The Early History of Broadway Theater

Broadway Theater District pic
Broadway Theater District
Image: spotlightonbroadway.com

An entrepreneur based in Miami, Florida, Antonio Junior is the founder of Florida Conservation, where he oversees all annual budgeting and implements organizational policies and procedures. Outside of his professional activities in Miami, Antonio Junior enjoys traveling to New York City to see plays on Broadway.

New York’s famous Broadway Theater District traces its roots to 1750, when Walter Murray and Thomas Kean opened a 280-person theater company on Nassau Street. Designed for ballad operas and Shakespearean plays, the theater company rose to fame by hosting the popular John Gay ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera.

Following the Revolutionary War at the end of the 18th century, the 2,000-seat Park Theater was built. Many more theaters were constructed in the first half of the 19th century, including Niblo’s Garden and the Astor Place Theatre. Toward the mid-1800s, musicals began to displace the previously popular Shakespearean plays, with burlesque troupes such as the British Blondes also gaining popularity. The first modern musical with choreographed dance and music occurred in 1866 and was five and a half hours long. The mid-century also marked the time that many theaters began moving to Broadway proper in Midtown Manhattan due to lower real estate prices.

Tony Winner Norbert Leo Butz Takes on Dreamgirls Classic

 

Norbert Leo Butz  pic
Norbert Leo Butz
Image: ew.com

Miami-based Antonio Junior is the Founder of Florida Conservation, Inc., where his responsibilities include hiring, training and managing division leaders to oversee the company’s workforce. Though he lives in Miami, Antonio Junior regularly travels to New York City, where he enjoys attending Broadway plays. One of his favorites is Dreamgirls.

In early April, veteran stage performer and two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz took to the stage at the MCC Theater’s annual MisCast Gala, where he performed multiple songs from Dreamgirls. The Miscast Gala provides performers the opportunity to take on songs they would never get to perform professionally due to differences like gender, age, and race.

Butz led an ensemble cast made up of stage veterans Brian d’Arcy James, Brandon Victor Dixon, Kelli O’Hara, Jordan Fisher, Stephanie J. Block, and Jenn Colella. Together, the group performed the Dreamgirls hits, “It’s All Over,” and, “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

To cap off the performance, Butz ended by bowing at the feet of Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie in the Broadway production of Dreamgirls. The performances are available for viewing via the MCC Theater’s official YouTube page.

Best Broadway Plays Right Now

Fiddler on the Roof pic
Fiddler on the Roof
Image: fiddlermusical.com

Since 2003, Antonio Junior has led Florida Conservation, Inc., in Miami Springs. The founder of the company, he maintains responsibility for its financial success and management retention. He holds an MBA from Florida International University in Miami. Outside of work, Antonio Junior is a fan of Broadway productions and has visited New York City to see a number of performances.

Broadway shows are a huge draw for visitors to New York City. According to Time Out New York, here are some of the best:

1. The Encounter. An intimate one-man play based on a true story, The Encounter requires audience members to wear headphones. The musical tells the story of a photojournalist and his time with a Brazilian tribe.

2. Fiddler on the Roof. Revisit this classic in a production renowned for its stellar cast–particularly Danny Burstein, who plays Tevye.

3. Hamilton. Of course, the year’s most buzzed-about musical has made the list. Though star and director Lin-Manuel Miranda has departed the show, Hamilton is still worth checking out for its groundbreaking combination of hip-hop and musical storytelling.

And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’s Enduring Influence

 

The founder of Florida Conservation, Inc., Antonio Junior earned his MBA from Florida International University while managing a small business that involved over 300 Miami residents. Although based in Miami, Antonio Junior travels to New York City to watch Broadway musicals, including Dreamgirls

A collaboration effort of composer Henry Krieger and lyricist Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls is a musical based on acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, and James Brown and the musical chronicles the aspirations and successes in show business. After it opened on December 20, 1981 at Imperial Theater, Dreamgirls went on to put on 1,521 performances. Of all the songs in the musical, one of the most enduring is Effie White’s song And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.

Effie White’s role was originated by Jennifer Holliday, whose performance of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going was a show stopper. It eventually became her signature song, winning a Tony award for best actress in a musical and Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. When it was released as a single, the song reached the top spot on the R&B charts, thus paving the way for Holliday’s career.

When the musical was adapted into a film, the torch song also proved to be a star vehicle for Jennifer Hudson (who played Effie White in the film) as she went on to win the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 2006 Academy Awards. Her version’s single reached the 60th spot on the Billboard Hot 100.