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WHAT'S ON BROADWAY RIGHT NOW

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High School Is Hard. Broadway Is Harder.

Stephanie Hsu and Will Roland (with unidentified friend in center) chat at a Halloween party in “Be More Chill,” which will close on Aug. 11. It’s one of the many Broadway productions that have just given their last performances — or have just announced that they will in the next month or two. That’s what happens after the Tonys, when you don’t win one of the top prizes. (Or even if you do! See “The Cher Show.”)

EVEN AFTER ALL those early closings, there are two dozen or so musicals, dramas and dramedies playing in Broadway’s beautiful old theaters.  What awards did they win? What did the critics say? Any big stars in the production? Is the playwright important? What time should you make dinner reservations for (before or after)? These things matter. 

UPDATED ON JUNE 30, 2019

 

AIN’T TOO PROUD

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Jukebox musical

Well, Ben Brantley loved it, and there’s not a much better good start than that. The performances, he said in his review in The New York Times, are “pretty close to perfection.” Loved Sergio Trujillo’s choreography. Loved the whole zeitgeist: “The happy paradox of this group portrait is that everybody gets to be a star.” It’s about the music and times of the Temptations.

Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street,  ainttooproudmusical.com, 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on March 21, 2019.  

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ALADDIN

Musical based on a movie

The kids will love the genie. Aw, who are we kidding? The grown-ups will love the genie too. A Disney musical is a Disney musical, even a production  based on a centuries-old Middle Eastern folk tale about a young guy, a magic lamp and a princess, but The New York Times admired this one’s insouciance. And its critic (at the time) Charles Isherwood concluded that the show’s message was, “If you can’t be yourself, just be fabulous.” Works for us.

New Amsterdam Theater, 214 West 42nd Street,  telecharge.com.. 2 hours 30 minutes. Opened on March 20, 2014

BEAUTIFUL

THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Musical based on real-life characters and events

The baby-boomer generation and their offspring know Carole King as a ’70s folk-rock megastar.  (the “Tapestry” album alone was a revelation). This Tony Award-winning jukebox musical is the story of how Carole began as a pop-music songwriter when she was only a teenager and went through all manner of emotional angst on her way to solo stardom and bliss. Jessie Mueller originated the role of King and won a Tony for it; 

Stephen Sondheim Theater, 124 West 43rd Street, beautifulonbroadwa.com, 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on Jan. 12, 2014. Open run.

 

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THE BOOK OF MORMON

Musical comedy

Nobody doesn’t love “The Book of Mormon,” even Mormons, whose religion is affectionately but soundly ridiculed here. The creators of “South Park” are behind this irreverent, profane, fabulous musical about young, white, male missionaries who get stuck with a less than glamorous international posting in war- and AIDS-riddled Africa. It won so many Tonys (nine, including best musical) it didn’t know what to do, so it just keeps running. The Times really did call it “the best musical of the century.” Jon Stewart, when he was still reigning over “The Daily Show,” really did say it was “so good it makes me angry.”

Eugene O’Neill Theater, 230 West 49th Street, bookofmormonbroadway.com.  2 hours 30 minutes. Opened on  March 24, 2011. Open run.

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THE CHER SHOW

Jukebox musical/Closing on Aug. 18

It seems wrong to call this a jukebox musical. “The Cher Show” actually tells the story of a real human being, with strengths and weaknesses, ups and downs, good luck and bad. Stephanie J. Block (in photo) plays Cher, as do Micaela Diamond and Teal Wicks. And OMG, that’s Emily Skinner as her mom. Even if the performances weren’t outstanding and the music weren’t even more fun than it was the first time around, this show would be worth seeing for the costumes alone. Takeaway: “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour”was much funnier than I’d remembered.

Neil Simon Theater, 250 West 52nd Street, thechershowbroadway.com, 2 hours 20 minutes. Open run. Opened on Dec. 3, 2018.

  

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CHICAGO

Musical revival

All that jazz! This revival of the deliciously immoral Kander-Ebb-Fosse musical about two celebrity Jazz Age murderers (played originally by Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking, and since then by entertainers from Brooke Shields to Brandy Norwood), their confidently sleazy lawyer and the lascivious journalists who feed on them just won’t quit. It won six Tonys, including best musical revival.

Ambassador Theater, 219 West 49th Street, chicagothemusical.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. . Opened on Nov. 14, 1996. Open run.

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COME FROM AWAY

Musical based on real-life events

On Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and elsewhere, a lot of planes headed for New York couldn’t land there. Some had to set down at an old airport in Newfoundland, and inspired this musical about the passengers who were stuck there, the locals who opened their arms, and the universality of need and human connection. The director won a Tony, and the show itself was named best musical by Drama Desk. 

Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, 236 West 45th Street, telecharge.com. 1 hour and 20 minutes (no intermission). Open run. Opened on March 12, 2017.

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DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Musical drama

Lots of Tonys (five, including best musical and best lead actor in a musical) and lots of critical praise for this show about a misfit teenager whose life changes after a classmate commits suicide. The Times called it a “gorgeous heartbreaker of a musical.”  Many cast changes since the opening.

Music Box Theater, 239 West 45th Street, dearevanhansen.com. 2 hours 35 minutes. Open run. Opened on Dec. 12, 2016.

 

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 FROZEN

Disney fantasy musical

The New York Times loved the first 20 minutes. As for the whole show, Jesse Green summed it up as “sometimes rousing, often dull, alternately dopey and anguished.” EW, on the other hand, found the whole thing “worth melting for.” This is the story from the Oscar-winning 2013 animated film of Princess Elsa and Princess Anna, who are separated because Elsa keeps accidentally turning people (or at least parts of their bodies) into ice.  Elsa’s big song, “Let It Go,” comes at the end of Act I, as it must. Yes, the show is just a fantasy for little girls, but it's an enlightened one (wait for the prince's great line in the true-love's-kiss scene), the sets are dazzling, and Olaf the snowman has never been cuter.

