Snap, Click!: Playbill's Favorite Photos of 2023 | Playbill

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Photo Features Snap, Click!: Playbill's Favorite Photos of 2023

From Scott Foley coming in with bread to a Hamlet dance party, Playbill's photo team provides some behind-the-lens stories from this year.

Vi Dang, Michaelah Reynolds, and Heather Gershonowitz

As the curtain descends on 2023, it’s time to reflect on the past 12 months through the imagery created exclusively for Playbill.com, Playbill magazine, and Playbill Travel. This year, our team consisted of Photo Editor and Photographer Heather Gershonowitz, Photo Assistant Vi Dang, and Photo Freelancer Michaelah Reynolds—with contributions by photographers Jenny Anderson, Tricia Baron, Kayleen Bertrand, Andy Henderson, Molly Higgins, and Valerie Terranova. We conducted over 130 photoshoots.

From opening night red carpets, press previews, and original editorial photoshoots, to the fjords of Alaska and Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, our lenses were witness to the kaleidoscope of theatre on stage, off stage, and even at sea.

Below, Heather, Vi, and Michaelah recap their favorite photos to commemorate another incredible year of theatre.

Heather Gershonowitz's Favorite Photos of 2023

Looking back on the year, I am reminded of how much I love creating with theatremakers. We all share a connection—a passion for the art of performance and the drive it takes to make that passion our livelihoods. Don’t get me wrong, making art around others’ art is challenging. However, when all elements fall into place, the final product can be magical. And that's what this year was, pure magic.

Danielle Brooks came into the Playbill Studio on the heels of her run in The Piano Lesson and with The Color Purple film on the horizon. Brooks and I vibed instantly, which is a dream when you’re trying to quickly create a safe space for vulnerability. We filled our space with upbeat jazz music and talked about life, our love of music and theatre, her beautiful family, and all of the exciting things she had coming up. 

The photo below stands out when I think about this label of favorite because it was the tranquil pause before assuming a pose, the solace in the breath drawn just before reopening her eyes and returning to reality. Brooks’ vibrant, joyful spirit is palpable and it was an honor to capture her essence for Playbill. (Read the feature that accompanied that photo here.) 

Danielle Brooks Heather Gershonowitz

Photos: Danielle Brooks Steps Into The Playbill Studio

On Valentine’s Day, we received the news that Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play would be coming to Broadway with an all-star cast. As soon as I saw Scott Foley’s name in the release, I jumped up and ran to Playbill’s Features Editor, Talaura Harms, and said, “We have to do a Scandal reunion.” Just 12 days prior, it was that Joshua Malina was joining the company of Leopoldstadt and I was not missing the opportunity to bring the two back together.

The day of the photoshoot and interview, Foley arrived with a gift for Malina—a loaf of bread baked fresh by his wife, Marika Dominczyk. Immediately, I knew it was going to be a great studio session. The next hour included life updates, how each other's kids were doing, how excited and nervous they both were to be back on Broadway (as Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town played in the background). 

And, of course, there was absolute goofiness. As Foley sat for solo portraits, Malina joked to get him to break his stoic physique. While Malina posed for his solo portraits, Foley did everything from stick an iPhone in his face to picking up tools around the studio and acting as my photo assistant. My Scandal-loving heart was leaping. A true a 10/10 day and I’m forever grateful to Talaura for jumping into this feature with me (read it here).

Scott Foley and Joshua Malina Heather Gershonowitz

Scott Foley and Joshua Malina Catch Up

Sometimes, the camera gets packed into a suitcase and I head out on adventures with Playbill Travel. This year, we cruised through Alaska and Canada and I got to see some of the most jaw-dropping, gorgeous landscapes. 

Below is one of those “Omg I can’t believe I caught that” photos, and a gallery of my favorite moments from the trip, which included hiking, bear and whale watching, and performances by Brian Stokes Mitchell, LaChanzeJessica Vosk, Rob McClure, Kate Baldwin, Graham Rowat, John McDaniel, and John Lloyd Young.

Photos: Highlights From Playbill Travel's Broadway In Alaska Cruise

The greatest day of the entire year is the day we spend “meeting” the newly minted Tony nominees. This year was particularly special because it was the first year where I was able to attend as an official member of team Playbill. The Meet the Nominees press junket is one gigantic celebration. There's tears, laughter, lots of cheer, everyone is excited and on cloud nine.

My most memorable moments from this year's event were getting to hug Jordan E. Cooper and-very professionally-scream over his double nomination for Ain't No Mo', and getting to photograph Sara Bareilles—I think I made her laugh, I’m not totally sure, I blacked out (and this article is actually being written from beyond the grave).

