Friday, May 17, 2024

5 Plays/Musicals Not to Miss in 2019/2020

As with the early arrival of scaldingly hot temperatures, South Floridians no longer need to wait until the summer for regional and touring theatre schedules to be unveiled to the public. These season announcements seem to be dropping earlier each calendar year, which is a plus for theatergoers with busy schedules. Without further ado, here are five shows announced just in the last couple of months. Mark your calendars now!

The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Dec. 3-19 at Maltz Jupiter Theatre

This Tony-winning 1985 musical has a tantalizing source material—the unfinished Charles Dickens novel of the same name. A dark tale of opium addiction and filial lust, Dickens’ characteristically bleak story has been lightened and freshened for composer/lyricist Robert Holmes’ liberal stage adaptation, which adds a Master of Ceremonies to the cast of characters, utilizes a show-within-a-show concept and—most daringly—is embedded with audience interaction. During intermission, patrons solve the title mystery, choose the romantic connections and more, leaving the cast to resolve a plot that can change nightly.

Ordinary Americans, Dec. 6-29 at Palm Beach Dramaworks

The Hollywood blacklist is a well-known relic from the bad old days of McCarthyist paranoia, but political persecution in the entertainment industry wasn’t limited to the Silver Screen. The pioneering sitcom “The Goldbergs,” run by Jewish comic actors Gertrude Berg and Philip Loeb, was also targeted by pernicious forces at the height of its success, in the early 1950s. Joseph McDonagh’s world-premiere play “Ordinary Americans” revisits this backstory from a humanist perspective, balancing comedy, tragedy and sociopolitical prescience.

Hamilton, Jan. 28-Feb. 16 at Kravis Center

Well, duh. If you missed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s cross-cultural phenomenon during its touring debut at the Broward Center this past winter—and since tickets were only guaranteed for subscribers, you probably did miss it—Kravis on Broadway is presenting the box office-shattering rap musical about Alexander Hamilton’s personal foibles and his invaluable contributions to the founding of our republic. As of this writing, tickets are only being offered to current series subscribers, and soon to donors. Stay tuned to Kravis’ website for information on individual ticket sales for the rest of the hoi polloi.

Warrior Class, March 11-April 5, 2020 at Primal Forces at Sol Theatre

Playwright Kenneth Lim, a veteran writer on “House of Cards,” brings that series’ cutthroat political cynicism to bear on “Warrior Class.” The drama centers on a New York State G.O.P. assembly candidate with impeccable credentials—a decorated war veteran, a solid Christian upbringing, a tenure at Harvard Law—which has earned him praise in the conservative media as “the Republican Obama.” But his meteoric ascent is threatened by a girlfriend from his past, who may or may not come forward with allegations of unbecoming behavior. It’s up to the candidate’s pugnacious personal fixer to keep her silent. If this plot feels all-too headline-ripped, keep in mind that “Warrior Class” premiered way back in 2012!

Come From Away, April 7-20, 2020 at Broward Center

Broadway Across America is bringing plenty of familiar pop-culture properties to the Broward Center stage next season, including Disney’s “Aladdin,” the screen-to-stage adaptation of “Mean Girls” and the Jimmy Buffett musical “Escape to Margaritaville.” I say “meh” to most of these, gravitating instead to this fresh-from Broadway, honest-to-goodness originalmusical inspired by one of the lesser-known impacts of the 9-11 attacks. “Come From Away” is set during Operation Yellow Ribbon, in which the Canadian government shut down its airspace for safety concerns, grounding 38 planes in a small town in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Characters include some of the town’s actual residents as well as the passengers, and this unorthodox musical was nominated for seven Tonys last year on the strength of its uplifting message of hospitality and communion in the face of terror and hate.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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