Patti, Beanie and Leaked Wienies: The Most Epic and Dramatic Theatrical Moments of 2022

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theater moments 2022

There was a lot of drama onstage and off this year, and theater fans devoured it like an overpriced bag of candy from the concession stand. Queer stories and talent made their way to Broadway and beyond, with a few setbacks along the way. Queerty it was front and center, witnessing our favorite stars and the shows that came and went. So, without further ado, let’s recap all the most epic and dramatic theatrical moments of 2022…

Patti gives up… kind of

Patti LuPone performs at 54 Below in New York.
Patti LuPone performs at 54 Below in New York. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images.

After winning a Tony Award for her performance as Joanne in the revival of Company, Patti LuPone took to Twitter (we all know how this is working) to say goodbye to Broadway. She gave up her Equity card, citing that Broadway had turned into “Disneyland, a circus and Las Vegas”. (Who doesn’t love Vegas?) She’ll still be able to appear as a guest artist and play non-union venues, like her sold-out show. Songs of a Hat at the elegant cabaret 54 Below.

‘Funny Girl’: Beanie fired, Lea hired, and Julie rocked to the stars

Beanie Feldstein, Lea Michele and Julie Benko in Funny Girl on Broadway.
(L to R) Beanie Feldstein, Lea Michele and Julie Benko in ‘Funny Girl’ on Broadway.

Broadway had not seen a production of funny girl since Barbra Streisand’s star turn in 1964, and all eyes have been on Beanie Feldstein, cast as comedian-turned-international sensation Fanny Brice.

Wide-eyed excitement quickly turned to panic for investors as criticism hit the revival. Beanie was kicked out of the show (the producers decided to “take the show in a different direction”), and Lea Michele, who had wanted the role since her Happiness days, was announced as her replacement. Earlier on-set behavior posed some issues with the initial reaction, but Michelle prevailed, earning praise from critics and audiences alike. And through it all, waiting Julie Benko has made a name for herself, releasing a new album and recently cast in Barry Manilow’s Broadway-bound Harmony.

‘Take Me Out’ hits a dirty ball with leaked nudes

Take me off Broadway
(L to R) Michael Oberholtzer, Bill Heck and Jesse Williams in ‘Take Me Out’. Photo by Jeremy Daniels.

Despite efforts to protect mobile devices by locking them in Yondr pouches for Take me, a sneaky audience member got hold of the merchandise, causing an internet uproar when star Jesse Williams’ private parts were made public. The play explores the aftermath of a professional baseball player’s (Williams) coming out of the closet.

Co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays the player’s business manager, took to social media, saying: “Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theatre, which has always been a safe space for artists and members alike. from the public. An infrared system was installed to prevent further leaks, and the show won two Tony Awards and returned for an encore, playing through February 5, 2023.

An uncompromising Broadway arrival for ‘A Strange Loop’

A Strange Circuit
(L to R) Jason Veasey, James Jackson, Jr., Jaquel Spivey, L Morgan Lee and Antwayn Hopper in ‘A Strange Loop’. Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Playwright, composer and lyricist Michael R. Jackson’s decade-long journey to bring A Strange Circuit to Life culminated in a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Musical. Described as a “Great American Musical for everyone, black and queer-*ass,” the show offers hope for Broadway’s future, attracting famous producers like RuPaul and Jennifer Hudson.

“I think a lot about what it means to really spend your time on a work of art trying to make it the best it can be,” said Jackson. Variety🇧🇷 “Something happening right away doesn’t mean it’s good. Something time consuming might be worth it. When I see people reacting and having emotional responses to the show, I know that part of what they are responding to is that we take our time, whether they know it or not.”

A national wave of Sondheim

Broadway Company
The Broadway cast of Company. Matthew Murphy’s photo

A nation of musical theater lovers mourned the death of Stephen Sondheim in November 2021. But the past year has seen an increase in Sondheim productions. a reimagined Company hit Broadway with a female Bobbie and an openly gay, Tony-winning performance from Matt Doyle; San Francisco saw its first professional production of Madness; and Joyfully We Roll Together rolled Off-Broadway, starring Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendez. The production immediately sold out, extended and announced its transfer to Broadway in the fall of 2023.

And for those who want to snuggle up with Sondheim’s final thoughts, New Yorker DT Max’s writer Finale: Late Conversations with Stephen Sondheim offers an intimate look into the artist’s life during the last years of his life.