St. James Theater, 246 West 46th Street; 866-870-2717, frozenthemusical.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Open run. Opened on March 22, 2018.

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HADESTOWN

Musical drama based on mythology

We don’t deserve a show as intensely thrilling as “Hadestown.” You don’t need to know Hades (Patrick Page, singing as “a deep bass and then some,” as The Daily Beast said), the king of hell, from Persephone (Amber Gray, in photo with Page), his wife, whom he borrows from the world above for half the year — climate change! — from Orpheus (Patrick Page), a young songwriter in love, from Eurydice (Eva Noblezada), the literally hungry young woman he falls for, who signs an unfortunate agreement to keep her in hell. And it doesn’t even matter who Hermes is; as played by André De Shields, he’s the finest emcee since Joel Grey first looked at the script of “Cabaret.” It’s all Greek mythology to us, and as clear and powerful, lyrical and realistic, and life-affirming as a Broadway show can be. From the director Rachel Chavkin, who gave us “Pierre and Natasha and the Great Comet of 1812.” Update: It won the best musical Tony this year, and De Shields won for best featured actor in a musical.

Walter Kerr Theater, 219 West 48th Street; 877-250-2929, hadestown.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Opened on April 17, 2019. Open run.

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 HAMILTON

Musical based on American history  

Former President Barack Obama has said that when Lin-Manuel Miranda told him he was planning a hip-hop musical about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, he (Obama) sort of rolled his eyes and said something like, “Yeah, right, good luck with that.” Now, 11 Tony Awards (including best musical) and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama later, “Hamilton” rocks on as Broadway’s biggest hit in years. Miranda (far right in photo) .has long since moved on, and a new cast is rocking the stage. If you don’t think there’s comedy in American history, you haven’t seen Thomas Jefferson's show stopper  “What Did I Miss?” or King George III's “You’ll Be Back,” a gentle and hopeful prediction about his ungrateful colonists.   

Richard Rodgers Theater, 226 West 46th Street, hamiltmusical.com. 2 hours 40 minutes. Open run. Opened on Aug. 6, 2015.

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HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

Fantasy drama based on a short story

It won the Tony Award for best play, even though it’s two plays, and it’s, for lack of a better word, magical. Harry’s son Albus is off to school (Hogwarts, of course), and so is Ron and Hermione’s daughter. There’s a lot of problem-solving time travel, a series of nifty surprises and dancing wizards in glamorous robes.

Lyric Theater, 214 West 43rd Street, harrypottertheplay.com, 2 hours 40 minutes (Part I) and 2 hours 35 minutes (Part II). Open run. Opened on April 22, 2018.

 

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KING KONG

Fantasy drama based on a horror movie/Closes on Aug. 18

New York City, 1931: Aspiring actress arrives in town, desperate for work, accepts movie job that involves travel to Skull Island, wherever that is. Majestic 20-foot-tall killer ape falls in love with her, is brought to New York in chains as the hot new attraction of the season, escapes, climbs a building and comes to a tragic end. The reviews are, to say the least, not kind (both The New York Times and The New York Post included the word “mess” in their headlines), but everyone admits that Kong himself is pretty cool (he won a special puppetry Tony). And for a while, that was enough.

Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway, kingkongbroadway.com, 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on Nov. 8, 2018.

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THE LION KING

Musical based on a movie

Thank you, Julie Taymor, for the costumes and the masks and the puppets and the direction and taking us to Africa in this long-running spectacle. The show won six Tonys, including best musical, when it first opened (during the Clinton administration!). The opening number, with its parade of puppet-human-animals, has been known to thrill the adults as much as the children. Like the 1994 Disney animated movie, it tells the story of Simba, a little lion cub who learns about loss, loneliness, love and the circle of life. Hakuna matata!

Minskoff Theater, 200 West 45th Street, lionking.com, 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on Aug. 13, 1997.

 

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MEAN GIRLS

Musical based on a movie

Tina Fey’s 2004 movie about popular-in-pink high school princesses with compassion deficiencies now has songs, dancing and social-media harassment. (2004 was longer ago, tech-ly, than you may think.)  "A fresh and funny Broadway musical," an enthralled People magazine wrote, "that's so good it'll make every day feel like Oct. 3." (That being Mean Girls Day.) Greg Evans of deadline.com offered lavish praise: not only “vibrant, beautifully sung and visually splendid,” but also “as fresh as your best and worst high school memories.” The Times was of two minds: “likable but seriously overpadded” with some songs that “lack the energizing pop snap you long for.” Variety praised the show’s “high fun factor” but found it all “too busy, too colorful, too loud.”

August Wilson Theater, 245 West 52nd Street, 800-745-3000, meangirlsonbroadway.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on April 8, 2018.

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MY FAIR LADY

Musical revival

Don't take my word for it. Listen to Jesse Green of The Times: "plush and thrilling," "better than it ever was." Or Marilyn Stasio in Variety: a "jubilant revival," "meticulously mounted." Lerner and Loewe's 1956 musical about a Cockney flower girl who gets elocution lessons and a beauty-fashion makeover has always been one of the greats, and now it miraculously feels brand-new. Laura Benanti (center in photo, with Rosemary Harris stage right) has replaced Lauren Ambrose as a strong, determined and sensitive Eliza; Harry Hadden-Paton is still the dashing 'Enry 'Iggins. Just in case these people and the ebullient songs aren't enough for you, there's also Rosemary Harris as Higgins’s surprisingly sensible mom, scenic design that makes you want to live on Wimpole Street forever  and a 29-piece orchestra. It won this year's Drama Desk Award for best musical revival. And it should have won a lot more Tonys than just best costume design.

Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center; 212-239-6200, myfairladybway.com.  2 hours 55 minutes. Open run. Opened on April 19, 2018. 

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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Musical drama based on a novel

A deformed musical genius who lives in a secret lair beneath the Paris Opera House becomes obsessed with a beautiful soprano. There’s a big scene with a crashing chandelier in this, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most successful musical. It won seven Tonys, including best musical, back in 1988. Frank Rich, of The Times, called it “a victory of dynamic stagecraft over musical kitsch.” Yes, it’s been playing for 31 years.

Majestic Theater, 245 West 44th Street, us.thephantomoftheopera.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on Jan. 26, 1988.

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PRETTY WOMAN

Musical based on a movie

It was an unlikely movie hit: rich, emotionally closed-off businessman hires cute Los Angeles streetwalker — not just for the night but for the week — and (accidentally, against his will) falls in love. This musical gives Samantha Barks and Andy Karl the impossible job of living up to our cinematic memories of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Pretty clothes, glamorous hotel suite, a few nice musical numbers. Karl is so much better than this and knows it. On July 21, Brennin Hunt and Jillian Mueller take over the lead roles.

Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41st Street, prettywomanthemusical.com, 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on Aug. 16, 2018.

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THE PROM

Original musical/Closing on Aug. 11

There’s nothing worse than being a Broadway has-been. No, there’s nothing worse than being a small-town teenage lesbian and not being able to bring your girlfriend to the prom. Desperate for attention, the Broadway types (including one played by the Tony winner Beth Leavel) decide to lend their support to the teenage girl’s cause. Lots o’ talent behind the scenes: Chad Beguelin, Matthew Sklar and Casey Nicholaw. The Times made it a Critic’s Pick, calling the show “a joyful hoot” that “makes you believe in musical comedy again.”

Longacre Theater, 220 West 48th Street, theprommusical.com, 2 hours 15 minutes. Open run. Opened on Nov. 15, 2018.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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Drama based on a novel

In a small Alabama town in the 1930s, a black man is arrested on charges that he raped a white woman, and a soft-spoken white lawyer agrees to defend him — while his two small children look on and learn all too much about the imperfect world they live in. That was Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel and the Oscar-winning 1962 movie based on it. Now Aaron Sorkin, a writer who always has strong points of view, has adapted “To Kill a Mockingbird” (after some back-and-forth with the estate of its author, Harper Lee), and Jeff Daniels stars as the lawyer, Atticus Finch. Bartlett Sher directs. Rave reviews all around. Celia Keenan-Bolger, who plays Scout (the book’s little-girl narrator) won the Tony for best featured actress in a play. Ed Harris takes over as Atticus in November.

Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street, tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com , 2 hours 35 minutes. Open run. Opened on Dec. 13, 2018.

 

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WAITRESS

Musical based on a movie

Once it was a sensitive indie-feminist film. Now it’s a musical about an oppressed food service worker baking pies and finding her inner strength despite a creepy sexist husband. The New York Times liked Sara Bareilles’s pop-country-show-tune score and said the story had “built-in (or should I say baked-in) emotional appeal” but concluded that it was a production of “slick surface professionalism rather than anything approaching real depth.”

Brooks Atkinson Theater, 256 West 47th Street, waitressthemusical.com, telecharge.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on April 24, 2016.

 

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WICKED

Musical based on a book

Turns out that the snarling, green-faced Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t evil, after all; she was just misunderstood. And maybe Glinda the Good Witch wasn’t perfect, just pretty and popular. When the two young women end up as roommates at sorcery school, a clash of values may ensue. The show, which The Times called “equally arch and earnest” back in 2003 (when it starred Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth), won three Tonys and six Drama Desk Awards.

Gershwin Theater, 222 West 51st Street, wickedthemusical.com. 2 hours 45 minutes.  Open run. Opened on Oct. 30, 2003.

 

 

 

 

RECENT BROADWAY ARCHIVES

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Shows That Closed in 2019

NETWORK

Drama based on a movie

Who could fill the shoes of Peter Finch, who won a posthumous Oscar for playing Howard Beale, the deranged television news anchor who becomes a media hero, in Paddy Chayefsky’s brilliant 1977 movie, “Network”? Bryan Cranston. Couldn’t be a better choice. Couldn’t be a better performance. Pretty much every critic in town agrees. And although the Dutch director Ivo van Hove’s unconventional staging is so multifaceted (and so tech-driven) that it runs the risk of derailing the whole project, you gotta see this play. As Beale’s producer, Tony Goldwyn is strong but not nearly as old and craggy as William Holden. As the ambitious young producer (when she has an orgasm, she cries out market-share numbers), Tatiana Maslany is interesting but not as gloriously nuts as Faye Dunaway was in the role. Chayefsky saw the future (our present) all too well.

Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street; networkbroadway.com, 2 hours (no intermission). Limited run.. Opened on Dec. 6, 2018. Extended through June 8, 2019.CLOSED.

GARY

A SEQUEL TO TITUS ANDRONICUS

Comedy

So. At the end of “Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare’s most graphically violent play, there are a lot of dead bodies. In Taylor Mac’s comedy sequel, starring Nathan Lane (in photo), Kristine Nielsen and Julie White, someone has to clean up the mess. The Times called it “fabulous and bedraggled, a defiant and beautiful mess” and added that it wasn’t as funny as we’d like it to be but made it an official Critic’s Pick anyway. Behind the scenes: All the best people, among them Santo Loquasto (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Bill Irwin as the movement expert and George C. Wolfe directing.

Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street; 212-239-6200, garyonbroadway.com. 1 hour 35 minutes. Opened on April 21, 2019. Limited run. Closes on Aug. 4. [[Closed early, on June 16.]]

THE BAND’S VISIT

Musical based on a movie/CLOSED ON APRIL 7 

This quirky story about an Egyptian police band that accidentally travels to the wrong destination, a painfully quiet Israeli desert town, was a huge hit when it played Off Broadway last year at the Atlantic. Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal declared it “downright therapeutic.” It won both the Obie and the Lucille Lortel Award for best musical. Ben Brantley of The New York Times loved it Off Broadway too, but after its move to Broadway he was even more enthusiastic, pronouncing it "one of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by." Maybe that's why it won 10 Tonys, including best musical! Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk, in photo, were Tony winners too.

Ethel Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street; thebandsvisitmusical.com. 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). Open run. Opened on Nov. 9, 2017.

ANASTASIA

Musical drama based on two movies/CLOSED ON MARCH 31

Such a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty show! (The Times’s Ben Brantley called it “postcard-scenic.”) Christy Altomare stars as Anya, a beautiful young Russian amnesiac who may or may not be the mysterious missing Romanov daughter, the only member of the ruling family who wasn’t shot dead during the 1918 Revolution. The Tony winner Judy Kaye now plays the Dowager Empress, who had escaped to Paris before the really bad stuff went down, the only person who can identify her for sure. Although it comes from a team of major Broadway talents, The Times didn’t adore it and expressed relief that the firing squad didn’t sing.

Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, telecharge.com, 2 hours 25 minutes. Opened on April 24, 2017.

KINKY BOOTS

Musical based on a movie/CLOSED ON APRIL 7

A nice young Englishman is struggling to keep his family shoe factory from closing. A nice young drag queen (Lola) is struggling to do his act in inferior footwear. They join forces, and chances are good that everyone will live long and prosper. The show took home six Tonys and has had more Lolas than Barry Manilow.

Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 West 45th Street, kinkybootsthemusical.com. 2 hours 25 minutes. Open run. Opened on April 4, 2013. Closes on April 7, 2019.

 

HEAD OVER HEELS

Period jukebox musical

Whoopi Goldberg raved about it. Ben Brantley, writing in The Times, said that it "lacks the courage of its contradictions." What we have here is a difference of opinion. And the '80s music of the Go-Gos inserted into the story of a 16th-century monarchy that, yes, has got the beat and fears losing it. Personally, I enjoyed its sense of fun: The confident beauty is the fat girl. The queen (in photo) looks like Anne Boleyn if she'd had the good luck to live to 40. The Oracle of Delphi is transsexual. The shepherd who loves the other princess finds himself dressing like an Amazon warrior and liking it. Yeah, the show has flaws, but this is a cast of Broadway pros bolstered by a lot of good things, including beautifully fake scenic design. Give it a break.

Hudson Theater, 141 West 44th Street, headoverheelsthemusical.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Open run. Opened on July 26, 2018. Closed on Jan. 6, 2019.

CHOIR BOY

Original drama

Things looked good for “Choir Boy” the morning after opening night. Tarell Alvin McCraney’s new play was right at the top of the front of the Arts section of The New York Times. And right next to the title was the official check mark coveted by all New York theater production: “Choir Boy” was a critic’s pick.

So it was a little puzzling when Jesse Green, the author of this review (and The Times’s co-chief theater critic), began to complain about obvious plot points, character credibility, “tonally blurry staging” and more. For a show that readers absolutely shouldn’t miss (which is what the “critic’s choice” designation means), it certainly had a lot of major flaws. The Press Nights review adds its own two cents. (See the February home page.)

Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, manhattantheatreclub.com. 1 hour 45 minutes (no intermission). Opened on Jan. 8, 2019. Limited run. Closed on Feb. 17, 2019.

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT

Original comic drama

You start with stars like Cherry Jones, Daniel Radcliffe and Bobby Cannavale. You take a sensitive subject like “fake news,” “alternative facts,” what-have-you. It’s the story of a writer who likes to play with the truth, his demanding editor and the fact checker — God help him — in between. The Hollywood Reporter declared the show “invigoratingly taut.” Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal called it a “rib-bustingly funny farce” that gracefully goes darker when it needs to.

Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, lifespanofafact.com, 1 hour 25 minutes. Limited run. Closed on Jan. 13, 2019.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA’S THE NEW ONE

Original solo comedy show

I saw “Thank God for Jokes” and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” Mike Birbiglia’s earlier solo comedy shows, and loved them. “The New One” is specifically about parenthood, a job Birbiglia recently took on. When he did the show at the Cherry Lane (Off Broadway) this summer, Alexis Soloski liked — most of it. “The first hour, about his wife and cat and brother and vascular repair, is gorgeous.” But after the baby is actually born, she wrote, the appeal “goes down for a nap.” We await the Broadway reviews.

Cort Theater, 138 West 48th Street, thenewone.com, 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). Limited run. Opened on Nov. 11, 2018. Closed on Jan. 20, 2019.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND

Musical revival

Once in a while, all the critics agree, and this was their favorite musical of last  season. Somewhere in the French Antilles, a beautiful but poor village girl saves the life of a beautiful but rich boy from the other side of the island, loses him and then sets off for the big city to win his love. All to the tune of gorgeous Caribbean music, punctuated by breathtaking choreography and under the watchful eyes of several inventively costumed gods. It won the best musical revival Tony.

