New York City

Top 4 Broadway shows you MUST see in NYC!

By on December 27, 2014

Between the Sydney theatres and Broadway in Times Square, New York City I have seen a total of 12 musicals (including two musicals I have seen twice) with the intention of seeing many more! Visiting Broadway in Times Square for the first time in 2014 was a total dream come true! I spent five days in New York City, and I saw a total of four Broadway shows!

1. Wicked the musical

The story/plot line

Wicked is the highly acclaimed untold story of the witches of Oz. The musical was inspired by Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995), the film The Wizard of Oz (1939), and L.Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). The story is told from the perspective of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda the Good; two very different people with opposing personalities and opinions, who through many struggles from schooling at Shizz, rivalry with boys and the Wizard’s corrupt government, manage to become best friends.

For anyone who has at least seen the film The Wizard of Oz (which throughout the musical is referenced several times), Wicked the musical is not to be missed! Since its opening on broadway in 2003, Wicked the musical has very quickly become one of the most popular musicals on broadway.

The props/costumes/stage design

The first thing that I noticed before the show started was the stage design and the backdrop! They look very impressive! Green is the theme of this musical and the costumes that appear once Elphaba and Glinda the Good reach the Emerald City are just to die for! For now, here is a picture of what you will see on stage when you go to see Wicked!IMG_4040

The music

The music for me was one of the main highlights of the show for me! Both musically and lyrically they tell the story so well. Wicked houses some of the most famous songs sung by broadway fans around the world including the highly acclaimed “Defying Gravity” (this brought me to tears!) and “For Good”.

I have added “Defying Gravity” and “For Good” to my post so you can have a preview before you decide to book your next broadway ticket to Wicked!
For Good:

2. Phantom of the Opera

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Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful and the longest running musical on broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera hit broadway on the 27th September 1986 in London and 19th January 1988 in New York, and it has been running ever since. Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 25th anniversary of production in both London (2011) and New York (2013).

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The Phantom of the Opera has been produced in 151 cities, 30 countries and has been translated into 13 languages. It has also been made into several films, with the first made in 1943, and with the most well-known Phantom of the Opera film made in 2004, featuring Gerard Butler and Emily Rossum.

 

What is Phantom of the Opera about?

Phantom of the Opera is a tragic love story between a physically disfigured musical genius (the Phantom) who hides away in the Paris Opera House terrorising the Opera company, and his protégé Miss Christine Daaé, a very talented young woman who has the grace and poise of an angel and a captivating yet intoxicating singing voice.

The Phantom

Why should I go and see The Phantom Of the Opera?

Anyone who is anyone should go and see Phantom of the Opera, but if you are someone who loves these three things, you should definitely go and see it:

1. Opera

The Phantom of the Opera has opera singing throughout the production, and the voices are absolutely spectacular. One of my favourite songs in the musical is “Think of Me” sung by the beautiful Christine Daaé.

2. The work of Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the greatest composers in the broadway community, writing music and lyrics for famous shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Cats (1994), Evita (1996) and also the highly acclaimed Phantom of the Opera (2004). If you are familiar with the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber and have enjoyed his other musicals, then you would also enjoy Phantom of the Opera as well!

3. Music and lyrics

The music and lyrics in Phantom of the Opera are amazing, spectacular and inspiring! Andrew Lloyd Webber’s compositions today are some of the most widely sung songs around the world. The film soundtrack, albums, original cast recordings (including foreign languages) exceed 40 million in sales. Well-known songs from Phantom of the Opera include:

1. Think of me – as above

2. All I ask of you – a beautiful duet between characters Christine and Raoul.

3. Wishing you were somehow here again

4. The music of the night

Here is a YouTube playlist of the movie soundtrack:

3. Chicago

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If you’re looking for an entertaining musical with fantastic dancing, music and lyrics and a suspenseful plot line, then Chicago the musical is perfect for you! Chicago was  one of the first musicals that I saw in NYC on broadway and the tickets were heavily discounted!

Fun facts about Chicago the musical

1. Chicago opened in 1975 on 46th Street Theatre running 936 performances until 1977.

2. Chicago had its broadway West End debut in 1979, running 600 performances.

3. In 1996, Chicago was revived on broadway and as of 2014 is the second longest-running show in broadway history, overtaking the musical Cats.

4. Chicago won six 1997 Tony Awards including best musical revival.

5. There was a film made based on the musical in 2002 called Chicago, featuring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah and Richard Gere.

So what is Chicago the musical about?

Chicago the musical is set in 1920s Chicago, telling the story of two murderesses Velma Kelly (a singer and a tease who killed her husband and sister who were caught cheating together) and Roxie Hart (killed her boyfriend when she discovered he could not make her a star). The two inmates find themselves in the same prison, and both on death row, who both decide they must fight for their freedom (and maybe a shot at fame), keeping them from the gallows!

Why should I go and see Chicago?

1. 1920s

The roaring twenties was a time of great economic prosperity, entertaining the frivolous lifestyle, the scandalously beautiful fashion statements and plus the many extravagant parties. If you love all things 1920s then you would love to watch Chicago the musical!

