This week, I hit a major milestone in my NYC journey – I saw my 30th show since arriving in the city. While my tally includes mostly Broadway musicals because they just make my heart so happy, I’m an equal-opportunity theater-goer and made sure to sprinkle a handful of Broadway plays and off-Broadway shows into the mix.
The whole experience is awe-inspiring. The theaters themselves are all so ornate and intimate, there’s not a bad seat in the house. The actors and performers are at the top of their game (we all know the song, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere). There are too many to discuss each show at length, but here are some highlights in case you’re coming to visit NYC (hint, hint) or if any are coming through a city near you soon.
- Aladdin – This one was the first musical I saw after moving, and it fueled my love affair in a big way. It was funny, and felt new while still familiar, as I think we almost all know the story of the street rat and his Princess. And a magic carpet ride for the ages.
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – This one was a pleasant surprise, as I wasn’t overly familiar with the life and times of Carole King going in. I had no idea she’s responsible for so much of the music I know by heart – or what an interesting life she led.
- Waitress – This one holds the record for show I’ve seen the most, having seen it three times in basically three months. I went back for a third time to see Sara Bareilles return to the lead role (spoiler alert, so worth it). Seeing the artist responsible for the songs perform them live on stage was as amazing as I imagined. Let’s be real, She Used to Be Mine gives me all the goosebumps.
- Avenue Q – This one is currently playing off-Broadway, but still an absolute can’t-miss for anyone with a sense of humor. Celebrating 15 years, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. Completely inappropriate and not politically correct in the least; but if you can get past that, hands-down one of the most hilarious shows around.
- Book of Mormon – Up there with Avenue Q, this one still makes me laugh after seeing it in Houston, Seattle and now in its rightful home on Broadway.
- The Prom – I knew nothing about this one before arriving, except that I got a great deal on a ticket…and I was not disappointed. Funny, but with so much heart – a group of self-absorbed Broadway actors come to a small town to help save a prom that’s been cancelled after a student wants to attend with her girlfriend. More people should be seeing and talking about this show!
- Dear Evan Hansen – This one was at the top of my list when I moved, having recently won a Tony and having Ben Platt from Pitch Perfect fame serve as Evan when it opened. While I missed Ben, the show was so touching and all too relatable.
- To Kill a Mockingbird – I was worried this one might have been a little too academic for my taste. If I’m being honest, I don’t even remember whether I’ve read the novel. And yet, this turned out to be one of my favorite non-musical shows to date. Although it was longer than most, it was gripping from start to finish. Jeff Daniels’ standing ovation was completely warranted.
There are so many more – Wicked (even more magical than I remember), The Lion King (the sweeping artistry takes my breath away every time), Network (Bryan Cranston totally killed it), The Waverly Gallery (sad but somehow heartwarming at the same time, and Michael Cera/Lucas Hedges were incredible), Head Over Heels (such a fun, fluffy royal romp set to the Go-Go’s music), American Son (Kerry Washington and Jeremy Jordan were stellar, and the performance left me literally stunned), The Cher Show (c’mon, you can’t go wrong with Cher), Frozen (I can’t let it go) and I could go on and on…
I can’t wait for the Tony Awards this summer to see how many of my new friends take home awards. I’ve never had a real opinion on the award nominations or winners before, even though I have enjoyed watching the awards show in the past (I’m looking at you, Neil Patrick Harris). This year, though, I’ll be rooting for my favorites from basically down the street.
Speaking of, did y’all know that Tony Award is short for the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre? Maybe I’m the only one with no idea, here I’ve been living my life under the assumption some guy named Anthony was responsible. The awards are presented each year by The Broadway League and American Theater Wing, of which Antoinette was a co-founder. The award was created in her honor after she passed away in 1946, with the first ceremony that next year. The nickname Tony was used at that first event, and it has stuck ever since. I’m forever indebted to you, Antoinette; thank you for everything you did to support the Broadway theater so that I could discover it years later.