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The Best of 2022 On Stage – in NYC, London, and Toronto

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Oh, what a year it was. Running back and forth with a vengeance from Toronto to NYC, with stops in London, England, and London, Canada. Mostly for the sake of theatre. It was quite the adventure, but there were so many theatrical moments that made it so very worth it all. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe not having to wait to see NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along. (You can click on each and every title for a link to my frontmezzjunkies review, if you so desire.)

Sara Bareilles in Into the Woods on Broadway.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

At the top of the heap is Into the Woods, which began in May as another star-filled Encores production at NYCC. And I owe that all to the amazingly warm and wonderful Sara Bareilles as The Baker’s Wife, who filled the role with such tenderness and humor that I couldn’t wait to see it once again when it transferred to Broadway, to even more acclaim. “This fairytale adventure is and continues to be a forever joy, delivering a connected, clever piece of magical storytelling, that takes smart off-the-path twists and turns with several well-known children’s bedtime stories, and one brand new one; The Baker and his Wife. Sondheim expertly weaves them together into a compelling musical about wishing and wanting, and if you stay for Act II, you learn that actions have consequences and that one must lead by example. We get the answer to what happens when you actually get what you wish for, and what one can learn from what they lost. All played out in and amongst the white birch woods on the stage of the St. James Theatre, surrounded by the wonderful Encores! orchestra, led by the musical director, Robert Berman (Broadway’s Bright Star).” And because of popular demand and a long list of stars happy to step into roles as replacements, the show is still playing, even though it started out as a short-term investment.

Gavin Creel and Julia Lester in Into the Woods on Broadway.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Back when I wrote the review, I stated: “Directed with a joyful acknowledgment of the fine cast assembled and the impeccable piece of writing at her disposal, DeBessonet executes the task most effectively and efficiently, finding all of the humor and care inside Sondheim’s smart words and melodies. The overlaying is magnificent, and although I thought, as I did with the Encores! production, that the piece could use a bit more intrepid introspection into the darkness and sensuality of the lyrics, the production steadfastly unearths a straightforward jokie innocence that lives beautifully deep in the entangled darkness. All and all, this bypass doesn’t come even close to hurting this production, mainly because it is full of wildly wonderful performances having a fun comedic playtime with every scene and scenario, unpacking and delivering with gusto, intelligence, and bravado.”

Other musical adventures that spiked my senses during the year 2022 included Some Like It Hot on Broadway. A musical film-to-stage remake that both did the original justice and took the story into our modern sensibilities without missing one tap dancing step. The question, “What are you thirsty for?” rings true in regards to this newly crafted dynamically funny production, “delivered by the unstoppable Sweet Sue, embodied by the impossibly strong, vocally-gifted Natasha Yvette Williams (Broadway’s Chicken and Biscuits) in the first moments of Broadway’s newest film-to-stage musical. Williams’ voice surges forth, demanding us to sit up to the Depression and be amazed.” It will truly be the one to knock on the Tony Award door, right after the incomparable Kimberly Akimbo, my all-time favorite new musical of the 2022/23 season so far. “It’s warm and impossibly touching, yet many of the characters are not”.

Victoria Clark in Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2022.

“Even on my second viewing, this time at the Booth Theatre on Broadway, this fantastic new musical, maybe the best of the season, finds its way into our collective heart so beautifully but from paths unexpected. It drives itself forward, down such a winding road, finding a golden and unique place to call home, where the music and the songs find a way of elevating the story with glee while keeping its sense of self-honest and truthful.” The truth and wonder in the show, and in the cast presentation, particularly the incredibly convincing Victoria Clark (Broadway’s GigiThe Light in the Piazza), alongside all her costars, make this a must-see in my books, and hopefully will take home a slew of awards in the spring.

There is also the surprisingly good and fun & Juliet that jumped over the pond, via Toronto, and took over the Stephen Sondheim Theatre with a gusto that is infectious, and I mean that in all the best fun ways possible. “Marvelously fun and enthusiastically appealing, this show delivers with a smart smirk inside a ridiculously fun pretense. And it couldn’t be any better if you tried.” On Broadway, it’s joyously clever, and I say that even though I wasn’t as struck by it when I saw it years ago in the West End of London. Now, I must admit “It’s super dope!

Lorna Courtney, Betsy Wolfe, Justin David Sullivan and Melanie La Barrie in Broadway’s & Juliet – Photo by Matthew Murphy.

But let’s not forget, nor ignore A Strange Loop, the musical that “Leaps High Across the Divide” transferring onto Broadway from Playwrights Horizons and breaking barriers left, right, and center. “This isn’t Broadway’s typical musical looking through the looking glass into some part of her soul thinking “white girls can do anything, can’t they?“ This is playwright Michael R. Jackson (Amazon’s “I’m a Virgo“) finding his own on Broadway, whirling around intersectionality in the most detailed and delightfully dark loop, probably throwing not just a few patrons off their comfy little Broadway seats.” And remember, it took home a heaping bunch of Tonys.

