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December 25, 2015

Broadway’s People of the Year

So did you hear that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was named Time’s Person of the Year? The way she handled economic strife in the Eurozone and the continent’s ongoing migrant crisis put her over the top in the eyes of Time’s editors.
Well, who did you think they were going to pick? Josh Duggar? Bill Cosby? Donald Trump?
Oh, wait – they almost DID pick Trump. He was one of eight shortlisted for the honor, along with Caitlyn Jenner and “Black Lives Matter” Activists.
You and I know that there would have been a time when Caitlyn Jenner would have been nothing but a punch line and would have never been seriously considered for this honor. We’re winning!
Giving the august and tireless activists the honor would have been nice. New York theater certainly agreed in 2015, what with the many shows that reminded us this year that black lives indeed do matter: INVISIBLE THREAD at Second Stage; THE COLOR PURPLE revival that most everyone liked more than the original; the characters played by Chuck Cooper in AMAZING GRACE, K. Todd Freeman in AIRLINE HIGHWAY, Montego Glover in IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson in THE GIN GAME.
And, of course HAMILTON.
Speaking of that show – and isn’t everyone? -- would you have been surprised if Lin-Manuel Miranda had been named Time’s Person of the Year? I wouldn’t have, either. If he’d been the choice, however, he’d be even busier with interviews than he’s been since February, when HAMILTON opened to raves downtown, paving the way for its smash-hit reception uptown.
And had Time made Lin-Manuel its selection, all of us theater journalists would have lined up to talk with him once again. Bet he would have seen every one of us, too; I can attest that Lin-Manuel has always been so gracious with me, so I do believe he would have given every one of us a quotation or two.
Of course, nine long years have passed since Time named someone from Broadway as a Person of the Year. That was in 2006, when Time also named You – meaning Everybody in the World -- the Person of the Year.
That announcement kept me busier than I’d ordinarily be. Even if Time had picked only one person in theater, I’d have only had to track down that one individual. Now I had to track down as many people as possible to find out what each one thought of the honor. Oh, the phone calls and e-mails! It took a while, but here’s what the people I was able to contact on that 2006 day said: 
“And I thought I was an ordinary man.” - Henry Higgins 
“Somebody loves me at last!” - Charity Hope Valentine 
“I’m toucha-toucha-toucha-touched!” - Janet Weiss 
“First Woman of the Year, and now this!” - Tess Harding 
“I’m glad they use the term ‘Person of the Year’ rather than ‘Man’ or ‘Woman of the Year.’” - Victor/Victoria 
“Are you sure there wasn’t a misprint, and they meant Peron of the Year?” - The former Eva Duarte  
“Now you can look at me!” - Sally Durant Plummer 
“You mean that for once John Lloyd Young alone didn’t win everything?” - Man in Chair, Sid Sorokin, Sweeney Todd, and Robbie Hart
“Guess Time never met a man it didn’t like.” - Will Rogers 
“I was a shoo-in.” - Martha Vail 
“The best of Time is me!” - Albin, a/k/a Zaza 
“What luck to be me!” - Brian, Kate Monster, Rod, Nicky, Christmas Eve, Gary Coleman and Princeton
“I accept the honor most grateful-lee.” - Richard Henry Lee 
“For me? For me? For me? For me? For me?” - Rose Hovick 
“Now no one can say I was a flop.” - Carrie White
“I feel totally un.” - Melchior Gabor 
“Well, it sure took them long enough.” - Eve Harrington 
“I told you I was populerr - larr.” - G(a)linda 
“Does this mean both of us?” - Henry Jekyll 
“I’m glad I was the first man they remembered!” - George Dillingham 
“At last all those prayers to St. Genevieve came through.” - Queen Guenevere 
“I’d love to come back and pick up the award, but I’ve already used up my one day on earth.” - Billy Bigelow 
“I’m sorry that Tommy and Fiona won’t be able to hear the news for another 41 years.” - Jeff Douglas  
“I am now a checkerboard champ!” -- Penny Pingleton
“Haven’t they honored me every year?” - Norma Desmond 
“All I can say is that at the ceremony, they’d just better pronounce my name right.” - William Barfee  
“Finally, we have something we can quote in our ads.” - Tarzan 
“Time has healed everything for me.” - Mabel Normand
“Don’t bother me. I’m too busy painting.” - Georges Seurat 
“I don’t like that this means Jean Valjean, too.” - Inspector Javert 
“I’m going to celebrate by going to East Hampton this Thursday in the reddest shoes I can find.” - Little Edie Beale
“Hey, I should be included in this. After all, I got the last bow in the show.” - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 
“This comes at a really good time, because I’ve been so upset since I discovered that my wife is really stupid.” - Fabrizio Naccarelli
“Nice to know that someone loves me as I am.” - Daisy Hilton 
“Nice to know that someone loves me as I am.” - Violet Hilton

         — Peter Filichia



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