10 don’t-miss Broadway divas, debuts and dramas for 2019


Ring out the old, ring in the new: Here’s my countdown to the 10 personalities, shows and backstage dramas I’m looking forward to in 2019.

10. Glenda Jackson delivered an unforgettable performance last year as the tough old lady in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women.” This spring, she’ll be back as tough old King Lear. She played the role to great acclaim in London two years ago, but this is a new production from director Sam Gold. I hope some pompous interviewer asks her about a line in “Lear” so she can savage him the way she did one critic, who told her he’d written an essay about Shakespeare for an academic journal. “You’re the people I avoid like the plague!” she snarled.

9. The first play I ever saw was Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.” I was in seventh grade and never quite recovered from the gunshot at the end. The villain of the play is not the father, who made the faulty airplane parts during World War II. It’s the mother, who tries to bury the truth. Annette Bening tackles this juicy role in a revival, directed by Jack O’Brien. Add Tracy Letts (as the father), and you’ve got the makings of a riveting show.

8. Donna Summer flamed out as a jukebox bio musical, and “The Cher Show” got mixed reviews. But the buzz is strong for “Ain’t Too Proud,” the show about the Temptations. Everybody’s calling it the next “Jersey Boys.” Slick direction by Des McAnuff and some smooth choreography from Sergio Trujillo should make for a fun night out.

7. Word-of-mouth was strong for “Beetlejuice” after a round of backers’ auditions, but last year’s out-of-town tryout drew adjectives like “overcaffeinated” and “charmless” from Washington Post critic Peter Marks. But sources tell me that the creators, led by director Alex Timbers, are doing a major rewrite before the show opens here in April. We shall see . . .

6. Even if “Beetlejuice” gets squashed, Timbers will bounce back quickly with “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” in July. Critics adored the show in Boston, where it ran last summer. The money comes from the same people who sunk $35 million into “King Kong.” This time, they’re going to get it back.

5. Hard to top Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Michael Dorsey, the prickly actor who dons a wig and high heels in the movie “Tootsie.” But by all accounts, Santino Fontana has done it in the musical, which opens in April. Writer Robert Horn shifted the action from TV soaps to Broadway, and David Yazbek supplied the catchy songs.

4. Finally, a juicy Tony race for Best Musical. The contenders are “Tootsie,” “Hadestown” and “Ain’t Too Proud.” But nobody should rule out “The Prom,” a smart, fun show that’s pleasing Tony voters. The superb cast — Angie Schworer and Christopher Sieber among them — should walk away with plenty of nominations.

3. The best British import this season will be “Ink,” James Graham’s play about a brash young newspaper publisher named Rupert Murdoch. This is “The Front Page,” but even tougher.

2. Here’s a duo from comedy heaven: Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin will team up in “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” playing servants who clean up the carnage after Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy. It’s a brilliant premise executed by two pros.

1. And now, the most anticipated event of 2019: “Hugh Jackman. The Man. The Music. The Show.” The best entertainer of our generation kicks off a worldwide tour with three shows at Madison Square Garden in June. I’m there — even if I have to be in the nosebleed seats!!

You can hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR radio 710.