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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Shows of 2023

Shining a spotlight on the best all-around productions Broadway had to offer this year. And who better to make the top 10 picks than the site titled Broadway’s Best Shows? Keep an eye out for our listing of the year’s best performances!

A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen’s timeless classic took center stage once again, its 14th Broadway production but the first since 1997. The play’s 1889 exploration of the complexities of marriage, misogyny, and societal expectations remains as relevant as ever. With Jessica Chastain starring in a new barebones adaptation by Amy Herzog, this Jamie Lloyd-helmed production brought a fresh eye to this masterpiece. The revival ran at the Hudson Theatre in the spring.

Fat Ham

Shakespeare met hip-hop in ‘Fat Ham,’ a Pulitzer prize-winning bold reimagining of ‘Hamlet’ from writer James Ijames that electrified the stage of the American Airlines Theatre with its innovative fusion of classic and contemporary, after premiering at the Public Theater. 

Here Lies Love

Immersive and pulsating with energy, ‘Here Lies Love’ was the unique theatrical experience that explored the life of Imelda Marcos. The show dazzled audiences with its interior transformation of the Broadway Theatre, inventive staging and infectious music from David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Merrily We Roll Along

Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ finally gets its due, as superstars Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, and Daniel Radcliffe endure the deterioration of friendship and creative partnership nightly at the Hudson Theatre. The revival, the first since the production’s infamous initial flop, captures the conflict between friendship and ambition among artists, set to a particularly melodic Sondheim score.

Parade

Based on a true story, ‘Parade’ weaves a haunting tale of injustice and redemption in the American South. Starring Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, the Broadway transfer of New York City Center’s 2022 gala production, brought the gripping narrative to life at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre with powerful staging from Michael Arden and Jason Robert Brown’s stirring score.

Prima Facie

The drama of the courtroom took center stage as this new play, on Broadway last spring from across the pond, tackles issues of justice and gender. Jodie Comer won a Tony Award for her compelling and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of finding justice or healing for sexual assault survivors from within the legal system.

Photo by Marc J. Franklin

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

A celebration of African-American culture and resilience, ‘Purlie Victorious’ is a jubilant comedy that remains relevant and uplifting 62 years after its original Broadway bow. Ossie Davis’s essential words are brought to resounding life by Leslie Odom, Jr., Kara Young, and the rest of the pitch-perfect cast under the direction of Kenny Leon. The revival runs at the Music Box Theatre through February 4, 2024. 

Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Stephen Sondheim’s macabre masterpiece continues to thrill audiences with its chilling tale of revenge and obsession. Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford give two of the great musical theatre performances of our times at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, with Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster taking over the leads in early 2024. 

Summer, 1976

Manhattan Theatre Club’s ‘Summer, 1976’ captured the essence of a generation in a nostalgic journey. Theatrical perennials Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht starred in this new play presentation at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

The Thanksgiving Play

In the comedic exploration of political correctness, Larissa Fasthorse’s ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ satirizes the challenges of creating an inclusive holiday celebration. Finally premiering on Broadway after a 2018 off-Broadway premiere, the play tickled audiences at the Helen Hayes Theatre with standout turns from Chris Sullivan and D’Arcy Carden.

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Creative

Broadway-Inspired Thanksgiving Feast

As Thanksgiving approaches, why not infuse a touch of Broadway magic into your familial feast? This year, we draw inspiration from Broadway’s currently running shows to create a menu that celebrates both the theatrical and the culinary arts.

Pheasant on the Bone from SIX: The Musical

Our culinary adventure begins with a twist on the traditional turkey; a regal dish inspired by the hit musical SIX. “Pheasant, keep it on the bone,” exclaims Anna of Cleves in her number ‘Get Down.’ Now, the dish takes center stage, mirroring the vibrant energy and historical flair of the show. In SIX, the six wives of Henry VIII reclaim their narratives, and this dish, rich and flavorful, symbolizes the opulence of the Tudor era.

Corn from Shucked

Transitioning from Tudor elegance, let’s take a comedic turn with the simplicity and humor found in the musical Shucked. The exclamation “Corn!” serves as a delightful reminder that sometimes, the most uncomplicated pleasures are the most enjoyable. Incorporate corn in your Thanksgiving menu, be it corn on the cob, cornbread, or a savory corn casserole, to bring a touch of Shucked‘s lighthearted charm to your festive table.

