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Top Broadway theatre highlights of 2022

Revisit highlights, fast facts, and celebrated moments in New York theatre from 2022.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

It's been a busy year on Broadway. 2022 was the first complete year of theatre since before the pandemic, and shows have come back in full force. New productions, revivals, and long-running favorites all returned alongside countless Off-Broadway shows.

Hit musicals and plays hopped between New York and London, two of the world's biggest theatre hubs, and tons of celebrities took the spotlight.

Throughout the year, artists made headlines and even made history by breaking down barriers at the Tony Awards, delivering unmissable performances, and in some cases, simply being on Broadway. Plus, multiple theatre icons achieved historic distinctions, including EGOT status, getting a namesake theatre, and more.

Look back on 2022 theatre with our year in review roundup of all the highlights.

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2022 on Broadway: Facts and stats

Relive 2022 in a flash with these fast facts about this year's shows and the people who made them happen.

40 shows opened on Broadway.

Nineteen of these opened in the spring as part of the 2021-22 Broadway season, with 21 in summer and fall to kick off the 2022-23 season. The nonprofit company Manhattan Theatre Club bookended the year's openings, with its production of Skeleton Crew being the first Broadway show of the year to open (on January 26) and The Collaboration being last (on December 20).

Of the 40 shows that opened in 2020, women wrote or co-wrote 13; artists of color wrote or co-wrote 11; and on 15, at least one person on the team made their Broadway debut as a writer.

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7 shows from London's West End came to Broadway.

Hangmen, The Kite Runner, Leopoldstadt, Death of a Salesman, & Juliet, Walking with Ghosts, and The Collaboration all began their lives in London before hopping across the pond this year. They joined previous West End transfers Six and The Phantom of the Opera, which are still running, and Company and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, which closed in 2022.

And the British invasion isn't stopping: London's Life of Pi, Back to the Future, Bad Cinderella, and The Mousetrap announced 2023 openings this year.

On the flip side, eight shows that originated on Broadway went to London this year: Moulin Rouge! The Musical, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bonnie and Clyde, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, Anything Goes, The Band’s Visit, and Newsies. The 2023 openings of Ain't Too Proud and Mrs. Doubtfire in London were also announced.

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4 revivals of Sondheim shows hit the stage.

In the year following the great composer's death, there was no better way to honor his legacy than to perform his beloved musicals. Company, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Merrily We Roll Along all played on New York stages in 2022. The tribute continues with a Sweeney Todd revival, starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, going up in 2023.

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More than 40 celebrities performed in Broadway shows.

The casts of POTUS and Into the Woods on Broadway alone practically make up half the count. Making instant headlines with their starry casts, POTUS featured Vanessa Williams, Rachel Dratch, Julianne Hough, and Lea DeLaria; and Into the Woods has a rotating cast featuring the likes of Sara Bareilles, Patina Miller, Stephanie J. Block, and Gavin Creel.

Here are some of the other celebrities on stage in 2022.

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More than 10 actors headlined multiple shows.

Lots of actors did double duty on and off Broadway this year, following up a star turn in one show with another shortly afterward. Check out performers who headlined two major shows this year.

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The 2022 Tony Awards

The buzziest day of every year in theatre is the Tony Awards, held every June to celebrate the best of theatre from the previous year. Here are the highlights from the 2022 ceremony.

A Strange Loop won big.

With a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Off-Broadway awards already under its belt from its 2019 premiere, A Strange Loop was a favorite to win Best Musical. It was no surprise when it did. Michael R. Jackson, who loosely based the show on his own life as an up-and-coming writer, also won the Tony for Best Book, and A Strange Loop had the most Tony nominations of the season with 11.

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Multiple nominees and winners made history.

The 2022 Tony Awards saw the first openly transgender (actress L Morgan Lee of A Strange Loop), nonbinary (writer Toby Marlow of Six), and agender (scenic designer Adam Rigg of The Skin of Our Teeth) Tony nominees in the awards' history. Marlow and Lucy Moss went on to win the trophy for Best Original Score.

Plus, then-22-year-old Myles Frost, who stars as Michael Jackson in MJ The Musical, set a new record for the youngest solo winner of the Best Actor in a Musical prize. Ben Platt, who won for Dear Evan Hansen in 2017 at 23 years old, previously held the record.

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Take Me Out repeated history.

