What musicals/shows should I see on Broadway?
May 24, 2016 6:19 PM   Subscribe

What musicals/shows should I see on Broadway while I'm in New York? I'll be visiting NYC in September of this year and I'm unlikely to be back for another few years, so I'd really like to know what good shows are on right now.

I really have no idea. There's too much information on Google and I already rely heavily on MeFi users opinions on things (to great success!).

Before you suggest the obvious answer of Hamilton, that option is out. The cheapest tickets I could find for the week we are there was in the range of $800 - $1000, which is impossible for me even before you convert to AUD.

I already have tickets to see The Book of Mormon in January when they tour in Australia, but do you think it's worth seeing it on Broadway first?

I haven't been much of a theater-goer although I have loved the ones that I have seen in the past such as Wicked, Jersey Boys and We Will Rock You. I didn't like Dirty Dancing or Rock of Ages. I haven't seen many non-musicals but I'm open to anything. Any help is appreciated!
posted by liquorice to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Disaster, that sounds like lots of fun!

There's a ticket lottery for Hamilton. So you can try for that one night. My sister scored for Book of Mormon, so people do win.

I loved Book of Mormon, but you may as well see it in Australia because none of the original cast is in it anymore.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:24 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fun Home is really good! It's a touching small-scale musical.
posted by Hypatia at 6:45 PM on May 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

Hamilton also has a cancellation line. Tickets might be pricey, but you might be able to score one for less than $800. But, this will require a heavier time investment--you'd need to get in the line early, and stay.

There are revivals of both Spring Awakening and The Color Purple , both of which are up for Tony's for Best Revival, and which my active theatre going friends enjoyed.

If you want something a little...different, there's always Sleep No More
posted by damayanti at 6:52 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Disaster was cute, but is already closed, as is Spring Awakening.

100% you should see She Loves Me.

But if not, I would go see Fun Home. Or maybe The King and I, which is a great production as well. The most fun I had this season was a tie between School of Rock and On Your Feet, though.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to everything open now and opening soon. Not everything will still be open in September. Closings here. For instance, She Loves Me is listed as closing July 10 and Disaster! closed a couple of weeks ago. Motown, the Musical is taking its place at that theater.

There is an amazing amount of good stuff out there now. Some thoughts on the newer shows: For fun and silly, how about Something Rotten? Shuffle Along is packed with talent although Audra McDonald will be gone starting July 25. Fun Home (last year's winner) will get you by the heart. If you love dance, there is American in Paris. The King and I closes in September, but that and Fiddler on the Roof are classics.

And that's just some of the newer musicals. The good news is you have lots of musicals and plays to choose from. The bad news is that you have to read lots of reviews.

There is an online lottery for Hamilton, and if you win, just sell your other tickets.

(Just looking at the other comments, Spring Awakening was a limited run).

Enjoy your trip.
posted by AMyNameIs at 7:10 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend Kinky Boots! Music is composed by Cyndi Lauper, and it is a good mix of fun 80s inspired songs and really touching ballads with some rock influence. Matilda is also great, if you are looking for something family friendly. I saw Book of Mormon on the US tour, and it was amazing. I don't think you'd need to see it in NYC if you're seeing it on tour though.
posted by Katie8709 at 7:13 PM on May 24, 2016

Here to chime in that there's an overwhelming number of excellent actors in dramas currently -- Ben Whishaw in Crucible, Lupita Nyong'o in Eclipsed, Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, Frank Langella, Jessica Lange, etc., if you want to chose solely on the opportunity to see some seriously good acting in person.
posted by beaning at 7:17 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Fun Home is very good. It's not your traditional big Broadway musical, more like something in between a play and a musical. It's in the round, which is cool, and there aren't really any bad seats.

I also just saw American Psycho, which was ridiculous, over-the-top fun. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you are familiar with the movie and like campiness, you might enjoy it. (Warning: lots of blood and sex). The top three other musicals I wish I could have seen are Shuffle Along, Bright Star, and Waitress.

