5 BROADWAY SHOWS TO SEE THIS WINTER!

Looking to see a Broadway show this winter? We’ve got you covered with our top five recommendations, presented below in alphabetical order. Let us know in the comments what you’re most excited to see!


& JULIET

Location: Stephen Sondheim Theatre
Music and Lyrics: Max Martin
Book: David West Read
Choreographer:  Jennifer Weber
Director:  Luke Sheppard
Starring: Lorna Courtney, Betsy Wolfe, Stark Sands, Paulo Szot, Melanie La Barrie, Justin David Sullivan, Ben Jackson Walker, and Philippe Arroyo

It’s impossible to stop smiling throughout & Juliet, a jukebox musical featuring 1990s/2000s music tailor-maid for millennials who will want to get up and dance just like the boomers they used to poke fun of at Mamma Mia. Audiences can expect to hear mega-producer Max Martin’s greatest hits made famous by the likes of Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Jessie J, Robyn, Kesha, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Bon Jovi, Ellie Goulding, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, The Weeknd, Celine Dion, NSYNC, Pink, and Justin Timberlake.

The show explores what would have happened if Juliet had survived at the end of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. As the character of Shakespeare begins to pontificate on his story, his wife, Anne Hathaway (you read that correctly), challenges him to imagine a different future for the titular heroine. The duo then compete in weaving together this new tale, with their respective visions unfolding on stage. This produces laugh-out-loud dialogue, thought-provoking discourse disguised in cotton candy, explosive choreography, and of course, soaring pop anthems. It’s a visual spectacle with heart that even the most blasé theater goer is sure to enjoy.

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ALMOST FAMOUS

Location: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Music: Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics: Cameron Crowe
Choreographer: Sarah O’Gleby
Director: Jeremy Herrin
Starring: Solea Pfeiffer, Chris Wood, Anika Larsen, Drew Gehling, Casey Likes, Rob Colletti, Matt Bittner, and Julia Cassandra

You still have a few days left to catch Almost Famous, an electric new musical based on the beloved film of the same name. Set in 1973, it tells the story of an aspiring music journalist who hits the road with the up-and-coming rock band, Stillwater. With a book and lyrics from original filmmaker Crowe, lovers of the cult-favorite movie will be delighted to see that the stage adaptation is very faithful to its source material. It’s not hard to spot the die-hard fans from their audible gasps when cast members utter classic lines like “If you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends” or break into a spirited rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

Yet the biggest reason to see Almost Famous is the marvelous Pfeiffer. Her Penny Lane should make her break out in the same way as Kate Hudson did post the movie’s release. After starring in New York City Center’s acclaimed mountings of Evita and Songs For A New World, her own Audible solo show, the first national tour of Hamilton, Hollywood Bowl productions of West Side Story and Sondheim on Sondheim, Civic Opera House’s The Light in the Piazza, and the Tyler Perry film A Jazzman’s Blues, the Zimbabwe-born performer has at long last made her Broadway debut. It shouldn’t be long before the talented Pfeiffer catapults to musical theater superstardom. With her versatility, vocal prowess, and serious acting chops, she’s a wonder to behold every second she’s on stage.

Though Almost Famous will be closing on January 8, a cast album will be released on digital platforms and physically on CD and vinyl on March 17.

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KIMBERLY AKIMBO

Location: Booth Theatre
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire
Choreographer: Danny Medford
Director: Jessica Stone
Starring: Victoria Clark, Bonnie Milligan, Alli Mauzey, Justin Cooley, Steven Boyer, Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan, Michael Iskander, and Nina White

You’ve never seen anything quite like Kimberly Akimbo. A cross between Fun Home, Dear Evan Hansen, and the 1996 Robin Williams film Jack, this unforgettable new musical dramedy tells the story of a beautifully optimistic teenager named Kim who has a medical condition that makes her look like she’s 72-years-old. As she celebrates her 16th birthday, Kim must navigate everything from first crushes to family secrets to possible felony charges to her own mortality.

The work that Clark does to transform herself into Kim is truly breathtaking. A titan of her craft, she makes the audience completely forget that Kim is not being played by an actual teenager. The way she manipulates her voice, physical presence, mannerisms, and everything in between, is nothing short of an acting masterclass. Though the Tony Award winner has been a Broadway veteran for over three decades, her turn in Kimberly Akimbo may very well be the defining role of her illustrious career.

