Summer is just around the corner, which means an influx of tourists to the Big Apple and Broadway. I am always asked for recommendations. “What’s good?” “I like musicals.” “How about for the kids?” There are many variables that can dictate my choices for individuals or families. But, since I cannot personally advise everyone (even though you can email me at Broadway99@comcast.net with your parameters) I have put together two lists--one for musicals and the other for comedies/dramas. I have given a one or two sentence description as well as an appropriate age minimum. These are my conservative estimates. There are not many shows for the very young.
As you will see from the non-musicals, the list is rather skimpy. This is more a factor that I have not seen all the plays this year even though many—Clybourne Park, Other Desert Cities, The Lyons, and Venus in Fur—have all received critical acclaim. If drama is your cup of tea you probably could not go wrong with either of these four. The four I have seen are listed in priority order.
I have also listed the musicals in priority order. I have left off the list such perennial blockbusters as The Book of Mormon, Lion King, and Wicked. Finding tickets for these shows, at reasonable prices, is very hard. It would be better to see one of the other musicals on the list. If you "have" to see one of the aforementioned productions you may have to go on the secondary market.
There are a number of ways to purchase discount tickets for many shows. The first place to review is the Broadway Rush, Lottery and Standing Room Only Policies on the Playbill.com website. Believe it or not there are lottery tickets to most shows-at huge savings-even to The Book of Mormon.
Another great place is Broadway Shows Discount Codes on Broadwaybox.com. You simply choose a show, print out the page with the specific code and can go directly to the box office to purchase tickets (you can also call, but will have to pay the service charge which could be over $10.00 per ticket). No waiting in line at the TKTS Booth. However, the lines at the newly refurbished TKTS Booth snake to the front very quickly. You always seem to meet interesting people in the queue, which makes it go even faster. For information about the Booth, go to - http://bit.ly/NLwrh9
One other useful piece of information is finding out your chances of getting into a show or having it listed on the availability board at the TKTS Booth. Playbill.com posts the weekly grosses for each Broadway show, the week’s percent of capacity, andthe average ticket price. So, for example, during the week of June 11th – 17th the musical Memphis was playing to 66% capacity and the average ticket price was only $69.00. Translation – there is an excellent chance Memphis will have tickets at the TKTS Booth and they will have a great coupon on Broadwaybox.com.
So, here are my recommendations. Shows I have reviewed are linked to the review:
• Newsies – Since winning two high profile Tony Awards (Best Score and Choreography), Newsies has been selling out. But you never know if there might be tickets at the TKTS Booth Tuesday-Thursday nights (slower nights). This is a longshot, but if tickets are available, grab them. Tuneful, incredible production numbers and charismatic cast. Good for all ages 6 and up.
• The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess – Riveting, powerful drama with Tony winner for Best Actress, Audra McDonald anchoring a superb cast. Classic Gershwin score. Good for ages 12 and up.
• Memphis – Tony winner for Best Musical a few years back. Strong score, compelling storyline, and the golden voice of Montego Glover. Good for ages 12 and up.
• Once – I will admit I have not seen Once, but since it was the big winner at this year’s Tony Awards I wanted to include it. Probably good for ages 14 and up.
• Anything Goes – The 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a musical. Fabulous Cole Porter score and some of the best dancing this side of Newsies. Closing in early August. Good for ages 12 and up.
• Nice Work If You Can Get It – A musical, loosely based on the Gershwin’s Oh Kay, this breezy comedy won both Best Supporting Actor and Actress Awards. Outstanding score, the beautiful Kelli O’Hara and a slightly puffy Matthew Broderick. Good for ages 12 and up.
• Mary Poppins – Disney magic lives on with a very good adaptation of the classic movie. Small children will be enchanted. Good for ages 6 and up.
• Jersey Boys – One of the most popular musicals of the last few years, the show has been creeping up on the TKTS Booth board as of late. Even if you are not a huge Four Seasons fan you will find the story compelling. The music ain’t bad either. Good for ages 10 and up.
• Ghost the Musical – I will admit I did like Ghost. It is not a great musical and I disliked the projections, but if you are looking for an entertaining show this could be it. Good for ages 12 and up.
• One Man, Two Guvnors – One of the funniest shows you will ever see. Tony Award winner James Corden is priceless. Tom Edden (who should have won the Best Supporting Actor Award) is hysterical. Good for ages 10 and up.
• War Horse – The 2011 Tony Award for Best Play, War Horse has been playing to about 72% capacity which means tickets should not be a problem. Probably the best drama I’ve seen in the past ten years. The life-size puppets are truly amazing. The end will have you on your seat (and a hanky in your hand). A must see. Good for ages 10 and up (NOTE: the war scenes can be a bit scary for small children).
• The Best Man – A superb all-star cast. With the presidential nominating conventions just around the corner, what better show to see. Good for ages 14 and up.
• Harvey – Classic, Pulitzer Prize winning revival of a man and his imaginary six foot rabbit. Jim Parsons, from TV’s Big Bang Theory is perfectly cast. Good for ages 12 and up.