Broadway News Wrap Up – 01.15.19

Broadway News Wrap Up

Here’s a quick Broadway News Wrap Up from the past week:

Hamilton Opens in Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda took the stage in Puerto Rico, starring as the lead role in Hamilton for the first time in over two years. The first performance of the musical‘s two-week run on the island premiered Friday January 11 and drew more than one thousand audience members. The production is raising money for artists and cultural groups in Puerto Rico who are struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.  The crowd gave Miranda a standing ovation before the show even started, and during the curtain call he wiped away tears and wrapped himself in a large Puerto Rican flag as he briefly addressed the crowd in Spanish and English. Among those expected to attend the show in upcoming days are several federal lawmakers visiting the U.S. territory for the weekend to learn more about reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Maria, which caused more than $100 billion in damage when it hit on September 20, 2017. More details here.

Actors’ Equity Union on Strike For Developmental Work with Broadway League

Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing theatrical performers, is demanding that its members no longer participate in any developmental stage work with commercial producers, putting Broadway’s pipeline of new musicals and plays under threat. Actors’ Equity, which represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers nationwide, declared the strike last week after two years of fruitless negotiations with the producer-led Broadway League to increase minimum salaries for developmental labs and eventually share any profits with lab participants. In labs, actors and writers test out material for shows in progress. They’ve been used to create such Broadway shows as  The Cher Show, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hello, Dolly!, and Waitress. The union has been making its case via social media, using the hashtag #NotALabRat. The strike comes as Broadway finished 2018 with the highest grosses on record. More details here.

Brittney Johnson Makes History as Broadway’s First Glinda of Color in Wicked

Brittney Johnson became the first black performer to take on the mantle of Glinda in an English-language production of Wicked last week. The hit musical has been playing in New York for over 15 years. Johnson joined the cast in June 2018 as a member of the ensemble and as Glinda’s understudy. As an understudy, she had to be ready to assume the role whenever necessary, and the opportunity finally came last Thursday night. Johnson’s new role makes her a lead actor on one of the most successful stage productions in history. Wicked recently surpassed The Phantom Of The Opera, making it the second highest grossing show behind The Lion King. The role of Glinda was originated by stage and screen star Kristin Chenoweth, who was nominated for a Tony Award for the performance and helped cement her legacy with it. The musical is based on Gregory Maguire‘s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which reimagines L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wizard Of Oz from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West. More details here.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Partners Buy Drama Book Shop in NYC

Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his Hamilton collaborators have taken over a theatre book shop in New York. The Drama Book Shop, a haven for working and aspiring NYC actors, must vacate its current location in Manhattan due to rent increases. Miranda, Thomas Kail, producer Jeffrey Seller and theatre owner James L. Nederlander are helping with the shop’s rescue plan. This includes finding a new location for the store, recognized with an honorary Tony Award for Excellence in 2011. The four men purchased the store and its 155,000 items from Rozanne Seelen, who had managed the shop with her late husband since 1969. In a Twitter post, Miranda said he had spent a lot of time in the shop with Kail, the director of Hamilton. “As a teen, I went to the Drama Book Shop,” he remembered. “Spent hours reading plays. Felt made for me, a place to go. Proud to be part of this next chapter, a place for you to go.” The family-run store has been in existence since 1917 and has moved several times.  A new location will be announced in the coming months. More details here.

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