Spam from Spamalot

Now, over to Spamalot and the iconic canned meat, Spam… a lot. Embrace the quirkiness of Monty Python’s Spamalot by adding this unexpected delight to your Thanksgiving spread. Whether it’s incorporated into a festive appetizer or presented in all its Spam glory, this dish will undoubtedly add a comedic twist to your feast, ensuring that your guests will be talking about your unique Thanksgiving for years to come.

Meat Pies from Sweeney Todd

As we delve into the darker side of Broadway offerings with Sweeney Todd, we encounter the infamous “Meat Pies.” While we hope your version is entirely free of any unsavory ingredients, the essence of Mrs. Lovett’s culinary creations should not be lost. 

“Ali Baba Ganoush” from Aladdin

Now, let’s transport ourselves to the magical world of Aladdin with a delightful addition to our Broadway-inspired Thanksgiving feast – in ‘Friend Like Me,’ Genie conjures up “a lifetime supply of Ali Baba Ganoush.” This playful twist on baba ganoush pays homage to the exotic and vibrant atmosphere of Agrabah. Infused with Middle Eastern flavors, “Ali Baba Ganoush” is a creamy and smoky eggplant dip that adds a touch of Aladdin’s enchantment to your Thanksgiving spread. Serve it with warm pita bread, and let your guests savor the magic of Broadway in every bite.

Aunt Missy’s Sweet Potato Pie from Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

And for dessert, let’s bring a touch of Southern charm with “Aunt Missy’s Sweet Potato Pie” from Purlie Victorious. This scrumptious sweet pays homage to the play’s celebration of culture and family ties. Much like the message of Purlie Victorious, this pie brings people together, infusing your Thanksgiving with a sense of unity and the sweet taste of tradition.

Candy Necklaces from Kimberly Akimbo

In Kimberly Akimbo, a coming-of-age musical that combines humor with heart, the title character Kimberly finds solace in chewing on her candy necklace. Bring a touch of whimsy to your Thanksgiving dessert table with this playful treat. Candy necklaces not only add a burst of color but also embody the sweetness of familial bonds, mirroring the themes explored in Kimberly Akimbo.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Spooky Shows

Broadway has a long history of captivating audiences with a wide range of shows, from heartwarming musicals to thought-provoking dramas. But when Halloween season rolls around, there’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a spine-tingling and eerie performance. In celebration of the annual spookfest, we’re throwing back to some of Broadway’s scariest offerings.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

“The Phantom of the Opera”

Though the famed Phantom is no longer haunting Broadway’s Majestic Theatre, the Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece enthralled audiences for decades. With its haunting score and the enigmatic Phantom lurking beneath the Paris Opera House, this classic tale of love and obsession surely gets the title of Broadway’s Best Spooky Show.

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

A macabre musical masterpiece by Stephen Sondheim, “Sweeney Todd” tells the tale of a vengeful barber who dispatches his victims to be baked into meat pies. With dark humor, chilling themes, and memorable songs, it’s a must-see for Halloween. You can still catch stars Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford attending the tale on Broadway for another couple of months… We recommend you get your meat pie fix.

“Jekyll & Hyde”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, this musical explores the dual nature of man. Dr. Jekyll’s transformation into the sinister Mr. Hyde is a perfect metaphor for the darkness that lies within us all. And who can forget the horror of David Hasselhoff’s starring 2000-2001 turn?

“Into the Woods”

Stephen Sondheim strikes again with this enchanting yet eerie twist on classic fairy tales. “Into the Woods” explores the consequences of characters’ wishes, reminding us that not all fairy tales have happy endings. 1987 audiences were surprised by how dark a story featuring Cinderella and Rapunzel could get. Though you may have missed your opportunity to catch the 2022 Broadway revival and its subsequent tour, the latest Broadway cast recording might suffice.

“Carrie: The Musical”

An adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic horror novel, “Carrie: The Musical” explores the trauma and torment of a telekinetic teen in a small, unforgiving town. With intense emotions and shocking scenes (the prop list does call for buckets of blood), it’s not for the faint of heart. Surely there’s a high school or community theater running the show this month. 

“Beetlejuice”

A comically macabre tale of the afterlife, “Beetlejuice” is a fun and quirky Halloween pick. Follow the antics of the obnoxious yet lovable demon, Beetlejuice, as he helps a recently deceased couple navigate the netherworld. The production is out on tour through June 2024, so make sure to take advantage when the undead man himself comes to haunt your hometown!

“The Rocky Horror Show”

While not originally a Broadway production, this cult classic, the basis for the legendary 1975 movie, has become a staple in Halloween entertainment, and did have a couple of Broadway stints, in 1975 and 2000. Join the Time Warp and celebrate all things spooky and sensational with the eccentric characters of Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle. Check your local listings; there’s always a production or two on offer at this time of year, as well as opportunities to see “shadow casts” perform along with the movie. 

