Friday, January 13, 2017

Week in Review 1.13.17

Casting News

  • Academy Award winner and stage veteran Marisa Tomei, as well as Tony nominee Omar Metwally (Guards at the Taj, The Affair), Tony winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), and others, will star in Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage. The LCT production, directed by Rebecca Taichman, begins previews February 23, with opening night set for March 20. Broadway.com has more.

  • Taylor Louderman (Bring It On, Gigantic) will join the Broadway company of Kinky Boots, taking on the role of Lauren. She begins performances on January 16. Broadway.com has more.

  • Complete casting for Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, the new musical from David Byrne and Alex Timbers, has been announced. Jo Lampert stars in the title role (in costume at right), and Terence Archie (Rocky), Mike McGowan, and others will appear in featured and ensemble roles. Broadway World has the full announcement. Previews begin February 14, with opening night scheduled for March 15. The limited engagement is, at this time, scheduled to conclude on April 16.

  • Complete casting for several upcoming Broadway shows has been announced. Broadway World has the full cast list for the Glenn Close-led revival of Sunset Boulevard. Go to Broadway.com for the full cast list of the Broadway bow of Anastasia. For the full cast life for Miss Saigon, visit Playbill. And head to Theater Mania for complete Bandstand casting.

  • Wayne Brady will take on the role of Aaron Burr, sir, in the Chicago production of Hamilton. He'll begin performances January 17, taking over the role from Joshua Henry, who plays his last performance January 15. Henry is leaving the Chicago company to play Burr in the national tour, which begins with two five-month sit-down engagements, one in San Francisco and one in L.A. Playbill has more.

     
  • Rachel Dratch (Ripcord) and Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) have joined the company of the upcoming Crazy for You concert, taking place at Lincoln Center on February 19. Playbill has more.

  • Casting for the Broadway bow of Sweat, the Lynn Nottage play, has been announced. The entire off-Broadway company, with the exception of Miriam Schor, will make the transfer, so Sweat will feature Joahanna Day, Michelle Wilson, and Khris Davis, among others. Previews begin March 4, with opening night set for March 26. Playbill has more.


  • The national tour of Aladdin will be led by Adam Jacobs, who originated the title role on Broadway. Jacobs's final performance with the Broadway company will be February 12; his understudy, Joshua Dela Cruz, will temporarily assume the role, beginning February 14, until a replacement has been named. (Playbill reports that Telly Leung will take on the role, though that report is unconfirmed.) The tour begins in Chicago on April 11. Broadway.com has more.
It's an Honor

Clive Barnes AwardsKhris Davis (Sweat) and Indiana Woodword (NYCB corps de ballet member) have been awarded the Clive Barnes Awards for theatre and dance, respectively. Playbill has more.

Golden Globes—The Golden Globes were handed out on Sunday night, making winners of Viola Davis, Donald Glover, and La La Land lyricists, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. See the full list of winners here.

BAFTAs—The British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced the BAFTA Awards nominees. Nominated films include Arrival, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight, as well as Pedro Almodovar's Julieta. Additionally, Jake Gyllenhaal is nominated for his role in Nocturnal Animals, one of the film's nine nominations. Deadline has the full list of nominees. BAFTA winners will be announced and honored at a February 12 ceremony in London.

Producers Guild of America—Nominees for the PGA Awards (in film categories) were announced this week. (Nominees for TV categories were announced last week.) Nominees include the producers of Arrival; Fences; La La Land; Manchester by the Sea; and Moonlight. Visit Broadway World for the full list of nominees. Winners will be announced on January 28.

Directors Guild of America—Nominees for the DGA Awards were announced this week. On Wednesday, nominees in the TV, commercial, and documentary categories were announced; nominees in those categories include the directors of Game of Thrones, "Battle of the Bastards"; Silicon Valley, "Daily Active Users" and "Founder Friendly" (discrete nominations); Veep, "Inauguration" and "Mother" (discrete nominations); Grease Live; The Night Of; and the 70th Annual Tony Awards (the 2016 Tonys). On Thursday, nominees in the film categories were announced; among the nominees are Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). Winners in all categories will be announced and honored on February 4.

