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Top 15 #ShakespeareInTheTrump Julius Caesar Tweets



[vc_row][vc_column css_animation=”bounceInDown”][vc_column_text css_animation=”rotateInDownLeft”]The Public Theater‘s Julius Caesar, directed by Oskar Eustis for #ShakespeareInThePark closes today after waves of controversy threatened the very stage upon which it was performed. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern…, I mean Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their support from the production when it was clear that the actor playing Caesar, Gregg Henry, would resemble President Trump. Comparisons have been drawn to the 2012 staging of the same play by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where Caesar was played by Bjorn DuPaty, a Black man meant to portray President Obama.

Guthrie Theater’s Julius Caesar starring Bjorn Dupaty | Photo: Heidi Bohnenkamp

The historical account of Caesar’s downfall have permeated the arts many times and has often resembled current events. However, many of President Trump’s supporters have taken particular offense to this year’s offering and on June 16th, a blogger named Laura Loomer charged the stage immediately after the titular character’s death in Act 3; shouting that the play promoted normalization of violence against the right-wing. Loomer and another protester were removed from the theater and charged with trespassing.

Soon after, the hashtag #ShakespeareInTheTrump went viral on Twitter when blogger John Aravosis queried, “What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be?” The Shakespeare fans of the Internet swarmed with responses and we’ve compiled the best 15 just for you!

John Aravosis on Twitter

What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be? King Lear –> King Leer. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

King Leer was an instant internet favorite with a play on King Lear and the reports that Trump would often enter dressing rooms of beauty pageants unannounced.

rahaeli on Twitter

A little more than kin, and less than unqualified #ShakespeareInTheTrump

This line from Hamlet uttered by the title character displays his disregard for the familial ties to his murderous uncle. The tweet seems to point at Trump’s lack of public service experience before taking office.

sander gusinow on Twitter

It is my opinion that the entire Tempest was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Ah, yes! Climate change is a hoax! Or so tweeted our illustrious leader in 2012. But Shakespeare’s The Tempest is certainly no hoax… or is it?!?!? [editor’s note: I just checked. both climate change and The Tempest are real. As you were.]

Momo Pnano on Twitter

ShakespeareInTheTrump I hope some street vendor is smart enough to be serving Orange Julius Caesars after the show.

Oy, now I’m craving Orange Julius! They should include a discount to anyone who whispers, “Et tu, Brute?” after their delicious citrus drink is stabbed by eight straws.

Shelby Lynn on Twitter

Now is the 4 years of our discontent… #ShakespeareInTheTrump

We hear you, Shelby. Roughly quoting the first line of The Tragedy of King Richard III shows how most of Trump’s policies have really put down minorities and other marginalized groups since he took office.

Kate on Twitter

Yon Comey has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Caesar’s line from Act I about Brutus shows that J.C. just can’t trust skinny people… or thinkers. This tweet points at Trump’s removal of former FBI Director James Comey in mid-April. And at 6’8″ tall, Comey certainly fits the lean description!

Preach, Sean! Mr. Patrick Thomas made his Broadway debut in 2014 featured in Broadway revival of A Raisin In The Sun starring Denzel Washington. Here he references Shakespeare’s play All’s Well That Ends Well. His acting chops seem to range from Saving The Last Dance to 14th-century literature so we hope to see him on a stage again soon!

As we mentioned above, Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis staged a production in 2012. That’s Julius there on the ground, covered in blood. Are we surprised that people are treating the deaths of a Black man and a white man differently? WE ARE NOT.


G.E. Filtefish on Twitter

If you prick us do we not have blood coming out of our wherever? #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Ok, so this one is farther down the list but IT IS GOLD! Remember early August 2015? The good old days? Trump was displeased with debate moderator Megyn Kelly’s job and said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” If I could meet The Merchant of Venice, from whence this quote comes, I’d buy a time machine just to go back to this time, when we had a different president. And a pound of meat. I hear he deals in meat. [editor furtively whispers in my ear] Oh, human hearts. Nevermind. I pass.

Mark Hamill on Twitter

The Merchant of Venom-King Leer-Much Ado About Twitter-All’s Well That Ends Well With Mueller-Covfefeolanus #ShakespeareinThetRump

Luke Skywalker couldn’t stick to just one pun! Five titles crammed into one tweet but the cherry on top is the riff on Coriolanus and Trump’s incomprehensible tweet from later last month, covfefe.

