Bridget McCarthy ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
Social media, new technology, and culture intake at your fingertips—2015 is definitely not the year for live theatre or Broadway, right? As Emertainment Monthly bids 2015 farewell, we prove the resurrection of theatre in a year that should say otherwise.
Here are ten on- and off-Broadway productions that brought novelty to the time-defying art of the stage:
10. The Flick
The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is back for a limited engagement on Christmas weekend at the Barrow Street Theatre. Even though the run is extremely short, it would be shameful to ignore one of the most time-relevant pieces in the last five years on a “Best of 2015” list. The Flick takes place in a rundown movie theater where three employees attend to one of the last 35-millimeter film projections in the state of Massachusetts. The story is described as a “hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world” (broadway.com), and rings true to the constant moving pace of 2015. In a century during which pieces of art can be filmed on the newest iPhone, The Flick demonstrates how theatre has remained one of the most powerful cultural influences century after century. For tickets, visit http://www.broadway.com/shows/flick/.
9. School of Rock
Broadway was in need of a new movie-turned-musical with some fierce belting kids—it’s been three years since Matilda, right? Based off of the Paramount film starring Jack Black, School of Rock follows failed rock star/substitute teacher Dewey Finn as he replaces the school’s curriculum with rock n’ roll. Composed and produced by Andrew Lloyd Weber, the show is sure to be a Broadway hit for an audience of young people and tourists, a demographic that the Great White Way must reach in order to continue thriving. More importantly, School of Rock portrays the power of music, art, and theatre in education—a bigger picture endeavor that Broadway continues to grow each year. To get tickets to attend the school, visit http://schoolofrockthemusical.com/tickets/.
8. Thérèse Raquin
Keira Knightley’s Broadway debut? Say no more. Thérèse Raquin tells a story of love, passion, and revenge. Set in the late 1800s, Thérèse Raquin remains captivating even in 2015—a year that is no stranger to shock value. The production captures a modern thriller on stage through elements of naturalism, portraying the raw and dark emotions of sex and romance. Thérèse Raquin shows that Academy Award nominees such as Keira Knightley still have to prove themselves on the Great White Way if they want all-around credibility as actors. Tickets are on sale through January 3, and tickets are available at http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/tickets/reserve.aspx?pid=20243.
In the midst of dramas, Sylvia is a beacon of hope for comedy enthusiasts. Starring Matthew Broderick and Annaleigh Ashford, this play tells the story of a middle-aged New York City couple whose already tense marriage comes crumbling down—all due to a talking dog, Sylvia, (played by Ashford,) that Broderick’s character brings home. 2015 was filled with important pieces of theatre that were compelling, moving, but, quite frankly, dark. Sylvia shows that theatre can be playful without being mundane. For tickets, visit http://www.broadway.com/shows/sylvia/.
6. The Color Purple
The Color Purple has been called one of the greatest revivals ever, and it’s no secret after hearing the voices of this production. In a year of auto-tune, more artists are turning their backs on live performances. The Color Purple revival epitomizes the significance of Broadway itself by showcasing the talent within live vocal performances. Starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson, and Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple sends messages that still resonate in 2015, and it does so with an undeniably strong voice. For tickets visit http://colorpurple.com/tickets/.
5. Fun Home
Fun Home speaks volumes for feminism in 2015, as women still fight to be heard in a male-dominated work force—even in the arts. This musical made history as the first ever all-female writing team to with the Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score. Fun Home also continues to pave the way for female and LGBTQ+ protagonist characters, providing role models for the youth that strive to see themselves in a sometimes constricting culture. Fun Home is poignant and touching, a gentle powerhouse for Broadway in 2015. Tickets are available at http://www.broadway.com/shows/fun-home/.
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Curious Incident is an artistic breakthrough that shows the endless possibilities theatre has with new technology. This play tells the story of Christopher, an autistic teenager, and uses a unique way to put theatregoers into the character’s mind. Although the stage is seen as an old art medium, this play is anything but. The entire set is made out of LED lights and resembles a giant iPhone or computer screen that creates a world as the audience journeys through. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time portrays the adaptability of new theatre, and how Broadway can find new ways to grow with technology instead of feeling constricted by it. For tickets visit http://www.curiousonbroadway.com.
3. Spring Awakening Deaf West Production
It’s extremely rare that a Broadway revival occurs before even a decade passes. That’s why this unique production of Spring Awakening is a justified and necessary novelty. This production takes the already raw story of Spring Awakening and adds sign language to further the gap between teenagers and the adults who ignore their voices. Although the sign language increases the age barrier in the story, this production brings together a spirit of inclusive theatre for people who are disabled. Spring Awakening provides representation to the disabled, widening the Broadway opportunities for artists who lack recognition in 2015 and beyond. For tickets, visit http://www.broadway.com/shows/fun-home/.
2. The King and I
All the authenticity of old theatre with a new-sense of grandeur: The King and I goes full out without going over-the-top. In 2015, it’s easy to be consumed with the possibilities art has. Theatre is often swallowed when productions try to give tourists and Broadway-goers the same pizazz as the silver screen, and it can be overwhelming. However, The King and I stays true to the Rodgers and Hammerstein book while adding a tasteful amount of new century sparkle. The costumes are absolutely incredible, as seen by any of Kelli O’Hara’s dresses, which are undoubtedly a piece of art in their own right. However, The King and I never relies on spectacle to keep the show interesting. Instead, it perfectly intertwines aesthetic beauty, vocal brilliance, and a traditional score to make for a Broadway classic that still fits in despite old age. Tickets are available at http://boxoffice.broadway.com/CalPoh/Index?pOrderID=96672384&pXref=EAFDC32D-B473-4B53-B458-26359825F38D.
Hamilton is undoubtedly not just one of the most innovative pieces of theatre, but one of the best scores across all artistry in 2015. As number eight on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2015, Hamilton captivates audience members across the spectrum. Written by and starring the genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton tells the historically true story of America’s forgotten founding father in an unlikely way—through hip-hop. Even though the concept seems comical, it’s clear even after the first song that Hamilton is no Saturday Night Live sketch. The music and the story match up to create a masterpiece that neither Broadway nor any other artistic medium has ever seen. Hamilton exposes people, especially children, to history in the most culturally relevant way possible. Hip-hop is undoubtedly this generation’s rock n’ roll, and Hamilton is aware that this is 2015, even though the play may take place in 1776. It embraces a culture that is more often than not ignored in the Broadway community, but still contains musical references and reverence that strengthen the significance of classical theatre. Hamilton is the definition of combining old with new, something Broadway needs as the new millennium goes on. Here’s to 2016. For tickets, visit http://www.hamiltonbroadway.com/#tickets.