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Capsule Reviews Cover Story

The Wiz

by Ben Togut

A vibrant cast of characters infuse the Yellow Brick Road with renewed flair in The Wiz, now running at the Marquis Theater. With dynamic performances and an updated book by Amber Ruffin, The Wiz captures the humor and heart of the original musical while finding new resonance with modern audiences.

On stage, Melody A. Betts is a force to be reckoned with. She is equally captivating as Aunt Em and Evilene, stealing the show with her powerhouse vocals and larger-than-life presence. Nichelle Lewis brings an affecting pathos to the role of Dorothy. While her Dorothy is often timid, her rendition of “Home” is a marvel, her agile soprano soaring into space.

Another one of the show’s highlights is its choreography by JaQuel Knight. Knight’s versatility as a choreographer is on full display at the start of Act II  as the people of Oz dance together in a number featuring twerking, African dance, hip hop, and more. Complemented by emerald disco outfits by Sharen Davis, this number is a joy to watch, thoughtfully bridging the old with the new.

With compelling performances and a company that embodies the musical’s infectious spirit, The Wiz makes a triumphant return to Broadway.

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Creative

Where’s That Cast Now? The Wiz Edition

The Wiz is back on Broadway in 2024! The new production stars Wayne Brady as The Wiz alongside Nichelle Lewis, making her Broadway debut in the star-making role of Dorothy. The production started a national tour in 2023 and has now landed at its new home, the on Broadway!

The musical has been a cultural staple since its original Broadway debut in 1975. Winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the adaptation brings a unique blend of R&B, soul, and funk to the classic tale of Oz. With a 1984 revival and several tours since its premiere, The Wiz has seen a number of famous faces donning the silver slippers and journeying down the yellow brick road. Here’s a look at some of the stars who have brought magic to this musical over the years.

Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills burst onto the Broadway scene as Dorothy, charming audiences with her powerful voice and heartfelt performance. Mills’ rendition of “Home” became an instant classic, embodying the soul of the musical. Her connection with Dorothy was so iconic that she reprised her role in several revivals, forever linking her name with The Wiz.

André De Shields

André De Shields took on the mysterious and charismatic role of the Wiz in the original Broadway production. His dynamic presence and masterful performance as the all-powerful wizard left a lasting impression, paving the way for a distinguished career in theatre, including his Tony-winning turn in Hadestown, which he followed up most recently with the role of Ben Loman in Death of a Salesman

Hinton Battle

As the Scarecrow, Hinton Battle brought an infectious energy and incredible dance skills that helped make The Wiz a true spectacle. He continued to influence Broadway with roles in other musicals like Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid, and Miss Saigon, winning a Tony Award for each of them. 

Of course, the 1978 film adaptation starred some of the most iconic Black talent of the time, including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Lena Horne. They need no blurbs about their many accomplishments of course.

With each revival and production, The Wiz continues to enchant new generations of theatergoers, proving that this reimagined classic remains timeless. As we look forward to future revivals, these memorable performances remind us why The Wiz is indeed a fabulous way to experience the magic of Oz.

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Creative

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town on Broadway

Witness the first major Broadway revival in 25 years of Thornton Wilder’s timeless classic, OUR TOWN, hitting Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre in a strictly limited engagement. Directed by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon, this production has a stellar cast of 28 actors, led by acclaimed performers such as Jim Parsons, Zoey Deutch, Katie Holmes, and more.

Don’t miss Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award-winner Jim Parsons as the captivating “Stage Manager,” alongside a stellar ensemble including Obie & Audelco Award-winner Billy Eugene Jones, Tony & Grammy Award-nominee Ephraim Sykes, Tony & Drama Desk-nominee Michelle Wilson, and many others.

Previews kick off on Tuesday, September 17, 2024, with the grand opening set for Thursday, October 10, 2024. Secure your tickets now for this unforgettable Broadway experience! Tickets available at Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200.

Be part of the magic as OUR TOWN comes to life once again, exploring the timeless drama of life in the village of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Directed by the acclaimed Kenny Leon, this revival promises to captivate audiences with its universal themes and powerful performances.

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town plays at the Barrymore Theatre for an unforgettable evening of theatre. Visit OurTownBroadway.com for more information.

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Creative

Irish Theatre on Broadway

By Jordan Levinson

Irish theatre has a long and storied history on Broadway, dating back to the early 20th century. From the works of great Irish playwrights like George Bernard Shaw and Sean O’Casey to contemporary productions like “The Ferryman” and “Hangmen” Irish theatre has made a significant impact on the Broadway stage.