A lot of the plays mentioned above will be closed by September. You might also look at Playbill for more information about the shows -- I found it very helpful planning my recent NYC trip.
posted by wsquared at 7:38 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sleep No More, if you want something site-specific (i.e., you will only ever see that show in New York because it can't travel) and honestly just really freaking amazing. Not Broadway, though.
posted by samthemander at 8:00 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Third rec for Sleep No More.
posted by Sublimity at 8:29 PM on May 24, 2016

If you'd like to see a play rather than a musical, I'd highly recommend "The Humans." Not exactly what you'd call cheerful, but a very, very fine play.
posted by holborne at 8:29 PM on May 24, 2016

Welp, it depends - what kind of stuff do you like?

I apologize if that sounds glib, but here's the thing: a lot of people come to see stuff in New York kind of out of a sense of obligation or "it's just what you DO in New York", kind of like how you'd go see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And if you go into this with the idea to just "see a show", then that doesn't rule anything out at all, and the choice will overwhelm you.

So think a bit about what kind of entertainment you like overall, and that will help you narrow it down. Are you looking for big horkin' old-fashioned Broadway-with-a-capital-B spectacle? Go for a classic revival like Phantom or American in Paris, or if you're on a budget, go see The Fantasticks downtown. Looking for something like that with more contemporary humor? The Book Of Mormon. Are you a big fan of the movie School of Rock? Good, it's a musical. Want to see something with a more serious topic? Fun Home or Shuffle Along will work.

And on and on. From the sound of it, you were entertained by what you saw already, so the old-school style of show may indeed be a good bet. And I don't think you'd necessarily lose anything by seeing two different productions of something, like you're considering with Book of Mormon - different casts and different directors can make totally different productions out of the same script, and all of them can have their merits. (Hell, I've seen two productions of Chicago, four of Equus, and i've seen Hamlet loads of times - and two of the Equuses and three of the Hamlets all wowed me even though they were all different from each other.)

That said, I recently recommended Matilda to a co-worker, who did like that a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 PM on May 24, 2016

The new season begins after the labor day holiday (1st Monday in September). The NY Times puts out an expanded version of its Sunday arts section, but I'm not sure if it's the day before or the Sunday after.

Nthing Fun Home and Kinky Boots....or whatever grabs you from the listings.
posted by brujita at 9:58 PM on May 24, 2016

Nthing Fun Home! I was in standing room only and I still had a great view! There are only 10 rows of seats (as it is in the round) so they're all very close to the stage.
posted by azalea_chant at 11:10 PM on May 24, 2016

I loved Fun Home. Made me laugh and cry!

Nthing the Hamilton lottery. Might as well try!
posted by lunasol at 12:21 AM on May 25, 2016

rhyming accidental, but appropriate to the topic!
posted by lunasol at 12:22 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and another mefite told me about Today Tix, which is a great source for discounted last-minute tickets. I don't think you could buy now, but it's a good thing to do closer.

Also, I kind of suspect the Hamilton resale prices miiiight start going down after some of the principle cast begins leaving this summer. So you might check again closer.
posted by lunasol at 12:26 AM on May 25, 2016

Sleep No More is really interesting and fun, especially if you can go on a non peak night where it will be less packed/you have a lower chance of running into drunk bros.

On the historical musicals that are really damn good like Hamilton, but do not have Hamilton prices: how about Allegiance, by George Takei about his experience in the Japanese internment camps?
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:27 AM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oooh, joyceanmachine, thank you for that suggestion - I completely forgot about Allegiance! Perfectly combines my desire to see a historical musical with my love of Star Trek!
posted by liquorice at 2:42 AM on May 25, 2016

Allegiance, like Spring Awakening and Disaster, is closed. (Also closing this weekend is Tuck Everlasting)

Fun Home was wonderful. Matilda was enjoyable. Fiddler was delightful. The Hamiltonlottery is worth a shot.

I haven't seen but have heard good things: Waitress, Something Rotten, She Loves Me.
posted by firei at 4:09 AM on May 25, 2016

Here to chime in that there's an overwhelming number of excellent actors in dramas currently -- Ben Whishaw in Crucible, Lupita Nyong'o in Eclipsed, Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, Frank Langella, Jessica Lange, etc., if you want to chose solely on the opportunity to see some seriously good acting in person.

