You always remember your first time, isn’t that the phrase? I’ll never forget the first time I saw Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele having fake sex at the end of act one of Spring Awakening in January 2007. It was the first Broadway show one of my best friends and I saw together. (Most recently we saw Hamilton at the Public together.) She was a similarly theater-obsessed college freshman who had suggested we get tickets to see this new show that would go on to win the Tony that spring.
Fast forward eight plus years and there’s a revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway for a limited engagement. Clearly I needed to go. And just as clearly I should take my best friend when she comes later this month for five days of theater and hangout time. But said best friend was extremely understanding when I got an email (man, signing up for an email list paid off!) about discounted tickets. We’re still hoping to go when she’s here – because it’s so good, I’d see it again.
If you’ve been paying attention to Broadway this year, there’s an obvious frontrunner for the Tony Awards (and no, despite how much I’ve been talking about it here and in real life, it’s not Hamilton, which doesn’t start its Broadway run till later this summer). It’s another show that started at the Public Theater, a musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir Fun Home. Before seeing the show, I knew this: Alison Bechdel created the Bechdel test*, she’s a lesbian, her father committed suicide, and she grew up in a funeral home (hence, Fun Home).
*To pass the Bechdel test, a film must have two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. Sadly not that many movies pass the test!
Fun Home is a one-act musical performed in the round at Circle in the Square Theatre. From its format to its subject matter to its cast, which includes Alison at three different ages, it’s a unique production.
It’s been a little while since I’ve posted about going to the theater, so let me tell you about the first show I saw in 2014. It’s a little musical called Cinderella, and it’s currently starring Carly Rae Jepsen and Fran Drescher, at the Broadway Theater. An unlikely pairing, maybe, for a Rogers and Hammerstein musical that originally starred Julie Andrews (more on that later), but I can’t comment too much on that because I didn’t see Carly Rae Jepsen. According to the playbill, her understudy, Jessica Hershberg, goes on every Saturday evening and Wednesday matinee, and I saw the show on a Saturday night. Ann Harada, one of the stepsisters, who was the original Christmas Eve from Avenue Q, also wasn’t in it that night; her role was played Laura Irion (who was great!).
I’ve been a theater nerd since my second grade debut as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”. As a kid my family often saw big Broadway shows in Toronto. My first was “The Phantom of the Opera”, in the last row of the balcony, so long ago that that’s all I remember about it. I remember seeing “Beauty and the Beast” when I was so small that the smallest t-shirt they had was practically a dress on me.