Below are some of the year’s best reads and the most popular posts of 2021, which, not surprisingly, were largely about the reopening of Broadway, although the number 1 post was about the movie, “In The Heights.” Anything involving Lin-Manuel Miranda remains a great draw, as has been the case since 2015.
Top 10 Posts from 2021
In The Heights Movie: 10 Changes from the Broadway Musical
Hamilton on Broadway 2021. A cast of newcomers and returning favorites.
Broadway 2021-2022 Season Preview Guide
Waitress Back on Broadway 2021: Sara Bareilles’ bittersweet treat of a musical
Hadestown Back on Broadway, Hot as Ever
Watch We The People, The Biden Harris Inauguration Concert
West Side Story: 7 changes in the 2021 movie musical from 1961 version
Caroline or Change on Broadway Review
Company on Broadway Review. Sondheim’s musical, and live tribute.
Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway Review
Although I’ve put together 465 posts this year (so far), some of the best-read articles in 2021 were from previous years: once again, The 50 Best Plays of the Last 100 Years (from 2013), Broadway’s Most Entertaining Shows About Serious Social Issues (from 2017), What is immersive theater? The six elements that define it at its best and Blackface on Stage: The Complicated History of Minstrel Shows (both from 2019). And the Hamilton 2020 Quiz
Most of my posts are theater reviews. But I also cover theater news (I write a weekly summary) and write essays, conduct interviews, and do reported pieces about issues confronting the theater — a kind of running tab on what’s happening. Here is one such post in each month of the year:
Theater and Democracy, born together, both now under attack.
In shock after the coup attempt on January 6, I wrote about the connection between theater and democracy, which were born in the same place at the same time – in Athens 2,500 years ago – and how both, in different ways, are under attack. Given the connection, it is ironic, and annoying, that “political theater” is commonly used these days as shorthand in the political realm for action without substance, something false or unserious that undermines democracy.
An Unspoken Upside, And Possible Downside, to Online Theater
The replacement of stages with screens was offering an opportunity for emerging theater artists to get the kind of audience that they would not have been able to attract a year ago, a tangible benefit for both artist and audience. I noticed, however, a potential side effect that gave me pause at the time (but does no longer.)
The ACTA Winners: Online Theater Awards for Pandemic Year One
To mark the anniversary of the shut down of physical theaters, I came up with the American Connected Theater Award for theatrical storytelling created and presented online during the year between March 2020 and March 2021, as a way to acknowledge ten theaters and shows that had stopped up to the moment. I also put together a seven-minute video that excerpted some of the stunning examples of digital theater in that first year.
Read Paul Rudnick’s hilarious new Broadway play “Playbills,” starring Nathan Lane
The first play presented on a Broadway stage in more than a year was a one-time-only socially-distanced matinee on a Saturday for invited guests only. But playwright Paul Rudnick was generous enough to allow me to share the script, which was a monologue of a theatergoer’s dream that was spot-on for the moment we were living through…and hilarious.
Broadway Reopening…Truth, Tease or Torture?
This was the post I wrote on the day when Broadway could start selling tickets for shows that could open or reopen at full capacity beginning September 14. This felt like a transition month. It’s the month the Drama League Awards became the only major annual theater award to recognize exemplary works of digital theater over the past season. It also was the month where two new physical theaters opened, part of Little Island Park, a man-made park in the Hudson River.
“A Dozen Dreams,” an art installation based on the dreams of twelve woman playwrights, was the first of the projects to look back at the pandemic, even while we’re still in the middle of it, and it’s the smartest I’ve seen or read so far.
Theater etiquette revisited
With physical theaters reopening after more than a year of watching theater alone by your computer, I wondered whether New York theater people would go back to complaining about smart phone use and snoring and profligate standing ovations etc. (That doesn’t seem to have happened. Theatergoers were too thrilled – and too masked — to complain.)
Island Hopping in New York City for Theater
I spent the summer attending in person theater that was largely taking place outdoors – and, as it happens, on the various islands of New York City. I noticed some common threads in the way that live, in-person theater was being reimagined as it reemerged.
The arts looking forward from 9/11: Q & A with Bill Rauch
I interviewed the artistic director of the performing arts center on the site of the World Trade Center to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 not by looking back, but by looking forward to the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, nicknamed the PAC, originally scheduled to open on the anniversary, now still under construction and aiming for 2023.
Saving New York Independent Theater: An Update
I lay out the latest actions and proposals on a city, state and federal level to save New York theater. The illusion of reopening is that we’re back where we were in February of 2020,” one arts advocate told me. “The reality is that in the meantime, there’s been incredible damage that has happened.”
ASL Theater for All: Meet Brandon Kazen-Maddox
Brandon Kazen-Maddox is an ASL interpreter, having signed for Joe Biden, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and, most recently, Andrew Lloyd Webber. He’s also a performer and producer — an ASL performer and producer in the process of creating “ASL Wild Party,” an ambitious adaptation of Andrew Lippa’s musical that replaces the lyrics with sign language. “I call what I’m doing American Sign Language Dance Theater,” He has a lot to say about access and inclusion in the theater, as one of the panelists at the Theatermakers Summit on the topic.
7 Theater Trends
I look at the theater trends of the past year, and what may happen in 2022