In 2003, Richard Greenberg's baseball drama won two Tony Awards: Best Play and Best Featured Actor for Denis O'Hare as Mason Marzac. Nineteen years later, Take Me Out hit the same grand slam, winning Best Revival of a Play and Best Featured Actor for Jesse Tyler Ferguson, also as Mason Marzac.

The show was such a hit that it returned this fall with Ferguson, Jesse Williams, and most of the spring cast; this extra inning runs through February 5.

Jennifer Hudson got her EGOT.

When A Strange Loop won Best Musical, all its producers became Tony Award winners. That includes Jennifer Hudson, who, having already won an Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar, officially completed her EGOT. Hudson is only the 17th person in history to achieve this coveted quartet.

Joaquina Kalukango brought the house down.

One of the ceremony's most memorable moments was Joaquina Kalukango's fiery performance from Paradise Square. Her rendition of the show's 11 o'clock number "Let It Burn" earned her a lengthy standing ovation, and she won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical shortly afterward.

Paradise Square has closed, but Kalukango brings her chops to the role of the Witch in Into the Woods through January 8.

2022 theatre highlights

Throughout the year, major debuts, closings, and performances rocked the theatre world, including a monumental announcement from the longest-running Broadway show in history. Revisit the most memorable theatre events of the year below.

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The Phantom of the Opera announced its closing.

After 35 years, the music of the night will play on Broadway for the last time. The Phantom of the Opera, which has occupied the Majestic Theatre since 1988, announced that it would close on April 16, 2023. Andrew Lloyd Webber's seven-time Tony-winning musical is the longest-running Broadway show of all time, with just shy of 14,000 performances.

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The Lion King celebrated its 25th anniversary.

November 13 was a major milestone in the circle of life. The Lion King Broadway musical opened on that day in 1997, and in 2022, it commemorated 25 years on Broadway. Past and present cast members reunited with the show's award-winning creative team to celebrate the third-longest-running show in Broadway history.

Adrienne Kennedy made her Broadway debut.

At 91 years old, the Off-Broadway legend finally hit the big stage. Adrienne Kennedy's Ohio State Murders is her first Broadway play in an award-winning, decades-long career that includes shows like Funnyhouse of a Negro and Sleep Deprivation Chamber. Kennedy's fellow Theater Hall of Fame inductee Audra McDonald leads Ohio State Murders as a writer who confronts her past upon returning to her alma mater.

Jordan E. Cooper set a new record.

Jordan E. Cooper, who wrote the satire Ain't No Mo', became the youngest Black American playwright in Broadway history when that show premiered at the Belasco Theatre. Lorraine Hansberry previously held that record for decades; A Raisin in the Sun premiered on Broadway when she was 29.

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Lea Michele proved that life imitates art.

Glee fans know Rachel Berry, the musical TV series's lead character, cites Funny Girl as her favorite musical. She repeatedly sings songs from the show and even lands the role of Fanny Brice in a Broadway in Glee's sixth season. In 2022, Lea Michele, who played Rachel and is also a real-life Funny Girl fan, came full circle by stepping into Fanny's shoes in the real-life Broadway revival, proving she is the greatest star.

Patti LuPone broke the internet.

The Broadway legend first sent Twitter buzzing in 2020 by filming tours of her theatre-memorabilia-laden basement during Covid-19. And just when the theatre community thought she couldn't top that, LuPone went viral in 2022 for chastising a maskless audience member at a talkback following a performance of Company.

Her statement that producer "Chris Harper pays my salary" (as opposed to theatre patrons) became instantly quotable and even inspired popular merch. LuPone kept her viral momentum going by winning her third Tony Award, resigning from the Actors Equity union, and ultimately deleting her Twitter account altogether.

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Two theatres got historic name changes.

At the beginning of 2022, only one Broadway theatre — the August Wilson — was named for a Black artist. Now, there are three. In September, the Cort Theatre was officially renamed for James Earl Jones, the legendary stage and screen actor who originated his first Broadway role in that venue in 1958's Sunrise at Campobello.

Shortly afterward, in November, the Brooks Atkinson Theatre was officially renamed for performer and activist Lena Horne. It is now the first Broadway house named for a Black woman.

See Broadway shows in 2023

As 2022 draws to a close, it's time to look ahead to what the next year's worth of theatre has to offer. Discover all the upcoming Broadway shows in New York, and get tickets to current and upcoming Broadway shows below. Keep checking back, as there are always new events coming up — and one could be 2023's biggest hit.

Get tickets to a Broadway show on New York Theatre Guide.

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