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A Year on Broadway: 2018 in Review

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


From breakout performances to the Tonys to the professionals we lost

Today, we take a look back on a year of Broadway, the ins and outs that made 2018 one of theatre’s most successful and rewarding. The year started off with a bang: a plethora of plays and musicals, including both new shows and revivals, set to open in the months leading up to the Tony Awards. Here are some of the standout moments of 2018.

Sasson Gabay and Katrina Lenk in the Tony-winning Best Musical ‘The Band’s Visit’ (Photo: Evan Zimmerman)

Sasson Gabay and Katrina Lenk in the Tony-winning Best Musical ‘The Band’s Visit’ (Photo: Evan Zimmerman)

On Jan. 26, 2018, Broadway’s longest-running musical The Phantom of the Opera celebrated 30-years on the Great White Way. A week’s worth of festivities were planned around the anniversary, including a gala performance with special guests performing musical numbers from the iconic show.

On May 1, 2018, Leslie Odom Jr. and Katharine McPhee announced the 2018 Tony nominees live. Vying for Best Musical would be Mean Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, The Band’s Visit, and Frozen. For Best Play, the battle would be between The Children, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Farinelli the King, Junk and Latin History for Morons. The Best Musical Revival category held three nominees: Carousel, Once on This Island and My Fair Lady, and Best Play Revival enjoyed five nominees including Angels in America, Lobby Hero, The Iceman Cometh, Three Tall Women and Travesties.

One June 10, 2018, the 72nd Annual Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall. Theatre’s “night of nights” was hosted by Broadway alums Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. Taking home top prizes were The Band’s Visit for Best Musical, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for Best Play, Once on This Island for Best Revival of a Musical and Angels in America for Best Revival of a Play. Top winners in the acting categories including Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub as Best Leading Actress and Actor in a musical for their work in The Band’s Visit. Glenda Jackson took home the trophy for Best Actress in a Play for her turn in the acclaimed revival of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. Best Actor in a Play went to Andrew Garfield who dazzled in the revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Supporting awards went to Lindsay Mendez (Carousel), Ari’el Stachel (The Band’s Visit), Laurie Metcalf (Three Tall Women) and Nathan Lane (Angels in America).

The end of summer and the beginning of fall brought with them a parade of new plays and musicals opening on Broadway. Among the new musicals, were Pretty Woman, Head Over Heels, Getting the Band Back Together, King Kong and The Prom. New plays came in the form of American Son, The Lifespan of the Fact and Network.

On October 30th, the musical Wicked celebrated a special anniversary: 15-years on Broadway. Of course, a feat like this required a party and the producers made sure that the iconic show received a celebration worthy of such a milestone. As part of the events, NBC aired the television special A Very Wicked Halloween, which reunited the original Elpahaba (Idina Menzel) and Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) as hosts of the concert which also included Ariana Grande, Adam Lambert, Ledesi, Pentatonix and the current cast of the Broadway production led by Jessica Vosk.

And, of course, we cannot wrap up 2018 without taking a moment to say goodbye to some of the talents that we lost this year. Among the great ladies of the stage to pass, we lost Marin Mazzie (Passion, Ragtime), Carole Shelly (Wicked, The Elephant Man), Barbara Harris (The Apple Tree, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever), Charlotte Rae (L’Il Abner, Pickwick), Liliane Montevecchi (Nine, Grand Hotel), Patricia Morison (Kiss Me, Kate!, The King and I), Nanette Fabray (High Button Shoes, Mr. President) and Jan Maxwell (Follies, The Royal Family).

Men of the Broadway stage who passed included Louis Zorich (The Odd Couple, She Loves Me), Roger Robinson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Seven Guitars), Philip Bosco (Lend Me a Tenor, An Inspector Calls), Mark Baker (Candide, Godspell), Brian Murray (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Noises Off), Winston Ntshona (Sizwi Banzi is Dead and The Island), Gary Beach (Beauty and the Beast, The Producers), Russell Nype (Call Me Madam, Goldilocks), Dammy Williams (A Chorus Line, The Happy Time), David Ogden Stiers (The Magic Show, White Christmas), and John Mahoney (The House of Blue Leaves, Prelude to a Kiss).

Playwrights we lost include Neil Simon (Lost in Yonkers, The Odd Couple), Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls…), Joe Masteroff (Cabaret, She Loves Me), Ira Gasman (The Life) and Leah Napolin and (Yentl). Carol Hall (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Harvey Schmidt (The Fanstasticks, 110 in the Shade) were among the composers to leave us.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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