Do you hear that? It’s the sound of 2012 flying by, taking with it memories of Tony winners, musical TV shows and malaria-ridden phantom investors. It was nothing short of an eventful year on Broadway, replete with scoops, scandals and stories from behind the scenes on the Great White Way. Of course, the events of 2012 were not lacking in educational value. Check out our list of lessons learned from the past year on Broadway!
The More Misérables You Are, the More Recognition You Get
The film adaptation of Les Misérables has generated oodles of buzz, especially for the performances of Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, whose characters are both truly, truly miserable. Jackman’s Jean Valjean is forever on the run, and Hathaway’s factory worker-turned-prostitute Fantine is not exactly happy-go-lucky. Both stars may walk away with trophies come awards time, and not for lack of devotion to their dramatic roles. If Tom Cruise’s Rock of Ages hotshot Stacee Jaxx had suffered from tuberculosis, had a throwdown in a rat-infested sewer and endured some extreme dentistry, maybe he’d have a chance at awards glory, too.
Make Sure Your Investors Are Not Imaginary
Rebecca the Musical was supposed to set Broadway on fire, but the only thing that went up in flames was the show’s doomed journey to the stage. Marred by wire fraud, malicious e-mails and an imaginary bout of malaria, the show imploded after the mysterious death of an investor—who never actually lived in the first place. A lesson for all budding Broadway producers: when you’re mounting a $12 million musical, you may want to meet your financiers face to face. Just to make sure that they, you know…exist.
Smash Brought Musical Theater to the Masses
Broadway got a pop culture bump this year with Smash, NBC’s drama about the inner workings of a Broadway-bound musical. For the first time, viewers in the far reaches of America could feel the stress of tech week, even if Smash didn’t exactly paint the most realistic picture of Broadway behind the scenes. The show faced its share of praise and pans, but there’s no denying that Smash captured a new audience heretofore unfamiliar with the terms “callback,” "swing" and “standby.” Hopefully, the sophomore season will get a dose of reality, with less eavesdropping, more namechecking and absolutely no drink-throwing.
Nothing Can Keep Kristin Chenoweth Down
Some actors can be sidelined by a paper cut (or mercury-rich sushi), but leave it to Kristin Chenoweth not to let anything get her down—even when she literally is down. First, her criminally underappreciated comedy GCB got the axe from ABC. Then, in July, the Tony winner was injured by a falling light fixture on the set of CBS’s The Good Wife. Neckbrace and all, Chenoweth's recovery from both unfortunate events demonstrates why she's a national treasure, just like the Statue of Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What will Cheno do next? Not sure, but we hear Dee Snider needs a duet partner!
It’s Never Too Early for Another Revival
An explosive Virginia Woolf? A star-studded Glengarry? A showstopping Streetcar Named Desire? It’s 2005 all over again! Three perennial favorites took the stage in 2012, but we still have fresh memories of their most recent revivals from less than a decade ago. Shows like Cyrano de Bergerac (last seen in 2007) serve as a reminder that there’s really no such thing as “too soon” on Broadway...so where is our revival of Bonnie and Clyde? Spring Awakening? The Performers?!
Sutton Foster and Darren Criss Should Switch Places More Often
It was a banner year for Broadway stars on TV (Mazel tov, Andrew Rannells and Laura Benanti!) but no star shined brighter than Sutton Foster, whose ABC Family comedy Bunheads is an excellent showcase for the two-time Tony winner's talents. Conversely, Glee star Darren Criss jumped from screen to the stage to make his Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, breaking box office records in his three weeks wearing the bowtie. Might we suggest a switcheroo? Sutton on Glee would make our day, and we wouldn't be opposed to a limited engagement of Thoroughly Modern Darren.
Famous Faces Get More Face Time
The biographical show is a Broadway staple, and there was a notable resurgence in familiar faces this year in plays and musicals devoted to the lives of celebrities. Among the impersonated: Judy Garland, Magic Johnson, Charlie Chaplin, Aimee Semple McPherson, Joseph Alsop, Larry Bird...even old favorites Eva Peron and that superstar Jesus Christ came back! When you throw in folks like Mike Tyson and William Shatner, whose one-man memoirs played Broadway this year as well, it 's a nice reminder that sometimes real-life characters are just as batsh*t crazy as fictional ones.
Audra’s Latest Tony Earns Her Admission Into the Fiver Club
With her fifth Tony victory earlier this year, Audra McDonald gained entrance into one of the most exclusive clubs on Broadway, tying a Tony-winning record held by only two others, Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. Since McDonald is less than half the age of both stage veterans, there’s plenty of time to set a record all her own (the Twelver Club?). Until then, we're picturing McDonald honoring the group’s other requirements for entry, including a ritual blood sacrifice, getting a tattoo of Antoniette Perry and fully completing the Angela Lansbury Workout (bonus points if your gym shoes are orthopedic).
Once Serves Up a Pint of Success
Audiences are always looking for new things to love, and they found it this year in the sweetly tender musical Once. The show wasn’t the typical splashy Broadway fare that crowds love to eat up, but it proved to be the critical breakout of the year (not to mention the big winner at the Tonys) because of the charm and talent of its sensational leads. Plus, an onstage bar didn't hurt. It turns out that you don’t need a kickline or tap number when you've got alcohol a-flowing and a cute guy with a guitar. Cheers!
Instagram Is a Broadway Fan’s Best Friend
Fans can thank Instagram and a wave of social media for an unprecedented year of behind-the-scenes access to their favorite Broadway shows, previously possible only through Broadway.com video blogs, backstage tours and My Space features. With their trusty smartphones, Broadway stars have covered the spectrum from silly (any Saturday Intermission Pic ever) to serious (the cast of Porgy and Bess’s Trayvon Martin tribute). Even personal lives have wedged their way onto the web, like Jeremy Jordan and Ashley Spencer’s wild wedding and Audra McDonald’s post-Tony pizza party. We’re anticipating even more social media mayhem in 2013—and hoping that more stars join in on the fun (where you at, @Liza!?).