Broadway's 'Birthday Candles' and 'Caroline, or Change' Bumped to Fall

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'Birthday Candles' playwright Noah Haidle and Debra Messing at a recent press event

The new Noah Haidle play, starring Debra Messing and Andre Braugher, and the revival of the Jeanine Tesori-Tony Kushner musical led by Olivier Award winner Sharon D. Clarke, both were originally set for the spring.

Roundabout Theatre Company has confirmed that both of its planned spring Broadway openings, Birthday Candles and Caroline, or Change, have now been pushed back to the fall. 

The move follows yesterday's announcement from fellow nonprofit Lincoln Center Theater that its productions of Flying Over Sunset and Intimate Apparel also have bounced from spring to fall.

Given the uncertainty over when Broadway will reopen from the novel coronavirus shutdown that began March 12 with the closing of live-entertainment venues across New York, theater companies with the flexibility to do so are opting to reshuffle their seasons. 

"Our desire is to provide certainty and confidence to our artists, staff and audiences that we will come back from the hiatus with a full season, said RTC artistic director and CEO Todd Haimes in a statement Wednesday. "We are committed to the future of the theater and its long-term sustainability in the crisis."

Added Haimes: "Moving planned productions to dates certain in the fall protects the health and safety of everyone while ensuring employment for our staffs and artists, creating clarity for our subscribers and donors, and providing a clear production timeline that allows everyone — on stage and off — to strategically plan to support the beautiful work coming to our stages in 2020-21."

Debra Messing stars in Birthday Candles, a new play by Noah Haidle that follows the life of a woman from her 17th birthday through to her 101st, an infinity of dreams later. Directed by Vivienne Benesch and also featuring Andre Braugher, the production was to begin previews April 2 at the American Airlines Theatre ahead of an April 21 opening.

The revival of Caroline, or Change, from writer-lyricist Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori, was a hit on London's West End last year, winning the Olivier Award for best actress in a musical for Sharon D. Clarke in the title role of an African American maid working for a middle-class Jewish family in early-1960s Louisiana. Directed by Michael Longhurst, the Broadway transfer of the 2003 show was to start previews March 13, the night after the shutdown began, and was scheduled to open April 7 at Studio 54.

Also postponed from spring on the Roundabout season schedule are two off-Broadway plays, Jiréh Breon Holder's ...what the end will be and Dave Harris' Exception to the Rule, both of which will now be presented in 2021. 

"I am so thankful for the passion and commitment shown by everyone involved, to say yes and wait for the right time to return," said Haimes, who also confirmed that Roundabout's planned spring 2021 Broadway revival of the musical 1776 remains on track..

The removal of Birthday Candles, Caroline, or Change and Flying Over Sunset from Broadway's spring lineup follows last week's announcements that Martin McDonagh's Hangmen and the latest revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will not reopen once theaters are back up and running.

Also on Wednesday, the Tony Awards announced that the annual honors ceremony is being postponed from its scheduled June 7 date at New York's Radio City Music Hall, with the ceremony to be rescheduled at a later date, once Broadway is up and running again. If the awards do take place this season, the field of contenders looks to be greatly reduced, with other scheduled spring openings likely to continue dropping out.