And what about Broadway’s Ain’t No Mo’? ““Say yes, bitch!” “Especially once the sound ministry gets it together and wakes up the mournful spectacularly in white… the roof is raised high by that ministry, with all of that wailing and carrying on by a gaggle of mourners flinging forth with such enthusiasm in the first and foremost vignette from the satirical and devilishly funny” Ain’t No Mo’ that played out a much too short run on Broadway at the magnificent Belasco Theatre. “This piece of surprising power that debuted back in 2019 at The Public Theater is stuffed solidly inside a laugh-out-loud flight of fancy written by an impressive Jordan E. Cooper (“The Ms. Pat Show“) that consistently shows its smart deep roots with every unveiling.” It should still be playing to packed houses. But sadly it is not.

Off-Broadway the Classic Stage Company production of A Man of No Importancesurprised and touched my heart, starring an engaging Jim Parsons (Broadway/Netflix’s Boys in the Band), the always excellent Mare Winningham (Broadway’s The Girl from the North Country), and the electric and sexy A.J. Shively (Broadway’s Paradise SquareBright Star). There was also Suffs at the Public, which “Majestically Climbs Those Hard Earned Stairs Beautifully” shaking some things up with its politics and power. As well as Atlantic Theater’s devastatingly good, The Bedwetter which I was lucky to get in to see just before it closed. Sadly I missed the chance to witness both Bebe Neuwirth and Caissie Levy, but that “Sarah, as portrayed most deliciously by the very talented Zoe Glick, (Broadway’s Frozen), had me at hello, basically…., it’s completely captivating, and Glick finds her spotlight as… the fresh, fictionalized young pre-teen version of Silverman, walking out boldly into the spotlight to introduce herself to her new classmates, and in turn, to us. And we know immediately, we can’t get enough. Swear words, and all.”

Zoe Glick (Sarah) and Emily Zimmerman (Laura) in Atlantic Theater Company’s world premiere production of The Bedwetter. Photo Credit: Ahron R. Foster

I sadly missed the Encores! production of Parade starring Ben Platt at NY City Center (but I hear I’ll get my chance next season when it transfers to Broadway. Woo Hoo!), as well as Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along at New York Theatre Workshop, although I have a ticket waiting for me at the box office for early January long before it transfers to Broadway in the fall. So no tears for me, I guess as I’ll get to see that classic show twice. And it will most likely make it onto my next year’s list. Probably, from what I’ve heard, right next to Parade. Fingers crossed.

Luckily, I was able to sneak my way in for a second round of the Broadway revival of Funny Girl solely to catch Lea Michele (Broadway’s Spring Awakening) dominating the stage in a role she seemed destined for her to devour.  The show itself is fairly well designed and directed (although not perfectly), and when it starred the terribly miscast Beanie Feldstein, it never really rose above second hand, but with Michele in the part, it really does elevate this Funny Girl to grand new heights, making it her very own while vocally honoring the icon Streisand. “It still has some intrinsic flaws, but now, in this rejuvenated production, the show spins and swirls with so much more assurance, saving it from the stormy waters that were crashing up against its sides before the recasting. The musical easily pulls in the already excited audience, with Lea elevating the production into the enthusiastic fine space it belongs. Finally, the ship has been saved from going under. Thank goodness.”

Naomi Wirthner and Juliet Stevenson in Robert Icke’s The Doctor. Photograph: Manuel Harlan.

The best plays of the year (not the new season) are a fascinatingly eclectic bunch, with most of them being connected to London, England in one way or another. By far, the best thing I saw was The Doctor spinning spectacularly smart in the West End. “It stands strong and stoically upfront, unpacking complexities such as medical ethics, identity politics, racism, antisemitism, and a whole bunch of other compelling conflicts that are boiling through our society currently, with a brilliance that is astonishing. One of the main vantage points that it forces a confrontation with is the ideas that swirl around unconscious bias and projected constructs. The play sneaks in loudly, filling the space with a focused intensity from the moment the music and the lights pinpoint the actors intently walking in”. It originated at the Almeida Theatre, toured the UK, and landed in the West End at the Duke of York’s Theatre, where I saw it over Thanksgiving. Starring the magnificent Juliet Stevenson (Robert Icke’s West End adaptation of Mary Stuart), it is the most excitingly crafted play I’ve seen in a long time, maybe since The Lehman Trilogy, tackling issue upon issue with a brilliance that is almost deafening. Written and directed by the amazing Robert Icke, The Doctor shouldn’t be missed, especially when it makes its way over to NYC – not on Broadway, surprisingly, but at the Park Avenue Armory in the early summer. Go.

Second on my list is Tom Stoppard’s semi-autobiographical play, Leopoldstadt, which dramatizes events and complications around Jewish identity, cultural assimilation, and anti-Semitism around the Second World War in Europe. Clocking in around two hours, this National Theatre, London production “Digs Deep into History and the Heart” steadily galvanizing our senses while never giving us the chance to back away from the crushing emotional dynamics at its core. “Holding it all in, close to the heartstrings, Stoppard’s intense play dives deep into the generational trauma and descent of an affluent Jewish family living and intellectualizing their existence with an understandable false sense of security. And ultimately, we are living that delusional nightmare right now, as Fascism tries to grab hold in the early 21st Century.”

