The Great White Way (MUSICALS, not the nickname for the 2015 Oscars)

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  • @DaveInHollywood, I did see Ragtime on Broadway with Audra (I think I mentioned above) and she and Brian Stokes Mitchell we amazing, but the show didn't stick in my memory otherwise. I remember liking it, loving them, and not much more besides the basics of the story, unfortunately.

    I wish there was more filming of Broadway shows. I saw Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods and Ben Vereen in Pippin on PBS (liked the recent revival of Pippin a lot when it was in SF), and I wish there was more of that. There is a movie theater near me that shows the broadcast of the National Theater shows from London. I guess there isn't more of that with Broadway shows because it would cut into the tourist revenue. I did see the Orlando Bloom/Condola Rashad production of Romeo and Juliet in a movie theater in SF last year, but that was only out there after the show had closed.
  • edited February 2015
    It seems to be an unpopular BK opinion, but my first and always Broadway love is Phantom.  My mother and grandmother took me for my first show as a 10th birthday present, and I have loved it more or less uncritically the 6+ times I have seen it since then.  (Except for the Schumacher movie.  That's a tragedy).

    Other shows I've enjoyed include the revival of Pippin (the circus theme really works in an interesting way), the Les Mis revival with Ramin Karimloo (my current Broadway crush), Cabaret (saw it with Neil Patrick Harris as the Emcee), the Producers, the Lion King, Spamalot, Jersey Boys, and Avenue Q.  I've seen a whole bunch of others that I liked fine, like Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, and Beauty and the Beast.  This is clearly a genre I enjoy. 

    And while it's not a musical, and I'm not sure that I could say that I enjoyed it per se, Alan Cumming's one man Macbeth was an amazing piece of theatre.

    @KarenFK - I'm with you on wishing there were more filmed stage shows, as opposed to movie musicals.  I love to be able to appreciate the artistry that goes into putting a stage production together, and it doesn't always translate so well into a more traditional movie.
  • Well there's a fantastic thing called NT Live, which isn't really broadcasting musicals but it does broadcast lots of live productions into cinemas across the world. Largely London productions because it's the brainchild of the National Theatre but they have done the odd thing from NY. The biggest draw last season was Tom Hiddleston's incredible Coriolanus and this season it'll be Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet. YOu should look into it, it;s a great idea.
  • @CourtneyA, I will join you in enjoying Phantom. Okay, maybe it's a bit dated but the songs require one hell of a voice!

    Speaking of which, I forgot Candide. Cunegonde is a wickedly hard soprano part and there's great lyrics with the trademark Bernstein wit and flourish of the music.
  • KarenFK said:
     I wish there was more filming of Broadway shows. I saw Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods and Ben Vereen in Pippin on PBS (liked the recent revival of Pippin a lot when it was in SF), and I wish there was more of that. There is a movie theater near me that shows the broadcast of the National Theater shows from London. I guess there isn't more of that with Broadway shows because it would cut into the tourist revenue.
    Yes to this. Living in a small town, I've only seen 4 musicals live in my entire life. I regularly trawl YT for videos of live musicals, but wish there was more available in movie theatre screenings, on tv, available to buy... something!
  • Jocasta, I used to live on Guam and I even managed to see live musicals there, though they were all at the High School level (and surprisingly good).  Do you mean you've only seen four professional Broadway level shows?  

    I mostly see shows at our local college, Cal State Long Beach, or small theater companies around me, like Cygnet and Chance.

    Where do you live?
  • @karenfk, yes!! Sunset Blvd, of course! I never saw it, but she sang some of the music on GMA while it was on Broadway and it was amazing.

  • Man, I would go see a one-man Macbeth ALL. DAY. LONG. 

    I love Macbeth. (Or, as a boy I loved right up until that second wrote me in a note passed in class, McBeth.)
  • I know @OffToSeeHim--  really wanted to see the Alan Cumming Macbeth and was even in NY while he was doing it, but I was with my mom and my sister on that trip and they just refused.  We only had time for one show and that is how we ended up seeing Kinky Boots, which I do not regret at all, but I would have really liked to see that Macbeth production!

    @DaveInHollywood, I have heard lots of good things about the theater dept at Cal State Long Beach (and know a few alums). Their productions must be great.  

    In Berkeley, we have a phenomenal theater group for high school kids -- the Youth Musical Theater Company. They put on professional quality productions and it has been a great way to introduce my kids to the joys of musical theater without spending an arm and a leg. We have see their productions of Sweeny Todd, Les Mis, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story in the past few years. My younger son loved Les Mis so much that I gave him my old cassette of the Broadway cast recording and he practically wore it out!
  • @KarenFK - a few years ago there was a production of Company with NPH that I saw in the movie theatre. I'm pretty sure it is on video (or maybe Netflix?) now. I think Patty LuPone was in the Elaine Stritch role. 
  • edited February 2015
    @Snailstichr-- yes! I saw that recently on PBS or someplace. I had not seen Company before and I really enjoyed it. Christina Hendricks from Mad Men was on it, too, if I recall correctly.

