Among those Windy City exiles was Laurie Metcalf, who I had the great good fortune of first seeing onstage in a series of uproarious comedies by L.A.'s Gen-X Moliere, Justin Tanner, at the Cast Theatre in Hollywood, a two-theatre complex just west of the Paramount lot. With roles in Pot Mom, Happytime Xmas, and Party Mix, Metcalf was no stage hog, despite her outsize celebrity (she was then basically playing hooky from "Roseanne"). Instead she fit seamlessly into the Cast's peerless ensemble of distinctive oddballs (Jon Palmer, Laurel Green, Dana Schwartz, Andy Daley, among others). This, I soon learned, had something to do with her background as a founding member of Chicago's ur-ensemble, Steppenwolf, where the operative ethos potently fused a self-effacing Midwestern work ethic with go-for-broke theatrical commitment.
So it's particularly gratifying to see Metcalf's continued stage domination in a series of Broadway hits, including A DolPs House, Part 2, Three Tall Women, and Misery. Next: a lead in one of this season's most-anticipated shows, Hillary and Clinton. In my cover story on her unique, mercurial brilliance (p. 16), I try to bring a sense of her work before and beyond this glittering and well-deserved Broadway career peak. She is where she is because of where she's been before, and this is as true of her as of everyone and everything that makes it to New York stages. It's true of the vibrant new musicals highlighted by Suzy Evans in her report on the state of Broadway's most commercial form in the wake of hits like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen (p. 26). It's true of the hit Broadway stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird, which as Stuart Miller reveals has a rich and tangled literary (and legal) history (with new revelations coming to light even as we were going to press; it's on p. 32). And it's true of producer Daryl Roth, who, as pictured in Diep Tran's profile (p. 22), came to the commercial theatre in her 40s to fight the good fight for diversity and daring in an arena where the stakes, and the potential impact on the larger field, are high.
For while the nonprofit resident theatre movement of 50 years ago has ensured, thankfully, that our nation's commercial theatre capital no longer has a monopoly on U.S. stage work--if it did, it's unlikely I would be here today, writing this--New York is still inarguably an energy source, standard-bearer, and launchpad for our field. Just as nothing gets to a Manhattan stage without determination and struggle (and funding), what happens in New York theatre doesn't usually stay in New York.--ROB WEINF.RT-KENDT
The moment the musical A Strange Loop was announced for Playwrights Horizons' 2018-19 season, Shoshana Greenberg knew she wanted to write about it (p. 44), as she's been impressed by playwright/composer Michael R. Jackson's work since catching it in a workshop in 2006. His "unique and engaging perspective on the world, and his authenticity, always come through in his work and in his life," says Greenberg, herself a writer of musicals. As she talked with Jackson about how all his varied interests--from social media to soap operas to politics--come together in his work and life, she thinks she may have glimpsed the future of the art. "It's heartening to talk to theatre professionals invested in the future of the musical form," she says.
Another musical-theatre aficionado, Suzy Evans, found it "a dream writing assignment" to talk to creators about current trends in the form (p. 26). Though initially concerned that this year on Broadway was looking thin for new musicals not based on Hollywood films or hit song catalogues, she needn't have worried, as before long "a diverse crop of new shows popped up for the spring season, and things got more exciting." There was almost too much to talk about, in fact, she noted. "I could have written a book with all the reporting I gathered during this process--where you see a single quote, imagine a 10-page transcript!"