Broadway Milestones: The Highs (and Lows) of the 2013-14 Season

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Broadway Milestones: The Highs (and Lows) of the 2013-14 Season

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014 by tommyj

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Billy Porter in Kinky Boots
Billy Porter in Kinky Boots
Photo by Matthew Murphy

The 68th Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Tony winner Hugh Jackman, will be presented June 8 and broadcast live on CBS. What follows is a detailed timeline of the 2013-14 Broadway season, which will be celebrated that evening at Radio City Music Hall.

June 9, 2013 At the 67th Annual Antoinette Perry Awards, Kinky Boots is named Best Musical and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is named Best Play.

June 26, 2013 The TKTS discount ticket booth at the north end of Times Square marks 40 years in business.

Summer 2013 City workers tear up the stretch of Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets as part of a multi-year streetscape project that will include repaving Times Square. Construction continues throughout the season.


The Richard Rodgers Theatre gets a $3.5 million facelift, including a complete interior repainting and restoration of the original proscenium and murals, by EverGreene Architectural Arts.

Statues of four female performing arts paragons are removed (for cleaning and restoration) from their niches above 46th Street where they have stood since 1929: Ethel Barrymore for drama, Marilyn Miller for musicals, Mary Pickford for film and Rosa Ponselle for opera. They will be returned in early spring.

Also this summer: The song ends for the clutch of music stores that drew musicians to the western end of the block of 48th Street between Seventh Avenue and Avenue of the Americas for more than six decades. Most of the stores, where you could buy everything from 76 trombones to big banjos, were owned by Sam Ash Inc. They moved to 34th Street to make way for demolition and development of that block in the northeast quadrant of the Theatre District.

July 14, 2013 Luis Bravo’s dance revue Forever Tango returns to Broadway for the third time for a limited run, featuring rotating guest stars, including two from the TV series “Dancing with the Stars.”

July 14, 2013 Also today, thousands crowd Times Square and conduct a sit-in at the TKTS booth to protest the not-guilty jury decision in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, who had been accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin.

July 17-18, 2013 The logo of boxer Mike Tyson’s one-man show Undisputed Truth appears on the marquee of the Imperial Theatre as Tyson tapes the performances there for an HBO special.

July 24, 2013 The music of the Beatles returns to Broadway in the concert-style musical Let It Be.

July 29, 2013 Mark Hotton pleads guilty to wire fraud in the case of Rebecca—The Musical, a Broadway production that collapsed in 2012 when it was discovered that an investor brought aboard by Hotton did not actually exist. Hotton agrees to forfeit $500,000 and to pay an additional $500,000 to his victims, with additional sentencing and possible jail time to come.

July 31, 2013 Avenue Q celebrates ten years since its Broadway opening night. The production moved in 2009 to Off-Broadway, where it is still running.

August 8, 2013 Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez star in First Date, an original musical about an oddly matched contemporary couple on a blind date that marks the Broadway debut for the songwriting team of Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.

August, 15, 2013 The musical biography Soul Doctor tells the story of Shlomo Carlebach, a rabbi who became a 1960s celebrity when he puts religious texts to folk and rock music.

August 15, 2013 Also today, Daniel Curry, one of the actors playing the title role in Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark during stunt scenes, is injured when his leg becomes entangled in scenery. The rest of the performance is cancelled, but the show goes on as scheduled the next night.

August 24-25, 2013 First Lady Michelle Obama attends performances of The Trip to Bountiful and Motown with her daughters, Sasha and Malia.

September 15, 2013 The 66th Annual Tony Awards broadcast, aired in June 2012, wins four Emmy Awards: for Outstanding Music Direction (Elliot Lawrence, music director), Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (“If I Had Time,” lyrics by Adam Schlesinger, music by David Javerbaum), Outstanding Special Class Program, and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. It represents the second most awards of any show, tied with HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

September 19, 2013 Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad star in the title roles of Romeo and Juliet, a lavish revival that is the first of four Shakespeare plays to open on Broadway this fall.

September 27, 2013 The Off-Broadway hit musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 moves to a tent named Kazino in a vacant lot on 45th Street in the thick of the Broadway theatre district. It runs until March 2.

September 29, 2013 The iconic Shubert Theatre, home to A Chorus Line, Babes in Arms, Can-Can, A Little Night Music, Spamalot, Matilda and dozens more classic shows, celebrates its 100th anniversary, as does the accompanying Shubert Alley, the unofficial heart of the Broadway theatre district.