Sharon D. Clarke, Wendell Pierce, and André De Shields in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2022.

Other great plays that made their way onto the stage include the Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The West End transfer revival “shines a misty light on the memories and arguments that hover in the past, forcing themselves down and forward into the present. The production wisely uncovers all from a new vantage point, that of the Black Man’s experience inside that twisted American Dream that hangs above our collective heads around prosperity and success. The revival shifts this view, elevating and expanding Miller’s vision exponentially, thanks to the inventive craftpersonship of director Miranda Cromwell (Almeida Theatre’s and breathe…) who unpacks an idea that few knew was so essential to the play and our present.” It’s a play that at first I wasn’t exactly interested in seeing one more time. But boy, am I glad I did.

The West End revival of Mike Bartlett’s Cock that I saw in London also filled my mind with exciting wonder. With a starry glee, even with the replacement of its big-named draw,  the dashing and talented Taron Egerton, the production “stands up tall and strong for the whole world to see, thanks to the combative stance of playwright Bartlett (King Charles III). He has formulated a ring where the men stand at odds, all of a sudden, out of the blue, all because of an accident followed by a run-in meet/cute with a fellow commuter.”

“Director Marianne Elliott (West End/Broadway’s Angels in America) guides us convincingly through Bartlett’s battleground of sexuality, gender expression, and identity giving the whole engagement a precise edge. She lets them hang out in confusion, within their own limited constructs, contorting them in and around one another with expert ease.” Egerton’s replacement, the phenomenally talented and impressive Joel Harper-Jackson (UK Tour of Kinky Boots) was a dream, probably for both of us, but it really was all about the Olivier Award winner Jonathan Bailey (West End’s Company) who elevated it all, as only a “Bridgerton” could.

Jonathan Bailey in West End’s Cock.

Martyna Majok’s captivatingly strong Cost of LivingSpins a Fascinating and Compelling Net of Complicated Care and Sorrow.” The MTC show takes us in deep, determinately revolving us around the complications and struggles of living with some pretty serious physical disabilities. Also asking us to sit up and take notice is Bruce Norris’s Downstate at Playwrights Horizons, a show I also saw first at the National Theatre in London. It does us something similar, but this time it swings us around the concepts of punishment when it comes to sex offenders. “The play, as directed strongly by Pam MacKinnon (PH’s Log Cabin), ventures strongly up and into our collective faces, digging deep inside this controversial and dynamically real argument about punishment and survival in a morally ambiguous dimension. Authentically moving and utterly disturbing, the play begins with a victim coming forward to confront his past and the perpetrator of sexual abuse he experienced from his piano teacher when he was a young child, and from there, it spins its web inside and out of this complicated group home structure.”

There was Mary-Louise Parker (Broadway’s The Sound Inside; HBO’s “Angels in America“) who took over that Broadway stage with an emotionally captivating remounting of Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, which “is as rich and dense on the inside as it is on the outside, folded in and around a difficult subject matter with an artful wonder.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, we can’t forget about Broadway’s funniest comedy of the 2021/22 season, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive. That team of artists involved “definitely know how to keep this ruckus play going strong and rocking, delivering line after line of hilarity for us all to savor. It’s pure deliciousness, this farce about all the female staff that works together to keep the country out of trouble. They do this with aplomb, all the while babysitting the idiot that holds the highest office in the land. If only all these women who brought forth this comedy actually could run the country. We might be better off.”

Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen also delivered once again some brilliance from over there across the pond after this devastatingly good black comedy from off-Broadway transferred to the Broadway stage. “Roping us in tightly to what is at the core of Martin McDonagh’s 1963 England” the play, unfortunately, got a bit knocked off its chair because of the lockdown and never found its audience and footing once it returned. There was the beautiful and elegant A Prayer for the French Republic at MTC’s New York City Center Stage 1. “Clocking in at an impressively brave three-plus hours, this multi-generational tale of a persecuted Jewish family living in Paris is, in general, a captivating triumph, one worthy of your attention and patience.” Truly.

And let’s not forget Sanaz Toossi’s mesmerizingly impressive and thoughtful play English at Atlantic Theater, as well as Ana Nogueira’s hilariously good Which Way to the Stage at MCC Theater that elevates the over-the-top fandom of musical theatre legends to a whole new exciting level. “Theatrical references are thrown around like beautiful fun confetti in MCC Theater‘s hilarious and surprisingly meaningful new play, Which Way to the Stage. They fly in and out with a smart force, zinging to the heart of the matter, before ricocheting around to hit another theatrical target dead center with aplomb. It’s epic and zazzy dialogue, written with a clever insider spark, shot out with such wild and insightful abandonment that we are left speechless.”

