Broadway leaps into spring
Some big-name actors return to the stage and stir up the classics.
Welcome to Broadway's winter of discontent. January and February are traditionally the harshest months on the Great White Way, but the sinking economy has pushed even top shows to shutter early – Tony winners "Hairspray," "Spamalot," and "Spring Awakening" all closed last month. Still, spring will bring nearly 20 new plays and musicals to the stage, many of them stocked with bold-faced-name film and TV stars.Skip to next paragraph
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Two of our classiest stars of the big screen, Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen, splash down in New York in this new play by Michael Jacobs. Both are known for their theater work, but neither actor has been on Broadway since the 1980s: Irons in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" in 1984 (for which he won the Tony for best actor), and Allen in "The Heidi Chronicles" in 1989 (in which she earned a nod for best actress). In this play, Irons plays a jet-setting photojournalist who enters the orbit of Allen's New York art gallery owner, while the two discover that there might also be an art to repairing broken lives. Playwright Jacobs is also back on Broadway after an absence of more than 30 years: He first burst onto the scene at 22 with his short-lived Broadway debut "Cheaters" in 1978. But he's now best known as a television and film producer with credits that include the Oscar-winning "Quiz Show." (Previews begin Feb. 28; opens March 12.)
While Irons, Allen, and Jacobs are returning to Broadway after long absences, legendary actress Jane Fonda has them all beat. The two-time Oscar winner hasn't been on Broadway in 46 years – since a 1963 production of O'Neill's "Strange Interlude." But she'll have a steady hand guiding her: Her friend Moisés Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project, best known for acclaimed documentary-style plays like "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde" and "The Laramie Project," in addition to the Tony-winning "I Am My Own Wife." Let's hope Fonda fares better than other high-profile actresses, like Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore, who have tried their hand on the Broadway stage in recent years but laid goose eggs. In "33 Variations," Fonda plays musicologist Katherine Brandt, who is trying to solve a centuries-old mystery about Beethoven's interest in a waltz that inspired his piano work, the Diabelli Variations. As the music that consumes Katherine comes to life on stage, she races against time to find common ground with her daughter and to embrace the legacy of her own life. (Previews began Feb. 9; opens March 9.)