• Brooke Radi

curtain call



Here's the first thing you need to know about my trip to New York City: mom and I went for the theatre (and stayed for many, many other things, which I'll get into later). We crammed 5 Broadway shows into four days and we definitely could have seen more and not gotten sick of it. There's something so timelessly magical about stepping into these legendary theaters and watching the crowd anticipate the curtain rising on yet another production of a show that's been playing for years. The theatre geek in me could go on all day, but you should all just see these plays for yourself. Here's what's what of the five shows we saw.

Chicago

The plot:

This classic show follows the stories of female inmates in a Chicago jail as their cases progress and they fight for their freedom. This show is complete with the pseudo-mother figure and the sleazy lawyer, jealous husbands and women who declare their own innocence at all costs.

Why you'll like it:

If you're a Broadway buff, this timeless show is a do-not-miss. Even if you're new to the theatre scene, you'll be surprised at how many numbers you recognize and how funny such a simple show is. Also: if you love jazz, this show is totally for you, because the band was sitting in a bandbox on stage rather than in the pit. That was honestly the best part for me. I loved being able to watch the band.

Why it might not be for you:

This show is pretty bare bones. Everyone is wearing black. The props and set make minimalism look cluttered. Be prepared for over-sexed acting, costumes and dancing. Definitely not suitable for children-- and I'm not sure they'd be able to follow the plot. That being said, it's a classic and I'm glad we saw it.

The Book of Mormon

The plot:

Two young mormons on their mission are challenged when they are sent to Uganda for their two year assignment. The witness the plight of their village and are determined to bring their new community to faith with several hilarious surprises on the way.

Why you'll like it:

This is the show that won't quit. Mom and I laughed until we were gasping and giggled the whole walk back to our hotel when it was over. This cast is also a triple threat: they sing, dance and act well. Everything is overdone in the best way possible. The dancing was over the top. I can't imagine how many 5 Hour Energies were consumed prior to curtain call, but it's gotta be a few. The set was also spot-on. There was a sparkling temple built to frame the stage and that was just the beginning. You'll have to see the rest for yourself.

Why it might not be for you:

If you're not into semi-inappropriate (or very inappropriate) humor, this might not be your thing. I could see where some people might find this particular brand of humor offensive. I happened to love it, but when in doubt, YouTube a few songs before buying tickets.

Kinky Boots

The plot:

A young man takes on his father's dying shoe company and, along with his new friend, business partner and resident drag queen, Lola decide to give an old company new life while creating quality shoes (kinky boots) for drag queens.

Why you'll like it:

Y'all. This was the most unexpected show of the whole trip. Mom had seen it a few years ago and this was her non-negotiable. I didn't know anything about this show, but I was so happy with the whole thing. If you're reading this, you were right, Mom. This show was one big warm fuzzy. I loved everything about the themes of acceptance, authenticity and the endearing honesty of the characters. The musical numbers are fresh and catchy and you'll have them in your head for days (but in a good way). Also: this cast can DANCE like nothing I've ever seen.

Why it might not be for you:

Honestly, I don't have a stinkin' clue why someone wouldn't like this show. It was easily the best show I saw the whole trip. I guess if you hate fantastic dance numbers or themes of acceptance and personal growth, you might want to pick something else. Just go see it.


Phantom of the Opera

The plot:

One of Broadway's longest-running productions is mysterious as it follows the beautiful young opera singer, Christine Daae as she is drawn into the dark world of a stranger and his obsession with her voice. As they get more wrapped up in each other, his fixation threatens the very existence of the opera group with whom Christine performs.

Why you'll like it:

The effects that happen in this show are stunning and logistically challenging. There are fireworks, a chandelier and sooooo many fog machines and lights and rising candlesticks, oh my! That alone was worth going. The technical aspect of the vocal performance was nothing shy of incredible. The iconic musical numbers are carried out effortlessly with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine.

Why it might not be for you:

Unpopular opinion alert: this show was not for Mom and me. While the effects and musical talent were incredible, we weren't in love with the dark plot or operatic style, yet we felt like we had to see it because it's so iconic. We appreciate the artistry but wish there was just a little more character development and fewer moments where literally seven people on stage were singing different words at once. Call us uncultured, but you won't call us dishonest.

Aladdin

The plot:

This is a Disney classic. Boy finds lamp. Boy rubs lamp. Genie comes out of the lamp and he and the poor boy go on an adventure that involves evil sorcerers, beautiful princesses and flying carpets. There are some refreshing twists on the film adaptation to keep things interesting for everyone.

Why you'll like it:

In true Disney fashion, this show was luxurious. According to my playbill there were 334 costume changes in the show (for a cast of roughly 30 people. You do the math). This was easily the most colorful show I've seen. Genie is fabulous in every sense and adds yet another layer of awesome to this show.Also: pick this if you're traveling with kids. It's even magical for the grown-ups. Mom wasn't super excited about this one, but in the end, she loved it. This show is a classic for my generation and I'm so glad we went.

Why it might not be for you:

If you're looking for something complex in plot, you might want to opt for a different show. I was definitely not the target audience (i.e. I'm not a parent with kids, nor am I under 14), and the humor, fight scenes and sorcery definitely reflected their target. It's a pass if you're not willing to overlook some of the more cheeseball creative choices for the sake of the magic.

Again, you need to see them for yourself and form your own opinions, but they were all awesome in their own way. The bottom line: pick shows that YOU find interesting and you won't be disappointed. What shows have you seen? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

#theatre #NewYork #city #drama

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