Two stars of HBO’s “Sex and the City” are among the bevy of A-listers who’ll take their talents to the Broadway stage this season.
Kim Cattrall (“Private Lives“) and Cynthia Nixon (“Wit“) each headline upcoming shows. In doing so, they’ll compete for rave reviews and full houses against a lengthy list of big-name talents and existing high-earning hits.
Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett currently star in “The Mountaintop,” a fictionalized version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final night in Memphis. Then there’s “Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe, and eventually Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, in “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying“; Hugh Jackman as a song-and-dance man in “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway“; and Harry Connick, Jr. in “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
Last season’s favorites, such as “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys” and “The Book of Mormon,” continue, too. Industry trade group The Broadway League has said last season was Broadway’s most successful in 20 years, with a gross of more than $1 billion and 12.5 million patrons seeing 42 shows, even as the Great White Way emerged from the economic downturn.
Can the two television stars outshine a crowded field of celebrity-driven shows?
“I would think they would be draws, but sometimes you have too many plays opening at the same time with all these celebrities, and they can cancel each other out,” said Todd Freeman, vice president of operations for Broadway ticket broker Applause-Tickets.com. “When it’s one at a time it’s like, boom, a sellout. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”
Before hitting it big on “Sex and the City,” Cattrall had dozens of TV guest appearances under her belt and many film roles, the biggest hits being the lowbrow comedies “Porky’s” and “Police Academy.” Still, when it comes to Broadway, Cattrall is largely untested.
The last time she appeared on Broadway, it was 1986, and Cattrall had a supporting role in the comedy “Wild Honey.” The show closed after less than a month, and Cattrall made little impact; the New York Times review of the play includes her name in the cast list, but otherwise does not mention her.
But when she returns next month, playing the female lead in the Noel Coward romantic comedy “Private Lives” at the Music Box Theater, it is as a star. Since snagging the role of Samantha Jones in the HBO show “Sex and the City” in 1998, Cattrall has been an icon to women all over the world. And when Catrall starred in “Private Lives” on the London stage, both she and the show drew good reviews.
The story of exes who reunite while honeymooning with new spouses, “Private Lives” is now playing in Toronto until October 30. The Toronto Star called the production “sexy stylish and smart” and said that “Cattrall is a sleek panther of a performer…sending off sparks of eroticism and sarcasm with alternating velocity.”
Cattrall’s “Sex and the City” cast mate Nixon, who played Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series, takes the lead role in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Wit,” opening in January at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
Nixon is no stranger to Broadway with 10 previous plays under her belt, including her Tony Award-winning role in “Rabbit Hole.” She has also completed other notable stage work, such as her portrayal of Juliet in a production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the 1988 New York Shakespeare Festival.
Nixon’s return to Broadway has a poignant edge, as well. The play, an off-Broadway hit in the 1990s, is about a poetry professor’s battle with cancer. Both Nixon and the show’s director, Lynne Meadow, are breast cancer survivors.