October 6, 2013 Norbert Leo Butz stars in Big Fish, Andrew Lippa’s lavish musical about a man who goes in search of the truth about his tall-tale-telling father.

October 10, 2013 Mary Bridget Davies offers a remarkable impersonation of a rock legend in the concert musical A Night With Janis Joplin.

October 10, 2013 Also today, another 1960s icon, the real-life Paul McCartney, uses Twitter to gather a flash mob in Times Square to hear songs from his new album, “New.”

October 16, 2013 Another classic Broadway house celebrates its centenary: the Booth Theatre, built in tandem with the Shubert, which has hosted numerous classics including original productions of That Championship Season, The Elephant Man and Sunday in the Park With George.

October 20, 2013 The courtroom drama A Time To Kill is Rupert Holmes’ adaptation of John Grisham’s best-seller about a black man on trial for killing his daughter’s white rapists.

October 20, 2013 Also on this date The Lion King becomes the first Broadway show in history to record earnings of $1 billion. The Disney show, which opened in November 1997, has been sold out, or nearly so, for most of its 16-year run.

October 24, 2013 Mary-Louise Parker plays the feckless matriarch of an upstate New York family that suddenly finds itself penniless in Sharr White’s original drama, The Snow Geese.

October 27, 2013 Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall form the fractured romantic triangle in a revival of Harold Pinter’s time-reversed drama, Betrayal.

November 3, 2013 The musical revue After Midnight, first seen as part of Off-Broadway’s “Encores!” series, features stylishly-staged classic tunes from the Harlem Renaissance.

November 7, 2013 The concert show Il Divo–A Musical Affair features four international singers performing pop and showtunes in quasi-operatic style.

November 10, 2013 Mark Rylance leads a British troupe performing Shakespeare’s Richard III and Twelfth Night (styled “Twelfe” in ads) in repertory with live musicians on a candlelit stage. Other Elizabethan touches include men playing the women’s roles, and a post-show dance interlude.

November 13, 2013 Comedian Billy Crystal toplines a return engagement of his 2004 autobiographical solo show 700 Sundays, which is taped for television.

November 17, 2013 Jefferson Mays plays eight patrician murder victims in the new musical comedy A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which also provides the Broadway debut for a raft of new talent including ingénues Lauren Worsham and Lisa O’Hare, and the songwriting team of Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak.

November 21, 2013 Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff star in Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of Macbeth">Macbeth">Macbeth, featuring Daniel Sunjata as Macduff and Brian d’Arcy James as Banquo. It is the second production of the tragedy on Broadway in 2013, and the fourth Shakespeare play on the Broadway boards simultaneously, the first such syzygy since 1987.

November 24, 2013 No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot: Another repertory offering, starring Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Shuler Hensley and Billy Crudup alternating nights in the Beckett and Pinter modern classics. Includes the second Pinter play to open on Broadway in the space of a month.

November 27, 2013 The animated Disney film Frozen opens to positive reviews for its score, co-written by Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Book of Mormon), and cast of voice actors, including Broadway’s Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana and Ciarán Hinds.

November 28, 2013 The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marches out performances by Matilda, Motown, A Night With Janis Joplin, Kinky Boots and Pippin. Some users of Twitter tweet their objections to the sight of Kinky Boots’ cross-dressers on a family TV show. Librettist Harvey Fierstein defends the show in a statement widely covered in the press. It reads, in part, “I’m so proud that the cast of Kinky Boots brought their message of tolerance and acceptance to America’s parade.”

December 2, 2013 Michael Hartman announces he will close his press agency, Broadway’s second largest, in January to take a job as CEO of Amy’s Ice Creams in his native Texas. Among his orphaned clients: Wicked, Rock of Ages and the upcoming Rocky.

December 2, 2013 Also today, the 1960s rock group The Rascals cancels the Broadway return of its concert show, The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream, just two weeks before the planned opening night, blaming scheduling conflicts.

Carrie Underwood
photo by Nino Munoz/NBC

December 5, 2013 NBC-TV’s live broadcast of The Sound of Music, officially retitled The Sound of Music Live!, stars Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle. Despite extensive web debate before and after the broadcast about Underwood’s fitness for the lead role, the $9 million production is a ratings smash, seen by a reported 18.6 million people. Within days NBC announces plans to broadcast a live musical every holiday season.

