This is the first part of my five-part blog for Camp Broadway about my recent trip to New York City. Since I have so much to talk about (and I will surely ramble), I decided to split these blog up into sections. This week is the topic most theatre students talk about when going to New York…Broadway!
Let’s be honest, when I go to New York, I want to see some shows. This time, I had the great opportunity to see seven different shows new and old. Since I can’t pick a favorite since they were all so unique, I’ll go through them from day one to the last night of my trip!
My first show was a matinee performance of After Midnight. I didn’t know what to expect going into the show, but I was definitely not disappointed. After Midnight is a combination of dance, singing, and so many more incredible acts in a Harlem night club during the 1920s. The diverse and immense talent of the cast is incredible; there were no weak members of the ensemble. What makes this show great is the big band behind the chorus, who get their chance in the spotlight as well. If you are a music lover, you will have to go see this show! Dule Hill played the Host and acted the part very well. Grammy winner k.d. Lang was the special guest and surprised us with her versatile voice. Her rendition of the classic “Stormy Weather” was a highlight of the show in my opinion. If you want a fun night with a wide variety of entertainment, go check out After Midnight.
The Tony winning revival of Pippin combined Stephen Schwartz story of the acting troupe performing the story of Pippin and the spectacle of a circus. The ensemble members doubled as performers and circus acts, flipping and contorting across the stage. Even the leading cast participated in the circus aspects of the musical, showing incredible strength and talents beyond singing and dancing. Patina Miller shined as the Leading Player, showing incredible versatility and vocal prowess. Charlotte D’Amboise (Fastrada) and Annie Potts (Berthe) rounded out this cast of amazing females. The haunting ending gives us a reminder that we all have the chance to be extraordinary, but we should also appreciate the ordinary things in life.
Original musical If/Then, from the creators of Next to Normal, tells the story of the choices we make and how they affect the way we live our lives. The beginning starts with Elizabeth (Idina Menzel) as a 40 year old divorced woman who runs into her best friends Kate and Lucas (LaChanze and Anthony Rapp). The rest of the musical shows two alternate lives depending on which friend she chose to go with in the beginning. While sometimes confusing, the plot was very interesting as it blended the two alternate lives. The set was fantastic and had a surrealistic, urban feel like the theme of the play centering on New York City and Elizabeth’s job as an urban planner. The music was another highlight of the show and I cannot wait to get the soundtrack. If you are a fan of Next to Normal, If/Then is definitely the musical for you.
Rocky the Musical
Yo, Rocky comes from silver screen to stage in a musical about determination, dedication, and in the end, love wins. Many of the iconic images from the film, like Rocky running up the stairs and the training montages are back in the musical. And fans won’t be disappointed as “Eye of the Tiger” is also rearranged for the stage version of Rocky. Many of the songs can come off as a little corny, but this musical has some great numbers. Adrian (played by Margo Seibert) has a great eleven o’clock number about her brother that brought the house down. She has an incredible voice that packs a punch. Andy Karl shines as Rocky Balboa and embodies the character played by Sylvester Stallone in the film. Stallone, who wrote the screenplay, comes back to make his Broadway debut as a book writer and effortlessly transfers the movie to the stage. The finale prize fight is one of the best theatrical moments I have ever seen on the Broadway stage, capping off a fantastic industrialized set. Whether or not you’re a fan of the movie, Rocky is sure to be a great night at the theater.
Bullets Over Broadway
Woody Allen’s film that looks at gangsters, Broadway, and romance comes to New York City in the new musical Bullets Over Broadway. In 1928, a playwright uses mob money to produce his new play on Broadway, but has to use the talentless girlfriend of the mob boss. The hilarious antics of the characters and fast paced storyline are pulled together with 1920s music hits for the score. Though the movie and songs have a good seventy years difference, the authentic music fits seamlessly into the plot of the musical. Zach Braff, who plays playwright David Shayne, makes his Broadway debut and shines as the leading man. Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos plays mobster Nick Valenti. Broadway vets Betsy Wolfe, Marin Mazzie, and Karen Ziemba round out an incredibly talented cast. Fantastic story, great songs, and a laugh out loud night as bullets fly over the St. James Theater.
Waiting For Godot
Samuel Beckett’s famous play about nothing is brought back to Broadway in Waiting For Godot. Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, wait around desperately for a man named Godot. They meet an enthusiastic man named Pozzo and his servant Lucky along the way. This production brings back the authenticity of the script to the lighting and set design. Place on a crumbling stage, where the upstage blanks are literally meeting their end. A bare tree stands as the only other set piece, with to run down proscenium box seats serving as the entrance and exits of the “road”. This barren set shows an apocalyptic world set in an unrealistic space. Acting legends Patrick Stewart (Vladimir) and Ian McKellen (Estragon) breathe new life into this play, bringing constant play and energy that form a complicated relationship between the two characters. Shuler Hensley (Pozzo) and Billy Crudup (Lucky) bring their talents among this all-star cast. Seeing this classic, produced at its best, was a truly magical theatrical experience that I was honored to be a part of.
After the 25th Anniversary national tour and 2012 Oscar winning movie, Les Miserables comes back to Broadway in all its glory in a newly re-mastered production. Projections and the use of author Victor Hugo’s original art bring an amazing touch to this already epic story. The best part of this revival of Les Miserables is the all-star cast. Will Swenson (Javert) brought great strength and vocals to the stories officer of the law. Caissie Levy (Fantine) sang “I Dreamed a Dream” and got well deserved applause. She made the character of Fantine her own. Keala Settle (Madame Thenardier) gave her comic strength to the role to steal the show during “Master of the House”. She had the audience in the palm of her hands and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear her name called on Tony night. Rounding out the cast is Nikki M. James as Eponine and Andy Mientus, of NBC’s Smash, making his Broadway debut as Marius. These musical veterans and members of casts from around the world have brought to Broadway a revival that brings honor to this stunning musical. Make sure to catch Les Miserables at the Imperial Theater, where talent is breaking down barricades.
Next on Part 2: Places to Visit!