The Year in AC 2017: From “Billboard” to Broadway — Pop stars hit the Great White Way

Jason Bell2017 was a big year for pop stars on Broadway.

Josh Groban
In November of 2016, Josh Groban made his long-awaited Broadway debut in the role of Pierre in the musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, based on a 70-page section of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  In May of 2017, the cast album was released, and the production received 12 Tony nominations, making it the most-nominated show of the season. Josh himself was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical.

Josh didn’t win the Tony, but the show was a winner at the box office.  He did more than 250 performances, with his final one coming on July 2.  His final week pulled in more than $1.4 million at the box office, making it among the top five highest-grossing Broadway shows of the week.  Only Hamilton, The Lion King, Wicked and Aladdin out-earned it. 

After Josh left, another pop star, Ingrid Michaelson, joined the show for about a month, playing Sonya, Natasha’s cousin and confidant. 

Josh documented his experience in a book called Stage to Stage: My Journey to Broadway.   He ended 2017 by releasing a 10th anniversary deluxe version of his best-selling 2007 Christmas album, Noel, featuring six extra tracks.

Sara Bareilles & Jason Mraz
In 2016, Sara Bareilles saw the musical Waitress, for which she wrote the music and lyrics, nominated for a number of Tony Awards.  But on March 31, 2017, she stepped into the lead role in the show: Jenna Hunterson, a pregnant, unhappily-married pie-baking waitress who has an affair with her obstetrician.

Sara’s stint in the show, which ended on June 11, was box office gold.  During her final week of performances, Waitress raked in nearly $1.4 million, the highest one-week gross of the musical’s entire run.  Sara’s penultimate performance on June 10 broke the show’s highest-gross single performance record.

In September of 2017, Sara’s friend Jason Mraz announced that he’d be joining the Waitress cast as Dr. Pomatter, the obstetrician.  It was Sara’s idea to cast him, but she was surprised that he said yes.   His run in the show started November 3, and during his first week, Waitress brought in more than a million dollars at the box office. The last time that had happened was when Sara was starring in the show.

November 29, Sara announced that she’d be returning to the the role of Jenna in January for six weeks only, and would co-star with Jason for two of those weeks.  Sara also told ABC’s Nightline in 2017 that she’d be open to the idea of writing another musical.

Coming soon: Cher, Bryan Adams, Donna Summer and The Bee Gees
In September of 2017, it was announced that Bryan Adams had written the songs for Pretty Woman: The Musical,  based on the 1990 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere romantic comedy, set to open on Broadway next year.  Bryan collaborated with his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance on the music and lyrics, and the show is set to begin performances March 13, 2018 at Chicago’s Oriental Theater.  It will open on Broadway on August 16, 2018.

2017 also saw the announcement that Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, based on the life of the late disco superstar, would come to Broadway on March 28, 2018, while The Cher Show, based on the life of the legendary diva, would arrive in the fall of 2018.  Meanwhile, a musical based on the Bee Gees’ story was also announced this past year as being in development.

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