Hey everyone! Today I thought I’d write a super long post about the musicals I’ve seen up until now and a bit about how my musical obsession came to be. I haven’t seen any yet in 2017 but I have bought season tickets for Broadway in Chicago already and several other shows as well. So far I’m planning to see 8 shows this year, with another 2 or 3 that I haven’t bought tickets for yet because they haven’t gone on sale yet. Two of those will be repeats but well, this is a whole other post altogether I suppose!
If you’ve been following me for awhile here or on Instagram, or even Twitter, (StarringPamela on both!) you’ll know I’m a bit of a theatre fan. I love to take photos of my playbill with the stage before the show begins for my Instagram. Every year for the Tony Awards I live tweet (I do the same thing for the Oscars as well) throughout the night and I really enjoy doing it! And last year I really let myself commit to an obsession that should have started long ago.
Growing up I was exposed to theatre mostly due to my other musical involvements. I started playing flute in middle school and did that all through my following school years, including college, so I was always involved in music. Because of this I also got to see school musicals and plays in order to support other programs in the fine arts and would occasionally go see productions as part of school field trips. I remember going to see a play of Cinderella as a kid through school, going to see a high school production of Grease where some of my friends had the leading roles, and seeing Blue Man Group in high school as part of a band trip. Unfortunately I don’t remember some of the titles for all of the productions I’ve seen, but for the most part I’ll include a pretty comprehensive list in this post.
I’ve always enjoyed musicals, probably because they reminded me of Disney films where the characters will sing and dance, and Disney has always been an important part of my life. I really enjoy plays as well, although my relationship with plays is a little different. While I go out of my way to see musicals, I never do that with plays, but if the opportunity arose I wouldn’t say no to a play. Up until a few years ago, in fact, I could have sworn to you that plays bored me, although I’d never seen a boring play.
My sister and I were talking about it and she said that she and a friend had been talking about the same thing a few days before, but about food. Have you ever stated that you dislike a certain food? If so, do you know why you dislike it? It seems to be a common thing where you think you dislike something but don’t remember why or how that dislike started.
Anyway, all that to say that fine arts have really been a huge part of my life. My next point is about how unlikely that is for me. Both of my parents aren’t into the fine arts at all, although my mom will join me for musicals now. They always went to my concerts and loved doing that, but otherwise they are not the kind of people to go to symphonies or plays or anything like that. So school was the only time I was exposed to it. I think that’s why it took me so long to realize that I could just go see a musical outside of school trips! I know lots of people go to the theatre with their parents since they’re young so it might sound weird but that’s how it was for me.
Now I go to musicals all the time, maybe a little too much because honestly it’s not cheap to go see a musical. Between tickets, transportation, meals before/after the show, and anything you buy at the theatre, it’s not a cheap hobby. Still, it is worth every penny for me when the lights dim, the first notes rise from the orchestra, and the show begins. That’s such a magical moment and I live for that.
So now that we’ve gone through my history with musicals, here’s the shows I’ve seen! Again, this won’t be a comprehensive list because I’m sure I’ll miss some, and the plays I’ve seen aren’t included either. I also won’t be including any ballets I’ve seen, mostly as I haven’t seen many. So here we go!
- Grease – high school production sometime around 2009 at my high school. A lot of friends were in this show so it was great to see them on stage. My freshman high school marching band half time show had been Grease so that was pretty amazing to see on stage!
- Jersey Boys – I saw this at the PrivateBank Theatre (Bank of America Theatre at the time) as part of a band trip in June of 2009. My band director took all the senior graduates for free and did offer it up to the younger band students as well. This was my first trip to downtown Chicago for a show and it was amazing.
- Avenue Q – I saw this in 2014 which was put on by a Chicago acting company and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to have to look them up again to see what they’re doing this year. It was a small theatre I believe, the Mercury Theater Chicago, but it was a great stage and I’d love to see another production there.
- A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – this was the last production at the Bank of America Theatre before it became the PrivateBank Theatre I think, although I could be wrong. I had wanted to see this musical since their Tony Awards performance and somehow found out it was playing in Chicago and jumped at the chance to see it in 2015.
My fun story for this one is that I had planned for this to be the first time I’d drive into the city but the night before I decided to take the train as usual. Thank goodness I did because it was the day of the Chicago Marathon (October)! It would have been an absolute nightmare as every street would have been closed and I would have never been able to get to the garage where I had been planning to prepay for parking. Since then I just take the train, clearly traumatized by that experience.
The musical however was amazing. I kept getting funny looks from the elderly couple sitting next to me. I couldn’t figure out why for a while, but now I get it. A 20-something year old woman attending a Sunday matinee performance alone isn’t the most common theatre goer. I got the feeling they were really happy to see a younger person enjoying a show, although they didn’t tell me so.
- Wicked – I saw this not long after A Gentleman’s Guide, in November. I’d always wanted to see Wicked and kept missing it when it was in Chicago as a combination of not having money or not even knowing it was in town. While talking to a coworker she mentioned another person at the company that is a huge theatre fan. I immediately went over to talk to her and she mentioned Wicked was playing in Milwaukee and encouraged me to go. That was on a Wednesday and the following Sunday I was at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts theatre, having driven all the way to Milwaukee by myself (if you know me you’ll know this was incredibly hard for me to do), and catching the last performance before the tour moved on.
