Fresh Revivals & New Stories: Broadway Across Texas

While the 2023-2024 Broadway touring season still has big productions left for Texas cities, we’ve also entered our favorite time of year, season announcement season. For those who don’t celebrate, spring and early summer is the period when the big touring show presenters across Texas, including Broadway Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, Broadway at the Hobby Center in Houston and Broadway at the Bass in Fort Worth, as well as Broadway at the Center in Dallas and Houston’s Theatre Under The Stars all entice us with a new lineup of the shows we can’t wait to see for the next season.

Once again, as Arts and Culture’s resident theater cartographer, I’ve surveyed the 2024-2025 touring show landscape, looking for trends, must-sees and perhaps that odd one-city exclusive musical worth following those Texas yellow brick roads for a performing arts getaway.

If big musical bios were the trend last season, revivals of classics have come back in fashion for 24-25.

One of the biggest revivals easing down several Texas roads is that classic 70s twist on the Wizard of Oz, The Wiz. Forty years in the making, this vibrant new production began with a small pre-Broadway tour boasting a fresh directorial vision from Schele Williams, hip hop choreography from JaQuel Knight and additional story material from writer Amber Ruffin. After clicking their heels together to find home on Broadway, another touring cast set off across the U.S. Now like a witch erratically zig zagging on her flying broomstick, the show blows in and out of Texas in 2025 starting with Houston and San Antonio in the spring of 2025, Fort Worth in July and then Dallas in September, 2025.

The other big, family-friendly revival we’ll clap our hands for is Peter Pan. This new adaptation by award-winning Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse will fly into Houston in October as the opening of the Broadway at the Hobby Center season and then make its way across Texas over the fall, landing in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas in December. FastHorse, who also penned The Thanksgiving Play, one of the shows most produced by regional theaters this year, is said to have gone beyond changing some of the problematic characterization of Tiger Lily and her “tribe” in the original story. Along with setting the musical in contemporary times, this Pan will explore what Neverland could mean as a place of safety and magic for a multitude of indigenous peoples.

Alongside Peter and The Wiz, we might put several other notable revivals on a road trip list, as they’re only hitting one or two Texas cities. The 2023 Tony winner for best revival, Parade marches into Houston in July 2025. A complex late 90s musical with a big cast and based on a real trial in the early 20th century, the show isn’t often staged regionally, so this will be a rare chance to see a large-scale production.

This fall, the Broadway at the Center season at Dallas’ AT&T Performing Arts Center and Broadway at the Bass in Fort Worth will both present the touring revival of Stephen Sondheim’s classic Company. In the original, the unmarried Bobby is surrounded on his 35th birthday by a group of married friends who urge him to settle down. For this gender-swap revival, enthusiastically approved by Sondheim before he died, Bobby becomes Bobbie, a woman going through the same dilemmas.

Everyone’s favorite sunrise-loving orphan, Annie brings cheer and an optimistic attitude to Texas when this revival dances into Austin in May, 2025.

Those looking for musicals with brand new stories should buy a ticket for the Tony Award winning & Juliet and Shucked. Get ready to embrace the corn(y), as Shucked delivers acres of the most intentionally groan-worthy dad jokes I’ve ever heard. While the book by Robert Horn and score by the Grammy®-winning songwriting team of Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally are completely original, some of the story harkens back to classic Broadway shows like The Music Man and Brigadoon. A seemingly mystical farming town enlists the help of a Florida (con) man to save its dying corn harvest. Most of Texas gets Shucked in the fall of 2024, as the show pops up in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas before a Fort Worth harvest during the summer of 2025.

The show I’m most looking forward to is the outrageously silly but smartly written & Juliet. A smash hit on London’s West End and then Broadway, this  meta jukebox musical begins with Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, giving her husband much needed (in my opinion) editorial notes on his early draft of Romeo & Juliet. Finding it much too depressing, Hathaway begins her own version where the revived Juliet lives, travels to Paris with her nurse and begins leading her best life singing songs by Swedish pop songwriter Max Martin. You might not know the name, but trust me, Martin’s songs have become staples of every gym workout mix over the last 25 years.

Of course it wouldn’t be season announcement season without welcoming at least one or two shows based on films to the lineups. This year the two big ones also feature some dazzling stagecraft. Back to the Future: The Musical time travels to Dallas in March of 2025. Then hot off a Broadway run the Tony and Olivier Awards winning Life of Pi sails into Houston and Dallas August 2025. With the exception of the comedy mystery Clue making a killing in Austin and Fort Worth, Life is Pi is the only play making the rounds, and it showcases human-sized puppetry reminiscent of The Lion King.

And as always, if the brand new shows or fresh versions of classics don’t entice, most of the presenters round out their seasons with revolutionary returning favorites including Hamilton (Houston), The Lion King (Dallas), Come From Away (Dallas and Austin), Les Misérables (San Antonio and Austin) and Dear Evan Hansen and Mean Girls (Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars and Broadway at the Center).

—TARRA GAINES