Max Jenkins, Evan Todd, and Sas Goldberg in MCC Theater’s 2022 production of WHICH WAY TO THE STAGE – Photo by Daniel J Vasquez.

In a one-person theatrical realm all to its own, a number of shows masterfully engaged us without a lot of help from other actors. The wonderfully funny storyteller, Mike Birbiglia, did it again with his honest and hilarious The Old Man & The Pool, which took over the large Lincoln Center Theater Main Stage most swimmingly breathing depth and insight into his hilarity. There was the riveting The Human Voice in the West End that “Connects Even When Disconnection is at its Core” starring the one and only Ruth Wilson (Broadway’s ConstellationsKing Lear) all alone on stage behind a plate of glass.

An amusing and brilliant triumph, equal to two smaller shows in Toronto that I also couldn’t get out of my mind easily, not that I wanted to. There was the wonderfully creative Haley McGee hitting the Right Formula in The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale at Soulpepper Theatre, and the intimately moving and upsetting Civilized at the Red Sandcastle Theatre that floored me emotionally. This play is “a must-see, for everyone who wants to truly understand the hatred and white supremacy that was at the core of these [Residental] schools and our country’s creation. It was not a pleasant evening of theatre, as there were many moments I could not look up from the ground at the actor on stage. But these words matter, and this is an important piece for us all to hear and take in.”

Speaking of Toronto, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to have the opportunity to see such great theatre here in Canada. A few productions stood out, captivating and enthralling me with their precision and artistic sensibilities. There was Factory Theatre’s absolutely genius production of Trojan Girls & The Outhouse of Atreus. It “Throws Grease on the Fire for a Greek Tragedy Swing Romp“, and completely blew me away. “This two-part/two-play simultaneous immersive production flies forth with confidence and skill, almost defying description. It transcends both time and the indoor/outdoor spaces where this two-party play melts together Greek mythology and modern vernacular with aplomb. Unfolding inside and out, at the same time, with the same cast in multiple connective parts, this epically exciting exploration of personal and global inheritance, citing the impending climate change emergency hanging dangerously over our worlds, jumps as high as Evil Knievel over our heads, forcing us all to grapple with deep seeded themes of parent/child attachment and personal tragedy, stitched inside love, lust, Greek tragedy, and immortal demands.”

Sébastien Heins in Factory Theatre’s Trojan Girls & The Outhouse of Atreus. Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh.

And let’s not forget their intimate, engagingly brilliant Wildfire that Toronto’s Factory Theatre “Magnificently Ignites … Most Strong, Bright, and Deliciously Weird“. “Exquisitely translated by Leanna Brodie (For Home and Country) from [David] Paquet’s play, Le brasier, the three orphaned souls, each living in different apartments slowly weaves and are bound together by the subtle and instinctual writing. We discover their intimate emotional connections, inch by inch, step by step, call by call, all within the same familial and physical structure that binds them forever together, and as each layer of that fire is built and burnt, the love and the hate of the flames dance before us with an ease and an intensity that is studiously astounding.”

Soulpepper Theatre also delivered strongly their lined-up productions of King Lear, a classic by Shakespeare, and Queen Goneril, a new play by Erin Shields (If We Were Birds), that “unearths all the magic required to turn this on its head and expand our understanding.” As well as the tender and emotional Where The Blood Mixes, a play that “Swims Strong in the Rough Muddy Currents of our Trauma.” “This was one of those ‘hard to take in’ and ‘difficult to let go’ experiences that happen sometimes when you see something so smart, dynamic, and meaningful in theatre. The number of metaphoric layers that are formed inside the first play written by Kevin Loring (Battle of the Birds) is utterly astounding. [The play] feels ever so effortless, especially as it slowly dips its toes in the current.”

Vanessa Sears and Oyin Oladejo in Obsidian/Necessary Angel/Canadian Stage production of Is God Is. Photo by Elijah Nichols.

It Took Three (Companies) For These Two (Sisters) to Act So Powerfully for (She) the One” in the Intense Is God Is that brought fire and revenge to the Canadian Stage Theatre. “The 2018 play by the brilliant American writer Aleshea Harris (On Sugerland) is one wild ride, reminiscent of a dark American ‘Oedipus Rex‘ reformulated into a modern-day violent road trip, raising itself up like a Greek chorus in the Wild West. The action within Sophocles’s play concerns Oedipus’s search for the murderer of Laius in order to end a plague ravaging Thebes, unaware that the killer he is looking for is none other than himself. The journey is the core, with the play unleashing horrific acts of patricide and incest, leaving the central character so overwhelmed with guilt that he proceeds to gouge out his own eyes in despair. This is not exactly the framework within Harris’s Is God Is, but some of the frameworks fit, and many of the horrors remain disturbingly in full view after the truth finally comes to light.”

