Some Broadway fanatics would argue that we are currently, and have been for the past few years, living in a new golden age of musical theatre. I, for one, would have to agree. The first show I ever saw on Broadway was Hairspray back in 2007. It was my first time visiting New York and I instantly fell in love with the city. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to live within twenty miles of Manhattan — and you bet I took advantage of every opportunity there was when it came to seeing as many of the various shows I could while living within such a close proximity to the home of Broadway.
While I was residing on the east coast I met my good friend Rebecca Michelson, who’s the best Broadway buddy a person could ask for. She loves Broadway, maybe even a little bit more than I do, has seen an innumerable amount of shows, and has tons of opinions about them to boot.
With the end of 2017 approaching, I reached out to Rebecca to discuss some of her favorite shows of the season (and of all time), what she recommends to those interested in seeing a show, and why.
- You’ve been a Broadway fanatic for quite some time now. What initially sparked your love of theatre?
It’s funny you ask, because my initial interest in Broadway and musical theater came from Hairspray as well! I grew up outside of Philadelphia with easy access to New York City. My first show was actually Beauty and the Beast and according to my aunt, I talked the entire time so no one wanted to sit next to me after that! I remember coming into the city every few months with my parents and sister to see a Broadway show. I was around 10 or 11 when my parents went to see Hairspray on Broadway with the original cast and mom brought home the Original Broadway Cast Recording and I instantly fell in love. We listened on every road trip, and we still do.
- Let’s talk plays on Broadway. For so many, when they think “Broadway,” their minds go straight to musicals, but there have been, and are, some really incredible plays. Can you speak to this?
I have never actually been a play person until this year. I think most people overlook plays because when tourists come, you’re right, they think of musicals. They want to see the touristy shows — Chicago, Wicked, Beautiful, Phantom, etc. All great productions for sure! But my favorite kind of show is 95 minutes, no intermission, and where do you usually find that? In a play! I will say, plays are often harder for myself to follow along with, as the pacing is often much slower than a musical. But two of my favorite productions from the 2016-2017 season were actually plays, both of which I saw twice.
The first is Paula Vogel’s Indecent. It is arguably the best show to have appeared on Broadway in years. It was inspired by Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance and tells the story of the production of the show from the table read in Poland all the way to its 1923 Broadway debut in New York City. It speaks strongly to censorship and highlights the first lesbian kiss on Broadway, all while paralleling the struggles of the Jewish people during World War II. It was actually a play with music, which helped the pacing.
My second favorite play from last season is called Significant Other. As mentioned before, I often find plays to lag with slow pacing and/or to be old school in content. Significant Other was the opposite. With a superb cast it tells the story of Jordan, a single, gay, 20-something-year-old, who’s living in New York City and watching as all of his friends are growing up and getting married. He’s desperate to be in a relationship and share what his friends are experiencing, but he’s struggling with a lot of inner-demons throughout the show. I think the content was relatable to a lot of young people who went to go see it.
- In your own opinion, why are Broadway shows important?
Broadway is so important because it’s a form of self-expression that exists nowhere else. While I’m not an actor nor do I have any (reasonable) desires to be on Broadway, I know the opportunity to act has helped so many young people in this city, and around the world, feel like they can be something and do something.
Another special thing about Broadway that you don’t get from film and television is the opportunity to come face to face with your favorite performers. When you go to the stage door, you have the chance to tell your favorite singer, dancer or actor on stage what they mean to you and how their performance changed your life. It’s a beautiful thing, what Broadway affords that other forms of media do not.
- With 2018 right around the corner, what shows would you recommend NYC tourists and visits run to go see in the New Year?
We’re lucky to be right at the start of a new Broadway season, in which we will see many new productions opening in the next few months! However, we are also lucky to have many long-running shows still around for us to revisit. If you’re coming to the city for the holidays, I would definitely recommend hitting up the new production of Once on This Island. From last season’s shows, I recommend going to check out Dear Evan Hansen while you’re here. My third recommendation is a tie for what new productions you should go see if you’re coming after March. Out of the new productions (some of which I have yet to see), I recommend seeing Mean Girls: the Musical, which opens for previews on March 12th, or Carousel, which opens for previews on February 28th.
- Top 3 shows of 2017, top 3 shows of all time, and why — Ready, go!
Top three productions from the 2016-2017 season, that are still open:
- Come From Away
- Dear Evan Hansen
- Hello Dolly
My top three favorite shows of all time:
- Legally Blonde
- Do you have any tips for seeing Broadway for cheap?
People always ask me how I can afford to see so many shows. I wouldn’t say I can AFFORD to see this many shows, but that’s not stopping me! I have a few recommendations for getting cheap tickets to shows. Most involve your time, but they save you your money. If you’re here for a week, I would recommend picking two or three shows that you can’t leave New York without seeing and buying tickets for those. Then, rank the others you want to see and go from there.
Check out Playbill.com‘s General Rush Policy page to see what shows offer rush, lottery and standing room. Most shows offer a mix of the three for less than $40 a ticket. Some shows require you to line up at 6am for a 10am box office call, while others usually have rush tickets available throughout the day. If you don’t want to stand around in lines, try the TKTS booth in Times Square for discounted tickets. If you just want to see A show, but you don’t really have a preference on which one, this is a GREAT option.
Photo credit: @ashleybower
What’s your favorite Broadway show? Tell us in the comments below!