Circle in the Square Theater, 235 West 50th Street; onceonthisisland.com. 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). Open run. Opened on Dec. 3, 2017. Closed on Jan. 6, 2019.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

British comedy

Imagine that you are at a very bad production of something called “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” performed by a very unfortunate British drama society. The Times called it “a gut-busting hit.” Variety deemed it “comic gold.” They loved it in London; it won the Olivier Award for best new comedy. Here, it only won the Tony for best set.

Lyceum Theater, 149 West 45th Street; broadwaygoeswrong.com. 2 hours. Open run. Opened on April 2, 2017. Closed on Jan. 6, 2019. But moving Off Broadway!

SCHOOL OF ROCK

Musical based on a movie

Sometimes the odd-bedfellows thing works: Take a Richard Linklater movie starring Jack Black as a shaggy would-be musician posing as a substitute teacher at a private school, then sets out to turn his brainy students into a rock band. Who writes the new music for the stage version? Andrew Lloyd Webber. Who writes the book? Julian Fellowes, the man who gave us “Downton Abbey.” Yet The Times acknowledged that the show “charmingly walks the line between the cute and the precious” in Act I and, even when it turns saccharine later, is “surprisingly easy to swallow.”

Winter Garden Theater, 1634 Broadway (between 50th and 51st Street), schoolofrockthemusical.com. 2 hours 15 minutes. Opened on Dec. 6, 2015. Closed on Jan. 20, 2019

TORCH SONG

Play revival

It’s back: Harvey Fierstein’s award-wining tale of a drag queen (“gender illusionist”) and his mother, this time with Michael Urie in the lead role. Mercedes Ruehl is his co-star. Moises Kaufman is their director. Ben Brantley of The Times called it “a seriously entertaining interpretation of living large as a proactive defense against feeling small.” Yet it’s closing a month and a half earlier than planned.

Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th Street, torchsongbroadway.com, 2 hours 30 minutes. Limited run. Opened on Nov. 1, 2018. Closed on Jan. 6, 2019.

THE WAVERLY GALLERY

Drama revival

Elaine May, 86, stars in this revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s drama about a woman losing everything to dementia. The Chicago Tribune called May’s performance — her first on Broadway since she and Mike Nichols were bright young newcomers — “one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see in a Broadway theater.” Her co-stars, including Joan Allen, Michael Cera and David Cromer, are no slouches either.

Golden Theater, 252 West 45th Street, thewaverlygalleryonbroawday.com 2 hours 15 minutes. Opened on Oct. 25, 2018. Limited run. Closed on Jan. 27, 2019.

AMERICAN SON

Original drama

Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale star as an estranged couple brought together again one tension-filled night in a Florida police station. Their mixed-race teenage son is missing. The New York Times critic spent paragraphs praising Washington’s performance. He also compared the production to a nightmare, but in a good way.

Jeremy Jordan plays the young cop in charge. The playwright is Christopher Demos-Brown. Directed by Kenny Leon, who took home a Tony for “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street, americansonplay.com, 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). Limited run. Closed on Jan. 27, 2019.

SHOWS THAT CLOSED IN 2018

RUBEN & CLAY’S FIRST ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CAROL FAMILY FUN PAGEANT SPECTACULAR REUNION SHOW

Holiday music special

It was one of the biggest “American Idol” finales ever. Fifteen years ago, Clay Aiken (in photo, standing) and Ruben Studdard (seated) were the competition reality show’s hugely popular finalists, and although Studdard won that night, both men went on to successful singing careers. Now Studdard, a Birmingham, Ala., native who turned 40 in September, and Aiken, a Raleigh, N.C., native who just turned 40 himself, come together for an evening of holiday classics and comedy. It will be their first time on a national stage together since 2003.

Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street, telecharge.com or rubenandclay.com, 2 hours. Limited run. Opened on Dec. 11, 2018. Closed on Dec. 30, 2018.

SUMMER

Jukebox musical

"From gospel choir to dance floor diva." That's what the show's website says, and that just about sums up "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical."  Ariana DeBose (in photo) is one of three actresses who play Summer in this posthumous biographical jukebox special. Jesse Green, unfortunately, called it "a blight" and "dramaturgy by song hook" (well, it wouldn't be the first time) in his Times review. If you go just for the music, though, it's a nice concert, with hits like "Bad Girls," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "Hot Stuff."  

Lunt-Fontanne Theater, 205 West 46th Street, 988-250-2929; thedonnasummermusical.com. 1 hour 40 minutes (no intermission). Open run. Opened on April 23, 2018. Closed on Dec. 30, 2018. 

SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY

Solo musical event

What else is there to say? Bruce Springsteen fans who've seen dozens of his big-arena shows say that seeing him in a 975-seat theater is a totally new (and thrilling) experience. They gave Bruce a special Tony.

Walter Kerr Theater, 219 West 48th Street; ticketmaster.com. 2 hours (no intermission). Opened on Oct. 12, 2017. Limited run. Closed on Dec. 15, 2018.

BERNHARDT/HAMLET

Original comic drama inspired by real life

Janet McTeer, who swept New York audiences off their feet in“A Doll’s House” two decades ago (time flies!), plays Sarah Bernhardt, the world’s most acclaimed actress in the early 20th century. Bernhardt is so bored that she’s decided that the next stage role she wants is Hamlet. And only she could get away with it. In Theresa Rebeck’s fast and furious script, McTeer (in photo with Dylan Baker) sees Bernhardt through some challenges — including a backstage visit from her lover’s wife and a revised script that takes all the poetry out of Shakespeare. The New York Times called the production “a deep-inside love letter to the theater.”

