On Broadway (2015)

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My partner and I are back from what seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage to New York City, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. While there is never a shortage of fun things to see and do in a constantly changing landscape of attractions, the focal point of our trips is enjoying the Broadway theatre scene.

Our trips start getting planned months in advance as we not only read the descriptions, cast lists and reviews for each show, but we also try to tune in to the Tony Award buzz online, to get a sense of the shows that will likely get nominated and the ones we must see.

The shows that seem to be attracting the most favourable reviews and Tony buzz, and for which tickets seem to be in short supply, we will buy in advance. At the same time, we will draft a short list of other possible shows which we think might be available at a discount at the TKTS booth in Times Square or for which we will keep an eye out for promo codes from the theatres to purchase tickets at a good price, without standing in line. Then we leave it up to luck after that.

For me, this year’s highlights have been:

The Audience
In my eyes, Dame Helen Mirren can do no wrong so perhaps I might be a little biased. But her performance in the Audience is a genuine tour de force. I was enthralled by her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth II throughout her years on the throne, holding audiences with her Prime Ministers of England. The magic of theatre is alive and well in this production as Dame Helen seamlessly transforms from a mature Elizabeth to a young Elizabeth, or vice versa, in a blink of an eye, masterfully embodying the spirit of the Queen at various points in her reign. Supported by a solid cast of actors portraying the Prime Ministers, as well as Elizabeth as a child, and a script that strikes the perfect balance between politics and the humanity behind politics, this play was a joy to behold and made me appreciate the monarchy so much more. Afterward, we met Dame Helen at the stage door where she so generously signed our programs. She was so kind, so charming and so gracious, it was a delightful chance meeting that made an already memorable evening unforgettable.

It Shoulda Been You
Tyne Daly’s brilliant performance in the play “Mothers and Sons” last year left us breathless so it was without hesitation that we bought tickets to “It Shoulda Been You”, a very funny story revolving around her character’s daughter’s wedding. We both laughed so hard during this production, we may have missed a couple of cascading jokes. The entire cast demonstrated amazing chemistry and impeccable comedic timing to the point that we really felt we had been part of the family, witnessing each character’s pre-wedding jitters and neuroses, from the daughter’s older unmarried sister, to her ex-boyfriend, to the in-laws and throughout the extended family. This production is easily relatable on many levels and was an absolute treat to experience.

On the 20th Century
With the Broadway star power headlining this show including Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher, Andy Karl and Mary Louise Wilson, I had high expectations for my first experience in what is referred to as a “screwball comedy”. From the moment the tap dancing train porters hit the stage, I was on the edge of my seat and captivated. The rapid-fire of dialogue, songs, dancing, jokes and physical humour kept the energy output high throughout the show and was an absolute feast for the senses. How they got a train on stage like that as the focal point and the backdrop for all the scenes is another awe inspiring moment in the magic of theatre. The entire cast was brilliant and this was a stellar show I would not hesitate to see again.

Broadway Up Close walking tour
We are such theatre fans that our last two trips have included Broadway walking tours arranged through a company called Broadway Up Close. We only have great things to say about the Broadway Up Close Team, particularly our dynamic and knowledgeable tour guides Ben and Theresa and the owner, Tim Dolan, who have all gone out of their way to share their passion for the theatre and share stories about each venue that stir up the imagination, which only heighten one’s interest and curiosity in the theatre… if that is even possible for us! We both highly recommend a tour with these fantastic Broadway goodwill ambassadors!

Best of luck to all of the Tony nominees tonight. To all of the actors, writers, directors, producers and technical teams who work so hard to keep the magic of theatre alive, vibrant and fresh, I extend a heartfelt thanks and congratulations for a job well done.

If you are headed to New York City soon, I encourage you to check out the many offerings in Broadway or off-Broadway plays or musicals, and scoop up some tickets for the show(s) that interest you. There truly is something for everyone and makes for a memorable evening of entertainment.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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