Great Performances returns with its third annual “Broadway’s Best” lineup of acclaimed theatrical productions. Tune in to CPTV Fridays, November 1-29, or stream all five plays beginning November 1 on CPTV Passport.
This year’s lineup includes the U.S. broadcast premieres of 42nd Street, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, Kinky Boots, and Red, plus the world premiere of Much Ado About Nothing from The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park.
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This Fall’s Lineup
Great Performances: 42nd Street
Premieres Friday, November 1 at 10:30 p.m. on CPTV and at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app; Encores on CPTV on Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m.
The 1981 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, 42nd Street is the song-and-dance, American dream fable of Broadway, featuring the iconic songs “42nd Street,” “We’re In the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and many more. Peggy Sawyer is fresh off the bus from small-town America and just another face in the chorus line on Broadway’s newest show. But when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy might have the shot at the top she’s always dreamed of. Starring Bonnie Langford, Tom Lister, Clare Halse, and Philip Bertioli, this revival of director-choreographer Gower Champion’s original production was recorded at the end of its 2018 blockbuster run in London’s West End.
Great Performances: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I
Premieres Friday, November 8 at 9:30 p.m. on CPTV and at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app; Encores on CPTV on Sunday, November 10 at 1 p.m.
Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed 2015 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic musical directed by Bartlett Sher (South Pacific) won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Based on a true story, the year is 1862, and East and West collide when British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens arrives in Siam (modern-day Thailand) to take up her post instructing the royal household of children from the King’s several wives. Nothing has prepared Anna for the lessons this new land has to teach her—or for the powerful connection she will forge with its imperious but conflicted King. The score features Rodgers & Hammerstein hits including “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” “Shall We Dance,” and more. The production was recorded during its 2018 run in London’s West End with original Lincoln Center Theater cast members Ken Watanabe as the King and Kelli O’Hara in her Tony-winning performance as Mrs. Anna, along with Ruthie Ann Miles as “head wife” Lady Thiang, who won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a musical.
Great Performances: Red
Premieres Friday, November 15 at 10:30 p.m. on CPTV and at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app; Encores on CPTV on Sunday, November 17 at 2 p.m.
Award-winning stage and screen actor Alfred Molina reprises his critically acclaimed performance as the American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in playwright John Logan’s Tony Award-winning 2010 play Red. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant—and the growing competitive presence of a new generation of artists—Rothko takes on his greatest career challenge yet: to create a definitive series of paintings for the Philip Johnson-designed Four Seasons restaurant in architect Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Seagram Building. Molina is joined by rising star Alfred Enoch (How to Get Away With Murder) as Rothko’s assistant Ken. Original Broadway director Michael Grandage returns to direct this 2018 West End revival, the first U.K. production since the play’s 2009 world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse.
Great Performances: Much Ado About Nothing
Premieres Friday, November 22 at 10:30 p.m. on CPTV and at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app; Encores on CPTV on Sunday, November 24 at 2 p.m.
This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Back, Broadway’s The Color Purple) and Grantham Coleman (Broadway’s upcoming The Great Society) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) directs. Set in contemporary Georgia with an election race underway, Much Ado About Nothing finds the community of Messina celebrating a break from an ongoing war, but not all is peaceful. Former rivals battle it out, revenge is sought, and trickery runs amok in this timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication. Earning The New York Times’ Critic’s Pick, the play was recorded during its final weekend of The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park performances.
Great Performances: Kinky Boots
Premieres Friday, November 29 at 10:30 p.m. on CPTV and at 9 p.m. on pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app
Kinky Boots is the 2013 Broadway blockbuster with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell (La Cage aux Folles) that went on to pick up every major Best Musical award. Based on true events, this big-hearted hit tells the story of two people with nothing in common—or so they think. Charlie is a British shoe factory owner struggling to save his family business. Lola—originally known as Simon from Clapton—is a fabulous nightclub entertainer with a wildly exciting idea. With a little compassion and a lot of understanding, they learn to embrace their differences and create a line of sturdy, stiletto-heeled boots for an entirely new clientele. In the end, their most meaningful achievement is their friendship. Great Performances presents the London production, featuring its original West End stars: Matt Henry in his Olivier-winning performance as Lola and Killian Donnelly as Charlie.