    I also saw Oklahoma with Hugh Jackman on PBS years ago. that was amazing (Oklahoma is not one of my favorites, but it is deservedly a classic and Hugh Jackman was phenomenal).

    Did anyone else see Passing Strange? That was filmed for PBS by Spike Lee and is on Showtime until the end of this month (i.e., Saturday). I liked that a lot.
  • One of the best recent shows is A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (youtube their Tony performance) it's a truly brilliant show
  • I miss musical theater. When I still lived in Chicago I used to do a lot of volunteer work for the performing arts community and ended up catching 40 or so productions a year for free

    It's the smaller lcoal stuff I tend to remember

    The Song of Jacob Zulu. Technically it was a play that was backed by Oprah but it had a transcendent performance by The LadySmith Black Momzambo troup as the chorus. The play actually got nominated for best score for a tony. It would have won Tonys but it had the misfortune to be up against Angels in America

    I can recall Sylvia. A fun musical based on the comic strip Sylvia's Real Good Advice
    There was another fun piece that played for several months in CHicago. Theda Bara and the Frontier Rabbi. Classic musical theater pastiche

    I always smile when I saw the Woody Guthrie American Songbook

    In Austin I saw a strip down version of Aida. very absorbing

    I hope we can get past the opulent Cameron Mackintosh style of broadway theater. As much as I love Les Miz, they get exhausting.

    Phantom has it's good points but the full production actually can assault your eyes. There are 3 points int he play where it becomes way too excesses and they literally blind you.

    I was always surprised Miss Saigon was such a hit. The work tries to hard to reproduce the Les Miz formula. there were times I wanted to scream "just speak the words. they make no sense as a song". Also it's a weird hybrid of insanely splashy, but cool number, and tiny intimate ones where they would wheel out a mini set to perform on
  • edited February 2015
    KarenFK said:
    I know @OffToSeeHim--  really wanted to see the Alan Cumming Macbeth and was even in NY while he was doing it, but I was with my mom and my sister on that trip and they just refused.  We only had time for one show and that is how we ended up seeing Kinky Boots, which I do not regret at all, but I would have really liked to see that Macbeth production!

    @DaveInHollywood, I have heard lots of good things about the theater dept at Cal State Long Beach (and know a few alums). Their productions must be great.  

    In Berkeley, we have a phenomenal theater group for high school kids -- the Youth Musical Theater Company. They put on professional quality productions and it has been a great way to introduce my kids to the joys of musical theater without spending an arm and a leg. We have see their productions of Sweeny Todd, Les Mis, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story in the past few years. My younger son loved Les Mis so much that I gave him my old cassette of the Broadway cast recording and he practically wore it out!
    The theater department at Cal State Long Beach is really terrific though I admit I've only seen their musicals.  What I love about it, and it's probably true of any college theater company, is that the shows are absolutely packed with people.  A professional company usually pares a show down to the absolute minimum they can get away with because employment is so expensive, but a college department is all about giving people a lot of experience.  At CSULB the stages were absolutely packed with people for Spring Awakening and Nine, but Evita had so many people you could barely move on the stage! :-)
  • Jocasta, I used to live on Guam and I even managed to see live musicals there, though they were all at the High School level (and surprisingly good).  Do you mean you've only seen four professional Broadway level shows?  

    I mostly see shows at our local college, Cal State Long Beach, or small theater companies around me, like Cygnet and Chance.

    Where do you live?
    I live in a small town in Finland, about 1.5 hours away from the Russian border. I've seen 2 shows on Broadway, one show in Helsinki, and one high school production. (In high school, I tended to perform in the musicals, not see them.) Schools here don't tend to put on shows that are open to the public, and college theatres tend to do drama, not musicals (when I was in our college theatre, we did British kitchen sink drama and Ibsen). The local theatre has done 2 musicals I can remember, neither of which I could afford to get tickets for, so unfortunately, my experience with live musicals has been limited.
  • Jocasta, what a tragedy! :-)  Though small town Finland sounds charming in its own way.  I'll guess you'll have to make do with stuff you can find on the internet and then try and stowaway on a plane bound for London.

