Taking a bite of the Big Apple

New York may not be my city but it’s a dang good one.

I visited Kat and Wes in NYC last weekend with Katie in a grand celebration of all things summer and musicals.

Despite spending the days working, our visit had a decidedly festive air. We ate empanadas in Times Square, toasted to the weekend in a noisy beer garden with fellow New Yorker, Kate, and watched the moon rise over the glittering lights of Broadway.

Just before the Tonys, we bought tickets to two new musicals: Finding Neverland and Somethjng Rotten. If they won big, we didn’t want to miss seeing the OBC (Original Broadway Cast). And even though they didn’t, we couldn’t wait to see what they had in store.

First was Finding Neverland: the story of the family and man behind Peter Pan. I saw it twice when it was at the ART in Boston starring Jeremy Jordan and it brought me to tears both times with great stagecraft, moving songs, and adorable plot. The magic held on Broadway, though the seats were much further away.

Saturday was spent at Coney Island, drinking lemonade, riding thrill rides, and sticking our feet in the water for one last dip of summer. Coney is one of the most colorful beaches I know, and so fun to look at from the pier, with its bright coasters rising almost from the sand.

In the evening, we saw Something Rotten – the tale of brother playwrights trying to break out of Shakespeare’s shadow. It was basically made for musical theater lovers and 17 year old boys, with its crude humor and send up to every hit show in the last 80  years. “A musical” was legitimately a show stopper – I spent the four minutes clapping trying to figure out if anything I could do or shout would get them to give an encore presentation.

Our greatest adventure came as we were leaving, and took a shortcut down a staircase that had just been closed off – only to find that the entrance back into the main theater had also been closed off and now we were en route to backstage, along with friends and family of the cast. “Is that Josh Groban or someone who looks like him?” Kat asked. Yep, it was him. We followed him out the official exit into the night, past the waiting fans who didn’t give him or us a second glance.

The hilarious thing is how similar the shows were to each other. Both were about male writers trying to write their next big thing. Both featured songs of writing torment that involved dancing through spinning doors. Both had jokes about women’s rights and the modern world – though they meant 1590 and the early 1900s. The music was completely different but the plots echoed of each other and of classic stories told throughout time (you know, all those ones with spinning doors…)

I headed home with new songs in my head, NY bagels in my stomach, and a light sunburn on my back. Viva summer adventures! 

What’s your favorite thing to do when visiting NYC?

Music Monday: Here in Neverland

My name is Sally, and I’m addicted to musicals.

There are some that have meant a lot to my life – like Grease, which brought me some of the best people in my life when we did it in high school, or the Sound of Music, which Grandma Sugarplum and I would sing together.

But I can only think of three performances where the show itself – the sheer musical content and drama – kicked me in the gut so hard that I watched with my hand over my mouth, willing time to slow down so I could stay in the moment forever.

The first: A Chorus Line – I felt like had just broken my ankle and lost my life’s dream.
The second: Wicked – in the front row in London, watching Idina Menzel – sorry, Adele Dazeem – take to the skies.
The third: Finding Neverland – here in Boston, with Jeremy Jordan killing it in the lead role. Be still, my heart. But seriously, I was never a fan of the movie but thought the show sounded fun and it blew me away, to the extent that I bought tickets for my family to see it first thing the next morning.

(Later, when I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London, I held it against this example of unexpected, amazing childhood fun and it came up sorely lacking.)

Don’t take it from me – go see Matthew Morrison take back this role on Broadway, and Laura Michelle Kelly continue her reign of glory as the leading lady. I know I’m going to see it again!

(Ok, the fourth was Spring Awakening – and the fifth was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat – and the sixth was Les Mis – and the seventh…)

Anything but Misérable

Les Mis - our high school edition

Last night, Katie and I painted the town red – and black (the dark of ages past) – when we took in opening night of Les Misérables at the Boston Opera House.

For me, this was more than just a night at the theater.  It was a symbol of our friendship.  It was a reminder of that time 9 years ago (yes, I feel old when I say that) when we first saw Les Mis on stage (also through Broadway in Boston) with the music department of our high school.  The way we felt when the barricade folded and the stage started spinning.  The shock and awe of watching a musical – and this musical especially – reveal the fate of each character and rip your heart away in the process.

Then, the production we did our senior year of high school, where we built the barricade by hand, stayed up late sewing tri-color scarves, and scoured HomeGoods for the best silver candlesticks $30 could buy.

And then, a reminder of London, of the six months we spent there together, eating waffles in Hyde Park, shopping on Portobello Road, and deciding on a whim to go see the stage production there, buying tickets after class and eating ice cream in the balcony during intermission.

All that brought us here, to our sweet little Boston apartment with photos of our lives on the walls, a Big Ben shower curtain, and a roommate who knows how to finish whatever musical tune you start.

Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!  Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Music Monday: One day more

… until Katie and I go see Les Mis!

This will be our third time seeing the show together, not counting the O2 televised version and the 4 shows we put on in high school, and I get more excited each time.  I’m a bit nervous because I hear that when it was restaged, they took away the turntable component (gaspshockawe) but I’m sure it will still be a fabulous show.  I’ll give you my review later this week!

Music Monday: I Believe

In case you missed it, the hot new Broadway show this year is/was the Book of Mormon, written by the guys who brought you South Park and Avenue Q.  I’ve only listened to the soundtrack so far, as the show is sold out until the apocalypse of so, last time I checked, but it’s pretty great stuff.  I especially love it as a musical dork because the intro contains lyrics and music that at once remind me of:

  • South Pacific (this could totally be the intro to Balai H’ai)
  • The Sound of Music (the entire opening sequence is ripped from “I have confidence”)
  • Avenue Q (the same over-exaggerated slightly-cartoony sound)
  • Hairspray (undertones of “You can’t stop the beat”, etc)

Some of the other songs are rather offensive, but this one is much safer than most if you accidentally break out singing it at your office.  Not that that’s ever happened or anything.  I also really like the one about Joesph Smith – the “All-American Prophet,” the blond haired blue-eyed voice of God.  (Which sounds exactly like something pulled from “Footloose”.  Oh, Broadway and your non-original but always lovely musical tendencies.)

My favorite – “I believe that God has a plan for all of us; I believe that plan involves getting my own planet.”

Have you heard the news(ies)?

It’s a fine life – even finer now that the 1992 classic musical Newsies is being made into a Broadway musical.  The film stars Christian Bale as a newspaper delivery boy fighting back against an increase in distribution rates.  Good times, especially as he belts out off-key showstoppers like “Santa Fe.”  I especially love the big dance scene in “Seize the Day,” which was my Music Monday not too long ago.

Check out a clip from the production below, and join me in asking – what took you so long, Disney?

What do you think?  Will you go see it (with me!) when it comes to Broadway?

More info available at Playbill.com

PS: On a related note, can we get Hollywood to stop re-making awesome musical movies and move toward a version of Fiddler on the Roof that I can watch in one sitting?  Thanks.

Music Monday: Seize the day

Yes, it’s Monday.  Yes, we all have headaches and hangovers and sunburns.  Yes, we’re far from another weekend.  And yet, let’s try to seize the day, Newsies style.  Arise and seize the day… it’ll make Friday come a whole lot faster!

Bonus: Newsies mashup with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”