Your very first Broadway musical & how it affected you
It was 1983 and I was a junior in high school visiting NYC from Minneapolis with my parents. they wanted to see Torch Song Trilogy playing down the street, but I wanted to see this instead. (My mom later told me they had figured out I was gay but was puzzled I didn't want to see Torch Song Trilogy, to which I said, "You were surprised I wanted to see Twiggy in a Gerhswin musical instead of a drama?"). I got the last ticket available which meant I was in the last row on the side in the balcony of the St. James. I remember how stunned I was by the inventive choreography (especially for a number when Tommy Tune and Twiggy splashed in little rectangular ponds created on stage) and how unusual and sophisticated Twiggy's retro singing voice sounded singing "Boy Wanted." I also remember wondering why they had the unappealing Denny Dillon in the role of Tune's foulmouthed sidekick.
It remains for me the most glamorous night of the theater I've ever had, simply because I had never seen anything before like it, even though now I can afford much better seats purchased ahead of time.
What was your first show, and was it as memorable?
I saw it when I was 13 and I believe it touched my soul, but then again, I was pretty drunk at the time.
I was drunk and 13 on stage when you saw me, r1, so it all evens out!
My first Broadway show was Aspects of Love. Have never returned.
My parents took me to see Dreamgirls. Jennifer Holliday's atrocious performance, amateurishly bad acting, grotesque facial gestures and over-the-top screaming on every song terrified me and gave me a headache. I thought all Broadway musicals would be just as bad as the POS that was Dreamgirls and didn't see another musical on stage for another 15 years.
Dreamgirls remains one of the worst evenings I've ever spent in the theatre.
A matinee of the '74 revival of Candide. I was 7. I sat right next to Maureen Brennan for Glitter and Be Gay and I swear she played the whole number to me. I was in (little gay boy) love.
I begged to see it again that night, Really begged. I must have driven my parents crazy, because I did get to see it again the next year. I had that double cast album memorized. I have seen nearly every Hal Prince show since then, and while Evita and Sweeney and others are incredible productions, I still love that Candide the most. Pure joy.
My first was 42nd STREET in the spring of 1984. It featured none other than DL fave Karen Ziemba. It taught me that while a large group of tap dancers are fun to watch for a while, two and a half hours of them is pretty much a lifetime supply. It also taught me that even on Broadway, dancers aren't usually very good actors.
Rent - my boss bought me two tickets in 1996, and I took my boyfriend. This was during Clinton's term, and I think he (Clinton) had attended the show a couple months before. He also gave me the CD set of the studio-recorded song playlist.
I enjoyed it; it was a real New York experience, and I'd just moved to the city that August.
Cats. I swore never again, and I haven't.
The 42nd Street revival with Christine Ebersole. I remember literally nothing about it, I was in elementary school at the time.
A school trip to see Phantom of the Opera. It. Was. So. Booooooorrrrriiiiing!!!! During the break me and a friend went outside and smoked a joint. "Do you want to go back in?" he asked. "Fuck, no!" We wandered around midtown for what we thought was about an hour then came back to the theater to meet up with our group and get on the bus home. Except it was not an hour later, it was almost two and half hours later. The teachers who chaperoned were pissed. Our classmates were pissed. The police, who they had called to look for us were REALLY pissed. We were banned from ever going on another school theater outing again. We were not really all that choked up about that. I've never gone to see a musical again.
The first musical I ever saw was in the last century in Pittsburgh's Nixon Theater: Oklahoma! I thought it was pretty terrific, and I wanted desperately to be Ado Annie. I was 13. A few years later I saw my first musical in New York. It was Pal Joey with some old bag named Vivienne Segal and a cute guy named Harold Lang. I wanted to be Vivienne and I wanted to fuck Harold. It was a step up from Ado Annie, in both instances!
Hey [R5], the 1974 CANDIDE was my first Broadway show as well! Loved it. I had a few years on you: I was 22, and visiting New York for the first time (also saw THE WIZ, and GYPSY with Angela Lansbury. Also SAME TIME NEXT YEAR with Ellen Burstyn and Charles Grodin. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF with Elizabeth Ashley, Keir Dullea and Fred Gwynne.) If I recall correctly the top ticket price was around $15 - $20. The subway was 35 cents.
Moved to NYC the following year and have been here ever since.
Currently planning my escape. Enough is enough. People are crazy here. Really. Crazy. And. Unhappy.
Not on Broadway, obviously, but the first Broadway musical I ever saw was the national tour of "Company" in San Francisco. I was in high school. George Chakiris played Bobby. Don't remember much else but I think it cemented my lifelong passion for musicals. (I'm seeing FOUR this weekend!)
