Thursday, December 8, 2016

Love Letter to Broadway by Lesa Holstine

LUCY BURDETTE: A couple years ago, I spotted Lesa Holstine at a book conference in New York, and somehow we began chatting about Broadway. I loved hearing about her family trips to take in as many shows as they could in a short stretch, and I'm betting you'll enjoy it too!

LESA HOLSTINE: Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role of Glinda in “Wicked”, just did a concert series called “My Love Letter to Broadway”. I could easily say the same, but I can’t sing. I’m passionate about Broadway, and, recently have tried to make a couple trips a year to see shows in New York City.

I credit my mother and two good colleges for my love of theater. My hometown, Huron, Ohio, has the longest running summer theater in the state. My mother would take us to see their children’s productions – “Cinderella”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and the actors would come out in costume to meet the children afterward. Both Kent State University and The Catholic University of America had outstanding theater departments. I had a wonderful “History of Theater and Drama” class at Kent State, taught by the chairman of the department, and we were required to attend plays and review them as part of the class.

But, it was the first show I ever saw on Broadway that won me over. I was attending a conference, and decided to go to the show that was closest to the hotel. It turned out to be “Les Miserables” before it closed the first time on Broadway. I had first row balcony seats, perfect for all of those songs addressed to the heavens. And, the theater! I had only been in giant modern theaters. There’s an intimacy to Broadway theaters that is seldom felt elsewhere. I fell in love with Broadway, but also fell in love with “Les Miz”. 

It wasn’t until I moved to Indiana four years ago, though, that I had the chance to go to New York regularly. It’s so easy to get there, flying non-stop from Nashville. When I go to BookExpo in the spring, I usually go to three shows. And, then, in 2014, I went on a mad, week-long trip with a friend, and we crammed as many shows in as we could. We saw “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” twice. I had a front row seat to “You Can’t Take It With You”, and James Earl Jones was just six feet away from me! I saw “Pippin”, and sat behind the conductor. I could see every song that was coming up next. There truly is “Magic to Do” at a Broadway show.


Best of all, I went back to see “Les Miserables”, once again at the Imperial Theatre. And, I fell in love with the actor playing Jean Valjean, an Iranian-born actor, raised in Canada, married to a British woman, Ramin Karimloo. He had been the youngest actor to play the Phantom. And, now, he brought a depth and strength and passion to the role of Jean Valjean. I went back to see the show a second time that week. And, in 2015, I would go see him two more times in the role before his run was over. 

Remember, though, when I said my mother took us to the theater when we were children? My sister, Linda, and I decided to return the favor. In June 2015, we took Mom and our younger sister, Christie, to New York. Neither of my sisters had been there, so we all picked three things we wanted to see while we were there. I picked three shows. And, I carefully selected shows that would be memorable. We went to see “The King and I” at Lincoln Center, starring Kelli O’Hara, who went on to win the Tony Award. Tyne Daly from Cagney and Lacey starred in “It Shoulda Been You”, and her partner in crime, Sharon Gless, sat in front of me, and talked to me afterward. And, maybe the most memorable show was “The Audience” with Helen Mirren. Only two corgies could steal a scene from the queen.

Linda and I have been back to Broadway twice together, long weekend trips that are really Broadway trips. She made me stand at the stage door to meet Ramin Karimloo after I dragged her to Les Miz. We laughed at the irreverence of Jim Parsons in “Act of God”. Our last trip took us to “The Front Page” starring Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and Jefferson Mays, “Sweet Charity” with Sutton Foster, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and “Holiday Inn”, where I met Bryce Pinkham afterwards, and learned his grandmother was a librarian. And, coming full circle, we ended our recent weekend with Kristin Chenoweth’s show, “My Love Letter to Broadway”.

