During Broadway Week, an annual event that runs through Feb. 6 this year, select Broadway productions offer two tickets for the price of one. Besides an excuse to finally ask out that special someone who sits across from you in Lit Hum, Broadway Week is also a chance to see some of the great crowd pleasers and Tony award winners normally available only to heavy-pocketed tourists. Many may argue that off-Broadway has more subtlety and craft, but the Great White Way offers more for those in the mood for spectacle. The sets are gigantic, the actors are marquee, and the shows are marketable for a reason. It is hard to say you have really explored the New York theater scene until you have gone to a Broadway show.
“A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder”
Walter Kerr Theatre
Multiple homicides have never been carried out with this much wit and vigor. This quirky musical tells the story of a man who eliminates relatives who inconvenience him on his path to inheriting the family fortune. Jefferson Mays proves a brilliant farce actor as he plays all eight of the unfortunate relations. Expect very British humor set to a pleasantly entertaining, though not breathtaking, score.
“Waiting for Godot”
You may know them as Professor X and Magneto (among other pop culture characters), but Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen have more than proven their stage chops in Shakespearean plays. Watch any interview with these two and you will see that, besides being legends of the stage, they share a special chemistry. Put Stewart and McKellen in the shoes of Samuel Beckett's masterpiece, and you have a genuine feat of dry, torturous, existentialist brilliance.
August Wilson Theatre
Bring your parents—and any other oldies-lovers in your life—to this jukebox musical. The all-falsetto harmonies may be jarring at first, but it is hard not to love Four Seasons classics like “Who Loves You,” “December 1963,” and “Can't Take My Eyes Off You.” While the story of how the band formed is a good one, it is the stellar music that keeps the crowds coming back. There have been plenty of band-focused musicals, but this one has stuck around while most of the others have faded. Pick up a ticket and see why.
“The Bridges of Madison County”
This musical, which started out as a book and was then adapted into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, follows the four-day love affair between a farm wife and a photographer. With music by Jason Robert Brown, expect sweeping, heavily layered harmonies. You want the right play for that evening date? “Bridges of Madison County” is about as romantic a musical as you can find. What could border on sappy is buoyed by being belted in a high note or crooned over a grand piano score.
Music Box Theatre
“Pippin” tells the story of a prince—based on the son of Charlemagne—who does not quite fit in, set to a score by Stephen Schwartz that has made it an American standard. Go to “Pippin” for a spectacle of circus performers and huge, colorful dance numbers. On Broadway, it is hard to find a bigger, more impressive presentation. The darker subplots hidden beneath the bubbly surface of a man searching for his home add nuance to this spectacular musical.
When the Royal Shakespeare Company comes to town, it does not mess around. Helmed by the incomparable Mark Rylance, performing in drag as the Countess Olivia just like in Shakespeare's time, this is the closest you can get to a ticket at the Globe in 1602. In conjunction with artfully classic set design and costuming, the actors help lift this comedy of mixed-up identities above the countless productions of “Twelfth Night” that came before it. They understand the subtleties of Shakespeare's language and translate it into very accessible wit and humor.
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