Season Highlights. Jake Gyllenhaal in a Sondheim. Cynthia Erivo not Superwoman (but close.) Week in NY Theater

This season’s Broadway stats, according to The Broadway League:

13,317,980 visitors (up 1.6 percent from 2015)
$1.373 billion gross (up .6 percent from last year)
Average ticket price: $103.11 (down $1.07 from last year!)

But that  doesn’t get at what made this season special.

Nor does the bizarre seven-photo fashion spread, “Revolution on Broadway! The Season’s Most Electrifying Productions” from Vogue.
Sample photo:
(The third person in the photograph, after Jonathan Groff as King George III and Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III, is model Joan Smalls, who has absolutely nothing to do with Hamilton or King Charles III or Broadway or royalty, although she is wearing an Alexander McQueen dress.)


Watch what New York theater newcomers view as the highlight of their first season – videotaped answers from Danielle Brooks and Cynthia Erivo from The Color Purple, Carmen Cusack of Bright Star, Daniel Durant and Austin P. McKenzie from Spring Awakening, Sarah Charles Lewis from Tuck Everlasting, Ana Villafane from On Your Feet, and Ben Whishaw from The Crucible, all of them winners of the 2016 Theatre World Award

Some personal highlights for me – many nominated for one award or another, not necessarily the Tonys, but deserving of more attention:

Outstanding solo performance: Daphne Rubin Vega Empanada Loca

Projection design has come into its own e.g. Tal Yarden in Lazarus and Finn Ross in American Psycho. 

Constance Hoffman’s fancy and fanciful costumes for Theatre for a New Audience’s Pericles

Unique theatrical experience: YOUARENOWHERE

The jewel-box set design by David Rockwell in She Loves Me.

Week in New York Theater Reviews

The Sandbox 3 Ryan-James Hatanaka and Phyllis Somerville

Signature Plays

The three short plays that Signature Theater is reviving together in a single production – Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, Maria Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro – are all old works of American avant-garde theater by playwrights who helped define Off-Broadway. The plays are frequently studied, and far less frequently performed.
That – and the $25 ticket price – is surely enough of a draw for the serious theatergoer….All of them seem to have been written out of anger.

Hadestown 11


Has Hell ever sounded so thrilling? Hadestown, a sung-through musical derived from the myth of Orpheus and expanded from a concept album by Anais Mitchell, mixes sweet and sexy folk, rocking New Orleans jazz, get-down blues and sinful soul. The eight cast members who perform the 35 songs are uniformly terrific; it’s hard to imagine anybody better. If the plot strays little from the bare-bones story of Orpheus descending into Hades to rescue his wife Eurydice, the songs and the staging are enough to enchant for the two hour running time.

Ato Blankson-Wood (foreground), Curtis Wiley, and Jahi Kearse in The Total Bent,
Ato Blankson-Wood (foreground), Curtis Wiley, and Jahi Kearse in The Total Bent,

The Total Bent

In their latest musical at the Public Theater, Stew and Heidi Rodewald offer the kind of witty lyrics and propulsive score that propelled “Passing Strange,” their 2007 innovative musical at the Public, onto Broadway, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards, winning for best book. What’s missing this time around is the best book….The plot exists in the musical as little more than an outline; it is not where Stew has focused his energy. “The Total Bent” is a concept album whose creators are besotted with its concepts.

Week in New York Theater Awards


Obie Awards

Rajiv Joseph’s “Guards at the Taj “won Best New American Play and $1,000 at the 61st annual Obie Awards. “The Humans” won for playwriting and best performance. “Eclipsed” won for best ensemble acting.


Each Broadway musical must pay all costs for performing on the Tony Awards broadcast – neither CBS nor the sponsors of the Tony Awards pick up the tab, which some estimated at about $200,000 for each musical number. This is no problem for a money machine like Hamilton. But what about a show already closed, that originated with a non-profit. Deaf West’s Spring Awakening has started a campaign on Kickstarter to raise the money.

Week in New York Theater News

Evan Hansen 3

“Dear Evan Hansen” will transfer to Broadway in November, at an unspecified Shubert theater.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Sarah Chalres Lewis. Terrence Mann below
Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Sarah Chalres Lewis. Terrence Mann below

Tuck Everlasting” closing Sunday May 29

American Psycho
American Psycho

American Psycho will close 6/5 after 80 performances. It’s the third Tony-nominated show (after Tuck Everlasting and Disaster) to announce that it will close before the Tony awards.


The new Grizabella for the new Cats on Broadway: British singer/songwriter Leona Lewis

jake gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal to star in a one-night-only performance of Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George” October 24 as a fundraiser for New York City Center. The $75 tickets sold out within an hour of going on sale.

Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller is hot. The fifth Broadway production of The Price is set to open March 16, 2017 at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater


The Public Theater announces its 2016-17 season, and it’s a doozy, befitting the theater that gave us both Fun Home and Hamilton in the past couple of seasons. It will include the final two plays of Richard Nelson’s The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family, plus:

Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Oct. 18-Nov. 20), about a group of friends in Reading, Pa., as they deal with layoffs at the local factory

 Universe’s Party People (Nov. 1-Dec. 4), about the complicated legacies of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Org/Party

David Byrne’s Saint Joan (Feb. 14-March 19, 2017, a musical about Joan of Arc by the team that brought us Here Lies Love

Martin Sherman’s Gently Down the Stream (March 14-April 16, 2017). Harvey Feirstein will play an American pianist in London who falls for a young man at the dawn of the Internet dating revolution,

John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons (March 17-April 23)

NYC Opera goes Broadway in 2017! Hal Prince to direct Bernstein’s Candide in Jan. New opera of Angels in America in June

10 ways to survive your kids Hamilton obsession,


After 11 years, Vallejo Gantner  is leaving PS 122. He will stay on while they search for a new artistic director with just as cool a name




(She left after Act I, her stand-by Adrianna Hicks taking over for her)




Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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