As we wave goodbye to 2022, it’s time to take a look back at the major milestones, triumphs, and losses that the world of theatre experienced this year. Although 2022 can’t be summed up in one post, we offer you a few highlights!
MJ the Musical Took the World By Storm
The musical dedicated to the late King of Pop broke a variety of records this year. The show averaged over a million dollars each week in sales, and jumped to $1,661,000 a week, with sold-out shows every day, after its big win at the Tony Awards. In September, the show broke the Neil Simon theater's box office record five times – with a total cumulative gross of $49.4 million.
A Big Moment for Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose made history in 2022 as she became the first Afro-Latina, and only openly queer woman of color, to win an Academy Award. She won for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story; Rita Moreno won the same award for the same role in 1962. DeBose is also the first actress to win an Oscar in a Steven Spielberg film!
Black Playwrights & Actors Took Center Stage
This year brought a strong influx of new shows after major losses in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadway’s triumphant return included unprecedented numbers of Black creators, both on and off the stage.
Seven Black playwrights had their work produced on Broadway this year, including Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew); Douglas Lyons (Chicken & Biscuits); Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues); Keenan Scott II (Thoughts of a Colored Man); Alice Childress (Trouble in Mind); Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu (Pass Over); and Lynn Nottage, (Clyde’s).
On the stage, Emilie Kouatchou made history when she became the first Black woman to take on the role of Christine Daaé in Phantom of the Opera. Other Black stars on-stage include heavyweights Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington in The Piano Lesson, as well as Patina Miller and Montego Glover – both as the Witch in Into the Woods.
Accessibility and Inclusion at the Tony Awards
June 12 marked the 75th Annual Tony Awards, which celebrated the 2021-2022 Broadway season. The two act show streamed live and on demand – making it the first Tony Awards in history to be available live nationwide.
Additionally, Tony Award winners this year pointed towards further inclusion and diversity in the future. A Strange Loop – the most Tony-nominated production of the season – nabbed Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, written by Michael R. Jackson. The show centers on Usher – a young, Black, gay theatre writer battling depression. Myles Frost won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical as the late Michael Jackson in MJ: The Musical, and Joaquina Kalukango earned Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her role as Nelly O’Brien in Paradise Square – the show takes place during the Civil War and follows the stories of Irish immigrants and Black Americans. Additionally, the new, gender-swapped version of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company, created by Marianne Elliott, was named Best Revival of a Musical.
Film and TV Actors Came to Broadway
It was a big year for television and film actors looking to make a switch – even if just for a little while. The Great White Way welcomed a variety of celebrities, most notably:
Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in The Music Man
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in Plaza Suite
Beanie Feldstein, Jane Lynch, and Lea Michele in Funny Girl
Gaten Matarazzo in Dear Evan Hansen
Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga in Macbeth
Saying Goodbye to Stephen Sondheim & Angela Lansbury
In 2022 marked a great loss for theatre with the passing of actress and singer Angela Lansbury and composer Stephen Sondheim.
Angela Lansbury made her Broadway debut in 1957 with Hotel Paradiso and went on to star in thirteen more shows in her illustrious career. She won six Tony Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement), as well as numerous Golden Globes and a BAFTA.
Sondheim’s prodigious work includes such gems as Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Company, Into the Woods, and Follies. His many awards include seven Tony Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement), a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award, and even the Presidential Medal of Honor.
Wicked fans rejoiced
One of the most popular musicals of the last two decades – Wicked – is finally getting a film adaptation! Director Jon M. Chu has announced his cast, with big names including Cynthia Erivo (Elphaba), Ariana Grande (Glinda), Jeff Goldblum (the Wizard), and Jonathan Bailey (Fiyero). Recently, Chu confirmed the movie will be split into two parts, with the first coming out in late 2024. Here’s hoping the wait will be worth it!
A Rise in Asian American ROLES ON BROADWAY
Asian American representation in theatre still isn’t where it needs to be, but 2022 took some solid steps forward in that regard. Firstly, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance announced its off-Broadway debut. The show is historic for two reasons – it is the first off-Broadway revival of Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and the first to feature a full cast of Asian-American actors.
Secondly, Zachary Noah Piser became the first Asian-American actor to nab the lead role in Dear Evan Hansen in a full-time position.
A Win for Transgender Representation
Transgender actors received well-deserved accolades this year on Broadway. L. Morgan Lee made her Broadway debut last season for A Strange Loop as Thought 1; she received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – the first openly transgender person to be nominated for the award. Additionally, Angelica Ross made history as Roxie in Chicago, becoming the first openly transgender woman to headline a show on Broadway.
The Museum of Broadway Opens
In NYC’s Theatre District, the Museum of Broadway opened its doors in November. Guests can explore a variety of exhibits, including costume, memorabilia, and props displays, as well as informative timelines that outline the development of Broadway since its inception.
If you’re a theatre-maker and want to start 2023 off on the right foot, turn to On The Stage. Whether your goal in 2023 is to sell more tickets, sharpen up your merchandise offerings, better engage your audience, or focus on fundraising, On The Stage can help. Book a personalized demo now.