I, too, love Broadway. I pick my shows carefully, sometimes with a star in mind, sometimes based on the recommendation of a friend. I read The New York Times reviews, and follow Playbill. I won’t pay an enormous amount of money to go see Hugh Jackman when he’s in a play that doesn’t interest me. But, I’ll pay full price to see a show starring Sutton Foster or Bryce Pinkham or Jefferson Mays or James Earl Jones or Ramin Karimloo or Kelli O’Hara when it’s a plot or musical that entices me. I’ll go see a drama or a comedy, but I truly enjoy the musicals.

I already have my spring 2017 shows selected. “Come From Away”, the musical about the flights that landed in Newfoundland on 9/11 was recommended by a friend. Another friend saw “Groundhog Day” in London. How can I pass up Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce in “Hello, Dolly!”? And, “Anastasia”. Ramin Karimloo will be back on Broadway in that show.


Thank you, Lucy, for asking me to write my own love letter to Broadway. Have you been bitten by the theater bug? Or, do you have your own passion, some hobby or interest that demands your attention? For me, it’s books and Broadway.

Lesa Holstine is a library manager/administrator who blogs about books and authors, especially mysteries.

52 comments:

  1. Oh, the theater. Although I dearly love Broadway, I’m a sucker for a stage show whether it’s on the Great White Way, in a summer stock playhouse, or a community theater, I’m there.

    I once had the opportunity to watch a Broadway show [“Jimmy Shine” starring Dustin Hoffman] from backstage . . . an absolutely amazing experience and a really different perspective on a theater production.

    Theater and books . . . who could ask for anything more?

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  2. Lesa, it's so great to see you here on Reds with a post! I love following your Broadway trips on FB, and the post here today was just wonderful. I am a big fan of plays, and I don't know why I've not been to Broadway. You certainly make it sound too good to pass up. I've been to the Kennedy Center to a few plays and I do the local Broadway (off Broadway) series here at our arts center, so that helps give me some theater to enjoy. I grew up being in some local productions, and my son and daughter were both in drama and high school productions. So, I don't know what I'm waiting for. I will have to talk to you and get some advice. I have a friend that I know would love to go to NYC as a girls' trip. Do you know how long Nathan Lane will be in The Front Page? Thanks for a most enjoyable post, Lesa!

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  3. Waving hi to Lesa! So glad you got to take that trip with your mom and sisters. What a treat. I have never been to Broadway! And now I'm thinking I'd better put that on my bucket list. I do go to local live theater and love it, and when I was in London fifteen years ago on business we got day-of tickets to some show in their theater district (no memory of which). I would LOVE to see Helen Mirren. Wow.

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  4. Lesa, it's so wonderful that you went to the theatre early on, and loved it! I have also never been to Broadway. I hope you have time to see some shows (musicals or plays) when you come to Toronto next year. Toronto has wonderful theatres: the Royal Alex, Princess of Wales etc. Many are located close to the Sheraton venue or easily accessible by subway. They often have new ones that play there before making it to London or Broadway! This is a good web site which lists a lot of upcoming shows:
    https://www.toronto-theatre.com/

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  5. The only Broadway show I have been to was to see Julie Harris in The Lark. We have some great local theater around here though.

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  6. I'm in love with the theater! And have been for a long time. My father was the music critic for the Chicago daily news In the 50s, and can you imagine? He saw west side story and Kismet and more in previews! I asked him: did you know they would be classics? And he said it was absolutely clear.
    I remember seeing Richard Burton in Camelot, and I have to think it was Julie Andrews? Play? And Roddy McDowell. Certainly. Can't even list all the Broadway plays we've seen , even some, like Titanic, that were pretty bad, were fun to see, because it is always such an adventure. . I guess her most recent was Sting in The Last Ship and James Earl Jones in You Cant Take it with You. Of course Les MIs, several years ago, after which I cried for about a month.
    And Kristen Chenoweth in Wicked, and and and... I am leaving out so many of them, but to my endless chagrin, one day in a fit of cleaning up, I threw out all my playbills.
    Seeing that photograph of yours, Lesa, makes me realize again how silly that was.
    What a terrific blog! And I am so in awe of your theater travels!

