Categories
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.

Categories
Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Touring Shows

While “Broadway” refers to a specific set of Tony-eligible theatres located in midtown Manhattan, the term is metonymic of an entire industry. To theatergoers around the country and world, “Broadway” translates to high-quality musicals and plays performed by world-class artists; overall top-notch theatre. 

Since not everyone can make it to New York City, the magic of Broadway is brought to audiences across North America through touring productions. With the holidays approaching, these special productions can also serve as great family activities, or even just a great gift for your theatre-loving-loved-ones. Here’s a glimpse into some of Broadway’s best touring shows that are currently captivating audiences from coast to coast (and beyond).

Beetlejuice

Based on Tim Burton’s iconic film, Beetlejuice brings the afterlife to the stage with humor, irreverence, and spectacular special effects. After two Broadway runs, pre- and post-shutdown, the show has gone out across the country, where it continues to make headlines, both for what’s happening onstage and off…

The Lion King

Disney’s The Lion King continues its reign as a theatrical masterpiece, both on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre and in touring houses all over. Since opening on Broadway in 1997 and launching its first tour in 2002, the modern classic has had several national and international tour companies bringing Simba’s story far and wide. The latest tour launched in 2017 and is still going strong, with dates scheduled through summer 2024.

The Wiz

Ease on down the road with The Wiz, a soulful and energetic retelling of “The Wizard of Oz.” Set to hit Broadway in spring 2024 with Schele Williams at the helm and Wayne Brady in the title role following the tour, this production promises to bring a fresh and vibrant perspective to the beloved tale.

Mamma Mia

ABBA’s hits take center stage in Mamma Mia, now back on the road celebrating the show’s 25th anniversary. Since opening on Broadway in 2001, the jukebox musical has had many touring and international engagements, as well as two film installments (to date), becoming a global cultural phenomenon. You now have your shot to get in on the fun; the new tour kicked off in Elmira, NY in October 2023 and is scheduled to travel the country through at least summer 2024.

Funny Girl

After a bountiful Broadway run with Lea Michele in the leading role, the revival has hit the road. The classic musical Funny Girl tells the story of Fanny Brice, a legendary Ziegfeld Follies star. With a blend of humor, romance, and unforgettable music, this production showcases the indomitable spirit of a woman who dared to follow her dreams. Michael Mayer’s direction alongside choreography by Ellenore Scott is now on view in theatres around the country.

Wicked

Wicked has cast its spell on audiences for over 20 years as it explores the untold story of the Witches of Oz. This visually stunning production, featuring iconic songs like ‘Defying Gravity,’ ‘Popular,’ ‘For Good,’ and more, continues to captivate with its imaginative storytelling and powerful performances. The tour continues to make stops all over North America, with several international productions having played all over the world over the years. Even more theatre enthusiasts will also get to experience the magic of Wicked when Jon M. Chu’s two-part film adaptation starring Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande hits movie theatres in 2024 and 2025.

Company

Britney Coleman leads the cast of this national tour as Bobbie. Following its 2021-2022 Tony-winning Broadway run, this Sondheim revival is traveling the country, with stops scheduled into late summer of 2024. In Marianne Elliot’s updated take on the classic concept musical, Bobbie is a 35-year-old woman reckoning with her love life as well as those of her mostly married friends, and haunted by the pressures of living in 21st century New York City.

Girl From the North Country

Playwright Conor McPherson’s narrative spin on the song catalog of Bob Dylan launched a cross-country tour in October 2023, kicking things off in Minneapolis. The folk musical played two separate engagements at the Belasco Theatre, closing in June 2022. The tour currently has stops scheduled into mid-2024 with more to be announced!

Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary musical Hamilton remains a cultural phenomenon. This hip-hop-infused tale of Alexander Hamilton’s life has become a must-see for theater enthusiasts, and good thing then that there are so many opportunities to see it, with as many as three separate touring companies having launched, sometimes playing different ends of the country at the same time.  

Hadestown

Hadestown offers a unique and mesmerizing take on the ancient Greek myths of Orpheus & Eurydice and Hades & Persephone. This Tony Award-winning Best Musical combines folk, jazz, and blues music to sing this “old song” again and again and again. With short stints through the United States on offer until May 2024, don’t miss catching Anaïs Mitchell’s hauntingly beautiful score and lyrics while you can!

