There are many types of heroes in this world. Malala Yousafzai might be your hero. Or Sara Blakely (the inventor of Spanx). Or both. This fall, Broadway is getting its own crop of heroes to entertain and inspire the rest of us mortals, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites here – and while they’re about as diverse as you can imagine, they united in this: Not a single one of them wears an actual cape.
The Icon: Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Tina Turner not only has 11 Grammys and one of the most famous sets of legs on the planet, she also has one of the most interesting personal stories you’ll ever hear. Tina: The Tina Turner Musical follows the icon on her journey from her humble beginnings in Tennessee to her place as the global queen of rock ‘n’ roll. ICYMI, it was a bumpy ride.
Turner first rose to fame in the 1960s alongside her husband Ike, but the two had a tumultuous relationship (to say the least) and divorced in 1978. Later, Turner took control of her own destiny, revealing she had been a victim of domestic abuse and staging a massive comeback in the 1980s. If that’s not a hero, we don’t know what is.
The Crossover: Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal
You probably know Tom Hiddleston from his role as Thor’s brother Loki in worldwide hit franchise, The Avengers. But now the action hero has crossed over to make his Broadway debut in the revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. With this move, Hiddleston traded an action-packed blockbuster for a stripped-down-but-simmering love triangle – and he is proving that he can do it all.
The Young Adult Phenom: The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Based on the beloved Percy Jackson series, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical follows the titular character as he struggles to manage newly discovered powers and heads out on a quest to find Zeus’ lightning bolt to prevent a war amongst the Greek gods. (You know, typical teenage stuff.) Even more heroic, the show lands on Broadway after a successful off-Broadway stint and national tour.
Jalynn Steele, who plays Percy’s mother Sally, thinks the show is striking such a chord because “everyone in the audience can find something that reflects a piece of who they are onstage.” As for her own character, Steele admires Sally’s perseverance and tenacity. “She will do anything to protect her son and I think that is something that is very rare these days. A lot of times when things get difficult, we look for the quickest exit, but I applaud Sally’s conviction in keeping her son safe from everything.”
The Alt-Rock Powerhouse: Alanis Morissette’s music in Jagged Little Pill
This is not your typical jukebox musical. Inspired by the themes and emotions of Alanis Morissette’s Grammy-winning album of the same name, Jagged Little Pill breaks tradition. Instead of telling the story of Morissette herself, it tells the story of the Healys. They’re a picture-perfect family, with some cracks beneath the surface. Oh, and in addition to unforgettable songs from the original album, the show’s score includes some brand-new tracks.
As a crash-course in music history, the Jagged Little Pill album was released in 1995 and was only expected to sell well enough to allow the then-21-year-old to make a follow-up. Instead, it landed on the Billboard top 20, where it stayed for more than a year, catapulting Morissette to international fame. This is the stuff that heroes are made of.
The Hollywood Darling: Marisa Tomei in The Rose Tattoo
Marisa Tomei has already done the near impossible: She has proven a female actress can have a Hollywood career that spans decades. The Oscar winner is a bonafide Broadway vet, having performed on the Great White Way a number of times in the past. In other words, she knows what she’s doing. This fall, Tomei takes to the stage as Serafina in a revival of The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams (another hero in our books, just FYI). Tomei plays a modern-day hero, a widow who rekindles her desire for love, lust and life in the arms of a fiery suitor. Think of it as a coming-of-age story for people who are already… well… a certain age. That’s got hero written all over it.
See these heroes and more on the Great White Way! Every show on Broadway is in play at Broadway Roulette!
A version of this story first appeared in W42St magazine. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here!