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  7. Lesa's Broadway trips are legendary. I often do the same thing - once seeing 8 shows in four days (it's possible if you take in late shows off broadway).

    Of course, I have the benefit of being just a short drive away from NYC, so I pop up for a day here and there during each season to catch the shows that I can't miss.

    Lesa, you are going to love Come From Away. The pre-Broadway try-out was in DC at the Ford's Theater. There was nothing like seeing *that* story in *that* theater. It is a touching show with many tears, but also plenty of laughter. Those Newfoundland folks are something special.

    I'll likely be up to see Hello, Dolly, Anastasia, and others next year as well. Oh, how I love the theater!

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  8. Yes! As Hank and Kristopher said, if you ever get the chance, you really should try to see a show in a small, intimate Broadway theater. There's nothing like it. I agree with you, Joan. I've seen some wonderful community & high school productions. A high school senior played Tevye in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and he was one of the best I ever saw.

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  9. Kathy & Edith & Grace - You all really need to make an effort to see a Broadway show sometime. It's just magic. As soon as I leave, I'm ready to come back again, and I start watching to see what shows I want to see.

    Grace, I'm not coming to Bouchercon. I'm going to Paris instead just before that. So, sometime I'll come to Toronto, and maybe you can tell me what I need to see!

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  10. Gram, Great local theater is wonderful, too. And, at least you saw one show on Broadway.

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  11. Hank, I'm glad you asked your father that question. I believe him when he said you could tell. There's just a magic there, isn't there? Love Broadway & theater. I just wish I was closer!

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  12. And, I try to watch what you're seeing, Kristopher. I'm planning to see Come From Away because of your recommendation. I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Ford's Theater. Again, very special. I'm sure you'll see those shows, and I'll be watching to see what you say.

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  13. Lesa: Awwww, so sad that you won't be coming to Toronto's Bouchercon but going to Paris is a great alternative vacation. I am a wanderlust traveller and frequent flyer most of my adult life so doing 2 international trips back to back doesn't bother me...I'm going back to Iceland in early February-March, back in Ottawa for a few days and then off to Honolulu for Left Coast Crime and an extended vacation.

    I know that Toronto is also currently doing a pre-Broadway run of Come From Away, and is getting rave reviews. I am sure you will love it!

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  14. Lesa, what wonderful fun! The first theater production I ever saw was 'David and Lisa' at the Huron Playhouse, followed by 'Man of La Mancha' at Ashland University--what memories this post brings back! As a graduate student at Ohio State, I was fortunate to catch a number of touring companies in Columbus--'Evita' stands out in my mind. There's just nothing that comes close to live theater--comedy, drama, or musical!

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  15. My brother in law is a set designer, so I have an inside view of the theater. I did love attending plays. One of the regrets of severe hearing loss is the inability to understand the audio portion in most of the performing arts. Thank goddess for closed captioning... I can keep up with movies and television plays.

    My only Broadway experience, and it might have been off Broadway was seeing The Vagina Monologues. Like Lesa, I was so surprised by the size of the theater. With such a small house capacity, I understand now why the tickets are so very expensive.
    I was also disappointed a bit with how shopworn this particular theater was. Plenty of magic yes...but.. should not the seats be well, not smelly musty?

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  16. We try to plan a theater binge too, once or twice a year. One of my favorite moments was watching Bernadette Peters in GYPSY, a show I love anyway--but she was spectacular as Gypsy Rose Lee's mama! Lesa and I chatted about Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's BRIGHT STAR, which John and I adored. Sadly, the show closed before Lesa got to see it. I think all the Tony nominations and wins for Hamilton sucked the wind out of the other new shows. (And we were lucky enough to see HAMILTON before it became outrageously difficult and expensive to get tickets.)

