So I am a scant 4 days from my next Broadway trip! Tickets have been bought, a hotel has been reserved, shoes have been selected and this time on Friday will find me ensconced in my seat on the train headed to NYC to meet my dear sister for Broadway Blitz 2011. That hum and snap in the air, that’s my excitement and anticipation level increasing exponentially. This is the big trip where we pack in as many shows in a three day weekend as possible, for this trips it’s the standard 4 shows (we’ve maxed out at 5 shows).
I’m actually pretty happy with this years selection of shows and three out of the four shows we’re seeing are critic “recommended”, for what that’s worth, I also check what reader reviews are and all of the shows are hovering in the 3.5-4 star range which bodes well for entertainment value.
When we pick shows we typically like to pick a variety and the selection does tend to be heavy on the musical side. There’s a variety of factors that go into how we select the shows to see: the pre-show buzz, is it original, have we seen it before, who’s in it, who wrote it, or just liking the premise. This year on the schedule is, Anything Goes, Good People, Book of Mormon and Catch Me if You Can. It’s a pretty good mix and all the shows have multiple Tony nominations.
Anything Goes is a revival of a classic Cole Porter musical which features some of his best and most well known songs, Delovely, You’re the Top, I Get A Kick Out of you plus stars Sutton Foster, who as a multi nominated and Tony winning actress I have yet to see perform. Even better than seeing Ms. Foster perform, the show is also featuring the inestimable Mr. Joel Grey. He is a high priority on my “must see” list of performers for several reasons, one he’s Mr. Joel Grey, his body of work and the fact while he is a hale and hearty 80 years old, he is 80 years old. This has the NY Times “Critic Pick” designation and a reader review rating of 4 out five and is Tony nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.
I will admit that I’m going to see Good People mostly for the cast and mostly because it’s starring Frances McDormand. I really enjoy her work and as a kicker it co stars Tate Donovan, who I have no problems looking at and Estelle Getty for comic relief. The show and Ms. McDormand are both Tony nominees and again the show is a NY Times “crtitics pick”.
The hot item and the one I’m most excited to see is the creation of Broadway newbies and South Park Creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone with assistance from co-creator of Avenue Q Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon. This show got really good buzz early and has been on my radar for quite awhile. While it is a NYT “critics pick” the reader reviews have been up and down, people love it or hate it. This is something completely different and I can see how it would offend people and especially Mormons (although based on reports less than one anticipated). The last couple of times I’ve seen a show with this much variance in the reviews (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and the dreaded Pirate Queen) the results were not good; however, the show has gotten the Jon Stewart seal of approval which carries a good amount of weight for me. This is the odds on favorite to twin the Best Musical Tony as well as any number of the other 13 categories they’re nominated for.
The final show we’re seeing, Catch Me if You Can, almost falls under the category of guilty pleasure. It is yet another movie turned into a musical (although I will admit to not having seen the movie) but the draw here really was the two lead actors. (Okay a total aside here but have you noticed how Broadway can take popular movies and turn them into good or even great musicals but Hollywood takes a good or even great musical and turns in into absolute dreck). Aaron Tevit wowed me in Next to Normal and the boy can really sing but the real draw was to see Norbert Leo Butz perform again. One you just have to love that name and that he hasn’t tried to “fix it” and he’s a really really talented actor, singer, dancer who know what he’s doing on a stage. The reader reviews are in the 4 out of five range and while the Times review was generally mediocre they did really love Mr. Butz (hehe).
Anyway, stay tuned. I will take the laptop and try and post immediate reactions after the shows and then update with more details the following week.