Top Broadway show tours and why you should see them

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I realized the other day that I have been focusing a lot on Broadway theatre and other events in the New York area, but the majority of people who read this blog are probably nowhere near there. So, I decided to give the rest of you some suggestions on great shows you can see in your own backyard, as Broadway and other shows embark on national tours. The tour versions of productions are usually just as good as the Broadway versions, but they’re often less expensive and more convenient.


The Addams Family: A newcomer to the tour circuit, The Addams Family is coming off its continued Broadway success, as stars like Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth and Brooke Shields have rotated through the cast. I loved this show on Broadway, with all its quirks and ridiculous humor, so this is one of my top picks to catch on tour.

Wicked: Wicked has become a classic in its own right, so I had to add it to the list. If you haven’t yet seen the story of what happened before Dorothy ever got to Oz, you should check this out in a city near you. Personally, I’m finally going to see it in Hartford this October, and I’m very excited to see it live, rather than just listening to the soundtrack over and over.

Cirque du Soleil: Michael Jackson The Immortal: This is one of the most highly anticipated tours of all-time, due to the joint fame of Cirque du Soleil and the legend that is Michael Jackson. There are currently plans for the show to visit almost 50 cities across North America, and the list continues to grow. If you love MJ and want to see the Cirque version of a tribute to the King of Pop, check out the complete list of dates to see if it’s visiting a city near you.

Jersey Boys: This is another one of those recent classics (and another one of those shows that I will finally be seeing in Hartford this year). Jersey Boys has maintained its popularity both on Broadway and on tour over the last several years, as it brings back the age of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, with their struggles, their triumphs and, of course, their music.

The Book of Mormon: So this isn’t something you can see this year, but I thought it was worth mentioning. The Book of Mormon has been a huge hit on Broadway this year, and a national tour is kicking off in December 2012 in Denver, the hometown of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and also near thousands of real-life Mormons). This will be one to watch.

Are you going to see or have you seen any of these shows? Let us know about it in comments below!

 

Me with two Matsuri performers

Two weeks ago I traveled to Las Vegas for Ticket Summit®. I decided to arrive early in order to see the sights and catch a show. When I went to decide on a show a few weeks ago, I knew I didn't want to pay a lot of money. I also knew I wanted to see something good, and something off the beaten path created by shows like Cirque. At first it seemed like an impossible combination, if only because of the huge number of shows to choose from.

Enter Matsuri. I was initially attracted by its name and its description, but the reviews seemed pretty good, too. Still, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I decided to go, anyway.

Margaritaville in Las Vegas

I arrived in Vegas on Sunday evening and went to get my ticket. Good thing, too, as Imperial's entrance is kind of hidden, even though the hotel is on the Strip. After getting my ticket, I headed over to Margaritaville for a meal, and then headed to bed.

On Monday afternoon, I arrived at the theater, only to find that my seat was stage side. Oh boy! were my first thoughts. Was I going to kill my neck craning it to see all the acrobatics? Was I going to need a masseuse afterward?

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Radio City Music Hall--An NYC must-see!

Rockette

On a recent trip to New York with my mom, we ended up focusing a lot on Radio City Music Hall and the surrounding area, and I realized what an amazing place it really is. As a historical NYC landmark, you definitely need to see it at some point in your life. Don't know where to start or what to do? Check out a few suggestions here.

Radio City Stage Door Tour
These half-hour tours take place most days during the late morning/early afternoon. They take you through the gorgeous lobbies (and even a few bathroom antechambers), the room where they throw parties for celebrities that entertain at the hall, and if you're lucky you might even get to go underneath the stage to see how all of the hydraulics work (during our visit Cirque du Soleil - Zarkana was there, but we still got to watch a sweet video). Oh, and you also get to meet a real live Rockette at the end! Very cool.

Cirque du Soleil - Zarkana
Speaking of Zarkana, if you get the chance to go to NYC in the next few months you should definitely check it out. The show includes breath-taking and very complicated stunts, many of which made me very nervous but also very impressed. The story line can be hard to follow unless you pay close attention, but I just let the whole spectacle wash over me and took away feelings instead of thoughts. If you're a Cirque fan, this is a great option.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular
If you haven't heard of this, you've clearly been living under a rock for the last 75 years. I went to this last December, and it was amazing. The Rockettes are every bit as awesome as you've heard, and the show utilizes the moving stage pieces to its advantage, including a turntable in the center of the stage, raised sections, and more. If you can't make it to NYC for the holidays, there is also a touring show that hits multiple cities every year, which will give you a small taste of the Spectacular.

Liz and giant dog

Other Attractions Nearby
You'll have to venture out between the tour and the show, so why not hit some nearby spots? On this particular trip, we visited Rockefeller Center, which is pretty any time of year; Central Park for some hot dogs and ice cream while relaxing on the grass; and FAO Schwartz, which has some of the craziest and largest toys you could ever imagine. Don't forget to just wander the city...you never know what little spot you'll find.

 

How to ensure a musical doesn't get to Broadway…

Broadway Sign

In light of the Spider-Man implosion now gracing Broadway, it's worth taking a bit to wonder "How did Spider-Man ever even make it to Broadway?" The history of musical theater is awash with better shows that didn't make it to Broadway, for one reason or another. (Why Spider-Man got lucky is a whole other question…)

What might prevent a musical from gracing a Broadway stage?

"BAD SUBJECT MATTER…"

One of the top ways to kill off a musical is to make it about something distasteful or musically inappropriate.

Consider Prettybelle (1971) - "a lively tale of rape and resurrection" - with book and lyrics by Bob Merrill (who wrote the music and lyrics for Carnival, as well as other pop songs in the 1950's) and music by Jule Styne (Gypsy, Bells Are Ringing, and many other Broadway hits).

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When Broadway theater reviews attack

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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark recently finished a major overhaul, during which they took several weeks off to change the script and music in the hopes of overcoming terrible reviews during previews. This got me looking for the original Spider-Man reviews, and in the process I found several other gems, where the reviewer reamed the show in question with some very clever and entertaining phrases. Here are some of my favorites (I heartily recommend clicking through to read the reviews in their entirety):

The show: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

  • What it’s about: Who even knows at this point? The show has undergone so many revisions (and accidents) that I have no idea what the “final” product will be.
  • The reviewers: New York Times, Slate
  • Highlights:
    • "The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from ‘How can $65 million look so cheap?’ to ‘How long before I'm out of here?’…‘Spider-Man’ is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst…[it] is so grievously broken in every respect that it is beyond repair. Fans of Ms. Taymor's… ‘The Lion King,’…will have to squint charitably to see evidence of her talent."—New York Times
    • "Julie Taymor's train wreck, through and through…a comic book musical that seems to have no affection for comic books or musicals…[a] mass entertainment that at its heart is one woman's wild ego trip.”—Slate
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