    Still I'm surprised there aren't theatrical fan groups in Helsinki.  It would certainly help me get through the dark winters!
  • KarenFK said:
     I also saw Oklahoma with Hugh Jackman on PBS years ago. that was amazing (Oklahoma is not one of my favorites, but it is deservedly a classic and Hugh Jackman was phenomenal).  
    We saw Oklahoma with Hugh Jackman when we were in London. We had half-price tickets in the front row on the aisle. When Hugh sat down on the edge of the stage to sing, my husband could have reached out and touched him. I think he also might have gotten a little spit (but just a little). That show was a lot of fun.
  • I saw On the Town last week, my annual trip to Broadway. Times Square looked like a hyperactive ski resort with all the hats and scarves and face masks against the bitter cold. It was something like 11 degrees. For once, the fast pace of New York made perfect sense, as no one would want to be out in the freezing cold for any longer than necessary. 

    We got off the bus and trotted (well I hobbled because of the arthritis), a block down and a block over to the Brooklyn Diner first. A chicken pot pie was $23, but I saw one pass by on the waiter's tray, so I split with another person. Six people at the table and three entrees were enough. Their Reuben sandwich was $28. The food was good, but I am glad we were able to split. New York prices. Effing brutal.

    We had a group of 30 some attend the show, On the Town, which was a classic piece of Americana.

    The stage was set with a giant screen of the American flag, and the orchestra began with the Star Spangled Banner, which was right in tune with the 1944 time frame of the show. So we all stood up and sang.

    This was a singing and dancing workout. Nobody phoned anything in, there was some genuinely hard work going on. The story of three sailors on 24 hour leave and each finding the perfect girl was as much of a fairy tale as any vampire story of today, but a lot more wholesome.

    I wonder how much of the original Jerome Robbins choreography was used, because the twists and slides, the leaps and twirls were reminiscent of West Side Story, which was Jerome Robbins, too. There probably were some cuts and some new additions, but the dancing was just plain exuberant. So was the music. New York New York, a helluva town, the Bronx is "up" and the Battery "down"!

    The costumes were spectacular, as was the lighting. Now the comedy was pretty lowbrow, and played quite broadly, but that was the way it was written in the 1940s, so I think it was faithful to the original show. People laughed at different things back in the day. If there was anything remarkable, it was that the boys bodies were drool worthy, and two out of three of the principal parts for the girls were played by women shaped like women, not waifs. They could all belt out a song, too. Six leads who could all sing and dance splendidly. The humor was corny as could be.

    It was thoroughly entertaining, and everyone enjoyed it. Not memorable, but a fine evening. The Convention I was attending started the next day, so it was a perfect excursion, 'cept for the bone  chilling cold.


  • @rainwood, I saw Hugh Jackman in San Francisco a couple of years ago doing his song and dance show (I think it was called "Hugh Jackman in Performance"). We had second row seats. When he had an audience member up on stage at one point, he (Hugh, not the audience member) took the guy's seat. Hugh Jackman was sitting in the seat right in front of me! I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn't reach out and touch him!
  • edited February 2015
    @jackie4g The original production of On the Town was 1944, before Jerome Robbins was a big star and there was no notation of his work on the production made, at least none that has survived. It was revived in '71 but Robbins wasn't involved as he was working with the New York City Ballet at the time. So the current productions choreographer, the incredible Joshua Bergasse, has had to choreograph the entire production from scratch tho, he went back over existing work of Robbin's for inspiration. Example, there's a few nods to West Side Story's Dance at the Gym in On the Town etc. 


    I saw Oklahoma at the National with Jackman, before he was the star he is now and he always had star quality, he nabbed the Wolverine role soon after, because when the show transferred to Broadway I'm think I'm right in saying they had to bring in Patrick Wilson instead. Trevor Nunn's production of Oklahoma remains the prefect vision of the show for me. He stripped away the twee, that has infiltrated Rodgers & Hammerstein's work, laregly because of the film versions, and made something that really shone.
    Incidentally if you're a R&H fan, Bartlett Sher's landmark production of South Pacific at the Lincoln Center, was filmed and I think can be found on You Tube. I can't wait to see what he does with The King & I next month.
  • @Scarlett, you really know your stuff, thank you! I was just going by my impressions. I just looked and the play bill says "based on an idea by Jerome Robbins", but the choreographer was the fellow you mentioned, Bergasse.

    I'm not a big anything fan, I would have much preferred to see the Sting musical but it closed the end of January. I will look forward to hearing about The King and I. Having grown up with Yul Brynner owning the part, it will take some getting used to, but I like the show. Never cared for South Pacific, sorry to say.

  • @Jackie4g A very good friend of mine was the lead in The Last Ship (the Sting musical) he's was great, the cast were but I completely understand why it closed early. It wasn't the most accessible of shows, despite the beautiful score, but the music is certainly worth seeking out
  • @KarenFK @Scarlett @CourtneyA I don't know if you guys ever listen to Podcasts, but since you are musical fans, you would LOVE the "Theatre People" podcast on iTunes. It is SO FUN! Patrick Hinds is the interviewer (he's HILARIOUS) and he interviews Broadway STARS (like LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, Lin Manuel Miranda, LAURA OSNES (twice) Celia Keenan Bolver, Karen Olivo, Eden Espinosa, Annaleigh Ashford....I could go on FOREVER with the amount of stars he's had).  It is funny, interesting, emotional, and FREE! Check it out!!!

