from the editor
FROM our distant perspective Broadway tends to get the broad-brush treatment, envisaged more as a state of being than a diverse collection of theatrical events. The name is synonymous with big, noisy musicals that boom or bust with much fanfare. True, the list of most popular shows is skewed towards the likes of Wicked (at the top nine years after opening), The Lion King (15 years old), Phantom of the Opera, which wanders in and out of the top 10 despite having hit its quarter-century, and Spider-Man: Turn Off
the Dark, which overcame long and difficult birth pangs to become a crowd-magnet. But 10 days on the ground recently offered a more complex and heartening picture. The David Ives play
Venus in Fur — one set, two actors — was ignited by Nina Arianda in an incandescent, Tony award-winning performance; James Corden is in charge of meticulously controlled mayhem in One
Man, Two Guvnors (he also won a Tony); and a small not-for-profit theatre on 42nd Street presented the British play Cock — four actors, no set, no props — in a miniature arena across which one could see the absorbed faces of the other patrons. In Peter and the Starcatcher, the biggest production in this group, a set of multitalented actors told the back story of Peter Pan using little more than their considerable physical and verbal skills. Imagination, intelligence and zest reigned, and it was thrilling. Interestingly, this year’s best musical Tony went to Once, a small, delicate piece that features actor-musicians playing as if music were as natural to them as life itself. It was an admittedly quiet year, but a win is a win. It means audiences are seeking out this little pocket of calm in which two people make music, and kind of fall in love. Wicked it ain’t.