I am neither a singer nor an actor. However, despite my lack of talent, I have an inexplicable love for the theater.
I faithfully attended all of my high school’s musical productions when I was a student there, and I regularly watch videos on Broadway.com. I mourn when I miss out on certain Broadway engagements (Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana in Cinderella, Daniel Radcliffe in any of his Broadway runs). Do I understand the actors’ music lingo and the meaning of “#SIP”? No. But for some strange reason, I love learning about these actors’ journeys to the stage and the amount of work that goes into a single night’s show.
I’m fortunate to live close enough to New York City that I can visit often, so I end up seeing a Broadway show once every other year or so. So far, I’ve been to five Broadway productions and have a goal to see at least ten in my lifetime – hopefully, I will be able to surpass this amount of performances! Today, I wanted to make a list of the shows I’ve seen and some thoughts and memories I have of my experience.
- Mary Poppins (June 2007) – I saw my first Broadway show with my mom and sisters, and we went on the last day of school. This was the perfect show for us to have our first exposure to real theater with, as we were huge fans of the movie. I ended up loving the new songs and altered arrangements that were in the musical. I remember being entranced when Mary flew up to the balcony at the end, especially because she looked directly at our section when passing by. Seeing this show also led to my realization of how the city truly never sleeps – we left the theater around eleven and Times Square and the blocks surrounding it were still buzzing.
- Xanadu (February 2008) – In seventh grade, my class and I were the weekly writers for a kids’ column in our local newspaper. The kids’ column is kinda a big deal for our area, because its participants usually end up interviewing a celebrity or getting special access to a museum or movie screening. I, along with two other girls, was randomly selected to go with our teacher and the column’s editor to see Xanadu and later write a review of it. We left school early on a Wednesday morning and hopped on the train to go into the city. At the Helen Hayes Theater, we ended up in the second row and had a perfect view of the matinee performance. Was this show appropriate for three twelve-year-olds? Not really, but it was enjoyable and definitely a memorable experience. Afterwards, we even got to meet and “interview” the lead actress, Kerry Butler, and she signed our playbills!
- The Phantom of the Opera (April 2009) – It’s a tradition at my elementary school for the graduating eighth-grade class to have lunch in the city and then see a Broadway show. For the first half of the year, there was much speculation about which show we would get to see – we were told that Shrek the Musical and Hairspray were possibilities, but Hairspray soon announced its closing and I think that our teachers couldn’t find a decent group rate for Shrek. So Phantom it was! Even today, I’m still not a huge fan of this musical – some of the songs are absolutely beautiful, but in the end, it doesn’t do much for me. I think that taking a bunch of thirteen and fourteen-year-olds to see it is a tad overambitious. However, it’s still freaking Phantom, and I’m glad I got this musical out of the way early on so I don’t have to wonder if I’m missing out.
- Wicked (February 2012) – This was the Broadway show I had been dying to see for years. It’s pretty much the most iconic production of this generation, and I am always a little wary towards successful shows because I dread that they’ll close out of nowhere. Therefore, after enough coaxing from us, my mom took my sisters and me to see Wicked. After being so used to the original cast recording, I was a little disappointed with our Elphaba’s voice, but the songs of Wicked will win over anyone in the end. We had dinner at the famous Stardust Diner before the show and met a family there that was also going to see Wicked. Believe it or not, they didn’t know the show’s general plot, and I was the one to tell them that it was a Wizard of Oz prequel.
- The Heiress (January 2013) – This was my first Broadway play. It starred Jessica Chastain of The Help and Zero Dark Thirty fame and Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey. At the time, I asked my mom if we could go because of Dan and, ironically enough, I found out about the negative controversy surrounding his Downton departure the night of the show. Today, I treasure this experience because of the amazing class act that is Jessica Chastain. I had just discovered the concept of waiting at stage door after a show and meeting the cast, so I persuaded my mom to do this with me when the play ended. To my delight, I met both Dan and Jesssica, got pictures with both of them, and asked them to sign my playbill. Dan was cordial to everyone but politely kept his distance when taking pictures. Jessica, however, was so sweet. She really is as kind as she seems on the red carpet. One lady realized that her camera had died, and Jessica was genuinely sympathetic and asked if she or anyone in her group had a phone. For every photo, including mine, she wrapped an arm around the fan and really leaned into the shot – I realize this is pretty normal behavior from actors at the stage door, but this was clearly my first experience interacting with famous people. I was completely starstruck meeting both of them. I may or may not have stuttered asking Dan Stevens for a photo and insanely tossed out a, “You’re amazing!” to Jessica Chastain after she posed with me.
I still feel incredibly attached to Broadway and the idea of attending shows. I wish to see so many musicals that are currently performing (alas, Newsies, I shall never know thee) and my deepest theater-related wish is to see the new production It’s Only a Play, starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, and Rupert Grint. That cast, man!
What about you? Have you ever been to a Broadway show?