Dec. 29, 2013 For the week ending today, Wicked sets the all-time Broadway record for a single week’s box-office receipts: $3,201,333, the first time any Broadway show has earned more than $3 million in a single week. Now in the eleventh year of its run, the musical broke its own record of $2.9 million set the week ending December 30 the previous year, due to holiday crowds paying higher ticket prices, especially for premium seating. The starry revival of Betrayal also sets the all-time weekly record for a non-musical, $1,442,087. Weekly records for individual theatres are broken by many other shows as well.

January 4, 2014 The most expensive musical in Broadway history closes with the biggest loss in Broadway history. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ends its run of 182 previews and 1,066 performances at a loss reported between $60 million and $80 million. Nevertheless, Theatre District restaurateur Joe Allen tells The New York Times that he will not add the show’s window card to the notorious Wall of Flops at his eponymous 46th Street eatery, explaining, “Any show that plays for three years on Broadway, providing steady employment to members of the theater community and pumping money into the local economy, is no failure in my book.”

January 9, 2014 The Broadway League publishes its annual survey of the Broadway audience, covering the 2012-13 season. Among the interesting findings: Women made up 68 percent of all audiences. Nearly a quarter of all tickets—23 percent—were bought by international tourists, the highest yearly proportion on record. And a total of 66 percent of tickets were bought by tourists from the U.S. and abroad combined. The average age of Broadway theatregoers fell slightly to 42.5 from 43.5 the season before. The average Broadway theatregoer saw four shows a year. Hardcore fans who saw 15 or more shows a year comprised only 5 percent of the audience—but they bought 31 percent of all tickets. The Broadway audience was overwhelmingly white (78 percent) and fairly wealthy, with an average annual household income of $186,500.

January 12, 2014 The life and songbook of pop singer/composer Carole King form the backbone of the biographical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, starring Jessie Mueller in the title role. Claiming she’s unable to watch her first marriage fall apart on stage, King herself declines to attend the opening.

January 16, 2014 Machinal, Sophie Treadwell’s expressionistic 1928 drama about a woman trapped by life, gets its first Broadway revival, starring Rebecca Hall. Opening night becomes memorable when the turntable carrying the 30,000-pound set becomes stuck, and the show’s technical supervisor, head of the scene shop and stagehands, including volunteers from other theatres, labor to get it going again. When that fails, they spend the rest of opening night turning the set with old-fashioned muscle power so the show can go on.

January 19, 2014 Members of the original cast of Hello, Dolly! gather at Sardi’s to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show’s opening.

January 19, 2014 Also today, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, producers of the hit live TV broadcast of The Sound of Music in December 2013, announce that they will follow it up with a live broadcast of Broadway’s Peter Pan in December 2014. Speculation begins over who will play Peter, Hook, et al.

January 23, 2014 Dozens of Broadway celebrities perform cameos in a YouTube video, “Russian Broadway Shutdown,” protesting Russian persecution of gays in connection with the upcoming Olympic Games ( Fans play a game of their own, trying to spot and name them all.

January 23, 2014 Debra Messing and Brían F. O’Byrne play the heirs to neighboring Irish farms in Outside Mullingar, John Patrick Shanley’s drama (his first dealing with his Irish background) about people who take too long to reveal their hearts.

January 26, 2014 The original cast album of Kinky Boots wins the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.

January 27, 2014 The Theater Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre inducts actors Ellen Burstyn and Cherry Jones; directors Lynne Meadow, George C. Wolfe and Jerry Zaks; playwright Lorraine Hansberry, designer David Hays and producer Cameron Mackintosh.

January 27, 2014 Also today, the Broadway Green Alliance, an industry-wide initiative to develop environmentally-friendly best practices on Broadway, turns five years old.

January 26 to February 2, 2014 Broadway from Times Square to Herald Square is renamed “Super Bowl Boulevard” in honor of the football championship game being played miles away at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ between two teams not from New York. Attractions include a simulated toboggan run at 41st Street and a chance to pose for photos next to the game’s trophy. A section of Times Square itself is covered with artificial turf so fans can placekick a football into a net. The promotion coincides with a week of bitter cold as a so-called Polar Vortex sends frigid arctic air into the Northeast. On Feb. 2, the day of the game itself, Waiting for Godot stars Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley hand out free hot chocolate to ticketholders outside the Cort Theatre near the upper end of Super Bowl Boulevard.