Cali Dreaming NaphiSoc on Twitter

shakespeareinthetrump Lord, what fools these mortals be

Fools indeed. I offer this submission to anyone who needs something to mutter under their breath when ridiculous things happen, as Puck does with this phrase from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Beau Willimon on Twitter

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” #ShakespeareInTheTrump

And here we have another winner! This line from The Tempest sums up the current administration perfectly. And Mr. Willimon would know. He’s the creator of “House of Cards,” a man who has filled his share of fictional D.C. swamps.

Christian Christensen on Twitter

Henry Pleads the Vth #shakespeareinthetrump

Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to say much of anything during congressional hearings last week about possible collusion with Russia during the Trump campaign. Is there possible collusion with The Life of Henry V? He’s not saying.

ShakespeareofThrones on Twitter

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” – Hamlet, III.i #ShakespeareInTheTrump

For some reason this picture reminds me of cold toothpaste and orange juice but I can’t figure why. It could be the madness that Hamlet is trying to warn us about.

And finally we have the protesters who have clearly never heard the phrase, “The Show Must Go ON!” Of course, it’s not Shakespeare so maybe it was beyond them. Not only is this dudebro incapable of spelling Julius Caesar, he was also incapable of actually shutting anything down.

Your turn! What crazy Shakespeare title/quote might speak to you today, on this the day of my daughter’s wedding? [editor’s note: That’s from “The Godfather” and not Shakespeare.][/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval=”5″ images=”18752,18751,18750,18749,18741,18740,18738″ img_size=”large” css_animation=”none” title=”The Public Theater’s Julius Caesar” css=”.vc_custom_1498096200124{background-color: #ffffff !important;background-position: 0 0 !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Our production of JULIUS CAESAR in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park.

The Public Theater stands completely behind our production of JULIUS CAESAR.  We understand and respect the right of our sponsors and supporters to allocate their funding in line with their own values.  We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions.

Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.


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Ashleigh Strange was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and moved to the east coast in 2013. She loves musicals, karaoke, freebies and pizza. Formerly a school bus driver, wildland firefighter, Amazon warehouse worker and painter. Presently a radio host, wedding officiant, production assistant, article writer and "Worst Beatboxer Ever."

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A Must See

Todrick Hall Joins the Cast of Kinky Boots November 1st

Tristan Halstead



Everybody say “Yeah!” as YouTube and MTV star Todrick Hall laces up the sparkly red knee-high boots to join the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots. The 31-year-old performer takes on the role of drag queen Lola, previously played by the likes of Billy Porter (which earned him a Tony) and Wayne Brady, starting November 1st.

Doing what he’s best at, Hall posted a short music video on YouTube to announce the casting.

Hall made his Broadway debut in the original production of The Color Purple. He initially rose to fame when he auditioned for the ninth season of “American Idol,” making it to the semi-finals.

Since then, he’s created countless YouTube parodies and music videos, earning over 2 million subscribers. This success lead to his own MTV show, “Todrick,” cancelled after one season.

In 2014, Hall played Rum Tum Tugger in the La Mirada/McCoy Rigby production of Cats. He appeared as a prominent guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Focusing on his music career, Hall spent the summer on tour to promote his latest visual album, “Straight Outta Oz.” Inspired by Hamilton and Beyoncé‘s “Lemonade,” the hour-long video  presents a personal account of his life and his frustrations with the Hollywood industry.

With music and lyrics by recording artist Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots tells the true story of a young man who, with the help of a drag queen, tries to save his father’s dilapidated shoe factory by developing a line of high-heeled boots.

Rivaling Matilda the Musical during the 2012-2013 season, the show earned six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, three Olivier Awards, and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. It has since opened subsequent international productions in South Korea, Australia, Toronto, Sweden, and Japan, with a US touring company.

With many of Todrick Hall’s videos parodying shows like Chicago and Beauty and the Beast, it’s no wonder his heart belongs to Broadway.

For tickets, visit Kinky Boots.

Visit Todrick Hall to see his YouTube videos.

