Spring 2018 Theater Preview: Mean Girls, Harry Potter, and More Must-See Shows

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Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture

This spring, theater is going big — at least in terms of spectacle, length, and expense. The Broadway productions lining up like 747s to land before the April 26 cutoff for Tonys qualification include two massive two-part shows from London (Angels in America and Harry Potter), two revivals of classic musicals (Carousel and My Fair Lady), and two musical adaptations of pop-culture-defining movies about dangerous blondes (Mean Girls and Frozen). Between those behemoths, Broadway’s also offering up an array of plays (stacked with A-list casts, as has become the habit), while a few Off Broadway offerings opening amid the spring chaos might offer a bit of a respite. Below, find a guide to a few of the upcoming shows we’re both bracing for and excited about.

Broadway

Frozen
St. James Theatre
Previews start February 22; opens March 22.
As anyone who has been near a young child in the last decade might expect, “Let It Go” — sung by Caissie Levy’s ice queen Elsa, in this case — forms the center of Disney’s latest theatrical venture, but there’s still plenty going on elsewhere. Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have written a dozen new songs for the show, and the plot’s been expanded and reworked; the trolls (RIP) are now mysterious “Hidden Folk.”

Angels in America
Neil Simon Theatre
Previews start February 23; opens March 25.
London’s National Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s seminal two-part epic heads back to America with Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, and Denise Gough (recently in People, Places & Things) and neon direction from War Horse’s Marianne Elliott. Lee Pace, meanwhile, fills in for Russell Tovey as Joe Pitt. Sure, it’s more than 20 years after the play first premiered, but we’re still living in a world defined by Roy Cohn.

Lobby Hero
Helen Hayes Theatre
Previews start March 1; opens March 26.
Second Stage’s new Broadway venue, committed to producing work from living American playwrights, is opening by bringing Kenneth Lonergan’s play about security guards in over their heads to Broadway for the first time. The cast includes Michael Cera, Bel Powley, Brian Tyree Henry, and Chris Evans, taking refuge from all his superhero duties.

Three Tall Women
John Golden Theatre
Previews start March 1; opens March 29.
Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Alison Pill tackle Edward Albee’s scathing play about three women at different stages of their lives (who are all somewhat stand-ins for his own mother), directed by Joe Mantello. The creative team alone is the selling point.

Mean Girls
August Wilson Theatre
Previews start March 12; opens April 8.
Tina Fey revisits her 2004 high-school comedy with the help of her husband Jeff Richmond, who provides the music, and director Casey Nicholaw (of campy delights like The Book of Mormon and The Drowsy Chaperone). In Fey’s updated book, the mean girls have iPhones now, but they still wear pink on Wednesdays and deliver all the other quotes the movie embedded in popular culture in 2004. The question now is whether it all still feels grool.

Carousel
Imperial Theatre
Previews start February 28; opens April 12.
This revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical seems to come at the wrong moment, given its willingness to forgive a man who hits his wife. But it’s a major work nonetheless, and a creative team led by director Jack O’Brien has plenty to dig into. Throw in an all-star cast that includes Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, Lindsay Mendez, and Renée Fleming trying her hand at musical theater, and you’ve got a real intriguing clambake on your hands.

My Fair Lady
Vivian Beaumont Theater
Previews start March 15; opens April 19.
Lauren Ambrose, best known as Claire from Six Feet Under, isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of Eliza Doolittle — especially since this is her first Broadway musical — but she’s got the support of director Bartlett Sher, who recently pulled off revivals of lumbering standards The King and I and South Pacific and previously tried to stage Funny Girl with Ambrose before the funding fell through. Could it all come together this time in time for the ascot opening day?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2
Lyric Theatre
Previews start March 16; opens April 22.
J.K. Rowling’s big, shiny, two-part Harry Potter sequel apparates from overseas with nearly all of its West End cast intact. There’ll be lots of stage magic as the play sends the next generation of young witches and wizards to Hogwarts, while Harry, Ron, and Hermione settle into middle age. Given how well the show sold in London, you might need a Time Turner to go back and get tickets for this.

Saint Joan
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Previews start April 3; opens April 25.
Condola Rashad, who’s already racked up three Tony nominations (most recently for standing up to Laurie Metcalf in A Doll’s House, Part 2) and always seems to be one of the most fascinating presences in whatever she’s in, plays the French martyr in George Bernard Shaw’s tragedy of conflicting ideologies.

The Iceman Cometh
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Previews start March 22; opens April 26.
An epic portion of Denzel Washington comes to you via this Eugene O’Neill revival directed by George C. Wolfe. Expect several hours of crushing despair — exquisitely acted, crushing despair, that is.

Off Broadway

Miss You Like Hell
Public Theater
Previews start March 20; opens April 10.
Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for In the Heights, imagines a cross-country road trip shared between a 16-year-old and her mother (Daphne Rubin-Vega), an undocumented immigrant at risk of deportation. With music from Erin McKeown, this looks to be a heartening and tear-jerking experience.

Mlima’s Tale
Public Theater
Performances March 27–May 20.
Lynn Nottage, last on Broadway with the Pulitzer Prize–winning Sweat, which also started off at the Public, traces the international ivory trade through the life of a single elephant named Mlima. Tony nominee Sahr Ngaujah somehow plays the elephant.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire
New York Theatre Workshop
Performances April 18–May 27.
Rachel Chavkin, recently on Broadway with Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, stages another sweeping period epic with Caryl Churchill’s drama set in 1647 amid the English civil war. For whatever reason, the question of whether a fractured rebellion can build a new, stable society out of chaos feels especially relevant right now.

King Lear
BAM
Performances April 7–April 29.
Olivier winner Antony Sher plays the aging king in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production, now coming to a nation all too familiar with unstable men in power.

Yerma
Park Avenue Armory
Performances March 23–April 21.
Billie Piper won an Olivier Award for Best Actress in Simon Stone’s updated look at Federico García Lorca’s play, which also won Best Revival. Playing an infertile woman obsessed with motherhood, Piper’s now a blogger, performing in an enclosed glass space for the audience.

Spring Theater Preview: Mean Girls, Harry Potter, and More