Mine was off-Broadway. Little Shop of Horrors. I was amazed at all that talent in that little throwaway theater. It hooked me for life.
First show, second night on a week long trip--FUNNY GIRL with Streisand. I was 14 on my first trip to NYC with my parents. It was near the end of her run and even at that age I could tell that she was phoning it on... it was disappointing. That sae year we saw Channing in HELLO, DOLLY! and she was so engaging and endearing. She had the audience in the palm of her hand, My mother talked about that particular experience for years.
kcguy -- yes, I am old. But I was young once
First show ever was the original Sweeney Todd during its opening week. Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou. When the factory whistle blew (that opens the show) it was terrifying because it was so loud and unexpected. But what an introduction to Broadway!!
Agree R16. That whistle at the beginning made me jump.
Hair. I was 9. I've been trying to see other people's cocks ever since.
Mine was in 1992. The two piano revival of The Most Happy Fella at the Ooth Theater. I was 17. I was a freshman in college (I went to Michigan) and I was in town for Straw Hat auditions (do those still exist?). I had been in a lot of ove the top big community theater productions of musicals where I grew up in Oregon in a 2500 seat house and people always said our shows were better than Broadway. So I was shocked in a good way to see that Broadway was so intimate and the singing was sooo good. Obviously, not all Broadway shows are like that and most of them suck, so I'm really glad that The Most Happy Fella was my first.
Junior High School class trip to NYC. Piled into the bus at 8:30 that morning. Arrived in The City around 10:00. Spent the morning at the Met Museum. Had a cafeteria lunch in the Times Square area. Then we filed into the theater for the matinee of "The Music Man." Barbara Cook, Robert Preston. Who could have guessed that I would rediscover Barbara as an adult and become a lifelong fan to this day. That afternoon was great fun. And we all drove the teachers and bus driver nuts, singing "Seventy Six Trombones" on the bus ride home. ..
The 1980 revival of ""West Side Story". It was enjoyable. Got to meetDebbie Allen after. The guy who played Tony sucked. Also saw "Evita", "Their Playing Our Song", and "42nd Street", and "The Pirates of Penzance" in Central Park on that week long vacation.
[quote]FUNNY GIRL with Streisand. I was 14 on my first trip to NYC with my parents. It was near the end of her run and even at that age I could tell that she was phoning it on... it was disappointing.
As with R16 and R17, Sweeney Todd in April of 79 during a high school theater trip. As part of the package deal we had nosebleed seats for the first act, but ended up about third or fourth row back for the second in seats vacant during the first.
That whistle still scares the crap outta me, even though I know its coming.
There's a dinner theater near me that's doing "Sweeney Todd" later this year. I do NOT want to know what's going to be on the menu.
R24, as long as it's not meat pie, you're good.
My first Broadway experience was "The Music Man". My Aunt Rita took me to visit New York City for my first time as a birthday gift. Seeing the show was a highlight. It was near the end of its run. The two things I remember most were how taken I was by the show's lighting, and enjoying Parks as the original production's last Harold Hill.
I should get at least a "double [italic]Mary!!![/italic]" for my second show. For the following Christmas gift, I convinced Aunt Rita to take me to New York again to see "The Gay Life"- [italic]Mary 1[/italic], starring Barbara Cook- [italic]Mary 2[/italic].
Baker Street in 1965 with Fritz Weaver, Inga Swenson and Martin Gabel and Tommy Tune and Christopher Walken in the chorus.
After that I saw one fab show after another....Funny Girl, Oliver, Hello Dolly, Fiddler, Golden Boy, On a Clear Day, etc. and just loved them all.
But it wasn't until I saw Illya Darling with Melina Mercouri that I realized they weren't all so great.
Before I ever saw a show on Broadway, I had been to several dozen music in the round tent shows for several summers -- Shirley Jones in "Sound of Music" - Eva Gabor & Jean Pierre Aumont in "Tovarich" - Jane Morgan in "Lady in the Dark" - Howard Keel, John Rait, Bill Hayes, Patrice Munsel, Allan Jones, etc. Lots of great shows and wonderful stars.
My first show on Broadway was "Mame." After no-scenery tent shows, the scenery in that show just blew me away. Mame coming down that circular stair that revolved to keep her facing the audience was amazing. The size of the cast compared to tent shows was also a treat and of course, Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur were knockouts! I went back to NYC to see it with Ann Miller and then with Jane Morgan. Loved every minute of it.