    The fun thing is--if you can't get to the New York theater, go to YouTube--there are tons of clips of many of these shows. Such fun!

    And Lesa, I didn't realize Kristopher was your mentor--I will have to watch him now:). And PS, y'all come back tomorrow for Kristopher's introduction to our JRW book discussion of BEL CANTO.

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  17. PS Coralee, yes the theaters can be shopworn. And the seats tight. And if you have to visit the ladies room during intermission LOL, pop out of your seat early and get in line. Yikes!

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  18. LOVED reading this, Lesa -- I HEART Broadway shows!

    My parents took us to the theatre in Los Angeles where shows toured. Mary Martin in Annie Get Your Gun and South Pacific. Flower Drum Song. Later Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Peter Brooks directing A Midsummer Night's Dream. Our last show was the stunning astonishing Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. But SO expensive! Do you buy in advance, go to the box office, or line up at TKTS day of??

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  20. Hi Lesa. I've always been in love with the theater. I don't go as much as I used to. When I lived in London and worked for BBC drama I saw every play that was running because I was given tickets. When I go to New York I always manage to fit in a play or two. Sometimes I find if you show up at the box office they can find a single seat, even for sold out plays.
    I used to love performing when I was young and I still get that same thrill when the lights dim and the curtain rises! I just wish more musicals were being written with singable songs!

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  21. My husband I and love theater. Pittsburgh has a pretty vibrant theater season. We used to go see plays in a small place called City Theater and we'd have dinner at the restaurant next door, which was owned by a former co-worker. Sadly the restaurant closed and we haven't been interested in many of the shows for a few years, either there or those shown in the theaters in the Cultural District. Although my neighbor offered us tickets to "Damn Yankees" this summer - we'd have gone except the were for a Tuesday.

    I'd love to see a Broadway show. One of my favorite college classes was a Shakespeare class whee we went to Stratford, Ontario to see the plays.

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  22. What fun to pop into Jungle Red and find you here, Lesa!! You know, maybe we can find a show to go to while we're in Paris?? Or would it be in French and then we wouldn't understand it, oh who cares about that . . . this is something I'm going to look into

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  23. Great post, Lesa! I've only seen a few shows on Broadway, but, living so close to Chicago, I feel like we get a similar experience in a city known for theater. We're also lucky enough to have the Goodman Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre, both intimate spaces with phenomenal productions.

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  24. I love the theater!! I played the Artful Dodger in my middle school production of "Oliver" and see shows every chance I get. I love both musicals and plays. When I did an exchange program in London, shortly after graduating from college, I had a student ID and went to see most of the West End productions for ten pounds. It was an amazing experience.

    Just the other day I bought tickets for "Love Lies Here" a musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. It's coming to Seattle in the spring and is about the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Phillipines the 1980s. Has anyone seen it? I've heard great things about it and can't wait.

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  25. I have never seen anything on Broadway, so it sounds like a trip is long overdue. I have seen Sir Ian McKellen in King Lear and The Dance of Death and Sir Patrick Stewart in MacBeth the various times I was in London. I did catch Dame Helen Mirren's London performance in The Audience from a movie theater here in Dallas that was airing the play as part of Fathom Events. She was awesome as were Sir Ian and Sir Pat.

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  26. Grace, If I wasn't still working, I'd be going to both cities, Paris & Toronto. I don't have a problem doing back-to-back trips. But, I do have a limited amount of time off. Now, when I'm retired, as you are, it'll be a little different!

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  27. FChurch - Someone who knows of the Huron Playhouse! How fun. Yes, Columbus has great touring companies. And, you're 100% right - there's nothing like live drama.

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  28. You're right, Coralee. Even the older theaters shouldn't have such musty seats. Now, they are usually tight rows, and small seats, but musty? No.

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  29. Well, I wouldn't say Kristopher is my mentor, Roberta. Usually, it's the NYTimes Theater section. But, when he raves about something he's seen, I do pay attention. And, that musical about Newfoundland and 9/11 sounds wonderful. I'll have to watch for his introduction.

