On Thursday night, I took my daughter to see Hamilton at the Providence Performing Arts Center (there’s a nice review from The Providence Journal). We’d watched the filmed version of Hamilton on Disney+ and listened to the cast recording countless times but this was the first time we attended a live performance. It was nice to get the wide view from the First Dress Circle where we could see the intricate choreography of the ensemble cast. I was also impressed with the lighting design. And it was interesting to see the different takes the actors had on the characters from the original cast. Not related to the show, the Providence Performing Arts Center is a lovely theater although a bit short on leg room.
Anyhow, it got be thinking of what other theatrical productions I’d seen in my life. So I brainstormed a list with the help of some old ticket stubs I’ve collected.
- Annie (early 1980s) at the Alvin Theatre – I remember getting autographs from the young cast members outside the theater although those weren’t saved. Sarah Jessica Parker might’ve been in the cast at the time.
- Barnum (early 1980s) at the St. James Theatre – A musical about the life of P.T. Barnum long before The Greatest Showman. I remember being impressed by a woman purportedly supposed to be George Washington’s nurse singing a bluesy tune. Also, jugglers and acrobats performed in the audience before the show.
- Peter Pan (early 1980s) – A revival of the 1954 musical starring Sandy Duncan. She flew out over the audience at the end of the show.
- Lost in Yonkers (December 29, 1992) at Richard Rogers Theatre – A nostalgic comedy-drama by Neil Simon. Didi Conn played the main role replacing Mercedes Ruehl, much to the disgruntlement of my sister.
- Jelly Roll (January 10, 1995) at 47th Street Theatre – A biographical musical about jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton. I remember that it was performed by the second cast much to the disgruntlement of the guy behind me.
- A Funny Thing Happened on Way to the Forum (March 19, 1997) at St. James Theatre – Whoopi Goldberg starred in the lead role that previously had been reserved for a man.
- Once Upon a Mattress (March 19, 1997) at Broadhurst Theater -Sarah Jessica Parker was definitely in this show.
- The Lion King (January 22, 2000) at New Amsterdam Theatre – Some friends convinced me to get SRO tickets for this show although I was resistant to Disney musicals at that point in my life. I ended up liking it.
- Monty Python’s Spamalot (November 19, 2005) at Shubert Theatre – As a long time fan of Monty Python and Tim Curry, I was eager to so this show and was severely disappointed. Maybe because the cast felt like they were phoning it in the whole time?
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (early 1980s) at Radio City Music Hall – This production was made long before Disney movies were routinely adapted into Broadway musicals. My dad took us to this show because he felt we needed to see something at the great Radio City Music Hall.
- The Fantasticks (January 1995) at Sullivan Street Playhouse – Saw world’s longest-running musical when it was in the 35th year of its 42-year run. It was great.
- The Mousetrap (February 28, 1998) at St Martin’s Theatre – Since I’d seen the world’s longest-running musical in New York I had to see the world’s longest-running play of any kind in London. This is a famous Agatha Christie murder mystery.
- An Inspector Calls (February 28, 1998) at the Royal Theatre – The second show I saw on the same night that featured people impersonating police officers. This one was a satire of Edwardian society.
- Les Miserables (August 2, 1990) at National Theatre – The summer I went to a high school program at Georgetown University, I learned that big, bold, Broadway musicals are good actually.
- 42nd Street (February 7, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – Part of a series of shows my Mom and I went to see when I was in college.
- Last of the Red Hot Lovers (May 9, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – This production starred Don Knotts and Barbara Eden!
- Camelot (October 24, 1993) at Chrysler Hall – I’ve loved Camelot since watching the filmed version of the 1982 revival so I was eager to see a live performance. Robert Goulet, who played Lancelot in the original production, starred is King Arthur. This was a bit of a waste of his big voice since Arthur’s part was written for a lesser singer, but it was still fun and inspiring.
- Rent (August 26, 1997) at National Theatre – The musical that brought a 1990s sensibility to Broadway. I saw this with some friends in Washington and then listened to the cast recording for the next year.
Repertory, Community, and College Theaters, etc.
- Fiddler on the Roof (late 1980s) – My childhood parish had a community theater called the St. Catherine Players, although the performers weren’t generally members of the congregation. Anyhow, I first saw this terrific musical about Jewish people in Russia in the basement of a Roman Catholic church.
- Broadway Bound (August 1990) at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse – This is the third in a trilogy of Neil Simon’s plays after Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues (which I only saw as movies).
- Antigone (August 1990) at Tisbury Amphitheater – This was a modernized take of the Sophocles’ play performed in a lovely wooded setting on Martha’s Vineyard.
- All the King’s Men (Autumn 1991) at William and Mary Theatre – Robert Penn Warren’s fictionalized story of Huey Long was set to music by Randy Newman.
- Once Upon a Mattress (October 16, 1992) at William and Mary Theatre – I saw this on a bad date.
- Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Matthew Whaley School – Sometime, I some group perform this at a public school in Williamsburg. It was good, I recall.
- Godspell (April 1993) at St. Bede’s Catholic Church Parish Hall – The Catholic/Episcopal Covenant Players performed this at William & Mary.
- Night Sky (November 19, 1993) at William and Mary Theatre – A play in which the protagonist suffers from aphasia after an accident. This was part of a much better date to celebrate my birthday.
