Year of Theatre (part 3): Birthday & Rainbow Playbills

Hi again! My theater stories continue with May and June! Check out my first two installments: part 1 & part 2.

May was set for Playbills. My dad and I started a tradition a few years ago where we go into the city on Mother’s Day and see a show together. This year, we chose Fiddler on the Roof. Now, this is about the fifth revival this show has had, including the 25th Anniversary show that I attended with my parents in 1991 for my first show. I originally hadn’t had a desire to see this one, nor did I see the previous ones with Harvey Fierstein or Alfred Molina. “Another Fiddler revival? I’ll pass,” I initially thought to myself. However, after seeing the cast talk at BroadwayCon, I knew this production was something special. I was crying from the opening notes, because this show was so special to me and my family.

Dad and me with Danny Burstein, Tevye in the 2015 Fiddler revival

Besides Mother’s Day, I always go see a double header for my birthday at the end of May. As I stated before, Newsies is my favorite musical and I love to follow the actors to other projects. It’s become a tradition to see Newsies or Newsies alumni for my birthday. This year, two of the alumni, John Dossett (Joseph Pulitzer) and Mike Faist (Morris Delancey) were starring in a new show at Second Stage: Dear Evan Hansen. It was perfect and it continued the tradition. Dear Evan Hansen was a brilliant show and I’m very glad it’s transferring to Broadway  (previews start November 14th at the Music Box Theater!) Be warned: it’s definitely not what you’d call a “feel-good” musical; it does a number on your emotions.

Dear Evan Hansen at the Second Stage Theater

June is my favorite month for Playbills because the header, instead of being the usual yellow, is rainbow for Pride month. Not only do I support LGBTQ+ rights, I also think the rainbow Playbills are pretty! In addition to any shows that I see, I try to hit as many other theaters as possible to see if they’ll give me Pride Playbills as collectibles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’m always polite. This year, I made plans to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, well in advance to secure my June Playbill. Then I found other times when I could go as well, so more rainbow Playbills for me! I was able to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of Modern Family fame) in his one-man show Fully Committed, which is highly relatable if you’ve ever worked in customer service. After the show, which was a 90-minute, no intermission show, my friend Macrae and I had time to hit up other theaters for Playbills. The haul that night was 12 theaters plus the one we actually saw the play! Then the following day, when I saw Beautiful, my friend Meredith and I went panning for even more Playbills at various theaters’ box offices.

My collection of Pride Playbills

I heard Bright Star was closing, so I pushed myself to find a time when I could see it. That charming show did not disappoint. I hope it finds a new home on tour or in community productions! Bright Star is a bluegrass musical written by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and Edie Brickell, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in 1945-46 with flashbacks to 1923.

Carmen Cusack, Tony award nominee, in Bright Star

I also went to see Shuffle Along on July 4th weekend, before that closed. The monthly Playbills don’t always change on the first of the month, so they still had June that weekend. That’s okay; that just means that I have to find another time in July to go see something! Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, was light on plot, but heavy on talented dancers and singers, including immensely talented and multiple award winner Audra McDonald.


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