Category Archives: Broadway

Disney castle

Our Favorite Broadway Children’s Shows

While the lights on Broadway may still not be shining, we still can enjoy the memories of shows that kept us singing, toe-tapping, and smiling for days and weeks after. Children’s Shows are most especially enjoyable to remember as they hold a bit of innocence and youth that has been missing for the past year. 

Here are some of our most favorite children’s shows on Broadway to get us in the mood to hopefully welcome back theater in our lives within the next year. 

African lion face image

The Lion King 

What’s not to love about the story of an adorable lion cub named Simba coming to age and learning lessons of life such as the value of friendship and self-reliance. Not only is the story line relatable but the sets are visually amazing. The unique puppetry and incredibly moving score from Elton John and Tim Rice put it right at the top of our “must see” list once theaters reopen. If your organization or theater is planning a production of Lion King, check out our backdrops that could make your show come to life. 

Aladdin The Musical 

Did you know that 10 million people around the world have already seen the musical Aladdin? If you have not had the chance to experience the singing, dancing, and amazing costumes you need to schedule your opportunity as soon as you can. The set and costume designs alone are enough to draw in any audience member. In fact, one costume is so elaborate that it has over 8,600 Swarovski diamonds on it! Check out our Arabian and desert themed backdrops for your next Aladdin production. 

palm trees and red carpet moroccan oasis

Dear Evan Hansen 

The Tony Award winning show, Dear Evan Hansen, is a show about community and connection. This dramatic show resonates with older children and teens as it tells the tale of fitting in and the angst of being true to yourself. Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a young man with social anxiety disorder who so yearns to make a connection with his peers that he fabricates a relationship with a deceased student to become closer to the boy’s family. Go as a family and discuss the issues of mental illness, teen suicide, and the overwhelming feeling of the need to belong. 

Hamilton 

If you are looking for a show for the whole family, this is the one to see! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical has inspired people of all ages and walks of life. This non-stop production gets the whole family interested in our Founding Fathers and the early years of our nation. The choreography and lyrics are addictive enough to find yourself singing about being Alexander Hamilton or not missing out on Your Shot! 

When the curtains finally go up on Broadway once again, start looking to support the theater industry by scheduling one of these wonderful shows. 

 

Stephen Sondheim

A Spotlight on Stephen Sondheim 

When you think about the many famous names that have influenced Broadway, Stephen Sondheim quickly comes to mind. Since his career in American musical theater began in the late 1950s, the surname Sondheim has become synonymous with the perfect match of words and music in musical theater. 

Influenced greatly by his mentor, master lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, Sondheim has created so many blockbuster shows that have captured the hearts of theatergoers for years. Many of us find ourselves humming or singing the tunes from these shows even years after having seen them. 

Into the Woods

What Are Some of Sondheim’s Most Well-Known Shows? 

Sondheim is known for a remarkable range of musicals including: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods.

He began his theater career in Los Angeles, California, with scripts for the television series Topper and The Last Word. Once back in the theater world of New York City, Sondheim was asked to write the lyrics for the songs meant for a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Subsequently, his lyrical work on West Side Story helped it become one of Broadway’s most successful productions of all time.

After spending time writing the music and lyrics for shows such as: Gypsy, Invitation to A March, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (a Zero Mostel farce based on comedies by ancient playwright Plautus), Sondheim became very well known and nominated for many accolades. 

Tony Award

Sondheim’s Awards

Like many successful Broadway composers, lyricists, and producers, Sondheim was also awarded top honors. The aforementioned A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum won a Tony Award for best musical. In addition, Sondheim won several more Tony Awards in the 1970s for his collaborations with producer/director Harold Prince, including the musicals Company (1970), a meditation on contemporary marriage and commitment; Follies (1971), a homage to the Ziegfeld Follies and early Broadway; A Little Night Music (1973), a period comedy-drama that included the hit song “Send in the Clowns”; and Sweeney Todd (1979), a gory melodrama set in Victorian London destined to become a 2007 Tim Burton film. (Source: Biography) 

In total, Sondheim has claimed eight Tony Awards, a record for a composer, as well as eight Grammy Awards. He shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Lapine for Sunday in the Park with George, and won an Academy Award for the song “Sooner or Later,” one of five tracks written for the 1990 film Dick Tracy, starring Warren Beatty and Madonna.

Sondheim will be remembered for his lifelong contribution to musical theater and his devotion to keeping the music and lyrics both current and easily understood. Perhaps that is why so many of us find ourselves singing showtunes scripted by the master himself. 

