The Editor’s Essays

Click on the links below to read selected articles and reviews by Best Plays Theater Yearbook editor Jeffrey Eric Jenkins published in Interrogating America Through Theatre and Performance (Palgrave, 2007), the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and American Literary History



Beneath the Horizon: Pipe Dreams, Identity, and Capital in Eugene O’Neill’s First Broadway Play

Although Eugene O’Neill’s spiritual battles between the material and the ideal recur throughout his playwriting—particularly in plays of the mid-1920s—it is in his first Broadway play, Beyond the Horizon, that the dualistic nature of American existence comes to theatrical fruition. [more]


Through a Glass Nostalgically: The Death and Life of Broadway

Broadway is a wide New York City avenue bisecting Manhattan. It begins at the base of the island and continues northerly for its entire length. For many consumers of American cultural production, though, Broadway in the past century is better known as the Great White Way, the Main Stem, the Big Street—synonymous with diversion, entertainment, stardom. This Broadway, the one that created and sustains American myths surrounding celebrity, has little to do with the wide street that once led to the northern gate of seventeenth-century New Amsterdam. [more]



Streep brings ‘Courage’ to Central Park

NEW YORK — The media here have begun to call this season the “summer of Streep.”


With films such as “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Ant Bully” and “A Prairie Home Companion” drawing nearly $160 million in recent ticket sales, Meryl Streep is more bankable than ever.


And how does the glamorous, Academy Award-winning actor spend the capital of her personal popularity? [more]


Tony surprises are likely, except for Intiman

NEW YORK — It’s hard out here for a prognosticator.


Although 12 new musicals opened on Broadway this year, half have closed. Of those that remain, four have run only a few weeks — opening just in time to be considered for Tony Awards. It is a difficult year to predict Tony winners, and upsets should be expected. [more]




Seattleites will be watching to see if Tonys follow ‘The Light’

NEW YORK — There is a bandwagon rolling through the streets of the Broadway theater district on its way to the Tony Awards tomorrow evening (which will be televised at 8 p.m. on KIRO/7).


This particular party started its journey at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre when “The Light in the Piazza” premiered there in 2003. The Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas musical then moved on to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in January 2004, where the creators continued to hone the work. [more]



Sean won’t be going home with Tony

NEW YORK — As the nominees for Tony Awards settle into their seats at Radio City Music Hall for the biggest Broadway party of the year tomorrow evening, one of the biggest attractions of the season will be rooting not for his own award but for his three leading ladies.


You see, one of the biggest Broadway attractions received no nomination. [more]

New Deal’s impact on theater lingers in Seattle
The debate over government funding for theater in this country has been a battleground in the so-called “culture wars” of the past two decades, but it started more than a century ago. [more]

‘Anna in the Tropics’ thrilling theater
NEW YORK — The annals of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama are littered with the skeletons of plays that sounded a certain pitch at a certain moment, were celebrated and then faded into obscurity. [more]

Seattle’s ‘best’ Tony hopes pinned to ‘Hairspray’
NEW YORK — Funny Cide goes for the Triple Crown this afternoon, but for one Seattle theater company there's a higher-stakes horse race to be settled tomorrow evening at Radio City Music Hall, where the Tony Awards ceremony is to be held. [more]

Dark humor and layered meanings of ‘Arturo Ui’ have special resonance
NEW YORK — Murder and fear are the order of the day. The leader of one region plots to supplant another in the interest of security. Ordinary people feel intimidated and powerless to raise their voices in protest. [more]

Movie stars shuffle in and out of roles on Broadway
NEW YORK — There’s an old show business saying about performers: Actors act and stars do what stars do. But since John Barrymore's triumphant return to Broadway in a 1920 production of “The Tragedy of Richard III,” Hollywood stars have repeatedly beaten a path to the Great White Way seeking to stretch their talents and enhance their reputations. [more]

Hype, hype, hooray! for ‘Hairspray’
NEW YORK — Everyone can exhale now. After months of well-orchestrated hype and media buzz, the musical “Hairspray” — fresh from its smashing premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre — has opened on Broadway to a chorus of critical plaudits (and sighs of relief from the passel of producers who invested $10.5 million). Seattle audiences can look forward to more new musicals developed in their hometown, which producing teams now consider an environment safe from the prying eyes of the New York media machine. [more]