Most/all of these will be closed by September.

If you don't see a lot of musicals, I wouldn't see one twice (Book of Mormon). In my opinion, the best show on Broadway right now that isn't Hamilton is Fun Home, and it's gotten a lot of other recommendations here. It's the only other thing running right now that I'd consider a must-see.

Brain dump of other recent shows I've seen that will (probably) still be running in September:
Shuffle Along is also great and combines history with fantastic tap-dancing (although it's the history of a musical, not history-books history). Audra will be out in September, but the male leads and the rest of the cast are wonderful. The King and I is a classic old-fashioned musical that's beautifully done, highly recommended. The current revival of Fiddler felt a little flat to me, but a lot of people love it, and it also has the historical aspect that you might enjoy. Something Rotten is big dumb fun, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I loved it, and it made me laugh a lot. But if big dumb fun isn't your thing, you probably won't like it. American in Paris was pretty meh, in my opinion. If you're not into dance, skip it. I loved American Psycho more than almost anything I've seen in the past couple of years, but it's definitely not for everyone. And it's struggling, so might not make it to September.

I haven't seen On Your Feet or School of Rock, but I hear they're very entertaining.

It's worth keeping an eye on Hamilton tickets. Prices may fall when the original cast leaves, or they might get a boost from the Tony's. Who knows. For awhile prices sometimes dropped in the hours before curtain, but I've heard that isn't happening as much (or maybe at all) anymore.
posted by Mavri at 7:25 AM on May 25, 2016

CATS is coming back (July 14) and that's a theater icon. Not sure how recently it has toured Australia.

Aside from those mentioned above and depending on when exactly you'll be here, these are some upcoming openings

Holiday Inn , the new Irving Berlin Musical at Studio 54 (September 1, 2016)
Cherry Orchard with Diane Lane (September 15)
The Front Page (September 20) with Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Jefferson Mays and Sherie Rene Scott
posted by TravellingCari at 8:47 AM on May 25, 2016

I loved Fun Home, the theater-in-the-round was unique and the actors were outstanding. I am probably the only person ever not to like Sleep No More - I got separated from my companion and ran around in the dark alone for what seemed like forever and I was super scared and also kind of bored, although there were some absolutely amazing scenes.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:51 AM on May 25, 2016

SHE LOVES ME at Roundabout Theater Studio 54. I am actually a musician who has played that show a number of times and it's spectacular. The cast, sets, music, everything. You'll be glad you did.
posted by eusebis_w_adorno at 12:02 PM on May 25, 2016

Sorry for the side track in to the dramas that will be closing! Hopefully there will some similarly excellent choices in September.
posted by beaning at 12:30 PM on May 25, 2016

nthing Fun Home. I had the opportunity to see both it and Hamilton back-to-back evenings last week, and (*ducks preemptively*) I actually liked Fun Home better, though both were really great. Not really a "traditional" sort of musical though, if that's important to you (there were definitely a few bewildered folks in the audience who I suspect had just come to "see a show on Broadway" and picked it because it'd won the Best Musical Tony last year)
posted by btfreek at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2016

SHE LOVES ME at Roundabout Theater Studio 54. I am actually a musician who has played that show a number of times and it's spectacular. The cast, sets, music, everything. You'll be glad you did.

Will be long gone by September. Even with the extension it's closing in July because Holiday Inn opens in September
posted by TravellingCari at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2016

Nthing Mavri's specific point: no need to double up on Book of Mormon in NYC if you're seeing a traveling show later.

Also nthing Sleep no more. There are other experiential theater shows in the same vein that friends have recommended but I personally haven't been to them.
posted by paradeofblimps at 4:05 PM on May 25, 2016

Thanks so much everyone, there have been some excellent suggestions. I marked the two answers for shows that I am definitely going to see now - Fun Home and Sleep No More.
posted by liquorice at 5:59 PM on May 25, 2016

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