The same weekend that I saw "Mame" the first time, I also saw Gwen Verdon in "Sweet Charity" and Mary Martin and Robert Preston in "I Do, I Do."
Just try a little priest, r24.
The Sound of Music with Mary Martin in 1960. I was 16 years old, liked Martin, but thought the songs were better than the sappy story. It took me many, many years to finally watch the film.
[quote] I went back to NYC to see it with Ann Miller and then with Jane Morgan. Loved every minute of it.
You mean that the other way around, I think. I am pretty sure Miller was the final Mame on Broadway, replacing Morgan who replaced Janis Paige who replaced Angela Lansbury. Academy Award-Winning Actress Celeste Holm was a vacation fill-in for Mame in NY before taking the role on tour.
[quote]But it wasn't until I saw Illya Darling with Melina Mercouri that I realized they weren't all so great
I left that show at intermission and went back to our hotel and watched Splendor in the Grass on TV. My folks were out to dinner and my friend from high school was at Hello, Dolly! Looking back, I regret that I didn't stay. But I was 16 and didn't really know who she was or anything about the plot. I do enjoy the cast album CD that Bruce Kimmel released a years ago. The last show I saw that week (after Cabaret, Apple Tree, I Do! I Do!) was Hallelujah, Baby and I enjoyed that.
You are correct R31. Miller was the last and I believe the show closed at the Broadway Theatre where it transferred from the Winter Garden. I wish I had seen Miller. I saw Lansbury.Up to that time I only knew her as the scary mother in The Manchurian Candidate. She was so charming as Mame. Remember how she slid down that bannister in her first scene?
Merman in Gypsy. I was amazed at how small the Imperial Theater was in comparison to what I had seen in MGM movies. Merman's voice smacked against the back wall with no mikes. She was walking through it and in the scenes where she sat at the table with Herbie she was obviously counting the house. BUT she was MERMAN!
kcguy, I love you!
I think we've traded that Illya, Darling story about 3 times on DL over the last few years, every time these Broadway virgin threads appear.
Noticing your other posts, we seem to have similar tastes and outlooks.
"Follies", pre-Broadway in Boston - six times. Nothing else has ever come close.
Gypsy, pre-Broadway with Angela Lansbury. I had student rush tickets and got in for $2.50. My first Broadway show was a Tuesday night for "Chicago" and I had to wait for the Wednesday matinee for "A Chorus Line."
[R33]: Mame played its entire run at the Winter Garden. Ann Miller closed it and she inserted a tap dance in the "That's How Young I Feel" number in Act II. She was heaven and what a belter too. I saw Landsbury at the final preview and had no clue who she was. I can still see that voluminous white dress she took her certain call in.
First B'way musical was "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" in 1961 at a Wednesday matinee with my mother. I was so taken by Tammy Grimes that I started to talk like her and used to look in the bathroom mirror while sticking out my chin hoping my profile would ressemble hers.
R38. Be sure you know what you're talking about before posting so pompously on DL. Mame ran at the Broadway Theater from 10/6/69 to 1/3/70, when it closed. There, Miss Know-It-All. Simple matter just to check IBDB, which is usually right, certainly about venue information. Jeeez.
The original production of Chicago with Chita and Gwen. It was a game changer for me. Incredible.
Medication holiday R38?
Sunday In The Park With George, with DL fave Mandy Patinkin. Stunning
Touring company of Into The Woods, mid-to-late 90s in Pittsburgh. I can't remember who was in it.
Although I guess touring company isn't B'way. Just realizing I have not actually seen a show on Bway - many Toronto and Chicago shows but nothing in NYC. Need to fix that!
IRENE with Jane Powell. My folks told me we could only afford balcony ($5) but when they got up to the box office they asked if there were any good orchestra seats and they had 3 seats second row center. $15 ea. My dad shrugged, pulled out his wallet and we SPLURGED!!! I still remember how lovely she was. Patsy Kelly was a hoot and my mom recognized Ruth Warrick from All My Children
(she was doing double duty). When Janie and the chorus boys danced on top of rotating pianos it was more than my little gay heart could stand.
Promises, Promises 1970. I was ten years old. It was a very exciting night, affected me greatly, and made me fall in love with show business forever.
It also means that I have very high standards when it comes to what makes a musical good, let alone great, and they are rarely if ever met.
R46, how do you stay in love with show business forever if virtually everything you see falls short of your standards?
