Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Wayback Wednesday: Broadway in the 1970s

Traveling Tuesday: Broadway in the 1970s

From 1966 through 1978, I lived in two different locations within New Jersey, both of which enabled my folks to take advantage of the cultural and arts opportunities in New York City. Now, as an adult I can’t imagine what it would have been like to schlep four kids into the city, so I have an even greater appreciation for my experiences. I will remember the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall that featured live animals in the nativity scene!

The 1970s proved to be a time of great change on Broadway, and rock music began to dominate the stage. Conventional musicals such as Oklahoma! were replaced by shows with scores such as Jesus Christ Superstar, The Rocky Horror Show, Godspell, and Evita. Other shows such as The Wiz and Pippin featured “funkier” scores. Many productions added theatrics and light shows as part of the show. Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber became highly successful stars in their own right.

Musicals also saw a larger range of genres and plots and included religious themes, experimental story lines and cultural diversity. Interestingly old-fashioned musicals such as Annie and revivals such as No,
Courtesy NADIRAH
No, Nanette
saw great success as well. Black musicals made a return to Broadway with Raisin, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, and the exceedingly popular The Wiz which ran for four years and won seven Tony Awards.

One site mentioned underappreciated shows like Over Here! which starred two of the three Andrews Sisters and is set as a cross-country train trip in the U.S. during WWII. The show begins with a nostalgic look at 1940s America but evolves into a social commentary about the fear of dying in battle, prejudice, and discrimination.

Truman Capote’s The Grass Harp eventually became a cult musical, but didn’t do well and closed after only ten days. Michael Stewart’s Mack and Mabel did marginally better and managed to remain open for sixty-six performances. The plot involves the romantic relationship between Hollywood’s silent movie director Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand who became one of his biggest stars.

The 1949 Actors’ Equity Agreement divides Broadway from off-Broadway, and there are four criteria used to determine a “Broadway” Theatre:
  • Seating capacity of over 500 seats
  • Produces mostly “legitimate theater productions” (although I never found how this was determined)
  • Is generally within Manhattan’s Theatre District (the Vivian Beaumont Theater is an exception)
  • Is under an Actors’ Equity production contract if for-profit and follows the Actors’ Equity LORT A contract if non-profit.

Dial S for Second Chances

Can years of hurt and misunderstanding be transformed into a second chance at love?

Jade Williams agrees to be on the high school reunion committee because the-one-that-got-away is out of the country and won’t be home in time to attend the festivities. Now, he’s not only home, but joined the committee. Is it too late to back out or can she set aside forty-five years of regret and pretend she isn’t to blame for her broken heart?

One of the downsides of being rich means fielding requests for money and favors. But when an old high school buddy contacts Derek Milligan to be on the reunion committee as just one of the gang, no strings attached, he can’t resist. At the first meeting, he’s dismayed to find himself sitting next to his former high school sweetheart. He should be angry. Instead, he’s attracted. Can he risk his heart a second time?

Reunion festivities include calling into to WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love with fake relationship problems. When both use their real situation, the stakes are raised higher than either imagined.

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