George Bernard Shaw at Shaw’s Corner, his home for 44 years (photo: Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

One of the earliest examples of Irish theatre on Broadway was George Bernard Shaw’s “John Bull’s Other Island,” which premiered in 1904. The play tells the story of an Englishman who travels to Ireland to build a hydroelectric power plant, but finds himself at odds with the locals and their way of life. The play was a success and helped establish Shaw as one of the leading playwrights of his time.

From left, Adam Petherbridge, Clare O’Malley, John Keating and Ed Malone in “The Plough and the Stars.”

Another notable Irish playwright who made an impact on Broadway was Sean O’Casey. His plays, including “Juno and the Paycock” and “The Plough and the Stars,” dealt with the struggles of working-class Irish families during the early 20th century. These plays were praised for their realistic depictions of life in Ireland and helped introduce American audiences to the political and social issues of the time.

The Weir 1999 Broadway Production Photo

A new generation of Irish playwrights emerged, including Brian Friel and Conor McPherson. Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” (1991) tells the story of five unmarried sisters living in rural Ireland in 1936, while McPherson’s “The Weir” (1999) is a ghost story set in a remote Irish pub. Both plays were critical and commercial successes on Broadway, and helped establish Ireland as a major force in contemporary theatre.

In recent years, Irish theatre has continued to make an impact on Broadway. In 2012, “Once,” a musical based on the 2006 film of the same name, premiered on Broadway and went on to win eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show, which tells the story of a Dublin street musician and a Czech immigrant who fall in love, was praised for its heartfelt music and authentic portrayal of life in Dublin.

Another recent Irish production that made waves on Broadway was “The Ferryman,” a play by Jez Butterworth that premiered in 2018. Set in rural Northern Ireland during the Troubles, the play tells the story of a family caught up in the conflict. “The Ferryman” was praised for its powerful performances and gripping storytelling, and won four Tony Awards, including Best Play.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

You cannot write a piece about Irish theatre without playwright Martin McDonagh, a renowned Irish playwright and screenwriter who has made significant contributions to Broadway. He is best known for his dark comedies and exploration of human nature through his works. McDonagh made his Broadway debut in 1998 with “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” which was critically acclaimed and won four Tony Awards, including Best Play. He followed this up with “The Lonesome West,” “The Pillowman” and “Hangmen,” all of which were also well-received by audiences and critics. McDonagh’s works have brought a unique voice to Broadway, with their dark humor and complex characters. His contributions to the world of theater have helped to shape and define the modern stage, and his influence continues to be felt in productions around the world.

Gabriel Byrne’s “Walking With Ghosts”

Irish theatre on Broadway has also provided a platform for Irish actors to showcase their talent. Actors like Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Saoirse Ronan have all appeared in Irish productions on Broadway, helping to raise the profile of Irish theatre in the United States.

Irish plays have captivated audiences with their poignant storytelling and authentic depictions of Irish life. As long as there are talented Irish playwrights and actors, Irish theatre will continue to thrive on the Broadway stage.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Guide to Spring 2024

It is an absolutely packed spring ahead on Broadway, with 18 new plays and musicals set to open in March and April ahead of the cutoff date for this year’s Tony Awards! 

Here is Broadway’s best guide to all the first previews, opening nights, and closing nights in the near term:

Water for Elephants

Where: Imperial Theatre

Opening: March 21

This circus-centric musical, based on the best-selling novel, combines emotional highs and lows of musical theater with the literal highs and lows of trapeze and aerial stunts. Starring Grant Gustin and Isabella McCalla, with direction by Jessica Stone and music by PigPen Theatre Co. For more information, click here.

The Who’s Tommy

Where: Nederlander Theatre

Opening: March 28

The rock opera that changed music history. The Who’s Tommy arrives on Broadway, pushing the boundaries of musical theater to the tunes of ‘Pinball Wizard,’ ‘Amazing Journey,’ and more iconic classic rock. For more information, click here.

The Outsiders

Where: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Opening: April 11

The all-American tale comes to the stage. Set in 1967 Tulsa, this thrilling musical portrays the battle between the Greasers and the affluent Socs. A story of friendship, family, and self-discovery, with a Roots Rock-infused score by Jamestown Revival. For more information, click here.

Lempicka

Where: Longacre Theatre

Opening: April 14

A sweeping musical portrait of Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka, who changed art and culture forever. Directed by Tony winner Rachel Chavkin and starring Eden Espinosa as the title artist. For more information, click here.

