There’s something special about live theater, and especially musicals. The feeling of being in a space with hundreds of other people, watching supremely talented performers giving it their all on stage, lights me up. I love the singing and the dancing, probably because I’m not great at either, so I find it really impressive when people are triple threats.
After I finished writing Take the Lead, I realized I hadn’t been to a musical in nearly five months, and I was due for some creative well-filling. This year, I’m making an effort to see more shows. I’ve seen eight so far, so I’m splitting them into two posts. Here are the first four: Holiday Inn, School of Rock, Waitress, and Newsies Live.
I wrote a whole post about Holiday Inn, so I’ll be brief. Holiday Inn was a lot of fun. Bryce Pinkham (Jim) has an amazing voice (I saw him A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and great chemistry with Lora Lee Gayer (Linda). Corbin Bleu (Ted) is a fantastic dancer, and I can now fully appreciate how much of a ringer he was during his season of Dancing with the Stars. And I have to note Megan Lawrence, the scene-stealer who played Louise the Handyman, and young Morgan Gao.
I happened to be there while they were filming live to air on Broadway HD during the show’s last weekend. The performers went all out, and the audience was totally into it. Iconic music, and I love tap numbers. Tons of fun.
4 out of 5 stars
School of Rock
I waited in the bitter cold on a Monday morning in January to rush tickets for School of Rock, since one of my cousins was in town and not too many shows play on Mondays. It was worth it! We had such a great time. Eric Peterson did a great job as Dewey, the Jack Black role, matching the style of voice while still making it clear he has serious vocal chops. It’s a very physical show, for both Dewey and the kids.
Speaking of…THE KIDS. Omg, they were phenomenal. Playing instruments, acting, singing, and dancing. All at the same time! Go look up videos of Brandon Niederauer shredding the guitar. Rachel Katzke, Raghav Mehrota, and Walden Sullivan killed it, too. Incredibly fun show.
4 out of 5 stars
I should preface this by saying that I don’t remember if I’ve seen all of the Keri Russell movie this show was based on. I also only know one Sara Bareilles song. Friends told me they loved Waitress, so I went to see it.
And honestly, I was kinda disappointed. Jessie Mueller and the cast do a great job, so this is just a matter of personal taste, but I didn’t like the story or the music. The pie puns were cute, but while there were a bunch of romances going on, most of the characters were cheating on their spouses. That’s a hard pass for me. And from the first bars of the first song, I thought, “Oh, no. This is not for me.” And that never changed. I really wanted to like this show, but I just didn’t.
2 out of 5 stars
I’m fudging this one a bit. I saw Newsies on Broadway five years ago with the original cast, but I’m including it here because I did go to one of the Fathom Events showings this February.
IT WAS AMAZING. You guys, I loved it. I really did. I want them to release it on DVD so I can watch it again. And here’s the really weird thing: I liked it better than when I saw it live.
I know, right? That sounds crazy to say. But they filmed it recently, with the touring cast, and brought back most of the original leads. (And gave Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s Crutchie a new song.) Jeremy Jordan and Kara Lindsay both embodied their roles better than when I saw it on stage. His singing and acting have improved, and her character—who annoyed me previously—comes across more clearly and sympathetically. The dancing is still ridiculously good, and honestly, I just loved it. (For sure.) Special mentions: Ben Cook as Race, and Ben Fankhauser as Davey.
5 out of 5 stars
Have you seen any of these shows? Let me know what you thought!
I’ll post Part 2 next week, which will feature Great Comet of 1812, Amélie, In Transit, and Anastasia.