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Is This Real Life or Is It Fantasy? ‘The Soul Of Richard Rodgers’

Jazmine Harper-Davis



Minding my business, scrolling through Instagram and I stumble across a picture Princess Amber Iman put up of Billy Porter directing something. Cool, I think. As we know Billy is not only a talented actor/singer, but he’s also established himself to be quite the director. I keep scrolling, theres a picture of Leslie Odom Jr., Mykal Kilgore, Capathia Jenkins, and Jesse Nager. Again, I think REALLY COOL, a few of my favorites. THEN, I scroll and theres a picture of Nicolette Robinson, Rema Webb, Adrienne Warren and Amber Iman and I think, OKAY WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON!

Our fearless leader, the Billy Porter! #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

ALTO NATION! @leslieodomjr @mykalwitha_y @capathianyc @touringbwayboy #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

SOPRANO GORGEOUSNESS! @remawebb @nicolettekloe @adriennelwarren #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

Each posted needed with the the hashtag #thesoulofrogers , which reminded me of something back when I saw Leslie Odom Jr. at the McKittrick Hotel. When he casually called up Ledisi (when you wanna come back to Broadway, sis?) to the stage and she sang a Billy Porter arranged “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” from Richard Rodgers’ Pal Joey. Billy had arranged it as apart of a revue called The Soul of Richard Rodgers which was presented at Reprise Theater Company in LA in 2009.

So, is it possible that Billy Porter and Co. are bringing it back, this time to the east coast? One can only hope and pray that this turns out to be true and if indeed it is, I will be first in line to buy a ticket, CD, MP3 link, DVD, cassette tape, whatever is possible to hear that talented group of Broadway Black artists singing songs from one of the most brilliant composers.

Don’t worry, over here at Broadway Black we’re keeping our eyes peeled to keep YOU all in the loop. Stay Tuned.


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Get You a Fave That Can Do Both: Broadway Stars Get Political

Malia West



                                                        Photo by Christopher Boudewyns for Broadway Black


These past weeks have been a phenomenal expression of talent and tenacity. From Audra McDonald and Cynthia Erivo snatching souls on Twitter, to Broadway for Black Lives Matter taking us to church, to the best DNC that has graced our country, we’ve been blessed.

Now, we all love a strong belt and a clean 8-count, but when an artist flexes their mental chops for the movement, that’s when they strike gold.

Ben Vereen and Broadway’s finest took the stage at the Democratic National Convention to pay homage to the lives taken in Orlando’s Pulse shooting. Their rendition of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” brought the crowd to their feet and put compassion at the forefront of politics if only for a moment. But ,Vereen was not there to simply lend his voice in song.

In partnership with ARTSPEAKS, Vereen advocated for arts education funding at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. Vereen sat down with Huffington Post to expound on his stance, “I’m not saying everybody’s got to be a song and dance man or an artist, or whatever aspect that we separate ourselves from,” he said. “We need our creative thinking people in politics, in corporations to think on the up, rather than the down.”

Vereen’s outspokenness sparks a discussion on the ability of artists to be political thinkers as well. We know this to be true! We stanned as six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald took Bill O’Rielly on the dragging of his life and educated him on the historic tumultuousness of slavery. Tracie Thoms, of Rent and the upcoming Falsettos revival, is known for her outspokenness on issues regarding social justice. She is one of many that contributes to the education and expansion of the black community, simply by being aware and ensuring those around her are as well.

This past Monday, marked the first ever Broadway for Black Lives Matter. This event, for and by Broadway, invited the biggest names in the business to have an honest and productive conversation on bringing change to the social and political climate in America.

The Broadway for Black Lives Matter Collective conceived an event that changed the lives of everyone in attendance. With the help of Amber ImanAdrienne Warren, Britton Smith, and dozens of top Broadway talent, we found strength in numbers and power in politics. Norm Lewis, a panelist and longtime Broadway veteran, called for the investment of black money in black banks, the annual revaluation of police, and noted the loss of respect in the justice system. He spoke with the eloquence and passion of a young Cornel West. His tenacity does not stand alone.

The voices of Broadway are talented, to say the least; they have healed us, inspired us, and now they are encouraging us to be our best and brightest selves. The mind of artists is poignant, we are capable of rond de jambes and revolutions. Don’t count out the kid in the back with a paintbrush or song; the first thing to wow you may be their art, but it won’t be the last.