The Wiz

Where: Marquis Theatre

Opening: April 17

A reimagined version of the beloved musical, following Dorothy’s journey through Oz. Soulful music, vibrant characters, and a fresh twist on a classic tale starring Wayne Brady and Nichelle Lewis. For more information, click here.

Suffs

Where: Music Box Theatre

Opening: April 18

A captivating exploration of the women’s suffrage movement, set against a backdrop of courage and determination. Written by and starring Shaina Taub, this historical retelling is transferring to Broadway following its sold-out run at Off-Broadway’s Public Theater (sounds familiar…). For more information, click here.

Stereophonic

Where: John Golden Theatre

Opening: April 19

Closing: July 7

Blending song and story in a totally new way, Stereophonic by David Adjmi chronicles the making of our central band’s new album. Very Fleetwood Mac/Daisy Jones & The Six-coded, the play is every music lover’s dream. A limited engagement, so catch it while you can! For more information, click here.

Hell’s Kitchen

Where: Shubert Theatre

Opening: April 20

A gritty, intense semi-autobiographical musical set in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, written by one of our biggest pop stars. Exploring loyalty, betrayal, and survival, Alicia Keys combines her hits with new music to tell her own story, in her own words. For more information, click here.

Cabaret

Where: August Wilson Theatre

Opening: April 21

The iconic Kander & Ebb musical set in pre-World War II Berlin, featuring memorable songs and captivating characters, is back on Broadway ten years after its latest revival. Starring Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee reviving the role following its run across the pond, Gayle Rakin joins as Sally Bowles for the Broadway transfer. For more information, click here.

The Heart of Rock and Roll

Where: James Earl Jones Theatre

Opening: April 22

A high-energy celebration of rock music, love, and chasing dreams, this brand new musical features the music of Huey Lewis and the News. For more information, click here.

Patriots

Where: Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Opening: April 22

Closing: June 23

Set in post-Soviet Russia, this history play portrays the power struggle between billionaire Boris Berezovsky and the rising politician Vladimir Putin. Tony and Emmy Award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg stars as Berezovsky, with direction by Rupert Goold. For more information, click here.

Mary Jane

Where: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Opening: April 23

Closing: June 2

Academy Award nominee Rachel McAdams leads this compassionate story of a single mother facing impossible family circumstances. Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog, it explores inner strength, friendship, and unflagging optimism. For more information, click here.

Uncle Vanya

Where: Vivian Beaumont Theater

Opening: April 24

Closing: June 16

Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece comes back to life in this new adaptation from Heidi Schreck, starring Steve Carrell alongside a who’s who of top-notch Broadway talent. It delves into unrequited love, aging, and disappointment. For more information, click here.

The Great Gatsby

Where: Broadway Theatre

Opening: April 25

Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel, this new musical features music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen, and stars Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada. Follow the impassioned tale of eccentric millionaire Jay Gatsby and his tragic pursuit of Daisy Buchanan. For more information, click here.

Mother Play

Where: Hayes Theater

Opening: April 25

Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel brings her latest to Broadway in a new production for the non-profit Second Stage. The memory play stars Jessica Lange, Jim Parsons, and Celia Keenan-Bolger for this limited run. For more information, click here.

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Interviews Long Form

Beowulf Boritt and Stephanie Bulbarella on The 1/52 Project, Diversifying Broadway Design Teams, and What Makes Good Creative Collaboration

Launched in 2021, the 1/52 Project is a nonprofit that raises funds from theater designers, asking them to donate just one week’s worth of royalties a year, and then distributes the funds to early career designers from marginalized backgrounds. Below, the program’s creator, Tony-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, and projection designer Stephania Bulbarella, who received a grant in 2021 and made her Broadway debut in fall 2023 on Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, discuss the necessity of the project, the forces that make life precarious for young theater designers, and their creative processes.

This Q&A has been edited for concision and clarity.

Broadway’s Best Shows

I would love to just start by asking, why is the 1/52 Project necessary?

Beowulf Boritt

My quick answer is, I don’t think anyone is owed a career in the theater, but it shouldn’t be harder to have a career in the theater because you’re a woman or because you’re not white. And it is apparent and true that both of those things make it harder. My slightly longer answer is that my father came here as a refugee from Hungary in 1956, with no money at all, and got to live out the American dream. And by the time my brothers and I came along, he was able to provide a decent middle-class living for us. And it just feels, to me, that that should be possible for everybody. 