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  30. Hallie, I buy in advance, paying full price. I schedule my days tightly when I'm in NYC, and I don't have time to wait around at TKTS. And, I'm a supporter of Roundabout Theatre, so I'm lucky enough to get a chance to buy their tickets early. I want good seats, although in most of those theaters, every seat is good. But, I want to be close enough to see the actors' faces. And, when I've seen a show as many times as I went to see Les Miz, there are moments and facial expressions and scenes I want to closely watch. And, actors - Ramin Karimloo for instance (smile). I'm with you. I love theater.

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  31. Rhys, I'm envious of your experiences in London, getting to see all those shows! And, I agree with you. I saw a couple musicals this summer, and, they were fun, but no memorable songs. Nothing like seeing Holiday Inn in November, with all those Irving Berlin songs we know and love.

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  32. Mary, I love living in a city or near a city that has the kind of theater that Pittsburgh does. I've seen great theater in Columbus, Ohio, and I had season tickets when I lived outside Phoenix for the touring Broadway. Phoenix has wonderful professional and amateur theater. Nothing like live theater, is there?

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  33. Kaye! I love having a trip planner. You just make all those arrangements for Paris, and I'll be happy to follow along. I was the trip planner for our family NYC trip. Now, I'll let you do it (wink). I'll go if you find something we'd like to see!

    David, I know you've had numerous chances to see great theater in Chicago. So many of the Broadway shows go there first, and, sometimes, afterwards. You have great places to see theater.

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  34. Ingrid & Angela, You've both seen London performances, which I have not. In 2017, it's Paris. I may have to think about London and Scotland for 2018. I have a friend in Edinburgh. And, theater in London sounds wonderful. In fact, I shared a cab in NYC with a man who told me his wife flies to London for the shows.

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  35. Lesa, no there isn't. Some of our high schools are spectacular, too. They regularly win Gene Kelley awards for excellence. We (as a family) saw a high school version of "Jesus Christ Superstar" that was just phenomenal.

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  36. Hi Lesa! Such fun to have you here! But I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen a Broadway show. I've only ever spent a few days in NY and those were taken up with business stuff. So another thing to put on my list!

    I have seen some really good things in London, in the West End and at the National. I got to see Billy Elliott right before it closed, and it was the last performance by Elliott Hanna, who was brilliant. Sadly, on my recent trip I didn't make a single play...

    Speaking of musicals and Kristin Chenoweth, did anyone else watch the live performance of Hairspray on NBC last night? I time-shifted, so didn't get all the way to the end, but thought it was great fun. Jennifer Hudson was fabulous, and I loved Maddie Baillio, the girl from Houston who got the part of Tracy in an open casting call.

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  37. Lesa: Yes, I also was limited to 4-5 weeks vacation/year while working but I still went on back-to-back trips. You're right that as a retiree I now have less restrictions on my vacation time but money is the new challenge.

    Canadian air travel is ridiculously expensive, and our Canadian dollar is expected to drop to 70 cents US in the first quarter of 2017, so less trips to the US for me, I think!

    I am happy you are able to get great travel deals to go to NYC and Broadway on a regular basis!

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  38. I'm truly sorry we all didn't get to London to see Rhys's children's book made into theater (Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine.)

    I forgot to mention THE AUDIENCE with Helen Mirren. We were in the second row for that one and it was spectacular. Saw it a second time on the big screen in Key West.

    Ingrid, I was in Oliver too--love that show, know all the words to every song. However, I barely squeaked into the chorus:)

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  39. Hi Lesa! When I moved to New York City in my twenties (to get into book publishing--so funny to think about now), I couldn't afford Broadway shows at first. It was an itch I wanted to scratch so badly! Eventually, I started working right on Times Square -- what a quintessential experience! -- and I got my Broadway show fix. Sometimes discounted tickets would come down through the company -- in fact, in the publishing biz there were often freebie perks. Those were fun times.

