Sitting around the table, having apple pie, a friend asked, "What are your five favorite shows you've ever seen?"
Wow. That is a HARD question for show fanatics like those in my household. If you are a theatre geek at all, I will give you a moment to think of yours. It could be anything about the performance that puts it on your list - the story, the music, the costuming, the setting, etc.
The first two were easy, popping out before I had stopped to really think. The others took days of pondering. I am now ready to answer.
This is my all time favorite show. The music engages me. The storyline always takes me on an emotional ride. I was fortunate enough to see it twice on Broadway. Due to its long run I saw it nearly ten years apart; February of 1998 and June of 2008. Wilson Cruz was Angel the first time I saw it and the final cast included Renee Elise Goldsberry. A very easy choice for the top of my list.
Not too much further down the list comes "Les Mis". I am not sure how many times I have seen it live, but it is at least three. Again, this is such a major work of art with a stellar soundtrack, moving story lines, and every time I have seen it there has been fantabulous costuming and dramatic staging.
What came next too pondering. How "A Chorus Line" came to hold a spot on the list has to do with my childhood. I grew up listening to show tunes - cast recordings on LP and cassette tape. This show was one I had completely memorized before I was eight. I had (I thought) figured out exactly how the storyline went, based on my deep understanding of the lyrics - and then I saw the show twenty some years later. It holds a place for the relearning that took place as I, for the first time, understood that there were several characters telling their story during "At The Ballet". And how can you NOT love seeing "One" fully staged (on Broadway, nonetheless)?!
February of 1999 I was working in Manhattan. I made a deal with myself, I couldn't see a show every night. I saw on and off Broadway productions, some I had heard of and some that were of what happened to be available at Twofers. This is a show I stumbled upon. (Funny story, I got lax in 'dressing' for a show as the month went on. I could claim my northwest culture overtook me, but I remember being particularly 'comfortable' for this show.) I could have seen this show over and over, day after day. You might recognize lots of the music, but to see the Fosse choreography by amazing dancers. This show was not about ritzy sets, fancy costumes, or complex plots. It was all about the dancing and it was an evening of wonder.
"The Lion King", on the other hand, was all about the set and costumes. From the opening number the costuming held me in rapt awe. For me, seeing this show was all about the visuals of staging and costume design. No wonder they won the Tony for best set design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, and puppet design.
Yes, this is the sixth on my list as I am certain that one day this show will replace one of the above. When I finally get the chance to be 'in the room where it happens' I won't be able to contain my joy or tears. We shall see which spot it holds, once the day arrives.