In Other News

  • Aziz Ansari (Master of None) will host SNL on January 21. Entertainment Weekly has more.

  • Oscar and Grammy winner John Legend (Selma, La La Land) and Ariana Grande (13, pop star) will sing the title song for the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live-action film. Deadline has details.

     
  • The Tony Awards will return to Radio City Music Hall, a significantly larger venue than the Beacon Theatre, where theatre's biggest night was held last year. Tony nominees will be announced on May 2, and Tony night is Sunday, June 11. Broadway.com has more.

     
  • Pipeline, a new play by Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew), will premiere at Lincoln Center Theatre this summer, with performances beginning June 15. Broadway.com has more.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Golden Globe Winners


Winners of the 74th Golden Globe Awards were announced and celebrated on January 8. The full list of winners is below. (Winners are notated in bold typeface and with an asterisk.)


Movies

Best Motion Picture, Drama
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight*
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
  • Amy Adams, Arrival
  • Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle*
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie    
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
  • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea*
  • Joel Edgerton, Loving
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge  
  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences  
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
  • 20th Century Women
  • Deadpool
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • La La Land*
  • Sing Street  
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
  • Annette Bening, 20th Century Women 
  • Lily Collins, Rules Don't Apply
  • Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
  • Emma Stone, La La Land*
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
  • Colin Farrell, The Lobster
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land*
  • Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jonah Hill, War Dogs
  • Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Viola Davis, Fences*
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  • Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals*
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Original Score
  • Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land*
  • Johann Johannsson, Arrival
  • Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka, Lion
  • Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch, Hidden Figures
Best Original Song
  • "Can't Stop the Feeling," Trolls, music and lyrics by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Shellback
  • "City of Stars," La La Land, music by Justin Hurwitz, lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul*
  • "Faith," Sing, music and lyrics by Ryan Tedder, Stevie Wonder, and Francis Farewell Starlight
  • "Gold," Gold, music and lyrics by Brian Burton, Stephen Gaghan, Daniel Pemberton, and Iggy Pop
  • "How Far I'll Go," Moana, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Best Motion Picture, Animated
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • Sing
  • Zootopia*
Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
  • Divines
  • Elle*
  • Neruda
  • The Salesman
  • Toni Erdmann


Television

Best Television Series, Drama
  • The Crown*
  • Game of Thrones
  • Stranger Things
  • This Is Us
  • Westworld  
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama
  • Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
  • Claire Foy, The Crown*
  • Keri Russell, The Americans
  • Winona Ryder, Stranger Things
  • Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama
  • Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys, The Americans
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Billy Bob Thronton, Goliath*    
Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy
  • Atlanta*
  • Black-ish
  • Mozart in the Jungle
  • Transparent
  • Veep
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy
  • Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
  • Issa Rae, Insecure
  • Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish*  
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy
  • Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
  • Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
  • Donald Glover, Atlanta*
  • Nick Nolte, Graves
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • American Crime
  • The Dresser
  • The Night Manager
  • The Night Of
  • The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story*    
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Felicity Huffman, American Crime
  • Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
  • Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story*
  • Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
  • Kerry Washington, Confirmation
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
  • Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
  • Bryan Cranston, All the Way
  • Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager*
  • John Turturro, The Night Of
  • Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story    
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Olivia Colman, The Night Manager*
  • Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
  • Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
  • Mandy Moore, This Is Us
  • Thandie Newton, Westworld
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Sterling K. Brown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager*
  • John Lithgow, The Crown
  • Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
  • John Travolta, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story


The Present


I had high hopes for The Present. The Sydney Theatre Company production is a take on a lost Anton Chekhov play (Platonov) and stars the unparalleled two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (making her Broadway debut). While it was, indeed, a treat to catch Blanchett on stage, The Present is a middling play about a bunch of adults misbehaving.