I had seen many shows on tour, but my first Broadway show was OVER HERE! I was 13 I think? John Travolta, Marilu Henner, Treat Williams and the Andrews Sisters...it was also the first time I saw a drag queen. There was a statuesque thing standing outside the Shubert at intermission, wearing a pink sequence pantsuit, and big wig and my father said."I think that's a man."
[quote] it was also the first time I saw a drag queen. There was a statuesque thing standing outside the Shubert at intermission, wearing a pink sequence pantsuit, and big wig and my father said."I think that's a man."
I'm sure you were surprised when she addressed your father by name.
Back at ya R35!
R40 I saw that production of CHICAGO twice in one week. One of the kids at school, Dale Hensley who is now an actor, could only get a lst minute ticket near the rear. I remember he wasn't happy that the angle of the Rodgers mezz managed to cut off half of the uppper portion of the stage.
In 1963 my first lover (that's what we called them back in the day), took me to the opening night of "Oliver." He had the London original cast LP, so I knew the music. Loved it so much, saw three musicals in the next two weeks.
"how do you stay in love with show business forever if virtually everything you see falls short of your standards?"
I said virtually every musical I see falls short of my standards, the same is not true of everything I see in any medium. And every once in a while when I see a truly great musical, I love it.
In other words, loving show business is loving what it can do at its best.
[quote]Although I guess touring company isn't B'way. Just realizing I have not actually seen a show on Bway - many Toronto and Chicago shows but nothing in NYC. Need to fix that!
Sure a touring company counts here.
February 1980, I was 16, and had begged my parents to take me to see "Sweeney Todd". We lived in Boston, and had seen some tours, but never taken the train to NYC to see a Broadway show. I told them it meant a great deal to me. I would never ask for anything ever again if I could go, either alone (I promised to come straight home on the train after a matinee), but they volunteered to take me, and a friend! We LOVED it. That whistle! Still the best day of my life.
R54, I'm with you! Certainly today, but back then ...
My first Broadway musical was MAMA MIA! on Halloween 2001! "Oh THAT'S why you're gay" friends tease. I remember the whole evening as one big freak show, coming and going, but I was taken by the color and light. And you'd have had to be dead not to know the music of ABBA. It was a family outing to see a friend of mother's from her school days, Karen Mason. I kept watching the boys. Since, I've seen the show a few other times, like it. It's a joyous show.
Some of the responses on this thread put me in mind of this great blog, Born This Way.
Some of us were gay from the get go.
A Little Night Music, with Margaret Hamilton as Madame Armfeldt.
The same week, Pippin.
I took a bus five hours each way, and stayed in a fleabag hotel, just to see those shows. It was totally worth it.
Dreamgirls at The Imperial. I thought they were all going to that good - such an amazing staging, excellent performances. After years of seeing Broadway and West End shows I realised how unique and rare it was.
Also saw the first national tour of Annie. Though not on Broadway, it didn't disappoint.
Equus with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth. I paid $25 and sat onstage. It was cool watching the audience watch the show. OK, this wasn't a musical I know. So I guess it would be Pippin, which I loved by the way.
R34: I saw Merman in Gypsy twice, neither time did she walk through the musical...just for the record. The worst case of doing that for me was Georgia Brown in Oliver.
"A Little Night Music" with Glynis Johns, in late 1973. I liked it for about the first 10 minutes. It wasn't exactly Rodgers and Hammerstein, which is what I had expected.
(I still haven't seen many musicals on Broadway--I guess the last version of "Sweeney Todd," with Patti LuPone, is the best one I've seen. )
My partner and I saw the Sting snooze-fest "A Three Penny Opera". We had the ENTIRE balcony all to ourselves (because it had gotten pretty shitty reviews and a week later word went out that it was about to close). When Sting and the other looked up and sung to the balcony, they seemed absolutely stunned that there were only 2 people up there!
Oh there were also two darling little 11 year old boys who were also CHILD actors who sat in front of us (I guess they got in free). They were talking about the commercials they had booked and they talked about the older gay men in the theatre and how cool they were. My partner and I later lit up a joint in the balcony and asked the kids if they wanted some, but they declined. The musical was a thud-fest.
I loved musicals as a child (Wizard of Oz on t.v., Oliver! in the movie theater), but it was a big deal when I was 8 or 9 and I had to get dressed up in a suit and tie to watch "Pal Joey" at the Shubert. I loved it. Then in high school I got to see "A Chorus Line" in London. In college I finally made it to Broadway to see Patti LuPone in "Evita." The show was wonderful, but she was terrible.
[quote]The show was wonderful, but she was terrible.
Since the whole show revolved around her character, r65, how could it have been wonderful if she was terrible?
"Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it ... You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
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