10 Broadway Shows You Should Have Seen In 2015
As another year comes to an end, Luner on Theatre looks again to recall our favorite theatre moments of 2015. However, this year we decided to switch things up a bit. As opposed to just talking to you about our favorite theatre moments from 2015, we’ve come up with a Top 10 List of sorts for Broadway shows we believe you should have seen in 2015. But how did come up with a Top 10 List Luner on Theatre? Great question. With Broadway at it’s best, this year was harder than ever as we found ourselves truly enjoying almost every theatre-going experience we had. Somehow, we managed to narrow down our favorites into this list we’re bringing you today;
This is Luner on Theatre’s 10 Broadway Shows You Should Have Seen In 2015!
Something Rotten; This clever new invention of a musical came to Broadway this past spring after deciding to skip a scheduled out-of-town run at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Starring Tony Award winner Christian Borle and Brian D’arcy James, the musical takes us back to Shakespearian times and the invention of the very art itself; the invention of the very first musical. Filled with big laughs, fantastic musical numbers and nonstop jokes, Something Rotten is Spamalot meets The Producers meets 2015. To say the creators are brilliant is an understatement as they turn some of Shakespeare’s best known sonnets and play lines into musical number after musical number. We discover how “How To Be The Bard” It is. You truly can’t get enough it. Favorite Moment: The musical number “A Musical” early in the first act explains how musicals and the future of theatre will work while managing to reference just about every cult musical known to even those not often found in the theatre. It will leave the theatre on its feet night after night
School of Rock; Brand new to Broadway just this Fall, I feel comfortable calling School of Rock not only one of the best movie to musical adaptation in years but also one of the best Broadway musicals of the current season. Based off the 2004 film of the same title, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s penned the musical adaptation bringing to life a cast of characters audiences already love and filling their heads with songs one could wish were in the movie to begin with. Alex Brightman stars as Dewey alongside some of the best child performers currently on Broadway. The musical number “You’re in the Band” will not only electrify the theatre but you as well as the kids play live (YES! They’re REALLY playing!) instruments and break out into one of the best musical numbers ALW has written in over a decade. Favorite Moment: The musical number “If Only You Would Listen” that the children sing to their parents. The song is not only incredibly fitting for the show where the parents of the prep school children have little regard for their every day lives, but rather an anthem for today’s generation of kids. Parents should recall that they lead not only by their words but their actions even more so. Take a moment and listen to your child. Lloyd Webber has hit the nail on the head with not only just this one but the entire score.
An American In Paris; When I went to see On The Town on Broadway in Fall 2014, I truly believed I had seen the best dancing on Broadway in my life That was until I saw An American In Paris. Based off of the 1950’s film of the same title, this musical came to Broadway following an out-of-town, international debut across the pond in not London, but Paris itself. Let’s hope this show opened a relationship that will only continue to flourish and produce shows for years to come! Anyways! An American In Paris is the definition of old school Broadway meeting the 21st Century. Filled with iconic Gershwin tunes, the show feels anything but old with a fresh story line, beautiful choreography and arguably one of the best scenic designs in Broadway history. Seriously, this show is THE EXAMPLE of how literal scenery and projections should work hand in hand for the future. Don’t miss this! Favorite Moment: Does every moment count? Any moment Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope are on stage and dancing. You will easily fall in love with the two not only for their storyline but their impeccable precision, dedication and passion to the musical’s every step.
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime; London’s Olivier Award winning Curious Incident took Broadway by storm in 2015 capturing not only the hearts of countless fans but also the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. Based off the book of the same title, Curious Incident follows the journey of Christopher, a young boy on the autistic spectrum (Although this is never mentioned), as he works to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog. Christopher finds himself on the journey of a life solving clues, pushing himself further than ever before and realizing, yes he too can do anything. Favorite Moment: While the production itself is a play, the show’s flow and execution using visual and audio cues and more (All built within the set you see on stage) will emotionally overwhelm you. Literally. They not only add to the storytelling on stage but make it that much better every single step of the way. You will feel that which you did not know could be felt.
Honeymoon In Vegas; One of the best and shortest lived musicals of 2015 was Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon In Vegas. As if JRB’s score wasn’t enough to win over audiences, the musical was led by ever incredible Rob McClure (Is it possible to not like that guy?!) and Brynn O’Malley. The short-lived musical debuted at Paper Mill the season before and was critically acclaimed both in Jersey and on Broadway. However, it remains one of my favorite moments for it’s fun story-telling, beyond fantastic humor and just downright incredible score. I don’t believe in “Snubs” as many call it come awards season. But Honeymoon In Vegas should easily have lived longer than it did. Favorite Moment: O’Malley’s rendition of the musical number “Anywhere But Here” which she sings to her hesitant husband to be about the life she worries about never knowing outside New York. It’s a tune that O’Malley not only delivered perfectly but resonates with many New Yorker’s and the hectic lifestyle we all become too familiar with. It reminds you that even though you think you’re alone questioning your choices in life, so is everyone else. We’re just all trying to keep moving forward. Thanks for capturing that JRB.
