5 Broadway Shows To See, 5 Musical Scores To Hear

Land of Punt was recently visiting one of its favorite blogs when we came across an entry about Broadway.

The article, which was all about current musicals and plays, was incredibly well-written. Surely the author must be one of the best practiconers of the English language in the world as well as the voice of his generation. But we digress…

A billboard promoting some of Broadway's biggest shows.

A billboard promoting some of Broadway\’s biggest shows.

The exquisitely composed article has inspired LOP to list some of our favorite musicals currently running on Broadway. For those who don’t have the access to the Great White Way (sadly, that’s most everyone), we’ve also listed our favorite songs from the show’s score. Perhaps these suggestions will inspire you to download the tracks or better yet, acquire the entire soundtrack.

WICKED

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Wicked is Broadway’s number one show. It’s also Broadway’s most entertaining production. From the first note to the last, Wicked is pure fun. Not only that but it features a green chick.

Wicked’s story is set prior to, and then congruent to, the events in the Wizard of Oz. The plot revolves around the friendship of witches Elphaba and Glinda.

Besides two strong female characters, Wicked also features a sweet love story, humor and flying monkeys (who doesn’t love flying monkeys).

While Land of Punt thinks there are much better scores, Wicked does contain two great songs, “Popular” and “As Long As You’re Mine.” It also contains the chilling “Defying Gravity.” If that song doesn’t make your hair stand at attention nothing will.

Wicked can be seen (if you can get tickets) at the Gershwin Theatre.

THE LION KING

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The Lion King is theater magic. It’s one of the most beautiful shows to ever grace the Great White Way. Based on the Disney movie of the same name, Simba and company are brought to life by breath taking costumes and puppetry. Visually, these lions eat the kitties from Cats for lunch.

Most of the Lion King’s music was composed by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice so you will get to hear the classics “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life”. Director Julie Taymor, who’s currently bringing Spider-man to the boards, won a Tony Award for directing this masterpiece.

Lion King tickets are sold for the Miskoff Theatre. Be warned, Lion King is one of Broadway’s most successful and popular shows. It may be a challenge to get your hands on pair of prime ducats.

If your kids can handle the movie they can handle the musical. If you’re an adult and you can’t handle the movie, don’t worry. There’s so much to see in the Lion King you won’t get bored. That’s saying something because this show is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.

IN THE HEIGHTS

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In The Heights is the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, ITH tells the story of a group of colorful residents living in the New York neighborhood of Washington Heights.

Miranda, who wrote the show’s music and lyrics, mixes hip-hop, salsa and meringue to create a rather hip and contemporary score. While your aunt will light up at the mere mention of Wicked, you’ll get some serious “street cred” for saying you saw In The Heights (well, as much “cred” as you can get for watching a musical).

“In The Heights” is one of the show’s best numbers, too bad it’s also the first. Fortunately, the show’s other great song, “Carnaval Del Barrio,” is featured towards the end of Act II, so you have something to look forward too.

This high energy and Latin flavored show can be seen at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

You have to love a show whose main character is named Usnavi, a role originated by Miranda. The character got his name from the first boat his parents saw on their way to America, U.S. Navy.

ROCK OF AGES

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“I wanna rock!”

Rock of Ages, currently playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, is a cross between Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms and MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.

The musical features some of the best (“Just Like Paradise,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Cum on Feel The Noize”) and the worst (“We Built This City”
and “Harden My Heart”) rock of the 1980’s. However, the bitchin cast makes even the worst songs from that era fun and enjoyable.

Rock of Ages, set in 1987, is about a group of head bangers trying to save a club on the L.A. Strip from turning into a strip mall. See what they did there with the word “strip?”

This show definitely caters to those who remember (and enjoyed) the big hair rock scene of the 1980’s. It’s deliciously tacky and outrageously fun.

This Tony nominated musical features former American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis, Broadway veteran James Carpinello and Savannah Wise. However, Mitchell Jarvis steals the “frickin” show as Lonny.

Recently the cast, crew and audience set the world record for largest air guitar ensemble. How cool is that?

Since all the songs in this jubebox musical are so familiar, everyone will have their personal favorites, but the standouts include “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

NEXT TO NORMAL

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Next To Normal isn’t about witches or lions or neighbors or hair bands. It’s about mental illness!

NTN stars the great Alice Ripley and the great J. Robert Spencer. However, Jennifer Damiano steals the show as Natalie, the eye-rolling, sardonic teenager (“whatever”).

This contemporary musical won three 2009 Tony Awards including Best Actress and Best Score. The music is rock oriented and the lyrics are challenging and strictly for adults. Over 30 songs fill this fast pace score with the best being “You Don’t Know,” “I Am The One,” and “I’m Alive.”

This summer Kyle Dean Massey plays Gabe, the dead son who expresses himself in song. He’s filling in for Aaron Tveit, originator of the role, who is off starring in the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can.

Fans can catch Next to Normal at The Booth Theatre.

In a recent production, Ripley knocked a prop phone off the stage and into the audience. She broke the fourth wall and asked the audience to find the phone. No one could, but someone in the crowd handed the Tony Award winning actress their cell phone.

Ripley took the cell phone, finished her lines, threw it back to the audience member and then continued on like nothing happened. Now that’s Broadway!

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