 

Phantom of the Opera

Highlighting The Life’s Work of Andrew Lloyd Webber 

As theater-lovers, the name Andrew Lloyd Webber is one that is synonymous with successful and much beloved Broadway theater. In fact, Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of some of the world’s best-known musicals from his first musical in 1967, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to his most recent, Cinderella, which is planned to open in London’s West End in 2021, Webber is known the world around for his amazing talent. 

What Awards Has Andrew Lloyd Webber Won? 

In 1992, David Lloyd Webber was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen for services to the theatre throughout the world. While this may have been one of his most memorable moments, he has been bestowed many more awards through his long career in the entertainment industry. 

Andrew’s awards as a composer and producer include seven Tonys, seven Oliviers, fourteen Ivor Novellos and an Oscar for Best Song, “You Must Love Me” in Evita. In addition to these awards, Webber has been awarded by the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honors, the London Evening Standard Theater Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theater. 

mask

What Are Some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Best Known Shows? 

It goes without saying that pretty much everything Andrew works on is gold. He has a long list of musicals and shows that he has worked on, but there are, by far, our favorites over the years. 

  • Evita, the musical masterpiece about the little-known wife of an Argentinian president is among his top hits.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock-musical about Jesus has some of Andrew’s greatest hits. 
  • The Phantom of the Opera is probably one of the most successful British musicals in history. 
  • The biblical musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is filled with high drama and amazingly catchy songs. 
  • Sunset Boulevard is about an aging film queen who can not accept that her stardom is coming to an end.
  • One of the most pivotal musicals in Webber’s life is the musical Cats, with an all feline cast. 
  • School of Rock is not only catchy, but fun in the experience of watching child performers rise to the challenge. 

Not only is Andrew Lloyd Webber a magician when it comes to musical theater, but he also owns many theaters himself. Since 1983, Webber has invested as an owner of theaters, and now owns seven London theaters! For more information about Andrew from his childhood love of music and through his illustrious career in musical theatre check out this interactive site that allows you to thumb through his awards, review his life’s work, and take a closer look at his contributions to the theater world. 

 

What Will Broadway Look Like Post Covid? 

If you are a true thespian, you may be chomping at the bit to find out what shows will be returning to Broadway later this year. Since March 2020, the “Great White Way” in New York City and in major theater cities across the country have been dealing with the repercussions of a theater industry shuttered due to COVID-19. 

Can theater-lovers breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the light is truly at the end of the tunnel? Read on to find out what we know about the reopening of the theater industry across the country. 

A Look Back…

It’s been a full year since the lights went dark on the marquees of all 41 theaters in Midtown. Actors left their scripts, street clothes, and personal items in dressing rooms across the Broadway district in the hopes that the shows would open in a few weeks. We know that didn’t happen as hoped. 

Looking back at that hopefulness seems so naive now. There are so many questions about what it will be like once the theater industry does open back up again. First among them is, “What shows will return?” Along with, “What will audiences look like?” and “How will theater continue on while still remaining safe for actors and audience members alike?” 

We don’t have the answers to all the questions quite yet, but we do know what a few of the producers, directors, and members of the Actor’s Associations think from a comprehensive interview in the Broadway news site “Deadline” online. 

coronavirus mask

What Will Audiences Be Like? 

The general consensus is that, even in the first six months after theaters open their doors again, that tourists will not be the main source of audience members. Rather, locals within  each major city will be the first to revitalize the industry. Therefore, don’t anticipate having a grand reopening. Instead think about soft openings that will have small audiences, potentially made up of healthcare workers who could enjoy a show as a “thank you” from the people of the city. 

Broadway sign

When Will Things Open Again? 

While there are no hard-and-fast rules set out yet for theater reopenings, Kevin McCollum, Broadway producer of the musical Six, which was scheduled to open on the night of the Broadway shutdown, and Mrs. Doubtfire, which was in previews, believes that late summer 2021 is a possibility for a reopening date. 

The problem lies in preparations. When the governor of each state gives the final go-ahead for business and restaurants in the theater industry to open once again, there will be a lag time of about 6-8 weeks for shows to practice and ready themselves for opening night. 

Charlotte St. Martin, the President of the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry representing theater owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers, expects that masks will be worn during the show and especially during the ingress and egress. Intermissions may be a tricky thing to work since many theatergoers may need a mask break but there will need to be a system to handle that situation. This is yet another thing that will need to be fingered out prior to opening. 

Logistically, there will be lots to examine before Broadway can shine its light again. We will continue to monitor what shows will remain closed and which new shows may make an appearance this year. 

