By Natali Cavanagh • December 8, 2017

My Semester, in Broadway Shows

broadway shows

I’ve had a love affair with Broadway since I was a kid; every year, my family and I would visit my grandparents on Long Island, and every trip we would try to get into the city at least once. And the best part of those trips were the musicals we saw together.

I was a total drama geek growing up. I knew all the songs to Wicked, watched the Tony’s religiously, and paid attention to everything that was coming on and off Broadway. So coming to New York has been a dream come true; I can see all the plays and musicals I want, right down the street! Over the past few months I have seen several shows on the current circuit: here are the ones that I’ve seen this semester.

  • The Play that Goes Wrong: One of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time! For any fans of Noises Off, Sherlock Holmes, and quality slap-schtick farces, you will love this show. The Play that Goes Wrong is a play within a play, and ultimately a story about the actors, actresses, and backstage crew of a play where literally everything goes wrong. Platforms collapse, props are set on fire, and at least three people are knocked unconscious.  
  • Chicago: I’m not the biggest fan of Fosse’s choreography, but Chicago is such a classic that I couldn’t resist. Slinky and sexy, it captured the dirt, grime, and glamour of Prohibition era-Chicago. Definitely entertaining and worth seeing!
  • Hamilton: Let’s be honest- what theater geek hasn’t heard of Hamilton? This was the only show I came to New York knowing for sure that I wanted to see. Hamilton on Broadway is notoriously expensive (I’ve heard people dropping over $1,000 just for one ticket), but thanks to a Ticketmaster resale my friend and I were able to see it for a (relatively) more reasonable price. Visually and musically it’s a work of genius (but you didn’t have to hear it from me to know that). It’s emotional, evocative, wholly original, and by the end I was crying so hard that standing was difficult. Worth every penny I spent.
  • Avenue Q: Technically Off-Broadway, but just as good as a Broadway show! Winner of the 2004 Tony for Best Musical, Avenue Q is one of the longest running shows in the Broadway district, and certainly one of the raunchiest. FYI: don’t bring your kids to this show. Penned by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (composer of The Book of Mormon and Frozen), the musical parodies children’s TV shows like Sesame Street, satirizing the “anything is possible” mentality adults give children. With songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “If You Were Gay,” this show is certainly hilarious, but not a family show. Nevertheless, I was still had fun seeing a show in a more intimate theater!     
  • Kinky Boots: Another Tony award winner for Best Musical, Kinky Boots was the musical I took my mom to see when she visited. The story follows Charlie Price after he inherits his father’s dying shoe factory in northern England and his journey to find selfhood and what it means to be a man. My mom and I were lucky enough to see Billy Porter as Lola, the fabulous drag queen that changes Charlie’s life; by the end of the show, he had both of us in tears!
  • Anastasia: Although I wasn’t a fan of Anastasia as a kid, I still enjoyed this stage interpretation. While I wasn’t entirely taken with the music, I loved the costumes and choreography, ranging from Romanov gowns and crowns to Roaring 20s flappers, to ballroom dancing and turn of the century Parisian street style. Stand out performances from Christy Altomare and Ramin Karimloo (who was actually performing his last show on Anastasia!) and fan favorite songs, ‘Once Upon a December’ and ‘Journey to the Past,’ were amazing! Not the first show I’d recommend seeing, but it was visually appealing and entertaining.  
  • Come From Away: Besides Hamilton, Come From Away was the best show that I saw while in New York! Set in a small town in Newfoundland, the musical is based on a true story; on September 11, 2001, thousands of planes were forced to land after the terrorist attacks in New York City. A small airport near a town called Gander is shaken when 38 planes with nearly 16,000 passengers from around the world are stranded with no place to go. The writers of Come From Away condensed nearly 100 hours of interviews with pilots, natives, and the “come from aways” (the passengers) to tell the story of that fateful week. I’m a huge fan of Irish music and eclectic storytelling, so I fell in love with this fun and unique musical. Both touching, heart wrenching, tragic, and hopeful, I would recommend Come From Away in a heartbeat.  

Written by: Natali Cavanagh

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