I get asked this question a lot: “What shows should I see on Broadway?” I get asked from friends who are visiting New York City for the weekend, teachers who are taking their students on an extended field trip and even friends who live in the city. Now, I usually try to answer that question, keeping in mind, what my friends or students would be interested in seeing – making sure its content and style appropriate.
Back in November, I posted my top five favorite shows and since then two have closed and the other three have significant cast changes. Then back in March, I posted my new list, but that was before all of the new Broadway shows had opened and there have been several that have opened but it’s still a very similar list.
Here’s my top 5 that you should check out this summer in New York City:
1. Next to Normal at Booth Theatre – Next to Normal continues to be #1 on my list for a number of reasons, even with the new cast changes. Husband-and-wife actors Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie will join the cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical in July. Next to Normal is a breath of fresh air, especially when comparing it to such shows as Billy Elliot or even Disney’s Mary Poppins (which I happen to love).
Tom Kitt’s beautifully crafted rock opera deals directly with heartache in a way that’s never been presented in musical theatre. With the difficult level of the score, intensity of the acting and fiery energy that the actors bring to the show every night, I thought that it might actually get “tired” as the run went on. My friend saw it last week and said it was the best he’s ever seen it! (It was his 5th or 6th time seeing it.) You have till July 18th to see the Tony-winning performance by Alice Ripley.
It’s my all-time favorite show I’ve seen on Broadway. Don’t miss it!
2. American Idiot at St. James Theatre – American Idiot didn’t win the Tony Award for Best Musical, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see this show! It did win the Tony Award for the lighting and set design (which were well-deserved). I saw it four times at Berkeley Rep in it’s out-of-town try-out and I can tell you it will blow your mind. It was the musical that actually inspired me to start this website.
“Finally, someone has come along and given musical theatre the electro shock therapy it has needed for so long. While Tom Kitt’s newest musical, Next to Normal, deals directly with the affects of electro shock therapy, American Idiot is electro shock therapy for the audience. It screams independence and acceptance in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.” You can read the full review here.
3. A Little Night Music at Walter Kerr Theatre: I actually gave up my ticket to see this to see the closing performance of Finian’s Rainbow.(Read the full story here.) I’ve only heard fabulous things about this production and that Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones are exquisite in their roles. Zeta-Jones did just win the Tony Award for Best Actress on Sunday.
In the New York Times Catherine Zeta-Jones is said to be, “…drop-dead gorgeous in David Farley’s wasp-waisted period dresses, Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body and a vulpine self-possession to her first appearance on Broadway.” This is your last week to see Miss Zeta-Jones and Miss Lansbury as their final performance is on June 20th. But on July 13th, you’ll have a chance to see two other theatre legends take over the roles: Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. I have a feeling that this is a show you won’t want to miss!
4. La Cage aux Folles at Longacre Theatre: First off, you have to congratulate La Cage aux Folles for being the first musical in history to win “Best Musical” or “Best Musical Revival” three times! Talk about a huge triumph and making musical theatre history! The Menier Chocolate Factory’s acclaimed revival hits the Broadway stage, starring Douglas Hodge (Olivier Award and Tony Award) as Albin, a drag performer with a heart of gold, and Kelsey Grammer as his partner Georges.
I haven’t seen this production yet, but from what I’ve heard, you don’t want to miss it – the Cagelles are worth the price of admission. (Did you see them on the Tony Awards? Talk about fierce!)
5. In the Heights at Richard Rodgers Theatre – In the Heights won the 2008 Tony for “Best Musical” and has been a hit on Broadway ever since. I caught the In the Heights tour in San Francisco last month and absolutely fell in love with the show all over again. (Read review, here)
I took 35 theatre/music students to this production on Broadway in March ’09 and they absolutely fell in love with it, just as I had when I saw it for the first time. The infusion of Latin/Rap/Pop music into musical theatre isn’t groundbreaking or new, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are. The end of Act I, when they sing “Blackout” — fireworks literally and figuratively go off on stage. It’s electrifying!
Shows I hope to see in August:
- Promises, Promises – I can’t resist seeing a show with Kristen Chenoweth, Sean Hayes or Katie Finneran (who won the Tony for Best Supporting Actress) all in it! If you have time for one more revival, then this one should be on your list!
- Next to Normal: It’s one of the rare shows that’s open on a Monday night and I can’t wait to see the new replacements: Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie.
- American Idiot: Yes, I know – with all of the shows that I haven’t seen on Broadway that are open, why see a show I’ve already seen four times! Well, I haven’t seen it on Broadway yet! And I want to see the changes and new discoveries they have made since Berkeley Rep.
- La Cage aux Folles/A Little Night Music: It’s basically going to come down to which one will I be able to afford tickets to! I have never seen either show in any production, so I’m looking forward to seeing at least one!
It looks like, I might just have to return sometime in October to catch a few more…