2006_01_arts_theatreseats.jpg We noted in yesterday’s roundup of theatre in 2005 that at least in our optimistic eyes, last year had plenty of great shows. If anywhere like the same number of impressive plays and musicals appear in ‘06, it’d be hard to complain. But nonetheless, we do have a small wish list.

-- For more affordable tickets. Even if it’s just making a certain number available for a low price at each performance, or making one day the cheap day, or something, it should be possible for anyone to see the big Broadway shows without paying an arm and leg, or standing for ages in the TKTS line, where tickets for some of the best shows might not even be selling. Some off-Broadway companies like the Atlantic and the Signature do this, and they’re to be applauded, but it’s still all too rare, and almost unheard of for the biggest productions.
-- For theater companies to make more creative use of the internet. In November we mentioned Collapsible Giraffe’s sort-of vlog about their new show proceeding toward the completion, but most companies seem to be limited to offering a synopsis, cast and crew bios, press clips, and maybe (if you’re lucky) photos. Oftentimes the pages are out of date, too. Theatre is a pretty traditional art, but it can and should also be technologically astute and use new technology (in addition to vlogs, podcasts come to mind as having potential here, but even the simple step of upgrading websites would be very positive).
-- For fewer of the simplistic political rants that keep popping up, making the same jokes, imitating Fahrenheit 9/11 and/or The Daily Show. We say this not because we agree or disagree with the politics, but shows like the current Bush Is Bad http://www.bushisbadthemusical.com/ (at the Triad), and too many other recent ones to name, just preach to the choir and entrench partisan audiences’ biases. Theatre companies should try to engage with the current contentious political climate in a more nuanced, less shrill way.

As for what’s already in the works, the past couple weeks have been slightly dry because of the holidays but things will be starting up fast in January and there’s already plenty of buzz about what’s coming up later this year. Mostly these are the higher profile, pricey productions that put their PR machines into action much earlier than off-Broadway shows (which may have no PR at all, much less a well-oiled like these guys’). But even though if we can’t always afford to see them, it’s fun to dream. And who knows, maybe we’ll get one of our wishes and the producers will make at least some tickets affordable.

-- In February, Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore opens at the Atlantic. McDonagh is a fantastic playwright, and this story of a cold-blooded Irish terrorist whose beloved cat dies mysteriously is getting its American premiere.
-- Hedda Gabler is at BAM at the end of February, continuing the run of Brecht and Ibsen that’s been going on, and starring Cate Blanchett.
-- Lestat, inspired by Anne Rice’s novels, with music by Elton John and sure to be an extravaganza (previews begin March 11).
-- Tarzan, Disney’s latest venture onto the Great White Way, will also doubtless be a huge spectacle, with a Phil Collins score to match (previews begin March 24). Can King Kong be far behind? We suspect not, considering that The Lord of the Rings musical is opening in Toronto this spring.
-- Three Days of Rain has Julia Roberts making her Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Greenberg’s play about…does it really matter? Greenberg is an acclaimed playwright, but most people are just going to buy tickets on the basis of Roberts’ presence. (previews begin March 28)
-- And in a future so distant we can hardly imagine it (that is, next October), Mary Poppins, which just opened in London http://www.marypoppinsthemusical.co.uk/, will transfer to Broadway. The New Yorker recently ran an interesting article about P.L. Travers, who wrote the Mary Poppins books, and apparently this musical, despite being partly a Disney production, is truer to her original vision.

And all that’s just the tip of the iceberg (for the best compilation of upcoming shows, see nytheatre.com). We’re definitely looking forward to this year, and hope you make it out to some of these shows and the many others we’ll be mentioning in the coming months.