    Anyhow, all of that's to say that I get nostalgic when I hear about friends going to NYC to get their play fix on.

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  40. Ingrid, I have heard the score to "Love Lies Here" and it is quite strong. The NYC run of it was very limited, so I never did get up there to see it. Happy to hear that it is having a life beyond the original staging.

    I'm hoping to get up to Chicago in the next year or so to see Hamilton there. I saw the entire original cast on Broadway twice, but there are some favorite performers in the Chicago production, so I want to see what they do with the role. Of course, I'm also anxiously awaiting the casting news for the tour version - that should be interesting to see as well.

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  41. Less, I'm so jealous. I, too, and a lover of Broadway and all things theater, but the last few times I've been in New York City it's been Ross and youngest who have gotten to see a show while I get work done.

    Clearly, I need to make a Broadway weekend date with some girlfriends!

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  42. Live theater is magic, isn't it? Houston has an active theater district, as does Minneapolis-St Paul, and Cleveland--all places we've lived in or near. Everytime Les Miz comes to town I swear I'll see it, then chicken out. Some of those songs make me cry when I hear them. I've been to NYC only once and it was a quickie trip to attend a college graduation. So no Broadway. When I was a kid Houston had a theater-in-the-
    round that put on musicals with various stars. I remember seeing Van Johnson in On a Clear Day and Juliette Prowse in Irma La Douce. Such fun.

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  43. Mary, Our high schools come together in the summer to do a high school production. It's usually fabulous. They just announced that this year's production will be Thoroughly Modern Millie. I have to admit I didn't go this summer when they did The Little Mermaid.

    Deborah! Yes, you must put Broadway on your list. Although, I have to put London and the West End on mine.

    Lisa, I just can't imagine working in Times Square. I can't imagine trying to get to and from work there every day. When I go to NYC, I usually make one trip there just to see it, with all the lights, and try to avoid it at other times. I bet you do get nostalgic for the chance to get a play fix. I get antsy and ready to go.

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  44. Lesa, I envy your regular Broadway trips! When I lived in PA as a child, I saw Sammy Davis in Golden Boy, Ginger Rogers in Hello, Dolly, Anthony Newley in Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, and (I don't remember whom) in Hair, all on Broadway. In 2008 Mike and I traveled to NYC (his first time) and saw Clay Aiken in Spamalot and Lin-Manuel Miranda in In the Heights (before he became a phenomenon!). Now we make do in San Francisco and other local cities and have seen some great shows there--mostly musicals. Thanks to your recommendation (you saw it twice), we saw A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and absolutely adored it--one of the funniest we've seen.

    We have already bought tickets to Monsoon Wedding at the Berkeley Rep Theatre for next May. Anyone remember that movie? It was directed by Mira Nair, who will also direct the musical theater production. Can't wait! And next week, tickets go on sale for Hamilton in SF--wish me luck!

    I'm hoping you keep telling us about all the great shows you have seen. I value your recommendations and take vicarious pleasure in hearing about them.

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  45. Lucy, Perhaps there's a duet in our future? "Consider Yourself"? ��

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  46. There was about a decade when I lived in New Jersey and saw a lot of plays, went to a lot of concerts and joined the Film Society so I could be certain of getting the tickets for the opening and closing nights of the New York Film Festival, but that was many, many years ago. Closing in on 50 years!

    The first play I went to in NYC was "Hair" in 1969 and the last was "Dracula" with Frank Langella in early 1978. My son was born a few months later & the days of getting on a train in the morning to shop, catching a matinee (when orchestra seats for most dramas were $9 or $10), having a meal somewhere nice and then to one place or another for music then rushing to catch the last train home - those days were over.

    But over those years we saw a lot of plays with great casts. It's strange to think that that when I heard that Richard Burton was taking over for Anthony Hopkins in "Equus" I was disappointed that we'd already seen it soon after it opened. At that time Richard Burton was a STAR and Anthony Hopkins not nearly so well known. Embarrassing now.