At rise, several old friends and lovers are gathered for Anna's 40th birthday. Anna (Blanchett, Blue Jasmine) was married to The General; his second wife, the couple married when Anna was just 20, and The General died about 10 years prior to the present (set in the 1980s, it seems). Among the guests are Anna's step-son, Sergei (Chris Ryan), who's only about four years younger than Anna; Nikolai (Toby Schmitz), a life-long friend of Sergei's; and Mikhail (Richard Roxburgh), the boys' tutor and a perpetual flirting partner for Anna.

Given the revelers' history, there's a lot of talk of the past. There's also quite a bit of pontificating about the future. Basically there's a lot of talk while they all try to distract themselves from their lives, from the present. (Get it?) Mikhail, for example, is good at telling others what to do but can't take his own advice, while Anna takes a nihilistic approach to confronting the present. There are fireworks, explosions, shots.

This is to be expected, of course. The play begins with Anna standing alone on stage, holding a pistol, and we all know Chekhov's maxim about pistols: if a gun appears in act one, it had better go off by act three. The principle here is that everything in the play should be essential. There's no room or excuse for superfluous dialogue and action. The Present doesn't quite live up to that ideal.

Like you might expect from a Chekhovian play, The Present, adapted by Andrew Upton, takes its time, building characters rather than plot. (Certain Anna–related character/plot details are reminiscent of  The Cherry Orchard leading lady, Ranevskaya.) As directed by John Crowley, there is humor and moments of levity. (There's a particularly titillating mini-Bacchanalia in act two.) Yet The Present doesn't pack the punch other Chekhov plays do. Perhaps it's the melodrama that blunts the impact of whatever Upton meant to impart. Blanchett is terrific, and she has good chemistry with Roxburgh, but this isn't a present that thrills.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Week in Review 1.6.17

Casting News

  • Tony and Academy Award nominated actor and activist Mark Ruffalo will return to Broadway in Roundabout's revival of Arthur Miller's The Price. Ruffalo (Spotlight) replaces the previously announced John Turturro, who had to bow out due to filming commitments. Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht are still scheduled to appear. Previews begin February 16, with opening night scheduled for March 16. Theater Mania has more.

  • Casting for the first national tour of Hamilton has been announced. Joshua Henry, who plays Aaron Burr in the Chicago production, will star as Burr; Michael Luwoye, who is the Broadway Hamilton alternate, will star as Hamilton; and Broadway's outgoing King George III, Rory O'Malley, will be back as the king. The cast will also include Emmy Raver-Lampman (Angelica; she appeared in the Broadway production as an ensemble member), Isaiah Johnson (Washington), and Desmond Newson (ensemble), among others. The tour launches with a five-month stint in San Francisco on March 10, and will then head to LA for a 21-week sit-down engagement beginning August 11. Theater Mania has more, and you can view the tour itinerary on the Hamilton on Tour page of the show's website.

     
  • Emmy winner and current Golden Globe nominee Sterling K. Brown (The People v. OJ Simpson, This is Us) has joined Marvel's Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film also stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, and Danai Gurira. The Hollywood Reporter has more.

  • Stage and screen veteran Matthew Broderick will star alongside Wallace Shawn in Evening at the Talk House, which was written by Shawn. The New Group production begins previews January 31, with opening night set for February 16. The limited engagement is scheduled to conclude March 12. Playbill has more.

  • Colin Hanlon (Dot) will step into the role of Steven in the a cappella musical, In Transit, beginning January 10, while Telly Leung takes a leave of absence due to a family obligation. Broadway.com has more.
It's an Honor

Golden Globes—The 74th Golden Globe Awards are this Sunday night, and you can expect to see Viola Davis, Brie Larson, Justin Theroux, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Laura Dern, Timothy Olyphant, Diego Luna, and Amy Schumer, among others, presenting. Visit The Hollywood Reporter for the full list of presenters, and see my post from last month for the full list of nominees.