 

Can We Stump You With Broadway Trivia?

Missing Broadway like we are? If you can’t seem to get enough of the streaming services for Broadway shows, you may like our blog this month. Check out some of our questions below to see if we can stump you with some Broadway Trivia.

Check out these trivia categories. Which did you score the best? Can you stump your friends too? We have included the answers below so there will be no questions about who got it right!

Name the Broadway Show From these Lyrics

  1. “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.”
  2. “Can you feel the love tonight?”
  3. “On the steps of the palace…”
  4. “A spoonful of sugar lets the medicine go down.”
  5. “Ah the intoxicating smell of the graveyard.”
  6. “Hey there, Teenage Baltimore! Don’t change that channel! ‘Cause it’s time for the Corny Collins Show!”
  7. “Sometimes, when someone has a crush on you, they’ll make you a mixtape to give you a clue.”
  8. “And when someone needs a makeover, I simply have to take over.”
  9. “Don’t go wasting your emotions.”
  10. “The plan is to spark this into a flame, but damn it’s getting dark, so let me spell out the name.”
  11. “In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.”
  12. “We’re supposed to be all ladies and nurturing and care. Is that really fair?”
  13. Every man has his daydreams, every man has his goal. People like the way dreams have of sticking to the soul.”
  14. “Suddenly Seymour is standing beside you. You don’t need no makeup, you don’t need to pretend.”
  15. “Climb every mountain…”
  16. General Trivia
  17. Kristen Chenoweth won her one Tony Award in the Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown playing what character?
  18. What was the other musical based on the characters of Charles M. Schulz?
  19. The musical The Addams Family is based on The New Yorker cartoons of what artist?
  20. What was the sequel to the musical Annie?
  21. What type of aquatic creature is Spongebob Squarepant’s best friend?

Movie Posters

  1.  What Broadway smash hit is portrayed in this image?Les Mis
  2. What toe-tapping, street-dancing musical is portrayed in this image?West Side Story
  3. Can you tell what Broadway hit show this poster is portraying?Fiddler on the Roof
  4. What was the last Broadway musical Rodgers and Hammerstein created, which starred Mary Martin and debuted in 1959?
  5. A helicopter was the unforgettable set piece of this musical, which opened in 1991.

Answers:

  1. Hamilton
  2. Lion King
  3. Into the Woods
  4. Mary Poppins
  5. The Addams Family
  6. Hairspray
  7. Avenue Q
  8. Wicked
  9. Mama Mia
  10. Hamilton
  11. Rent
  12. Mean Girls
  13. Pippin
  14. Little Shop of Horrors
  15. The Sound of Music
  16. Sally
  17. Snoopy! The Musical
  18. Charles Addams
  19. Annie Warbucks
  20. Starfish

Movie Posters

  1. Les Misérables
  2. West Side Story
  3. Fiddler On The Roof
  4. The Sound of Music
  5. Miss Saigon
guitar

Most Popular Show Tunes from Broadway 

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. We get a song stuck in our heads and it takes quite a while for it to work itself out. Sometimes just humming the tune can cause others in our vicinity to also get hooked on the tune. Do you have a favorite show tune that has stayed with you long after you saw the production on Broadway? If so, read on to hear about the most popular show tunes over the years. 

woman singing

Most Listened to Soundtracks

It will come as no surprise that the top- ranking soundtrack that is most listened to on Spotify. The winner is the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton by a long shot according to digital music service giant. The top song from that soundtrack is “Alexander Hamilton” followed by “My Shot” both of which are featured at the beginning of the show and then the refrain is repeated in different versions throughout the entire performance. 

According to TicketSource online, the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen comes in second on the list of highly popular soundtracks. Top on the list of songs most listened to on that track is “Waving Through a Window,” “Sincerely Me,” “ You Will Be Found,” and “Anyone Have a Map?”

Not to be left behind is the soundtrack from the musical Wicked. Songs such as “Defying Gravity,” and “Popular” are top among fan favorites. 

American revolution image

Most Catchy of All Time 

While you may recognize the show tunes mentioned above as lyrics and tunes that you have come to love more recently. Many theater lovers also like to categorize tunes that have stood the test of time and have continued to be “catchy” even years after they first were first heard. 

According to theater bloggers, and theater lovers some of the most beloved songs over the past few decades include hits like: “Memory” from the musical Cats, “My New Philosophy” from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, the theme from the Phantom of the Opera, the Chorus Line’s famous “I Hope I Get It,” and Les Miserables, “Do You Hear the People Sing.” 

