Monday, June 2, 2014

Looking Forward to Summer 2014

Cabaret - The best musical of the spring
I sound like a broken record, I guess, but I can't believe that the year is almost half over.  And I can't believe that a new season is starting!  Yes, the 2014 - 2015 season has begun, even though as I write this, we still have some last season business to finish up this coming Sunday.  And this summer, like the past several summers, will have plenty for us theatre lovers to chew on.

But before I look ahead, let me look back for just a bit at the spring - a jam-packed spring at that.  Of the shows I was looking forward to this time 3 months ago (HERE), I was lucky enough to see one of the plays I listed and all six of the musicals I listed, plus two more plays and two more musicals.  How did that turn out?  Well there were some very pleasant surprises, some disappointments, and a ton to think about.  It has been years since there has been so much to appreciate, even if there wasn't much to be all Next to Normal over, or anything to be all Soul Doctor over, either.  Just about every show had some superb elements balanced by some truly baffling (for lack of a better word) elements at the same time.
Casa Valentina - The best play of the spring

Of the plays, Casa Valentina (A+) was my favorite, and I'm really glad I got to see The Cripple of Inishmaan (A) and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill (B+).  The biggest musical disappointments were off-Broadway's Heathers (C) and Bullets Over Broadway (C-).  Most underwhelming, though I wasn't shocked at just how bad it was, was Les Miserables (D).  The most pleasant surprises were Hedwig and the Angry Inch (A-) and Violet (B+), and the most thought-provoking and interesting ended up being Rocky (B-) and the love it/hate it show of the season, If/Then (A) (I loved it!). The most entertaining show of the spring was Aladdin (A-).  But it was Cabaret (A+) that was - by far - the gold standard of 2013 - 2014, just as it was in 1998.  The spring average was A- not bad!

So this summer, I am looking forward to some up-and-coming musicals, Broadway's newest musical, and a vastly revised all-time favorite of mine that is getting a huge regional showing.  I have little interest, really, in the first Broadway play of the season, This Is Our Youth.  A hot summer day in the city filled with 20-something angst just doesn't appeal.  Sorry.


The New York Musical Theatre Festival (Off-Broadway) - Various Venues 
Seeing shows at NYMF has become a tradition that Mike and I look forward to each year.  While the quality of these shows varies greatly (and we haven't yet seen our "Feeling Electric"), the one thing they all have is that very special excitement shared by everyone in the room, onstage, backstage, and in the house as a new musical is born before our very eyes!  Here are the two we will be seeing:


The Travels (Click the logo above to go to their website!) Any show that bills itself as "genre-defying" automatically gets my attention, and add words like "dystopian," "eclectic," and "epic," count me in as I hum songs from Urinetown!  Besides, I don't see that many sci-fi musicals, either, and that has to be interesting, right?

Mr. Confidential (Click the logo above to go to their website!) I love shows that harken back to the 50's, and I love those scandalous films of that period.  But even more, I love musicals that are about yesterday that have implications for today.  And if the people behind this show have put as much effort into the show as they have with their website, it is going to be very good!

Holler If Ya Hear Me (Broadway) - Palace Theatre
Like many Broadway fans, I'm guessing, I know almost nothing about Tupac Shakur, and I've never heard any of his songs.  But I am looking forward to this show because I like anything that has the potential to push the boundaries of what Broadway is "supposed to be."  At the least, this won't be a disappointing musical biography.  At the most, it'll be an eye-opener of American Idiot proportions!

Side Show (Regional) - The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
This show is one of my all-time favorite shows.  Dark, frightening, funny and romantic, with a killer score, I am still sad that it never found an audience.  And now it is back, re-envisioned, revised and re-staged, and looks as thrilling as ever!  I am so excited by this, I can't put it into words.  I'm trying to temper my excitement so that I'm not setting myself up for disappointment...


If/Then (Broadway) - Richard Rodgers Theatre
I loved it the first time, and thought about it for weeks after.  Now that I am getting reacquainted with the show via the cast recording (CD review coming later this week), I am even more excited to be returning in a month.  Love Idina, but I am looking forward to really concentrating on everyone else this time around, and enjoying the score even more now that I know it better.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Broadway) - Belasco Theatre
Before I saw this a few weeks ago, I wasn't really all that excited by it.  But having seen it now, I can't wait to feel the electricity in the Belasco Theatre again.  I am particularly looking forward to "Origin of Love," seeing Lena Hall's brilliance, and the last 10 minutes with the perplexing and completely thrilling finale (not to mention Neil Patrick Harris' rockin' bod!).

Let me know what shows you are looking forward to this summer!


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