Category Archives: Broadway

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. 

 

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. 

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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.  

 

sheet music and piano keys

Get Your Theater Fix Through Streaming Services 

Are you missing the joy of going to the theater? The excitement of getting dressed up, heading into the city, and waiting for the curtains to go up has been lost the last few months. With no way to get a theater fix until 2021 theatergoers are looking elsewhere to get their theater fix. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, famous Broadway faces were known to record in tandem on Zoom and other video conferencing software to entertain in the face of the stay-at-home orders. Now that the virus has continued to spread, with no vaccine expected in the near future, theater lovers have shifted to streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Netflix to view their favorite shows. 

Broadway theater

Where Can I Find Theater Streaming? 

Word is spreading fast that Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon are offering some unique theater moments. Some television stations are even trying to prepare for potential live theater as they have done in the past. And what’s not found streaming may eventually be made into a Broadway-musical-turned-television-hit soon. 

While streaming is most certainly not the same as seeing a show in person surrounded by hundreds of other theater lovers, it will have to do for the time being. 

phone music

What’s Streaming Now? 

As of July Amazon is offering several streaming options for thespians to get their much needed theater fix. According to Playbill online, Guys and Dolls, Reefer Madness the Musical, Flower Drum Song, Hello Again, Sweeney Todd, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is currently streaming on Amazon. 

On Netflix there are several adaptations of Broadway shows that have come to life on the screen. Jersey Boys, Westside Story, and Fiddler on the Roof are top among audience choices. While these movie versions are not quite the same as seeing it live, it may be enough to hold over even the most diehard theater buff. 

We would be remiss if we did not mention the live streaming of Hamilton on Disney+ or that HBO Max is offering viewings of Chicago, Cabaret, Hairspray, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Little Shop of Horrors. Stay tuned to our blog to find what shows are coming out next and when we can expect Broadway and Off-Broadway to get back into the swing of things. 

When theaters reopen there will be much to rejoice about, but until then let’s enjoy some of the offerings from our small screen partners at Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO. 

 

popcorn in red and white striped container

The Inside Scoop on the Drama Desk Awards

Just because we have been reporting that the lights on Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters have gone dark doesn’t mean that the theater industry has dimmed its lights altogether. On June 13, 2020 the entertainment industry telecast the 65th Drama Desk Awards, which celebrates the best of Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway.

The awards, which were postponed due to COVID-19, were televised in a different format thanks to producers at NY1. Drama Desk Awards executive producer and Broadway Brands CEO, Matt Britten commented that, “Though these are challenging times, we knew we wanted to find some way to honor this year’s Drama Desk Award nominees and recipients, as well as to bring some small sense of normalcy and hope to New York’s theater community,” He went on to say, “I want to thank NY1, as well as the team at Joey Parnes Productions, for stepping up to make this happen for the New York theatre community and theatre fans everywhere. Good things happen when you work with good people.”

musical on stage

As usual, there was a large list of nominees for awards including: Outstanding Play, Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Outstanding Actors/Actresses in a Play/Musical, Outstanding Director, Choreography, Music, Lyrics, Book of a Musical, Orchestrations, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting, Projections, Solo Performance, and Wig and Hair Design.

In addition to these awards, the Drama Desk honored lifetime achievements and special awards during the telecast including awards for ensemble, individual awards, and for those who have contributed their life’s work in the industry.

The awards were hosted by Frank DiLella and the pre-recorded show aired June 13 during a special presentation of NY1’s “On Stage.” It was live streamed on NY1.com and DramaDeskAwards.com. As a result of the truncated theater season, only shows that opened prior to the shutdown were eligible.

Times Square NY

The televised awards ceremony was meant to be a boost to the theater industry and shine some much needed light on the plight of those whose careers came to an abrupt end when Broadway shut down in March of this year.

For a complete list of the nominees and winners of the Drama Desk Awards check this link as published in Variety Magazine online. To follow the latest on Broadway and Off-Broadway events and a hopeful reopening by the end of the year follow our blog or our Facebook page.

Times Square NYC

Hurdles for Broadway to Bounce Back 

Have you ever heard the old adage, “The show must go on?” In the theater world this means that regardless of what happens, the performance will forge ahead. 

Often this phrase refers to continuing the show even if issues persist that could ruin a production such as: an actor forgetting their lines, lost props, lighting difficulties, audio issues, acts of nature, or any number of problems that can pop up in the middle of a performance. In most instances this phrase is a sign of the grit, determination, and positive attitude embraced by the theater community. Unfortunately, even the strength of the theater can not compete against a global pandemic. 

