A TONY TIMELINE: The Broadway Shows and Milestones, On Stage and Off, Between June 2011 and June 2012
By Robert Viagas
Just in time for the 2012 Tony Awards on June 10, here's a look at events that happened on Broadway — and in the wide world beyond — between June 2011 and today. What sticks most in your memory?
A version of this timeline will appear in the forthcoming Playbill Broadway Yearbook (Playbill Books/Applause Books), now available for pre-order. Want past Playbill Yearbooks? Check out PlaybillStore.com.
Unless otherwise noted, dates related to Broadway shows below represent the official opening night dates.
June 12, 2011 The Book of Mormon is named Best Musical and War Horse is named Best Play of the 2010-2011 season in the 65th annual Tony Awards.
June 12, 2011 Million Dollar Quartet ends its Broadway run after 489 performances, but six weeks later it transfers to Off-Broadway's New World Stages ten blocks away and continues its run alongside other expatriate Broadway shows, Avenue Q and Rent.
June 14, 2011 The new season begins with the six-months-delayed opening of the extravaganza musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, following 182 problem-plagued previews — the most in Broadway history. During that period, producers took artistic control away from original director/librettist/designer Julie Taymor. The final book is credited to Taymor, Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, with Philip William McKinley serving as "creative consultant." The show marks the Broadway debut of songwriters Bono and The Edge from the Irish rock band U2. Reeve Carney stars as the superhero with the powers of a spider in the show which cost a reported $75 million, by far the most expensive in Broadway history.
June 15, 2011 The original cast album of The Book of Mormon hits number three on the Billboard album chart, right behind CDs by Adele and Lady Gaga. It marks the first time a cast album has been in the Top 10 since 1969, when the cast recording of Hair was number one for 13 weeks.
June 24, 2011 Gay marriage is legalized in New York. Among the first same-sex pairs to say "I do" on the stage of the St. James Theatre when the law goes into effect July 24 are three Broadway couples: actress Terri White and jewelry designer Donna Barnett, actor Ryan Dietz and playwright Josh Levine, and stage doorman John Raymond and usher Jared Pike.
July 7, 2011 Tyne Daly stars as opera diva Maria Callas in a revival of Terrence McNally's Tony-winning play Master Class, featuring Sierra Boggess as one of her talented but exasperated pupils.
July 13, 2011 Just a year after closing, the Tony-winning revival of Hair caps a national tour by returning to Broadway for a two-month engagement.
August 10, 2011 The New York Times publishes a letter from composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim excoriating director Diane Paulus and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks for emendations planned for their upcoming revival of Porgy and Bess. Among the things he objects to: changing the official title to The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, rewriting DuBose Heyward's libretto to alter the characters, and creating a new ending. Sondheim wrote that the alterations were unnecessary because, "These characters are as vivid as any ever created for the musical theatre, as has been proved over and over in productions that may have cut some dialogue and musical passages but didn't rewrite and distort them." Some portions of the original material will be restored prior to the January 2013 opening on Broadway.
August 23, 2011 Tremors from an early afternoon 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia shake Times Square and much of the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. It's the biggest to hit New York since 1944. No significant damage to theatres is reported.
August 27-28, 2011 Just days after the earthquake, Hurricane Irene targets New York City. Public transportation is suspended and all Broadway performances are cancelled on Saturday and Sunday.
August 29, 2011 The 1996 revival of Chicago becomes the longest-running American musical in Broadway history when it plays its 6,138th performance, surpassing the original run of A Chorus Line. The Kander & Ebb show is still exceeded by British-originated musicals Les Miserables, Cats, and the still-running The Phantom of the Opera.
September 4, 2011 The stage adaptation of the musical Mary Poppins notches its 2,000th performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
September 9, 2011 In lieu of the annual "Broadway on Broadway" concert, the casts of Broadway shows gather in Times Square to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by singing Kander & Ebb's "New York, New York." The event recreates a similar performance held as a morale booster two weeks after the original attacks.
September 12, 2011 A revival of the Stephen Sondheim/James Goldman musical Follies moves to Broadway from a hit engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The production stars Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines, Jan Maxwell and Danny Burstein with supporting roles filled by the likes of Elaine Paige, Jane Houdyshell and Susan Watson. (Following Broadway, the production resurfaces in spring 2013 in Los Angeles, with some recasting — including Tony winner Victoria Clark as Sally.)
