It’s been well-established on this blog that both Scout and I are giant theatre nerds. In my case it was ingrained since birth — my parents did meet at choir rehearsal, after all — and I spent my childhood running around the house with a basket in hand and a napkin on my head, belting out Les Miz or Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof or Beauty and the Beast. My siblings and I would perform musical numbers for parents, grandparents, and unwitting house guests alike. One year, thanks to a particularly zealous babysitter, we even staged a musical revue up at our house in New Hampshire, roping in our cousins as Lost Boys and cowmen. I was in school shows and community theatre shows and charity shows. I played cheerleaders and evil headmistresses, Shakespearean ingenues and Southern pastors and dominatrixes and almost every male role in Annie (the perils of being tall in an almost entirely female cast). So it should come as no surprise that, when I moved to N.Y.C., one of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to see great theatre.
I’ve been in New York for two and a half years now, and in that time I’ve managed to see over two dozen shows. Many of these were made possible by lotteries or Today Tix; some of them were thanks to visits from Scout’s Momma or my own parentals. And yet despite my relative theatrical bounty, I constantly feel like there are more shows out there I need to experience, that I should be doing more to get my butt in the room where it happens before the curtain comes down a final time and I’ve thrown away my shot.
This year is no exception. Broadway’s cup runneth over in 2016. And while I may not make it to every show on this list (crazy schedule and limited funds standing obnoxiously in my way), I’m going to try to check off as many as I can. Because what is the point of living in this, what many call the greatest city on earth, if you don’t take advantage of its unique gifts.
In no particular order…
Fiddler on the Roof: A childhood favorite of mine (I knew all the words to “Matchmaker” by age 5, even if I didn’t fully grasp the content), currently being (beautifully, thoughtfully, deservedly) revived at the Broadway Theatre. Opened Dec. 20th, open run.
Waitress: I’ve been dying to see this show, based on one of my favorite movies, ever since it was announced, and have been obsessively listening to debut-composer Sara Bareilles’s album What’s Inside since the day it came out. As a bonus, it stars Tony winner and awesome human Jessie Mueller, and is the first Broadway musical to ever feature an all-female creative team. Opens April 24th.
Bright Star: A musical made for Z&S, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the 1920s and 40s, and featuring Bluegrass-inspired music by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and Edie Brickell. Opens March 24th.
Shuffle Along: A ground-breaking, barrier-busting smash hit when it first ran in 1921, this jazz musical is coming back with a vengeance. Beautiful human Audra McDonald stars alongside Billy Porter, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry, and more! Opens April 28th.
The Crucible: A staple of American classrooms everywhere, but surprisingly a book that never appeared on my reading lists, this Arthur Miller classic returns to Broadway starring current It Girl and delightful tea enthusiast Saoirse Ronan (as well as adorable human Ben Whishaw, the impossibly cool Tavi Gevinson, whirlwind of talent Sophie Okonedo). Opens March 31st, closes July 17th. I have tickets for April 29th!
American Psycho: I first heard about this show when it ran on the West End, starring former Doctor Who star Matt Smith. The American version has a new psycho, Georgia native Benjamin Walker, at the center of the deliciously evil tale, woven through with music by Spring Awakening’s Duncan Sheik. Opens April 20th.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night: I read this classic tale of family dysfunction for my freshman year acting class in college, but have yet to see it staged! Lucky for me, my first encounter with Eugene O’Neill’s scarily semi-autobiographical work (so close to his own life, in fact, that it could only be produced posthumously) will star American treasure Jessica Lange. Opens April 27th, closes June 26th. I have tickets for June 17th.
Nerds: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs might seem like odd subjects for a musical (specifically, a musical-dot-comedy), but hey, someone wrote an opera about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, so anything is possible. Opens April 21st.
Eclipsed: This is one of the shows on the list that requires advance planning, so as to emotionally prepare for the devastation and humanity of this portrait of a group of women amid the horrors of the Liberian Civil War. This play ran to rave reviews at The Public last fall, and the cast remains intact for the Broadway run, starring Lupita Nyong’o. Opens March 6th.
Noises Off: In the tradition of “musicals about people putting on a musical,” this is one of the greats. The current revival stars national treasure Andrea Martin, human firecracker of talent Megan Hilty, and more. Opened Jan 14th, closes March 13th, so I better hurry up or I’ll miss it…
Tuck Everlasting: This is my roommate’s favorite book, and his favorite movie, so I feel it’s only fair for us to see it staged together. The magical, heart-breaking tale of love, loss, family, and a life well-lived stars Andrew Keenan-Bolger and 9-year-old newcomer Sarah Charles Lewis. Opens April 26th.
An American in Paris: I know, I know, this show has been up for almost a year, AND it’s about Paris, AND it’s breath-takingly beautiful, and still I have yet to see it! This year, my friends, I swear that will change. I mean, with music by George and Ira Gershwin and choreography by the New York City Ballet’s Christopher Wheeldon, how could I resist? Opened April 12th, 2015.
Something Rotten: Another show that’s been up for many a fortnight but has yet to make my playbill collection. This omission is particularly egregious when you consider the fact that a huge chunk of my college years were devoted to a Shakespearean theatre group, putting on the very shows this musical spoofs. Opened April 22nd, 2015.
School of Rock: The movie version is one of my and Scout’s favorites, and much like the film, the musical stars a slew of absurdly-talented children, so really, what’s not to love? If I wasn’t hooked already, the recent #Ham4Ham show starring Lena Hall and some of the show’s kid rockers sealed the deal. Opened Dec. 6.
The Color Purple: The novel this show is based on is on my Required Southern Reading list for 2016, and I’m a firm believer in experiencing stories in their original medium first. But once I finish the book, you better believe I’m going to want to see this show, which known-grump Ben Brantley dubbed, “A miracle on Broadway. A glory to behold!” Opened Dec. 10th.