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Events and Happenings

The Importance Of Broadway Black Royalty At #BWAY4BLM

Kristen Martin



Photo by Lelund Durond for Broadway Black


The Broadway For Black Lives Matter electric sensation felt at the Roone Arledge Auditorium at Columbia University this past Monday was undeniably an authentic result of the power of unity. It was arguably one of the few spaces, if not the first, where Broadway stars, fans, music icons, and social justice advocates all joined together to discuss a plan for change in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement. This event confirmed the importance of Broadway Black royalty at BWAY4BLM, operating as our key ingredient to the formula needed for change.

It is no secret that we all have something distinct to offer mankind. What we love to do and who we are explains this philanthropy quite well. That might be the ability to bring people together through music, playing an instrument or singing, and another by the ability to unify others with an inspirational speech or dance, or expression of ideas in a panel discussion. Either way, by opening a discussion between these parties, we are able to stress the importance of everyone working together by bringing their most prized and honorable feature to an event like BWAY4BLM.

With that in mind, I have been reimagining Ledisi’s rendition of the timeless “A Change Is Gonna Come” (by Sam Cooke), all week long. Her triumphant attitude paired with the audience’s irresistible hand raising and forceful movements was simply a transfer of energy. She imparted her power, success, and royalty to every person who tuned in. In fact, all of our participants added their respective talent as a contribution for change in an atmosphere that makes our idea of an equal society more tangible.

These voices: Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Cynthia Erivo, India.Arie, Billy Porter, Ledisi, and Professor Frank Roberts have bridged the gap between people unconnected (for their own personal reasons) to the BLM movement. They’ve immersed the people who are uninvolved, uninterested, or unmoved by the countless deaths of innocent Black citizens in the discourse of human rights.

Our royalty has made the discourse of Black inclusion a coherent one, which was indigenous to their artistry. And as the art separately in its own division affects the non-supporters of the movement, so does the social platform for justice. That is because the platform is inherent to the artist, which is to say that they’ve skillfully justified Black Lives Matter in front of these uninterested crowds by solely intending to produce art. The same voice/s heard among a wide and diverse population has proven worthy and strong to the point of advocating for change. And during the time of the event, and before, even, our heroes named royalty used their success as a mode of education and communication toward ignorant US citizens who only set out to revere and respect their art.

The idea of opening up conversation and providing as many outlets and opportunities for viewership, involvement, and reflection is invaluable and could not have been done without individuals who are already admired for their accomplishments thus far. Our efforts in organizing this event has traveled far outside the country, beyond the four walls, into the homes of white music fans, and musical theatre kids, producers, journalists, professors, stage managers, make up artists and stylists, script consultants, presidents, colleagues, accountants, and any professional with connections to our artists. We offer our deepest thanksgiving to the commitment of our bold, beautiful, Broadway Black royalty, and on behalf of the team, thank you.


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Broadway Black Activism

India Arie Reminds Us To ‘Continue To Breathe’ at #BWAY4BLM

Jazmine Harper-Davis



“I am a warrior and music is my weapon,” India Arie declares before telling the audience to pay close attention to the lyrics of her song “Breathe” at Monday night’s #BWAY4BLM event at Columbia University in NYC.

The song was released last year in January, inspired by Eric Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” uttered just before NYPD officers put him in a fatal choke hold during an arrest that ended his life in July of 2014.

“All Lives Matter yes, but it’s a shame we still have to remind people that black lives matter too,” she states. This song is her form of resistance, it’s also her form of healing.

“Continue to breathe, Continue to breathe. In times like these that’s what your heart is for,” she sings. “Continue to breathe, Continue to breathe. In honor of your brother that’s what your heart is for.”

I found myself crying the second time as they repeated the chorus, “continue to breathe.” Those words- a simple action, packed with so much emotion. As a community often times we are filled with an overwhelming sense of grief and hopelessness when acts of blatant violence are inflicted upon our bothers and sisters. Sometimes, like the song suggests, we forget to breathe.

I continue, and I hope you do too, to breathe for our fallen brothers and sisters whose lives were taken from them. Breathe, for the little child you might see in the park, praying they can be a kid a little while longer. Breathe, for the young woman you might see get pulled over, hoping she makes it home safely.

We breathe for one another. We breathe because, despite everything, we are still here. We breathe because that’s exactly what the heart is for. Let us use it.