This year’s Tony telecast looks to be a thoroughly suspenseful show
NEW YORK — Springtime is Tony time. Every year, anticipation of Broadway’s top awards makes theater people quiver as Times Square touts speculate on the coronation of this year’s royalty. Last year, the whole town knew that Mel Brooks and “The Producers” were going to tote home an armload of Tony Awards. This year, though, the contests are a bit tighter (and weirder). In addition to honoring excellence in the Broadway theater, the awards — which are voted by 731 theatrical professionals and journalists — revolve around pocketbook issues. [more]

‘Producers’ a letdown a year later
NEW YORK — After a record haul of 12 Tony Awards for “The Producers” last year, the new monarch of midtown — King Mel (Brooks) — was asked if a London run would require the talents of Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.  Flush with victory, Brooks told reporters, “You may not need them. There’s Alan Cumming and Alfred Molina and a whole lot of people who can dance and sing.” (And, he might have added, those are just the “A”s.) Oh, what a difference a year makes. [more]

Harvey Fierstein finds ‘Hairspray’ role of mom divine
Harvey Fierstein is back in town and he's dressed to thrill. The triple Tony Award-winner brings his distinctive rasp (and a knack for negotiating high heels) to the 5th Avenue Theatre when the Broadway-bound musical “Hairspray” begins previews Thursday. [more]

‘21 Dog Years’ adds up to a hilarious night on NYC stage
NEW YORK — The tech boom bubble burst long ago. Rogue corporate accounting methods recently made a mockery of stock valuations when they trashed the retirement accounts of untold numbers of small investors. Economic recovery continues to hover in the gauzy distance. So why are New York theatergoers laughing so hard? [more]

‘Bake Off’ rises above the rest
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — To most Americans, this sleepy Ohio River town is best known for baseball bats, bourbon whiskey and the Kentucky Derby. But for nearly three decades, Louisville’s Actors Theatre has been a touchstone for American theater culture through its Humana Festival of New American Plays. [more]

Director shakes up ‘Cymbeline’ and it’s rare no more
NEW YORK — The Shakespearean question on everyone’s minds these days isn’t “To be or not to be,” but “What’s up with ‘Cymbeline?’” With a pair of major productions running within a few days of one another last week, New York audiences can be forgiven for wondering why this so-called “rarely produced” play seems to come in double bursts. In 1998, productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the New York Shakespeare Festival opened a few weeks apart. Soon, perhaps, it’ll be all “Cymbeline,” all of the time. [more]

Kushner’s ‘Kabul’ opens wearing a visionary veil

Broadway dusts off, bounces back

Broadway’s split season

Brooks hits Broadway jackpot with ‘The Producers

Surprising artistic shifts at Humana


Daylong immersion in ancient Greece is time well spent

All London’s a stage, from West End to Shakespeare’s Globe

British capital offers splendid exhibits for theater lovers

For those who like their ‘Macbeth’ served fast

Tonys a time to love, honor, disobey rules

UW-bound Jory takes his bows at Humana

Will Disney’s third charm Broadway?

O’Neill play summons ghosts of actors past

Intiman’s Sher shines off-Broadway with ‘Waste’

Seattle actor is staged for success

Northwest singer-songwriter answers the call of Broadway

Beyond criticism: Welcome to the ‘new’ Broadway

‘Kiss Me, Kate’: Revival of classic musical is darn hot

‘Rainmaker’ is rewarding despite Harrelson’s flaws

Suspense in ‘End of Rope’ in suspension

Smith’s ‘Last Year’ plays well with others in New York

With the Tonys coming up, many Broadway plays are going and gone

New Yorkers trying to decide if Seattle ‘Cider House Rules’ apply there

Spacey leads a skilled ensemble cast in Broadway’s ‘Iceman’

Humana fest puts its stamp on a fresh crop of plays

Broadway alive and kicking

—Articles prior June 22, 1999 not available online—

Last updated: 6/27/07