THIRTEEN’s Great Performances Presents Third Annual “Broadway’s Best” Lineup Featuring Tony Award-winning Productions Fridays, November 1-29 on PBS
Features U.S. broadcast premieres of “42nd Street,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I,” “Kinky Boots” and “Red,” plus world premiere of “Much Ado About Nothing” from The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park
Stream all five plays beginning November 1 on PBS Passport
Great Performances returns with its third annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup of acclaimed theatrical productions, premiering Fridays, November 1-29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app. This fall’s lineup spotlights musicals, comedy and drama: “42nd Street,” the Broadway fable of a star-struck chorus girl dreaming of her big break; “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I,” Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival of the beloved musical classic starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe; “Kinky Boots,” the Broadway blockbuster featuring music and lyrics by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein; “Red” the Tony Award-winning drama starring Alfred Molina as painter Mark Rothko; and Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon’s modern interpretation of “Much Ado About Nothing,” the first Public Theater production recorded live at Free Shakespeare in the Park by Great Performances in over four decades.
Great Performances: 42nd Street
Premieres Friday, November 1 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
The 1981 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street is the song and dance, American dream fable of Broadway, featuring the iconic songs “42nd Street,” “We’re In the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “I Only Have Eyes For You” and many more. This all-singing and all-tapping musical extravaganza includes a cast of nearly 60 people. Young Peggy Sawyer is fresh off the bus from small-town America and just another face in the chorus line on Broadway’s newest show. But when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy just might have the shot at the top she’s always dreamed of. Starring Bonnie Langford as Broadway diva Dorothy Brock alongside Tom Lister as the demanding director Julian Marsh, Clare Halse as the ingénue Peggy Sawyer and Philip Bertioli as Billy Lawlor, this revival of director-choreographer Gower Champion’s original production was recorded at the end of its 2018 blockbuster run in London’s West End, with musical staging and new choreography by Tony nominee Randy Skinner (“Dames at Sea”) and directed by Mark Bramble, co-author of the book for the original Broadway and West End productions and director of the 2001 Tony Award-winning revival.
Great Performances: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I
Premieres Friday, November 8 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed 2015 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic 1951 musical directed by Bartlett Sher (“South Pacific”) went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Based on a true story, the year is 1862, and East and West collide when British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens arrives in Siam (modern day Thailand) to take up her post instructing the royal household of children from the King’s several wives. Despite her sharp wit and strong will, nothing has prepared Anna for the lessons this rich and complicated new land has to teach her—or for the powerful connection she will forge with its imperious but conflicted King. The score features a treasure trove of timeless Rodgers & Hammerstein hits including “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” “I Have Dreamed” and “Shall We Dance.” With a cast of over 50 people, this “first-rate, sumptuous” (The New York Times) production was “too beautiful to miss” (New York magazine). The production was recorded during its 2018 run in London’s West End with original Lincoln Center Theater cast members Ken Watanabe as the King and Kelli O’Hara in her Tony-winning performance as Mrs. Anna, along with Ruthie Ann Miles as “head wife” Lady Thiang, who won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a musical.
Great Performances: Red
Premieres Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
Award-winning stage and screen actor Alfred Molina reprises his critically acclaimed performance as the American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in playwright John Logan’s Tony Award-winning 2010 play Red. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant—and the growing competitive presence of a new generation of artists—Rothko takes on his greatest career challenge yet: to create a definitive series of paintings for the Philip Johnson-designed Four Seasons restaurant in architect Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Seagram Building. Molina is joined by rising star Alfred Enoch (How to Get Away With Murder) as Rothko’s assistant Ken. Original Broadway director Michael Grandage returns to direct this 2018 West End revival, the first U.K. production since the play’s 2009 world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse.
Great Performances: Much Ado About Nothing
Premieres Friday, November 22 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Back, Broadway’s “The Color Purple”) and Grantham Coleman (Broadway’s upcoming “The Great Society”) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) directs, with choreography by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown (“Choir Boy”). Set in contemporary Georgia with an election race underway, Much Ado About Nothing finds the community of Messina celebrating a break from an ongoing war, but not all is peaceful amid the merriment. Former rivals battle it out, revenge is sought and trickery runs amok in this timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication. Earning The New York Times’ Critic’s Pick, the play was recorded during its final weekend of The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park performances.
Great Performances: Kinky Boots
Premieres Friday, November 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
Kinky Boots is the 2013 Broadway blockbuster with music and lyrics by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, a book by Tony-winning theater legend Harvey Fierstein and direction and choreography by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell (“La Cage aux Folles”) that went on to pick up every major Best Musical award, including the Tony, the GRAMMY and London’s Olivier Award. Based on true events, this big-hearted hit tells the story of two people with nothing in common—or so they think. Charlie is a British shoe factory owner struggling to save his family business. Lola—originally known as Simon from Clapton—is a fabulous nightclub entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unexpected duo learns to embrace their differences and create a line of sturdy, stiletto-heeled boots for an entirely new clientele. In the end, their most meaningful achievement is their friendship. Great Performances presents the London production, featuring its original West End stars: Matt Henry in his Olivier-winning performance as Lola and Killian Donnelly as Charlie.
PBS station members can view the entire Great Performances “Broadway’s Best” lineup beginning November 1 via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.
For Great Performances: Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
For 42nd Street: Music and lyrics by Harry Warren an Al Dubin, book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble and original direction and dances by Gower Champion, directed for the stage by Mark Bramble with musical staging and new choreography by Randy Skinner. A GradeLinnit Production for Broadway HD, directed for the screen by Ross MacGibbon and produced by Austin Shaw; Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane, Michael Linnit and Michael Grade are executive producers.
For Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I: Music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based upon the novel “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon. Directed for the stage by Bartlett Sher with choreography by Christopher Gattelli based upon the original choreography by Jerome Robbins. A production of Trafalgar Entertainment Group & Trafalgar Releasing, directed for the screen by Gary Halvorson; Sir Howard Panter, Dame Rosemary Squire, David Lazar, Marc Allenby Alice De Rosa and Austin Shaw are producers.
For Red: Written by John Logan and directed for the stage by Michael Grandage. A Michael Grandage Company Production in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, directed for the screen by Nick Morris and produced by Austin Shaw.
For Much Ado About Nothing: Written by William Shakespeare and directed for the stage by Kenny Leon with choreography by Camille A. Brown. A production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET in association with The Public Theater, directed for the screen by David Horn and produced by Mitch Owgang.
For Kinky Boots: Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell. A production of Steel Heel Pictures Ltd. in association with Broadway HD, directed for the screen by Brett Sullivan and produced by Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig and Austin Shaw; Aaron Lustbader, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon, Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane are executive producers.
Major funding for “Broadway’s Best” on Great Performances is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold, The Lewis “Sonny” Turner Fund for Dance, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Phillip and Janice Levin Foundation, Seton J. Melvin, the Lenore Hecht Foundation, and PBS.
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