The phenomenon of Hollywood and TV stars hitting Broadway is a growth industry that just keeps expanding, downturn be damned. Whether it’s a matinee idol learning to speak to the back row (like Rupert Everett) or an actress mounting a stage comeback decades in the making (Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon), Broadway is officially, as of this season, a mandatory step on the ladder, as worthy of its pay cut as the noble indie cameo. See our slideshow for the most familiar faces coming up this spring.
Janney had a string of good roles (both onscreen and onstage, where she hasn’t been in a decade) before landing the role of press secretary on The West Wing. From there it should be a smooth transition to Violet Newstead, a brassy, vengeful, singing-and-dancing lady exec – Lily Tomlin’s role in the movie. Opens April 30
The son of Tom has his own respectable movie and cable career going (King Kong, Band of Brothers, Mad Men, Tenacious D), and what’s more, Daddy never appeared on Broadway, where Colin plays a decent-size supporting role starting this month.
That guy you know from somewhere thanks to many smaller TV roles (besides Oz, where he played Warden Glynn) makes an equally midsize appearance in this August Wilson revival. Opens April 16
Sort of a lighter-hearted, better-exposed Jeremy Irons in terms of his film rep (Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, and Shine, which netted him an Oscar), Rush is, surprisingly, a Broadway novice, now playing a dying king opposite Susan Sarandon.
Fittingly, the last time Tony Soprano was seen on Broadway, in the mid-nineties, he was re-creating Brando in On the Waterfront (having just wrapped Streetcar, as well). Now he plays a Bobo Brooklyn father opposite other theater dabblers like Harden, Hope Davis, and Jeff Daniels.
She’s been to Hanoi, she’s been Barbarella, she even played Nora in a film version of A Doll’s House
. But the septuagenarian icon hasn’t been on a New York stage for nearly half a century – until now
Brooding staple of arty and foreign flicks (Being Julia, Damage, Lolita), Irons won a Tony Award the first and only other time he appeared on Broadway, 25 years ago in The Real Thing. Despite a delayed opening and serious reworking, the chance to see his frown lines up close is expected to be a draw. Opens March 24
After originating roles in Burn This and The Heidi Chronicles (she was Heidi) in the late eighties, Allen has been a rare stage presence, instead making her bones in movies like the Bourne trilogy, The Ice Storm, and Pleasantville.
The elder Gilmore Girl and Bad Santa scene-stealer really branches out on Broadway, singing, dancing, and all the rest as a blonde Runyon moll.
With several New York stage gigs to her credit, Harden hasn’t been on Broadway since the Angels in America plays in 1993; instead she’s better known for the likes of Mystic River, Pollock, and, lately, Damages.
Unless you’re a Coyote Ugly fan, Perabo’s name is more memorable than her movie roles (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Cheaper by the Dozen), but she gets plenty of face time in this four-hander, her (and Neil LaBute’s) Broadway debut. Opens April 2
The chiseled and openly gay actor has cut a broad swath in movies (Shrek, Inspector Gadget, The Importance of Being Earnest), but makes his Broadway debut as a wry husband hen-pecked by two wives – one dead, one living.
A ubiquitous New Yorker who hasn’t spent serious time in midtown theater for 37 years, Sarandon cut back her workload since winning an Oscar for Dead Man Walking
in 1996. Her return to the stage
– in heady Ionesco, no less – is an event. Opens March 26