Whether you’re into classic horror stories, dark comedies, or supernatural tales, there’s something for everyone in these captivating and eerie shows. So, this Halloween season, grab your tickets and prepare for a night of thrilling entertainment, whether on Broadway, on tour, or on the stage of your local community theatre.

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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.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Horror/Thriller Shows

While the horror and thriller genres are typically reserved for the screen, Broadway can sometimes be a spooky place, where audiences have been left with their hearts racing, for one reason or another. Just like in film, horror theater productions often use their thrills and chills as social critiques. Read on if you dare…

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Theater’s ability to comment on social issues while leaving audiences breathless and entertained might just have reached its pinnacle with the nightmarish Sweeney Todd. It’s class warfare via cannibalism, when a barber back in London after 15 years of wrongful imprisonment starts killing those responsible while shaving them, and since the price of meat is otherwise too high (“times is hard”), his downstairs neighbor bakes the bodies into pies. Maybe the most horrifying part of Sweeney is how, as we learn about the wrongs committed against Mr. Todd and his wife and daughter, they’re just so awful that his string of murders feels almost…reasonable? It’s that moral dilemma that writers Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler explore in the show. Sweeney Todd came back to Broadway in spring 2023, in a Tony-nominated revival starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. 

Grey House

Photo by MurphyMade

The first play of the 2023-2024 Broadway season, Grey House intentionally pulls from the American horror film oeuvre. Set during a blizzard in an isolated cabin inhabited by weird and precocious children, a collection of horror movie tropes that the play’s script acknowledges, the production utilizes jumpscares, eerie underscoring, and innovative special effects and makeup to scare theatergoers.

1984

This adaptation of the George Orwell novel was infamously gory–it made Broadway audiences faint and throw up during its run in the summer of 2017. It used the book’s political dystopia as a basis for intense horror, divoting almost a third of its runtime to the ‘torture room’ sequences, unlike anything seen on Broadway before. 

The Pillowman

This 2004 murder mystery made playwright Martin McDonough a household name, with an incredibly dark story of a series of gruesome child murders that are eerily similar to the work of a murder mystery novelist. Particularly shocking to audiences was that, somehow, this play was also funny. 

The Humans

On the surface, Stephen Karam’s 2016 play might seem like a typical Jewish American family drama, set at a contentious Thanksgiving dinner. But something else is lurking in this Chinatown walk-up apartment, as the floors start to creak. While it’s left ambiguous, there are some forces in The Humans that might not be, well…human.

Angel Street

Have you ever wondered, where did the term “gaslighting” come from? Its source is the 1938 play Gaslight, which premiered in New York in 1941 titled Angel Street, and was later a 1944 Hollywood film. On Broadway in 1941, Vincent Price played Mr. Manningham, a London aristocrat who secretly turns the gas lights in his mansion lower and lower over time for nefarious reasons– but when his wife Bella asks him, he says the lights haven’t been lowered, making her lose her mind. 

Sleep No More

Though not on Broadway, New York theatergoers have this McKittrick mainstay on the menu for their ghostly cravings. This immersive take on Macbeth lets you roam the halls of this abandoned hotel-turned-performance venue, which also has other productions besides Sleep No More running from time to time. 

Little Shop of Horrors

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken used tropes from B horror movies and creature features from the 1950s to create Little Shop, a parable about a poor flower shop assistant on Skid Row who raises a mysterious carnivorous plant he names after his crush, Audrey. A revival directed by Michael Mayer has been running off-Broadway at the Westside Theater since 2019, with a revolving door of stage notables playing Seymour, Audrey, and Orin the Dentist. Joy Woods of Six stars as Audrey – here’s her singing “Somewhere That’s Green” with Menken on the piano.

Across the pond, London audiences have had their fair share of scare with the following shows.

2:22: A Ghost Story

A woman hears noises through her baby monitor every night at 2:22 AM. She and her husband invite two close friends over to stay up and try to figure out what’s going on, and to prove that it’s not a ghost. That’s the concept for 2:22: A Ghost Story, which finished successful runs in the West End in 2021 and 2022, as well as Los Angeles in Fall 2022– it might even start terrifying Broadway audiences soon. 

The Woman in Black

This play by Stephen Mallatratt ran continuously in London from 1989 to 2023, for a total of 13,232 performances. It’s a chilling tale of a ghostly apparition and family trauma in Northern England, with a cast of only three actors playing dozens of parts.