When people are ordered to shelter during a crisis, they suddenly miss those things that they previously took for granted — like dining out with a loved one, sharing drinks and laughs with friends at the neighborhood bar, and enjoying an evening at the theatre.
Broadway has become synonymous with American theater, and musical theater is an especially American tradition, where playwrights and composers on this side of the Atlantic adopted and improved upon the formula laid down by Britain’s Gilbert and Sullivan.
Non-musical theatre also flourished on Broadway, where playwrights such as Arthur Miller, T.S. Eliot, and Neil Simon soon became household names.
Here is Newsmax’s list of the best that Broadway has offered, in alphabetical order:
A Chorus Line: Every professional dancer and singer aspires to work on a Broadway chorus line, and once there, dreams of being discovered as the “One, singular sensation” destined to become tomorrow’s headliner.
That’s what “A Chorus Line” is all about — the journey that led them to musical theatre, and the struggle to be noticed and appreciated, told through the music of Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban.
It was also made into a major motion picture, but it’s always better live.
Beauty and the Beast: Adapted from the Walt Disney animated feature film of the same name, it provides proof that outward beauty means little as compared to the beauty that dwells within the heart.
It’s one of “The Great White Way’s” longest running productions, having been a Broadway fixture since 1994 with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman.
Cats: Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” it’s unique in that there’s no dialog whatsoever between musical numbers, which were composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It describes the night that a tribe of felines called the “Jellicles” make their the "Jellicle choice," and decide which of their number will be reborn after ascending to the Heaviside layer.
After debuting on Broadway in 1982, it received three Tony awards: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Score.
Chicago: Based on a 1926 play of the same name, it’s set in the Windy City during the Jazz Age and describes the life of “celebrity criminals” aided by a corrupt city criminal justice system.
“Chicago” made its Broadway debut in 1975 where it ran for two years. Its 1996 Broadway revival gives “Chicago” the record for the longest running revival in history.
Death of a Salesman: This 1949 classic was written by Arthur Miller and earned him a Pulitzer Prize for drama and received five Tony awards, including Best Play and Best Author.
It describes the final days of Willy Loman, who returns to his Brooklyn home, feeling tired and defeated after an unsuccessful sales trip.
After its original 1949 Broadway run, it was revived there four times: in 1975, 1984, 1999, and 2012.
Evita: Another musical with music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, this describes the life of Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentinian President Juan Perón.
The musical covers her life from her mid-teens, through het rise in power, and up to her eventual death of cervical cancer in 1952. “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina,” was one if its most memorable musical numbers.
It made its Broadway debut in 1979, was made into a major motion picture in 1996, and was revived on Broadway in 2012.
Hamilton: A recent entry, “Hamilton” is loosely based on the life and death of the American founding father Alexander Hamilton. It debuted on Broadway in 2015 and has been on three North American tours — the latest in 2019.
The story is told strictly in song and rap — there are no spoken lines — and the founding fathers and other historical figures are all depicted as people of color.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics, described “Hamilton” as about "America then, as told by America now."
Les Miserables: This is based on the Victor Hugo classic of the same name, and describes the main character Jean Valjean’s attempts to put his life back together after serving 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread.
After breaking his parole on the inspiration of a bishop, Valjean is once again on the run, with Inspector Javer on his tail.
“Les Miserables” premiered on Broadway in 1987, and was revived in 2006.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue: This is a non-musical dark comedic stage play written by Neil Simon. It centers on the problems of middle-aged Mel Edison, who loses his job during the 1970s economic stagnation and in the midst of a New York City heat wave.
It premiered on Broadway 1973 and ran for 798 performances and received three Tony nominations. It was later adapted into a 1975 motion picture starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft.
Oklahoma: A Richard Rogers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) classic, “Oklahoma” is based on the 1931 stage play “Green Grow the Lilacs.” It describes the courtship of farm girl Laurey Williams by cowboy Curly McLain and farmhand Jud Fry in 1906 before Oklahoma reached statehood.
“Oklahoma” is important because it marked the first Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration. This dynamic duo went on to write and score such musicals as “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” and “The Sound of Music.”
Phantom of the Opera: Based on the Gaston Leroux book of the same name, “Phantom” debuted on Broadway in 1988 and went on its first U.S. tour the following year. It once again features the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and centers on a disfigured musical genius who lives beneath a Paris opera house and who obsesses for a beautiful soprano.
“Phantom” won a 1988 Best Musical Tony, and went on subsequent U.S. tours in 1990 and 1993, and a North American tour in 2013.
West Side Story: What could be better than the retelling of the Shakespeare classic “Romeo and Juliet,” featuring the star-crossed lovers coming from rival New York gangs rather than rival families. The score was written by the late conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein.
The musical describes Tony as a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang's leader, Riff. Tony falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.
After its 1957 Broadway premier and its first U.S. tour two years later, “West Side Story” was revived on Broadway in 1960, 1964, 1980, 2009, and 2020. It also toured the U.S. in 1985, 1996, and 2010, proving you can’t keep a classic down.
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