NEW YORK—A couple of weeks ago, since Nic was on a class trip upstate, I thought it would be a good idea to get a good share of Broadway back into my system.
Although we’ve been living in the city for over a year, we haven’t really made the time to head to the theater district and take in our share of theater. Nic not being home gave me a great opportunity to sit in the dark and get lost in whatever I was watching.
First on the bill was “Sorry For Your Loss,” by writer and comedian Michael Cruz Kayne, now playing off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theater. First off, Michael (who is Filipino-American) is uproariously funny. As a comedian, his timing is impeccable, and he knows exactly what will get that audience howling and when.
However, with this particular show, which is a mix of real-life stories, a little bit of tutoring (I’m not even kidding), plumbing the depths of sadness and finding the light of hope, Michael deftly balances joy and pain, ably finding that glimmer amidst unspeakable tragedy.
Many of us in the audience found ourselves destroyed and then quickly put back together but better. If you find yourself heading to see this show, don’t forget the tissues.
Next was a date with “Here Lies Love” costar Melody Butiu to the Marquis Theatre to see an early preview of “Once Upon a One More Time,” choreographed and directed by the husband and wife team of Keone and Mari Madrid.
In case you’ve not yet heard of the show, this is a jukebox musical with many of Britney Spears’ extensive catalog of music (among the hits, you’ll hear “Circus,” “Toxic” and “Sometimes,” to name a few) and gives us a glimpse into the world of fairy tales and happily ever afters.
Led by Briga Heelan as Cinderella, the show is big and bright, with fabulous choreography and a talent pool on stage that made all of us in the audience scream and cheer. Keone has also previously choreographed for BTS, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find a few Easter eggs in the musical’s routines!
Day 3 brought me to the Nederlander Theatre for a brand-new musical about corn … yes, corn … titled “Shucked.” With a fantastic score by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, a hilarious book by Robert Horn and deft direction by Jack O’Brien, the laughs in “Shucked” never stop coming, thanks to the puns delivered by an outrageously funny and talented company.
More than just art
It’s an old-fashioned Broadway musical that hits all the right notes, and features one of the most unforgettable moments in musical theater. Night after night, Alex Newell as Lulu gets a spontaneous—and well-deserved—standing ovation after their performance of “Independently Owned.”
My jaw hit the floor several times during just that one song, and I had to scream in delight in Alex’s face after the performance to express how glorious they were.
And finally, last on the list for the week is “Parade,” by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry, directed by Michael Arden, and starring Tony winner Ben Platt and Tony nominee Micaela Diamond. I had been at a rehearsal several weeks prior, so I was excited to finally see the actual show. It did not disappoint.
It is a huge given to say that it’s a wonderful show deserving of all the nominations and awards it has received from various award-giving bodies this season, but “Parade” is relevant on a deeper level.
“Parade’s” arrival on Broadway is more than just art: It is defiance in the face of racism, prejudice and bigotry. One can only imagine how difficult and painful it is to be part of such a musical (the difficulty extends beyond the theater walls; at the show’s first preview, antisemitic protesters were harassing theatergoers as they were entering the Jacobs Theatre).
As an audience member, it was not only uncomfortable to watch a Georgia town celebrate the conviction of a Jewish man, but also to see how institutionalized racism and white supremacy operate, even in the relative safety of a dark theater.
There are so many more shows to try and catch this season, and it fills me with woe that it looks like I won’t be able to see them. That said, it’s so wonderful to see the lights of Broadway blazing again and to see the streets surrounding the theaters busy and full.