Confessions of A Broadway Nerd

How do you pick a Broadway show when you’re a Broadway nerd?

When faced with the choice of what to see, it’s like standing at an endless buffet of tantalizing dishes.  So many choices come into play: Who’s in the cast?  If I get the chance to see the original cast, isn’t that the show I should pick?  Should I go for the one that has an actor I really like?  Should I go for the one that will have the best music?  Will a show be too cheesy?  Who cares what the show is if Matthew Broderick is in it?

This is a peek into what my brain is like right now whilst my other tab shows a list of current shows on Broadway.

Add Geek on top of Broadway obsessed and you’ll understand why I’m toying with the idea of seeing Spider-man Turn Off the Dark.  Another painful choice in the mix is Newsies.  I’ve been harping for years that the classic Disney movie musical needed a stage adaptation, so it seems a necessity that I view this show.  Audra McDonald in Porgy and Bess?  I could cry having to choose between her honey-rich voice and my nerdy TV buddy Jim Parsons in Harvey.  (Harvey is not a musical though which is a definite black mark against it.)

I was plunged into chaos when I spied Nice Work If You Can Get It, a new musical review of Gershwin music set in the 20’s starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara.  Gershwin music is the golden standard for me-the roots of my passion for Broadway tunes.  And the Matthew Broderick!!!!!  He is the quintessential leading man to see live!  He can sing, dance and act and has a distinguished career to back it up.  Come on.  How can I pass up Ferris Bueller?  I have also been a fan of Kelli O’Hara’s sweet and strong voice since the revival of South Pacific and would love to see her on stage.

Another leading choice is Anything Goes.  Joel Grey, a living Broadway legend, is still performing which would make the show worth it even though Sutton Foster is gone.  The dancing and singing in this show are, I’m sure, phenomenal.  This is the revival of the decade!

Thankfully, there are some cash-grasping jokes that make my choice easy.  Bring it On the Musical? Enough said.  Prince of Broadway:  a musical retelling of the highlights of Harold Prince’s career.  I’m sorry, I just nodded off, what was I saying?

I’m have a love-hate relationship with movies-turned-musicals.  Some seem natural like Newsies and Mary Poppins.  I’ve heard music from Sister Act and it’s great because it’s a reworking of the movie songs in addition to some musically strong new numbers.  Other movie-turned-musicals just make me shake my head like Ghost, Once and the aforementioned Bring It On.   If the movie wasn’t a musical to begin with, what makes producers think “hey, if we sing the pop songs in it and get some staging together, we could make a buck”?  Once is a bit grey for me.  I wonder at the idea that just because it was a film musical it has to be on stage.  I guess it works both ways since Hollywood, equally at a loss for originality, often pulls from the Broadway stage these days.  Just look at the heavily marketed Rock of Ages which opened this weekend.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of books turned musicals on the list this season.  Children’s books are where it’s at as evidenced by Peter and the Star Catcher, Rebecca and Matilda.  And for those wondering why I left War Horse off the movie-turned-musical list, it was a book then a musical then a movie.

Looking at a listing of Broadway shows is daunting.  It seems to me that as the years go by, Broadway stuffs more shows into its small smattering of streets than is probably good for it.  I’m worried that this glut of shows has left audiences less discerning than the Broadway of the past, which is why producers create more for the masses and less for the musically sophisticated.  That’s why we see stunningly good shows like Les Mis or Wicked few and far between.  I know whatever I choose will not be a masterwork that will live on in theater history for ages.  Still, I like a good musical fling.  I realize that I’m looking more at my choices of who’s singing at this point.  I’m a bit star struck by some of the cast lists.  Writing this has helped me narrow my list but still, impossible choices must be made.

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Costume Envy-Marie Antionette

I love costumes and fabrics.  Rich silks, sumptuous brocades; folk styles, characters, I drink it in.  That’s why I was captivated by the movie Marie Antionette-you know, the strange 80’s soundtracked Sophia Coppola flick.  The film is barely strung together with a plot, rather it’s held together with thread.  For an entire two hours, I felt like I was watching a documentary love letter to French fashion and excess.  Most of the  movie budget I’m sure went to costumes.  I don’t think Kiersten Dunst wore the same frock twice-and she wore a lot of frocks.  Here are some of my favorites: