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New York Times, Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1843/15/19948/14/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451326571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514231
David J. Kahn

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 171 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David J. Kahn notes:
I'm a Broadway buff and see a lot of musicals. Last year, I wrote a puzzle about 'Hamilton' for Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show's ... read more

I'm a Broadway buff and see a lot of musicals. Last year, I wrote a puzzle about "Hamilton" for Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show's creator, as well as the cast. (Still waiting to see the show. Extra tickets, anyone?)

Anyway, I started this puzzle with a Hamilton answer in the middle and went looking for other one-word Best Musical winners whose titles would start other answers and whose names would still be familiar even to non-theatergoers. There were 12 such musicals and I was able to get six in the grid, including 5 that interlocked. Pure luck that I was able to use the same clue for CAINE and WIEST.

Jeff Chen notes:
BEST MUSICALs played upon today, David using two-word phrases where the first word is the title of a musical. He managed to squeeze in ... read more

BEST MUSICALs played upon today, David using two-word phrases where the first word is the title of a musical. He managed to squeeze in six musicals for an impressively high theme density — so fortuitous, that interlocking of HAMILTON, COMPANY, and RENT.

Turns out that there are quite a few one-word BEST MUSICALS, including CATS, TITANIC, CONTACT, HAIRSPRAY, MEMPHIS, etc. Not being much of a playgoer, COMPANY and ONCE didn't do much for me — nor did NINE for that matter — but hey, I recognized ANNIE, HAMILTON, and RENT! No doubt they're all fair game since they won the top Tony Award, but … well, hopefully most solvers will connect better with all six musicals than I did.

Given the ultra-high theme density, not a surprise to get some dabs of crossword glue. I don't mind it so much if it's spread out, but getting NALDI / ATA (along with partial-ish feeling ATE ON and RID OF) at the top, and TEM / TRA / SMEW / SSR / OLAN concentrated in the bottom wasn't ideal.

Still, I enjoyed some of the bonus fill David worked in, notably HAY FEVER, HOOPLA, (oh no!) MR BILL, even GRITTY and REVERE. Not an easy task to incorporate these types of strong bonuses, but I appreciated them greatly, since I didn't connect strongly with the theme.

I wasn't familiar with LAP ROBES — thank goodness all the crosses were fair! — so that didn't do much for me. Still, it got me to thinking what the heck "open-air travelers" were and why they needed LAP ROBES. So it held my interest, if not in an immediate way.

Given that the Gray Lady has recently been moving toward more humor in drug references — particularly marijuana — it would have been fun to get a CONTACT HIGH from this puzzle!

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B
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0502 ( 24,647 )
Across
1
Like some basketball shots and unwanted calls : BLOCKED
8
Slangy turndown : NAH
11
Law man : OHM
14
Woo : ROMANCE
15
___ crossroads : ATA
16
"... fish ___ fowl" : NOR
17
Markswoman dubbed "Little Sure Shot" [1977] : ANNIEOAKLEY
19
Male swan : COB
20
Site of two French banks : SEINE
21
Free from : RIDOF
22
Prefix with center : EPI
23
High lines : ELS
25
Variety of pool [1982] : NINEBALL
27
2017 N.C.A.A. basketball champs : UNC
30
Opposite of a gulp : SIP
32
Rapidly spreading over the internet : VIRAL
33
Mushroom or balloon : GROW
35
Group that takes pledges, informally : FRAT
38
Massage target? : EGO
39
Capital city with only about 1,000 residents [2016] : HAMILTONBERMUDA
44
Stew morsel : PEA
45
"Right away!" : STAT
46
Geraint's wife, in Arthurian legend : ENID
47
Understand : GRASP
49
Rallying cry? : RAH
51
"Gloria in Excelsis ___" (hymn) : DEO
52
Landlord's register [1996] : RENTROLL
56
Ring on a string : LEI
58
Columbia, for one : IVY
59
Winds down in a pit? : OBOES
61
Boise's home : IDAHO
65
President pro ___ : TEM
66
Award won by the starts of 17-, 25-, 39- and 52-Across and 11- and 29-Down : BESTMUSICAL
68
___-la-la : TRA
69
Get a good look at : EYE
70
Country north of Latvia : ESTONIA
71
Hankering : YEN
72
70-Across, e.g., formerly: Abbr. : SSR
73
TV's "Maverick" or "Gunsmoke" : WESTERN
Down
1
They may be strapless or padded : BRAS
2
Solo : LONE
3
Luxury hotel chain : OMNI
4
Oscar winner for "Hannah and Her Sisters" : CAINE
5
Prepares to be knighted : KNEELS
6
Prefix with tourism : ECO
7
Sweetie : DEAR
8
Nita of silent films : NALDI
9
Used as the surface for a meal : ATEON
10
Antihistamine target : HAYFEVER
11
400 meters, for an Olympic track [2012] : ONCEAROUND
12
Commotion : HOOPLA
13
Clay character in old "S.N.L." sketches : MRBILL
18
They're related : KIN
24
Search (through) : SIFT
26
1996 Foo Fighters hit : BIGME
27
"That's awful!" : UGH
28
Hunters' org. : NRA
29
Superloyal employee [1971] : COMPANYMAN
31
Crackerjacks : PROS
34
Oscar winner for "Hannah and Her Sisters" : WIEST
36
Caste member : ANT
37
Means of avoiding an uphill climb : TBAR
40
Blankets for open-air travelers : LAPROBES
41
Series ender: Abbr. : ETAL
42
Run out of power : DIE
43
Commotion : ADO
47
Courageously persistent : GRITTY
48
Noted colonial silversmith : REVERE
50
Bank jobs : HEISTS
53
Follows orders : OBEYS
54
Deadbeat, e.g. : LOSER
55
Tennis call : LET
57
Buffoon : IDIOT
60
Eurasian duck : SMEW
62
Teen woe : ACNE
63
Wig, e.g. : HAIR
64
Pearl Buck heroine : OLAN
67
Helpfulness : USE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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