Continuing the summer report and proving once and for all that your A&E reporters aren’t just a movie-focused one-dimensional team, we take a look at the top musicals showcased on Broadway. Okay, so maybe these aren’t the top musicals, and maybe these are just the ones that we happened to attend, but if its good enough for us, its surely good enough for you, the uncultured reader. So sit back, read on, and let our magical words make you feel like you’re at the theatre.
Based on the book of the same name, the story takes an alternative look at the Wizard of Oz and the alleged evil Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba). This prequel is an exciting romp, tracking Elphaba’s life from her ill-begotten birth (which caused her funny green skin) to meeting lovely Glinda (The Good Witch) at school to her life as a misunderstood renegade. The writing is brilliant, the acting was amazing (how can you go wrong when you have Joey McIntyre?), and the costumes and scenic designs are breathtaking. How this show didn’t win the Tony is beyond me.
It was Avenue Q that did win the Tony for best musical, and while it doesn’t have the traditional brilliance of Wicked, its originality is was makes it very unique on Broadway. The show is almost like an adult Sesame Street, with half of the characters being real people and the other half some sort of Jim Henson like creature. The adult portion shines through in scenes where two puppets get drunk and hook up (if there was a Kama Sutra for puppets, they would have pretty much covered every position on stage), through the song “Everybody’s a little bit racist” and the hilarious number “The Internet is for porn.” The story centers around Princeton, a penniless college grad who moves into a slummy neighborhood and tries to figure out his purpose in life. He immediately falls in love with Kate, a Kindergarten teacher who lives nearby. As with all love stories, the guy messes everything up due to commitment fears and an infatuation with another woman and spends the rest of the time trying to get her back. An extremely funny, yet very different musical, Avenue Q is a must see.
And how can you not see a classic like Rent? Particularly when its starring the one and only Scary Spice from the Spice Girls. Rent is the story of Mark, a filmmaker and the story’s narrator, and his friends who all live in the shanties of the lower east side (shanties that would now cost you about $1.5 million to purchase). The story focuses on AIDS, drug use, and how these affect the characters’ lives. First there is Roger who hasn’t left his apartment in 6 months after the suicide of his girlfriend, who slashed her wrists after learning that she had AIDS. Then there is Angel, a free spirited man with AIDS who is always just trying to live life to the fullest. And finally there is Mimi (Scary Spice), a drug addict who falls in love with Mark. The musical feature a number of classic hits like “Seasons of Love” and although the story is a bit old, it still maintains relevance for today’s viewers.