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17 Reasons We're Excited About Theater This Spring

From British imports to modern takes on classics, here are 17 shows worth seeing on and off-Broadway this spring.

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1. The Audience

Johan Persson

Theater: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Previews: Feb. 14

Opening: March 8

What it's about: In a 60-year span, Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) meets with various prime ministers, from Sir Winston Churchill (Dakin Matthews) to David Cameron (Rufus Wright).

Why we're excited: Helen Mirren stunned audiences with her nuanced performance in the 2006 film The Queen, written by Peter Morgan. Here, they team up again for another engaging look at Queen Elizabeth II behind doors.

Buy tickets here.

2. On the Twentieth Century

Joan Marcus

Theater: American Airlines Theatre

Previews: Feb. 13

Opening: March 15

What it's about: While aboard a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York, theater producer Oscar Jaffee (Peter Gallagher) tries to convince starlet Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth) to be the lead in his next picture.

Why we're excited: It's a classic old-school musical starring Peter Gallagher and Kristin Chenoweth — what's not to love? If the show is anywhere near as charming as the production photos, it should be a lot of fun.

Buy tickets here.

3. The Heidi Chronicles

Joan Marcus

Theater: Music Box Theatre

Previews: Feb. 23

Opening: March 19

What it's about: Over the course of three decades, Heidi Holland (Elisabeth Moss) comes of age from a high school student to a successful art historian and strong-willed feminist.

Why we're excited: Elisabeth Moss in a Wendy Wasserstein play is a beautiful feminist dream come true. While Peggy Olson's trajectory on Mad Men isn't quite the same as Heidi's, Moss has already proven herself adept at portraying the importance of self-actualization.

Buy tickets here.

4. Skylight

Benjamin McMahon and John Haynes

Theater: John Golden Theatre

Previews: March 13

Opening: April 2

What it's about: Schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) gets a visit from her ex-lover, restaurateur Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy), whose wife has just died.

Why we're excited: Like The Audience, Skylight arrives from the U.K., where it garnered stellar reviews. American audiences who know Bill Nighy primarily from his lighter roles will be impressed by his depth and range.

Buy tickets here.

5. Hand to God

Joan Marcus

Theater: Booth Theatre

Previews: March 14

Opening: April 7

What it's about: Jason (Steven Boyer) tries to observe the teachings of the Christian Puppet Ministry, but his sock puppet Tyrone has developed a mind of his own and is encouraging sinful behavior.

Why we're excited: Hand to God earned rave reviews off-Broadway. It's the kind of offbeat dark comedy that you're not sure will work with a wider, more mainstream audience — but damn it, you want to see it try.

Buy tickets here.

6. Buzzer

Joe Corrigan / Getty

Theater: Martinson Hall at the Public Theater

Previews: March 24

Opening: April 8

What it's about: Jackson (Grantham Coleman) brings his girlfriend Suzy (Tessa Ferrer) to the now-gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up, and a visit from Jackson's friend Don (Michael Stahl-David) exposes underlying tensions.

Why we're excited: Playwright Tracey Scott Wilson has shown her ability to fully explore racial and sexual politics in her past works, The Good Negro and The Story. And her latest production promises the same searing analysis.

Buy tickets here.

7. Wolf Hall, Parts One and Two

Johan Persson

Theater: Winter Garden Theatre

Previews: March 20

Opening: April 9

What it's about: Presented in two parts, Wolf Hall showcases the turbulent court of King Henry VIII (Nathaniel Parker), as he finds a new queen in Anne Boleyn (Lydia Leonard), then rejects her when she fails to produce a male heir.

Why we're excited: If anything is deserving of a full day at the theater, it's the story of Henry VIII, who loved (and beheaded) many women over the course of his reign. Both parts of the play are sure to be engaging, despite its six-hour running time.

Buy tickets here.

8. An American in Paris

Angela Sterling

Theater: Palace Theatre

Previews: March 13

Opening: April 12

What it's about: American soldier Jerry (Robert Fairchild) and young French woman Lise (Leanne Cope) fall in love in Paris shortly after the end of World War II.

Why we're excited: Gorgeous Gershwin songs (if you don't love "Embraceable You," you're a loveless monster) coupled with stunning dancing (choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is a pro) suggests a magical night at the theater.

Buy tickets here.

9. Finding Neverland

findingneverlandthemusical.com

Theater: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Previews: March 15

Opening: April 15

What it's about: As with the 2004 film of the same name, author J.M. Barrie (Matthew Morrison) maintains a close friendship with widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davis (Laura Michelle Kelly), whose family inspires Barrie to write Peter Pan.

Why we're excited: The movie made you sob uncontrollably, and the musical will probably do the same. While Peter Pan has been adapted to stage many times (including the recent live NBC adaptation with Allison Williams), this is an exciting look at the touching story behind the classic tale.

Buy tickets here.

10. Hamlet

classicstage.org

Theater: Classic Stage Company

Previews: March 27

Opening: April 15

What it's about: On the off-chance you don't already know, Hamlet (Peter Sarsgaard) avenges his father's death by plotting revenge against his uncle Claudius (Harris Yulin), who has married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude (Penelope Allen).

Why we're excited: It's Hamlet with Peter Sarsgaard in the title role. Really what more do you need to convince you? Director Austin Pendleton previously directed Sarsgaard to great effect in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters.

Buy tickets here.

11. The King and I

Stephen Lovekin / Getty

Theater: Vivian Beaumont Theater

Previews: March 12

Opening: April 16

What it's about: British governess Anna (Kelli O'Hara) is hired as an English tutor, but she ends up teaching the King of Siam (Ken Watanabe) about the modern world, while also winning his heart.

Why we're excited: Kelli O'Hara has been nominated for a staggering five Tony Awards without a single win — this is almost certain to be her year. And it's for a deserving Rodgers & Hammerstein classic.

Buy tickets here.

12. Fun Home

funhomebroadway.com

Theater: Circle in the Square Theatre

Previews: March 27

Opening: April 19

What it's about: Based on Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel, Fun Home follows Alison (Beth Malone) at various stages of her life as she struggles to understand herself and her father Bruce (Michael Cerveris).

Why we're excited: During its off-Broadway run, Fun Home quickly established itself as a thrilling new theatrical experience. Now that it's on Broadway, Bechdel's stirring and relatable story can touch an even wider audience.

Buy tickets here.

13. Something Rotten

rottenbroadway.com

Theater: St. James Theatre

Previews: March 23

Opening: April 22

What it's about: In 1590, brothers Nick (Brian D'arcy James) and Nigel Bottom (John Cariani) are trying to write the first musical so they can produce a hit show and escape the shadow of The Bard (Christian Borle).

Why we're excited: It's a Smash reunion! Aside from the re-team-up of Brian D'arcy James and Christian Borle, Something Rotten! offers a funny conceit and a thoroughly different take on Shakespeare.

Buy tickets here.

14. The Visit

T. Charles Erickson

Theater: Lyceum Theatre

Previews: March 26

Opening: April 23

What it's about: Millionaire Claire Zachanassian (Chita Rivera) returns to her economically depressed hometown and promises to revitalize the community...in exchange for the murder of the man who once scorned her, Anton (Roger Rees)

Why we're excited: Chita Rivera doing Kander and Ebb is always an exciting prospect. While The Visit isn't a new musical — it was first performed in 2001 — this is its Broadway debut, and that's cause enough for celebration.

Buy tickets here.

15. The Sound and the Fury

Joan Marcus

Theater: Martinson Hall at the Public Theater

Previews: May 14

Opening: May 21

What it's about: Elevator Repair Service adapts the first part of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (the Benjy section) using Faulkner's own language verbatim.

Why we're excited: The Benjy section is the most confounding part of Faulkner's overwhelmingly dense novel, but that just makes seeing it performed all the more thrilling. Even if you don't get it all, it should be a unique presentation.

Buy tickets here.

16. An Act of God

Ethan Miller / Getty

Theater: Studio 54

Previews: May 5

Opening: May 28

What it's about: Over the course of 90 minutes, God (Jim Parsons) answers all of mankind's burning questions.

Why we're excited: Jim Parsons is a fantastic comedic performer with great stage presence, which will serve him well as he takes on this larger-than-life role. An Act of God is as close to a religious experience onstage as you're going to get.

Buy tickets here.

17. The Spoils

Gareth Cattermole / Getty

Theater: The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center

Previews: May 7

Opening: June 2

What it's about: Ben (Jesse Eisenberg) is miserable to everyone around him, including his roommate Kalyan (Kunal Nayyar). When he finds out his crush is getting married, he embarks on a plan to destroy her relationship.

Why we're excited: Jesse Eisenberg also wrote The Spoils, which means the character of Ben will have his distinct sensibility. Plus, it's nice to see Kunal Nayyar moving beyond The Big Bang Theory.

Buy tickets here.