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Mark Shenton: Hamilton’s not the only show on the transatlantic two-way street

Noma Dumezweni, Paul Thornley and Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Manuel Harlan Noma Dumezweni, Paul Thornley and Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which opens on Broadway next April. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Broadway is soon to send us Hamilton, which – after delays to the official opening – is now going to be not just the biggest opening of the year, but also the final one, with the press night now scheduled for December 21.

But the traffic of London hits heading over to New York looks set to eclipse that in the next six months. Top of the list is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which premieres at New York’s Lyric Theatre on April 22. The venue is being scaled down into a more intimate space for the show – from 1,900 seats to 1,500.

As producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender have commented: “It will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a unique theatre space tailored to the specific needs of the production over the play’s two parts – a bespoke home that will be intimate enough for a drama, yet big enough for us to deliver on our commitment to provide audiences with access to low-priced tickets throughout the auditorium.”

Friedman, who is responsible for more theatrical exports from London than any other producer, is also behind the transfer of Claire van Kampen’s Farinelli and the King. Mark Rylance will reprise his performance as Philippe V of Spain at the Belasco Theatre, which will be candlelit as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse was for the premiere in 2015.

Van Kampen recently told me: “I think it has Broadway written all over it. It’s an event – when the audience see the candlelight and hear the music, it’s like nothing else. As a piece, it’s not a classic, and it’s by a playwright no one knows – but they’ve heard of Mark. Every time he does Broadway, he does something different and presents a different side to himself. That is what people are coming to see.”

Friedman is also a co-producer for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Broadway transfer of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, starring Tom Hollander, to Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre, opening on April 24.

Ahead of that, the Royal Court will also transfer Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children to Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J Friedman Theatre, opening on December 12, with Francesca Annis, Ron Cook and Deborah Findlay all reprising their roles.

And the National Theatre has two transfers ahead: Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things, co-produced with Headlong, moves to Brooklyn’s St Ann’s Warehouse where it opens on October 25 with Denise Gough recreating her award-winning performance. She also reprises her performance in Angels in America, opening on March 21, alongside fellow original cast members Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield, Susan Brown, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

On a different scale, an adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange that originated on the Edinburgh Fringe and was subsequently at London’s Park Theatre, opened at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages with its original British star Jonno Davies playing Alex, joined by a new American company under the direction of Alexandra Spencer-Jones.

New York has always enjoyed the snob appeal of a London-endorsed hit – in a crowded marketplace, it helps to arrive with critical approval already in the bag. But the Great White Way is also a creative hub in its own right. The current season promises much else, including the Broadway stage premiere of Disney’s Frozen, opening on March 22 at the St James Theatre with a creative team led by British director/designer team of Michael Grandage and Christopher Oram. Meteor Shower, a new play by Steve Martin that stars Amy Schumer, opens at the Booth on November 29 and House of Cards writer Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman with Uma Thurman opens at the Hudson Theatre on November 30.

On top of that, Bruce Springsteen is playing a solo season at the Walter Kerr Theatre from October 12. There are revivals of Broadway musical classics Carousel (Imperial Theatre, April 12) and My Fair Lady (Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, April 19). Play revivals include M Butterfly (Julie Taymor directing Clive Owen, Cort Theatre, October 26), Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (starring Glenda Jackson, Golden Theatre, March 29) and Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (starring Denzel Washington, Bernard B Jacobs Theatre, April 26). That’s not to mention a stage version of SpongeBob SquarePants (Palace Theatre, December 4), the transfer from Off-Broadway of The Band’s Visit (Barrymore Theatre, November 9), a revival of Once on This Island (Circle in the Square, December 3) or the new Jimmy Buffett jukebox musical Escape to Margaritaville (Marquis Theatre, March 15).

The Stage will be reviewing these and more. And as ever, New York correspondent Howard Sherman will update readers with the latest news and commentary, in our expanding coverage of international theatre.

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