Stephania Bulbarella

As an emerging projections and video designer– before the grant, I was living month to month, meaning I did not have any savings at the end of the year, or the end of the month. It felt like there were moments where I could not breathe. And then suddenly, this grant gave me the possibility of having savings, for the first time in my life I could be comfortable. I could pay my rent. That felt really incredible and safe.

At the same time, I would get some associate designer gigs, and the associate fee would be much more than a design fee for an Off Broadway show. So [with the grant] I could take on more design gigs, and be the [lead] designer. 

Another key element, thanks to the grant, there were two celebrations each year, a little ceremony for giving the grant, where an incredible group of designers that I had always admired were all in the same room. It was all about presenting myself and saying hi. And it’s two years since I’ve gotten the grant and I’ve built some relationships with some of the most incredible designers in this world. Which if it was not for the grant, maybe I would have met them eventually, I don’t know, but it would have taken much more time. 

BB

It was not in my head when we started doing this, but the networking part of it is valuable. our business is all about networking. Initially, I wasn’t even going to do a ceremony like that. I didn’t, I hate the fundraising! But the first year we were doing it, and it was the end of year “hooray, I got the grant!” [moment,] the rest of the committee was like no, we have to do it. We have to do it. You have to raise some money to do it. Thank god Hudson Scenic Studios agreed to just sponsor the whole thing. They just paid for the party, they have for the past two years, and they’ve already offered to again this year. It’s the generosity of the community. Neil Mazzella, [CEO of Hudson Scenic Studios], specifically saying, ‘I will pay for this thing.’ And it allows us to have a party at the West Bank Cafe, and invite everybody who contributed and get everybody into a room together.

BBS

Absolutely! It’s all about the schmoozing. Is it different being an emerging designer in 2024, as opposed to when you were starting out, Beowulf? 

BB

I think it’s harder now. Because when I started out in the 1990s, there was a lot of money in the city and it meant there was a lot more small theater, [so] I got my start doing a lot of really small plays that didn’t pay very much. There were so many opportunities that I could cobble together a living doing them. It was hard work and a lot of hours, but there were more options.

I feel like –and I might be wrong about this– there are not hundreds of options for early career designers right now. And the pay gap [between assistant jobs and lead designer jobs] that Stephanie mentioned has always been true. But if you want to build a career as a designer, you have to take the [lead] design gigs. 

BBS

It can be surprising to learn that being an assistant on a Broadway show actually pays more than being the lead designer of a show in a smaller theater. Building off of that, how is the path of a designer different from paths people might know, like being an auditioning actor? 

BB

Part of it is, as designers, we’re responsible for big chunks of money. And if we screw it up, we’re wasting a lot of money. I think that is part of the fear of hiring people who you don’t know yet. But the result of that is it makes people likely to go back to the tried and true people and not give someone else a chance. I can sort of see both sides of the equation– a lighting designer said to me, that shows are less likely to take a chance on a set designer in particular, because on a Broadway show, I’m responsible for $1.5 million, $2 million of the budget. And if it’s not done properly, it starts taking too long [to build], and that’s also a huge part of the budget. At the same time, it also is the thing that can block people who haven’t had the chance to prove they can do it yet. And it’s that part of the pipeline issue we’re unsure how to solve.

BBS

Stephania,  congratulations on making your Broadway debut, on Jaja’s African Hair Braiding! What surprised you about the Broadway experience?

SB

Well, it’s funny, but –it’s not that it feels easier. But, I’m very used to working in the Off Broadway world where the budget and crew is limited. On Broadway, suddenly there was a huge team! For example, if the system breaks on an Off Broadway show, there might be an engineer, but there might not be an engineer, and then who’s the engineer? Me. But on [Jaja], the TVs would stop working, and I would not do anything! There was a whole team to fix [it]! So in that sense, it did feel a little bit easier. 

BBS

We have both a really exciting set designer and a really exciting projection and video designer here on the zoom call. I’m not saying it’s Sharks versus Jets, but I think it’s a really cool opportunity to talk about how these two different disciplines can work together. I’m curious what you think of the– not the tension between projections versus sets, but how you see them working together as technology changes and as Broadway changes.

BB

I mean, I think there honestly is a tension between them, or there can be. Almost every show I do I end up, at the end, apologizing to the projection designer because I’ve been so heavy handed with them, because I have a lot of opinions. It’s a tricky line. In general, I’m the one who’s hired first, so I’ve probably put something out there that the projection designer is then becoming a part of. And, if I’m doing a set that has a big projection element, I’ve probably conceived the set that way. Honestly, I will draw into my scenic sketches what [my] projection ideas are. Then, someone like Stefania, the projection designer, comes on board, and suddenly is faced with that. I try not to ever say, like, ‘this is what I want you to do.’ There’s no point in that because you want the collaboration! The projection designer should bring themselves and their ideas to it.

