EIGHT BROADWAY SHOWS THAT ARE WORTH THE COST
It’s almost unthinkable that someone might visit New York City and not take in a show. With 40 Broadway theatres and countless more off and off-off Broadway, there’s a theatrical experience awaiting every interest on any given night. But it’s not cheap. Not usually. Aside from London, there’s really no other place in the world where theatre is as celebrated or as high quality, so when you come to New York you justify the high cost of seeing a show, often not knowing whether the experience will be worth the price. Allow me to make it a little easier for you.
Here’s my list of the top eight Broadway shows that are worthy of your hard-earned cash (in rank order). All costs shown are the minimum price levels according to Broadway.com, unless otherwise noted. Of course, you may find these and other shows cheaper on the TodayTix app, at a TKTS booth, or on TDF (for those in the know). And, no, you won’t find Hamilton on this list. Because although the show is terrific and worthy of its hype, it’s sold out through January and the exorbitant prices set by resellers (we’re talking several hundreds, even going into the thousands per ticket) are not worth the expense. No show is worth that much.
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (starts at $27)
Based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, this is the story of autistic teen Christopher Boone, who unrelentingly attempts to solve a neighborhood crime. There’s so much to love about this Tony-winning Best Play, from its innovative scenic and lighting design to its powerful lead performance. Every aspect of this show is precise and imaginative, including its Tony-nominated choreography (a rarity for straight plays). If you’re looking for a show with depth, humor, adventure, and maybe a few tears – and you don’t mind being wowed from start to finish – this is the show for you. And with a criminally low starting price of $27, this is a no-brainer. But see it fast, as its closing has been announced for September 4, 2016.
Location: Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
2. Matilda the Musical (starts at $37)
You don’t need a kid to see Matilda, so long as you’re willing to embrace the child within you. The intrepid Matilda, with a penchant for reading and taking on authority, has been dazzling audiences at the Shubert Theatre since 2013. This show will warm your heart and leave you humming Tim Minchin’s whimsical score long after leaving the theatre. The set and costumes are big and colorful, perfectly countering the small stature of the show’s biggest little hero. If you’re a fan of the Roald Dahl book, or you just want to absorb two-and-a-half hours of imagination, spend the $37 (or more!) before Matilda’s curtain lowers for the final time on January 1, 2017.
Location: Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
3. Les Misérables (starts at $57)
Few shows are as beloved as Les Miz, and for good reason. The Victor Hugo epic tale about redemption, love, and resilience during the French Revolution is a timeless and resonant story, told on stage at the Imperial Theatre eight times a week. With a bombastic and memorable score, featuring songs like “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “Master of the House,” and “One Day More,” a range of emotions will consume you. This is one show where you’re better off submitting yourself to the experience. At the risk of overstating this show’s importance, your life can be changed for the better for just $57. See it before it closes September 4th.
Location: Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)
4. Something Rotten! (starts at $57)
Fun. Pure fun. Your face will hurt from smiling from ear to ear for nearly two-and-a-half hours. This is a musical about the staging of the first musical. Set in the 1590s, the down-on-his-luck Nick Bottom is one-upped by that arrogant jerk William Shakespeare at every turn. In order for Bottom to be on top he’s got to do something big, something bold, something the world has never seen before. Something Rotten! is a celebration of musical theatre, but you don’t need to have seen the countless shows referenced in order to be overcome by the pure joy this show delivers.
Location: St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
5. The Lion King (starts at $92)
$92? Tickets start at $92 and The Lion King is on this list? Yes, and it’s worth more. Director Julie Taymor’s imagination and creativity spill into every corner of the audience, beginning with the magnificent opening number, “Circle of Life” (it, alone, is worth the $92). Sit close to the stage to take in the unbelievable detail of the innovative costumes, or sit up in the balcony to take in the full scope. You’ll be amazed and moved regardless of your seat. This show of shows has been running strong for over 18 years, and it’s just about the best theatrical experience you’re likely to have. And only for $92.
Location: Minskoff Theatre, 200 West 45th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
6. The Humans (starts at $50 – per Telecharge)
This 2016 Pulitzer finalist would have likely won the award any other year, if not for the juggernaut that is Hamilton. The Humans is simply the best new play this Broadway season and is the odds-on favourite to win the Tony for Best Play. It’s likely that you’re familiar with the basic premise: a family gets together for a meal, over the course of which secrets are revealed. Sure, we’ve seen that before, but playwright Stephen Karam doesn’t allow his comedic drama to fall into any stereotypes. This is a typical, working-class family on display, not unlike most. Each member has her or his quirks, and each member couldn’t possibly exist without the larger unit. There’s plenty of laughs, plenty of drama, and a tinge of other-worldliness, just to keep you on your toes. The Humans is brilliantly written and performed and is worth every dollar.
Location: Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)
7. Blackbird (starts at $39)
You’re a middle-aged man at work when a much younger woman from your past barges into the office. You haven’t seen her in 15 years. She needs closure. She wants to dig up the time when you, at the age of 40, had sex with her, at the age of 12. All this, and we’re barely 10 minutes into this story, written by Scottish playwright David Harrower. Needless to say, this is an intense drama. It’s moody. It’s atmospheric. It’s engrossing. This two-hander is told completely through dialogue, and where, at moments, it may drag a bit, it’s immediately saved by the unbelievable performances by Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels. If you’re looking for laughs, skip this show. If you’re looking to be taken in by two of the best performances you may see on stage all year, you won’t want to miss this. Blackbird’s limited run concludes on June 11th.
Location: Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)
8. The Phantom of the Opera (starts at $29)
January 9, 1988. Broadway hasn’t been the same since. Phantom started its unprecedented 28-year-run on that date, and the chandelier has been falling over audiences for well over 10,000 performances. It’s the longest-running show in Broadway history, and given the millions it’s entertained with its big score, big voices, big set, and big costumes, it seems that $29 is barely enough for that sort of experience. Is it the best show on the Main Stem? Perhaps not (though some would disagree). But credit must be given for a show as epic as this one and for its incredible staying power. Phantom is a New York City institution, and it can’t be missed. It is Broadway.
Location: Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue)