Broadway 2016: Hip, diverse and more relevant than ever
Posted May 18, 2016
Broadway’s “Hamilton,” the rap-based retelling of Alexander Hamilton’s life, has made history this spring, first winning the Pulitzer Prize and then breaking records for the most Tony nominations ever for a Broadway show (it boasts 16, beating out the 15 nominations previously held by “The Producers”).
Regardless of the controversy surrounding show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s supposed sugar-coating of the Founding Fathers, many critics have praised “Hamilton,” with its highly diverse cast and focus on early American financial struggles, as being especially timely as race tensions flare across the country and Donald Trump rises to the GOP nomination partially out of Americans’ frustration with political elitism.
But this year, “Hamilton” was just one example of Broadway shows reflecting the state of affairs and xenophobia across the country, as the New York Times wrote in an analysis of a singular year for theater, including shows like the stage adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, “The Color Purple,” working-class tragedy “The Humans,” or the revival of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” From the standpoint of apropos timing to the inclusivity of minority actors, the future of Broadway looks brighter and more diverse than ever, critics argued.
“Each is a reminder that there’s more than one way to control the narrative (to use the most overused phrase du jour) and to translate history into the present tense,” Times critic Ben Brantley wrote.