When it works well, it’s the most wonderful collaboration. My take on good collaboration is when the end result is something that neither I nor the projection designer nor the director would have come up with on their own. That’s the magic of theater and theater design. But getting there can be tricky and can lead to some hurt feelings and lots of opinions. We’re all in this because we’re passionate about it. We all have strong feelings about it. I’m very curious to hear Stephania’s take.

SB

The director will first meet with a set designer. And what I try to ask is that once I get onboarded into a project is, can I be present on those meetings? Because I really want to listen to where it starts, because after all, then we’re going to be projecting over that set or integrating video into that set. It feels really important to get involved from the beginning.

BBS

Beowulf, you’ve created this program to, as you’ve said, reduce the barriers to becoming a theater designer. Besides supporting the 1/52 Project financially, what are other actions that you would hope the design community could take in making the theater world–but particularly the highest levels, on Broadway– more welcoming to people who aren’t white, people who aren’t men?

BB

Well, it’s a big question. I don’t know if I have an answer for it. Broadway seems to have become a little more aware that this is an issue, morally, that it shouldn’t just be a white man’s club. The diversity that is appearing on Broadway right now, I hope it lasts. One of the reasons I started [the project] is I feel like the theater in general has a slightly shorter attention span. We’re always chasing the new shiny object. For about a year and a half we were all [working on getting] more women on Broadway. And then after George Floyd, we switched to, we have to get more BIPOC people on Broadway. And the thing before seems to get forgotten. And it doesn’t mean that the thing before is not still an issue! That’s why I keep pushing that this is about historically excluded groups. It’s women, and it is people of color. [The goal] is to diversify and strengthen the Broadway community and I genuinely believe that the broader the perspectives, the more interesting our storytelling goes. 

BBS

I’m curious if there is some aspect of design that you want to challenge yourself with, or what project you’d love to do next. 

SB

I don’t have a specific one, but one dream is doing a big Broadway musical. One that has lots of video from beginning to end.

BB

I mean, I’ve been, like, stupidly lucky in my career. So a lot of my, kind of ‘bucket list’ things I’ve already gotten to do…I do want to do Guys and Dolls on Broadway, and I want to do West Side Story on Broadway. I’ve done pieces of West Side Story, in multiple compilation shows: Prince of Broadway had a West Side Story section, Sondheim on Sondheim had a West Side Story section, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About had a West Side Story section.

BBS

Oh my god, let Beowulf do a complete West Side Story!

Categories
Long Form

Redesigning Broadway: Spotlighting the Work of Merch.’s Brandon Gloster & Brooklyn McLain

by Ben Togut

Brandon Gloster and Brooklyn McLain had both been working in theater for over a decade when the opportunity to start their own merch company presented itself.  In 2020, when the producers of Thoughts of A Colored Man reached out to Gloster looking for a Black-owned agency to design merchandise for their production, no such company existed yet. With experience in merchandise management and a desire to expand conversations about diversity in theater, Gloster jumped at the chance. After getting McLain on board, Merch. was born.

“We sat down and said, ‘Okay, this is what the business needs and the licenses and LLCs and stuff like that,” Gloster told Broadway’s Best Shows. “‘This is what Thoughts of A Colored Man needs in terms of merchandise, shirts and logos,’ coming at it from selling merchandise and then spinning that into creating. It was a bit of a learning process that we all thought we knew enough to get us through, but it was definitely a crash course.”

Brandon Gloster & Brooklyn McLain at the merchandise booth for Thoughts of a Colored Man.

What started as a side hustle soon became a full time endeavor as word spread about the company.

“Before we knew it there was another opportunity and another opportunity and another opportunity and we hit the ground running,” McLain explained. “We learned the business very quickly and we went from one show to five before we knew it.”

Following their success with Thoughts of A Colored Man, Merch. has designed merch for shows such as Purlie Victorious, Ohio State Murders, and How to Dance in Ohio. As owners of the only Black-owned merch company on Broadway, Gloster and McLain hope to convey their distinct perspective in the merchandise they design.

“We like pushing creative boundaries and trying to come up with really unique things,” said Gloster. “Not just as consumers of theater and consumers of theater merchandise, but also just as people of color, with a different point of view or with a different voice in this space.”