Broadway enthusiasts can catch so many more sensational productions currently on tour, including Aladdin, MJ The Musical, To Kill a Mockingbird, Moulin Rouge!, Mrs. Doubtfire, SIX, and more!

Broadway’s best touring shows offer a taste of the magic and excitement that define the New York City theater scene. Whether it’s a timeless classic, a contemporary hit, or a reimagined tale, these productions bring the thrill of Broadway to audiences across North America and around the world. So, grab your tickets, sit back, and let the enchantment unfold in a city near you!

Categories
Creative

What are the best shows currently on Broadway?

Whether it’s long-standing shows or a limited-run production, Broadway offers the best theater New York – and the world – has to offer. With over 40 theaters and a never-ending list of shows coming and going, it’s often hard to choose what to see. So, we’re going to give you our best Broadway shows for 2023.

Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell

Greek myth is all the rage at the moment and Hadestown has added fuel to that hellfire. The musical based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice had a long road to Broadway but now it’s here, we don’t know what we would have done without it.

After workshops that started back in 2006, Hadestown finally landed a run on Broadway in 2019. It was an instant hit and garnered 14 Tony Award nominations of which it won eight.

The modern retelling of the ancient myth shows a young woman who chooses to sell her soul to Hades in a bid to ease her suffering. However, she is soon forced to work in his factory and her lover, a wannabe musician, attempts to save her from her miserable fate all set to an incredible soundtrack.

Currently playing at Walter Kerr Theater.

Kimberly Akimbo by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori

This year’s Best Musical winner at the Tony Awards, Kimberly Akimbo, is a touching and joyful show centring Kimberly Levaco – a 16-year-old high schooler who suffers from an incredibly rare condition that makes her age rapidly – played by 63-year-old Victoria Clark.

The show, based on David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2001 play of the same name, is a clever and darkly absurd comedy about a teenager dying of old age. It’s set to a playful and uplifting score from Caroline, Or Change’s Jeanine Tesori and it’ll leave you with a newfound verve for life.

Currently playing at Booth Theater.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical by John Logan

This red-hot stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s film of the same name enchanted audiences when it opened in June 2019. Even COVID-19 couldn’t slow down its momentum. After nine months of packed audiences and rave reviews, Moulin Rouge! The Musical was forced to close due to multiple cast members contracting the virus. They hoped to reopen a few weeks later but a few weeks turned into over a year when the whole of Broadway went dark. When doors reopened, audiences flocked to the windmill for the extravagant show and they weren’t disappointed.

Winning 10 Tony Awards – including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (for Aaron Tveit) and Best Choreography – this tragic, brash, raunchy love story is filled with glitter and heart.

Currently playing at Al Hirschfeld Theater.

The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone

You won’t know whether to laugh, cringe, or sing along with this dark satire that’s been winning over audiences since 2011. The Book of Mormon follows two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to recruit local people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Once there, they’re made to face the realities of the world and the inconceivable hardships people have to undertake resulting in their faith being rocked.

From the creators of South Park, this tongue-in-cheek, outrageous, incredibly dark comedy musical makes social commentary no one thought possible (or appropriate) to make. But with nine Tony Awards under its belt and a run that looks infinite, it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.

Currently playing at Eugene O’Neill Theater.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler

If A-listers are the name of your game, you’ll lose your head if you miss this killer revival.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is arguably one of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time. Written by the late-great Stephen Sondheim, it features his signature and irreplaceable sound along with a true crime story you won’t be able to resist.

The current revival has won praise from all, with much of that admiration going to the show’s stars Josh Groban, Annaleigh Ashford, Jordan Fisher, and Gaten Matarazzo.

Currently playing at Lunt-Fontanne Theater.

Categories
Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best “Broadway Week” Shows

The Mayor’s Office for Tourism and Conventions’ annual Broadway Week promotion is almost upon us, which means that you can now get 2-for-1 tickets to select Broadway shows for performances between September 4-17! (Yes, Broadway Week is actually two weeks long. Lucky us!) 

