Greetings Thespians & “Muggle-Born,” near and far. This is your Artistic Endorser, D.C. With another entry from the DC Theatre Blog.
The word “Change” has been thrown around a lot over the past 15 or so years. It's gotten especially more popular with the Millennial crowd as we've (I'm on the cusp) grown up during a new era of racial, sexual and societal unrest, the world over. From witnessing the tragedies of 9/11 & Hurricane Katrina, to the loss of a 'King', then a 'Queen', then a 'Prince'... Not to mention Williams, Bowie, Cole and the plethora of other entertainers who paved the way for every YouTube overnight sensation to grab a selfie stick & press record. We've watched the triumph of a Black President, the rise and fall of Bernie Sanders and the deceptive play-by-play that was the 2016 Presidential Campaign. It's safe to say that “Change” has impeded upon our everyday lives in countless ways. But, while we've seen the nation confronted with the brunt of "Negative Change" at the feet of an “Apprentice to Idiocracy,” we are also finding an amazing shift on the theatrical spectrum that only calls for a proper round of applause.
The dynamic shift of artistic integrity that has been an influx on Broadway (and thus the world over) is inspiring a new generation of performers & artists. Major ground-breakers like Hamilton: An American Musical, (which infuses hip-hop, rap & spoken word poetics into the retelling of the life of former Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton) have shown the world that with all that goes on, down and up, “History has its eyes on you.” We create our own history each day. By just getting up and being present in any & every way, we contribute to the telling of our life's story. Alexander Hamilton's life was impacting, as he came about in an era where the country was still 'under construction.' He used his influence to help make MAJOR changes to our government & financial systems that would lead up into the future. With the creation of Hamilton, kids, young adults, & even the elders among us, are tapping a foot, while being inspired, refreshed & reminded of Alexander Hamilton's story, one rhyme at a time.
Hamilton's creation, whether enjoyed for its historical or musical content, is one of those 'good' things that occur in theatre every so often that people for generations will review, reuse, relate to for generations to come. Its style and message changed the course of theatrical artistic creation in its own way. But, don't get me wrong. I'm not here to COMPLETELY stroke the Genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda (though he's proven to be something like a Lyrical Rap God & I need him acknowledged as thus). Hamilton: An American Musical has not been the only ground-breaker in the last 10 years. Broadway scope since 2006 has introduced us to storytelling like no other. Here's a few of my favorite examples.
As mentioned earlier, before the hype over Hamilton, there were its predecessor:
"In the Heights is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story is set over the course of three days, involving characters in the largely Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. After productions at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut (2005) and Off-Broadway (2007), the show opened in a Broadway production in March 2008. This production was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards, winning four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman). It won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. It was also nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama."
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the Heights introduced us to Lin-Manuel Miranda, who changed the game for the Great White Way by creating one of the few productions in existence meant for a multi-racial, but primarily Hispanic-American cast. He has his teams of artistic craftsmen put a Pop/Latin music spin on a cast score that was way ahead of its time. Not the first to make the attempt, but more effective in their pursuits.
Spring Awakening opened on Broadway on December 10, 2006 and that next year received eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. CBS has to censor out Lea Michele & Jonathan Groff's performance of Spring Awakening's "Mama Who Bore Me/The Bitch of Living/Totally F*cked." Even if you never saw the show, these titles would be jarring enough for the common American to MAYBE understand why.
"A re-imagining of Frank Wedekind's 1891 play with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, Spring Awakening depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood."
A little under ten years later, multi-award-winning actress, Marlee Matlin (featured introducing the performance with her ASL Interpreter), teamed up with Broadway Director Michael Arden & Spencer Liff (choreographer from Hedwig & The Angry Inch) to recreate the show and, yet again, change what was possible, as this revival was set to be performed both in American Sign Language and English. As it was a revival, it was the same story...but it broke the boundaries of what was previously possible by opening Broadway to all audiences on a much grander scale; both for performer and patron alike.
Taking educational, situational & conversational theatre to new heights, the creators of South Park gave us the masterpiece of a staging...The Book of Mormonis a musical comedy about two young Mormon missionaries, who travel to Africa to preach the Mormon religion. First staged in 2011, the play satirizes various Mormon beliefs and practices.
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Best known for creating the animated comedy South Park, Trey Parker & Matt Stone co-created the script, lyrics and music with Robert Lopez, the co-composer/co-lyricist of Avenue Q and, subsequently, Frozen. The show opened on Broadway in March 2011 & garnered overwhelmingly positive critical responses, setting records in ticket sales for the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The show was awarded nine Tony Awards, one for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The original Broadway cast recording became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades, reaching number three on the Billboard charts. In 2013, the musical premiered in the West End. Since then, it has staged two US national tours. Who knew tap-dancing Mormons would be so entertaining? But beyond the entertainment factor, there are a few compelling lessons locked in this nutty, comedic look at religion in the hands of some confused yet confident kids.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Winner of the 2014 Tony for Best Choreography & one of the unsung heroes of Broadway, in my opinion, is After Midnight, based on an earlier 2011 revue, titled Cotton Club Parade, which ran in concert at Encores! in 2011 and 2012 with special guest star Amber P. Riley.
After Midnight takes place "after midnight" in New York's Harlem. It features jazz pieces by Duke Ellington, Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fieldsand Harold Arlen, framed by the poetry of Langston Hughes.
The show features an orchestra of 17 musicians, 25 vocalists, dancers and performers. It is headlined by a rotating list of performers.
The Broadway production began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on October 18, 2013 and opened on November 3, 2013 with special guest star Fantasia Barrino, who performed through February 9, 2014. The production features Dule Hill as "The Host," Adriane Lenox, Karine Plantadit and Desmond Richardson. Direction and choreography is by Warren Carlyle. Special guest stars after Fantasia Barrino included k.d. lang (February 11 – March 9), Toni Braxton with Babyface (March 18 – March 30), Vanessa Williams (April 1 – May 11), Barrino (May 13 – June 8) and Patti LaBelle (June 10 – June 29). The show closed on June 29, 2014, after 272 performances and 19 previews; LaBelle was the final guest star.
What are some of your favorite shows that within the last ten years changed theatre? What are some of your favorite shows that have changed you? Theatre is a transformation art that redefined what's possible in the world of storytelling & within one's own life. It refocuses & redefines one's ideas of the world, from the furthest reaches, right into one's own backyard. I teach children who regularly believe their stories don't matter...that their dreams, especially artistic ones, are unattainable... and...well...for the final word of the day: Neil Patrick Harris