February 1, 2014 As Woody Allen prepares for his return to Broadway with the musical Bullets Over Broadway, a controversy erupts in print when his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, publishes a letter accusing Allen of having molested her when she was a child. Allen denies it. Theatregoers on social media are left wondering whom to believe and whether there is a moral dimension involved in buying tickets to his show.

February 2, 2014 Beloved stage and screen actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is found dead of a heroin overdose just two years after earning a Tony nomination for playing Willy Loman in a revival of Death of a Salesman.

February 6, 2014 Major League Baseball becomes a Broadway producer with the debut of Eric Simonson’s Bronx Bombers, a drama in which famed catcher-turned-coach Yogi Berra (Peter Scolari) dreams that he’s in conference with all the greats of Yankees history.

February 6, 2014 Also today, an underground explosion on 49th Street causes power outages that affect area Broadway shows. Reduced power leads to the cancellation of the first preview of Rocky, which had been set for February 11.

February 13, 2014 Sky, a wire fox terrier who won Best in Show at the February 11 Westminster Kennel Club competition, does a walk-on at Kinky Boots.

February 20, 2014 Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown adapt Robert James Waller’s 1992 bestselling romance novel The Bridges of Madison County as a musical. Kelli O’Hara plays the isolated and long-neglected farm wife who spends four days in a torrid affair with a hunky National Geographic photographer, played by Steven Pasquale.

March 2, 2014 At the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Robert Lopez, co-composer of Avenue Q and Book of Mormon, wins the Best Song Oscar for “Let It Go” (co-written with Kristen Anderson-Lopez) from Disney’s Frozen, which is sung in the film by Tony winner Idina Menzel. Introducing her performance of the song on the telecast, John Travolta garbles Menzel’s name as something like “Adele Dazeem.” Clips of the flub go viral on the web, and The Washington Post reports that the notoriety doubles ticket sales for her forthcoming Broadway musical, If/Then.

March 6, 2014 Fresh off the hugely ballyhooed finale of his hit cable TV series “Breaking Bad,” actor Bryan Cranston makes his Broadway debut with All The Way, a portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his political struggles to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and get through the next election.

March 6, 2014 Also today, producers of the forthcoming revival of On the Town announce that it will be play at the playhouse formerly known as the Foxwoods Theatre, which will be renamed the Lyric Theatre. The 42nd Street space opened in 1998 as the Ford Center, was renamed Hilton in 2005, and then the Foxwoods in 2010, in each case named for a sponsor.

March 6, 2014 Also today, Mamma Mia! surpasses Rent to become the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history.

March 13, 2014 A musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning boxing film Rocky has an original score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (buttressed by two pieces of music from the films) and book by Thomas Meehan based on Sylvester Stallone’s screenplay. Andy Karl plays the palooka with a shot at the title. Much is written about the Act II moment when the first eight rows of the audience are evacuated to the stage so the boxing ring set can move out into the middle of the theatre for the climactic fight.

March 16, 2014 Passersby on 44th Street do a double-take upon seeing Funny Girl on the marquee of the St. James Theatre. The TV series “Glee” is shooting a sequence there in which co-star Lea Michele is appearing in an imagined revival of the musical.

March 20, 2014 Disney Theatricals goes all out on a stage extravaganza based on the animated musical film Aladdin. Trunk songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin, enhance the movie’s songs by Menken & Ashman and Menken with Tim Rice. Special effects and magic are crowned by a flying carpet that really seems to fly.

Spring 2014 The Nederlander Organization radically reconfigures the orchestra section of the venerable Palace Theatre for the incoming rap musical Holler If You Hear Me. Rows A-J now rise stadium-style to the front mezzanine. Rows K-Z will not be used, bringing the seating capacity of this one-time vaudeville mecca from 1740 down to 1120.

March 23, 2014 Producer Cameron Mackintosh presents the second Broadway revival of Les Misérables, freshly restaged by Laurence Connor and James Powell. This version stars Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine and Nikki M. James as Eponine.

March 24, 2014 Four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally marks a half century on the Great White Way with his 20th Broadway show, Mothers and Sons, starring Tyne Daly alongside Frederick Weller and Bobby Steggert who are said to portray the first married gay couple to appear on a Broadway stage.

March 30, 2014 If/Then, an original new American musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, explores two different possible life paths taken by a divorced woman. Idina Menzel plays Liz and Beth, with a supporting cast of friends and lovers including Anthony Rapp, LaChanze, Jenn Colella and James Snyder.

March 31, 2014 The New York State Legislature gives theatre producers a huge leg up by voting a 25 percent refundable tax credit to investors who originate plays and musicals in New York State.

April 2, 2014 The Library of Congress adds the original cast recording of Sweeney Todd, the 1979 musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, to the National Recording Registry.

April 3, 2014 Denzel Washington stars in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, also featuring Anika Noni Rose and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, the latter of whom replaced Diahann Carroll during rehearsals.

April 3, 2014 Three long-running Broadway shows start playing Thursday matinees, breaking Wednesday’s long-time monopoly on midweek afternoon shows. The Thursday club consists of Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia! and Cinderella. Come May, Matilda will join them.

April 3, 2014 Also today, pop singer Carole King surprises the cast of the musical biography Beautiful by appearing onstage during their post-show appeal for the annual “Easter Bonnet” fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It is the first time King sees the show after spending months avoiding doing so, which The New York Times termed “a confounding mystery of the Broadway season.” King then auctions off a performance of her song “You’ve Got a Friend,” raising $30,000.

April 6, 2014 Will Eno’s new American play The Realistic Joneses stars Tracy Letts, Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall and Marisa Tomei as neighbors who discover they have a lot more in common than they thought.

April 7, 2014 Roseland dance hall, a Broadway theatre district landmark since 1919, closes its doors for the final time. Pop singer Lady Gaga is the final concert attraction at the venue, where generations came to dance to live music. Roseland is considered to be the inspiration for the film "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" and the musical Ballroom.

April 9, 2014 Producers announce cancellation of the planned Off-Broadway transfer of

the musical A Night With Janis Joplin, which closed on Broadway February 9 and had

been announced to reopen at the Gramercy Theatre April 10. Unspecified “production issues” are blamed.

April 11, 2014 President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend a performance of A Raisin in the Sun.

April 13, 2014 Multiple Tony-winner Audra McDonald incarnates blues singer Billie “Lady Day” Holiday in the play with music Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, which had been

presented Off-Broadway in 1987 with another actress in the title role.

April 14, 2014 The Off-Broadway play The Flick wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

April 16, 2014 Revival of John Steinbeck’s drama Of Mice and Men, about two migrant workers whose dream of owning their own farm is threatened when one of them unintentionally commits a terrible crime. The production stars James Franco and Chris O’Dowd.

April 20, 2014 Sutton Foster stars in a revival of the 1997 Off-Broadway Jeanine Tesori/Brian Crawley musical Violet, about a disfigured young woman on an odyssey to see a faith healer whom she is certain will restore her looks. This production is based on one presented as part of City Center’s “Encores! Off-Center” series in 2013.

April 20, 2014 Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter films and seen more recently on Broadway in Equus and How to Succeed, stars in Martin McDonagh’s Cripple of Inishmaan, about a remote Irish village turned upside-down by the arrival of a Hollywood film crew.

April 21, 2014 A 79-year-old woman barricades herself in her brownstone and refuses to be moved to a nursing home in the new drama, The Velocity of Autumn, starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.

April 22, 2014 Neil Patrick Harris stars in the Broadway debut of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, about a transsexual East German punk singer who has a good reason to be furious with the world.

April 23, 2014 Harvey Fierstein’s play Casa Valentina explores a real-life 1960s Catskill bungalow colony that catered to a very special clientele—heterosexual men who liked to dress up as women. The cast includes John Cullum and Patrick Page. It’s also Fierstein’s third currently-running Broadway show, along with Newsies and Kinky Boots.

April 23, 2014 The 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth gets a low-key celebration on Broadway.

April 24, 2014 The Tony-winning 1998 revival of Cabaret, directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, and starring Alan Cumming as the Emcee, gets a revival of its own.

May 12, 2014 Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera welcomes its first black Phantom when Norm Lewis steps into the title role.

May 25, 2014 HBO airs Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart, with some actors from the Tony-winning 2011 Broadway production.

May 31, 2014 After a dip in 2012-13, Broadway box-office receipts rebounded to a record $1.269 billion in 2013-14, and attendance rose from 11.57 million to 12.21 million, just shy of the record 12.33 million tickets sold in 2011-12, according to figures released by The Broadway League. The average Broadway ticket price crossed the $100 mark for the first time, rising $5.50 to $103.92. New and continuing productions ran a total of 1496 playing weeks.

June 8, 2014 The 68th Annual Tony Awards will be given at Radio City Music Hall. 

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