2001 On Broadway

The World Trade Centre (Wikipedia)

After the devastating acts in New York City on September 11th, Broadway theatre as an industry was headed for a collapse. Tourists had disappeared, transportation was still a nightmare and it seemed the last thing on people’s minds was to ‘tap their troubles away’ indulging in a Broadway show. Exactly how the city managed to steer through the crisis, and the relief given to the theatre industry is examined in further detail in the feature section. Astute marketing combined with quick thinking enabled the city to get back on its feet, and the lights of Broadway Marquees were seen as a symbol to the rest of the world that New York was still open for business.


The Producers Playbill, 2001 Broadway (Wikipedia)

In April The Producers stormed the Broadway stage, based on the 1968 Mel Brooks film of the same name. The show went on to be a commercial success, running for 2,502 performances at the St James Theatre, winning a record breaking 12 Tony Awards. Susan Stroman directed and choreographed the show, winning awards in both categories for her work. The show set a number of Broadway records, including the highest single day box office ticket sales, selling $3million after it opened. The show broke its own record in December 2003, when Lane and Broderick announced they would return to the show for a limited period, and sales shot up to $3.5million. The show became a victim of its own success, as Nathan Lane set the bar high in the role of Max Bialystock, and replacements struggled to fill in his shoes.

The second sensation to hit the stage came direct from the West End. Mamma Mia! opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 18 creating an overnight sensation. News of the show had crossed the Atlantic before it had opened, giving the show a huge advance and lots of publicity. The show made its US premiere in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theatre in November 2000, before moving to Chicago as a pre-Broadway run. Directed by the original creative team Phyllida Lloyd and Anthony Van Laast the production used the same songs as the London production, with a slightly Americanised book by British playwright Catherine Johnson.

Stones in His Pockets (backstage)

Joe Mantello presented a new look at Noel Coward’s play Design for Living which starred Alan Cumming and Jennifer Ehle for a limited run at the Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre. The same theatre also presented a production of George Bernard Shaw’s play Major Barbara which ran for 74 performances after opening in July.  The success of the year went to David Auburn’s play Proof at the Walter Kerr Theatre, starring ‘Weeds’ actress Mary-Louise Parker. Marie Jones’ West End sensation Stones in His Pockets transferred to Broadway, opening in April at the Golden Theater to much critical success. The comedic two hand-er gathered a following at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, transferring to London in 1999. Conleth Hill had his Broadway debut winning the Tony for Best Actor.

One of the quirkiest new musicals to arrive after 9/11 was the satirical musical Urinetown which told the story of a town where it was a ‘privilege to pee’ in a Brechtian style. The show opened at the Henry Miller’s Theatre on September 20 and ran for over 900 performances. The musical had direction by John Rando with staging by John Carrafa. Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann provided the music and lyrics, ultimately winning Best Score at the 2002 Tony Awards Ceremony.

The 2001 Production

The Ford Center of the Performing Arts presented a stunning revival of the classic Broadway show 42nd Street which acted as a symbol of Broadway’s resilience after the September disasters. Randy Skinner provided the amazing choreography with a cast which included Christine Ebersole, Kate Levering and Meredith Patterson. The production ran for 1,524 performances.

Shows opening on Broadway:

42nd Street – Ford Center, A Class Act – Ambassador, Bells are Ringing – Plymouth Theatre, By Jeeves – Helen Hayes, Design for Living – American Airlines, Dreamgirls (concert) – Ford Center, Follies – Belasco Theatre, Hedda Gabler – Ambassador Theatre, Major Barbara – American Airlines, Mamma Mia – Winter Garden, Noises Off – Brooks Atkinson, Stones in His Pockets – John Golden Theatre, The Producers – St. James Theatre, Urinetown – Henry Miller’s Theatre