We all know I’m a New York City girly, and despite not necessarily adopting that title for a while, I’ve been trying to adventure around the city more often the past year. While I’ve been able to see tons of limited run exhibits, and even have one trip to the MET with my college honors group, there’s been one thing at the top of my list for a few years that I’ve always been in love with: Broadway.
The first show I had ever seen was Disney on Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast way back in the early 2000s and I quickly became obsessed. Not only did I end up seeing it again for 3 years in a row on my birthday and on Christmas Eve one year (when the Beast did his curtain call with a Santa hat on), it became a regular occurrence for my family to head down to TKTS, wait in line, and see what shows were on the board that day. We saw Mary Poppins, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, White Christmas, Aladdin, Lion King, Wicked, Jersey Boys, and plenty of others. Over the years, between my schedule getting busier and ticket prices going up, I had a period where I pretty much stopped seeing shows. I was fortunate enough to see Hamilton through the EduHam program my junior year of high school, but it had been years since I had the opportunity to see so many of the shows that were on my wishlist. I was looking forward to staying in the area for college so I could try my luck at student rush tickets or go on the discounted group rate through my campus’ involvement office, but the whole pandemic thing kind of put a damper on those plans.
Since graduation, however, I’ve been able to see some shows, and find opportunities to see more at a reasonable price (there will be a whole separate blog post on that, trust me). I even went to BroadwayCon! Last year for my birthday, I got Disney on Broadway’s Double the Magic ticket voucher, and although it took me almost a year to redeem it, I got to see both Lion King and Aladdin again with great seats. Since starting my new job, I’ve also gotten access to a service that has discounted Broadway tickets, which allowed me to see Moulin Rouge. I have some upcoming plans to see more shows too, but I figured we could get the ball rolling today and review the shows I’ve seen so far!
I had originally seen Aladdin in previews and absolutely loved it, so I had some high standards going into the show. While I still really enjoyed it the second time around, I do have to say that I enjoyed my first time more. Aladdin is truly the perfect marriage of Disney magic and Broadway spectacular, which makes it an exciting production for any level of theatre fan, and the stage renditions of the classic songs are some of my favorites. Well, you might be asking, “what didn’t you like as much then?” And in all honesty, it was some of the revisions to the show that had been made between previews and the point in the run I had seen it. There were a few lines and little moments from the first time that didn’t affect the plot or have any deep significance, but were just fun or impressive embellishments to the show (example: Iago’s riff in “Diamond in the Rough” is still heard on the cast recording, but wasn’t in the show). Overall, I still love Aladdin on Broadway and its a show I highly recommend! If you can’t make it to Broadway, the West End, or one of the touring productions, don’t fret! Disney+ had previously announced a professional recording of the West End production for the site and it should be releasing soon.
The Lion King
This was my third time seeing The Lion King on Broadway (second time in the Minskoff Theatre) and this show is not only a Broadway classic, but a true work of art. The show itself is a highly stylized version of the original story in terms of staging and costuming, but it is absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking, regardless of how many times you’ve seen it. The performers in this show are also incredible, each being cast in what seems like the perfect role. I could rave about how incredible the entire production is for days, but I feel as though the fact that the show is one of the longest running ever on Broadway, as well as one of the top grossing year after year (can you believe it’s never been on the TKTS board?) speaks volumes on its own, so we’ll just start talking about Moulin Rouge now.
We’re going to start this review with a singular sentence: Moulin Rouge is my new favorite Broadway musical.
Bold statement, right? Well, it’s true. When the show claims that “the Moulin Rouge is a state of mind,” it’s not joking around. From the second you enter the theatre, you’re immersed into the world of the Moulin Rouge- everything from the light fixtures to the wallpaper and exit doors are completely themed to the show. There’s also a 15-minute pre-show featuring the ensemble that truly places you into the world of Christian, Satine, Toulouse, and the whole gang of Bohemians. Moulin Rouge is a jukebox musical, which I know is a controversial style, but I feel like it works perfectly for the overall tone of the show, which somehow perfectly balances humor with dark themes. The energy of the show, though, is one of my favorite things. I always love “dance-y” shows, but the staging of this show is out of this world (I’m looking at you, “Backstage Romance”). One of the underrated elements of the show, in my opinion, is the traditional French ending of the main plot, but the “happy ending” through the “More! More! More!” finale, which was again, a great balance of contrasting tones. Moulin Rouge is impressive, lively, and presents a good future for Broadway shows that pull from broader pop culture to be more accessible to newer theatergoers.
This show was significantly better than the critics led on! Beanie Feldstein was incredible, and whatever she lacked in singing, she more than made up for in her comic delivery. The entire ensemble was also incredible, and the leads were well cast! Jared’s tap dancing, Ramin’s voice, and Jane Lynch’s presence were certainly highlights. The first act felt quite long, almost to an uncomfortable extent, and the overall story was a little muddy in terms of comprehension (I couldn’t tell if certain sequences were dreams or reality). While it’s not a new favorite, I laughed a lot and certainly enjoyed it.
Come from Away
This is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen! It was minimalist, but so intricate, beautiful, and heartfelt. I laughed, cried, cried from laughing, and was smiling the entire show. The way the band was incorporated into the show was incredible, too, and I loved that they were the curtain call! The only reason I ranked it 4.5 stars was that about 2/3 of the way through the show it felt a little long (the show is 1hr 40min with no intermission), and even though i started feeling a little restless, I was still completely enthralled with the staging. I still cannot get over how talented the cast is, with each person playing multiple roles seamlessly. I am truly sad this show is closing soon, but am happy that I’ll have the ability to watch with a very affordable rental from AppleTV+!
I’m so excited for this fall season on Broadway, including the opening of a bunch of really great shows! I definitely want to start talking more about live entertainment on here, so stay tuned for more show reviews, recommendations, and NYC day recaps!
Have a terrific day!