The seven shows hosted by the National Theatre next season will be either straight from New York or heading there.
The Broadway at the National series opens with the world premiere of Beetlejuice, a musical remake of the Tim Burton movie you knew and loved so many years ago. In it, you recall, the bratty Lydia Deetz needs help in putting her insufferable parents in their place. Fortunately for her, they have all moved into a house haunted by the recently-deceased couple who previously lived there, plus that wild-n-crazy demon, Beetlejuice. Together, they cook up a plan that will fix the ‘rents, but good. And this time with music! Arranged marriages and exorcisms are involved. There is a parental advisory, for language, but frankly would you want your kid learning tricks from Beetlejuice? Alex Timbers directs; from October 14 to November 18, 2018.
The National dials it back a little with its next production, the North American tour of Beautiful The Carole King Musical. King had trouble breaking in as a songwriter — in frustration, she wrote a song for her babysitter, and the babysitter, also known as Little Eva, turned Locomotion into a hit — but once she started doing her own stuff, she was — well, she was Carole King. The book, by Douglas McGrath, won a Tony nomination, and the music — almost all Carole King standards — won a 2015 Grammy for best musical theater album. The musical was a Tony Award nominee in 2014 and won Best Performance for an Actress for Jessie Mueller. From November 27 to December 30 of this year; Marc Bruni directs.
What would you do if you were kicked out of your band, fired from your job at a record store, and the rent was due? Well, if you were Dewey Finn, you’d do what comes naturally — impersonate your best friend and get hired as a substitute teacher, and, while there, get your fifth-graders to form a band and compete in a battle of the bands. How does Dewey’s band do in the competition? Well, here’s a hint — all his songs are written for him by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Tony nominated School of Rock kicks off the new year for the National, running from January 16 to 27, 2019; the National promises new songs from Webber.
In February, the National will have a musical about the writing of one of our seminal stories. In Finding Neverland, the playwright J.M. Barrie, struggling with writer’s block and an unhappy marriage, suddenly finds his inner child released when he discovers a widow and her four rambunctious boys. Soon he is at work putting together Peter Pan, to the alarm of his agent. “[T]he audience is invited to experience the transformation of life into art, that mysterious alchemy by which a fleeting impression can become an enduring myth,” says Margaret Gray of the Los Angeles Times. “‘Finding Neverland,’…is filled with clues, like a detective story, designed to resonate with ‘Peter Pan’ lovers and make us feel complicit in dreaming up the story of the boy who refused to grow up.” From February 26 to March 3 of next year.
Many folks have had to suffer with parents who disapprove of their career choices. One such person is young Calogero, who aspires to be a mob boss in A Bronx Tale, the National’s March offering. The youngster, having clammed up to the police after witnessing a mob shooting, has won the undying gratitude of the hit man, who takes Calogero under his wing. This, as you can imagine, alarms the lad’s dad. “’A Bronx Tale,’…might be called the musical-theater equivalent of that classic comfort food,” says The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood. “If there’s a secret ingredient that gives the musical version a zest that freshens the material, it is — perhaps obviously — the wonderful and ample score, featuring music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater.” A Bronx Tale will run from March 26 to 31, 2019.
Have you ever been told to stop drumming your fingers on the table? Well, the musical group Stomp which has been drumming on tables, chairs, floors and walls, using spoons, brooms, their hands, other parts of their bodies, and everything else you can imagine for twenty-seven years, is back by popular demand. Here’s a video of a concerto done with brooms. Their show is still running in NYC, but you can see them at The National between April 23 and 28 of next year.
What better way to close out the season than a musical inspired by the artistry of Meat Loaf? Jim Steinman has written the book, music and lyrics to Bat Out of Hell, but the portly 70’s star (for whom Steinman once wrote) is the guiding spirit behind it. We are in the post-apocalyptic future, and Strat, the forever young leader of the Lost, has fallen hard for Raven, the daughter of the tyrant who now rules Obsidian, which is what they’re calling what used to be Manhattan. If this sounds a little like Peter Pan, the resemblance is intentional, which might make it a nice pairing with Finding Neverland — although the thought that Neverland is really Manhattan is a little disturbing. “As sheer sense-battering escapist spectacle, Bat Out of Hell is admittedly impressive,” says Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter. Other productions have featured flame cannons, glitter bombs and robotic bats, so who knows what will happen here? From May 7 to 26 of next year.