If you’re in the Vegas mood, you head to Slots Play Casinos and other casino entertainment theatres for live performances but if you’re in New York, you want to head to Broadway.
Broadway has re-opened with a bang after the COVID-19 closures of 2020 and 2021, bringing high-energy shows to the theatre-goers. Masking mandates remain in place at both on-Broadway and off-Broadway theatres but many theatres no longer require guests to provide proof of vaccination.
Some of the shows picked up where they left off in March 2020 when they were forced to shut down while others bring new energy to Broadway. This includes an itinerary of musicals that is energizing the New York theatre scene. Some of the best include
After closing in 2020 at the Winter Garden Theatre due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Beetlejuice musical has moved to the Marriott Marquis Theatre where audiences delight in a weird tale of a pair of sweet ghosts who try to rid their house of their new inhabitants. “Newlydeads” Adam and Barbara Maitland are targeted by the demon Beetlejuice.
The Maitlands live in a pleasant house, undisturbed until an obnoxious couple, the Deetzes, together with their teen got daughter Lydia, arrive. The Maitlands try to scare away the Deetzes but are unsuccessful as the Deetzes come to believe that having ghosts in their house will make their money. Beetlejuice jumps between being a hyperactive, rattle-voiced, lecherous murderous pansexual scuzzball to a cuddly cartoon character, lonely and needy with mommy issues.
The Maitlands come to realize that in the end, only Beetlejuice can rid the house of the unwanted guests but they have to ask themselves if substituting Beetlejuice for the Deetzes is worth the effort. While the production focuses on creating the visuals/aesthetics, the musical score adds energy and makes the audience want to sing along.
Aladdin is the latest Disney animated musical to come to the Big Screen and while some critics don’t see that it reaches the level of previous efforts such as Beauty and the Beast or Lion King it is proving to be a popular performance, especially for tourists and families.
If you don’t know the story of Aladdin, you’ve possibly been living under a magic carpet. Aladdin is a street rat in the city of Agrabah in a Persian-like country who meets and falls in love with the Princess Jasmine. Jasmine, in the meantime, is desired by the princess’s father’s wicked advisor Jaffar who is waiting to wrest power from the affable king. Aladdin’s chances increase when he finds a magic lamp and releases the genie who becomes his companion and friend.
Soundtrack highlight is “Friend” which was originally sung by beloved actor Robin Williams who voiced the character of the genie in the original animated production. Here, the number changes to include a medley of tunes for other Disney musicals, chorus lines and a game show segment to ensure that the scores are so different as to make them impossible to compare – each stands on its own as a standout performance.
The Book of Morman
The Book of Morman, now playing at Midtown, is probably one of the most unusual stories to ever make it to the stage. The film contains blissful profanity, politically incorrect mischief and sacrilege but the defining quality is its “sweetness”.
The religion of the Mormon Church has always been a bit of a mystery for the rest of the world and Book of Mormon captures that along with many of the elements that make the Mormon belief system so unique. The play mixes the sweet with the blasphemous in a tale of two plucky but naïve young Mormon missionaries who discover themselves while they are on their mission to missionize to the world. The two wide-eyed youths find themselves dealing with a genocidal warlord, AIDS sufferers, innocent villagers and individuals of varying religious, sexual and political beliefs and backgrounds.
The production crew delivers a variety of musical numbers that are, in turn, savvy, vibrant, reverent, witty, ridiculing, satirical and symmetrical.
Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is a different type of children’s show than is Aladdin – whereas Aladdin is more high-tech and aims for theatre-goers of all ages, Winnie the Pooh is low-tech and focuses on gentle lessons about teamwork, friendship and fun. Yet, it turns out, those messages, and the way that Winnie the Pooh delivers them, are perfect for the older crowd too.
The play is full of eye-popping puppets, snowy landscapes, blooming fake flowers and other visual candy cotton that guides the story along as it translates from a kiddie classic into sumptuous stage fare.
Different vignettes move through the different seasons as the friends of the Hundred Acre Woods find their equilibrium in their surroundings and with each other.
The soundtrack is pure nostalgia that takes oldsters back to the magic of Winnie the Pooh of the old Disney stories and provides everyone with a solid rock on which to “sit and ponder”.