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Notes From New York: Broadway celebrates Valentine's Day with Rocky and the Oscars with Idina Menzel

The Great White Way is welcoming stars from Audra McDonald to Lin-Manuel Miranda… and possibly even Oprah

John Travolta made headlines for the wrong reasons at the Oscars
© Adele Dazim

In the US, the past month brought us two of our most beloved non-holidays: Valentine's Day and the Oscars. This year, the Oscars, which took place on 2 March, really delivered Broadway-wise. Not only was Broadway darling Idina Menzel tapped to perform, but Disney's Great White Way-bound Frozen (in which Menzel voiced the lead role) took home Best Animated Feature and a slew of other awards. Frozen songwriter Robert Lopez (also composer of Broadway hits The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q) even became the 12th EGOT (a proud owner of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony).

But the most inflammatory moment of the evening was John Travolta's flagrant mispronunciation of Idina Menzel's name, which resulted in everything from Twitter outrage to this adorable appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Newly formed Menzel fans will be delighted to learn that the Rent star is back on Broadway in the new Tom Kitt/Brian Yorkey musical If/Then, which you can see Menzel perform a song from here.

Valentine's Day was also a fruitful festivity, resulting in not only this list of the best Broadway couples but also the rebirth of our Broadway First Dates video series. First Dates came back with a bang when Andy Karl, star of the new Broadway musical Rocky, and his wife, Broadway actress Orfeh, visited the TheaterMania's offices to tell us about their first date and ensuing whirlwind romance.

Andy Karl and Idina Menzel aren't the only big names headed to New York in the coming months. An impressive number of stars have recently announced plans to touch down on Broadway. Audra McDonald will be returning to the stage this spring as Billie Holiday in the Broadway premiere of Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will star in his own new musical Hamilton, based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, at The Public Theater in 2015. And Tony winner Hugh Jackman is also coming back to Broadway, if only for one night, to host the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on 8 June. Even former talk-show host and Color Purple producer Oprah apparently has her sights set on Broadway, this time as an actor, with rumors swirling that she could be starring in a revival of Marsha Norman's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, '''night, Mother'' - opposite Audra McDonald!

James Franco, Leighton Meester and Chris O'Dowd make their Broadway debuts in Of Mice and Men
© Seth Walters

TheaterMania's exciting recent behind-the-scenes content has included videos meeting Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, Michael McKean, and the rest of the cast of Broadway's political thriller All The Way as well as Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, and a host of Les Misérables' French revolutionaries. Plus, our cameras went into the recording studio with the new musical The Bridges of Madison County to document Steven Pasquale and Kelli O'Hara crooning the intensely romantic new score from Parade composer Jason Robert Brown. We took photos of Scrubs star Zach Braff rehearsing the upcoming musical adaptation of Bullets Over Broadway and James Franco, Leighton Meester, and Chris O'Dowd meeting the press. Jonathan Freeman even spoke to us about voicing Jafar in Disney's Aladdin film and playing the villain in the upcoming Broadway version.

Even with all this excitement, the Broadway community has found time to take a look back. On 17 February, much of the original cast of the 1997 Broadway production of Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's musical Titanic reunited at Lincoln Center for a one-night concert performance. TheaterMania went behind the scenes with the company, which included stars like Michael Cerveris and Brian d'Arcy James, to witness and record the deeply emotional rehearsal.

The Titanic concert was the perfect event to whet our taste for the WhatsOnStage Award-winning Southwark Playhouse production of the musical, which is sailing to Broadway in the fall. The staging also got New York musical lovers in the mood for the recent Lincoln Center concert production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd, which starred Bryn Terfel as well as Britain's own Emma Thompson, who's wonderful and we've decided to keep.