If you find yourself reminiscing further, all content from the 2023 Tony Awards can be found at Playbill.com/Tonys.

Check Out Portraits of the 2023 Tony Award Nominees

In compiling this gallery to recap the year, I am reminded of something a friend far wiser than me once said, “It’s about the people, it always has been and it always will be.” And I am so grateful for the people. To the theatremakers who stepped in front of my lens, the audiences who flipped through the pages of their Playbill in the theatre, and readers who scrolled through Playbill.com, thank you. 

Wishing all a happy and healthy new year, and looking forward to more magic in 2024!

Heather Gershonowitz's Favorite Images From 2023

Vi Dang's Favorite Photos of 2023

Happy New Year from Playbill's Photo Assistant! 2023 has been nothing short of chaotically amazing (I think for all of us) and I am glad I have the photos to prove it.  

In late September, we helped welcome new cast members Betty Who and Phillip Boykin into Hadestown with an exclusive first look photoshoot. We shot in one of the boxes of the wonderfully ornate Walter Kerr Theatre just so I could capture a glimpse of the set/stage in the background. The best part of the shoot was meeting the new Hades and Persephone (Boykin and Who, respectively). The chemistry between the two actors was already playful and exciting as we were shifting around the tiny box, which hopefully emanated through the photos. The final images turned out moody, mysterious, but trust me, we were all smiles the whole time. Read Margaret Hall's feature to accompany the photos here.

Phillip Boykin and Betty Who Vi Dang

Get an Exclusive Look at Hadestown's New Cast Members Betty Who and Phillip Boykin

For the month of August, Playbill took a trip overseas to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was my first time at the festival and between taking in the beautiful city, I got to witness some really raw, incredible art happening at every square inch (or I suppose, square centimeter) of Edinburgh. 

One act that stood out in particular was Australian supernova, Reuben Kaye. On the night I arrived, I had the chance to see his weekly midnight variety show, The Kaye Hole, which revived me from the long train ride up from London. I could already tell Kaye was no stranger to a camera and would be a perfect model to feature as some of the festival's finest. 

For the photoshoot itself, we started in the Assembly Checkpoint venue and Kaye already had a vision for the shoot. He laid upside down on the staircase, we took photos in the grungy bathrooms, and utilized every possible photo op in the place. Then, the seven-foot-tall wonder traversed through the streets of Edinburgh as I attempted to keep up and snapped photos of them greeting friends, fans, and people in wonderment as they stomped along: full beat, full costume, and full of charisma. 

This photo in particular has a cheekiness to it, with the entrance to the dressing shed barely clearing his head, and what strikes me is that exuberant smile. I like the dichotomy of the dramatic make-up and jewels with the undone blouse and shed that he's emerging from. The photos turned out gritty, grungy, but also elegant which I think only scratches the surface of Kaye's essence.

Reuben Kaye Vi Dang

Check Out Playbill Exclusive Photos of Reuben Kaye at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

On opening night of this year's Shakespeare in the Park's Hamlet, I photographed the red carpet arrivals right outside the Delcorte Theatre. Red carpet fashion is known to be glamorous or funky—you never really know what you're going to see grace the carpet. 

However, the cast of Hamlet understood the assignment, and showed up in the most vibrant and beautiful fashions, giving us photographers a field day. One of my favorite photos, however, didn't come out of the step and repeat—it was actually a candid shot of the actors right off to the side of the carpet. Now, I've been to a number of opening nights and I've never experienced an actor pulling out a bluetooth speaker and blasting Rihanna, completely transforming the step and repeat protocol into a full-out dance party. We broke tradition that night. I couldn't resist joining in with a little two-step of my own, seeing all the contagious energy and joy coming from the sidelines. 

Pictured here is Solea Pfeiffer, Laughton Royce, and Ato Blankson-Wood vibing to the music. My favorite part was the cast hyping one another up, letting loose, and truly celebrating their accomplishments. Now, I firmly believe there should be a mandatory dance party at every red carpet from here on out.

Solea Pfeiffer, Laughton Royce, and Ato Blankson-Wood Vi Dang

Go Inside Opening Night of Free Shakespeare in the Park's Hamlet

Check out the gallery below compiling some of my favorite photos from the past year.

Vi Dang's Favorite Images From 2023

Michaelah Reynolds' Favorite Photos of 2023

As I finish my first year officially working with Playbill, I look back and feel incredibly grateful for what I get to do. There are so many special moments I've been able to capture this year from curtain calls, red carpets, press previews, and more! Being able to capture the people I have loved since I was a kid is a huge blessing. I love being a part of this team and I can't wait to capture more moments in 2024.

Sophie Carmen-Jones Michaelah Reynolds

Michaelah Reynolds' Favorite Images From 2023

 
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