Film Independent Spirit Awards—Comedians and current Broadway stars Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (Oh, Hello) will host the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 25. The Wrap has more. Nominees include Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. You can view the full list of nominees on the Film Independent website.

Eddie Awards—Nominees for the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards have been announced. Editors for Arrival, Moonlight, and La La Land are among the nominees. Winners will be announced and honored on January 27. The Hollywood Reporter has more.

Casting Awards—Nominees for the Casting Society of America Artios Awards have been announced. Among the nominees are the casting directors for La La Land, Arrival, Nocturnal Animals, 20th Century Women, and Moonlight. Visit The Hollywood Reporter for the full list of nominees.

Writers Guild Awards—Nominees for the Writers Guild of America Awards, honoring achievements in writing for film, have been announced. (WGA Awards for TV and other mediums were announced last month.) For Original Screenplay, Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney (Moonlight) are among the nominees. Nominees for Adapted Screenplay include August Wilson (adapting his play, Fences), Eric Heisserer (Arrival), and Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals). Winners will be announced and honored at a February 19 ceremony. Broadway World has the full list of nominees.

Art Directors Guild—Nominees for the Excellence in Production Design Awards, honoring design work in TV, film, commercials, and music videos, were announced. Emmy winner David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) is nominated for his work on Grease Live, as are designers for Arrival, La La Land, Nocturnal Animals, Manchester by the Sea, Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, House of Cards, The Night Of, Mozart in the Jungle, Silicon Valley, Veep, and others. Broadway World has the full list of nominees; winners will be announced on February 11.

Producers Guild of America—Nominees for the PGA Awards (in TV categories) were announced this week. (Nominees for film categories will be announced next week.) Nominees include the producers of The Night Of, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Silicon Valley, Hamilton's America, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Sesame Street. Deadline has the full list of nominees.

In Other News

  • The moms of Dear Evan Hansen, Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Heidi, mom to Evan, and Jennifer Laura Thomspon, who plays Cynthia, mom to Connor and Zoe, spoke to Broadway.com about their bond, and the journey they get to take each night with the original musical.

  • A movie about Neil Armstrong is in the works, and features a screenplay by Oscar winner Josh Singer (Spotlight). The flick, First Man, will mark a reunion for La La Land collaborators Damien Chazelle, who'll direct, and Ryan Gosling, who'll star as the pioneering astronaut. The Wrap has more.

  • Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (Ragtime, Shuffle Along...) will play a handful of concerts throughout the US in 2017, many with her husband, Tony nominee Will Swenson (Hair, Murder Ballad). Playbill has the itinerary, which includes stops in California, Florida, and New York.

  • The female movers and shakers named by The Hollywood Reporter as among the most powerful women in Hollywood reveal the best and worst things about show business.

  • The full creative team for the Broadway iteration of Significant Other has been announced. Joining playwright Joshua Harmon and director Trip Cullman are choreographer Sam Pinkleton (The Great Comet), scenic designer Mark Wendland (The Layover), costume designer Kaye Voyce (The Real Thing), lighting designer Japhy Weideman (Dear Evan Hansen), and sound designer Daniel Kluger. Previews begin February 14, with opening night scheduled for March 2. Broadway World has more.

     
  • Playbill spoke to 2016 Tony winners, including Daveed Diggs, Cynthia Erivo, and Reed Birney, about what's ahead for them in 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review 2016

As we close out 2016, please enjoy this Year in Review.

Diversity—When Hamilton flipped conventional casting wisdom on its head, it sent shock waves through the artistic community. We haven't fully turned the corner (though The Great Comet, for example, features Denee Benton, an African-American woman, as a 19th century Russian, you might have noticed many of the all-white casting announcements for upcoming shows), but when four black actors won Tony Awards this year, the moment's power could not be denied. (See the illustration, at right, by artist Tim Long.) Things are looking better in film, too. After two years of #OscarsSoWhite, this year's slate of nominees (for Golden Globe and SAG Awards) feature multiple actors of color, including from films like Moonlight and Fences. (See also this recent item about BAFTA making diversity an eligibility requirement.)

Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet, Even When It's Not—New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck is fast becoming everyone's favorite modern choreographer, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a Peck acolyte. Which is actually why I'm so glad I didn't think The Most Incredible Thing was incredible. My initial reaction to it was one of disappointment, as I found his first full-length narrative ballet to be plagued by the problem with most narrative ballets: not enough dancing. Upon seeing it again (this time with different expectations), I was able to appreciate it as a complete work of art, something on which Peck collaborated with artists from other mediums, creating a dramatic visual fantasia. That Peck didn't hit it out of the park shows that he is experimenting. Rather than sticking with what worked in the absolutely stunning Everywhere We Go, he is striking out to explore the full breadth of ballet, and that's beautiful.

Grease Live—I hadn't been wowed by any of the live musical telecasts. I understood that they were good for musical theatre at-large, exposing a huge audience, more people than could see Hamilton in a year, to the art form, but remained underwhelmed with their execution. Then came Grease Live. Maybe it's because I already loved the show (well, the movie version, really). Maybe it's because Grease is exuberant, making it a more welcome presence in your living room than some of the others. Maybe's it's because Aaron Tveit was perfectly cast (if a little long in the tooth) as high school heartthrob Danny Zuko, and the rest of the casting reflected the diversity you would actually see in a school. Maybe it's because each design element was so well done (thanks William Ivey Long and David Korins), and because actors from the original movie made cameos. Or maybe, and I think this is really it, it's because Tony-winning director Thomas Kail tailored the production to take advantage of what TV and cameras can do. Sure, he payed homage to theatrical talismans, but Kail directed for the medium, making effective use of the three huge sound stages and all the cameras, whereas his predecessors basically just filmed what was happening on a proscenium stage. I've actually rewatched this, something I wouldn't even consider with the other efforts, and it holds up. Also: Boyz II Men. BOYZ II MEN!!!

Leo Wins an Oscar—OK, so this isn't life-changing for anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio (and maybe his agent?), but Leo's been my favorite actor since he was Luke on Growing Pains, and he had been rightfully nominated several times before, so I was ecstatic when he won. (Mark Rylance won an Oscar, too, BTW. What great company.) It felt like a joke that one of the greatest actors of his generation didn't have an Oscar, while other actors, actors who do not have a great body of work and are not consistently impressive, found their way to Oscar glory. Sure, The Revenant was textbook Oscar bait, but it was also a well-crafted film, and DiCaprio was stellar.

Off-Broadway is Going Strong—A lot of people think of off-Broadway as the black sheep of the theatre family, as a place where quality is questionable. Those people are wrong. Off-Broadway is thriving. Particularly because many off-Broadway theatre companies are not for profit, off-Broadway is the place for artists to experiment, and the results can be phenomenal. This year's juggernauts, The Great Comet and Dear Evan Hansen, both began off-Broadway. And some of the stellar revivals mentioned further down were off-Broadway. Additional standouts included Julia Cho's Aubergine; Colman Domingo's Dot; Danai Gurira's Familiar; Adam Bock's A Life; Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love, and Kenneth Lonergan's Hold On To Me Darling, which brought both Lonergan and star Timothy Olyphant back to the theatre. Off-Broadway is where it's at, dear readers.

"Original? On Broadway? Baby, that is risky..."—After a successful run in Washington, DC, and an even more buzz-producing run off-Broadway at Second Stage, Dear Evan Hansen, a scrappy, wholly original, little show (seriously; there are only eight characters), made it to Broadway, where it plays eight shows a week to standing room only houses. The Tony-nominated composing team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (they earned a Tony nod for their adaptation of A Christmas Story) joined forces with book writer Steven Levenson to create something deeply affecting, a show about loneliness. This is the most unflinchingly honest look at what it's like to be lonely (not a new problem), and made it fresh by weaving in the ever–present force that is social media, something that's meant to connect us but can leave us feeling even more isolated. Ben Platt gives a star–making performance. He's like this raw, live nerve as the title character, and you just want to hug him after the show.

