As we enter a new year, it’s only right to reflect on the greatness that happened in 2015. From Broadway to Off-Broadway to live musical events, one-night-only events, and staged readings, 2015 was kind to Broadway Black stars and theatergoers like me. Here at Broadway Black, we can’t just let 2015 end without sharing what we’d consider the Top 10 of 2015.
What is a best of 2015 list without Hamilton? Not a list at all. The hip-hop musical about America’s most controversial founding father with its diverse cast and #hamiltunes that will be stuck in your head forever earns its prized spot on the list. Any show capable of selling out for over a year is a winner in my book. #HamilTonys
Did I mention I saw this show four times? I’m not kidding. The only reason it wasn’t more is because I’m not rich and I went home for Christmas break. The show that tells the story of one man’s incredible journey of self and the people’s lives he impacts was a no-brainer on my list. The dancing, the acting, and the singing is enough to bring you in and take you to new places. #Belamusana
Of course, The Color Purple was going to make this list. Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks and Jennifer Hudson make their Broadway debuts and they enter with a big ol’ splash. The simplistic styling of this musical requires the actors to give their all and bare it on the stage, which they do every night. I see Tonys in their future.
No wonder it’s going to Broadway! It’s that darn good. Second Stage is doing some pretty awesome things over there on 43rd Street, if this show is any indication. It tells the story of an actress teaching prisoners how to tell and act out their personal stories. This show definitely tugged at my heartstrings and now, hopefully, many more will be able to witness its brilliance.
Legendary. James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson sharing the stage again was one of the most amazing moments of 2015. Being able to just be in that room and watch these masters grace the stage effortlessly was a big deal. Black don’t crack, and neither does our ability to memorize scripts and get out there and be amazing eight nights a week.
The Public Theater also has some hits on their hands. Barbecue centered around family, addiction, and making difficult choices. Written by Obie Award Winning Playwright Robert O’Hara, the play was full of twists and turns that left audiences gasping and guessing about what was going to happen next.
Our girl Dominique Morisseau came through. The production is directed by the always amazing Ruben Santiago-Hudson and stars Tony Award-nominee De’Adre Aziza (Passing Strange), Golden Globe-nominee Blair Underwood (A Street Car Named Desire), and Andre Holland. This show, which is the first in a trilogy, made waves at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Like Morisseau herself, I doubt it’s the last you’ll hear about it.
An Octoroon (the term “Octoroon” is a person who is one-eighth Black) is all about race in the United States. The brilliant show written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins got its start at Soho Rep and uses satire to get at the United States’ horrible legacy of slavery. Incorporating Black face, red face and everything in between, this show took it there unapologetically. An Octoroon can make an entire audience uncomfortable and force them to face the harsh realities of this “great” nation all in one. After all, art is an imitation of life, right?
Gone too soon. The song I sang as a child suddenly held more weight when I finally was able to see this show in the summer. Beautifully and thoroughly executed, Amazing Grace was a gracious piece of theatre that wasn’t afraid to go there. While it may have left Broadway, the cast recording will be enough to keep me going.
This is another one that moved from Off-Broadway because of its stellar cast and amazing story. Danai Gurira is genius. Set during the Liberian Civil War, Eclipsed tells the stories of the captive wives of a rebel officer who band together to form a fragile community—until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. Heartfelt, funny, and mesmerizing are just a few adjectives to describe how great of a show this is.
Special Mention: The Wiz Live!
How could I make a list without The Wiz Live! on it? This show and all of its #melaninmagic captivated audiences everywhere. The old classic story of The Wiz with a modern twist appealed to audiences young and old, and brought together an entire community on Dec. 3rd. That night also made us realize Shanice Williams was going places, Stephanie Mills has still got it, David Alan Grier has some serious pipes, Uzo Aduba and Queen Latifah can do no wrong, Amber Riley was underappreciated on Glee, and “conversate” is an actual word.
Thats our list, what did you see that you put on your list? Sound off in the comments below and check out in-depth information on all of these shows on our site!