After a 15-month shutdown, Broadway officially reopened on June 26 with Springsteen on Broadway, featuring New Jersey-born rocker Bruce Springsteen, singing his songs and telling his life story in a one-man show. The Tony Award-winning, ensemble musicals Hamilton, Hadestown, and Wicked are set to open in September, with more shows welcoming audiences back to the Great White Way in coming months. THIRTEEN celebrates this momentous return to the theater with three specials that spotlight Broadway legends, hit musicals, and more.
Wicked in Concert
Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, stars of the original hit Broadway musical Wicked, host Wicked in Concert (Sunday, August 29, 9 p.m.), a reimagining of the hit musical in an intimate concert setting. The starry cast includes Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), Amber Riley (Glee), Alex Newell (Once on This Island, Glee), Ariana DeBose (Hamilton and the upcoming West Side Story film) and Sara Bareilles (Great Performances: Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, Waitress), performing “Defying Gravity,” “Popular,” and other beloved songs from the Tony-winning musical.
Playbill.com was excited to report that also performing Stephen Schwartz’s score are Tony winners Rita Moreno, Cynthia Erivo, Gavin Creel, and Ali Stroker; Olivier winner Amber Riley; Tony nominee Mario Cantone; Grammy winner Jennifer Nettles; and stage and screen favorites Stephanie Hsu, Alex Newell, Isaac Powell, and Gabrielle Ruiz.
Actress Jessica Vosk, who was playing Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway in 2019, shared part of her double-performance day with Broadway Sandwich, the New York Emmy-winning ALL ARTS series. Watch Vosk get painted green and meet cast members of The Band’s Visit in the Broadway Sandwich episode.
Wicked will reopen September 14 at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.
Liza Minnelli, Kander and Ebb, and Bob Fosse
Liza With a Z (Thursday, August 12, 8 p.m.; stream now) features a 26-year-old Liza Minnelli – daughter of Judy Garland – in full razzle-dazzle force, following up her hit film Cabaret, directed by Bob Fosse, who also directs this live concert performance. For this made-for-TV special in 1972, Liza performs Fosse’s choreography, and belts out songs by Broadway songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb. The concert special was filmed at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City and earned four Emmy Awards, a DGA Award, and a Peabody. Highlights include a Cabaret medley, “Ring Them Bells,” the iconic title song, and more. Marvin Hamlisch was the music conductor, and Halston designed the glittering and glossy costumes.
After a 1973 rebroadcast, the film was thought lost for 30 years. But Minnelli held the rights and organized a search for a negative that led to its restoration. The remastered film was accepted at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Hamptons Film Festival and first thrilled audiences again in 2005.
In advance of the film’s screening in August 2019 at the The Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas described Liza with a Z as, “a spellbinding example of the art of performance, where endurance and skill braid with courage and grace.”
Broadway: 1959 – 1980s
Two-time Tony nominee Jonathan Groff hosts Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age (Thursday, August 19, 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 21 at 9 p.m.; stream now) on Great Performances, the highly anticipated sequel to filmmaker Rick McKay’s film Broadway: The Golden Age (2003). That film delighted theater fans with its astonishing Who’s Who compilation of intimate interviews with the stars of Broadway’s so-called “Golden Age” in the 1940s and 50s, creating an invaluable first-hand archive of fascinating backstage stories and reminiscences. McKay’s work on Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age was cut short by his untimely death in 2018, but this sequel chronicling Broadway shows from 1959 until the early 1980s has now come to fruition.
The galaxy of stars interviewed for the film includes Bea Arthur, Elizabeth Ashley, Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Glenn Close, Charles Durning, Celeste Holm, Jane Fonda, Robert Goulet, Cherry Jones, Donna McKechnie, Robert Morse, Jerry Orbach, Elaine Paige, Don Pippin, Robert Redford, Chita Rivera, Elaine Stritch, Jane Summerhays, Tommy Tune, Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen, and more, touching on classic Broadway shows including Once Upon a Mattress, Bye Bye Birdie, Barefoot in the Park, Pippin, and 42nd Street.
Donna McKechnie shares stories about the creation of A Chorus Line (music and lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban). Liza Minnelli recalls stepping into the role of Roxie Hart in Bob Fosse’s Chicago in 1975 while Gwen Verdon was on vocal rest. André De Shields, Robert Guillaume, Armelia McQueen, Ken Page, and Charlaine Woodard reflect on the birth of Ain’t Misbehavin’.
In addition to broadcast and livestreaming, Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age will stream on-demand on the Great Performances website (pbs.org/gperf) and the THIRTEEN and PBS apps. Great Performances has been the PBS showcase of the best of the performing arts for nearly 50 years.
Encore: John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway
Thursday, August 19 at 10 p.m.
Go behind-the-scenes of John Leguizamo’s Tony-nominated one-man Broadway show, Latin History for Morons, a comic but pointed look at how Hispanic culture has been portrayed and repressed throughout American history. The Great Performances episode premiered in November 2018 and is streaming on-demand with the member benefit THIRTEEN Passport.