I didn’t get a chance to see Talk is Free Theatre‘s Sweeney Todd, but I sure would have loved to. The same could be said about Coal Mine Theatre‘s The Antipodes, Studio 180/Off-Mirvish‘s Indecent, as well as Crow’s Theatre‘s Red Velvet, but you can’t see everything, I am (sadly) told. But I was able to get myself over to the wonderful Tarragon Theatre to see their production of Cockroach that “Powerfully and Intensely Flourishes Against All the Racist Odds of the World.” The play “transforms our perception of the ‘where’ and the ‘what’ we are collectively experiencing, thanks to the exceptional writing by playwright Ho (Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land); Antigone: 方; trace). It scratches and demands, wrapping our heads up in and around parallels and symbols that deepen and twist our consciousness into knots so complicated and distinct that we can sometimes get snarled up and trapped within. But hopefully, find our way out.” It, and every production listed here, continue to scamper around my brain and heart for days and days beyond their viewing. Like a cockroach, I guess. In the best of possible ways.

Anton Ling and 郝邦宇 Steven Hao in Tarragon Theatre‘s Cockroach – Photo by Joy von Tiedemann.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Broadway

Music For A Summer Night With The Connector, Here We Are, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Hell’s Kitchen, Fangirls and Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg

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One of my favorite musical last year was Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector. Concord Theatricals Recordings has released the original cast recording of MCC Theater’s acclaimed world premiere production. The album is now available on digital platforms worldwide. Digital sheet music for the songs, published by Concord Music Publishing and released by Hal Leonard, is also available today.

Stream or download the album, as well as purchase digital sheet music, Here.

Watch Hannah Cruz, Scott Bakula and the cast record “The Whole World Changed” Here.

Watch Ben Levi Ross sing “See Yourself” Here.

The album is produced by four-time Emmy® Award-winner Jeffrey Lesser and three-time Tony Award-winner Brown (Parade, The Bridges of Madison County), who also serves as arranger, orchestrator and pianist. Three-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Sean Patrick Flahaven, Chief Theatricals Executive for Concord, is the album’s co-producer. The album was recorded by Isaiah Abolinand mastered by Oscar Zambrano with art direction by Derek Bishop.

With a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman and conceived and directed by Daisy Prince, this timely new musical tells the story of two talented young journalists: a fast-rising writer who must confront how far he’ll go for the ultimate scoop, and an editor who must decide how far she’ll go to stop him. The Connector’s world premiere production from MCC Theater ran in a limited engagement from January 12 through March 17, 2024.

The album features original cast members Scott Bakula, Max Crumm, Hannah Cruz, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Danielle Lee Greaves, Mylinda Hull, Daniel Jenkins, Jessica Molaskey, Fergie Philippe, Eliseo Román, Ben Levi Ross, Ann Sanders and Michael Winther.

Tom Murray is the album’s music director and Kristy Norter is music coordinator. The band includes Brown, Jamie Eblen, Hidayat Honari, Adam Kaufman, Randy Landau, Todd Reynolds and Alison Shearer.

Complete production credits can be found in the album booklet HERE.

The company of Here We Are. Photo by Emilio Madrid.

I don’t know how this happened but the original cast recording Here We Are the last musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim featuring Francois Battitse, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos is on YouTube. Click here to listen. What a great summer treat.

The The Heart of Rock and Roll may be closing but the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the Broadway musical The Heart of Rock and Roll is out and available on all music streaming services.

The album is produced by Huey Lewis, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke with Hunter Arnold, Tyler Mitchell and Kayla Greenspan serving as Executive Producers.

Joy Machine Records is a new venture from Ian Kagey, Sonny Paladino, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke. The record label was formed in 2023 to bring an artist-driven approach to the recorded music industry by using the theatrical principles of collaboration and community. Their focus is on providing services that amplify the voices of new artists within the field of musical theater, releasing cast albums for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as collaborating on solo albums with established theater performers. The label’s services seek to support a developing musical from inception to its Broadway cast album.

The album will include the original cast of The Heart of Rock and Roll including Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, opened on Broadway on April 22, 2024 at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY)

The Original Broadway Cast Recording for critically acclaimed new Broadway musical, currently nominated for 13 Tony Awards, the most of any new musical this season, Hell’s Kitchen is available now via Alicia Keys Records/Interscope Records on streaming and digital platforms worldwide with a physical release to follow. Additionally, the official music video for “If I Ain’t Got You” featuring Brandon Victor Dixon and Maleah Joi Moon is out now and can be found here.

Ghostlight Records has announced the release of the new single “Learning to Be Lonely” from Fangirls the multi-award-winning, smash-hit musical with book, musical and lyrics by wunderkind Yve Blake. The song is available in both vocal and instrumental versions. Following unprecedented sell-out success across Australia, a brand-new production of FANGIRLS is being mounted in London as a co-production between Sonia Friedman Productions and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, premiering on July 13. Tickets are available Here.

