With the recent cancellations of Broadway and Omicron hitting New York City for a vacation loop, it’s easy to forget that Broadway’s fall season has been, artistically speaking, stellar, with a list of excellent new shows to be stellar. opening, some beautiful vestiges of the days preceding the closing and significant progress made in the representation of black theater artists.
So, as a reminder of better times, and in the hope of a return to full force after Omicron, here is my list of the 10 best new Broadway shows of 2021.
The Lehman Trilogy Sam Mendes’ production of Stefano Masinni’s play, adapted by Ben Power, is an astonishing amalgamation of history and scenic magic, telling the true and unlikely story of how a trio of immigrant brothers became a founding force. of the American economy and an integral part of our national history. The entire cast – Simon Russell Beale, Adrian Lester and Adam Godley – was superb, but the scene that haunts me the most comes when Godley, as Bobby Lehman in the 1960s, dances the Twist – and seems to sink into decrepitude as it does.
Society Stephen Sondheim’s death on November 26 was an untold loss to the theater, an event honored by the magnificent production of one of his masterpieces, Society. Beautifully crafted, lovingly performed and cleverly re-gendered by director Marianne Elliott, the revival was filled with beautiful renditions of some of Sondheim’s greatest songs, with stars such as “Getting Married Today”, performed by Matt Doyle, the duo Katrina Lenk-Claybourne Elder on “Barcelona” and the unmissable “The Ladies Who Lunch” by the unique Patti LuPone.
Caroline, or change This cover of the Tony Kushner-Jeanine Tesori musical, directed by Michael Longhurst, looks even more powerful today than it did in its excellent original Broadway staging in 2004. As the Black Handmaid of a southern white family, as the civil rights movement of the 1960s begins to change the rules, Sharon D Clarke gives a performance for the ages, best demonstrated in the remarkable Act II cry from the heart “Lot’s Wife”.
The Lycée plays In one of the biggest maneuvers of the fall season, the producers of (previously) Off Broadway plays Dana H. and Is it a room decided to stage the two unconventional plays without intermission of successive nights at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway. Both plays closed sooner than they should have, but together they set a first bar of artistic excellence for the 2021-2022 Broadway season. that of Lucas Hnath Dana H., in which actress Deirdre O’Connell synchronized lips with taped interviews with Hnath’s mother, Dana Higginbotham, as she told a poignant tale of kidnapping and abuse, was a tour de force, virtually impossible to adequately describe to anyone who missed the privilege of witnessing this. Equally fascinating was Is it a room, designed and directed by Tina Satter and starring Emily Davis as whistleblower Reality Winner. Davis, along with co-stars Pete Simpson, Will Cobbs, and Becca Blackwell, performed, verbatim, Winner’s FBI interrogation, a recreation that proved no less nerve-racking to know the outcome.
Thoughts of a colored man The extraordinary play by playwright Keenan Scott II, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, combined speech, slam poetry, narrative vignettes, comedy and drama to paint a vivid group portrait of seven black men living in a neighborhood of Brooklyn in the midst of gentrification. Filled with beauty, hardship, dignity and companionship, Thoughts of a colored man has repeatedly overcome one character defining scene after another, culminating in a soliloquy by actor Tristan Mack Wilds that lamented the failed dreams of a once promising athlete: “Dude, I was nice . “
Problem in mind It took 64 years – and director Charles Randolph-Wright – to bring the fierce comedy-drama behind the scenes of the late Alice Childress to Broadway, and somehow this 1950s play turned out to be one of the most relevant of the current Broadway season. LaChanze plays Wiletta, a successful actress in a Broadway play that espouses liberal values while trading black stereotypes and tropes of white saviors. Problem in mindThe overall cast of was top notch, with LaChanze leading the way. Best Scene: Wiletta demonstrating the characteristics of one black stock character after another in quick succession.
Six The Toby Marlow-Lucy Moss musical that puts a twist on contemporary pop song to The Wives of Henry VIII was scheduled to open just as the March 2020 pandemic shutdown struck, and its delayed opening this fall felt like a triumph in more than one way. Clever, funny, irreverent and happy, Six claims one catchy musical number after another. My favorite: Brittney Mack’s irrepressible Anne de Clèves making fun of her husband (and his story) in the song “Get Down”.
Blues Lackawanna Written, directed and performed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Blues Lackawanna referred to some two dozen characters from the playwright’s youth, the inhabitants of two boarding houses owned and operated by Miss Rachel, the indomitable woman who raised young Ruben and functioned as a sort of guardian angel for the indomitable residents under her rooftops. Santiago-Hudson portrayed them all in a rousing performance.
Clyde Lynn Nottage’s play, directed by Kate Whoriskey, takes place entirely in the kitchen of a last-ditch restaurant and mixes rigorous naturalism and brief flights of dreamers’ magical realism. Uzo Aduba plays Clyde, the sadistic team leader who makes life hell for the workers trapped in his sandwich shop purgatory. With a comical ferocity that should not be taken prisoner, she barks at one of her established employees: “Don’t disappoint me by having aspirations.” “
Fly over the sunset Arguably the most underrated new production of the Broadway season to date, this musical about a fictional encounter of the very real LSD takers Aldous Huxley, Cary Grant and Clare Boothe Luce has more than its fair share of numbers. remarkable musicals. With a book and directing by James Lapine, music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Michael Korie, the visually stunning production stars Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton and Tony Yazbeck as famous day trippers. Although the book isn’t quite sure where to take them, Fly over the sunset have a great time along the way. Best Number: “Funny Money,” in which Yazbeck’s Grant performs a vaudevillian tap dance with his childhood, performed by young Atticus Ware in a Broadway debut album that ranks among the cutest of the year.