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Broadway Shockers 2018: Nine Tall Women on Broadway — All Written by Men

In 2018, we met three versions of Cher, Donna Summer, and Edward Albee's mom. We learned very little about them.

As 2018 draws to a close, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most jaw-dropping stories of the year.

Alison Pill, Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.
(© Brigitte Lacombe)

This year Broadway saw stories about larger-than-life women told in triplicate.

In March, we saw the Broadway premiere of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, which explored the complexities of his adoptive mother by depicting her at three different stages in her life. April brought around Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, a show in which three writers — Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and director Des McAnuff — explored the complexities of the famous disco singer by depicting her at three different stages in her life. Finally, in November, we saw The Cher Show, where book writer Rick Elice explored the complexities of the Goddess of Pop by...depicting her at three different stages in her life.

Teal Wicks, Stephanie J. Block, and Micaela Diamond in The Cher Show.
(© Joan Marcus)

Admittedly, this is "an old theatrical trick that predates Three Tall Women", Elice told us in June. But it's particularly glaring this year, especially knowing that these three different productions were all written by men, directed by men, and featured mostly male designers. (Three Tall Women actually had two women working on the production, set designer Miriam Buether and costumer Ann Roth, while The Cher Show and Summer only had a single woman on their creative teams).

While women may contain multitudes, Summer and The Cher Show also proved that dramaturgically, having three women perform one role short-changed the entire experience, with the central, title character ending up the least developed person on stage. We noticed in each that it was the placement of the middle character, that caused the biggest storytelling challenges.

Fortunately, 2018 has seen a rise in women telling their own stories on and off stage. Let's hope Broadway in 2019 takes that cue and turns over these powerful female stories to female creators. It's about time.

LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, and Storm Lever in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.
(© Joan Marcus)
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