Shereen Ahmed, Mikaela Bennett, Philip Chaffin, Will Chase, Victoria Clark, Jason Danieley, Adrienne Danrich, Jordan Donica, Colin Donnell, Telly Leung, Paul Lincoln, Patti Murin, Kelli O’Hara, Elena Shaddow, Nathaniel Stampley, Elizabeth Stanley, and Lauren Worsham come together to record some of the most beautiful music never before heard on disc. The collection highlights the composer’s lifelong work, a style he dubbed “theater lieder.” Two dozen musical settings of poetry by such luminaries as W. B. Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and E. E. Cummings are being unveiled for the first time. The songs are orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick, Doug Besterman, Larry Hochman, Michael Starobin, Chris Jahnke, and John Baxindine, among others, and performed by an orchestra of 17 under the baton of Richard Carsey. The album is produced by Tommy Kraskerand Bart Migal.

Gerald Ginsburg — born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1932 — attended Oberlin College and the Manhattan School of Music before embarking on a career as a composer. But after a lauded debut at Carnegie Hall in 1974, self-doubt led Ginsburg to keep much of his music to himself, although he continued to compose for the remainder of his life. When he died in 2019, the full evidence of his years of solitary work was revealed: an archive of highly lyrical, emotionally moving and entertaining songs. PS Classics is proud to present Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg, the legacy of an under-recognized composer who channeled his emotions into the intersection of poetry and music — and left behind something glorious.

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Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GIAMATTI’S TREK — (via DEADLINE) Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of the upcoming Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy in a recurring role. He will play the Season 1 villain, a man with an ominous past connected to one of our cadets.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge Star Trek fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us. The sheer delight with which he dove in on Starfleet Academy is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast,” shared co-showrunners and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a joint statement.

He joins previously announced Holly Hunter, who will star in the series as the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy. The series will begin production later this summer.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy follows a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.

Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau serve as co-showrunners and executive producers of the series alongside executive producers Gaia Violo, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa and John Weber. The series premiere episode is written by Gaia Violo.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment and is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

HEART STOPPED — (Via Deadline) The Heart of Rock and Roll, the struggling musical built around the hits of Huey Lewis, will play its final performance at a matinee on Sunday, June 23. The show will have played 24 previews and 72 performances.

In a statement, producer Hunter Arnold said, “It was pure joy working on the show with the team of creatives headed by writer Jonathan A. Abrams, director Gordon Greenberg, choreographer Lorin Latarro, music arranger and orchestrator Brian Usifer and special gratitude to the support and participation of the iconic music legend Huey Lewis.

The musical began previews on March 29 and opened on April 22.

“We were honored,” he continued, “to have an amazing cast and crew who brought their immense enthusiasm, commitment and talent to each and every performance. With our original cast album just released and talks underway for a national tour and international productions, the musical will continue to delight audiences for years to come.”

The musical, received by critics with lukewarm reviews, did not received any Tony Award nominations and has been struggling at the box office, sometimes with the James Earl Jones Theatre just more than half-full with audience members. For the week ending June 9, the show grossed a tiny $272,051.

SHORT TAKES — Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis will be released through Lionsgate. Tepid reviews? Not really. Face it, Coppola’s a genius. Check out Roger Friedman’s (SHOWBIZ 411) take: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/06/17/coppola-leases-megalopolis-to-lions-gate-for-september-release-in-distribution-only-deal

Darius Rucker said that the bandmates in Hootie and the Blowfish tried to outparty each other? Interesting. Check this out here: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/darius-rucker-says-hootie–the-blowfish-bandmates-tried-to-outparty-each-other-that-was-just-how-we-lived-214135068.html

Add one more Jon Bon Jovi-intervene to the list. NBC’s Sunday With Willie Geist. Was good, but nothing on Richie Sambora and nothing new. He’s not going to tour; he wants to tour; a surprise gig in Nashville ….

Micky Dolenz and Michael Stip (R.E.M.)

what’s going on? More kudos for his PR-man Brad Cafarelli … Congrats to R.E.M. on their Songwriters Hall of Fameinduction … HAPPY BDAY Michelle Toscas!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mark Adelman; Christine Nagy; Race Taylor; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Al Roker; Tony LoBianco; Les Moonves; Les Schwartz; Marion Perkins; Mary Wilson; Tony Seidel; Bob Schartoff; Julie Laufer; Liza Lillien; Richie Ridge; William Schill; Dan Zelinski; Carol Ross; Gary Gershoff; David Adelson; Roy Trakin; Lee Jeske; Anthony Mason; and BELLA!

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Broadway

And The Winners Of The 77th Tony Awards Are: The Outsiders, Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic and Appropriate

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Hillary Clinton did show and the Tony’s gave her a standing ovation, but against all odds the best musical of the year The Outsiders won. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my predictions as The Outsiders was my favorite show this year. I am so proud of this industry for honoring this amazing production.

Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic, Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Maleah Joi Moon and so many other predicted choices took home the coveted award.

Ariana DeBose hosted the night, where the surprises were Jeremy Strong, Danya Taymor for The Outsiders, Kecia Lewis for Hell’s Kitchen.…yeah! 