While brainstorming for a show, McLain approaches merch from an aesthetic standpoint, pulling colors from the show’s artwork and going through the script to find quotes to include in product design. When deciding what items to make for a show, he thinks not only about what he calls The Big 5—t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, magnets, and window cards—but also about unique items he would’ve wanted as a theatergoer.

“We try to look for that unique item, those special moments in the show,” McLain said. “And that comes from reading the script, seeing archival footage, talking to the producers, talking to the creatives to see what their vision is and if that can relate to merchandise.”

Merchandise sales at the 2022 Broadway revival of for colored girls…

For the duo, working together is a process of yin and yang. While McLain’s primary focus is the visual, Gloster is mainly focused on the strategic, finding ways to execute his and McLain’s vision in the time before a production opens.

“We’re kind of macro and micro,” Gloster explained. “I say, ‘okay, this is in six months’ time. If the show is running at 50, 60, 70% capacity, this is how much we need of this. Our creative process is very design heavy, and then I’m [focused on] how all of that then translates to what the audience sees.”

Gloster and McLain are currently working to overhaul their internal practices as Merch. transitions from a startup to a small business. Part of this transformation includes the launch of “Theatre Club,” their in-house brand that celebrates the theater kid in us all. They hope to use their growing influence in the industry to celebrate underappreciated Broadway professionals and drive conversations about accessibility in theater. 

“There are other people that we want to celebrate in this industry and we’re trying to bring a little bit more attention [to them] in a fun, styleable, fashionable way,” Gloster told Broadway’s Best Shows. “We want to continue just digging our feet into this community and being able to continue giving jobs to people, to continue expanding as a business so we can continue innovating and continue bringing our ideas and our vision and our hopes and dreams for what this industry can look like five to 10 years down the road.”

Gloster and McLain also want to use their growing foothold in the Broadway community to foster the next generation of theater lovers. One of their dreams is to start a foundation that provides resources and guidance to kids who hope to work behind the scenes in theater—areas like props, costumes, and lighting. They hope to share the wisdom they’ve gained by working in theater to transform the industry for the better.

“We’ve both worked in this industry for so many years now and we now have the ability to take this entity that we’ve built and grown to bring more people into this industry to do the exact same thing that we’re trying to do,” Gloster said. “Competition is good. Diversity in these conversations, it’s good, it’s helpful. It helps drive art and passion within people and I think that if we can do that, starting with the things that we put on our backs, that’s great.”

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Love Songs

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are some of our very favorite love songs from the musical theater canon. Enjoy!

‘Some Enchanted Evening’ from South Pacific

This Rodgers & Hammerstein classic embodies the essence of love at first sight. Its lush melody and romantic lyrics perfectly capture the magic of falling in love. ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ earns its spot for its enduring popularity and its ability to evoke the wonder of romance.

‘Tonight’ from West Side Story

In this poignant duet, Tony and Maria express their love despite the tensions surrounding them. Leonard Bernstein’s sweeping score and Stephen Sondheim’s heartfelt lyrics make this a Broadway classic. The song was originally written as a solo for Tony, but Sondheim and Bernstein later decided to turn it into a duet to heighten the emotional impact of the scene. ‘Tonight’ is noted for its emotional intensity and its status as a quintessential Broadway love ballad.

‘You Matter to Me’ from Waitress

In Sara Bareilles’s musical adaptation of Waitress, Jenna finds solace from her abusive marriage with love interest Dr. Pomatter. With the tender lyrics of ‘You Matter to Me,’ the two affirm their love for each other and relish in finding a partner to requite their affection. It’s a beautiful moment of vulnerability and calm amid a tumultuous journey for our protagonist.

‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady

Eliza Doolittle’s joyous declaration of love and newfound freedom is captured beautifully in this Lerner and Loewe masterpiece. It is theatrical lore that Julie Andrews, who originated the role of Eliza on Broadway, recorded the song in one take, despite having a cold at the time. The recording went on to become a bestseller and a treasured classic.

‘As Long As You’re Mine’ from Wicked

This haunting duet between Elphaba and Fiyero in the smash hit Wicked represents the intensity and passion of forbidden love. Stephen Schwartz’s evocative lyrics and soaring melody make it unforgettable for its contemporary appeal and its portrayal of love amidst adversity. Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz, as Broadway’s original Elphaba and Fiyero, respectively, enter the canon of musical theatre love songs with this number.