American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, roundabouttheatre.org, 2 hours 20 minutes. Limited run. Closed on Nov. 11, 2018.

CAROUSEL

Musical revival / Closed on Sept. 16, 2018

Newsweek adored it (“delightful,” “a highlight reel of the best of the Golden Age of Broadway”). The Daily News found it a “wobbly” show that “cries out for cohesion.” The amNewYork critic hated everything (“misguided,” “a disappointing, bewildering and frustrating experience”). But then the critic is also a lawyer whose profile picture is a scowl. The Wall Street Journal was on the fence (“remarkably sung” but “disappoints in other ways”). And The Times’s verdict? A “heartfelt, half-terrific revival” that’s “ravishingly scored.” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” is the story of a naïve working-class girl who falls in love with a carnival sharpie. He turns out to be an inept criminal and a habitual wife-beater who gets a second chance for redemption in the afterlife. Most important, Renée Fleming is there, as the cousin, to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Imperial Theater, 252 West 45th Street; 212-239-6200, carouselbroadway.com. 2 hours 45 minutes. Opened on April 12.

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS

Musical based on a Nickelodeon cartoon show / Closed on Sept. 16, 2018

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and works as a Crabby Patty fry cook? SpongeBob, of course, as his many television, film and merchandising fans know. And now he's a Broadway musical getting great reviews, and the whole gang is here, including Squidward (great costume!), Patrick (Bob's starfish BFF) and Sandy Cheeks (a squirrel from Texas -- there's really no room here to explain). The plot: An impending volcanic disaster threatens the town of Bikini Bottom. The world will end tomorrow at sundown if somebody doesn't save the day. The Times called Tina Landau's super-splashy production "exhaustingly imaginative," and I can vouch for that with a silly, childlike smile on my face. In fact, it makes "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812" (last seasons's spectacular triumph of Broadway staging) look like "Our Town."

Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway (at 50th Street); spongebobbroadway.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on Dec. 4, 2017.

GETTIN' THE BAND BACK TOGETHER

Original musical

A 40-year-old Wall Street guy gets fired and goes home to his mom (Marilu Henner) in New Jersey. But she's behind on her mortgage payments, so the only thing to do is reunite his high school garage band and win some money. Critics disagree. In Variety, Marilyn Stasio found the show endearing, "grooving along mainly on its very goofy throwaway lines" with a welcome result: "It feels so good to laugh real laughs on Broadway." In The Times, Jesse Green called the production "empty-headed entertainment" and "a calculated rehash of a million tired tropes."  But look how skinny Henner is!

Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street, gettinthebandbacktogether.com. 2 hours 15 minutes. Opened on Aug. 13. Open run.  Closed on Sept. 16, 2018.

HELLO, DOLLY!

Musical comedy revival based on a play / Closed on Aug. 25, 2018

In January, Bernadette Peters replaced Bette Midler as Dolly Levi, the Yonkers matchmaker with a secret agenda, in what was last season's hugest musical hit. Jesse Green of The New York Times and other critics gave her a thumbs-up. But now Midler is back for a big encore, and she's brought  her original co-stars David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel with her. They'll be here until closing night in late August.  

Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street, telecharge.com. 2 hours 35 minutes. Opened on April 20, 2017. 

A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL

Musical based on a movie / Closed on Aug. 5, 2018

It was a streetwise 1993 film starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Chazz Palminteri. Now it’s a streetwise musical with the same plot: New York boy torn between his good-guy father and a mob boss who wants to recruit him.  “Sometimes plain old pasta with red sauce is just what the doctor ordered,” Charles Isherwood wrote in his New York Times review, comparing the show to Italian comfort food. Nick Cordero stars. De Niro is credited as the co-director, with Jerry Zaks.

Longacre Theater, 220 West 48th Street, abronxtalethemusical.com. 2 hours 10 minutes. Opened on Dec. 1, 2016.

 

ANGELS IN AMERICA

Drama revival /Closed on July 5, 2018

The critics are running out of superlatives for this one. In The New York Times, Ben Brantley called it “flat-out fabulous.” In The Washington Post, Peter Marks used terms like “riveting production” and “sublime entertainment.” Sara Holdren of Vulture called it a “brilliant rendering” that “couldn’t feel more vivid, more eloquently outraged.” And The Daily News went out on a limb: “the most electrifying production you’re apt to ever see" of Tony Kushner’s master work. For those who don’t know, “Angels” is a two-part, Tony-winning, Pulitzer-winning epic that first appeared on Broadway in 1993. It’s set in the 1980s when a generation of young men (and others) were dying of AIDS while the Reagan administration ignored them. This production, which originated in London (the National Theater), stars Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter (a PWA, person with AIDS, whom the angel visits) and Nathan Lane as Roy Cohn (also a PWA, the satanic midcentury lawyer who taught Donald Trump everything he knows). The Wall Street Journal called Lane “deliciously odious” in the role.  UPDATE: Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane and the play (as best revival) won at the Drama Desk Awards on June 3. 

Neil Simon Theater, 250 West 52nd Street; angelsbroadway.com. Part I: “Millennium Approaches,” 3 hours 35 minutes. Part II: “Perestroika,” 3 hours 55 minutes. Limited run.

ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE

Jukebox musical / Closed on July 1, 2018

The music and worldview of Jimmy Buffett, with tropical prints on the actors and margaritas in the lobby bar. “Maybe bottom 10, lifetime,” Peter Marks of The Washington Post wrote on Facebook as a lead-in to his review. Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote, “If you’re not drunk or a Parrothead, as Mr. Buffett’s fans are called, you’re in trouble,” describing the show as “denatured country-calypso ditties and horndog smarm.”

