop stars are the six wives, and they take turns telling their stories through songs.
Everyone knows about King Henry VIII and how he mistreated his six wives, but we never hear it from the wives’ perspectives. In this narrative of abuse, interestingly, the abuser often gets the most focus. “Six” changes that by presenting his wives as powerful individuals in their own right. While the show features characters and events that are centuries old, it does it with a new perspective to an old story; making it fresh for today’s audiences.
2020’s Broadway line up features a lot of old stories being told in new manners. While it can be nice to see something brand new, it will be interesting to see how these shows make themselves relevant to today’s world. If you find yourself in New York next year, give one of these productions a watch!
Featured image from Pexels.