What is your favorite show tune? Is it from a recent show or one from a few years ago? Check out our Facebook page to drop us a comment on your favorite Broadway musical soundtrack or song. We bet many of you know them by heart and have gotten them stuck in your head repeatedly. 

Guitar Photo by Richard Clyborne of MusicStrive

Times Square NYC

Broadway Reopening Delayed a Little Longer 

According to a New York Associated Press report on the PBS site, fans of Broadway theater will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume. Theater enthusiasts will need to wait until at least late May 2021. Read on to find out more about this safety precaution as the coronavirus rages on across the country. 

The sad announcement about the reopening delay came this Fall from the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry. The 700-plus members of the League include theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers in North American cities, as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theatre industry. 

The decision was not an easy one. 

guitar case open on the ground

The Specifics of Reopening & Refunding 

While there actually is no specific date as of right now for reopening, May 2021 is the current timeframe being looked at. The League, in coordination with Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30. Adjustments can be made to your credit card or funds can be taken as a donation to the theater industry.

This new timeframe may complicate a long list of shows that had planned to open in the spring, including “The Music Man,” “Flying Over Sunset,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Plaza Suite,” “American Buffalo,” and “The Minutes.” Within hours of the announcement, the musical based on Michael Jackson, called “MJ,” pushed back its performances to September 2021.

Times Square NY

Reactions and Reflection 

This most recent delay in opening of theaters was endorsed by the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents 51,000 theater actors and stage managers. Sadly, it is understood by most in the industry as well as theater-goers that the safety of the actors, crew, and vendors is the most important thing at this point. 

Mary McColl, the executive director for Actors’ Equity Association said this about the decision. “It was a difficult but responsible decision to put the safety and health of their workers and audience first. This is a deeply painful time for everyone who depends on the arts for their livelihood.”

The coronavirus has shuttered Broadway, Off-Broadway and community theaters across the country since mid March. This industry helps to power the United States entertainment economy, making an approximated $1.8 billion dollars last year alone. 

Actors, directors, and producers continue to encourage Americans to wear masks, practice good hand hygiene, stay socially distant, and take the advice of the scientific community in order to protect yourself, others, and get our economy open sooner rather than later. 

 

three women dancing

How the Save Our Stages Act Could Rescue Broadway 

There is no doubt that New York City’s Broadway District as well as theaters across the country have taken a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Theaters are shuttered with a 2021 opening date that many believe will not happen. That means actors, support personnel, vendors, and neighboring businesses have felt the burden of the financial closings. Could a “Save Our Stages Act” help? 

The federal government is stepping forward with a plan that could help support this vital industry and hopefully put it back on track with an infusion of money that may be able to help. A bipartisan bill put forth by Senators Amy Klobuchar (a Democrat) and John Cornyn (a Republican), aims to bring aid to the independent entertainment, theater, and music venues that have been clobbered by the pandemic. 

man grabbing a lifesaver ring

What is the Save Our Stages Act? 

The Save Our Stages Act, also known as S.O.S, is a much-needed lifeline to live venues and, most importantly, Broadway during this time of shutdown. The $10 billion bill is aimed at keeping the lights on for the hardest hit venues. Without this financial support, after 9 months of stuttering, many live music and theater venues will be forced to close permanently. 

To date, 144 U.S. Senators and Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation, which is aimed at providing relief to independent live venues, promoters, and festivals across the nation that have been shuttered with no revenue and high overhead since March with no timeline for reopening. 

theater with curtain down

Currently, the bill, which is part of an overall COVID-19 stimulus package, is stalled in discussions. However, many insiders believe that the bill will soon gain momentum as more and more celebrities, music fans, and theater lovers get on board and pressure their congressional reps to take action. 

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat and New York City theater district representative, states that the money use will be flexible and will be “for whatever they need to stay in business, including paying key valued employees who we don’t want to just leave.”

Schumer urged all Americans to email their senators “and say we need you to support Save Our Stages.” He said if there’s no vaccine by next spring, he plans to push for renewing the bill, if it’s passed.

Learn more about the Save Our Stages Bill and how you can help the struggling theater industry at Congress.gov and the website dedicated to Saving Our Stages

 

scales of justice

Can Post-COVID Broadway be a Fairer One? 

In theaters across the nation, stages are barren and the lights have gone dark for more than six months now. Coronavirus has all theater-lovers yearning for a time when the lights will shine again, the curtains will go up, and the theaters will come back to life. 

It will happen. 

But when it does happen, many theater insiders are wondering if it will be a more equitable theater industry and one that is fair to all levels of the production experience regardless of race, gender, or position.

