Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Birth Of A Broadway Buff


Long time readers will know that I am a pretty big Broadway buff and I’ve often tried to figure out how that happened. I, of course, blame my wife who is also a big fan, but I carry a little responsibility. In junior high I flirted with drama. I was The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and had a bit part in a comedy/musical revue, but my nails on chalkboard voice and complete lack of rhythm kept me out of the musicals. I remember the associated high school putting on Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story. Coincidentally, these were about the only two soundtracks available at the local library. I listened to them until my ears bled.

In college a friend of mine asked if I wanted to volunteer to usher at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. All it involved, she explained, was wearing black pants and white shirt, handing people programs and pointing them in the general direction of their seats. For our efforts we were allowed to sit in the aisle and watch the show. Since my girlfriend and future wife was in town that weekend, I got her in as well. We saw a wonderful tour of Evita. A few years later my wife won tickets off the radio to see Cats. We had crummy seats in the back of the orchestra and the sound was terrible, but the bug had bitten.

We had moved to Tampa at the time the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center opened and decided to buy season tickets for the Broadway Subscription Series. Since it was the inaugural season we got great seats in the third row and saw three years of bus and truck productions. A typical Broadway tour series includes one must-see show, two mediocre shows with has been stars, and two gawd-awful clunkers. To keep the good seats, we had to take the good with bad.

Then we had a kid and both us and our priorities moved a few times. It took us four years to discover that Baltimore is only four hours away from Times Square with the real thing. Our first Broadway show was a mediocre adaptation of Saturday Night Fever. Once we realized how easy it was to make a long weekend in New York, we kept going. Two or three times a year we sneak up to New York and see a couple of shows. We even planned a summer vacation to Canada around seeing Mamma Mia! in Toronto before it opened in New York.

These things add up. After twenty years of tours and the Great White Way, we have seen over fifty different productions. With my addled memory, some Googling, and a look through our saved Playbills, I have roughly listed all the various musicals we have seen. This list ignores plays, which would tax my memory even further.

Broadway

Saturday Night Fever
Full Monty
Thoroughly Modern Millie
By Jeeves
Cabaret
Hairspray
Phantom Of The Opera
Assassins
The Boy From Oz
Bombay Dreams
The Producers
Movin’ Out
Little Women
Avenue Q
Wicked
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Woman In White
Spamalot
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
High Fidelity
Jersey Boys
Les Misérables
Chorus Line
Spring Awakening


Major Tours, Toronto

Evita
Cats
42nd Street
South Pacific
The King and I
Dreamgirls
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Starlight Express
Song And Dance
Big River
Me And My Girl
A Chorus Line
Gypsy
Into The Woods
M. Butterfly
Miss Saigon
Phantom Of The Opera
Les Misérables
The Secret Garden
Beauty and The Beast
Tommy
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
Whistle Down The Wind
Mama Mia
The Lion King
The Producers
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Off-Broadway,
Regional,
Dinner Theater,
High School


A Chorus Line
Blue Man Group
The Musical of Musicals: The Musical
Stomp
Altar Boyz
Forbidden Broadway
Nunsense
Urinetown
Forever Plaid
They’re Playing Our Song
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Grease
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
Menopause: The Musical


There is both a lot of wheat and chaff in that list. I wouldn’t wish Edwin Drood on my worst enemy. You will also notice some repeats. We have seen A Chorus Line and The Producers three times. The best version of Chorus Line was by the Atlanta School For The Performing Arts. Good theater comes in all sizes.

This year my son’s marching band is doing a show based on West Side Story and every chance I get I embarrass him by warbling “Maria” off-key.

I am also proof that exposure to show tunes does not affect your sexuality. Despite seeing thousands of actors randomly break out into song, I am still relentlessly heterosexual. Although my wife worries just a little.

See you at the stage door.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Ask me my opinion on any of these shows and I will answer in the comments.

9 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I didn't realize that High Fidelity was a play? (remember, I live in Alaska and I don't get out much) Anyway, I loved the movie, how does it compare to the play?

yellojkt said...

High Fidelity only lasted about a month. The preview show I was at had plenty of seats in the balcony. Not a good sign.

Impetua said...

I have tickets to Spamalot, Camelot, 12 Angry Men, Sweeney Todd, and Avenue Q. Feel free to give me your opinions about any of these. :)

yellojkt said...

Spamalot and Avenue Q are both very self aware and funny. Sometimes side-splittingly. I would think that Camelot would depend a lot on the quality of the actors. That is kinda meta that they put both shows in the same package.

125records said...

"Menopause: The Musical"? Why... WHY??? Seriously, I'd be willing to bet the male-female ratio at that show is, like, 1-100, so I'm guessing your wife dragged you though it seems she might be a bit young for it. (There's something called "Shopping: The Musical" which has been playing in San Francisco for months now.)

Anonymous said...

What did you think of Altar Boyz?

yellojkt said...

Menopause is a local production of the off-Broadway show. The songs are parodies rather than original numbers and it really stretches to make 80 minutes. I wouldn't make a special trip to see it.

It had a buffet option that we took which was nice. The songs are funny and the four women in our show were very good. Guy/girl ratio was 1:10 and at 43, my wife and I weren't the youngest, but not by much.

Altar Boyz is extremely funny. The closeted gay guy is Sean Hayes funny and the Jewish guy is a riot too. It plays it very mock serious and doesn't make one priest molester joke.

Claude said...

A list like this and you didn't get to catch the performance of The Wiz that I saw? For shame.

I saw Nunsense when it played here in town. Does that count as Major Tour or Regional?

Did you see that Young Frankenstein got a mixed review in the NY Times? The reviewer's chief complaint was that it adhered too closely to the film early on and as a result, most of the audience not only saw the jokes coming, they were saying them an instant before they were spoken onstage. Apparently it didn't work as well here as it does for, say, Rocky Horror.

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