Marquis Theater, 210 West 46th Street; 877-250-2929, escapetomargaritavillemusical.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on March 15, 2018.

SAINT JOAN

Drama revival / Closed on June 10, 2018

Let's all travel back to 15th-century France, where a teenage girl says she's hearing voices from God -- and so many people believe her that she becomes riotously dangerous to the powers that be. Condola Rashad, who has done beautiful work on Broadway (she's 31, and this is her fourth Tony nomination in the last six years), plays Joan as a rational, clear-eyed and undeniably sane heroine, just the way Shaw wrote her. The cast also includes John Glover, Patrick Page and the director Walter Bobbie.

Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street; 212-239-6200, saintjoanbroadway.com. 2 hours 45 minutes. Opened on April 25. Limited run.

 

THREE TALL WOMEN

Drama revival / Closed on June 25, 2018

“Glenda Jackson Gets Her ‘Queen Lear’ Moment.” That’s the New York Times’s web headline for Jesse Green’s review of “Three Tall Women,” and there you have it. Back in the 1990s, Edward Albee won his third Pulitzer Prize for this character study, said to be based on his adoptive mother, with whom he had (they say) a hideous relationship. The title characters are A, a dying 92-year-old (Jackson, who won the Drama Desk for best actress in a play); B, her caretaker (Laurie Metcalf); and C, a young legal type who’s always around (Alison Pill). There’s not much plot, except the difficulties of aging and dying, until the second part when all three actresses turn into A at three different ages. Vulture called it “a staggering example” of the actor’s art. Time Out New York used the words “exquisite new revival” and “scalpel-sharp production” (thank you, Joe Mantello). Marilyn Stasio of Variety said watching Jackson was “like looking straight into the sun.” But Green wrote the best review sentence of all, explaining that the play “slips Beckettian existentialism through the commercial barricades …” Well, he goes on.

 John Golden Theater, 252 West 45th Street; 212-239-6200, threetallwomenbroadway.com. 1 hour 45 minute (no intermission). Opened on March 29, 2018. Limited run.

 

CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD

Drama revival / Closed on May 27, 2018

Let's simplify: She's deaf, and she likes it that way. He's her teacher, and he thinks he knows better. And somewhere along the way, he falls in love with her. Mark Medoff's play won three Tonys, including best play, the first time around (1980). Critics are generally calling this revival uneven and a little dated but are praising both lead performances to high heaven. With Lauren Ridloff, who has been nominated for a Tony, and Joshua Jackson.

Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street; 212-239-6200, childrenofalessergodbroadway.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on April 11.

Minskoff Theater, 200 West 45th Street, lionking.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Opened on Nov. 13, 1997.

 

 LOBBY HERO

Drama revival / Closed on May 13, 2018

Two security guards and two New York City cops hang out in a seedy apartment-building lobby and face difficult decisions. Everyone has a chance to do the wrong thing, and they do. Kenneth Lonergan’s 2001 Off Broadway drama about alibis, lies, sexism, racism and moral relativism has finally made it to Broadway, and the reviews are glowing. The New York Times made it a Critic’s Pick; Ben Brantley’s praise included “meticulously acted,” “achingly funny” and “a fascinating reflection” on moral instincts. Time Out New York, The Guardian and EW each gave it four stars. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter found it engrossing and saluted Lonergan’s “clear-eyed yet forgiving view of human nature,” which makes his writing “such a gift.” With Michael Cera and Chris Evans. David Rockwell’s scenic design is just the one set, but it moves periodically, cleverly helping us see new angles in more ways than one.

 

FARINELLI AND THE KING

Original historical drama / Closed on March 25, 2018

The king is sad. The king is enraged. The king needs a distraction or something -- maybe an amazing castrati tenor. And maybe there's something for everyone to learn about the divide between art and artist, the relationship between public self and true self. The king, Philippe V of Spain, is played by one of Broadway's most honored British actors, and Ben Brantley of The New York Times is fairly enthusiastic. "Uncork the Champagne and unfurl the straitjacket," he wrote in his review. "Mark Rylance is once again ruling audiences at the Belasco" in a production that Brantley calls "strangely enchanting" and "a shimmering fairy tale for grown-ups."

Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street; farinelliandthekingbroadway.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on Dec. 17, 2017. Limited run.

THE PARISIAN WOMAN

Drama / Closed on March 11, 2018

Uma Thurman makes her Broadway debut in this political drama with dark humor, starring as a Washington socialite trying to help get her tax-lawyer husband (Josh Lucas) a judgeship amid  the current Trumpian moral climate. Actually, the climate suits her just fine. Critics agree that Thurman (like Derek McLane's upscale-living sets) looks great, but The New Yorker described her performance as "blank, swanning and sighing as if impersonating the leading lady of an old drawing-room comedy." The Times review suggested renaming the play "Dangerless Liaisons." The playwright, Beau Willimon, knows something about the underside of contemporary D.C.; he created “House of Cards.”

Hudson Theater, 139-141 West 44th Street; parisianwomanbroadway.com. 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). Opened on Nov. 30, 2017.

JOHN LITHGOW: STORIES BY HEART

Solo performance / Closed on March 4, 2018

So a tall, balding, 72-year-old Tony-winning, Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated actor stands on a stage, talks about his father and storytelling and actually performs short stories by Ring Lardner and P.G. Wodehouse, and most of the critics love it. Peter Marks of The Washington Post called it delightful, one of the best solo shows he had ever seen and one that “offers new vigor for a form” that so few actors can truly master. Jesse Green of The New York Times offered a confession -- “I didn’t expect to enjoy such an old-fashioned show” – and declared the production delightful, illuminating and uplifting. Sara Holdren of Vulture said that at its best, the show was “pure entertainment of the most ancient and appealing kind.” The Daily News, The Wrap and Entertainment Weekly were less impressed. 