The playbill for the night and the 77th Tony Awards, had speeches that were powerful. Especially in Act One. The theatre before the event.

In the show a tribute to Chita Rivera, Chita you will be missed.

Here is the list of the winning shows and performers:

BEST MUSICAL: The Outsiders

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along. Photo: Joan Marcus.

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: *Merrily We Roll Along

BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL): *Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along. 

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL):***Kecia Lewis — Hell’s Kitchen

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL): ***Danya Taymor — The Outsiders. This win gives me such hope as Danya Taymor directs with heart. Her directorial performance in Jonah also was a tour de force. Taymor makes you feel.

BEST BOOK Of A MUSICAL: *Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: * Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: *Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: *Justin Peck, IIinoise

SCENIC DESIGN (MUSICAL): Tom Scutt — Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

COSTUME DESIGN (MUSICAL): *Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby 

LIGHTING DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim — The Outsiders

SOUND DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Cody Spencer — The Outsiders

PLAYS

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

BEST PLAY: * Stereophonic

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

BEST PLAY REVIVAL: *Appropriate 

BEST ACTRESS (PLAY): *Sarah Paulson, Appropriate

BEST ACTOR (PLAY): Jeremy Strong — An Enemy of the People

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (PLAY): *Kara Young, Purlie Victorious

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (PLAY): **Will Brill, Stereophonic. Thrilled for this win. One of my favorite performances of the year.

BEST DIRECTOR (PLAY): *Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic

BEST SCENIC DESIGN (PLAY): David Zinn, Stereophonic

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (PLAY): *Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (PLAY): Jane Cox — Appropriate

BEST SOUND DESIGN (PLAY): *Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Audra McDonald

Given special awards were: The Wilma Theatre Outstanding Regional Theatre,

lifetime Achievement to George C. Wolfe, Excellence in Theatre Education to CJay Philip

Harvey Fierstien

lifetime Achievement to Jack O’Brien

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter

Isabelle Stevenson Award Billy Porter

*our prediction to win.

** our prediction to what should win

*** our prediction for Best but we did not think would win

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Broadway

James Monroe Iglehart At The Drama Desk and A Rap For A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical

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T2C was at the Drama Desk Awards and talked to our friend James Monroe Iglehart. Years ago I learned that James could make up raps instantaneously, so I had him do one at the Hamilton opening night for Lin Manuel Miranda. Since James is opening up in October in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical, I ask him to do a rap to plug his show. This is the result.

James’s new musical is about the life and loves of Louis Armstrong and Tony Award® winner James Monroe Iglehart is the legendary American icon. A Wonderful World charts Armstrong’s incredible journey from the birth of jazz in his native New Orleans through his international stardom. It features beloved songs recorded and made popular by Armstrong, including favorites like “What a Wonderful World” and “When You’re Smiling,” among many other standard favorites.

The show is conceived by Tony Award® nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Christopher Renshaw (Broadway’s The King and I, Taboo), and novelist Andrew Delaplaine. Book by Aurin Squire (“This is Us,” “The Good Fight”). Directed by Renshaw, with choreography by Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer for Broadway’s Hell’s Kitchen, Once on This Island, and Choir Boy). Featuring classic songs from Armstrong’s catalogue.

We look forward to seeing James and this new musical.

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Broadway

Who Should/Will/Did Win a 2024 Tony Award? Predictions and Actual Winners.

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Here’s my list of who I think will win, who I think should win, and who ended up winning on June 11th, Tony night, as I like to call it. There are a number of obvious choices, but a few races that are difficult to call. Like the Jessica Vs Sarah American Horror alumn battle, or the emotional contest of Best New Musical. Here are mine.

Below is the full list of winners (🏆), my predictions (⭐️), who I think should win (👍), and all of the nominations:

Here goes nothing.

⭐️= Who I think Will Win

👍= Who I Think Should Win

🏆= Who Did in the End Win (stay tuned Sunday, June 11th, 2023 from the United Palace Theatre in NYC)

Best Book of a Musical

Hell’s Kitchen – Kristoffer Diaz

The Notebook – Bekah Brunstetter

The Outsiders– Adam Rapp and Justin Levine

👍 ⭐️ Suffs – Shaina Taub

Water for Elephants – Rick Elice

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Days of Wine and Roses – Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel

Here Lies Love – Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim – Lyrics: David Byrne

👍 The Outsiders – Music & Lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Stereophonic – Music & Lyrics: Will Butler

⭐️ Suffs – Music & Lyrics: Shaina Taub

Jeremy Strong in An Enemy of the People – Photo by Emilio Madrid.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
👍 ⭐️ Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

This is a hard one, but I’m leaning on the overall effect of the riveting An Enemy of the People leading Strong to a Tony victory. Stuhlbarg was excellent in the lesser excellent Patriots. Odom and Harper are two good actors who I believe underperformed, and I’m hoping their star-power doesn’t push them over the winning line.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Jessica Lange, Mother Play
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
👍 ⭐️ Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Although everyone here excelled, particularly Aidem and Ryan, I do believe Paulson delivered something more profound and detailed than Lange, probably because the play gave her so many more complex opportunities which she gobbled up fantastically for our pleasure.