"...Unless you got some stars in mind!"—On the other side of the coin, you have Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. This is not original (it's based on a sliver of War and Peace, though you might not know it from the title), and it features a box office–drawing star, Josh Groban, making an impressive Broadway debut. (His co-star, the radiant Denee Benton, is also making her Broadway debut.) But here, star power is used wisely and well, enabling the show to come to Broadway with its original storytelling and punk rock ethos in tact. This feels like the show writer Dave Malloy and director Rachel Chavkin set out to make, not something that was watered down for Broadway, and I truly believe Groban's star power helped make that possible. Oh, and Groban's fantastic, to boot.

Revivals—I'm not always a cheerleader for revivals, but sometimes, they're just so darn good. The year of stellar revivals began with Noises Off, which has long been one of my favorite plays. In this iteration, Andrea Martin, Jeremy Shamos, Tracee Chimo, Megan Hilty, and others got to be funny on stage. We're talking bust-a-gut, laugh-out-loud hilarious. In the spring, we got a delightful and sincerely sweet revival of the Bock and Harnick gem, She Loves Me (which you can now catch on Broadway HD). This lovely, earnest musical stands out in an age when sarcasm reigns supreme, plus it brought Gavin Creel back to Broadway, and cemented Zachary Levi as one of Broadway's leading men (and made him a Tony nominee). Meanwhile, off-Broadway saw genius Alex Timbers directing his first revival, the romp of a musical that is The Robber Bridegroom. This isn't the kind of canonical show that everyone knows, which is why revivals can be so important. This fall, Encores brought us a four-performance concert of Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford. It was so good that it's coming to Broadway in 2017 for a fully-produced, ten-week run. And in a glorified black box of a theatre, The New Group presented a revival of Sweet Charity, with two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster doing wonders in the title role. Look for this to pop up for a full run in 2017, as well.

Shuffle Along—Talk about history happening in Manhattan. Director George C. Wolfe conceived of Shuffle Along or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed, working diligently to tell the story of overlooked but pioneering black artists. The 1921 musical Shuffle Along was the first Broadway show with an all-black creative team, and it was a hit in its time. The 2016 Shuffle Along...exalted Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, F.E. Miller, and Aubrey Lyles's work, and dazzled audiences with what I believe the Internet would call "black girl [and boy] magic." The cast featured an embarrassment of riches, starting with Tony queen Audra McDonald, and continuing with Brian Stokes MitchellJoshua Henry, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren (the last two actors earned Tony nominations for their work). Add to that Savion Glover's brilliant, syncopated choreography, and you have audiences going wild. It's a damn shame it closed prematurely. This is an important show, from a dramaturg's perspective, and a powerful, entertaining, moving one, from an audience member's perspective.

Women in the Sequel—We still have a glass ceiling, but women made great strides in the arts this year. Eclipsed and Waitress both made it to Broadway with female creative teams in tow. (Eclipsed was written by Danai Gurira and directed by Liesl Tommy; Waitress features a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by Sara Bareilles, choreography by Lorin Lotarro, and direction by Tony winner Diane Paulus.) Meanwhile, New York City Ballet's fall gala featured new works by two female choreographers. You'd be hard–pressed to find even one work by a woman in its typical repertoire, and this fall, two female choreographers took the spotlight. (Annabelle Lopez Ochoa debuted Unframed, and principal dancer Lauren Lovette debuted For Clara.) And on the movie side, Arrival features a female heroine (Amy Adams) who uses her brain, not her brute, to save the world. There's work to be done, but women are nothing if not hard workers.