Musicals: Come From AwaySunset Blvd. (90s version)Blood BrothersRentOncePlay: August Osage County
Miss Saigon.The music and story are glorious and haunting and it is written in such a natural way, that it never feels forced and it never feels as if they step into the pitfalls most productions do. No characters singing about their own name, no headflips on the last chord to the audience, not apologizing for sung thoughts, no switching artforms, it is very consistent in its naturalness. If done right, the audience never has to switch artforms from the moment we hear the helicopter before Dreamland at the beginning of the first scene.What makes this show an artistic masterpiece, is that every word written exactly matches the melody and notes in terms of emotion and conviction. If you would hear one line instrumentally (any line in the show), the notes and pacing and dynamic of the music will make you feel the exact right emotion for that moment already, and the words fill in in perfectly. Miss Saigon does this better than any show I have ever heard or seen.I could dissect the whole show in this post to give you examples, but that would make a very long post. But one scene worth mentioning is between Kim and Thuy, where he sings "I knew in time...", his lines are hopeful yet dejected, and almost urbane with pride, yet a little pushy. The dynamics of the melody are exactly that. Which is stunning. Then Kim replies to him in the exact same manner. "My father's vow can't be honored this way....and I pray in my heart he'll forgive..." When he treats her with this subdued respect, this is how she replies to him too. As an audience, we respect Kim's standpoint a little more over his, so the melody rises a bit, as if what she says overrules what he says without showing any disrespect. Which makes his ego snap, which is then perfectly portrayed in the music too.I don't think most people realize what kind of masterpiece this show really is.Even the dialogues flow into sung thoughts without obvious switches. I have never seen/heard this level of delicacy and detail in writing in any other show. Edit: Also, because this show is written in such a refined way, the actiors have to be really careful with overemoting. The music, the notes and lyrics take over a lot of the acting too. There is no need for putting an extra, 3rd. layer on top of it by acting out every syllable too. I call this the Hugh Jackman approach. He always makes the material very insincere by overemoting. Speaking 3 words and then use a long vibrato on the 4th. This does not only make the first 3 words insincere by disrespecting the notes, but the disconnect by switching between speaking and singing in 1 line makes people wonder why he is singing the last syllable. Basically apologizing for the artform. Acting in spite of song instead of acting through song.I see this happening in Miss Saigon lately too. Katie Rose Clarke could be a fantastic Ellen, but she overemotes and separates the acting from singing too much. Which makes the singing feel out if place and insincere. Eva Noblezada does the same thing with cutting notes short, speaking too much and switching too much between singing and acting instead of combining it. The scenes don't really make sense anymore. Many important moments go to waste, emotionally. Which really is a pity. This show is more written like an opera, apologizing for it by making it soap-opera is not really the way to an emotional experience for the audience.In interviews I see Tom Hooper and Eva Noblezada always saying, well, the original was more operatic but this is more raw and real. NO. It is not. It is less raw and real. All stage Valjeans I have seen gave a much more real and filmic performance by singing "now come on ladies, setlle down" and kept the last word short. Jackman held the note operatically for 10 seconds. Noblezada speaks/sings the "I'm seventeen part" way to staccato and operatic by holding the last "meeeee" for too long, creating a disconnect. That is "fake soap-operatic". The original kept the last "me" short. It's this disconnect that is the problem. But back to the point.So although the show is wonderful, it can be ruined by actors making the wrong choices, and that of course has nothing to do with the show, but it can cause a much less emotional impact on audiences and overall perception of the show.
New Musicals: Matilda, Hamilton, The Great CometMusical Revivals: The most recent revivals of Hair, Cabaret, She Loves Me, The King and I, Hello, Dolly!, and My Fair LadyPlays: Doubt, August: Osage County, King Charles III, and Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildPlay Revivals: The Little Foxes, Three Tall Women
Most fully rewarding - Follies (2011 revival)Most totally enjoyable - Hello Dolly (Bette Midler)Most gobsmacked - Hamilton (when it was new and I hadn't heard the score yet)Most rewarding in any size production - Sweeney ToddMost life-changing at the time - Rent (1996)
The original "Follies" (saw it twice, six months apart); the first Lansbury "Gypsy" in London (Summer of '73) stand out.
The current Off-BW revival of Sweeney Todd is easily the best theatrical experience I've ever had. Saw it three times in one weekend and was astounded every time. I'm so sad that it's closing. Any time people ask for recommendations I tell them to see it.Before that the best show I'd seen live was American Psycho — an utterly transfixing experience, even with a massive technical error at the top of act one. It did not deserve to close and definitely didn't deserve to be shut out of the Tonys. Even if Hamilton was dominating that year, it should have received more technical nominations than lighting and set design, as well as best book of a musical. If sound design had been reinstated that year it would have easily won that, for sure.I think people based their opinions of the show on the advertising and the cast recording, which did NOT reflect the BW mounting since it was the London cast recording (featuring Matt Smith, who is NOT a good singer, and does not have a good American accent). It was mismarketed as a black comedy with a club feel and while it has those elements, it was really an existential thriller that was incredibly relevant to the political climate at the time, and still is. Patrick Bateman, a psychotic murder, idolizes someone who was elected president that very year...
Play: Peter and the star catcher, WarhorseMusicals: Great Comet (gone way too soon), Hamilton, Once, Lion KingRevivals: Hedwig and the angry inch (NPH), Pippin, Color Purple
Really hard to choose...New musical: HamiltonMusical revival: The Color Purple (2016) or Hello, Dolly! (2017)New play: Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildPlay revival: The Little Foxes (2017) or Three Tall Women (2018)
I dont have one favorite, but my top few favorites are: the 2013 revival of Pippin, 2009 revival of HAIR, Dear Evan Hansen, The Bands Visit, American Psycho, Significant Other, 2018 revival of Angels In America, 1998 revival of Cabaret!
Musical: The original Broadway production of Les Miserables (before all the cuts)Play: The 1994 revival of An Inspector Calls (which is coming to Chicago in 2019!)
Kinky Boots. It's a feel good show that really touched me. The costumes were awesome, the songs were all really good, and it wasn't predictable
I am soooo old:Tie: Original Cast of "West Side Story" (Broadway Theatre) Very emotional, ground breaking experience.Original Cast of "Follies" (Winter Garden Theatre) Amazing combination of performance, visual opulence, and the reason why theater is ALIVE.
Musical - Hamilton at the Public and then on Broadway. Revival - Hello Dolly with Bette Play - The PillowmanOff Broadway - (Excluding those that moved to Broadway) - Altar BoyzGuilty Pleasure - TabooHonorable Mention - Kinky Boots, Dear Evan Hassen, Come From Away, History Boys, Original Spring Awakening
The original "A Chorus Line," the original "Sweeney Todd" and Lily Tomlin in "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."
"Next to Normal" & "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" -- both unforgettable & riveting, & both at the Booth.
Yerma. (Park Ave Armory)
FALSETTOS (revival)PARADE (Manhattan Concert Productions)SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD (Encores Off Center)NEXT TO NORMAL HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (revival with John Cameron Mitchell)
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