‘Changing My Major’ from Fun Home

In Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s adaptation of the Alison Bechdel memoir graphic novel, Alison’s sexual awakening is depicted with this euphoric tune. She bashfully declares her fascination with Joan, as Tesori’s anthemic melody and Kron’s authentic lyrics beautifully convey the rush of emotions, and the freedom of her self-discovery. It’s both a song about love of another, and also about self-love and finding courage in your own identity. Alison’s vulnerability and newfound understanding of both herself and her feelings for Joan make it a powerful and relatable number.

‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent

This iconic anthem celebrates love in all its forms, urging us to measure our lives in the love that surrounds us. Jonathan Larson’s poignant lyrics and memorable melody have made it an enduring favorite for all theatre kids. Larson is said to have written ‘Seasons of Love’ in just one night, capturing the essence of the show’s themes in a burst of creativity. The act two opener is listed for its universal message and its significance in the modern Broadway repertoire.

‘So in Love’ from Kiss Me, Kate

Cole Porter’s sultry jazz waltz is a declaration of passion and desire. Its sophisticated lyrics and lush melody make it a standout in the Great American Songbook. ‘So in Love’ was famously covered by jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, whose rendition became a jazz standard in its own right. This song is remembered for its timeless elegance and its portrayal of love’s intoxicating allure.

‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar

Mary Magdalene’s soul-searching ballad in the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera is a poignant exploration of love and devotion. Its questioning melody and introspective lyrics resonate deeply across generations since the musical’s 1971 debut. Yvonne Elliman, who originated the role of Mary Magdalene on Broadway, was initially reluctant to sing the song due to its religious themes, but was convinced when Webber performed it for her in his flat. She ultimately delivered a captivating performance that became a highlight of the show, with its emotional depth and its unique perspective on love.

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Creative

Broadway’s Married Couples

We all know that theater is a labor of love. But some of Broadway’s brightest stars have taken that to heart more than others, looking within our own theater community for romantic partnerships. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, here’s Broadway’s Best Shows’ list of our favorite Broadway duos.

Audra McDonald & Will Swenson

Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Audra McDonald is the Tony-winningest performer in history. And if she represents Broadway royalty, then her husband of over 10 years, Will Swenson, undoubtedly stands as a king in his own right. While McDonald graced the stage most recently in Ohio State Murders, Swenson commanded the stage just across Times Square, leading the cast of A Beautiful Noise as Neil Diamond. The couple starred opposite each other in a 2015 Williamstown Theatre Festival production of A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill.

Phillipa Soo & Steven Pasquale

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Another pair of performers, Philippa Soo and Steven Pasquale recently mirrored their real-life relationship, playing lovers at the Kennedy Center in their 2022 production of Guys & Dolls. Individually, Soo has appeared in Hamilton, Amélie, and Camelot, while Pasquale’s credits include The Bridges of Madison County and American Son. The couple were married in 2017, following her star-making run in Hamilton and ahead of his engagement in Lincoln Center Theater’s Junk

Andy Karl & Orfeh

Photo by Amy Arbus

Likely the first Broadway couple that comes to mind for many, Andy Karl & Orfeh have been married since 2001, mere months after meeting when Karl joined the cast of Saturday Night Fever. The stalwarts have appeared together on the Broadway stage twice more since then, in 2007’s Legally Blond: The Musical and 2018’s Pretty Woman: The Musical

Christopher Fitzgerald & Jessica Stone

Photo: City Center

It might be a surprise to learn that the Tony-nominated director of Kimberly Akimbo and the upcoming Water for Elephants is married to the legendary character actor, of Wicked, Waitress, and now Spamalot fame. In true showbiz fashion, Fitzgerald and Stone met in 1999, performing opposite each other in the 1999 Encores! Concert of Babes in Arms at City Center, and married in 2001. As Stone transitioned from a performer to a director, they continued to work together – most notably, Stone directed the legendary 2009 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Williamstown Theatre Festival, starring Fitzgerald as Pseudolus alongside an all-male cast.

Photo: Williamstown Theatre Festival

Lisa Peterson & Rachel Hauck

Photo by Jennifer Broski

A power couple off- and on Broadway, Rachel Hauck is the Tony-winning set designer of Hadestown, and Lisa Peterson is the two-time OBIE-winning director of new plays premiered around the country. They met while working at the Mark Taper Forum in 1996. Audiences might best know their project An Iliad, which Peterson wrote with performer Denis O’Hare, and which toured the country after its 2012 premiere. They most recently collaborated on the 2023 play Good Night, Oscar, which also marked Peterson’s Broadway debut. 