Thank you India Arie for reminding us.

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Events and Happenings

The Best Protest Songs & Civil Rights Anthems On & Off-Broadway

Marcus Scott



Unless you were under a rock, we hope you were tuned into the livestream video broadcast of the unforgettable and star-studded Broadway For Black Lives Matter benefit concert that took place Monday night, Aug. 1, in the Roone Arledge Auditorium at Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall. The night guaranteed a bountiful feast of headlines and hashtags. Undoubtedly, this was due to introductions from Tony-winning Broadway royalty Cynthia Ervio, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Jeanine Tesori and Alex Sharp, for instance, or performances from the 2016 cast of the Encores! Off-Center concert series revival of Elizabeth Swados’ Runaways, nine-time Grammy Award nominee Ledisi, Tony Award winner Billy Porter, and four-time Grammy Award winner India.Arie and Broadway Inspirational Voices (with original arrangements by Tony nominee Michael McElroy). However, the big take away from the night was the show’s themes of inclusion, cross cultural pollination and intersectionality.


This could be more evident in many of the night’s performances. Whether it was the rhythmic spoken word of Daniel J. Watts addressing “Columbusing” and cultural appropriation, or the poetry of Daniel Beaty, which challenged social justice warriors to rise up while name-checking victims of police brutality—Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice and the thousands who have now become “future ancestors”—, speakers had one thing in mind: To bring spark a fire and conjure incentive to keep protesting and progressing.


However revolutions can’t be won alone and as Frank Roberts, a professor at New York University emphasized, “Black Lives Matter is an intersectional movement.” It is also an artistic moment and one of the most powerful arts is song. Be it anthems like Crystal Monee Hall’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Ledisi’s interpretation of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Billy Porter’s startling cover of Tony Bennet’s “Take The Moment” or India.Arie’s own “Breathe,” audiences noticed that protests come in many sounds and colors. American musical theatre also has its fair share of protest songs and civil rights anthems, they just may not be as well known, so here’s a list of the best that graced stages on Broadway and off.


“The Scottsboro Boys” (The Scottsboro Boys, 2010)

Kander & Ebb have an arsenal of protest songs, but they are probably not as scathing as the eponymous musical number in The Scottsboro Boys that ends the show on a rather anticlimax note. Nudged to do a cakewalk by The Interlocutor, the host of a minstrel show, the men wipe off their make-up in defiance and walk off stage. What’s even more remarkable is the inclusion of a young lady (until now thought to be a mute character) is revealed to be Rosa Parks. When asked to move to the back of the bus to make room for a white passenger, she refuses promptly. You know what happens next. A close second would be: “Go Back Home.”


“Listen!” (from The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, 2000)

A musical womanist exposé on racism and sexism, Kirsten Childs’s breakthrough The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, an ode to self-acceptance and independence, is encapsulated in the blistering defiance of the 11 o’clock number, “Listen!” Through accommodating and pleasing everyone, the smiling and docile Viveca Stanton speaks up.

“I’m Here” (from The Color Purple, 2005)

Five years after LaChanze originated the role of Viveca Stanton at off-Broadway’s Playwright’s Horizons, she originated the role of Celie in the Broadway production of The Color Purple and took home a Tony award for Best Actress (Her musical catalogue is enviable!). Naturally, Cythnia Erivo had some big shoes to fill in the Broadway revival, especially on the 11 o’clock number, “I’m Here.” The song captures a black woman, considered ugly and insignificant, feeling a deep love for herself for the first time.


“Back To Before” (Ragtime, 1998)

While Audra McDonald made history with the original Broadway production of Ragtime, becoming a three-time Tony Award winner by age 28 (she would win three more), the musical is also remembered for its astonishing score, particularly Marin Mazie’s second act number “Back To Before.” The song is about a bourgeoisie white woman coming to terms with the times and choosing to change with it, understanding that she cannot sit idle while others—in this case, segregated black people—are suffering.



“I Am What I Am” (La Cage aux Folles, 1983)

Jerry Herman is one of the most underrated songwriters for this reason: “I Am What I Am,” Albin’s act-one finale. Written by two openly gay men, La Cage aux Folles is revolutionary in many ways, but with this protest song meets torch ballad, a gay man declares that he is proud of who he is and refuses to change for anyone, even his partner. Keep in mind, the first AIDS/HIV cases in the U.S. were reported as early as 1981.



