Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"As we stumble along, 'cross life's crowded dance floors, as we push and we shove, we live and we learn. And when we finally leave the bar, and we see that morning star, we pull our boot straps up and homeward turn. Then we stumble away, through dawn's blinding sunbeams. Barely knowing right from right, nor left from wrong. But as long as we can hear that little blue bird, there'll be a song as we stumble along. As we stumble, bumble, fumble, plumble, as we stumble along." ~the drowsy chaperone

Heather, this post is for you. And for anyone else planning on being in NYC any time in the near future. I love writing and talking about musicals and trying to get other people excited about them, so making a list of recommendations was so much fun for me. Here are the best musicals on Broadway. I'm not as crazy about straight plays (except for ones written by Martin McDonagh), and there aren't any spectacular ones on Broadway right now, so I'm not including any. I'm also including info on how you could get cheap tickets, because Broadway is expensive.
Here's a good website with lots of info on shows and their rush/lotto policies. And here are my faves, roughly in order of recommendation from highest to lowest (but all the ones I'm listing are great):

If you're looking for something fun, go see The Drowsy Chaperone. It's very clever and hilarious, and you'll especially appreciate it if you're a big musical theater fan. It's about a man listening to a record of his favorite 1920s musical.
They sell cheap balcony seats in advance here. You can also do their lottery on the day of the show if you're feeling lucky and don't mind taking a chance. At 5:30pm (for an 8:00pm show), you can put your name into the lottery. They draw names at 6:00pm. I think they draw about 13 names (2 tickets each). Those are cheap tickets, and they're in the front row. I've tried lotto twice and won once.

Grey Gardens is another wonderful musical. It's funny and sad at the same time. The second act is based on a famous documentary. It's about Edith Beale and her daughter (Big Edie and Little Edie, relatives of Jackie Kennedy) living in a deteriorating old house on Long Island. They never leave the estate, and they are unhealthily dependent on each other. The main reason to see it is for Christine Ebersole; she gives one of the greatest stage performances ever. It's scary to watch the musical and then watch the documentary and realize how accurately Ebersole captures the essence Little Edie. They sell balcony tickets for $36.50 (buy them on, and it's not a bad view from up there.

Spring Awakening is amazing. Duncan Sheik wrote the music and it's very modern (you probably know some of his songs; Barely Breathing is his most famous). It's based on an 1891 German play about teenagers exploring their sexuality in a very oppressive community. They sell seats on-stage, which I did and thought was very cool. Those are $31.25, sold at They also sell cheap rush tickets on the day of the show when the box office opens (10:00am). They might sell cheap tickets in advance as well; I'm not sure (check telecharge).

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is also wonderful. It's absolutely hilarious. It's about a spelling bee (in case that isn't apparent in the title). They have a lottery, names drawn 1.5 hours before the show (put your name in 2 hours prior to curtain). I don't think they sell any cheap seats in advance (check telecharge).

Jersey Boys is amazing. It swept the Tonys last year (best musical, best actor, best book...). It's the story of Frankie Valli and Four Seasons, and it's really, really well produced. If you can get tickets, I highly recommend it. Advance tickets are expensive, though (go to You can do student rush on the morning of the show; they sell tickets (usually not more than 20, depends on availability) when the box office opens (10:00am on most days) to students (bring a student ID) for $26.25. The rush seats are usually good; I got front row. You'd have to get to the box office fairly early, though (by 9:00am). They sell the tickets at 10:00am for that evening's performance (and for the matinees on Saturday and Wednesday).

Company is a more serious musical. It's a Sondheim show, so of course the music is amazing. It's about a single man in New York examining marriage by looking at five couples that are his friends. It's beautifully directed by John Doyle, and the actors make up the orchestra as well, which is very cool to see. If you're not a huge theater fan, though, I'm not sure it's the best show to see.

If you've never seen Les Mis, I'd recommend it just because it's a classic. The current cast is pretty good overall. They sell $26.25 student rush tickets 2 hours before performances on Tuesday through Thursday evenings.

Okay, I think that's it. Ask me if you have any questions!


Heather said...

OMG, Claire! This is fabulous! Thank you!! I will send the link to my friend Laura, who is looking into this... she mentioned different shows than the ones you mentioned... and yours all sound great!

YAY! I'm so excited! Thank you so much!

Claire said...

No problem! If you're thinking of any others, ask me about them and I'll tell you if they're any good. ;-)
You'll have a great trip!

Heather said...

ok - so what about avenue q or whatever?... have you heard of that one? I haven't...

Claire said...

Yeah, I've seen Avenue Q. I'm a little bitter because it won the Tony for best musical a few years ago and I thought Wicked should have won, but Avenue Q a good show. It's very funny. The current cast isn't as good as the original cast, but yeah, it's a fun show.

Heather said...

OK - so apparently we're doing Rent -- which I am really excited about, b/c I only ever saw the movie (and loved it, but of course the musical will be better, right?)

My friend's mom can get deals on some tickets or something, so we'll see... thanks so much! looks like I am going to have to make multiple trips to NYC to see all those shows!

Claire said...

If you liked the movie version of Rent, you'll definitely like the show. I'm not crazy about the movie, but I'm a big fan of the stage version. The current cast isn't bad, either. Have fun! You can come visit me after I move to NYC this summer and catch some more shows. :-)

Heather said...

yay! sounds great :)

have fun w/ synchro initiation!!

Laura Ann said...

My name is Laura, and I am a grad student in Texas. My husband and I are coming to NYC in March...we're so excited! I stumbled across your blog as I was researching student rush tickets...what a great list you've put together!
We are hoping to get the student rush tix for Les Mis... how long beforehand do you think we need to be there in order to get tix? (I know they go on sale 2 hours before showtime, but when does the line start forming?) any other tips? I know you don't know me and I'm so sorry to bother you, but I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give! :) Thanks!!

Claire said...

Hi Laura!
For Les Mis, I'm not sure how early you'd have to get there in order to get student rush tickets right now; I think the crowds have died down since it opened last fall, so you should be fine if you get there a little bit before they start selling tickets (5:30 is probably safe). Those seats are usually in the back of the orchestra.
If you really want to play it safe, they do sell last row mezz tickets in advance on for $36.25. But they add on service charges online, so it would be a better deal to do the student rush.
They also have standing room only that they sell when the box office opens if the show is sold out, but I don't think it will be selling out in March so that's probably not an option.

Let me know if you have more specific questions, and have a GREAT trip!

Laura Ann said...

Thanks so much Claire! I really appreciate your insight and help! I bought the cheap balcony seats you mentioned for Drowsy Chaperone... I'm really looking forward to that one because I've heard a lot of great stuff about it. And then we're going to try for the student rush tix for Les Mis.... here's hoping!
thanks again,