October 2, 2011 Disney hosts the first "autism-friendly" performance of The Lion King, with sound and light effects dulled, part of a Theatre Development Fund initiative to help those who live with the malady.
October 9, 2011 Frank Langella plays a crooked financier whose fall eerily presages that of 21st century ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, in a revival of Terence Rattigan's 1963 drama Man and Boy.
October 13, 2011 Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entertains a supernatural visitor on the night before his assassination in The Mountaintop, Katori Hall's drama starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
October 15, 2011 The "Occupy Wall Street" movement moves uptown to "Occupy Times Square" with a rally to protest income inequity and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty-two people are arrested when the crowd, reported by the Wall Street Journal as "thousands," refuses to disperse after a three-hour demonstration.
October 18, 2011 Studio 54, the legendary disco that has operated as a Broadway theatre for more than a decade, reopens for "One Night Only" as a dance hall, reuniting members of the team that worked behind the scenes at the club during its 1977-1981 heyday, along with iconic names chosen from its original guest list.
October 20, 2011 Comedy masters Woody Allen, Ethan Coen and Elaine May each contribute a one-act play to the triple-bill Relatively Speaking, which features a cast led by Marlo Thomas, Steve Guttenberg, Danny Hoch, Julie Kavner, Ari Graynor and Mark Linn-Baker.
October 27, 2011 Playwright David Henry Hwang looks at the clash of cultures when an American businessman tries to penetrate the traditional ways behind the booming Chinese economy in Chinglish, featuring Gary Wilmes and Jennifer Lim.
November 3, 2011 A right-wing Hollywood couple with decidedly left-wing grown children reveals a family secret — but not the one everyone expects — in Jon Robin Baitz's drama Other Desert Cities, with a starry cast that includes Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths, Judith Light, Stacy Keach and Thomas Sadoski.
November 3, 2011 Funny Girl, one of the few golden-age classic musicals never to have had a Broadway reprise, continues that pristine record when an announced revival is cancelled after four investors pull out their money. The planned April 2012 production was to have starred Lauren Ambrose as Fanny Brice and Bobby Cannavale as Nick Arnstein.
November 7, 2011 The first Broadway revival of Godspell, the 1971 Stephen Schwartz/John-Michael Tebelak rock musical that retells The Gospel According to St. Matthew with singing, clowning, improvisation and numerous topical references. Daniel Goldstein directs a cast featuring Hunter Parrish, Telly Leung, Uzo Aduba, Lindsay Mendez, Nick Blaemire and more.
November 8, 2011 Nina Arianda, a 2011 Tony nominee for Born Yesterday, gets to recreate her star-making 2010 Off-Broadway performance as an actress who gets a little too much into the role of a dominatrix in David Ives play, Venus in Fur.
November 10, 2011 Tony-winning stage and screen star Hugh Jackman toplines Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, a concert show in which he sings and dances with six chorines. The production sells out most of its two-month run, setting an all-time record $2,057,354 for a single week at any Shubert Organization theatre.
November 14, 2011 The revival of Chicago celebrates its 15th anniversary on Broadway.
November 17, 2011 Noel Coward's evergreen comedy Private Lives gets its eighth Broadway production, this one starring Kim Cattrall as Amanda and Paul Gross as Elyot, directed by Richard Eyre.
November 20, 2011 Alan Rickman plays a blunt and opinionated teacher hired by a group of young writers to show them the ropes in Seminar, Theresa Rebeck's comedy.
November 21, 2011 The Tony-winning co-stars from the original 1979 Evita reunite for a concert show titled An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, singing classic theatre and film tunes.
December 1, 2011 The short, violent career of a pair of Depression-era criminals serves as the plot for the musical Bonnie & Clyde, with music by Frank Wildhorn, book by Ivan Menchell and lyrics by Don Black. Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan star as the larcenous lovers in Wildhorn's seventh Broadway musical (and fifth in a row to close in the red).
December 8, 2011 A wealthy African-American family gathers at their country house to welcome some new members and to reveal a terrible secret in Lydia R. Diamond's drama Stick Fly, starring Dulé Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Condola Rashad, with music by pop star Alicia Keys, who is also a co-producer of the show.