American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, roundabouttheatre.org. 2 hours 15 minutes. Opened on Jan. 11, 2018. Limited run.

 

LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS

Solo show  / Closed on Feb. 25, 2018

John Leguizamo, the Emmy, Drama Desk and Theater World Award winner and stand-up-comedy genius, brings his sold-out Off Broadway show uptown. The subject, treated with Mr. Leguizamo’s usual irreverence, is his people – from Montezuma to Menudo, from the Mayans to Ricky Ricardo. When the show played at the Public earlier this year, The Times called it “harshly funny, surprisingly poignant.”

Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street; latinhistorybroadway.com. 1 hour 35 minutes (no intermission). Opened on Nov. 15, 2017. 

THE CHILDREN

Drama / Closed on Feb. 4, 2018

The earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear plant meltdown were bad enough. And now an unexpected houseguest? In Lucy Kirkwood's play, which has come to New York straight from the Royal Court Theater in London, three physicists -- a married couple and another woman -- reunite at a seaside cottage, and one has  a secret agenda.  The New York Times made it a Critic's Pick, praising its direction. its success as an eco-thriller ("bristling with chills and suspense"), its larger meaning, and its "uncanny interweaving of banality and atrocity."

Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street; thechildrenbroadway.com. 1 hour 50 minutes (no intermission). Opened on Dec. 12. 

 

METEOR SHOWER

Comedy / Closed on Jan. 21, 2018

This one was an advance hit. Steve Martin wrote it. Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti and Jeremy Shamos are the stars. And the show’s P.R. firm announced on the first day of previews that it had already taken in more than $7.5 million in ticket sales. The setup: One California couple invites another California couple over for dinner, and things go crazy.  Jesse Green seemed torn in his New York Times review of the Broadway opening. It's "definitely funny," he wrote, but "more of a laugh demonstration" than a laugh riot. "Unless you're Oscar Wilde, tiny wit bombs" -- Martin's genius, Green observes  -- "do not make a satisfying play."

Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street; meteoronbroadway.com. 1 hour 20 minutes (no intermission). Opened on Nov. 29, 2017.

 

MISS SAIGON

Musical drama revival, inspired by an opera / Closed Jan. 24, 2018

The helicopter is here. The Engineer is played by an actual Asian this time. And Eva Noblezada was Tony-nominated for best actress in a musical for her role as a Saigon bar hostess who falls in love with an American serviceman. The show, usually described as the Vietnam War version of “Madame Butterfly,” won three Tonys the first time around (1991).

Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway (at 53rd Street), saigonbroadway.com. 2 hours 40 minutes. Opened on March 23, 2017.

CHARLIE AND THE  CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Musical comedy based on a movie based on a book / Closed Jan. 14, 2018

You couldn’t ask for a more talented candy man than the Tony winner Christian Borle, who stars here as Willie Wonka, the chocolate mogul who sponsors a contest with golden tickets to invite loyal customers to his factory and possibly identify his successor. The plot (from Roald Dahl’s novel and the movie versions) is nicely sinister, as obnoxious children keep dying in goofily gruesome ways. Variety called it an “inflated spectacle,” but The Times thought it came together in Act II.  And the puppets won the Drama Desk Award.

Lunt-Fontanne Theater, 205 West 46th Street, charlieonbroadway.com. 2 hours 30 minutes. Opened on April 23, 2017.

SHOWS THAT CLOSED IN 2017

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS  

Musical revue / Closed Dec. 30, 2017

What happens to the winners from shows like “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice”? Here, a fairly unlikable selection of them land on Broadway in an evening of Yuletide songs, from “O Come All Ye Faithful” to “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” And unfortunately a lot of songs none of us have ever heard before. What? The rights to "Silent Night" weren't available?

August Wilson Theater, 245 West 52nd Street; holidaysonbroadway.com. 1 hour 30 minutes (no intermission). 

CATS

Musical revival based on a book of poems / Closed Dec. 30, 2017

Back in the early 1980s, Andrew Lloyd Webber turned a T.S. Eliot poem into a musical. Human beings dressed up as cats, hung around in a junkyard and sang about their feline lives, including one killer song, “Memories” (“I was beautiful then”) and invented the megamusical. Frank Rich of The New York Times praised the original because of the complete fantasy world it created. The show won a boatload of Tonys, including best musical, and ran on Broadway for 18 years. This revival pretty much delivers, for better or worse, what the first one did.

Neil Simon Theater, 250 West 52nd Street, ticketmaster.com.  2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on Aug. 2, 2016.

 

M. BUTTERFLY

Drama revival / Closed on Dec. 17, 2017

“It was dark, and she was very modest.” That’s the French diplomat’s explanation after he learns that his beautiful Japanese lover of 20 years was actually a man. Oh, and a spy. The original 1988 production, which starred John Lithgow and B.D. Wong, was hailed by Frank Rich, then the chief theater critic of The New York Times, as “a brilliant play of ideas” and won almost every theater prize around. This time, Clive Owen and Jin-Ha play the couple, and The Times is less enthusiastic. “The show fails to generate any visual enchantment,” Ben Brantley wrote, adding that the play had “morphed into a more prosaic creature.”

Cort Theater, 138 West 48th Street; mbutterflybroadway.com. 2 hours 20 minutes. Opened on Oct. 26, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 



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