Adventuring in New York City, Part II

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My New York City recap would not be complete without a review of the incredible theatre packing my week to the brim! We managed to squeeze in eight shows in six days, and what a whirlwind! I always felt like a fail of a theatre major since I had never seen a Broadway show. I saw national tours when they came through Dallas, Tulsa, or Seattle, and when I studied abroad I saw shows on the West End and at the Globe. But Broadway? Not until two weeks ago.

You know me, I could go on and on and on and on about all things theatre, so I’ll try to be brief about each show. Besides, in some cases you simply had to be there.

School of Rock: Monday night we saw School of Rock which is based on the movie by the same name. You know, the one with Jack Black? The movie wasn’t my favorite, but it was certainly fun, so I thought I knew what I was getting into with the musical version. Our seats weren’t great, but they were cheap which was fine, but THOSE KIDS THOUGH. Oh my stars, talk about talented!

Fifteen to twenty children flooded the stage with talent, and four of them were playing rock music live and do so every night of the show. Talk about incredible! What was I doing when I was twelve? Play with American Girl dolls and passing notes in class. At intermission an usher let Claire and I move to two empty seats toward the middle of the balcony, and we had a much better view of the second act.

Something Rotten: This was the show I had been obsessed with for the longest time, wishing for a ticket since I first heard the concept over a year ago. It’s a musical set in Shakespeare’s time, where Shakespeare is a rock star, literally, and a pair of brothers are trying to beat him at his own game. They hear from a fortune teller that musicals are going to be the next big thing, and that Shakespeare’s biggest hit will be called Omelet… he misses the Hamlet mark by one breakfast food ;) Therefore they start writing a musical about, you guessed it, omelets, and hilarity ensues.

It was SO CLEVER! The musical references and the Shakespeare references were EVERYWHERE. I laughed so hard I cried and I loved singing along. Easily one of my favorite for the week.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime: This show won the Tony award for Best Play last year, and I’ve been curious about it ever since. I rushed the show, which meant I showed up at the box office that morning and asked for a rush ticket, and I snagged the front box seat for only $30.

I loved being so close to the action, and there was only one small part of the stage that I couldn’t see, the upper stage left corner. The movement was brilliant, the story compelling, the acting so well done. I was mesmerized. It was a one of a kind experience I will never forget.

Finding Neverland: You may not know this but I love Peter Pan. I did several research projects on the play and the playwright in college, I see and read every show I can get my hands on that uses it in any way, shape, or form (Peter and the Star Catcher for instance, another brilliant production!). I loved the movie Finding Neverland featuring Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp, so I had big expectations for the musical. Matthew Morrison (from Glee) had long since left, and we saw the understudy of his replacement. The kids were super talented, but overall I was unimpressed. There were a few magical moments that made me cry, and two songs I adored, but I don’t think many of the design elements made sense together. There was a lot going on and it didn’t quite work. I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know I want to direct the show someday and try to figure it out.

Our workshop started on Wednesday and four shows were included. I have to admit that one of the shows was the primary reason Claire and I signed up for the workshop to begin with. Hamilton tickets are hard to come by, and when we found out they were part of the package deal we FLEW to our computers to secure our spots. I couldn’t wait to be in the room where it happens ;)

Hamilton: An American Musical: OH MY WORD. I SAW HAMILTON. I was counting down the days to seeing the hit show of the year, another Tony winner. You could say this year was the Hamil-Tonys, and in fact many had! It won award after award, and the musical theatre world has revolved around it since it opened last summer. We had nosebleed seats, all the way at the top of the balcony, but I didn’t care. Many of the original cast left the show earlier in July which was disappointing, but it was still so solid.

Thrilling choreography, great music, a phenomenal cast, and a talkback afterward? Yes, please. I loved it! There were a few things I would have changed, and I’m sure my experience would have been different if I had been closer to the stage, but it definitely lived up to the hype.

On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan: Honestly, I had no expectations for this show. I knew nothing about the story except it was based on real people, and after the dance class/mock Broadway audition we had with the choreographer I knew there would be Latin dancing. But, honestly? It was one of my favorites of the week! I recognized WAY more of the music than I thought I would, I danced in my seat, I swooned over the actors, and I instantly downloaded the soundtrack. OH. SO. GOOD. It’s been on repeat since I got home.

Shuffle Along: This was our Saturday matinee. It is a musical about a musical, and you could tell it was written for Audra McDonald. Unfortunately, we had her understudy, but it makes complete sense. The show was set to close at the end of the week because Audra was going on maternity leave, and she was no longer doing two shows per day. I don’t blame her. The show was fun though, the tap-dancing incredible, but it really depended on star power to push it forward. It was a bit lackluster without her.

Fun Home: Our final musical of the weekend was last year’s Tony winner, Fun Home. It’s based on the life and comics of Allison Bektal. This was our first and only show in the round, which meant the stage was in the center of the room with the audience all around. It featured another group of talented kids, some crazy set changes with pieces coming up through the floor and disappearing down below. It, too, is closing, so I’m glad I got to see it before it left Broadway.

Short, sweet, and to the point. Get me talking about these in person though, and I'd go on for hours ;)

I cannot wait to go back to the conference next year! Our workshops were stupendous and so varied: Shakespeare, puppet theory, Latin dance, curriculum. I left feeling so inspired ESPECIALLY with a new job on the horizon.

Have you seen any of these shows? 
If not, get yourself to Spotify and listen to the soundtracks! 
They're still rocking my world!
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