I love a musical. Even Aash one of my new friends out here already knows I love a musical – that’s pretty much how he introduced me to a Facebook bigwig we met for drinks the other night in a bar: ‘This is Ellie, she loves musicals.’ I should be ashamed by that introduction, but I’m not. And nor should anyone be. To hate musicals is to hate optimism. And while I’m not an optimist all the time, it’s a noble aim. Plus the costumes are AMAZING.
When I shared the address of the corporate flat I’m living in with some of my mates who live here they gave me an ‘Oh well it could have been Queens,’ pity look. Little did they know how relieved I was to be in 10036 and not the West Village. I was in Theater Land! The Book of Mormon backs on to me, The Testament of Mary is right next door and my cross street is ACTUAL Broadway. I basically live ON Broadway.
On a Saturday morning I can put my name down in two of the ticket lotteries that many of the theatres run. Head one street up to 49th, scribble my name on a piece of paper at Mormon, then cross the road to Chicago where I do the same. If you stand in the middle of the street and successfully dodge traffic, you can just about hear your name being called, or, more likely, not.
A couple of weekends ago, I got two tickets in the Newsies musical. $30 each for Orchestra seats, so close you could see them spit.
Here’s a roundup of what I’ve seen and what I’m yet to see:
Avenue Q: it’s ‘Off-Broadway’, which basically means it’s in a small theatre. Which, of course, is all for the good – there were no bad seats. It’s the story of the puppets and humans who live on a New York street. It’s rude and brilliant.
Favourite song: It’s a Fine, Fine Line
Cinderella: based on the 1950s Rodgers and Hammerstein (Okelahoma) screenplay, it has the best outfits of any musical, ever. The stylist William de Loverly is a Broadway legend and his seamless costume transformations create an audible audience gasp. We shot the star, Laura Osnes, a few weeks ago for a cover. She was as close to a real princess as I have ever seen, and I’ve seen actual Kate Middleton in real life before.
Favourite song: Ten Minutes Ago
Newsies: it tells the story of the protests by the boys who sold newspapers in New York City in the early part of the 20th century (the Newsies), the choreograph was mesmerising. As my friend Anna said, there’s little wrong with seeing lots of young men dancing on a stage. And it was something special watching a show about New York newspapers while working on a New York newspaper.
Favourite song: King of New York
Mary Poppins: I saw it years ago in London, loved it and was keen to see it here before it closed in March. Oh I wish I hadn’t. I’m sure there are such things as accent coaches, but this production didn’t see fit to hiring one. And this is from someone who thought Dick Van Dyck’s accent was pretty good. It just made me feel homesick for all the wrong reasons. The set design is still beautiful though.
Favourite song: Practically Perfect
Sleep No More: it’s a London import that people have been raving about since it opened a year or so ago. It’s a play within a ghost hotel, that is acted, simultaneously, in the different rooms that make up the fictional McKittrick Hotel. The set designs are beautiful and the jazz band and 1920s style bar that end the evening are fun. But it feels less of a dramatic masterpiece and more of a Sixth Form art project with financial backing.
Favourite song: It’s not a musical. How very sad.
Still to come are: the Youth America Ballet at Lincoln Center (April); Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks (tomorrow night); Matilda (April with the wonderful Barbara Hoffman of the NY Post); The Last Five Years (end of March) and, I hope, The Nance; Breakfast at Tiffany and Motown.