“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” William Shakespeare in As You Like It
In this blog I have written about music, film, and books but have yet to add my thoughts on my favorite medium- live theater. I have loved attending shows my whole life. I am not sure how it got started but the earliest memory of the theater that I have is when my dad took me to the Utah Shakespeare festival. I believe I was 9 because it was before Anna was born (that’s brave to take a 9 year old to Shakespeare). We saw Taming of the Shrew and a couple other plays and I enjoyed it so much that I saved the programs. The first musical I recall going to was when my dance teacher in 5th grade played Anybody’s in a local production of West Side Story. We went to see it and I remember crying along with Maria and loving the experience. I also remember going to see Phantom of the Opera with my grandmother around the same time and that was like nothing I had ever experienced. Amazing!
When I got to high school I embraced more theater by appearing in 5 school productions (A christmas medley, The Wiz, Up the Down Staircase, Bye Bye Birdie, Scenes from Shakespeare plays). Each production boosted my confidence and made me feel alive. I have often said that they should have recovering addicts participate in the theater. That may sound strange but it is so rewarding working together and then when the final applause comes it is one of the best highs I have ever known. Of all of the productions I was in my favorite was The Wiz. It’s fun music, lively sets and great cast made it memorable.
In addition to appearing in live plays I also took a huge step in high school. In 9th grade I made my first trip to New York City, and I’ve been hooked ever since. There are so many things I love about New York that I will have to do an entry solely devoted to the city. However, the most incredible part of the Big Apple is Broadway! The first show I saw there was Les Miserables and it was beyond words. I saw it again a couple of years ago and was reminded of how moving the story is and how beautiful the music. When I went to see Les Mis I had seen the PBS concert many times and knew the soundtrack almost by heart and yet it did not disappoint. If anything it exceeded my expectations. In fact, it got me hooked on Broadway. Since that first visit I have been 5 more times seeing the King and I, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, the Rockettes, Light in the Piazza, Drowsy Chaperon, Lion King, Hairspray, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, Les Mis (again) and Wicked. There is no doubt but that I have been abundantly blessed.
Each time I see a live show I feel excited. It’s hard to explain but even the comedies move me. I love everything about a Broadway musical. I love the songs, the voices, the melodies, the stories, the acting. It’s magic!
One of the things I actually like about living in Utah is the great local live theater. In Maryland there was one local theater in our town. Aside from that you had to go to DC or Baltimore and there was no guarantee that it would be family friendly and it was expensive. In Utah you get all 3- family friendly, inexpensive and high quality. There have been productions I have seen at Hale Center Theater (Orem and West Valley) that are Broadway level quality. I saw the Secret Garden there last year and it was fabulous. The little girl playing Mary was outstanding.
It’s interesting because I know people that feel the theater is a rare luxury. For me, I would give up a lot before giving up my chance to see great productions (or even mediocre ones. I love it all!). I used to have a little theater group that got season tickets to the shows at Hale and it was always fun. Unfortunately, the other members of my group decided to give it up for financial reasons 😦 Hopefully I can form a new group and if any of you are interested call me. It adds so much to my life that I try to go as often as possible.
I suppose I must close this entry by saying my favorites. It’s hard to say but when push comes to shove my favorite musical is probably still Les Mis. It’s the only one I’ve seen on Broadway twice and still loved. It’s just so moving. I also loved Wicked and the Drowsy Chaperon is my favorite comedy. Other favorites are My Fair Lady, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Woman, and West Side Story. I love Sound of Music but actually more as a film than play (its a rare exception and Julie Andrews! Amazing). As far as plays go my favorite is Death of a Salesman for its penetrating character development. I also love the Christmas Carol every holiday season and any Shakespeare.
My love for musical theater has also introduced me to great talent on the stage. Some of the many voices that amaze me even on the soundtracks are Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sherie Renee Scott, Pattie Lupone, Bernadette Peters, Laura Benanti, Sutton Foster (who I saw in Chaperon- amazing), Beth Leavel (who I also saw in Chaperon), Brian Stokes Mitchell, Adam Pascal, Raul Esparza, Kristen Chenoweth, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Idina Menzel, Laura Bell Bundy, Heather Headley, Kellie O’hara (who I saw in Light in the Piazza- amazing), Victoria Clark (who I saw in Light in the Piazza) , Audra McDowell, Anna Gasteyer (who I saw in Wicked- incredible) and more. They are such talent. I highly recommend checking out their CDs at the library or on ITunes and enriching your life by their truly marvelous music.
If you get a chance go see live theater. It may be expensive but look at it as a chance to support the arts in your community and it may teach you something, make you laugh or cause you to ponder.
And remember when it comes to the theater…
“Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”
William Shakespeare As You Like It.