The Illusionists: Witness The Impossible; Broadway got an extra dose of magic as The Illusionists stormed Broadway in late 2014/early 2015 reminding us that sometimes “Broadway” can be defined by the best theatricality possible even if it isn’t a play or musical. The two-hour magic special took Broadway by storm recouping in just over three weeks during its Broadway debut and managed to rank in the Top 5 Grossing Shows during the 2014 holiday week on Broadway. The show launched a national tour touring the country before returning to Broadway this season where it features new magicians, illusionists and daredevils continuing to win over audiences night by night. The show also filmed an NBC special this past summer which aired just a few weeks ago! Favorite Moment: There is something so truly special about magic and what it brings to an audience. While every Broadway show has its own sort of “magic”, literal magic is rarely produced on such a large-scale these days. The Illusionists seizes that opportunity and reminds the audience of the magic within themselves at the same time.
Hand To God; Robert Askins’ play Hand To God surprised Broadway in 2015 not only for its language and content but downright honesty. And that was the point. Focusing on religion in the South, the show brings to life how religion is taught and preached through the use of puppets which made their biggest return to Broadway since Avenue Q debuted in 2004. However, the play itself and its final message is downright brilliant. A brilliant cast, including the fantastic Sarah Stiles whose performance was one of my favorites, manages to the balance of humor and seriousness while confronted with a puppet who appears much larger than all of them. Favorite Moment: Steven Boyer’s incredible performance as Jason/Tyrone. Boyer found himself with double duty as he worked to not only create Jason on stage but the puppet Broadway can’t seem to get enough of, Tyrone. Foul mouthed and revealing some of Jason’s true thoughts while controlling him, Boyer plays both sides of the spectrum as his friends and community work to save him. There is no doubt in my mind after seeing this production that Boyer is a true force to be reckoned with.
Hamilton; Alright, I have to admit that I haven’t seen Hamilton in 2015. But how could I not include arguably the most talked about musical of 2015 on my list? Hamilton took Broadway by storm in 2015 after a sold-out run downtown at The Public last spring. The musical has thrust Broadway even further into the spotlight, after such an incredibly season last spring, with a hip-hop musical about the founding fathers now gracing The Great White Way. So how can I talk about Hamilton despite having not seen it yet? Hamilton has reminded us that we are the storytellers. We decide how, when and who we tell our stories too. But more importantly, it has reminded us to keep reinventing our stories. Reinvent them so they are not only told to generations to come but for that generations specific ears. The musical is written by and starring Lin Manuel Miranda who penned In The Heights back in 2008, which went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. Favorite Moment: Getting the cast album for Christmas so I can continue to listen to the musical almost daily discovering new lyrics, music and story-telling vices only Lin himself could pull off.
The Visit; John Kander and Fred Ebb’s latest Broadway musical came to Broadway this year with the legendary Chita Rivera and Roger Rees at the helm. The dark musical, in a very typical Kander and Ebb style, focused on a women bent on revenge who returns to her hometown she left so very long ago. Kander and the late Ebb delivered another knockout score dark, filled with fantastic storytelling and several tunes you couldn’t get out of your head. “I Would Never Leave You” and “Yellow Shoes” come to mind off the top of my head. The fantastic cast popped against Scott Pask’s incredible scenic design which was not only haunting but perfect for the Lyceum Theatre. Favorite Moment: Besides getting to say that I’ve finally seen the legend Chita herself in performance? I would have to say that it would be getting to see Roger Rees perform, in which I or anyone did not know then, would be the final months of his life. Rees unfortunately departed the production not long after it officially opened on Broadway. While many did not know why, he passed later that year in July just weeks after the musical closed. He was incredible performer and I admired the work he did on stage not only in this production, but many others. I’m glad I was able to see him in The Visit and one of his last performances.
Gigi: Vanessa Hudgens made her Broadway debut leading the revival of Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi this past spring following a successful out-of-town run at The Kennedy Center. Hudgens, while just making her Broadway debut, led a cast of all-stars including Tony Award winner Victoria Clark, Howard McGillian, Dee Hoty and Corey Cott. The refreshing revival filled with classics such as “Paris Is Paris Again”, “I Remember It Well” and the title song, “Gigi” was a wonderful addition to the season and nice touch of old Broadway. Despite being “old” Broadway, this revival looked great and featured one of the best scenic designs of the season designed by Derek McLane. Hudgen’s performance was also spot on and I’m looking forward to her hopefully being back on Broadway soon with another role. She easily proved herself with this first outing. Favorite Moment: Corey Cott’s rendition of “Gigi” was eery and incredibly beautiful. The well-known young star who made his Broadway debut in Newsies just months after graduating college has vocals unmatched by other young leading men his age. Luckily enough, Broadway will soon get him back as he returns alongside Laura Osnes in The Bandstand during the 2016-17 season.
There it is; Our Top 10 Favorite Broadway productions of 2015! We should mention besides Hamilton (Because there’s always an exception), there are so many other fantastic productions that arrived on Broadway in 2015 we have yet to see! The Color Purple, Deaf West’s Spring Awakening and the return of Fiddler On The Roof are all on our list for 2016 and we can’t wait to see them soon! Thanks Broadway for another incredible year. We’re looking forward to all you have to offer in 2016 and beyond that!