2006 on Broadway

The 2006 season was an epic success, with a record 12 million seats sold, resulting in over $860million taken at the box office. Helped by a range of new musicals, revivals, star names and some weight from Disney Theatricals, 2006 was a highly successful year.

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The Pajama Game Poster (wikipedia, Bib)

At the start of the year Harry Connick Jr and Kelli O’Hara starred in a brand new revival of the Adler and Ross musical The Pajama Game as part of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 40th Anniversary Season. The show only ran for 129 performances, but was considered a success due to the star casting and subsequent cast album. Revival was the key word for Producer Cameron Mackintosh as he brought back his new touring production of Les Miserables to the Broadhurst Theatre, just as the show celebrated its 21st year in the West End. John Doyle produced a brand new revival of Sondheim’s Company which starred Raul Esparza as 35 year old Bobby, alongside Barbara Cook as Joanne. Just like his 2005 production of Sweeney Todd the show featured a highly talented cast of actor musicians, bringing a fresh yet intimate look at this concept musical. The biggest revival of the year came in October, as the first new production of Broadway’s Legend A Chorus Line opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld on October 5. The show featured Charlotte d’Amboise as Cassie in a role that saw her nominated for Best Actress in a Musical. A documentary film fittingly called ‘Every Little Step’ was made to coincide with the production, showing thousands of hopefuls auditioning for the show, just as in the show itself. Actor Mario Lopez joined the company later in the run, opening the door for further celebrity casting.

A Chorus Line (Flickr, Shreveport-Bossier)

Celebrity casting was a common theme in 2006 in both plays and musicals. Pop star Usher joined the New York company of Chicago as the show celebrated 10 years on Broadway, bringing much charm to the role of Billy Flynn. Nathan Lane starred as the title character in the revival of Simon Gray’s Butley which concerns a college professor coming to terms with a midlife crisis. Ralph Fiennes opened in Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer at the Booth Theatre in a new production directed by Jonathan Kent. Tom Everett Scott and Julie White opened a new play at the Cort Theatre Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane. Julie White would go on to be awarded the Tony for Best Leading Actress for her portrayal of Diane.

The Lincoln Centre mounted a colossal project as The Coast of Utopia opened, featuring three separate plays lasting a total of 9 hours. Set amidst the Russian Revolution, this intense epic played 45 performances each between October and January and featured a multi generational cast. The play went on to win a host of Tony Awards including Best Play for Tom Stoppard and Best Direction for Jack O’Brien. The Broadway transfer of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys was a success, and was turned into a film starring the original cast.

 

The Wedding Singer (wikipedia, apollonaris)

New musicals were equally well represented with The Wedding Singer joining the host of shows already playing based on films. Featuring a cheesy 80s inspired score the show was a hit for Stephen Lynch and Laura Benanti, who played the characters Robbie and Julia, roles made famous by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the film. Grey Gardens also opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre, and was a surprise hit.  Disney prepared for the Broadway transfer of Mary Poppins fresh from London’s West End by relocating The Lion King to free up the New Amsterdam Theatre. As Mary Poppins opened ready for the holiday season, Rebecca Luker joined the cast as Mrs Banks, along with Ashley Brown as the eponymous nanny. British actor Gavin Lee reprised his role as Bert, opening the show on November 16. Tarzan the musical was the first Disney project of the year, opening at the Richard Rodgers Theatre to somewhat mixed reviews. Using the original score from the film by rock legend Phil Collins, the musical had innovative designs by Bob Crowley, who also directed the show. High Fidelity, a musical based on the book by Nick Hornby with music by Tom Kitt did not fare so well, closing after just 13 performances and 19 previews at the Imperial Theatre.

 

Spring Awakening (wikipedia, themusicmaker)

The biggest hit of the year came in a peculiar form as Spring Awakening exploded onto the stage becoming one of the most popular Broadway shows 2006. Based on the play by German playwright Frank Wedekind the rock score was revolutionary in its story telling tactics, and made stars of Lea Michelle and Jonathan Groff, who would go on to become household names later in the decade thanks to Glee. The show generated a lot of publicity due to its themes of teenage angst and quickly achieved a cult following. Producers became aware of certain shows popularity, introducing the ‘Premium Ticket’ for the first time. During the height of summer top price tickets broke the $250, setting the precedent for what was to come.

 

 

Shows opening on Broadway

 The Apple Tree – Studio 54, Awake and Sing! – Belasco Theatre, Bridge and Tunnel – Helen Hayes, Butley – Booth, A Chorus Line – Gerald Schoenfeld, The Coast of Utopia – Lincoln Centre, Company – Ethel Barrymore, Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Hilton Theatre, The Drowsy Chaperone – Marquis Theatre, Faith Healer – Booth Theatre, Grey Gardens – Walter Kerr, Heartbreak House – American Airlines, High Fidelity – Imperial, The History Boys – Broadhurst Theatre, Hot Feet – Hilton, Jay Johnson – Helen Hayes, Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway – Helen Hayes, Les Miserables – Broadhurst, The Lieutenant of Inishmore – Lyceum, The Little Dog Laughed – Cort Theatre, Losing Louie – Biltmore, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me – Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Mary Poppins – New Amsterdam, The Pajama Game – Roundabout, Shining City – Biltmore, Spring Awakening – Eugene O’Neill, Tarzan – Richard Rodgers, Three Days of Rain – Bernard B. Jacobs, The Threepenny Opera – Roundabout, The Times They Are A-Changing – Brooks Atkinson Theatre, The Vertical Hour – The Music Box, The Wedding Singer – Al Hirschfeld,

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