“Keys/It’s Alright” (Passing Strange, 2008)

Stew’s Tony-winning Künstlerroman rock ‘n roll masterpiece about a young African American’s artistic journey of self-discovery has a salvo of protest songs and gut-wrenching anthems, but none of them match the sonic blast of “Keys/It’s Alright.” About a black man finding friends and a home away from home, the song serves as an anthem for lost souls looking for community.


“Being Good Isn’t Enough” (Hallelujah, Baby!; 1966)

Hallelujah, Baby!, the show that made Leslie Uggams an A-list theater diva, is best remembered for the act-one finale, “Being Good…” which was re-recorded by another diva, Barbara Streisand. Following an ambitious young black woman who seeks stardom, through song, she decides to work twice as hard as everyone else to make her dreams come true. Sound familiar?


“Seasons of Love” (Rent, 1996)

The refrain “Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes” in Jonathan Larson’s Rent asks the listeners what the appropriate way to calculate the value of a year in human life is. Given the subject matter and the fact that it is sung by artists in the show, “Seasons of Love” rings closer to home in a post-BLM world.


“Defying Gravity” (Wicked, 2003)

The biggest song in Broadway’s biggest musical, “Defying Gravity” finds the singer realizing she must do what’s best for her and that she must not let anyone hold her down.

“We Gotta Get out of This Place” (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, 2014)

By the time Beautiful: The Carole King Musical made it to Broadway, “We Got To Get Out Of This Place” was already registered in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list. Nevertheless, while the song is about the Vietnam War, it feels very appropriate for what has been happening Flint, MI; Baton Rouge, LA; Baltimore, MD; and Ferguson, MO.


“Zombie” (Fela!, 2010)

Typical of jukebox musicals, touchstones like Fela Kuti’s 1976 Afrobeat smash “Zombie” were well known to black music listeners before it came to Broadway. In Fela!, the rough-and-rowdy revue inspired by the musician, the song—which described and attacked the methods of the Nigerian military—feels somewhat adjacent to methods taken in police criminalization cases.


“What’s Going On?” (Motown: The Musical, 2013)

In Motown, Marvin Gaye’s seminal smash hit “What’s Going On?” gets performed after a medley of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” and Edwin Starr’s “War,” creating a kind of catharsis that reminds us that work still needs to be done.


“My Shot” (Hamilton, 2015)

One must admit, the first twenty minutes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton are perhaps unparalleled by any other musical and that’s because of the relentless wordplay of “My Shot.” In the song, the protagonist electrifies other young revolutionaries with his rhetoric, but also speaks about his disillusionment with the U.K. while dreaming of laying down his lives for a better future. This is basically the musical theatre equivalent of the Black Lives Matter anthem.


“Run and Tell That” (Hairspray, 2002)

From “Welcome to the 60’s” and “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” in act one to “Without Love,” “I Know Where I’ve Been,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” in the second act, the musical score of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s Hairspray is chock-full of protest songs and civil rights anthems galore. But none are as multifaceted as “Run and Tell That.” The R&B number is a black pride hymn, and speaks to the veracities related with being marginalized by a white society.


“Hair” (Hair, 1968)

Sharing the same name as the musical, very few songs are as catchy or as memorable as “Hair”—yeah, that includes favorites like “Aquarius,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Good Morning Starshine” and even “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In).” All of the show’s themes come together—race, class, nudity and sexual freedom, pacifism and environmentalism—and all of it through is the texture, length, color and style of hair. It’s an intersectional anthem and one that embraces natural hair!


“The Song of Purple Summer” (from Spring Awakening, 2006)

The kids are not all right in Spring Awakening, but “the seeds are already being planted” for an emerging liberal minded, progressive generation and the puritanical viewpoints of adults will one day be a thing of the past.


“Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day” (The Wiz, 1975)

There are so many great songs in Charlie Smalls’ The Wiz and it’s hard to choose which one, given the emotional complexity in songs like “Believe in Yourself” and “Home,” or the just keep swimming feeling of “Ease on Down the Road.” But “Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day” is a celebration song, a dance of freedom underscored by African rhythms and gospel horns. Freedom never sounded so exhilarating.


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