Unlike TDF’s Half Price Ticket Booth, which only offers same-day discounts, the Broadway Week tickets can be purchased up to a month in advance. Use code BWAYWK23 to access this exciting offer today. Participating shows are also offering premium orchestra seats, usually $250-$400, for just $125 with code BWAYUP23. Check the official website for full details. 

Here are some of the shows we recommend catching while this offer lasts:

HADESTOWN

The 2019 Best Musical Tony Award winner recently welcomed new cast member Solea Pfeiffer in the lead role of Euridyce! Betty Who and Philip Boykin join the company Sept. 5 as lovers Persephone and Hades, respectively. See them alongside Lillias White as Hermes and Reeve Carney as Orpheus.

SOME LIKE IT HOT

This toe-tapping big band musical is from Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman (the composer-lyricist duo behind Hairspray!, Catch Me If You Can, and Smash) and book writers Matthew López and Amber Ruffin. With direction and Tony Award-winning choreography by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, The Prom), this one is not to be missed!

KIMBERLY AKIMBO

Last season’s Best Musical stars two-time Tony Award winner Victoria Clark as Kimberly herself, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline, or Change, Shrek: The Musical) and a book & lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire in an adaptation to his 2001 play of the same name.

PURLIE VICTORIOUS: A NON-CONFEDERATE ROMP THROUGH THE COTTON PATCH

Leslie Odom, Jr. (of Hamilton Tony-winning fame) stars as the titular role in this first ever revival of Ossie Davis’ landmark 1961 satire, directed by Kenny Leon. Two-time Tony Award nominee Kara Young co-stars as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins. Performances begin Sept. 7!

HERE LIES LOVE

The immersive disco bio-musical with music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim tells the life story of former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos. Here Lies Love is a fascinating parable about fascism, the media, and the effects of 20th century American cultural dominance and empire on so-called “Third World” countries like the Philippines. We recommend using your Broadway Week discount to splurge on a Dance Floor ticket, where you’ll be inches away from the actors and part of the storytelling. Good luck getting the title song out of your head. 

SIX

This UK export retells the story of the six ex-wives of King Henry VIII, with a pop concert twist. The Tony-winning score by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow features pop-powered showtunes such as ‘Heart of Stone,’ ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head,’ and the iconic ‘Megasix’ encore to wrap it all up.

THE COTTAGE

Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) makes his directorial debut with this brand new England countryside-set comedy by Sandy Rustin. The cast features Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) in his Broadway return since appearing in 2012’s Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Laura Bell Bundy in her Broadway play debut after leading the 2007 musical Legally Blonde, Lilli Cooper (POTUS, Spring Awakening), Nehal Joshi (Flying Over Sunset, All My Sons), Alex Moffat (Saturday Night Live), and Dana Steingold (Beetlejuice the Musical).

BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE MUSICAL

Time travel back to 1985 (and beyond) for this musical adaptation of the classic film, straight from its hit world premiere in London’s West End! Casey Likes (Almost Famous) is Marty McFly and Roger Bart (The Producers) is Doc Brown, reprising his acclaimed performance on the other side of the pond.

Categories
Interviews

All The World’s Her Stage (…and Backstage)

Beverly Jenkins is not afraid of a cut show. That’s a performance where there are more actors calling out than there are understudies or swings to replace them, and it requires a last-minute reconfiguration of everything from blocking to costuming to the placement of props.

For many people, this would be terrifying, but for Jenkins, who’s been a Broadway stage manager since the early 90s, it’s an opportunity.

“It’s a challenge I actually enjoy,” she says. “I know it’s a crazy thing to enjoy. It’s not something you wish for, but if you need to make it happen and you have the right people, you can make it happen.”

Case in point: At one performance of Broadway’s A Bronx Tale The Musical, she only had one Black actress available, even though there was a scene that required two. “I had to decide,” she recalls. “‘Do I have one Black female on stage, or do I have a Black female and a Black male in that other track?’ I’d planned for that, because you have to plan for that, even if it never happens. So I made the decision to have a Black male on stage, because otherwise it would have thrown some things off [to just have one person]. I spoke to some people; we made a few changes, and it worked. No problem.”

