Theater buzz has been a little… slow, to say the least. March is when things start to pick up, and now we’re ever-so-slowly climbing out of the Broadway slump where literally nothing at all happens and makes reporting on theater things a little challenging. But we’re almost there! There’s some Broadway theater news, and there's not one, but two shows that will enter previews the week before March begins. Finally. Here's a run-down of what's going on.
New Broadway previews: Hands on a Hardbody enters previews February 24, and will open March 21. It's a light-hearted play about a group of Southerners competing to win a new truck. In order to get the prize, however, they’ll need to see which of them can keep his or her hand on the truck the longest, as they all stand beneath the sweltering Texas sun. I can’t help but be reminded of those competition reality shows that would take place on MTV’s "Real World/Road Rules" challenges — you know, like, being forced to bungee jump into a lake while wearing a sumo wrestler outfit. (Not an actual challenge that I recall, but close enough.) To top it all off, Hands on a Hardbody is a musical! I like a show that’s not trying to take itself too seriously.
I considered trying to mask the fact that these are actually shows I’m super excited for, but I might as well be honest: these kid-friendly theater programs look amazing. I blame the fact that I'm still secretly a kid.
Matilda – The Musical
Growing up, I was in awe of the Matilda film, starring Mara Wilson (Matilda), Danny DeVito (Mr. Wormwood), Rhea Pearlman (Mrs. Wormwood), and Embeth Davidtz (Miss Honey). Matilda was just a kid, but she walked to the library by herself, flipped a perfect pancake, tied the blue ribbon on her head in a precise bow, and even had telekinetic powers. Insert dreamy sigh. As I grew older, my love for Matilda grew, especially when I devoured Roald Dahl’s book (which the film is based on). I came to admire Matilda for her sass and smarts.
So when I saw Matilda would not just be coming to the theater but had been turned into a musical, all bets were off. Set in England, Matilda — The Musical now has everything that was wonderful about the movie, plus the added element of singing and British accents. What more could you ask for?