- OnStage Editor-in-Chief
With the end of 2016 approaching rapidly, it's a good time to look back and reflect on the past twelve months. The Broadway community certainly had its ups and downs throughout the year. We've seen shows that will no doubt become all-time greats and unexpected flops. We've seen performers that will go on to become icons and some we lost way too soon. We've seen designers who will set trends for years to come. We've seen innovative social media masters who bring Broadway to fans in whole different ways. It's been quite the year.
So to honor the amazing work of these people, here is our Broadway's Best of 2016. Since there is so much to get through, let's release these in categories.
This past year featured some incredible performances from your favorite Broadway stars to newcomers. Let's take a look at 10 people who just crushed it in shows that opened in 2016.
Zachary Levi - She Loves Me
I have to apologize to Zachary Levi, when it was announced that he was going to replace Josh Radnor in the She Loves Me revival, I had some doubt. But I was pleasantly proved wrong because Levi gave Georg the sweetness and charm I hoped for and even enhanced the role, beyond what I thought it could be. I don't know if there is any plan for Levi to return to Broadway anytime soon, but needless to say, we'll be looking forward to it when he does.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson - Fully Committed
2016 saw the return of crowd favorite Furguson to Broadway. The original 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee cast member absolutely delivered when it came to playing over 30 different roles in the challenging one man show. So much so, it was beyond perplexing that he didn't receive at least a Tony nomination.
Christopher Fitzgerald - Waitress
Waitress only further proved what we already knew about Christopher Fitzgerald, that his contagious energy only boosts whatever show he's in. This incredibly underrated performer finally got the role and Tony nomination he much deserved.
Frank Langella - The Father
As one of America's finest stage actors and elder statesman of theatre, Langella only added to his stellar legacy with his role in The Father about a man grappling with dementia. In the role, Langella was bold, raw and ferocious. A performance for the ages.
Ben Platt - Dear Evan Hensen
Platt's performance as the title character in the hot ticket show right now not only cemented his status as a Tony award front-runner but has been hailed as one of the best individual performances in years. Platt not only brings out the very best when it comes to performing Pasek & Paul's work, but also brings new attention to teen anxiety.
Jessica Lange - Long Day's Journey Into Night
As much as I respected Jessica Lange, I had my reservations about how much more nuance she could bring to the iconic role of Mary Tyrone, boy was I wrong. Lange was more than excellent in the complex role becoming arguably one of the best to ever play it.
Jessie Mueller - Waitress
Musical theatre is often criticized for not featuring character with much depth which allow their performers to really let loose in their performances. Well I hope those who think that got to see Jessie Mueller in Waitress because she proved that theory wrong once again. Mueller is hands-down one the best actresses on Broadway today and had it not been for Cynthia Erivo's incredible performance in The Color Purple, Mueller would have her 2nd Tony in three years.
Jayne Houdyshell - The Humans
The Humans is an already excellent work, but with Houdyshell in the role as matriarch Deirdre Blake, she stole most of the scenes she was in. Houdyshell has been doing amazing work throughout her career but it was so nice to see her finally get the credit she deserved for this show.
Stephanie J. Block - Falsettos
Block has long been mentioned on an elite list of Broadway performers but she's truly taken it to another level in Falsettos. Trina is such a tough role to play but Block shines, especially in numbers like "I'm Breaking Down". The field is going to e crowded this year for Tony consideration but Block certainly deserves to be on that list.
Laura Benanti - She Loves Me
She Loves Me might benefit from a talent and charming Georg, but it needs a stellar Amalia and Benanti was every bit as stellar as we could have hoped for. She was charming and heartbreaking in the role. With her sweet vocals the Harnick & Bock score never sounded so good.