Also stupendous is Milligan. After becoming the breakout star of the Go-Gos musical Head Over Heels a few years back, Milligan has returned to the Broadway stage in another scene-stealing role. As Kim’s raucous and scheming aunt Debra, she is revelatory. One minute she’s making the audience fall over with laughter, and the next she’s belting to the heavens. It’s a performance that will bring tears to your eyes several times for several reasons.

As touching as it is funny, Kimberly Akimbo is an extraordinary musical about resilience, kindness, acceptance, and living each day to its fullest.

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OHIO STATE MURDERS

Location: James Earl Jones Theatre
Writer: Adrienne Kennedy
Director: Kenny Leon
Starring: Audra McDonald, Bryce Pinkham, Lizan Mitchell, Mister Fitzgerald, and Abigail Stephenson

Since the 1960s, Kennedy has been one of the most prolific playwrights in American history. Therefore, it may surprise you that Ohio State Murders marks the Broadway debut of the woman who has already received Lifetime Achievement Awards from places like the Dramatists Guild of America and the Obie Awards.

Playing in the newly renamed James Earl Jones Theatre through January 15, Ohio State Murders is inspired by Kennedy’s own lived experienced (as is most of her work). McDonald plays renowned author Suzanne Alexander, who returns to speak at her alma matter and is asked about the darkness and violence in her writing. To explain her relationship to these themes, she tells a shocking, haunting, and gripping story about the many terrors of racism in our society.

Though there are a few additional characters, this is essentially a one-woman show spotlighting the magnanimous McDonald. With six Tony Awards under her belt, she is the most decorated actor in Broadway history – and it’s perfectly clear why. Her raw, chill-inducing, and impassioned performance in Ohio State Murders very well may compel her to make room for a seventh trophy on her shelf.

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SOME LIKE IT HOT

Location: Shubert Theatre
Music and Lyrics: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Book: Matthew López and Amber Ruffin
Director and Choreographer: Casey Nicholaw 
Starring: Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee, Adrianna Hicks, Kevin Del Aguila, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Adam Heller, and Mark Lotito

From the moment that Williams’ smooth, honey-soaked vocals open Some Like It With Hot with the rousing jazz number “What Are You Thirsty For,” it’s clear the audience will be in for a delectable treat. Based on the 1959 film of the same name, this musical comedy tells the story of two musicians forced to escape town after witnessing a mob hit in Prohibition-era Chicago. They flee disguised as women, eventually landing parts in an all-female band aboard a cross-country train. Chaos, hijinks, and tenderness ensue as their trip ends up changing their lives in various unexpected ways.

While the show does pay a lovely tribute to the movie that it’s based on, it’s the way that the story has evolved that makes Some Like It Hot such a wonderful and impactful musical. Switching the iconic character of Sugar into a Black woman and giving the character of Daphne the space to discover and embrace her authentic self, this modern interpretation of the classic story makes for a heartwarming, inclusive, and important theatrical experience that is not to be missed.

“Our ideas of what a period piece are formed by the period in which that art was made in which there are so many restrictions,” López told Broadway.com. “It isn’t as if queer people just magically sprung up from the ground in 1969. They were there all along. They just didn’t make movies about them. They didn’t write novels about them. We were not gone. We were just not talked about. The idea of a 21st century lens on this story is a bit of a misnomer. What it really is is removing the 20th century lens from it. If you remove the 20th century lens from the story, it automatically works today. And all we needed to do was just clean that lens.”

Featuring glorious music and lyrics from Shaiman and Wittman, and an equally hilarious and poignant book from López and Ruffin, Some Like It Hot may just be the surprise hit of the season. Hicks, who stole the show last year in Six, cements herself as one of Broadway’s great leading ladies. Her powerful 11 o’clock number, “Ride Out the Storm,” is worth the price of admission alone. I, for one, am counting down the days until the cast recording is released.

At this point, it seems like it’s going to be an incredibly tight race between Some Like It Hot and Kimberly Akimbo for Best New Musical at the Tony Awards this year. Both are top-notch productions that serve up the best of what musical theater has to offer, yet in completely different ways.

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About ALEX KELLEHER-NAGORSKI 171 Articles
Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.