While I haven’t been able to see all of the new shows on Broadway this year (living in the Midwest makes that particularly hard), the shows I did see were enough to know that 2015 was a tremendous year for Broadway. Something Rotten! gave us one heck of an entertaining show with terrific performances. The King and I breathed new life into a classic. And then there were the groundbreaking musicals that, by their very existence, expanded the possibilities of the new Broadway normal: Fun Home, Hamilton, and Spring Awakening.
Fun Home pushed boundaries with both subject matter (first lesbian protagonist in a Broadway musical) and their creative team (first all-women writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Score) – and by winning Tony Awards (particularly Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score) and recouping their initial capitalization, they showed that riskier, less-mainstream musicals can still succeed.
Hamilton and Spring Awakening brought much-needed diversity to the Great White Way through their casting choices (respectively casting people of color as the founders of the United States, and casting the first person using a wheelchair to perform on Broadway – particularly for a character that does not explicitly use a wheelchair in the script – as well as casting Deaf and hard of hearing actors and wholly integrating them into the show) and through how the story itself was told (using hip hop and rap in Hamilton and using ASL in Spring Awakening).
Beyond the ways that Fun Home, Hamilton, and Spring Awakening may have broken barriers, however, they were simply incredible shows – powerful, impactful pieces of theatre that I will long remember.