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Brody Grant, The Outsiders
👍 ⭐️ Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

No shocker here. This is Groff’s moment, even though I loved Grant and Redmayne in their lesser received shows. James was also good, vocally, in a musical that I just didn’t connect to, so I wasn’t as connected to him or his performance. The same can be said of O’Hara. I just didn’t care, even within the dramatic ending.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

👍 Eden Espinosa, Lempicka
⭐️ Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
👍 Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

I think the new kid on the block might take home the prize, although I would not be disappointed if either Espinosa or Plunkett jumped to the front of the Hell’s Kitchen train.

Eden Espinosa in Lempicka. Photo: MATTHEW MURPHY AND EVAN ZIMMERMAN

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

👍 Will Brill, Stereophonic
⭐️ Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
Jim Parsons, Mother Play
Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Such a hard call, but I fully believe that, as in many categories including this one, it will be a winning Stereophonic night. Some say Stoll might snatch it up, but I’d be very surprised.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
👍 Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
👍 Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
⭐️ Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Gosh. Young was, for me, by far the best thing in this revival elevating it spectacularly leaving everyone, including the bland Odem, Jr. At the bottom of the hill.

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young in PURLIE VICTORIOUS – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
👍 Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
👍 ⭐️ Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

I’ll be cheering for Radcliffe when he wins the Tony for his performance in this stellar production, but I did love The Outsiders maybe more than most, and Boone really gave the new musical its solid emotional heart.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
Amber Iman, Lempicka
Nikki M. James, Suffs
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
👍 ⭐️ Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
👍 Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

What an amazing group, and I’d really be happy anyway this one went, but Neuwirth feels so damn perfect in the part, and Lewis made me cry, so there’s that….

Steven Skybell and Bebe Neuwirth in CABARET at the Kit Kat Club at the August Wilson Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

dots, Appropriate
dots, An Enemy of the People
Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
👍 ⭐️ David Zinn, Stereophonic

Conrad Ricamora (Ninoy Aquino – left), Arielle Jacobs (Imelda Marcos – right), and the cast of Here Lies Love in the Broadway Theatre.
Photo Credit: Billy Bustamante, Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman (2023)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
David Korins, Here Lies Love
Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical
👍 ⭐️ Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, Appropriate
⭐️ Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
👍 Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, An Enemy of the People


Eddie Redmayne (center) and the cast of CABARET at the Kit Kat Club at the August Wilson Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby
David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
👍 Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
⭐️ Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
👍 ⭐️ Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
Jane Cox, Appropriate
👍 Natasha Katz, Grey House

The cast of The Outsiders. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
⭐️ Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants
👍 Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Tom Gibbons, Grey House
Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate
👍 ⭐️ Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

The cast of Stereophonic on Broadway. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
👍 Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
⭐️ Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen
Cody Spencer, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Play

👍 ⭐️ Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa and Wade McCollum in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS – Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Direction of a Musical

👍 ⭐️ Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
Leigh Silverman, Suffs
👍 Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants
Danya Taymor, The Outsiders

Friedman, in a way, did the impossible with this formerly problematic musical so her win is well deserved. But Stone also delivered a spectacular worthy of the Water for Elephants story it told.

Best Choreography

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
👍 Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
⭐️ Justin Peck, Illinoise
Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Ricky Ubeda and Ben Cook of Broadway’s Illinoise. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Best Orchestrations

Timo Andres, Illinoise
👍 Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen
⭐️ Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

Best Play

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding – Author: Jocelyn Bioh

Mary Jane – Author: Amy Herzog

Mother Play – Author: Paula Vogel

Prayer for the French Republic – Author: Joshua Harmon

👍 ⭐️ Stereophonic – Author: David Adjmi

No contest. Really. And that’s no slight to the other wonderfully written plays in this group.

Kecia Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon in Hell’s Kitchen on Broadway. Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

Best Musical

⭐️ Hell’s Kitchen

Illinoise

👍 The Outsiders

Suffs

👍 Water for Elephants

This is a hard call cause none of them are perfect yet all deliver something pretty special. And unique. I loved The Outsiders, more than I imagined I would. Its heart beats the strongest for me, but I think Keys will triumph for expanding the genre and the audience up so many floors.

Natalie Gold, Alyssa Emily Marvin, Michael Esper, Sarah Paulson, and Corey Stoll in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Revival of a Play

⭐️ Appropriate – Author: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

👍 An Enemy of the People – Author: Amy Herzog

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

An Enemy of the People is solid and as strong as its Strong star, but Appropriatedelivers in so many unexpected ways it’s impossible not to be taken in completely, laughing in its uncomfortableness and its tense emotional turmoil.

Best Revival of a Musical

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Gutenberg! The Musical!

👍 ⭐️ Merrily We Roll Along

The Who’s Tommy

Another no-contest win. But I also loved Cabaret far more than your average critic. And I’m still a little surprised by that.

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Natalie Wachen in Merrily We Roll Along. Photo by Mathew Murphy.

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