Billy Porter revives ‘The Life’ in his New York directorial debut

Ledisi and Alexandra Gray in 'A Vida'.
Ledisi and Alexandra Gray in ‘A Vida’. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The multi-hyphenated Billy Porter donned a director’s hat for the New York City Center Encores! rebirth of Life, adapting the story about the Times Square prostitutes through a trans lens. porter cast Empire stars Alexandra Gray as the Queen and Ledisi as best friend Sonja in the 1997 musical by Cy Colman and Ira Glassman. “Having worked with trans women of color in Pose, then to make a feature film starring a black trans woman, and now to make a musical at City Center Encores! starring a black trans woman, Billy is really showing us,” Gray said. IN🇧🇷

Quick closes and clapbacks

KPOP and Ain't No Mo' on Broadway
The casts of Broadway ‘KPOP’, left, and ‘Ain’t No Mo. Photos by Matthew Murphy, Evan Zimmerman and Joan Marcus.

Two Broadway shows failed to attract audiences, but the producers and creative teams weren’t going to give up without a fight. KPOP brought the worldwide phenomenon to the forefront, but many critics failed to recognize its cultural impact. The producers demanded an apology from New York Times critic Jesse Green, asking the question, “Is a Broadway show valid only if it is centered and aimed exclusively at a white, English-speaking audience?” Plagued with COVID-19 cases and a delayed opening, the musical ran for 44 previews and 17 performances.

Jordan E. Cooper It’s not Mo’ sold out its off-Broadway run at the Public Theater. However, a transfer to Broadway proved to be a challenge, despite positive reviews. Hosted by Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire🇧🇷 Preciousand The Butler, the play combined sketch comedy, satire, avant-garde theater and drag. Cooper launched a grassroots marketing and social media campaign that attracted celebrities from Gabrielle Union and Sara Ramirez to RuPaul, and the show was extended an additional week.

Big Names in Small Spaces: Hollywood Leads Off-Broadway

Jim Parsons, Maulik Pancholy and Jonathan Groff in off-Broadway plays.
(left to right) Jim Parsons, Maulik Pancholy and Jonathan Groff. Photos by Julieta Cervantes and Joan Marcus.

Broadway isn’t the only place producers look to name recognition to sell tickets. Off-Broadway also relies on familiar faces to engage audiences. And when it works, it works great. Many film and TV actors began their careers on stage and – despite a demanding eight-show-a-week schedule – crave the creative outlet and community that comes with life in the theatre.

Jim Parsons appears in the film adaptation of spoiler alert but also delighted audiences this fall at the Classic Stage Company revival of a man of no importance, about a gay man coming to terms with his identity in 1960s Dublin. Maulik Pancholy, who appeared for six seasons on 30 Rock and, most recently, Only murders in the buildingled a cast in post-pandemic gay drama for my girls🇧🇷 (Also a published author, Pancholy’s young adult novel Nikhil out loud was released this year.) Soon to appear in M. Night Shyamalan’s film hit the boothJonathan Groff Returns to His Theater Roots in a Retelling of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth Joyfully We Roll Together — not surprisingly heading to Broadway next year.

Chicago proves it’s not a second city

The Best of Chicago's LGBTQ Theater 2022.
(L to R) ‘The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington’, ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes—The Must Have Holiday Special’. Photos by Michael Brosilow, Jenni Carroll and Rick Aguilar Studios.

With more than 250 theaters and five Tony Award-winning companies, Chicago’s theater scene has long been thriving. Queer representation continues to take center stage across the city. Last year saw James Ijames win Miz Martha Washington’s Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial, a fall of the original First Lady seen through a time-jumping kaleidoscope, in Steppenwolf. (Keep an eye on Ijames’ fat ham on Broadway this spring.) Other notable productions included Frienda ’90s take on gay love at PrideArts, and Hell in a Handbag’s hilarious homage to the original fabulous four with The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes – The Must Have Holiday Special🇧🇷

Broadway Museum Opens – Thanks for the Memories

Telly Leung, Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz at the Broadway Museum
Opening night at the Broadway Museum. ‘Rent’ alumni (L to R) Telly Leung, Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz. Photos by Rebecca J. Michelson.

The ethereal nature of live theater is that it’s there until it’s not. Each performance – a gathering of audience, actors and production team – comes together for an entirely unique experience that will never be repeated. For those who appreciate ephemera, a visit to the newly opened Museum of Broadway offers a trip down memory lane and insights into plays and musicals beyond the reach of the present day. The multi-level venue is filled with memorabilia, interactive exhibits, photos, costumes, sets and volumes of facts and figures, including nods to the queer performers and shows that helped build Broadway. And who doesn’t want a Grizabella T-shirt as a keepsake?