“How do you measure a year?”
My second post of 2016 was one made in memory of David Bowie. Little did I know that he would be the first of many lights to go out in what many consider to be the worst year in history. Alan Rickman. Glenn Frey. Carrie Fisher. Debbie Reynolds. Prince. George Michael. Harper Lee. George S. Irving. It is with a heavy heart that I must end the list here due to its longevity.
In addition to these heartbreaking losses, I feel I must mention the election. I don’t even wish to discuss the results because I do not want this post to turn into something that inspires vitriol or hateful banter of any kind. How disheartening it was for me, a first-time voter, to watch our nation become one so full of hate and insensitivity. It was a horror I had not yet realized capable of this nation. How easily it was forgotten that we all are, in fact, united. We let hate win long before election day. Hate won in the way we treated our fellow citizens in months leading to November, and in many cases, the ways people are still being treated. Hate was (and continues to be) ignoring the fear of brothers and sisters, or casting it off as unwaranted. We cannot allow hate to win. We must take this situation and encourage love. I realize wounds are still fresh and stinging, but I think we all can agree that hate is not the answer. Love one another, but most importantly, respect one another.
This all being said, I’m sure we all had personal goings-on that made this year difficult. Several come to mind for me, actually. But hey, if you’re reading this, we made it out alive and that’s an accomplishment to be celebrated.
For me, musical theatre saved 2016. So many important things, both for the community and for me, personally, occured in 2016. Here are my top seven theatre moments from this past year. I hope they’ll make you smile as much as they made me smile.
1) Dear Evan Hansen.
Friends. Get thee to the Music Box Theater. This is on my “must-see” list for 2017. How I wish this beautiful show would have been around when I was still in high school, though it is still scary-relevant as I journey through college. The plot follows invisible teen Evan Hansen’s rise to ultimate popularity by way of a terrible lie. To further research, visit dearevanhansen.com . Till then, check out the video posted above as Ben Platt nails “Waving through a Window.” I am in love and cannot wait for the cast album to be released February 3rd. #youwillbefound.
2) Hamilton wins Tony Award for Best Musical
Because, well, of course it did. How wonderful it was to honor and celebrate a show with such a diverse cast and an interesting take on our nation’s history. Here’s hoping to one day be in the room where it happens. Brava, Lin and company! Look around.
3) Broadway for Orlando
Tragedy struck an Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016, as 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded. What was labeled an attack agaisnt the LGBTQ+ community was actually an attack on American people as a whole. These were our brothers and our sisters, out for a night of entertainment in what should have been a safe space…killed. As always, our Broadway community rallied together to make music for a good cause. Seth Rudetsky organized a team of Broadway powerhouses and a musical production team to produce a cover of “What the World Needs Now is Love.” All proceeds go directly to the LGBT Center of Central Florida. I was fortunate enough to get to watch this song performed live as part of the Broadway in Bryant Park concert series. If you wish to purchase this incredible song, sung by incredibly talented people to benefit an incredible cause, you can download the single here. It is also available for purchase on iTunes.
4) She Loves Me
(Top photo: me crying over the perfection that was She Loves Me (2016). Bottom Left: Mom with Zac Levi (look how cute they both are). Bottom Left: Gavin Creel, Gavin Creel’s mustache, and me. )
Seeing She Loves Me was one of my favorite moments of 2016 for sure. What a lovely home it had at The Roundabout Theatre. The cast was stellar, the energy was vibrant and palpable. Meeting Gavin and Zac at the stage door was such a wonderful experience. Laura Benanti and that high Bb during “Vanilla Ice Cream” single-handedly cured my acne and restored my eyesight to 20/20. I’m kidding, but seriously- she nailed it. Watching Jane Krakowski be her omedic genius self LIVE was a dream come true. What a wonderful little show, and I am blessed to have seen it during its limited run. If you were not so lucky, as many were not, I have great news for you! Head on over to BroadwayHD to watch the livestream! This is a new era for musical theatre fans. Watch She Loves Me
5) Hairspray Live!
I recently wrote a post that referenced the live musical, but the coolest part about the entire thing was the accesibility it granted to those who might not have had it otherwise. the world of musical theatre through its broadcast. Like I said, a new era. Not to mention, it totally rocked. Buy the CD and/or DVD here.
Based on Falsettoland and March of the Falsettos, Falsettos is a revival starring Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, and Brandon Uranowitz. I’ll not share the plot out of fear of spoiling it, but if you hail from a dysfunctional family (as we all do), this musical is for you. It is a beautiful story with a message that is heartbreakingly still relevant today. Check out the cast album on Spotify or iTunes. It is definitely worth the buy and the time.
7) And you knew this was coming…*The* Reunion
It only took twelve years too many for these two to reunite and sing one of the most widely known showtunes of all time. In addition to dropping solo albums ON THE SAME DAY, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, #Chenzel if you might, reunited to once again sing “For Good.” The last time they sang the song together, one of them was painted green and the other sported a tiara as they struggled to make it through Kristin’s emotional last Broadway performance as G(a)linda in 2004. They performed the duet as part of the #OutofOz series on YouTube, a series in which Wicked’s track list is reimagined by unorthodox arrangements of audience favorites like “I’m Not That Girl” and “Defying Gravity.” “For Good” was left alone, though, and was done even better than it was the first time. The “Chenzel” reunion was wildly celebrated by celebrities such as Rosie and Lin Manuel Miranda, and that’s to say nothing of fans’ reactions. I cried when I saw it, as did musical theatre lovers the world over. As a lifelong fan of Wicked and both of these talented ladies, it was the coolest thing to witness the ones who started it all do their thing in “real time.” If not for these two, I would not be the woman I am today and would not be bursting at the seams to become a press representative for theatrical productions. Thanks a million to these two for their examples and their endless influence in my life. Here’s hoping we will not have to wait another twelve years for their next collaboration.
So there they are: my seven reasons to smile from 2016. Hopefully my seven can make you smile, but I’m sure you have your own seven and I encourage you to celebrate them. Remember your seven and move forward. Excelsior, friends! Onward and upward.
May we all measure 2017 in love as the late, great Jonathan Larson would have us do.
Wishing you all the best in the new year! I’ll check in next year, kids! 🙂
Love and light, but mostly love. – EK ❤