A high-flying, basket-tossing new musical based on the 2000 teen cheerleader comedy Bring It On took an unusual (backward-somersaulting) path to its Broadway opening this week. Instead of launching a national tour after a splashy New York run, the energetic tuner (which is only loosely based on the Kirsten Dunst film, plot-wise) played in 13 cities starting last November before bowing on the Great White Way. In my B+ review, I noted the youthful cast and a score, by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), with lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green (High Fidelity), that actually “sounds like it was composed in this century.”
Also on Broadway, it’s the final curtain this weekend for three shows: Fela!, a short-run musical revival that has been doing anemic box office; Harvey, the comedy revival ending its limited summer run so star Jim Parsons can return to L.A. to shoot The Big Bang Theory; and Memphis, the 2010 Tony-winning musical that is expected to recoup its $12 million investment this weekend after 30 previews and 1,166 performances over the course of nearly three years. (At that rate, imagine how long it might take Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to break even.)
In other stage news, Glee star Amber Riley announced plans to make her New York stage debut this November in a seven-performance-only production of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade as part of the Encores! series of musical revivals. The musical version of the 1982 film Diner, with a score by Sheryl Crow, will skip its planned pre-Broadway run this fall in San Francisco (though the show still aims for “a more intimate” Broadway venue in spring 2013). And Forever Dusty, a new musical about the life of 1960s pop legend Dusty Springfield, will open this November at Off Broadway’s New World Stages.
Also Off Broadway, there have been several new openings:
The Last Smoker in America Despite an intriguing premise imagining a mythical future where smoking has been outlawed, EW’s Melissa Maerz writes of this new musical comedy, “The jokes feel hopelessly outdated, with nods to Riverdance, emo music, goat cheese, political correctness, and other trends that haven’t felt relevant since the 1990s. Even the music belongs to another era.” EW grade: C+
Warrior Class Kenneth Lin’s new drama follows an Asian American Republican and rising political star must confront an episode from his college years, when an ex-girlfriend accused him of stalking. As EW’s Stephan Lee writes, “At its most jargon-y, Lin’s dialogue evokes the most infuriating aspects of an Aaron Sorkin drama, but this thoroughly enjoyable play packs a neat, 90-minute punch that’s well suited to an election year.” EW grade: B+