It’s always hard to define what people should see in terms of theater when they come to New York. There are a few questions that need to be answered:
- Have you ever seen a big Broadway musical before?
- How adventurous do you want to be?
- How many shows in total do you want to see? Because I would balance things differently depending on how many shows.
There are usually one or two shows that I have in the “Get Tickets Now Because Seats Are Hard To Come By” category. Right now, there’s nothing that is hard to see and worth it. We are currently waiting for a lot of new shows to open. None of them are sure-fire hits, so almost everything on this list is in the “It’ll Probably Be Good, but Wait and Read the Reviews” category.
This list is in order of preference, but you should adjust it to your own personal tastes.
The Book of Mormon – I’ve almost bought tickets for this because I’m so sure it’s going to good. It’s a musical about a young Mormon going to Africa for mission work. It was written by one of the writers of “Avenue Q” (one of my all-time favs) and by the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. And the rest of the creative team has a good pedigree as well. If you like Mormons or if you hate being offended, I wouldn’t recommend it. But I think it’s the closest on this list to a sure-fire good time.
King Lear – This is at BAM, which has been amazing in the past few years. I’m getting tickets to this for myself. It’s Derek Jacobi in the lead role and the rest of the creative team is top-notch. BAM has a tendency to sell-out their good productions, so if you’re sure you want to see King Lear, I would say go for it and get tickets now. It’s currently running in London and the reviews were good – saying that Sir Jacobi will go down in history as one of the greatest Lears.
Fat Pig – I will probably see this myself, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone. It’s Neil LaBute, so it’s going to be sharp and uncomfortable writing. You have to be a bit of a masochist to enjoy his plays. The cast is all very good. It will be superbly acted and thought-provoking, I’m sure. This show is for smart, young people.
House of Blue Leaves – I saw this on PBS when I was younger and was captivated. It’s a brilliant script and it’s rarely done. It has an all-star cast. Ben Stiller was in the original production in the role of the son, and now he’s playing the dad. I saw the director’s previous production (“Our Town”) and it was genius. The guy knows what he’s doing. So I think it’s safe to say that this could be very, very good.
Baby Wants Candy – I just bought tickets for this. It’s an improvised musical. They take a title from the audience at the beginning of the show and then improvise an entirely staged musical. I have no idea how they coordinate it with the orchestra. It’s gotten good reviews. It’s relatively cheap. They don’t have dates for May yet, but I’m pretty sure it will continue through May.
War Horse – I saw this in London. The puppetry of the horse is amazing. The story is interesting, but is a bit more in line with “Old Yeller” than a thought-provoking storyline. Both David and I cried at the end. Spielberg has announced that this is his next directing project (though when you see the live production you’ll wonder why he would bother because half the amazement of the show is the horse on stage). So if you love horses, WWII stories, sophisticated puppetry, or balling your eyes out, this is for you.
Arcadia – It’s Tom Stoppard, so the script is sure to be good. Though I must say that I don’t care for his plays that are set in modern times. I like him best when he is highly conceptual. The cast is solid, so it could be very good. Wait for reviews and possibly word of mouth.
Born Yesterday – I’m basing this entirely on the lead actress who I saw last year in something and she took off-broadway by storm. I have no idea if the show will be worth it, though. I wish they would have found a better vehicle for the lead actress.
The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures – This is Tony Kushner’s latest. The production of “Angels in America” on Broadway is one of the best pieces of theater I’ve ever seen. I walked out of “Homebody/Kabul” at intermission. In other words, Tony Kushner is either amazing or horrendous. So keep this in mind, but it’s a low recommendation. It may be amazing. You never know.
There are two Off-Broadway theaters that have not settled on dates for May yet. They are generally very good, but it’s a bit of a gamble. On the plus side, they are cheaper than Broadway.
Vineyard Theater – I used to subscribe to the Vineyard. I’ve seen about 20 things there and there was really only one show that I wanted to be over. Sometimes it’s amazing. Check to see what they’re doing when the time gets closer.
Classic Stage Company – I’ve seen the past three productions they’ve done and they have all been excellent. On a side note, if they extend their current production of “Three Sisters”, get tickets to that as soon as you can. It’s fantastic and the whole run sold out almost immediately. In May, it looks like they’re doing Moilere, who I really can’t stand. So do with that what you will.