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1998: The Year in Review

Once again, it's New Years, a time to reflect on the past year and also look ahead to 1999. 1998 wasn't a great year on Broadway, for sure, but there were some fine moments especially for those of us who became friends because of the Internet.

Ragtime opened in January after a month of previews and it was everything all the hype said it would be. Thrilling score, great cast ... however, it was the crime of the century at Tony time.

January was also the month when over 50 friends gathered in New York to meet for the first time at Phantom of the Opera's 10th Anniversary performance. We all met at Barrymores for a private party and then went to the show. Oh what a night! And the next night some of us went to see this little Off-Broadway musical called The Last Session. Then there is January 29th. The long awaited Capeman opened on Broadway. And we know what happened to that.

March is always a cruel month but it was especially cruel with the passing of Laurie Hope Beechman, an actress taken much before her time. Known and loved world-wide, her Memory will live on.

Debbie Gibson took off her clothes at Broadway Bares which was a bit much for a fan of hers, and as a result he was arrested for stalking her while she was performing in Beauty and the Beast.

Lynn Thompson's lawyers put the heat on Rent demanding a settlement or they threatened to close the show. After several months a settlement was reached in August. Lynn co-authored much of the award-winning musical with Jonathan Larson. The settlement remains a mystery as it was not made public.

Many of those who met in January headed back to New York in June and met at the Rainbow Room for cocktails and then over to Radio City to attend the Tony Awards. Gasps were heard when The Beauty Queen of Leenane didn't pick up the Best Play award and this was after picking up the major acting and directing awards. One woman screamed "NO!” And then there was the Best Actor in a musical award. While Alan Cumming gives a brilliant performance in Cabaret, many felt that with the way nominees were put in categories, it robbed Brian Stokes Mitchell. Disney scored with The Lion King as Best Musical and the rest is show business, kid.

Those on the west coast got a treat in Laguna, Ca. in September when the Off Broadway hit, The Last Session opened to rave reviews. So popular was this production that it's been moved to the Tiffany Theatre in Los Angeles where it currently is playing. Recent news is that it's extended through February. A few staff members attended the opening in Laguna where we got to meet Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin, the writers of the musical. We also partied with the cast and friends afterward.

The Livent scandal almost toppled the empire. Reverberations are still being felt in Canada, however the chapter 11 company continues to produce Ragtime in New York, along with Lincoln Center's Parade and the upcoming Fosse.

The Scarlet Pimpernel pulled a first in November. After running for a year, the struggling show closed and opened a week later with a new book and many new cast members. And to glowing reviews!

Brian Stokes Mitchell gave his final performance in Ragtime on December 27th. Fans organized through the Internet and many attended that final thrilling performance. They presented Stokes with a memory-album thanking him for all that he had done for the show and for them.

And now we move on into the New Year with those memories of friendships made and shows attended. Talkin' Broadway will be going into its third year on the Web. We're committed to being a fan-based interactive "zine” and we'll be adding more fans to our family in 1999. From the entire staff of 27 volunteers, we wish you a Happy New Year!

See you Sunday!



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