In 2008 Vogue magazine, there was an interview with Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter). He was talking about his Broadway experience while performing a lead role in the play Equus. He said:
“A great play goes beyond anything a film can achieve because you know that you’ve seen something special, something that people of future generations won’t see…its like a live concert- it happened once, and you were there.”
I just love this. I torn it out immediately and every time I reread it I love it even more. It’s EXACTLY how I feel when I go to the theater. The magic that is in the air and knowing that what you are seeing is a unique experience no matter how long it’s been performed. And when it’s over and all I have left are the memories, the thought of being there, closing my eyes and remembering what I saw on stage and what I felt while watching it always brings a smile to my face.
Hearing the soundtrack on my ipod brings be back to those places also. Some days it’s all I need to be pulled into a good mood. That’s because the memory and experience of that happy time and lesson learned are protected forever and untouchable to whatever today’s reality is.
For me a play is more than pursuit of entertainment. It’s a chance to appreciate talent, learn something about myself or others I didn’t know or notice before, and above all being able to live in someone else’s world for 2 1/2 hours is a great escape even if you aren’t running from anything.
I am pretty sure most traditional theater goers aren’t picking the shows they see based in education but I am. In general I am a very particular person and won’t see something that I know I wont like. But there are degrees of liking something. If a show was funny and had great scenery, acting and costumes I can appreciate all of it. I am always saying that I should work for the NY Times as their theater reviewer based on the way I critique something I am watching.
RENT & MDQ
These are my 1st and 2nd favorite plays of all time, respectively. The very first time I saw RENT my life changed. I was with my oldest and best friend and afterward we were speechless. This needless to say was a rare event. I know different stories speak to different people at different times of their lives. As a college student at that time it spoke to me about the concept of friends becoming your family and learning to love yourself and life for what it was. RENT was on Broadway for 12 years and I have seen the show too many times to count. I would literally have to count my playbills as I save everyone from every show. I continued to go back to feel the inspiration, love and invigoration it provided me every single time. RENT taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life- NO DAY BUT TODAY.
As for Million Dollar Quartet (which is incidentally playing at the old RENT theater) I was hooked within the first few moments. I had never seen such talent on stage. These actors were musicians by trade first and foremost and there was no mistakening that. MDQ gets compared a lot to Jersey Boys and I get it. They are both based on true stories of famous real life musicians and tells the story of their fame. However the biggest and most noticeable difference is actually the reason MDQ makes it on to my all time greatest play list in the #2 slot. In MDQ these guys are really playing all instruments and are not miked. They are singing live into the mikes on stage and when they stop there is no background orchestra or band. Whereas Jersey Boys they are only pretending to play. For me this was a huge surprise and delight. I had never seen such talented guys in this format. It made me love music from the 1950s that I had previously not appreciated to this extent despite typically being the youngest person in the audience. MDQ also gave me another gift and his name is Levi Kreis (see previous blog “For those who need to know its Gonna Be Alright).
Deciding what to play to see is the same as anything else you pick out for yourself whether it be food, books or where to go on vacation. You need to know yourself, what you like, what you don’t, and what you are willing to spend money on to try. Knowing the target audience is ultimately key when deciding what shows are for you. Whether you like classic revivals, Disney shows, musicals, or straight dramas there is something for everyone.
Here is my list of recommendations of the shows that are currently running in order of how much I enjoyed them:
- Million Dollar Quartet
- Avenue Q (my only off Broadway pick because I am a Broadway snob and this show debuted there
- That Championship Season (Closes May 29!!!)
- La Cage Aux Follies (I saw the great Kelsey Grammar and Tony Award Winner Douglas Hodge but still should be a fun time)
- Jersey Boy (despite my comparison above still an entertaining show)
- Mamma Mia
- Mary Poppins
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (just opened this week and I haven’t seen it yet but definitely will, Daniel Radcliffe is an acting God so I a sure it will be something to see)
- Death of a Salesman (I heard its scheduled to open in the fall of 2011 staring Philip Seymour Hoffman, I CANNOT wait!!)
For a complete list of Broadway shows: http://www.playbill.com/events/listing/1.html
How to find a show near you
Even if you are not in NYC most if not all shows go on national tours once they become popular. So you can find a place to see something that just opened on Broadway, no matter if you live near the West End in London or Memphis Tennessee (that was for you Stephen Carter).
For national and international touring information, please visit:
I have saved the best for last. I have a rule when it comes to seeing Broadway shows- I never climb stairs. That is I never sit anywhere but in the orchestra and there is good reason for it, I always use a coupon!!! I can get a $125 seat for $85 or less and to me that is a bargain. Especially when you consider that sitting in the nosebleed section a.k.a. the mezzanine costs around the same price. If I use a coupon I can see 2 shows for the price of one. It is this rationale that also hooks others. Who doesn’t like to save some money and sit ever closer to the stars we are there to see?! Just like all coupons the more you use the more you will get. So start saving!!
Here are the links to where you can get some great deals:
1. This link is one of the best for all kinds of coupons. Not only Broadway shows, but Off Broadway, NYC events and attractions, London, Orlando, Concerts and Sporting Events. Be sure to sign up for the emails- http://www.broadwaybox.com/
2. Another favorite of mine is http://www.playbill.com/ if you haven’t guessed it already. You sign up, create a login and you’ll receive all kinds of good information and discounts that are hard to find anywhere else. It’s like being an industry insider.
For New Yorkers, I have a special treat. This is a coupon for parking anywhere in NYC - http://www.iconparkingsystems.com/. This is such a great offer especially when you are in town on the weekends. Parking can be so expensive but with these coupons (you can search by neighborhood to see the prices and locations best for you) it’s a steal.
For anyone out of town I would look up the most popular garage chain. I am sure they offer discounts for those who are smart enough to look into it.
Also sometimes on the theater tickets themselves there are great dealing for parking and sometimes even dinner.
There- now you know everything I know about plays- why to go, the ways to save, and even how to stalk the stars!!! Enjoy!!!