5 years, 9 months ago
On the 9th of June 2013, New York’s thesps and jazz-hand types converge on Broadway to pay tribute to each other and their ‘one true love’ – the theatre. Yes, it’s the Annual Tony Awards…
A chance for the great and good and earners of obscene amounts of money to pretend for a few hours that nothing on earth gives them more satisfaction than turning their back on a luxury Winnebago with customised gym and 24/7 vegan chef to tread the boards with the scent of greasepaint in their nostrils and the roar of the crowd in their ears.
This year’s nominees range from the acerbic ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ to the loveable ‘Matilda The Musical’. Tom Hanks is keeping up the movie star quota and there’s a good showing from Broadway veterans like Harvey Fierstein and Nathan Lane. Even audience participation gets a look in with ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’.
But is Broadway 2013 all it’s cracked up to be? Can it justify the ticket prices? Are the long running classics like ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Chicago’ still spectacular after all these years? Or is it a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing? Well, rubbish theatrical bon mots aside, this is Broadway and of course it delivers glitz, glamour and good old-fashioned showmanship, and if it’s made it in New York etc……
But those big, shiny shows don’t come cheap, so we’ve added some alternative New York theatre, music and dance suggestions too that are fresh as the cast of Annie, more rousing than a chorus of Hakuna Matata (hard to believe, we know) and just as thrilling as a Mama Mia ménage á trois.
Mix-it-up. Go Broadway, Off Broadway and even Off, Off Broadway. Give it your all singing, all dancing best and remember there are always discounts and deals.
If you’re doing Broadway with children, play it safe
Stick with what they know and you keep down the wriggle factor and the bigger the show the more excited the audience.
Annie is one of the best loved musicals of all time and if you’ve got your heart set on a true, belt-‘em-out Broadway spectacular with classic triumph over adversity and more plucky orphans than you can shake a wooden spoon at, Annie doesn’t disappoint – Glee’s Jane Lynch is a star turn as Miss Hannigan. Palace Theatre
Matilda the Musical has earned a big ‘best musical since Billy Elliot’ thumbs up from Broadway critics. The score’s a first for Tim Minchin, all the Roald Dahl essentials are firmly in place and there’s plenty of boo/hiss action for all ages as Matilda takes on The Trunchbull, saves the day and lives happily ever after with the delightful Miss Honey. Shubert Theatre
The Lion King is still going strong after 15 years as a firm Broadway favourite. You won’t often hear us say this but, the live show is a lot better than the movie and it’s a great intro to theatre for little kids – one or two slightly sinister moments so keep your knee at the ready. Minskoff Theatre
If you feel like spending a few hours just being a grown up, Broadway really delivers for date night
A couple are often in luck for hard to get tickets because 3 or more seats together are trickier to come by and Group Bookings are upwards of 10 seats for most shows. And if all you’re thinking about is yourself (this is a good thing sometimes) you can take some risks on and off Broadway without blowing your budget.
How To Be A New Yorker is definitely for big people only. A crash course in the details that define the typical city dweller with all the wit, wisdom and irreverence you’d expect from those in the New York know. And to ramp up the ambience and keep it real, How To Be A New Yorker is served with a traditional Italian meal, hence the Off Broadway venue – Downstairs Lounge Sofia’s Ristorante Italiano
I’ll Eat You Last sees the divine Bette Midler (still rocking at 60 odds) as iconic chain smoking, fast-talking, fearless Sue Mengers. One of the first female talent agents and the one they all still aspire to be, Mengers/Midler dishes dirt, leaves no skeletons in cupboards and tells it like it was – two legends, one show: this might be one of the best bargains you’ll get on Broadway. Booth Theatre
A Kid Like Jake is a Lincoln Centre World Premiere for Daniel Pearle’s precise and insightful drama is the story of what happens when Jake – a very particular 4 year old with a love of Cinderella and dress-up – meets the New York private school system.
The Lincoln Centre is also home to the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School and it’s where you’ll find theatre, music, dance, jazz concerts, festivals, exhibitions and events all year round. Testament to New York’s commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion, The Lincoln Centre’s programme is amazingly varied, lots of performances (especially theatre) are one price and tickets can cost as little as $20.
If you’re looking for a Broadway show as a holiday highlight then you want to think big
It’s not for nothing that Chicago and Phantom of the Opera are two of the US’s longest running shows. Their energy is breath-taking and even after decades in the spotlight the quality of casting is still superb. Mama Mia continues to have ABBA fans, newbies and cynics dancing in the aisles performance after performance. For South Park’ irreverence meets old fashioned Broadway musical The Book of Mormon spares no one. And if you like your superheroes and villains larger than life and up close and personal pick Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark (nod to Broadway traditional terminology in that title).
Littlest visitors are highly thought of in New York’s theatre world
With hundreds of shows all-year-round specially designed in length and character to suit audiences as young as 2. Try Galli Theatre for audience participation and multi-lingual fairy tales. The Paper Bag Players stage original musicals for kids 4 – 9. Puppetworks is about as far from socks with button eyes as you can get and kids love their adaptations of well known favourites. Tribeca Performing Arts Centre & Theatreworks USA has performances for all ages and stages. And if you love a Big Top you’ve lucked out in New York with the Big Apple Circus.
There’s probably some type of public naming and shaming for visiting New York and not doing theatre at least once. But with a bit of planning and careful shopping you can cover a lot of ground even on a limited budget. Look out for Wednesday Night Family Packs for many Broadway shows. The world famous Carnegie Hall has $10 ‘Public Rush Tickets’. And Delacorte Theatre stages free Shakespeare productions in Central Park throughout the summer.
All the world might be a stage but when it comes to putting on a show the spotlight’s clearly still on New York.