December 11, 2011 Director Michael Mayer's radical rethinking of the rarely seen 1965 reincarnation musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever changes the gender of one of the leading characters from female to male. Harry Connick, Jr. stars as a psychiatrist who finds himself falling in love with the female alter-ego of a male patient. The score by Burton Lane (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics) is enhanced by classics from their film scores for "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" and "Royal Wedding." Peter Parnell's new libretto is based on the original book by Lerner.
December 14, 2011 Lysistrata Jones, a peppy new musical by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flynn, transposes the action of the Greek classic Lysistrata from the Peloponnesian Wars to the world of college basketball. Cheerleaders go on a sex strike to force the laid-back hoopsters to buckle down and play like they mean it. Dan Knechtges directs a cast including Patti Murin, Josh Segarra and Lindsay Nicole Chambers.
December 31, 2011 The Addams Family musical closes after 722 performances. (A touring production, featuring revisions to the script and score, had launched in September.)
January 3, 2012 Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark rings in the New Year with the highest grossing week in Broadway history‚ $2,941,790‚ far outdistancing the previous record of $2,228,235 set by Wicked in 2011. The show is helped to that mark by playing an extra performance, and selling out virtually every seat during the week, many at premium prices. The attendance of 17,375 people is also the highest single-week attendance for any single show in Broadway history.
January 8, 2012 The Tony-winning musical Billy Elliot closes after a run of 1,312 performances.
January 12, 2012 Diane Paulus' shortened and rewritten The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess arrives on Broadway with Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald in the title roles of a "crippled" beggar and a scarlet woman who find love in the close-knit black enclave of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. The production, which runs an hour shorter than the full operatic version, also features David Alan Grier, Joshua Henry, Nikki Rene Daniels and NaTasha Yvette Williams.
January 17, 2012 Rosemary Harris, Jim Dale and Carla Gugino star in the Broadway debut of Athol Fugard's The Road to Mecca, about an aging female sculptor in South Africa.
January 24, 2012 The planned spring debut of the musical Rebecca suffers the same fate as the Funny Girl revival. Producers postpone the production when financing falls through. The adaptation of the classic film was to have starred Sierra Boggess. By March, the producers announce the show will be rescheduled to fall 2012.
January 26, 2012 The Broadway premiere of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit, starring Cynthia Nixon.
February 6, 2012 Network premiere of "Smash," the scripted NBC series that tracks the creation of a new Broadway musical. The show features Broadway stars Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Brian d'Arcy James and others (with new songs by Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), and becomes a Monday evening ritual for many theatre fans. Ratings dip over the next 15 weeks, but the series is renewed for a second season — minus the input of creator Theresa Rebeck, who is dropped as the "show runner" in charge of story.
February 11, 2012 The Phantom of the Opera becomes the first Broadway show to play 10,000 performances. The historic matinee is presented as a benefit for The Actors Fund.
February 12, 2012 The Book of Mormon wins the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
February 16, 2012 William Shatner, who made his Broadway debut in the 1956 historical epic Tamburlaine and who went on to fame as the two-fisted Captain Kirk in TV's "Star Trek," returns to the stage with Shatner's World: We Just Live in It, a tongue-in-cheek solo show about his eventful life.
March 14, 2012 The 2010 Tony-winning musical Memphis plays its 1,000th performance.
March 15, 2012 Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Arthur Miller's iconic antihero, trying to make it in America on a smile and shoeshine in a revival of Death of a Salesman, co-starring Linda Emond and Andrew Garfield, directed by Mike Nichols.
March 18, 2012 Once, a musical based on the bittersweet film about a romance between an Irish street musician and an enigmatic Czech immigrant woman, comes to Broadway with a full score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the original stars/writers of the film.
March 20, 2012 A study commissioned by the Times Square Alliance found that the Broadway theatre district‚ "the area bounded roughly by Sixth and Eighth Avenues from 40th to 53rd Streets‚" generates $1 of every $9 of economic activity in New York City, about $110 billion overall. That includes not just the theatre industry (just over $1 billion in ticket sales on its own) but the hotels, restaurants, shops, transportation and other economic activities that support the theatre, plus the financial services and media companies that have relocated or expanded there in recent years. The district covers less than 1 percent of the city's land.
