Have you heard the original cast recording of Next Thing You Know? Given how fast my life is moving right now and how much my plans, hopes, and dreams are evolving, I relate to many of the lyrics. Nonetheless, I’m having a great time as I find my way, and theatre is a big part of that. My recent theatre adventures have taken me as far as Vienna and London, but I’ll start by describing what I’ve been up to in D.C.
In the D.C. area:
- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Studio Theatre. When the show extended again, there were a few cast changes, all of which were fine additions to the show, especially Sam Edgerly and Parker Drown.
- Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Signature Theatre (3 times). I was lucky enough to be at the closing performance, which had a special energy and thrill.
- The Music in the Movies II at Signature Theatre. Excellent cabaret featuring songs most people know and love.
- Sutton Foster’s Concert at George Mason University. Sutton Foster was charming, and she sang a compilation of old and new songs. Her second encore of “Gimme, Gimme” was the icing on the cake, my favorite part.
- Patti LuPone’s Concert, Matters of the Heart, at the Strathmore. This was my first time seeing Patti LuPone, and now, I understand why she is such an esteemed performer. It was an amazing, engaging performance.
- Wicked at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore. This was a fun show that I always love to see. I saw Alyssa Fox (the standby) go on as Elphaba. Her performance was spectacular. I’d love to see her again in the role. Wicked will be in Baltimore through early November, so see it if you can!
In Vienna, Austria:
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in German at the Volksoper. This was a great show to see at the opera house because I already knew the show well and I got to hear Sondheim in German with a huge orchestra.
- An opera, Arabella, at the Weiner Staatsoper. Since the Weiner Staatsoper is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, it was well worth the visit, and the opera was exquisite.
In London, United Kingdom:
- Anthony Rapp’s Without You at the Menier Chocolate Factory. This show was heartfelt and touching. It provided an intimate depiction of a difficult time in Anthony Rapp’s life. His willingness to share his story and clever presentation captivated the audience.
- Carousel at the Barbican. This was performed as an opera with no mikes and double-cast leads. I had the good fortune of seeing the American, Michael Todd Simpson, as Billy Bigelow. I was blown away by the beauty of the music and the talented cast. The story and music affected me in a way this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical never had in the past.
- Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. I was looking forward to seeing Rachel Tucker as Elphaba again after thoroughly enjoying her performance last year. This year, however, I was even more excited to see Gina Beck as Glinda, and she did not disappoint. Gina Beck had the right talent, charisma, charm, and interpretation of Glinda, and she was one of the best Glindas I’ve seen.
- Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre. With Michael Ball as Sweeney and Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Lovett, where could this show go wrong? It couldn’t. The score, orchestra, set design, cast, and staging were fantastic.
- Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre (3 times). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Geronimo Rauch as Jean Valjean, but with such a strong cast, the show was as impressive as I remembered. A few of the standout performances for me were Sierra Boggess as Fantine, Tam Matu as Javert, Craig Mather as Marius, and Oliver Savile (an understudy for Enjorlas).
- Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre (2 times). Magical. It’s the best word to describe the musical that I can think of. The story is special, and several seriously talented children are needed to bring it to life. The music is original, with clever lyrics, and by the end of the show, you will want to join right in with the children. I highly recommend this show, and I already have plans to see it again on Broadway.
- Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre (2 times). I forgot how much of an institution this show is in London. This story is more personal in London, and the show tends to have a stronger energy in London. I saw the two newest Billys to join the production: Redmand Rance and Harrison Dowzell. Both were remarkably talented, but I particularly loved Harrison’s performance. I spoke with his relatives, who happened to be sitting right in front of me, and they told me he had only taken one or two ballet classes before starting to rehearse to be Billy. He is a “street” dancer, and this shined through his dancing, especially during “Electricity.” All of the standard ballet moves were gone in favor of a dance uniquely suited for Harrison, and I was stunned by his “street” moves.
- Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre. This show features excellent choreography, enticing music, multi-talented performers, and a charming plot. If you’re a fan of the classic film, you’ll have fun at the live version. Beware, though, if you sit in the first few rows, you will get wet!
My theatrical adventures in Europe opened my eyes to performance art that I wasn’t particularly fond of before my trip to Europe. In Vienna, I was surprised by how captivated I was at the opera even though I couldn’t understand the language (there were translations thankfully). While I would choose a musical or a play over an opera if given the opportunity, the opera was a special, unforgettable experience that I would be happy to repeat. In Vienna, I also toured the Burgtheater and the Wiener Staatsoper. Both performing arts venues are incredibly ornate, and the tours were exceptional. Additionally, in London, I toured the Royal Opera House. During the tour, I had the opportunity to watch a rehearsal for a new Christopher Wheeldon ballet because the Royal Ballet rehearses and performs at the Royal Opera House. I was amazed by how extraordinary the dancing was, and I found the dancers’ beautiful and graceful moves fascinating. As I watched the Royal Ballet rehearse, I realized that the last time I had been to a ballet was the Nutcracker when I was 8. I discovered a newfound appreciation for ballet that day, and I’ll be seeing one of Wheeldon’s ballets at the Kennedy Center in January.
Most of my upcoming theatrical adventures are in the Washington, D.C. area, but I do have a few trips to New York City planned. Lookout for more theatrical commentary soon!