    The most memorable night at a Broadway play had little to do with the play itself. We were at the Plymouth Theatre watching Tom Courtenay in "Otherwise Engaged" when the lights went out. There was a pause while they set up flashlights/lanterns on the stage and they finished the performance. Then we walked out of the theater into total darkness - July 13, 1977. It was a very scary night to be walking in Manhattan. The only reason we got home in the wee hours was that cabbies had to go to New Jersey to buy gasoline.

    I'm too cheap to pay the ticket price today - even for touring companies - so I'm glad that I had the opportunity back then.



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  47. I don't know "Monsoon Wedding", Margie. You'll have to let us know about it after you see it. And, definitely wish you good luck with Hamilton. I'm so glad you enjoyed A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder." One of the funniest shows I've ever seen, too.

    Oh, Anthony Newley in "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off." I would have liked to have seen that. You saw some terrific shows. My parents used to go to Porthouse Theatre in Ohio when I was little, and they saw wonderful shows there. As I said, I give my Mom credit for taking us to shows when we were young.

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  48. Sharon, That would have been a memorable night, both the show, but, even more, walking out into a dark Manhattan. I've glad you enjoyed the theatre while you could.

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  49. Roberta, Thank you again for inviting me to spend a little time with you and the other Jungle Reds so I could talk about my love of Broadway. I hope everyone has a chance to see one Broadway show, if they love theatre.

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  50. Like Lesa, I was lucky to have a mother who took us to local productions. I was very young when I saw "Peter Pan" outdoors on a hill at Vassar College. When Peter asked us to clap if we believed in fairies . . .
    I had been to see the Rockettes in NYC, and actually saw a ballet ("Firebird" with an aunt) before I saw my first Broadway show. It was my parents' gift to me for my 16th birthday -- "Camelot." I was mad for Robert Goulet. We had great seats in the orchestra, and I will never forget the thrill.
    Since then, I have been to a great deal of theater -- whenever and wherever I can. Last night my husband and I saw "Seven Guitars" by August Wilson at the Yale Rep. There is something about live productions -- nothing comes close.

    I have had two thrilling theater experiences -- one, in college, when a friend and I went to see Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl." One of my high school classmates was in the chorus, and we went back stage to see her! She was made up and in costume, and we were two rather drab young women in tweed coats and brown shoes.
    The second was a couple of years ago. My husband and I celebrate the day we met (January 10, 1965). We went to NYC, without tickets but planning to see a show. He went over to the theater district to see what he could get -- and surprised me by splurging on two front orchestra seats for "Cabaret" (with Alan Cummings). We were seated in the area that was part of the Kit Kat Lounge, at the very front. And, just before the show began, a couple sat down in front of us at a cafe table. The man turned to say that he hoped he wasn't in my way, and I replied to SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY that whatever he did was OK with me!!

    Ah, the magic. I'll see "The Nutcracker" tomorrow night (granddaughters are a reindeer and a sheep), a new play at a regional theater on Wednesday, and an NYC musical on Sunday. Thanks for opening up such happy memories!!

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  51. I went to french musical shows in Montreal like: Don Juan, Romeo et Juliette, and my favorite: Notre-Dame de Paris.
    So when , for the first time, I prepared to visit New York last june , I booked 2 Broadway shows.
    My first and most anticipated was The King and I. So I go to Linclon theater on tuesday evening with my ticket confirmation and they tell me that the show was closed the sunday before. They reembursed me but I was sad and disappointed.
    At least, I saw a show by le Cirque du Soleil on thursday, very pleasant expérience.
    Danielle-momo

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  52. I love Broadway musicals. And Hello Dolly is on my list as well as In Transit and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heads-up if you don't know, but Bette leaves in June.

    Shows I want to see is
    In Transit

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