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New York Times, Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1793/15/19946/3/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451222571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514190
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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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0502 ( 24,647 )

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Students & seniors
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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