My Year of Theater Part Two

This is the second post in the series. For Part One, please click here.

Into the Woods at New York City Center was so electric that we rode the “high” or seeing it through the rest of May and into the month of June. We didn’t return to the Great White Way until July where we celebrated my birthday by seeing what has become one of my all-time favorite productions ever.

July

July was a really busy month for us, but it wasn’t always supposed to be that way. Due a production’s closing announcement, we decided to see a show one last time before it was gone for good.

13. Company

For my birthday, the boyfriend bought us tickets to Company. It would be our second time seeing a Stephen Sondheim production that year. We purchased our tickets before it won its 5 Tony Awards in June, including Best Revival, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Scenic Design and two awards for it’s actors (Matthew Doyle and Patti LuPone). The day of, we decided to upgrade our seats from the rear mezzanine to the orchestra and it was totally worth it. This production will always hold a place in my heart because it was the first time I could see myself represented onstage. Matt Doyle’s Jamie was so relatable to me and his rendition of one of Sondheim’s most challenging works, Getting Married Today, nearly brought the house down. It was also special because we were sitting near Doyle’s real-life boyfriend, Max Clayton (who is currently in The Music Man on Broadway). Watching him to react to his partner’s performance was so special.

Seeing this show also gave me the chance to watch Patti LuPone onstage. She also sings one of theater’s most famous melodies: Ladies Who Lunch. Watching her perform is truly a gift and I was glad I got a chance to see her perform live.

Company closed at the end of July, but a tour will begin in the fall of 2023. I hope it comes to my area, though it will not have the same cast, it will still be stellar all around.

14. Here There Be Dragons

Most of the shows I attended over the last year were Broadway productions. But in addition to Little Shop I did see another Off-Broadway show in July. I won’t get too technical about the difference between “Broadway” and “Off-Broadway” but, Broadway is a specific section of theaters in NYC with at least 500 seats. That’s the gist of it, anyway.

This show was located in Lower Manhattan in a small theater that had a lot of charm. Here There Be Dragons is a musical centered around the role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. This was a request made by my amazing boyfriend and since I had been dragging him to over a dozen shows, I figured I should return the favor at least once. Though this show wasn’t my cup of tea, it was a fun afternoon and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

15. Paradise Square – Closing Performance

You may recall that I went to see this show two other times earlier in the year. When Paradise Square announced it would be closing with only a week’s notice, I JUMPED at the chance to get tickets to its closing performance. Obviously this was an unplanned show, but for me, it was worth every penny I spent.

I fell in love with this show almost immediately and was so disappointed to hear about the horrible conditions the actors and crew had to put up with while working on the show. Again, I won’t go into details here, but you can easily find them for yourself online. Due to the drama behind the scenes, once this show closed on Broadway it will probably be a long time (if ever!) this work gets to see the lights of the stage again. There is still no cast recording released, despite it being recorded due to the financial trouble of the production company.

Being at this time show’s closing performance was…special. And I don’t mean that negatively. Something happened in that theater that afternoon. Something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The amount of support that audience had for those people on stage and in the wings was so inspiring and I know they felt the love they received. Come to find out, there was a full 15 minutes of run time added to the final performance due to applause from the house. Joaquina song her heart out during her eleven o’clock number and there was a period during the song where it was almost church-like. It’s not something I’ll ever forget and it’s something I wish I could experience again, even though that would diminish the point of live theater.

Less than one week after we saw Paradise Square close, we were back in Times Square for another two-show day. This time, one was a surprise.

16. Into the Woods Broadway

Merely weeks after the City Center production of Into the Woods ended it’s two-week run, it was announced that it would be moving to Broadway — and playing at Broadway’s biggest house–the St. James!

Riding the thrill of the City Center production, we decided to see it again. Though there were some cast changes, the biggest ones we were looking forward to remained. Sadly, it wasn’t as electric as the first time, but still enjoyable. It also gave me the chance to check off the St. James on my list of Broadway theaters. Thankfully, we bought our tickets early, so we saved a lot of money but getting them before the word got out and prices jumped.

Really, I was fine with seeing this subpar production because it gave me the perfect opportunity to surprise my boyfriend for our one-year anniversary. That evening, we had a lovely dinner at Carmine’s in the middle of the city before heading to a different theater once again.

17. SIX

When people ask me what my favorite show I saw this year is, I immediately say “Six, with Company as a close second.” Inspired by the six wives of England’s Henry VIII, this show is a pop concert style, female-empowerment experience. And it couldn’t be more amazing! I can’t even describe the feeling of seeing this show. The lighting, the sound, the performance is something spectacular and if you are on the fence about seeing it, I HIGHLY recommend getting tickets. Luckily, there are tours circulating the country and of course the NY production is holding strong. If you’re interested in seeing the Broadway version, the last remaining original queens are departing in less than a month. And then we get an entirely new cast of queens, (one of which is from Paradise Square!) Another great thing about this show? It’s only 80 minutes, who could argue with that run time? Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is longer.

“Click on the picture to be taken to Six’s website.

The month of August was non-theater month. Well at least in terms of seeing a show. I did start working on a community theater production, but we didn’t return to Broadway until September.

September

18. The Lion King

Ah, the Lion King. Disney’s crown jewel of theater. Performing on Broadway since the late 1990s, this is one of those shows that seems to be standing the test of time. It’s also a huge tourist magnet. Disney sells, right? It’s also seen as one of the “Big Three” in the industry (the others are Hamilton and Wicked), having been one the first shows to restart performances after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered theaters for over 500 days.

My son is the one who wanted to see it. So, being the theater-loving father than I am, of course I got us tickets. It was wonderful to see the world of the Pridelands come to life on the stage in front of us. Though I’ve seen the show three times now, and probably will not see it again, it was still a special moment for me and my son. It was his first Broadway show, after all. He said he would be interested in seeing another one, but I’m not sure what that would be yet.


Wow! Looking back, that’s quite a bit of theater! And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this and give back to an artform that has done so much for me over the years. You may be wondering how was this possible? Isn’t it a lot of money. The truth is, yes it was. However, there was some things on our side.

We saw the three shows in February during Broadway Week where the industry offers 2-for-1 tickets, so that saved us money. While we did splurge for the first Paradise Square, the second time I won the lottery and paid under $40 for my seat. The final time in the Five Points was under $100 a seat. Another thing working in favor of us was ticket prices were much lower than average across the board for most of the last year. This was done to try to encourage people to return to the theater after the shutdown.

There are many shows I want to see this season, but sadly, tickets are back to being way too high for me to comfortably spend the money on them. I’ll be happy if I see one or two from this season. I would really love to see the revival of Sweeney Todd but at the price they want for tickets, even in the rear mezzanine, I’m not sure it’s feasible right now. Back to entering the lotteries I guess.

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