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June 10, Radio City Music Hall, CBS-TV, Tony time, Broadway’s 2018 awards.
There are hits you can’t get into unless you were born there and flops you can’t get out of unless you died there.
And now, some history.
Daniel Blum’s 1950 “A Pictorial History of the American Theatre” details the birth of Broadway’s life upon the wicked stage.
Amateurs began in 1665. They were “men of low morality, women of no virtue.”
1703 brought the first pros. But at this stage, the players backstage still grabbed more pleasure than the audience. If they missed a cue, they didn’t miss anything else.
1750, “Richard III” opened as New York’s first play. But knowing life is a cabaret, following this upscale refinement came lowdown burlesque.
Mid-1800s Manhattan had half a million people and — without all the lousy construction — patrons could actually get crosstown to its six theaters.
Vaudeville and minstrel troupes developed in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Flushing, The Bronx, and acting was becoming a semi-honorable profession. Before SUVs with tinted windows, players suffered one-nighters and the rigors of a stagecoach but, early on, in galloped John Gilbert.
1861’s Civil War brought four “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” productions. 1864’s starred Edwin Booth. 1867, Charles Dickens held four readings. 1868, we had 21 theaters.
1882, we got us the Lyceum and established the Actors Fund. 1888 came “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” 1888 founded the Players Club.
Next up, big-time old-time thittir names Eleonora Duse. Otis Skinner. 1897 Eddie Foy, Maude Adams. 1900, we had 40 legit houses, such as the Henry Miller, whose West 43rd theater’s now the Stephen Sondheim.
Then came — ta-da! — the Shuberts. Plus a 1901-ish thespian named Cecil B. DeMille.
After that, those who gave the finger to eight performances a week made it to Hollywood — Tyrone Power Sr., May Robson, Gladys George, Evelyn Nesbit.
What I’m hearing…
Now the bets are:
Best Musical — “The Band’s Visit”
Best Play — “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2”
Best Revival of a Musical — “Carousel”
Best Revival of a Play — “Angels in America”
Best Actor in a Play — Andrew Garfield
Best Actress in a Play — Glenda Jackson
Best Actor in a Musical — Joshua Henry
Best Actress in a Musical — Katrina Lenk
Best Featured Actor in a Play — Nathan Lane
Best Featured Actress in a Play — Denise Gough
Best Featured Actor in a Musical — Norbert Leo Butz
Best Featured Actress in a Musical — Lindsay Mendez
If you go, mind your manners
So give your regards to Broadway, say hello to Herald Square — and be on time for curtain.
Enough with flattening against my seat as behinds in the wrong row lumber out for fat latecomers to squeeze in.
Also, don’t lean forward. And do leave off the hat. I had no unobstructed view of “Dear Evan Hansen” until its curtain call.
And smokers at intermission? Who then hack their way all through Act 2? I mean, please.
Hum “Lullaby of Broadway.” Sing “Broadway Baby.”
Know if scalpers (scalpels) make Godzilla into the Smiling Irishman, you can write away for seats. And if you don’t mind waiting, you may get lucky.
However, it’s only fair to mention, my cousin in Baltimore is still waiting for her one in the mezzanine for “South Pacific.”
Broadway, only in New York, kids, only in New York.
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