I had listened to the cast album a million times, first having been exposed to this musical when the choir sang “For Good” at the graduation ceremony the year before I graduated (as a band member I was there to play for the commencement ceremony). Finally seeing the musical after so many years was amazing. I want to see it again but my oh my, it really blew me away. Because it is not entirely sung through I didn’t know everything that happened during the musical and it was phenomenal to see the parts that I hadn’t known existed.
- The Lion King – at this point my obsession was full blown. If you have been following along I’d gone to a musical in October, November, and now in December of 2015 I got my sister and I tickets to see The Lion King at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. My sister and I grew up watching the Disney movie, but here’s the thing, we only had the Spanish version VHS! So the English version is fairly new to us. Looking back we wished we had gotten Orchestra (floor) seats but we bought the tickets late in the game and even Balcony seats (where we ended up) were pretty pricey. So worth it though!
- Evita – I had also wanted to see Evita since watching the movie adaptation a few years beforehand. Unfortunately I missed the tour when they were in Chicago which I still regret but I was able to get tickets at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire for my birthday in May of last year. This theatre is a “theatre in the round” so the stage is in the middle of the theatre with the seats on all four sides. It was an amazing experience as it is a very intimate theatre. I was sitting on the end of one of the front rows and when the theatre went dark I suddenly heard something rumbling towards the stage and it sounded like it was crashing up the ramp onto the stage. When the lights came up I realized it was the coffin for the opening of the show! Later Evita’s white dress was taken off stage and passed right by me, I got to see all those details on the dress. It was amazing and I would love to see it again on a more traditional stage but I’d never trade that experience for anything.
- Beauty and the Beast – my birthday celebrations didn’t stop with Evita! I saw my favorite Disney princess on stage the week after at the Cadillac Palace. It wasn’t my favorite musical actually… I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would but “Be Our Guest” was amazingly put together!
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – another musical that I wanted to see from a Tony performance that I ended up being able to watch! My sister and I went to the Marriott Theatre for this one and I had actually held off on listening to the album in order to hear it on stage. I was very impressed and found it to be a great production.
- Hamilton – I still can’t believe I saw Hamilton (review linked) last October and during the first week after the Chicago previews as well! This is a musical that I fell in love with the moment I first heard the music. In fact, I started listening to the album without knowing that much about it, I just knew Booktube was going crazy over this musical. Being a history fan and a musical fan I found the music on YouTube and tried to write a blog post at the same time. That failed miserably and I put the post to the side until the end of the first act, hurriedly finished writing the post after Act 1 ended and then resumed for Act 2. This musical has stayed with me ever since and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to see it.
- The Book of Mormon – and another Tony performance that I loved that I got to see on stage! I actually won a sort of chance to buy discounted tickets from the Marcus Center on Twitter and got two tickets for the last show before the tour moved on from Milwaukee (seems to be a theme that I watch musicals as they close). I had planned to take my sister but we realized that she had finalized plans that weekend with a friend before I was able to hear if I had won that chance to get cheaper tickets. My mom stepped up to go with and while I don’t think she regretted that choice I don’t think it was her cup of tea either! I had a blast though and have had “I Believe” stuck in my head for about 12 hours and I’m not mad about it.
- The Addams Family – so I had never planned to see this musical, but I keep thinking that the universe seemed determined to make sure I saw this. When I saw Jersey Boys there was a poster on the wall for this musical and I remember pointing it out and saying that we should have gone to see that instead. My band director pulled a face and shook his head vigorously. So I didn’t see it then. Then it was the musical that would be playing for the Homecoming weekend at my alma mater, but I had no intention of going to Homecoming events so I didn’t go see it but I had wanted to. Then I got an ad for a high school production of the musical on Instagram, so finally I went to go see it. I loved it by the way. 🙂
- Singin’ in the Rain – as I said in my movie and theatre comparison post, I had never seen the movie and almost skipped out on this one. I would have missed it had my sister not put her foot down and bought us tickets and almost dragged me out to see it. And I loved it of course!
- The Phantom of the Opera – I grew up reading a kid friendly version of Phantom and I remember seeing the movie long ago. Upon hearing that the tour would be stopping in Chicago I bought tickets and prepared to go. I’m a total “Phan” and I loved every second of the musical, even taking the time to dedicate a post to review it. I can’t wait to see this one again. I’ll want to see it again and sit under the chandelier, which I hear is amazing to experience. And as I keep saying, yeah it sounds dangerous but death by chandelier is probably not the worst way to go.
And that’s all the musicals I’ve seen! I have a cute little binder from my sister where I keep all my Playbills and it’s so nice to go through and take a trip down memory lane. I can’t wait to add to it.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I think that I need to see less musicals and go to the theatre less. Like I said, it can get pricey, it can be time consuming, and so on. But just thinking of a life without trips to the theatre breaks my heart. For a few hours it’s just me watching a beautiful story unfold before me, music surrounding me, and the world stopping to watch what’s happening on the stage. I can’t stop now that I’ve found joy.
I know this has been an insanely long post but I hope you’ll indulge me for just another moment. Late last year I was catching up with a friend and we were going to go see a ballet production. She mentioned seeing my pictures of the Playbills and stages I was at and that she’d started trying to find time to go to the theatre herself. She shared with me that she had learned there was a small theatre near her that she’d started going to and asked that if I ever needed a theatre buddy to please consider inviting her. Learning that I was able to inspire another young person find the magic of the theatre was special for me and I am very happy to have been able to do that for at least one person.
So what’s your favorite musical? Let me know in the comments and if I haven’t seen it I’m certainly going to keep an eye out for it. I’m by no means a theatre expert so your suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Thanks for reading!