My 10 Best Broadway Moments of 2013

Barry Manilow on BroadwayThat’s it, my friends, put 2013 in the record books.  Another 525,600 minutes have passed us by.  How did Broadway measure a year in its life?

Every year I do just that . . . and take a nostalgic look back at the past 365 days and share with you my Top 10 Broadway moments.

And I’m not straying from tradition this year!  So here goes . . . and please note, these are in no particular order . . . well, they are in the order that I thought of them . . . so I guess that’s a particular order of some sort, but not an important order or anything . . . and I’m going to shut up right now and just get to it.

1.  The Tony Awards Are Back Where They Belong.

You remember freshman year of college?  And how great it felt to go home for that first Thanksgiving?  Sure you weren’t away that long, but man it felt like an eternity.  That’s what I felt like when Broadway came back to Radio City this past year.   We’re just too big and too cool for anywhere else.

2.  NYC Theater Goes Immersive.

Immersive Entertainment planted its flag in the NYC theater scene in 2013 and judging by the critical and popular reception of shows like Here Lies Love; Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812; Murder Ballad and more, it’s here to stay.   Just imagine what theater might look like and where it might be located in 10 years?

3.  Wonder Women Take Home The Trophies.

Broadway Directors used to be much more of an old boys club, and even a young boys club more than a woman-of-any-age-club.  One of my favorite moments this year was when not one woman, but two, took home the Best Director Tony Awards.  Congrats again to Diane Paulus (Best Director for Pippin) and Pam McKinnon (Best Director for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).  You just inspired a lot of other female directors to do what you do.

4.  TEDxBroadway Turned Two.

The 2nd time you do something is always the big test.  Will it be as good as the first?  Will people show up again?  Could it be even better?   The 2nd TEDxBroadway was a massive success and not only helped answer its theme question, “What’s the best Broadway can be?” but it also answered this question, “Will there be a 3rd TEDxBroadway?”  Not only will there be a third (on 2/24/14), but I’d predict you’ll see a 10th.

5.  How Many Million Again?

22.  That’s right.  After a final count, 22 million people tuned in to watch NBC’s The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood.  Despite the controversy over her performance, this 2013 event did more for Broadway in 3 hours than most of our marketing initiatives could do in two ten years.  And there’s a chance that next year’s “Best Broadway Moments” will include this similar shout-out . . .  because NBC already agreed to produce another musical.

6.  The Ultimate Underdog.

Two words.  Kinky Boots.

Proving the theory that there is never, ever a sure thing, Kinky Boots opened on Broadway in the spring of 2013 and surprised everyone when it beat Matilda, the massive favorite for the Best Musical Tony Award.  And the cherry on top of the Kinky sundae?  It also recouped in 30 weeks.

7.  How Many Years Will It Run?

The first phenom show of the 2000s was that very, very, green show known as Wicked.  And in 2013, that little show celebrated its 10th anniversary . . . and based on what I see, there is no end in sight.  In 2013, Universal Studios also went on the record stating that Wicked would be its most profitable property of all time, beating movies, theme parks and more.  You don’t have to like Wicked to have its 10th anniversary on your Best Broadway Moments List . . . but it should be there, because success like this helps us all.  Ironically, the show that Wicked is chasing in the longest running show race . . . Phantom . . . celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013.

8.  This Author Just Might Be Going Somewhere.

Shakespeare is back with a vengeance, having a #*$%-ton of shows on Broadway in 2013!  There were two Macbeths, a Twelfth Night, R&J, Richard III, not to mention the Julie Taymor Midsummer Night’s Dream and a bunch more.  That Bill guy is going places . . . if he actually wrote the plays, that is.

9.  Barry is Back!

Ok, so maybe I’m a little biased because I’m a Fanilow, but just hear me out as to why I think Barry Manilow on Broadway was one of Broadway’s Best moments in 2013.  Barry’s show represented a new model . . . like The Rascals and other short term engagements in our recent past . . . and new models are always good.  Filling our theaters, giving work to our people, when there are no other shows to give them work, is good for everyone.  And if you know all the words to “Copacabana,” well, then win-win.

So that’s it . . .

Wait.  You think I missed something, don’t you?  I didn’t.  Yes, I promised you The 10 Best Broadway Moments of 2013.  But you’re going to provide the 10th.

In the comments below tell me your Best Broadway Moment of the last twelve months!


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Sue says:

    10. Meeting Bette Midler and getting her autograph after seeing her wonderful performance as Sue Mengers in I’ll Eat You Last. Just as good was meeting my old friend and colleague Richard Schiff and getting his autograph (and a kiss!) after seeing his Broadway debut performance in Glengarry Glen Ross. Go Richard!!

