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How best to approach a new musical: cold or "spoiled"?

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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
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I've recently gotten interested in theater, and I have tickets to see Newsies and Once. I also hope to see Into the Woods (ha ha, long lines). In your opinion, is it better to see musicals cold, or should I listen to some of the numbers beforehand?
ghostlight2
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It's a highly subjective thing. Personally, I like to know everything I can before I go to a show. I enjoy it more because I am able to focus on nuances I might otherwise miss. Others like to discover things on their own.

Good luck with Into the Woods. You do know that there's a virtual line, too? The site is down at the moment (it's the 1st day), but I got tix that way last year.
Virtual line
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tamra2
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In my experience I have personally gotten more from a "cold" viewing my first time. There have been several times I have listened to music beforehand but when I have I am not really invested in it and couldn't really tell you what I just heard, so it is like I have gone to a performance cold. Once I have seen a show then I am able to more easily connect with the music. There have been a couple exceptions to this, but with those I have never been able to see a production of them at all, and at this point as much as I would like to see one, i do not either because I have crafted a vision in my head of what the show would look like and I know that my vision would not be the directors and I would not want to spoil mine.
willep
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I personally like to go in cold if it is a musical that is new to me. I like being swallowed up in the story and having no clue what is coming next.
Rainbowhigh23
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With a musical, I would try to familiarize myself with some of the songs at least, especially a signature song that may be in the advertising, but I like to be surprised. But most I like to go into cold and discover it for myself.

Updated On: 6/5/12 at 11:26 AM
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sally1112
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I like to know a few of the songs, and an idea of the plot. If it is a new show that I ma lucky enough to see, I will only listen to act one of the cd, so that at least all Act II music and plot points are new to me.
The only reason I don't go in totally cold is some times it is so difficult to understand what certain characters/actors are saying, and that can hindered my enjoyment of a piece.
Gaveston2
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I think the key phrase by the OP is this: "I've recently gotten interested in theater...."

If you really are new to musical theater, then you should probably get cast albums and know the scores as well as possible before you go. For a lot of people (not all), it takes a little time to develop an ear to appreciate an entire evening of new music.

Once you do, however, there's nothing like the excitement of discovering a great score for the first time live in a theater.
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EricMontreal22
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The original poster joined in 2008 apparently and has a Follies marquee avatar, so I am gonna assume that experiencing a musical for the first time in a theatre won't be too alienating an experience... :P

Ideally, I wish I could see a show "cold" and then shortly after, experience it again once I got to know the score well--but that's not really a commonly possible scenario. The chance to see a show cold is so rare for me, due mainly because of where I live, that I appreciate it and grab it when I can (which I think has only been a couple of times--Whistle Down the Wind in London--where I also saw the RNT's amazing Candide which was a show I only knew a handful of songs from at the time--and Tales of the City last year in San Francisco, simply because it was the first production--though I had heard one song as a very different demo).
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JerseyGirl2
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I almost always go in spoiled unless we grab tickets day-of at TKTS or the box office. I get too excited about a show and want to know as much as possible. My most pleasantly surprising cold show was N2N. I knew I Miss The Mountains. Who didn't? But I didn't really know the story or the big twist. I normally see that stuff coming a mile away. Because of that, despite the show's flaws, it won me over. It was a true theatre experience and one of my favorites.
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Hank
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I guess like most of the legends on this thread, I just can't help but being spoiled, but most everybody else I know when going in to see a new show I ask "do you want to hear the cast recording?" and I get no. It happened to me again this past weekend on the way to seeing Once.
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wicked1492
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For me, it really depends on the show.

For a comedy where the jokes are what makes the show (Spamalot, Ave. Q, Book of Mormon), I wouldn't want to go in being TOO familiar. I went in knowing practically every word to every song in Spamalot without having ever seen it and think I would've enjoyed it a lot more knowing less about it. Knowing when and where and how every joke lands wasn't as fun as hearing the jokes for the first time could've been.

For revivals I tend to either know everything about the show and don't mind or to learn everything I can about the show since the resources are available. It's usually the excitement of seeing the revival of the show live for the first time or the performances that are getting me into the theatre.

For new works, I like to go in cold, knowing nothing about what's going to happen. I knew a *little* too much about N2N when I saw it and was slightly disappointed and then vowed to never expose myself to too much about a new show before seeing it.
"These rabid fans...possess the acting talent to portray the hooker...Linda Eder..." -The New York Times
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Polka Dot2
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I like going in cold for the most part. Unless it is a show where I know the music is operatic or the lyrics might be difficult to understand, I get more out of it by going in without knowing anything other than the basic premise of the story.
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I like and have always gone in cold to a new musical. For me, it takes away the fun of finding out whats going to happen next if I listen to it beforehand.
Updated On: 6/6/12 at 12:38 PM
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Bluelark
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I prefer seeing shows knowing as little as possible about them.

The way I see it, even if it's a long-runner or a revival, stage musicals are always written for their first audiences who know nothing about what they're seeing. You might miss nuances seeing them cold, but that's the way the writers initially intended them to be experienced.
And of course, you can always see shows again after you've familiarised yourself with the material, but your first time happens only once.
Gaveston2
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The original poster joined in 2008 apparently and has a Follies marquee avatar, so I am gonna assume that experiencing a musical for the first time in a theatre won't be too alienating an experience...

Maybe so, but if he has to ask, I think my advice is still relevant. How best to approach a new musical: cold or

Updated On: 6/6/12 at 01:46 PM
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macnyc
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Thanks for all the great advice! I've decided to go in cold to Newsies and Into the Woods. But because I saw the movie Once a few years ago, I'm pretty much spoiled anyway, so I started listening to the Broadway score.

Regarding the score to Once, two of my favorite songs from the movie don't even seem to be in it: Lies and Trying to Pull Myself Away. I know there must have been artistic reasons for that.


Updated On: 6/7/12 at 08:55 AM
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Huss417
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In this day and age it is very difficult but I love going into a musical not knowing anything.
"I hope your Fanny is bigger than my Peter." Mary Martin to Ezio Pinza opening night of Fanny.
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cviolett
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I personally like going in cold, particularly on new works. I had the N2N cast album on my iTunes for at least a year before I got to see the show; but I never listened to it and Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley rocked my word. I haven't listened to Book of Mormon yet either in hopes to be thoroughly surprised and entertained when I do get to it. But I guess it's just a matter of opinion.

Cheers,

C.
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