That solution indicates what a distinct style of stage management Jenkins has developed over her career, which includes landmark productions like Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk; the original Miss Saigon; and her current gig as the production stage manager for Hadestown.

The cast and crew of Hadestown

Crucially, she sees a cut show as a chance to connect. “It’s a community event,” she says. “You check with wardrobe, and they’ll make adjustments. The music department and the dance captains are involved. I always reach out to the director or the AD to make sure my choices are okay. And I take the personal trip to tell people what’s happening. I get a couple of extra steps in on my FitBit, and I’m good. I want to make sure I’m personally letting people know what’s going on before they step on stage.”

Those steps — up and down stairs, into the green room, into the wings — set Jenkins apart “Beverly runs a building, and she doesn’t have to open her computer to do it,” says Michael Rico Cohen, a fellow stage manager who has worked alongside her on A Bronx Tale The Musical, Amazing Grace, and Fully Committed.

“She is the person-to-person contact. She’s the problem solver. She’s the empathy master.”

Or to borrow a phrase Jenkins uses to describe herself, she’s a mom of many. “I’m fine with the tech,” she says. “It’s all good. I’m very calm, and I can call a cue just as well as the next person, but I believe my speciality is about being hands-on with the people. I put a lot of thought and care into everyone — not just the actors, but everyone — coming into that theatre.”

On every show, then, a big part of her job is figuring out exactly what this particular group of people needs. For instance, on Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, the 1996 dance musical that uses tap to trace Black history in the United States, Jenkins worked with performers who were more familiar with the dance world than with Broadway. “Sorry Equity, but I had to bend the rules for this group of young men,” she says. “I had to assess the rules and see what they needed. Like, ‘I know this is half hour, and if you’re not here at half hour, then I need you to call me and tell me how far away you are. And as Iong as I know you’re coming, you get a five-minute grace period.’ And that’s something I still do, the five-minute grace period.”

On Noise/Funk, she also turned her office into an occasional daycare center, so that parents in the company could bring their children with them when there were no other options. She recalls, “I had Barney tapes. I had a playpen. I was like, ‘You’re not going to be forced to miss work because you’re doing the right thing with your child.’ I have to get my show up, no matter what. I have to figure out how to get the best show on stage today. And on that show, watching kids was part of it.”

For Amazing Grace, the 2015 Broadway musical that explores how the British slave trade inspired the titular hymn, Jenkins knew her job required extra compassion. She says, “Amazing Grace was important to me because of what was happening on stage. How hard is it that the first time you see Black people on stage, they are stuffed in a crate, and then they get pulled out, thrown on the ground, and shot in the back? So when the actors come off stage, how can they not carry that off stage? How do we make sure that these people are not carrying the feelings of trauma off stage with them?

“We had company morale-building events. We had t-shirt day. We made sure the dressing rooms were mixed, and that we weren’t keeping the Puritans over here and the Africans over here. It was good to see everyone put thought into how to make this a harmonious backstage area and still tell that particular story.”

It no doubt helped that Jenkins herself was spearheading the backstage culture. “She is wildly good at creating fellowship and community,” says Rachel Chavkin, the director of Hadestown.

“She exudes exuberance, but also doesn’t beat around the bush when she’s got a problem to work through. And she’s not precious, because she’s focused on problem-solving at every turn.”

Jenkins asserts that small touches help a company avoid bigger problems, particularly when they’re together for a lengthy run. That’s one reasons she runs a “turkey hand” contest for Thanksgiving, getting everyone in the building to trace their hand on construction paper and then turn it into a decorated turkey drawing. “And believe me, there are prizes, honey,” she says.

Cohen confirms, “There’s nobody that loves a turkey hand competition more than Beverly Jenkins. But it’s more than just turkey hands or door decorating contests or the Father’s Day barbecue. She’s a master of the casual-but-meaningful interaction. It creates a camaraderie and an immediate trust. It’s these little things that really make the building a happy place over a period of years. All of those things are just as important — and sometimes more — than announcing what we’re doing in understudy rehearsal on Friday.”


Mark Blankenship is the founder and editor of The Flashpaper and the host of The Showtune Countdown on iHeartRadio Broadway.