My mom, my middle child, my firstborn and I saw 4 absolutely incredible shows on Broadway while we were in NYC last week.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, these were the highlights of our trip.
Even after 4-5 previous NYC trips, I had never been to a Broadway show (on Broadway).
I was mesmerized and now want to see every single show playing!!
Phantom of the Opera
One of the oldest shows on Broadway, most everyone knows this story.
The villain who is frightening but smoldering at the same time.
The ingenue learning from a teacher she doesn't know or understand and who sometimes frightens her.
The man who falls in love with the ingenue and vows to save her from the "Opera Ghost" or OG as he signs his notes.
I was astonished at the set and the theatre.
The beauty of an antique show palace along with the technological abilities and special effects took my breath away...the giant chandelier actually falls from the ceiling in the middle of the show!!!
And, the Phantom himself is climbing all over the stage, over the stage, on top of the ceiling, etc.
My favorite scene is the part where the Phantom mesmerizes Christine into coming with him to his lair under the opera house.
The entire stage turns into a steep staircase that falls down into a deep foggy swamp where Christine and the Phantom sing "The Phantom of the Opera" and glide through the smoky air.
Spooky candelabra appear from the floor as they get closer to his home...
I have no idea what was going on in the theatre around me during this number...I was off in the swamp with them.
In the Heights
In the Heights is one of the newer shows on Broadway but racked up at the last Tony Awards.
I now know why.
This is a fast paced show about a neighborhood called Washington Heights in a barrio in NYC.
or barrrrrrrrrrrrio as the Latino company sings.
The character Nina returns home after her first year at Stanford...the first one to make it out of the barrio, she has decided to quit college.
She is obviously embarrassed to tell her parents as well as her extended family members, the neighborhood that has supported her since she was born.
She is at a turning point in her life and has many decisions to make just as the neighborhood itself is evolving.
Usnavi is a solid character from the Caribbean who runs a small store next to Nina's parents and is in love from afar with Vanessa, a beautician who dreams of escaping the barrio to live in a uptown studio apartment.
Usnavi is a rapper and man alive, can he rap!
Usnavi's rap shows how rap is an musical artform rather than the string of profanities that today's rap is famous for...
Carla, another unforgettable character, is a perfect illustration of the word "sassy"...Carla owns the beauty shop in which Vanessa works...and is in the process herself of moving her shop to a better location.
Carla is streetwise and streetsmart with a good head on her shoulders.
She also doesn't hesistate to say what's on her mind.
Carla is one tough cookie...but in the end she helps Vanessa finally get what she needs.
The numbers "Vanessa" and "96,000" absolutely blew my mind.
What is incredible about this show is how so many things can be going on at the same time on stage...but in a completely orchestrated way...
How do they do that????
And, why can't I do that??
Characters are dancing and singing parts all over the place...
and then at the end of "96,000" they all come together across the front of the stage singing in perfect unison!!!
The dancing in this show is street dancing...I don't even really know how to describe it...the amount of talent on the stage and the years of expertise and training put into making this show what it is...
This incredible company of singers and dancers also entertained our kids the morning of the show.
2 of the cast members taught our kids parts from the number "96,000."
I'm still singing and my kids are still dancing!
I'm going to try hard to find some words befitting the show Wicked.
But, I'm probably going to have a hard time.
I've never seen anything like Wicked.
Guh-Linda, the "good" witch we all grew to love was not quite as "good" as she seemed.
She is rich and spoiled, and vain...really really vain.
Elphaba, which is the wicked witch's real name, is the same age as Glinda and they meet in college.
Elphaba has green skin...she is different...and just like every "different" kid in school, she is treated poorly, even by her own father.
Elphaba and Glinda accidently become roommates...
And then they become friends...friends who accept each other for who and what they are...good and bad...even when they have to go their separate ways in the end.
Glinda vows to make Elphaba "Popular," and the actress who portrays her is hysterical in this number...from Glinda's characteristic hair toss to her perky mannerisms, the theatre was filled with laughter throughout the show.
Another number which is reprised in several places during the show is "I Hope You're Happy."
Glinda is a high pitched soprano, and Elphaba is a lower pitched alto.
Their voices together are magical.
I've frankly never heard two people singing together who sound like these two.
It's as if the music was made for them and them alone.
They play off each other and respond to each other almost as if they haven't rehearsed it a gazillion times.
If I have to pick a favorite number from this show though, it would be "Defying Gravity."
It starts out quiet and grows and grows and grows...until Elphaba has finally embraced her wicked side and is dangling somehow midair on her broom with dazzling lights covering the entire darkened stage singing from the top of her lungs.
How the heck did she do that?????
When she finished that last note, the entire theatre stood up clapping.
I wanted to scream, "Bravo, Bravo!!"
I wanted to BE the Wicked Witch of the West!!!
And DEFY GRAVITY!!!!
Please, please, please, if you are only going to see one show in your lifetime, see this one!
I ain't kiddin'
West Side Story
West Side Story was the last show we saw.
Now, I've seen the movie a bunch of times.
Natalie Wood, fake brown skin, lip synching and all, is one of my all time favorite Marias...any other Marias have really big shoes to fill in my book.
Since the movie is a musical, most folks have experienced at least a little of the dancing and singing epitomized in this show...
But, until you've seen it live...
you ain't really seen it!
Now, let me say something about the gentlemen in this show.
Help me, Lord.
The Sharks and the Jets...dancing against one another.
There's obviously a lot of ballet trained dancers in this show.
These guys really know how to leap!!!
And, when you add the ladies to the mix.
I could barely breathe.
The numbers "America" and "Dance at the Gymn" were my favorites.
"America" is sung by Anita and backed up by the other Latina ladies.
It made me want to jump up and start shouting.
"Dance at the Gymn" is the epic comparison of cultures through dance.
I wish I could dance like that!!
West Side Story has been revised to include more Spanish, and the effects are dramatic.
We all knew what was going to happen in the end, and some of the Romeo and Juliet like scenes can get a little sappy...but I was in tears with Maria at the end...as was my firstborn.
Our time on Broadway will provide my girls and I and my mom with some incredible memories...
especially since we shared them together.