The situation: Nikki and I love musicals and this upcoming trip to New York allows us the chance to watch one. Why just one? Two reasons - tickets are expensive and we’re not staying in New York City but at ski lodge in Ellicotville upstate (closer to Buffalo), so we’ll actually be there only for an evening.
So which show to watch? Thanks to Broadway.com, we know what's showing, so here are the finalists:
A terrible water shortage has crippled the Gotham-like town that serves as the setting for Urinetown. In a mad attempt to regulate water consumption, the government has outlawed the use of private toilets. The citizenry must use public, pay-for-use amenities owned and operated by the corrupt and iron-fisted Caldwell B. Cladwell. The privilege to pee is expensive, draining and dangerous. Anyone who refuses to pay to pee is immediately and without question hauled off to Urinetown. What is Urinetown? Nobody knows, for those who are sent there are never heard from again. But it's really a love story and there's a revolution all before the end of Act I. Will the revolution succeed? Can true love be found in Urinetown? All these questions and more are answered in Urinetown.
Comment: Well, I was piqued by this show since last year when I downloaded the songs from it, and it did win the Tony for Best Musical, but compared to the competition it doesn’t hold much water.
"Murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery--all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts." So begins the musical Chicago--and creators John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse never back off from their bold and sinister promise. Chicago is the kiss-and-tell tale of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who kills her lover as a career move; Billy Flynn, a sharp lawyer who turns Roxie into a celebrity; and Velma Kelly, a dancing jailbird with an ear for headlines and an eye for talent. Chicago, winner of six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, is a loving look back at vaudeville, a timely satire of the justice system, and a reminder of what great theater can be.
Comment: Actually, this show would be a shoo-in if Bebe Neuwirth were still playing the lead. Nikki and I love the music so much and like the excerpts we’ve seen. But it isn’t Bebe anymore, so the chances of “All That Jazz” playing in our heads in NYC is dim.
Into the Woods
Into the Woods blends five of Grimms famous fairy tales with an original story of a childless Baker and his Wife, who attempt to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child. The show features the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack the Giant Killer as it explores what happens after the happily ever after. This won Best Revival of a Musical this year.
Comment: Love Sondheim, love the libretto, loved the video. We even watched Repertory Philippines’ little version years ago. We’re already bewitched so most likely, this is it.
A musical with a disco beat, Mamma Mia! features the music of Swedish singing group ABBA. The setting is a Greek island where 20 year old Sophie is due to be married. Her mom, Donna (who happens to be a former singing star) is there. But Sophie's father is not present because she is not sure who he is. So, Sophie researches mom's diary and chooses three former lovers as likely candidates and invites them to the wedding, thinking she will figure it out when she sees them. Donna is a bit non-plussed to be visited by the gathering of old flames.Mamma Mia! by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, features the popular songs “The Winner Takes It All,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take A Chance on Me,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and more. British playwright Catherine Johnson penned the book.
Comment: My sister Reb saw this at West End and raved. How could you go wrong with a concept like this? We might take a chance on this.
The Lion King
The Lion King is the story of a young lion cub named Simba who struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destined role as king. To bring the classic 1994 film to life, Disney turned to the story's roots, its rich mythology, powerful human drama and primal African rhythms to create a fantastic new musical unlike anything Broadway has ever seen. Winner of 6 1998 Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, The Lion King is an adventure into another world.
Comment: Beautful staging and costumes, and Best Musical too. But really, the story of the Lion King was just blah. I’d rather see “Beauty & the Beast”.
The Verdict: Into the Woods
Why? Because we love fairy tales and Sondheim. I know, I know, it’s a safe choice, but we’re sure to love it. The back-up is Mamma Mia!, for all its curious ABBA goodness. Now to get tickets!