    I just saw HAIRSPRAY this weekend at a community theater and it was the absolute BEST piece of community theater I have ever seen! There Tracy and Motormouth had played the role at a few other stages and while Tracy was fantastic, Motormouth took EVERYONE to church during her "I Know Where I've Been".  There was not a dry eye or a closed mouth, everyone was agape and emotional, she was PERFECTION.  The Edna and Wilbur were also SO perfect together! They broke character during "You're Timeless to Me" but their ad-libbing was so funny and charming that the audience was dying. If anyone is near Chicago, you should check out Cutting Hall next weekend! 
  • Kinky Boots is coming to the DPAC and I am THERE!! I hope Book of Mormon comes too. What was that one Glenn Close was in on Broadway in the 90's? That was amazing. I love Nunsense, shoot me. Brigadoon, Chorus Line, Gigi (in MOURNING for Louis Jourdan), Cats, Godspell, All That Jazz, so many more. 

    I *didn't* love Phantom, West Side Story, Rent, or Chicago.

    I haven't seen Les Mis or Wicked in any form.
    DPAC?  Do you live in the Triangle?  I'm in Durham!
  • Favorite musicals: I have too many to name.  Practically anything by Sondheim, he is a god: Sweeney Todd; A Little Night Music; Follies; Into the Woods; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Passion.  West Side Story and Gypsy for sure (Sondheim wrote only the lyrics to those, as you know). Guys and Dolls may be, line for line and note for note, the best American musical ever.  Carousel is the best R&H in my opinion.  I am a big fan of the music to Camelot although it is a VERY problematic show to stage--only one female part (Guinevere) and it is way too long.  A Chorus Line, still so moving and so true, so many years after its debut.  Cabaret is excellent and always a crowd pleaser (as evidenced by its endless revivals) but I have to say that it is so very decadent that every time I see it I just want to go home and take a shower.  Not as big a fan of Chicago, it's always seemed too manic for my taste.  I saw the revival of On the Town in December and it was a sheer delight......amazing dancing and a fabulous band, wonderful songs.

    I know I'm in the world minority but I have absolutely no love for most of the big blockbusters of the past 10-15 years: Phantom, Les Mis, Cats, Wicked, and almost anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose music I find insufferable.  The one exception is a VERY small & relatively unknown work by ALW called "Song and Dance", which is really more of a revue than anything.  It's got some great songs.

    @OffToSeeHim: I think the Glenn Close musical you're trying to think of is Sunset Boulevard, which has one great song and all the rest is not so great. 
  • I don't like ALW as a composer either, though I wouldn't have said that after Evita, just everything since.

    And speaking of ALW, am I the only person on earth (well, in America) who watched ALW's reality shows where he was casting for roles for his projects?  They searched for a Maria, a Joseph, a Nancy, and a Dorothy (probably in that order and to diminishing returns).
  • @DaveinHollywood: watched them, though the presence of Graham Norton and John Barrowman may have been a major contributing factor.
  • edited March 2015
    KarenFK said:
    I saw Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime back in the day. They were wonderful! 

    I LOVE Ragtime! I saw it when I was 14 or 15, and it is one of the musicals that I most often find music stuck in my head from.  Recently I've been humming it a lot and NO ONE knows that musical around here.
    I was taken to my first musical when I was 6, and we had to leave the Fiddler on the Roof early because my at the time 3 year old brother was tired. I resented him for that for quite some time.  I have seen the Sound of Music, a musical version of Midsummer's Night Dream, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (also love that musical), Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables 4 times, Oklahoma, Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia, and though they aren't quite musicals, I've also seen 4 different Circque du Solei shows and STOMP three times.
  • edited March 2015

    A Chorus Line and Les Mis are my "old school" favorites--two of the first I ever saw on B-way.

    Recent loves are Book of Mormon (brilliant on so many levels), the Pippin revival and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.

    The most interesting and fun thing I've seen of late was David Byrne's Imelda Marcos interactive rock/disco opera Here Lies Love at the Public Theater. So much fun and really good too.

  • @DaveinHollywood: watched them, though the presence of Graham Norton and John Barrowman may have been a major contributing factor.
    Graham & John were great. I even liked Denise Von Whatsherface.  Through the show I became a big fan of Daniel Boys and I have his album as well as Connie Fisher's two albums (like the second one, not the first).  I liked Samantha Barks as well.  

    Oh and since of of the Joseph's became a certified porn star after the fact, well, I've got to throw that out there too. :-)
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