Broadway's Championship Season
Bernstein, Jacob, Newsweek
Byline: Jacob Bernstein
Mormons. Drag queens. Chris Rock. The Great White Way is white-hot.
With Oscar season over, the nation's multiplexes are a dumping ground for garbage you practically have to pay people to see. Thankfully, on Broadway, it's That Championship Season. That's the title of a hit revival starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric, but it might as well be the slogan for Broadway's entire spring lineup--at least in terms of box-office potential, if not originality. "There's more demand for upcoming shows than I've seen in the last couple of years," says Richard Ebers, a big-gun ticket broker in New York.
Walk along the Great White Way and you'll find singing Mormons in Africa, horses galloping in Lincoln Center, Spider-Man dangling for his life, and a healthy dose of social issues (AIDS! Alcoholism! The Iraq War!). There are stars galore: Chris Rock in The Motherf--ker With the Hat, Ben Stiller in The House of Blue Leaves, Frances McDormand in Good People, Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo, and Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
As in recent seasons, this year's slate is low on original works (Tony Kushner's new play is a rare exception), and heavy on retreads of Broadway classics and Tinseltown imports. Joel Grey--who's directing a revival of Larry Kramer's Pulitzer Prize-winning AIDS drama, The Normal Heart, and costarring in a revival of the 1934 musical Anything Goes--acknowledges that "there are less great works than there used to be," but praises the variety of offerings. …