In honor of the upcoming Tony Awards, the Chicks reveal their fave Broadway shows–and nominate their own outstanding performances under the Lights Fantastic in previously-unknown categories.
Asking me to pick a favorite show is liking asking a parent to pick a favorite kid. I grew up in New York with arts-loving parents who were constantly taking me to the theatre, opera, and ballet. My mom would get cheap seats, take me during the week, and then write an excuse to explain why I was late to school the next day. I had so many “stomachaches” it’s a wonder the school didn’t ask me to see a specialist.
I saw the original casts of most Broadway shows in the early nineteen-seventies and beyond. (Usually preceded by a dinner at the original Mama Leone’s.) I even went to the closing performance of Hair with a friend. If you put a prop pistol to my head, I’d have to go with A Little Night Music as my favorite musical. I’m a total Steven Sondheim fangirl and actually knew him, but that’s for a whole other blog post.
And I bet I’m the only Chick who ever actually auditioned for a Broadway show. I can’t remember which one it was, but I sang “I Can Cook” from On The Town, and got a callback for a dance audition. I showed up in my fave Laura Ashley dress and high-heeled boots to find myself surrounded by what looked like the cast from A Chorus Line. I attempted half a combination among the jazz-shoed, leotarded pros, and fled. So the award for Chick Who Totally Whiffed a Chance to be on Broadway goes to… ME!!
My favorite? The first NYC show I ever attended: Fiddler on the Roof. It was the first Broadway revival starring Zero Mostel as Tevye, which opened in 1976 at the Winter Garden Theater. (I didn’t know exactly when, but I looked it up on Wiki!). That makes me a little older than I’d remembered…I still have the Hummel-esque Tevye that rotates to the tune of “If I Were a Rich Man.” This was about 7 years after I did NOT win the part of Cinderella in my elementary school play. At the time I was thinking how mortified I’d be if I were cast as one of the ugly stepsisters. But oh, no, it got worse. Much worse. I appeared in this acclaimed production as the back end of a “horse,” completely covered (fortunately) with a blanket, my head down and hands on some girl’s waist. So…I nominate myself for “Best Performance by a Chick in the Half-Human-Half-Beast” category. Thanks a bunch, Mrs. Bennett. You can keep the roses.
I’ve spent hours in the TKTS line in NYC with an open mind and a fistful of cash, waiting to snatch up two half-price tickets to whatever sounds best. I normally refuse the pamphlets people try to hand me, but back in 2006 I ended up accepting a brochure for a brand-new Broadway musical called The Drowsy Chaperone, and something about the cleverly crafted headline (I’m a sucker for good copywriting) struck a chord so deep I ditched the TKTS line and headed straight to the theater’s box office. Even at full price, I have never loved a show as much I loved that one. The musical numbers were fresh and surprising, and Sutton Foster was amazing doing “I Don’t Want to Show Off,” in which she gets to majorly show off. In fact, it’s a big fat valentine to the whole genre of musical theater.
Having resided in off, off, very off Broadway places like Memphis and the U.P., I’ve only seen a couple of productions of traveling Broadway shows. Since one of my all-time favorite movies is Monty Python and The Holy Grail, my favorite show was Spamalot, which played at The Orpheum Theatre in Memphis some years ago. Our seats were so good, I could hear Patsy banging the coconuts together—not the recorded sound effects, mind you, but the actual coconuts clanking. Currently, my lovely, talented 12-year-old niece, Molly, is into the soundtrack for Hamilton (last year’s Tony award winner for Best Musical). When I visited my sister’s family last month, Molly wowed me with her performance of the very cute You’ll Be Back, King George’s “love” song to the colonies. Take a bow, Molly!
Technically, I’ve only been to one show on the actual Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera. Verdict: ♥ But happily, I have seen many on tour and my favorite is, without question, the brilliant and witty Chicago. I love everything about it and listen to the soundtrack often. For the nomination, I guess I have to go with our off-off-off-(times infinity)-Broadway elementary school production of The Music Man, in which I played Marian the Librarian: the category of Chick Most Oblivious To All The Innuendo In The Songs Whilst Gleefully Warbling Them As A Fifth Grader.
Readers, do you have a favorite show or a nomination you’d like to make, for yourself or someone else? Let us know in the comments below!
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