This past week, my wife and I watched the musical In the Heights in San Francisco. A Broadway production, In the Heights, won four Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Musical. A very enjoyable performance—it made me think where it stacked up amongst the various theatre performances I’ve seen over the years around the world. Here’s my ranking of the 7 major theatre shows I’ve seen in different cities.
1. Wonderful Town– New York
This Broadway show surprisingly is the most memorable show I’ve ever seen. While it may be due to our front row seats and the additional access and insight into what the actors put into the performance, some of the sequences were just legendary. The Conga song performance (here’s a link to the song- not specifically from the performance) and the exploits of the Brazilian sailors simply makes me smile. Great combination of comedy and peppy musical numbers.
2. In the Heights – San Francisco
This musical I just saw this past week in San Francisco. Depicting the life in Washington Heights of Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican families immigrants, the musical combination of Rap, Salsa, and Latin Music was mesmerizing. I like upbeat music and this performance just oozes lively, foot tapping music. I doesn’t hurt that the main character had a voice like Eminem- very solid performance.
3. Wicked– New York
The current # 1 show on Broadway provides a new twist to the institutional Wizard of Oz story. Making the Evil Witch a sympathetic character takes some skill but the music really makes it happen. The performance of Popular was the highlight. The story draws you in and the music keeps your attention from straying.
4. Les Miserables– New York
Humming some of the songs for weeks after the performance pushes it ahead of the other musicals below.
5. West Side Story– London
The legendary West Side Story—a show I should see again. I saw it in London 9 years ago before my appreciation for theatre evolved. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but I do recall some of the songs
6. Phantom of the Opera—New York
The longest running show on Broadway. I saw it a few years ago and while I did enjoy it, the lack of comedy and more upbeat music pushes down its overall assessment for me. For those who truly like drama and romance, they will appreciate this more than me.
7. Fiddler on the Roof– San Francisco
Again, a legendary musical, I saw it in San Francisco 7-8 years ago. While it also has some of the more memorable numbers (I wish I was a Rich Man for one), it was just too slow for me.