March 22, 2012 Jesus Christ Superstar, Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock musical about Jesus' final days, transfers to Broadway, with direction by Des McAnuff.
March 29, 2012 The new Disney musical Newsies officially opens at the Nederlander Theatre following an acclaimed engagement at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall. Originally a limited engagement, response has been so great that the musical is now playing an open-ended run.
April 1, 2012 Just in time to capitalize on this year's presidential election season comes a revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 play The Best Man, about a hard-fought campaign between a ruthless conservative and an idealistic but determined liberal, and the effect the process has on their morals and marriages. The all-star cast includes James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Michael McKean, Eric McCormack and Kerry Butler.
April 2, 2012 The final weeks in the life of pop diva Judy Garland are traced in End of the Rainbow, Peter Quilter's biographical drama with music, starring Tracie Bennett, which comes to Broadway from the West End.
April 3, 2012 Jeff Goldblum replaces Alan Rickman in Seminar.
April 5, 2012 The Broadway revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita officially opens at the Marquis Theatre. This is the first new Broadway production of the seven-time Tony Award-winning musical since it debuted at the Broadway Theatre over 30 years ago. The Michael Grandage-directed cast is headed by Grammy winner Ricky Martin as Che, Olivier Award winner Elena Roger (repeating her London work) in her Broadway debut as Eva Perón, Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris as Juan Perón, Max von Essen as Magaldi and Rachel Potter as the Mistress.
April 11, 2012 Lombardi author Eric Simonson returns to Broadway with another sports-themed drama, Magic/Bird, about the friendship and rivalry between Hall of Fame basketball players Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
April 15, 2012 Peter and the Starcatcher is humor columnist Dave Barry's and Ridley Pearson's imagining of how an orphan boy becomes Peter Pan and how a pirate named The Black Stache becomes Captain Hook.
April 16, 2012 Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights) wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
April 18, 2012 Broadway welcomes the transfer of the National Theatre of Great Britain's high-energy farce, One Man, Two Guvnors, based on Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters. James Corden plays the food-loving Francis Henshall, who has the misfortune to be stuck between two murderous criminals.
April 19, 2012 Broadway debut of Bruce Norris' 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winner Clybourne Park, a sequel of sorts to Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 drama A Raisin in the Sun, showing what happens two generations after a black family moves into the all-white Chicago neighborhood of the title.
April 23, 2012 Another London import, Ghost The Musical is a high-tech pop adaptation of the Academy Award-winning 1990 film, about a man who tries from beyond the grave to solve his own murder and protect his sweetheart from a similar fate.
April 24, 2012 Nice Work If You Can Get It is inspired by the 1926 Gershwin musical comedy Oh, Kay!, about romance in Gatsby-era upper-crust Long Island. It stars Matthew Broderick, Kelli O'Hara, Judy Kaye, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Michael McGrath and Estelle Parsons.
April 25, 2012 John Lithgow embodies influential 1960s-era political writer Joseph Alsop in David Auburn's drama, The Columnist.
April 26, 2012 The further misadventures of Robert and Bernard from Marc Camoletti's Tony-winning British sex farce Boeing-Boeing are chronicled in a revival of the same author's Don't Dress for Dinner.
April 26, 2012 Raúl Esparza plays a traveling preacher with a lot more than heaven on his mind in Leap of Faith, a musical adaptation of the popular film. It's the second new Alan Menken musical to debut on Broadway in less than a month.
May 1, 2012 Nominees for the 2012 Tony Awards are announced.
May 22, 2012 Actor Michael McKean is injured when he is struck by a car at the intersection of West 86th Street and Broadway. An understudy steps into his role in Gore Vidal's The Best Man; Mark Blum eventually takes over the part, permanently.
May 31, 2011 Broadway ends its most lucrative season on record, selling $1,139,311,457 worth of tickets as of May 27, according to the Broadway League, up 5.4 percent from the previous season. Total attendance is down slightly to 12,334,312, from 12,534,595 in 2010-2011.
June 10, 2012 The 66th Annual Tony Awards are given at the Beacon Theatre.
(Robert Viagas is editor of "The Playbill Broadway Yearbook" series and founder of the news section of Playbill.com. His latest book is "Scales To Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine." Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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