- Old friends are best. John Selden
See a Broadway Show
My interest in Broadway shows is something I've been subconsciously developing since I was a child. It's not an interest that I actively sought out, but each new show I enjoyed seemed to come naturally to me. It was always a tap on the shoulder, a "psst, come see!" type of experience, and each one has been just as impressive an adventure as the last.
It started with my mom's interest in such films as Bye, Bye, Birdie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Hair, The King & I and The Sound of Music. I was always deeply passionate about music, and musicals have that keen ability to make emotional songs even more intense. They create such power that it literally steals your breath. I was impressed with Little Shop of Horrors when we were plunked down in front of it in junior high. The only scene that unified the rowdy kids and made them sit quietly for five minutes was the scene with Steve Martin as the Dentist. I was moved that we could all be brought together in this way, and I immediately demanded a copy on VHS for Christmas that year.
My interest in musicals deepened significantly in college. A high school acquaintance that I deeply respected was killed in a car accident shortly after graduation. She was responsible for organizing many of our school's plays, the most successful of which being Grease, and she had always had a deep affinity for Rent. In the spring of 2002, when a friend in college let me listen to the Rent soundtrack, I was instantly hooked. I never knew Broadway could sound so modern and youth-oriented. I always thought it was for older folks with stiff upper lips.
That summer, Rent was about the only thing I would listen to on my CD player, aside from the soundtrack to the film Cruel Intentions. In the winter of that same year, I lost my mom to what was probably cancer, and I grew closer to a friend in college. She ended up taking me on my very first trip to New York City to see Rent on Broadway, and I was enamored. The songs made so much sense when put into context. I had never liked "I'll Cover You" until I saw it performed right in front of me.
I had no idea the depths and emotional twists and turns that a Broadway musical could possess. I have now seen Rent a total of five times, met most of the original cast, met a few of the Broadway casts (some members more than once) and saw the screener for the film in the city before it was released to the public. Unfortunately, the big screen was a more effective purveyor. Watching it at home, I was able to pick out many flaws. I am not a fan of director Chris Columbus' take on the story, and don't get me started on Rosario Dawson's portrayal of Mimi.
Pro tip: You can do much better on prices through Ticketmaster.com, as opposed to going through Broadway.com directly, for show tickets. Although I have noticed that certain plays, like The Book of Mormon, are not available on Ticketmaster, so it is best to keep your eyes peeled for certain sales or specials. You can still get good seats without breaking the bank. Rent hosted a lottery for the front rows, of which I was once a winner, and you were not considered a true "Rent-head" unless you waited outside for hours, sometimes in the rain, for a chance to score those tickets.
Because of those earlier milestones in my life that slowly and inadvertently built on my interest, I now seek out Broadway plays, particularly musicals, whenever I am financially able. I have caught the film versions of some, such as Cabaret, although I know that certain things are changed for the film (such as the ending of same) that do not do the play justice. For this reason, if Cabaret ever makes a come-back, I am certainly seeing it live. With Phantom of the Opera, I was enamored with the film and when I finally saw the play, I no longer liked the film. The actors and sets were so impressive that the film seemed bland in comparison. I recently saw Memphis this past weekend and enjoyed it immensely, particularly because I could finally see Adam Pascal (Rent) perform.
If you are able, I strongly recommend taking in a Broadway show. Each one provides an unforgettable experience. I have been thoroughly impressed over the years with visual effects, costumes, lightiing and genuine talent, and I know I will carry those memories with me forever. If you don't live in New York but like to visit, or if you do live in New York but just haven't gotten the chance to see a show, do yourself a favor and go out and see one, any one. It may sound cliche, but it truly is an enriching experience for the whole family.