For decades, theaters have faced inequality in regards to race, gender, and even a livable wage for some of the non-performing members of the community. According to Backstage online, “extended pause in the theater industry thanks to COVID-19 has made space for overdue conversations and examinations of the financial, racial, and production systems that have long fueled Broadway. New York City’s once-thriving theater business hopes to reopen with a renewed focus on equity.” 

musical on stage

Issues of Race

Like many industries during this coronavirus crisis, questions have come to the forefront of our minds about the racial inequalities that exist in our country. In recent months, existing groups like the Broadway Advocacy Coalition have set forth new initiatives focused on dismantling racism (and, specifically, anti-Blackness) in theater. 

Many theater members are encouraging further study of the scope and pervasiveness of anti-Blackness and racism in the American theater. BIPOC, which stands for blacks, Indigenous and people of color, are asking for ongoing anti-racism training, union production teams made up of at least 50% BIPOC individuals, and a publicly available study examining pay disparity between BIPOC and white union members. 

signs of gender

Gender Issues 

Not only do people of color have fewer opportunities in the theater industry but, so too do women. Often when they do get hired, they often are hired on lower-paying contracts. According to the Actors’ Equity Association’s first-ever diversity study, made public in 2017, men out-earn women on Broadway, and the majority of them are white. 

Pay Scale Inequities 

The closing of Broadway and theaters across the globe will inevitably bring a need for pay cuts and  tightening  the proverbial financial belt. Sadly, the reductions will not be equal. Here is a simplistic example of how pay cuts across the board would be very unbalanced. For example, let’s say someone is making $10,000 a week and someone is making $400 a week, taking 50% of both of their salaries is not a viable and equitable economic solution. In New York City, $5,000 a week is still more than livable in a way that $200 a week is not. 

“Wages should be cut in an equitable way—people who make more money can live their lives with a higher percentage of that money taken away,” he says. “The way we talk about cutting wages across the board invariably will be used to justify not giving certain workers a livable wage.” (Source: Backstage

It is important that we take this pause in theater to closely examine these issues and make adjustments that are meaningful and achievable. 

Broadway sign

What Hamilton Has Taught Us

Most people who experience a live theater production leave with a sense that they learned something, either about themselves or possibly the world around them. The characters, music, and dialog can add up to a moment of epiphany or understanding that few of life’s events can equal. 

One such production that has taken the United States by storm and is rich in life lessons, is the unlikely story of an American hero, politician, and statesman, Alexander Hamilton. In August of 2015, the hit show Hamilton premiered on Broadway. It has experienced an amazing run with productions in New York, Chicago, and London, with a traveling company that toured the U.S. 

Not only is the show wildly popular, but it is nearing the top 10 of highest grossing musicals of all time, and investors have seen returns of over 600%. These are not numbers that would be lost on our financially savvy Alexander Hamilton. 

revolutionary war image

Learn From the Past 

The story of Alexander Hamilton is filled with life lessons even though it is set in the late 1700s and early 1800s. One of the biggest lessons of the production is that we can still learn from what happened long ago. Our young country is still grappling with many of the same issues today. 

Take for example, the many instances in the production that makes references to the inequalities among immigrants, women, and people of color. The same theme of disenfranchisement and inequities can be seen in our nation today, as we struggle with how this pandemic is impacting people of color at a higher rate and how our nation has become divided in the protesting of brutality against men and women of color. 

theaterCombine the Old With the New 

Less than a decade ago, if someone had said they were going to write a musical meant for Broadway that would be set during the American Revolutionary War era, but set to contemporary rap and hip-hop-style music, they would have been laughed at. Lin-Manuel Miranda actually was laughed at as he described the production that was yet to be released. 

Yet, just five years after this production hit the stage, no one can imagine that this show would be anything other than spectacular! In fact, adults and children alike are singing the songs of Hamilton word-for-word. 

The lesson here is that by combining the old (historic lessons of the revolution) with the new (musical styles) one can learn deeply about an age that set the tone for our country. Forbes Magazine online stated that, “In Hamilton, a familiar story and an old theatrical genre gets a new perspective with a multi-cultural cast and contemporary music performed at a rapid-fire pace (if Hamilton was sung at the pace of a typical musical, the show would be almost six hours long). On stage, the cast is dressed in period costumes from the neck down, but their hair, their attitudes, and their vocal tone, are very much now.”

No matter what lesson you walked away from Hamilton with, you can probably bet that each theatergoer learned a little about how they feel about our country’s history, immigration, race relations, and the role that women play in all of this. Let us know what you took away from Hamilton in the comments or on our social media page.