Charlotte d’Amboise & Terrence Mann

Photo by Joan Marcus

Triple threat Charlotte d’Amboise has been married to fellow performer Terrence Mann since 1996, after meeting over a decade prior when they were both in Cats on Broadway. D’Amboise has had a long career on the Broadway stage, including two Tony-nominated performances, but is maybe best known for her perennial stints as Roxie Hart in Chicago, to which she has returned more than 25 times for brief runs in the starring role. Mann, a three-time Tony nominee, has appeared in 14 Broadway productions since 1981. The couple most recently appeared together in the 2013 revival of Pippin, and have also co-founded Triple Arts, a training program for aspiring musical theater performers, which they operate and teach together.

Maryann Plunkett & Jay O. Sanders

Photo by Joseph Marzullo

Two veterans of the New York stage, Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders have been married since 1991. Each with decades-long careers on and off Broadway, the pair has appeared onstage together in Richard Nelson’s Apple Family and The Gabriels play cycles, as husband & wife in the former three plays and then as brother- & sister-in-law in the latter. Recently, their work on Broadway overlapped as Sanders finished up the final weeks of his run in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch at Music Box Theatre, while Plunkett worked directly across 45th Street in tech rehearsals for The Notebook at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

Leslie Odom, Jr. & Nicolette Robinson

Photo by Marcus Middleton

Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. married Nicolette Robinson back in 2012, years before he would go on to become a household name as the original Aaron Burr in Hamilton, and she would make her own Broadway debut in Waitress. The couple are frequent creative collaborators, releasing music together, co-writing a children’s book, and most recently, teaming up as producers for the 2023 Broadway revival of Purlie Victorious, in which Odom also starred in the title role. 

Allan & Beth Williams

Broadway.com | Photo 30 of 43 | Great Balls of Fire! Million Dollar Quartet  Burns Up Broadway on Opening Night

Behind-the-scenes duo Allan Williams & Beth Williams have each been a part of over 65 Broadway productions in their careers to date. Allan is a veteran General Manager and Producer, recently serving as GM on Purlie Victorious, Good Night Oscar, and Diana the Musical and as Executive Producer on American Utopia, The Band’s Visit, and American Psycho. Beth is a Producer, who also served as CEO of Broadway Across America between 2008 and 2013. She has 12 Tony Awards to date, and her next show is the new musical Water for Elephants.

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Creative

“My Most Challenging Work” with Director Pam MacKinnon

Pam MacKinnon is a prolific New York theater artist, with years of directorial experience on Broadway and off, as well as across the country. With a certain proclivity for the works of Edward Albee, she has directed A Delicate Balance and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway (winning a Tony Award for the latter), as well as world premiere productions of Peter and Jerry and Occupant (the latter of which is further discussed below). Other Broadway credits include Clybourne Park, The Heidi Chronicles, China Doll, Amélie, and The Parisian Woman.

MacKinnon gave a unique answer when Broadway’s Best Shows asked which, of all her many productions to date, she considers to have been the most challenging. Rather than discussing the dark themes of a particular piece, she is shining a light on the sometimes hectic nature of being a top working director in New York City, when an unfortunate turn of events had her multitasking beyond her wildest dreams… Here is Pam MacKinnon on her most challenging project(s) yet:

Putting up a great show is always full of joy and hard work. Always.

As a lucky, in-demand freelance artist, I sometimes found myself with as many as seven productions in a season. It’s a hustle that both feeds and interferes with the art. Schedules are beyond our control.

There was one week in the spring of 2008 with my production of Itamar Moses’ THE FOUR OF US up and running at Manhattan Theatre Club, as I was already starting tech of Edward Albee’s OCCUPANT at Signature Theatre. Two amazing projects; beautiful plays with glorious acting companies. After many years working out of town I was about to have two shows off-Broadway.

Blue skies. What could go wrong?

Well.

We got word with a couple of weeks to go in the MTC run that Sony Music had finally gotten around to answering our rights query about some transition music that had been central to our many transitions. Lightning out of a blue sky. Their answer was no. We were facing an immediate cease and desist. I was suddenly teching lights and sound for two shows! One from 8 am-11 am. The other from 12 noon to midnight. Designers were already onto their next gigs. Associates who had not been involved with THE FOUR OF US were my new collaborators, brought in to make it all seem seamless. We had one understudy covering both roles in the two-hander, he came in those three mornings to help with the crucial timing.

And I peddled my bike to and fro City Center and the old Signature space—could it have been any further west?!!—avoiding Times Square at all costs, feeling very fortunate to be living the dream, angry with Sony, and very very sleepy by my next Monday day off.