One of the many perks of attending The Broadway League’s annual Spring Road Conference is, of course, getting to see all the new Broadway shows before they hit the road.
Over the course of the four-day conference, we’ve seen nearly a dozen shows. Here are some of our faves (and some we’re hoping to bring to Bass Hall in the future):
Hedwig and the Angry Inch: We saw this rock and roll musical when Neil Patrick Harris was in the lead role of Hedwig, but we are just as impressed with Darren Criss, who took over the role after Harris. Criss stars in the title role as a punk/metal band lead singer, whose career has been eclipsed by a past lover who has gone onto to massive success. Hedwig delivers his life story to us during a concert, in which Criss and his backup band give impassioned, believable performances, making you feel like you really are at a concert (which, technically, you are, since the musicians play real instruments and Criss belts out a number of catchy songs). It’s a fantastic show but not for everyone; there’s quite a bit of language and adult themes. We’d love to see it on our stage.
On the Town: If you like classic Broadway shows with big dance routines, you’ll love On the Town, a second revival of the 1944 musical (and basis for a 1949 hit film). Three sailors, on a 24-hour pass, embark on New York City in a quest for love, booze and fun. Featuring Fort Worth-reared actor Jay Armstrong Johnson in a lead role as one of the sailors, Chip, the show is a smart combination of slapstick humor, epic dance numbers (think West Side Story) and romance, all set against the backdrop of Leonard Bernstein’s timeless music. We’re really hoping to bring this show to Bass Hall!
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical: For many of us, this jukebox musical was an education, as it explored the early life of songwriter/singer Carole King and her catalog of hits that she wrote for other artists, such as Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Chains, One Fine Day and many others. Chilina Kennedy doesn’t miss a beat as King. Matter of fact, the entire cast did a great job of recreating the look and sound of other artists of the 60s and 70s, such as Neil Sedaka, The Drifters, The Shirelles and Janelle Woods. It was a fun and interactive show, as many people in the audience sang along. This will be a great show for the road and one we’re hoping to book!
An American in Paris: Up for 12 Tony Awards, this musical adaptation of the 1951 film of the same name embodies what many hopeless American romantics desperately want Paris to symbolize – art, passion, lights, love, culture, mystery. It has it all. The blend of musical theater, punctuated by the music of Ira and George Gershwin, makes perfect sense, and the scene transitions are flawless. This show is slated to tour soon. We hope Bass Hall will be one of its stops.
Matilda:We’d seen Matilda many times in the past during The Broadway League’s conference, but we had to see it again, its story of a little girl who overcomes hurdle after hurdle is so uplifting. The show is also rife with catchy music, remarkable set pieces and many, many, many talented children. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to land this show in an upcoming season!
Other shows we’ve seen or seeing tonight (our last night here!) include Finding Neverland, Something Rotten!, Fun Home, Hand to God and The Visit. Check back in tomorrow for our final post!