- Working (April 1994?) at The Fellowship Hall at the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church – Another Covenant Players production of a musical by Studs Terkel.
- Into the Woods (January 20, 1994) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – The Sinfonicron Light Opera Company performed this Stephen Sondheim musical. I remember feeling it was mean-spirited and feeling very depressed after watching it. I’d probably like it better if I was in a better mind.
- Helene (April 14, 1995) at William and Mary Theatre – I know this has something to do with Greek mythology, but I have no recollection what it was about.
- Junebug/Jack (September 9, 1995) at The Arts Center Theatre – Another show I don’t clearly remember but it looks like something I would like.
- Jim Crow Gotta Go (April 13, 1996) at William and Mary Theatre – I think that this was a touring production based on oral history experiences of people in a Southern town during the Civil Rights Movement.
- Walk Together Children (1996) – This was a production that took its inspiration from Jim Crow Gotta Go to specifically focus on the stories of people in Williamsburg. My good friend and housemate worked on producing this show.
- Crazy For You (October 17, 1997) at William and Mary Theatre – A romantic comedy musical with Gershwin brothers songs that I thought was funnier than my date did. But it was still a good date.
- Angels in America: Part One (April 18, 1998) at William and Mary Theatre – A production of Tony Kushner’s groundbreaking drama about the AIDS crisis in the gay community was still controversial in Williamsburg 23 years ago
- Jesus Christ Superstar (May 11, 2000) at Turtle Lane Playhouse – The main thing I remember about this production is that they made Mary Magdalene look like Monica Lewinski.
- Blue Man Group – “Tubes” (September 8, 2000) at The Charles Playhouse – Got to see this show free-of-charge for participants of the Boston -> New York AIDSRide. A Blue Man spat a piece of chewed-up Toblerone in my hand. It was gross.
- Miss Folk America (May 19, 2001) at Somerville Theatre – A comedy about the Boston area folk scene starring some of our favorite singer/songwriters at the time as fictional versions of themselves. Extremely niche.
- Nixon’s Nixon (March 2002) at Huntington Theatre – I volunteered as an usher and got to watch this comic drama of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger on the last night of Nixon’s presidency.
- Blithe Spirit (February 19, 2004) at Walpole Footlighters – A colleague of Susan’s was involved in this production of the Noël Coward comedy.
- The Birthday Party (March 2004) at American Repertory Theatre – A very strange and very uncomfortable Harold Pinter play with the set’s furniture slowly being pushed into the center of the stage.
- The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (2006?) at Cyclorama – A woman artist adopts the persona of Darryl Strawberry and becomes a success painting pictures of chickens. Surprisingly it works.
- Pippin (September 21, 2018) at Footlight Club -I’d long loved the music from this show but it wasn’t quite expected.
- The Haunted Life (March 23, 2019) at Merrimack Repertory Theatre – An adaptation of a autobiographical Jack Kerouac novel about growing up in Lowell.
- Macbeth (Summer 1992) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – This was part of the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. The star of the show also taught a theater course I took at William & Mary that summer.
- Twelfth Night (February 25, 1993) at William and Mary Theatre – I played Sir Toby Belch in a high school production of Twelfth Night, so I love this comedy, but I don’t remember this William & Mary production at all.
- Richard III (July 22, 1995) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Another Virginia Shakespeare Festival production.
- Measure for Measure (July 28, 1998) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – The main thing I remember about this Virginia Shakespeare Festival production is that they emphasized style over substance and I really hated it. Also, music by the Gipsy Kings.
- Twelfth Night (Summer 2001) at Boston Common – The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of Shakespeare on the Common set Twelfth Night in the early-60s JFK/Camelot era.
- Macbeth (2003) at Boston Common – Another Commonwealth Shakespeare Company production that moved the Scottish tragedy to Juan Perón’s Argentina. Memorably, the three witches remained on stage for the entire show, pulling strings in the background.
- Hamlet (2005) at Boston Common – In this production, the Danish prince had a swimming pool, I think?
Opera, Light Opera, Ballet, etc.
- Romeo and Juliet (October 20, 1991) at Chrysler Hall – This was the first ballet I ever saw performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. However, the main thing I remember about this performance is that my sister mistook a Navy officer in his dress uniform for an usher. Welcome to Norfolk!
- Patience (January 19, 1995) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Another Sinfonicron Light Opera Company performance. This made me realize that I really don’t like Gilbert & Sullivan
- La Boheme (January 21, 1997) at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall – Having seen Rent, I saw the original with my Mom. Mimi has a strong voice for someone with consumption.
- The Magic Flute (1997?) at Harrison Opera House – My first opera, also in Norfolk.
- The Nutcracker (December 30, 2005) at The Opera House – Amazingly, I’ve only seen this ballet once, performed by Boston Ballet. Maybe next Christmas?
- Semele (September 28, 2006) at New York State Theatre – This was an adaptation of an oratorio by Handel that made the main character in Marilyn Monroe.
- Urban Nutcracker (December 16, 2006) at John Hancock Hall – Another Christmas classic I need to see again.
- Madama Butterfly (April 22, 2007) at New York State Theatre – A treat from my mother that I saw with Susan in the last months before we became parents.
- Così fan tutte (March 24, 2018) at Metropolitan Opera House – My first show at the Met set the Mozart opera in a Coney Island-style beach resort. Broadway star Kelli O’Hara made a nice transition to opera.
I’ll add more if I remember them.