2019 Year In Review: A Year On Broadway

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Broadway plays and musicals are a staple of Long Island Weekly’s arts and entertainment content. We love featuring the latest hits and sharing interviews with the stars of shows, as well as up-and-coming actors and actresses. Despite a record-breaking season, the post-Tonys slaughter was a bloodbath in 2019, with half a dozen shows closing soon after the broadcast and half a dozen more closing since. Though we were sad to see some of them go, the silver lining is that dozens of new shows have and will be opening in their place. We look forward to sharing even more excellent theater content in the upcoming year.

In January, I spoke with Eric Anderson, who played a fairy godfather-type role in Pretty Woman: The Musical. The show, adapted from the classic Garry Marshall film, starred Samantha Barks and Andy Karl and ran for exactly one year at the Nederlander.

In February, Christina Claus chatted with Angie Schworer about the glitz and zazz of The Prom. The musical comedy featured Broadway actors playing Broadway actors who make it their mission to help high school student Emma, who is banned from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. The Prom ran for about 10 months and will be adapted by Ryan Murphy into a Netflix film this fall.

Early in 2019, Jennifer Fauci spoke to Christiani Pitts, who starred as Ann Darrow in King Kong. The musical adaptation of the 1933 film featured the largest puppet ever created for the stage—a sophisticated animatronic/marionette hybrid that was impressively controlled by puppeteers on stage. A mixed reception resulted in a run length of less than a year.

In March, Dave Gil de Rubio caught up with Chazz Palminteri to talk about his musical A Bronx Tale, based on the Robert DeNiro-led 1993 film that handles topics of family, racial tension and coming of age. Palminteri toured the country with a one-man show version of the semi-autobiographical tale, and made a stop at The Paramount in Huntington.

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In April, Jennifer Fauci interviewed Amra Faye Wright, who had, at the time, played Velma Kelly in more than 2,700 performances of the long-running Chicago. The following month, Anthony Murray spoke to Derrick Baskin of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations. Baskin was nominated for a Tony for his role of Otis Williams.

Also in May, I had the privilege of chatting with Garden City native Joe Iconis about his outstanding musical comedy Be More Chill. No other show in history made it to Broadway by virtue of fan support alone. Buzz started with the viral music video of “Michael in the Bathroom,” and continued with the release of the original cast recording, which carried the cult sensation to the Off-Broadway and then Broadway stage. Iconis earned a Tony nomination for best original score, but the show was otherwise locked out of the award show. Unfortunately, Be More Chill closed after only seven months, but it will premiere on London’s West End this February and a film adaptation is in the works.

The following month, Christina Claus spoke to Sophia Anne Caruso and Kerry Butler, stars of Beetlejuice alongside Tony-nominated Alex Brightman. The ghoulish musical based on the Tim Burton classic embraces the topic of death and has no problem breaking the fourth wall as it pelts audiences with a constant stream of comedy.

Also in June, Dave Gil de Rubio interviewed master illusionist Criss Angel as he brought Criss Angel RAW-The Mindfreak Unplugged to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre as part of its In Residence on Broadway series. The Long Island native discussed his signature levitation illusion as well as his thoughts on charlatans who use the guise of magic to prey on desperate people.

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In July, I spoke to Lilli Cooper about her lead role in the comedy musical Tootsie, based on the Sydney Pollack film starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange. The Broadway musical featured music and lyrics by David Yazbek, a book by Robert Horn and Santino Fontana in the title role. It is scheduled to close on Jan. 5, 2020.

In the summer, I chatted with Christina Sajous about kicking butt in the Off-Broadway musical Broadway Bounty Hunter written by Joe Iconis. Joseph Wolkin interviewed Steven Skybell and Jennifer Babiak, stars of Fiddler on the Roof, or Fidler Afn Dakh, the Yiddish version of the beloved musical. The Off-Broadway production, which is directed by Joel Grey, will also close on Jan. 5.

Then in the fall, Jennifer Fauci celebrated the 25th anniversary of Disney Theatrical Productions with a combination feature on The Lion King, Aladdin and Frozen—three major, long-running hits for Disney on Broadway. She also reviewed Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo starring Marisa Tomei.

Last month, I was honored to interview Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad, also known as The Fates of the Tony-winning musical Hadestown. Written by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the show intertwines the mythological love stories of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone as a breathtakingly beautiful folk opera that will hopefully have a home on Broadway for a long time.

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Jennifer Fauci recently chatted with Campbell Scott about taking on a role his father once played in A Christmas Carol. As Ebenezer Scrooge, he rediscovers the warmth, generosity and true meaning of Christmas. She also spoke to Chris McCarrell and Ryan Knowles of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical about bringing the beloved book series to stage. Like many others, A Christmas Carol and The Lightning Thief both close on Jan. 5.

Finally, two weeks ago, I reviewed Slava’s Snowshow, the limited-engagement spectacle that enchants and envelops audiences in a snow storm they’ll never forget. See it at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre through Jan. 5. In the final weeks of December, Anthony Murray spoke to Andrea Martin, of A Christmas Carol, and illusionist Derren Brown, of Derren Brown: Secret.

In addition to our continuous coverage of Broadway and Off-Broadway, we make an effort to highlight the local theater scene. Through a multimedia collaboration with Waldo Cabrera, we bring features on productions by The Argyle Theater in Babylon Village and the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport to our readers online and in print. We also strive to give some love to The Gateway and Patchogue Theater out east, as well as community theaters in our coverage area, including Herricks Players and Creative Arts Playhouse in Syosset.

Read all of LIW’s theater features, interviews and reviews at longislandweekly.com.

Kimberly Dijkstra
Kimberly Dijkstra is the web editor for Anton Media Group, a writer for Long Island Weekly and recipient of several Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) and New York Press Association (NYPA) awards.

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