2. The music

During the 1920s, swing and jazz music were highly popular, especially at extravagant parties! It was from swing music that the famous Charleston dance came about. The film The Great Gatsby (2013) is also centred around this time period, so if you enjoyed that film, you are sure to enjoy Chicago.

Chicago is filled with swing and jazz music, plus dances of the twenties, and I can attest that they are amazing and cleverly choreographed! For someone like me who loves the 1920s and jazz music, the decision to see Chicago was a no-brainer!

Here is a YouTube clip of the famous song “All That Jazz” from Chicago:

 3. The discounts

When I was booking broadway tickets at the TKTs box in Times Square, Chicago was one of the musicals that was always discounted. If you find that you only have a short time to spend in New York City, you can definitely count on Chicago to not only bring you a spectacular show, but also at a cheap price! Another discount Chicago the musical offers is cheap standing room tickets, plus on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm their matinee performance tickets start at 49.90 USD.

4. Matilda

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Matilda is a musical based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book Matilda. Being very familiar with this novel and also the movie, I didn’t know what to expect going in! I soon realised this musical was definitely worth my time and worth my hard earned money! Here’s why:

Fun facts about Matilda the musical

1. Matilda first appeared on West End in London on 24th November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre, and later started performances at the Schubert Theatre in New York City on 11 April 2013.

2. Matilda won seven Olivier Awards including best new musical – which is the most awards ever won by a single show at a time.

3. Matilda won five Tony Awards including the Tony Award for the best book of a musical.

Here is a Youtube clip of a Matilda the musical medley at the Tony Awards:

4. Before hitting the stage, Matilda was made into a blockbuster movie in 1996, featuring Mara Wilson as Matilda, and Danny DeVito who not only was an actor in the film but he also directed it as well!

5. The musical is finally hitting the stage in Sydney, Australia (where I live) in August 2015. That is next year! I am so excited and will definitely be booking a ticket!

What is Matilda about?

Matilda is a musical based on author Roald Dahl’s children’s story of Matilda, which was published in 1988. Turned into a musical written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, the musical tells the story of a five year old girl called Matilda, who loves to read and who experiences obstacles and struggles caused by her family and school on a daily basis. Matilda later discovers she has magical powers and causes some much deserved havoc on her family and especially on her horrid and unspeakably rude principal Miss Trunchbull.

Why should I go and see Matilda?

1. The characters

Now I don’t want to give too much away, but there is one character in particular that was my favourite. No, it’s not Matilda herself, but another character who excelled beyond what I thought she would be like and was the source of lots of laughter during the performance; I am talking about the actor who played Miss Trunchbull, make sure you look out for her and you will understand why she was my favourite!

The actress who plays Miss Honey (the school teacher) is someone who will just melt your heart, and being a school teacher myself I definitely identified with that character!

All of the actors in the show were phenomenal, especially because a lot of the cast are young children! They remembered all of their speaking parts, plus all the lyrics to the songs and they knew exactly where they had to be on stage! I cannot speak more highly of them, because they were so clever and did an excellent job!

2. The staging and backdrop

This was incredible! Two of my favourite things about Matilda was:

The backdrop was superb and was very appropriate to the themes in the story and also to the main character Matilda. Here is a quick photo I took of the backdrop:

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The staging was also amazing! Throughout the whole musical the young child actors and adult actors definitely made use of the theatre – including running up and down the main aisles, plus using the seats either side of the stage for various songs, and using the props on stage which I can tell you involved a lot of climbing and standing on chairs and tables!

3. Matilda is family friendly

If you are travelling with young children and taking a visit to New York City, why not enjoy your first (or one hundreth!) broadway experience with your kids! When I went to see Matilda most of the audience was filled with young boys and girls from all over the United States (and probably all over the world) and they really enjoyed themselves (I know that I did!).

Final notes

It does not matter whether you are simply not interested at all in musicals or broadway or you are obsessed with musicals just like me, there are definitely musicals out there that appeal to all ages and to all different types of people.

Whether you live in Sydney or you are taking a visit to London or New York City I encourage you to book a ticket and go see a musical; I saw most of these musicals on my own and I really enjoyed the experience, even if there were some I may not have known much about!

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Have you seen any of these musicals I have listed above? What was your experience like? What did you love the most about it? What other musicals are on your bucket list to see?

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2 Comments
  1. Sarah

    May 1, 2016

    Any advice on where to find discount tickets? I’m traveling to NYC on a budget and I really want to go to a musical. Thank you very much in advance.

    • Bec

      May 13, 2016

      Hi Sarah, the best way to take advantage of discounted musical tickets is to go to the red TKTs box in Times Square and you line up and you can see on a board which musicals for shows that day are discounted. Some of them may include, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and Matilda and many others. Musicals such as The Book of Mormon, Aladdin and Wicked will not be discounted and you will have to pay for a full priced ticket. If you want more information I actually wrote a whole post about getting discounted tickets on broadway in NYC, here is the link! http://www.theworldasbecseesit.com/how-to-book-broadway-musicals-in-nyc/

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Bec
Sydney, AU

Hi there! I'm Bec, creator of the travel blog The World As Bec Sees It. I'm a 26-year old Primary Teacher from Sydney, Australia with a severe case of wanderlust who believes it's possible to work in the job of your dreams and still find time to travel the world!

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