  • Polo says:

    good breakdown, Ken.

  • Wayne Paul says:

    Seeing Robert Cuccioli back on Broadway–Spiderman! (having met him in 2012).


  • mcos says:

    Laura’s entrance/exit in “The Glass Menagerie” was one of the most extraordinarily theatrical moments and reminded us all of the power of Williams’ show.

  • Lori says:

    Andrea Martin in PIPPIN, she was simply AMAZING!!!

  • Andrea Jill says:

    So jealous of my friends who saw “Pippin”. They all said it was THE BEST!

  • Alicia says:

    At the top of everyone’s list should be Alan Cumming’s performance of Macbeth. Absolutely stunning, brilliant and the most giving performance I have ever seen from an actor. I have never been moved like that in a live performance. No idea why no Tony win or nod…perplexing.

  • How can I say this?
    Let me count the ways:
    No one else did it:
    Bill wrote the bloomin’ plays!*

    *and he also script-doctored some others

  • bob says:

    ANN at Lincoln Center starring Holland Taylor. She is the first woman in Broadway history to ever have written and performed her own one woman show on Broadway and get a nomination for best actress. Bravo!

  • Chris L says:

    10) Keala Settle performing “joy Of The Lord” in “Hands On A Hardbody”.

  • Brian Jones says:

    Shows like Nunsense still have life after 30 years (noting the 30th anniversary cast recording) both on the professional and amateur stage!

  • Barry Reszel says:

    6 shows in 4 days on a whirlwind visit to NY in August with my 16-year-old daughter: Chicago, Newsies, Once, Annie, Kinky Boots and Pippin.

  • George says:

    Kudos to “The Winslow Boy” a serious (almost) three hour drama… the type of “well made play” that was thought to have had it’s moment and DIED out… in favor of the Theatre of the “Angry Man” and “Theatre or the Absurd”

    Not only a CLASS production but packing ’em in on Broadway (with some help from the “Downton Abbey” series… undoubtedly)

    Just goes to show that “old” does not mean irrelevant… that theatre can still consist of a simply WELL WRITTEN and ACTED play and can be effectively and profitable produced!


    Also kudos to Disney for bringing back “Newsies” (when most would ask… Why?)

    And “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” for – not only out doing those Brits in their own style of Music Hall… but for boasting some songs are are actually witty, intelligent (and what seems to be an anathema in “musicals” these days…) Tuneful!


  • Karen says:

    My best broadway moment was Dec. 29 – the final performance of Big Fish! Being in an audience who was truly appreciative – in love- with the entire cast and crew!!!! I flew up from Florida just to finally see this show before it closed and it was worth the extra money!!!! A glorious time and Norbert Leo Butz and Kate Baldwin both should be nominated for Tonys!!!!!

  • Greg Hartley says:

    I thought the In The Heights reunion concert was amazing. I wish more Broadway musicals that have closed would do that. The place was packed, and the energy in the room was unbelievable.

  • Tom Hartman says:

    Was surprised that you listed “Kinky Boots” as the “underdog”. I saw it opening night in Chicago and, even at that time, it was one of the strongest new shows I had seen in ages. Solid book that both told an uplifting story and reflected on an important topic i.e., “What exactly makes a man a man?” Great score that was a unified whole within itself yet consistent with Ms. Lauper’s other work. You’d be able to pull three songs and it would make sense to a new listener that they came from the same piece and they are Lauper tunes a la Gershwin tunes, indelibly hers. Charming, talented cast. I turned to my friend and said “I’ll bet you $50 we’ve just seen the Tony winner for Best Actor in a Musical”. Wish she had taken the bet. Musical Theatre audiences will always respond to solid work and I was not surprised in the least that “Boots” earned the recognition and the money that it rightly deserved.

  • Katherine says:

    For me, the best moment(s)on Broadway were from Mark Rylance and his gift of clear, intelligent, thrilling Shakespeare! Whoever else could have made evil Richard III so damned amiable and funny?! And then turn on a dime into a murdering snake. Awesome.

  • Paula says:

    Over the years of attending Broadway shows, I have admired the talent of a number of actors and actresses, i.e., Kelli O’Hara, Mark Rylance,
    Norbert Leo Butz, Sutton Foster, and, many more.
    I make it a point to get to their shows. I am never disappointed with the magic they bring to the stage. Now I add Billy Porter to my list.
    A CT friend and I attended a preview of Kinky
    Boots, and she turned to me numerous times saying, “This is so good.” We’ve seen many
    shows together and become amateur reviewers. I will always remember her enthusiasm for Kinky

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