City Stories

2014 [on stage]

One list I didn’t craft in 2013 was a list of shows I’d seen since moving to New York, most likely because I only had a half a year to draw from and didn’t make it to many at all (Broadway tickets are expensive!)

So when I started to pull together a list of what I saw in 2014, I decided to add in 2013, too. Looking back, it makes for quite a variety of shows – straight plays and musicals, big hits with big stars and lesser-known, just as impressive productions.

It still kills me I’m a train ride away from all this talent, and at just a week or so in to 2015 I’ve already seen one play and have tickets to a musical next week – working on building out this year’s list early. As I work on racking up those experiences to recount in 12 months’ time, enjoy the following list of what I already caught this year (and a few in the year before that).

Cinderella (2013) – The weekend I flew to NYC to find an apartment, I went through hell. It was raining like crazy and I just forked over thousands of dollars on a 16×10 living space I’d call home for the next year. I needed something to lift my spirits, and Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella was just the ticket.

Newsies (2013) – When your bestie comes to visit you in the Big Apple and she puts Newsies at the top of her Broadway To See list, you find those tickets come hell or high water. And then you surprise her with them so you can see the look on her face when she realizes what we’re about to see.

Sleep No More (2013) – This outside-the-box, off-the-beaten-path production loosely based on MacBeth takes place inside a reclaimed warehouse in the Meatpacking District, and sees audiences wandering hallways, stairwells and various set pieces throughout, rather than ever sitting in a seat in front of a stage. An experience unlike any other.

Annie (2013) – Sometimes interns can be more than helpful gophers (I mean always! They’re always more than that to me!), like when they surprise you with a free ticket to a classic – if super cheesy – production of Annie, the show you played an orphan in for your 6th grade production.

Waiting for Godot – File solidly under both “Must See Because of Cast” (Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan paired on stage) and “Should See Because You Haven’t Yet” (no idea how it alluded me all these years), and I found myself with a balcony seat back in March of this year.

Big Fish – Another one seen at the behest of a visitor (twist my arm!), this lush and whimsical production closed shortly after we caught it, which is a shame. Norbert Leo Butz starred in the multi-generational story of a tall-tale-telling man and the cast of characters he calls friends. I wasn’t enamored with the songs, which I found to be a bit all over the place and hard to sink my teeth into (and I love me some show tunes!), the production and performances were certainly beautiful enough to carry it.

Violet – When a deal for a $25 ticket to this revival popped up on my Facebook feed, I snagged it. Tickets at that price do not come around often, and it turned out to be a total steal. Another show that closed shortly after I saw it (merely because the theater’s schedule had to move on, not due to any lack-luster reviews), I was unfamiliar with the show going into it, but was easily won over by the luminous Sutton Foster in the title role.

Much Ado About Nothing – After one fruitless attempt to snag Shakespeare in the Park tickets at Central Park, a second weekend camping out for them proved successful, and that night a friend and I were at a beautiful outdoor production of my favorite Shakespeare comedy. I believe I’ve begun an NYC summer tradition for myself.

If/Then – A total splurge, I had to experience the impeccable Idina Menzel on Broadway while I still could. How fitting that it would be in a show about the hair’s width of space between some of our biggest decisions in life – should I go here or there? Take this train or hail a cab? With the city as a main character and Menzel’s powerful pipes to support the new music, it’s one I hope stays known for years to come.

Cabaret – Though I wanted to catch this production while Michelle Williams was in the cast, tickets proved too steep for my budget and I never made it. So with Emma Stone in the lead role alongside the uber-talented Alan Cumming, I made it a point to find a decent ticket to this one, and I’m more than glad I did. Still as resonant as when it debuted decades ago.

The Real Thing – If you’re sensing a pattern in my theater-going (in that it’s driven in no small part by the company I keep and the shows they want to see), you’re not mistaken. All it took was a link to the cast photo of this one – Cynthia Nixon, Maggie Gyllenhaal and (ahem) Ewan MacGregor among them – and I was sold. Unfamiliar with the play, I found it surprisingly relevant despite its taking place decades ago.

I’m not sure how many shows I’ll be able to make in 2015, but I am pleasantly surprised with how much I managed to fit in last year. Being a stone’s throw from these productions and not seeing as many as I can afford? Impossible!