I write a lot about food and fitness, but you may not know that at one point, my passion was musical theater. No, no, no. I do not sing and dance (except when I’m home alone or driving). But I was 100% certifiably obsessed with Broadway from middle school through my undergrad days. It all started when my aunt picked a random show for my family to see back in the winter of 2003 (holy hell, feeling old). That show was Wicked, with the original cast. And when Idina Menzel belted the final note in Defying Gravity, my 8th grade self sat in the Gerswhin Theater and cried. 1) Because it was so incredibly amazingly perfect and 2) Because I thought the show was over (it was only intermission). I was hooked.
I spent the next few years addicted to Broadway message boards, getting to know the OBCR (Original Broadway Cast Recordings, duh) of countless shows, knowing casts and understudies and following my favorite actors’ solo music careers, etc. Then I found Spring Awakening and, well, the obsession was somewhat embarrassing, looking back.
I spent the majority of my high school weekends seeing musicals, collecting playbills, getting autographs and pictures with the cast at stage doors, etc. I've probably seen well over 50 Broadway productions at this point.
As my knowledge grew, so did my desire to somehow make this magical world of theater I had discovered a part of my career. I was determined to be the next Ben Brantley of the New York Times (he's a theater critic, if ya didn't know). I spent all of my college days as a Journalism major committed to this goal. Any research paper I could base on musical theater or the Broadway industry, I did. I minored in theater and was physically ill before each monologue I had to perform. But I sucked it up and did it because it was a required class and I wanted that theater minor! I landed an internship writing for BroadwayWorld.com, the first message board I had joined all those years ago.
When I took a PR elective during my junior year, I started questioning things. Did I really want to be a journalist? This type of writing seemed much more natural to me. And I loved theater! Wouldn’t I be better off in a job where I convince the world of all the things the theater has to offer? Yes. And so my goals switched, and I had an incredible internship with The Publicity Office, home of the press agents who handle long-running Broadway shows like Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.
After graduation, it was off to graduate school in NYC. Sure, I could have gone to a more prestigious program somewhere else. But New York City, home of the Great White Way, was the only place I wanted to be to make my dreams come true. I continued to base any project I could on Broadway and theater, writing my thesis on the strategies used by theater publicists (pretty damn proud of that 40-something page paper, too!)
But looking back, I realize that from the moment I decided to make Broadway my job, it has become less and less a part of my life. I can no longer rattle off facts like I used to. I don’t go to concerts just because the person performing is a Broadway actor. I’m lucky if I go to a show once every 2 months. And I LIVE in New York City! It’s a strange, sad thing and I would really like to change it.
Last week, on my fourth attempt, I won tickets to see If/Then – meaning I once again witness Idina Menzel belting her face off on a Broadway stage.
So many feelings came flooding back and I realized that even if I may not be as “obsessed” as I once was, or spend every spare cent I have on show tickets, it doesn’t matter. Because when I AM lucky enough to experience a beautiful Broadway moment- I feel exactly the same way I did all those years ago.
I'm not really sure what the point of this blog was, except that theater is really such a huge part of who I am, I felt like it deserved to be acknowledged on this blog.
Oh, you want a little review of If/Then? Sure! Given the reviews, I wasn't expecting much from the actual production. I was expecting it to be great simply because Idina Menzel was going to be singing. And don't get me wrong, that was phenomenal. But the story itself was also pretty strong, with an interesting concept carried out in a coherent way, when it easily could have become a huge headache. The supporting cast was alright and the set was pretty freakin' cool. My go-to measure of how much I enjoyed a show is "Did you leave the theater humming the music?" And yup, I totally did. And I also spent the next day in the office listening to the OBCR. Oh, and I cried during it!
There really is no business like show business.
(Here some stuff I worked on while in school, if you're really bored or really into theater or just a stalker...)