Broadway's current revival of The Music Man, starring two-time Tony honorees Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, will harken back to the golden age of Broadway, banning critics from attending performances until its February 10 opening night at the Winter Garden Theatre. Critics were reportedly informed of the move when invitations to review were sent January 28.
The decision is reminiscent of an earlier period in Broadway history, when industry norms saw critics attending opening night and rushing back to their offices to file reviews as the curtain fell. Beginning as early as the 1970s, productions began "freezing" productions (meaning putting an end to implementing further changes) a week or so prior to opening, allowing producers to invite critics early so they could avoid the rush to meet deadlines.
Critics have historically adhered to these rules, not publishing reviews until a production's opening night, with the notable exception of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. That production's famously long preview period amidst continued (and much publicized) technical issues—the production would ultimate play 182 previews before opening in June, 2011—led critics at the New York Times and other publications to independently purchase tickets and publish reviews that the production had not expressly authorized.
Jackman and Foster, playing conman Harold Hill and music teacher-librarian Marian Paroo respectively, lead a Music Man cast that includes fellow Tony winners Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn, Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, and Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo.
The cast also includes Remy Auberjonois as Charlie Cowell, Gino Cosculluela as Tommy Djilas, Emma Crow as Zaneeta Shinn, Benjamin Pajak as Winthrop, Kayla Teruel as Amaryllis, Garrett Long as Ethel Toffelmier, Linda Mugleston as Alma Hix, Jessica Sheridan as Maud Dunlop, Rema Webb as Mrs. Squires, Tony nominee Phillip Boykin as Olin Britt, Eddie Korbich as Jacey Squires, Daniel Torres as Ewart Dunlop, Nicholas Ward as Oliver Hix, and Max Clayton as the standby for Harold Hill.
The revival's ensemble comprises Nick Alvino, Jordan Beall, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Maria Briggs, Audrey Cardwell, JT Church, Kammie Crum, Aydin Eyikan, Carlee Flanagan, Ethen Green-Younger, Emily Hoder, Curtis Holland, Eloise Kropp, Ethan Lafazan, Kayla LaVine, Andrew Minard, Sean Montgomery, Tanner Quirk, Lance Roberts, Daniel Patrick Russell, Ann Sanders, Sherisse Springer, Mitchell Tobin, Kathy Voytko, Branch Woodman, and Ryan Worsing.
Jerry Zaks directs the new production of the Meredith Willson-penned musical, which also features choreography by Warren Carlyle, sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto, sound design by Scott Lehrer, lighting by Brian MacDevitt, vocal and dance arrangements by David Chase, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and music direction by Patrick Vaccariello.