Chicago Musical

The Current State of Broadway 

Due to COVID-19, the 41 houses of Broadway in New York City shuttered their doors and the house lights have gone dark. Nearly two dozen New York City shows have been halted. Across the nation, similar news can be reported in major theaters and community productions. 

Not much stops theater productions from forging ahead, except for maybe a fast spreading virus that thrives in closed environments. As of mid-March most theaters across the country shut down live performances. Initially, Broadway theaters had hoped to open by April 12, 2020 only to push that date back due to the fact that New York City was the epicenter of the virus at the time. The new date was then June 7 of this year. That date has come and gone wth no opening occurring. The latest date being floated is currently September 6, 2020. 

This new Labor Day schedule has even the most optimistic of theatergoers questioning the reality of the date for opening. It’s not that patrons are not anxious to get back to their favorite form of entertainment. In fact, an industry survey conducted by Shugoll Research in early April revealed that 41 percent of NYC theatergoers are eager to return to the theaters when they are reopened. While that number may seem high there are some substantial issues that will potentially delay or stop altogether the reopening process for the “Great White Way.” 

Hamilton sign

Major Hurdles to Opening 

If theaters across the nation hope to open this year, before a vaccine is viable, there are a couple of major issues that will need to be addressed. 

Theaters are historically areas deemed to be close quarters. Chairs are lined up in close proximity in order for as many patrons to see the performance as possible. Orchestras that provide the live music are generally at the front of the theater in an orchestra pit. Actors and stage hands generally are huddled along the cramped wings of the theater until their cue is given to enter the stage. 

These conditions are not ideal for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, social distancing is a huge problem in most theater venues. 

Owners of some of the largest theaters across America are facing issues of how to keep both actors/stage hands as well as patrons socially distant during a performance. The answer may lie in spacing out the audience, creating larger prep spaces behind the curtain, and decreasing the number of performances weekly to allow for sanitation between shows. All of these solutions are costly and take quite a bit of effort. 

Another major issue that theaters are facing is one of demographics. Nearly 16% of theatergoers are over the age of 65. This is the highest risk category for the transmission and serious illness for the virus. The percentage climbs even higher if we remove tourists from the equation according to a report in MarketWatch online. 

Stay tuned as we anxiously await guidance from federal and state officials as to how our beloved theaters will tackle these issues and how we, as patrons can help. Visit our Facebook page to see more of how you can get involved. 

 

Shortest Running Broadway Shows

Heathen!A musical with book by Robert Helpmann and Eaton Magoon Jr and music and lyrics by Eaton Magoon Jr.  The beliefs and needs of two eras in Hawaii — 1819 and 1972 — are compared, with strong similarities emerging.  It ran for 6 Previews and 1 Performance on May 21, 1972 at the Billy Rose Theatre.

 

 

 

 

Cleavage: A musical with book, music, and lyrics by Buddy Sheffield.  It centers around a variety of couples of different ages pursuing love.  It ran for 6 Previews and 1 Performance at the Playhouse Theatre.  It had a successful run in New Orleans, and the day after the lone Broadway performance, it received favorable reviews from the New York Times.

 

 

 

Ring Around the BathtubA play written by Jane Trahey about an Irish American family’s struggles during the Depression era in Chicago.  It ran for 3 Previews and 1 Performance on April 29, 1972 at the Martin Beck Theatre.  The original cast included Elizabeth Ashley and Carole Kane.

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Jones: A musical with book, music, and lyrics by Jill Williams about a lonely young woman creates an imaginary world of animal friends while waiting for the right human male to appear. It also ran for 3 Previews and 1 Performance on February 13, 1974 at the Music Box Theatre.

 

 

 

 

There are a number of shows that played to 7 Previews and 1 Performance.  One of those being I Won’t Dance which was performed at the Helen Hayes Theatre on May 10, 1981This is a play written by Oliver Hailey about a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair who celebrates the recent mysterious murder of his brother and sister-in-law in a diabolic manner.  I point out this play because this is one of three plays written by Oliver Hailey that were cancelled on opening night.

 

 

To put these into context, there have been 36 Broadway shows cancelled after one performance.  I picked the ones above because they had the fewest previews so therefore the fewest performances overall.  A few of the one and done shows were revivals of successful original productions such as Take Me Along and The Ritz.  And just because a show has a short run doesn’t mean they were not successful.  Take the 1986 show Rags.  It ran for 18 Previews and 4 Performances but was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical.  The Lieutenant ran for 7 Previews and 9 Performances in 1975 and was also nominated for a Tony for Best Musical.  And lastly, in 1953, Carnival in Flanders took home the award for Best Actress in a Musical (Dolores Gray) even though it ran for only 6 Performances.  It still remains the shortest lived Tony honored performance ever.