West End Wilma goes to Broadway!

UnknownI’ve just returned from six nights in New York where I saw six wonderful shows on Broadway! I know the ‘correct’ thing to do on these trips is to see all the new shows that haven’t been on in the West End so that I can report back to you about what they were like, however, on this trip I decided to be a little more self indulgent.

I was hoping to be able to make a mad dash from JFK airport to Times Square in time to make it to the evening performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch but sadly it didn’t work out and so I spent the evening in the Olive Garden (a great restaurant in the middle of Times Square) looking out of the window at all the bright lights of Broadway.

The next day I saw Constellations with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. I saw the show when it was on in the West End in 2012 starring Ralph Spall and Sally Hawkins and thought it was a brilliant story of one couples relationship and the different ways things could have turned out if things had been different. I’m delighted to hear the show is coming back for a UK tour starting in May 2015 (casting still to be announced). At only 70 minutes long, this is a great one act play that won’t take up your whole night but is still worth the money.

On Saturday I saw two shows (obvs – who doesn’t love a two show day?). I saw a matinee of Cabaret at Studio 54 which was the perfect venue for this show. Cabaret style seating in the stalls and rows of seats in the circle with tables and lamps between every seat. Table service for drinks made it feel extra special and it was my favourite venue from my whole trip. Alan Cumming was brilliant as Emcee and Sienna Miller gave the part of Sally Bowles everything she had. Unfortunately her vocals left a lot to be desired but who would turn down the chance to be in Cabaret if it were offered to them? I don’t blame her for doing it but it was a very brave choice given her limited ability.

Every time I go to New York I have to see Wicked on Broadway. I don’t know why, but I do. So on Saturday night, after Cabaret, I headed down to the Gershwin Theatre to see what the latest US cast had to offer the show. I was expecting to see the new Elphaba and Glinda (Christine Dwyer and Kara Lindsay) but was just as happy to find out I would be seeing the understudies Lilli Cooper and Tess Soltau instead. It was an understudy fuelled show as Larkin Bogan was also filling the shows of usual Boq, Robin De Jesus. The show doesn’t really differ from the UK production apart from a few americanism’s thrown in (which were obviously replaced when the show came to London to make things more understandable for English audiences). The show was great, as always!

Sunday is another double-show day for most Broadway shows. This makes perfect sense really, to capitalise on the weekend audiences when people aren’t at work. Shows that do two shows on a Sunday tend to take Mondays off which is a notoriously quieter day in theatre. I would be interested to know why London productions choose to do a mid-week matinee shows instead of sunday shows and wonder which would sell better. Anyway, for my novelty Sunday matinee I chose to see the new Broadway revival of Les Miserables! I fought my way through the New York blizzard and what a treat it was to watch! You can read all about my thoughts on the new production of this show in my guest blog for OfficialTheatre.com here.

My intentions were to watch Idina Menzel in If/Then on Sunday evening but as I hadn’t already bought tickets and was pretty exhausted from my trip so far, I decided not to go and just to chill out/sit in a bar and drink. Monday was going to be a very exciting day after all, for I was going to see my all-time favourite musical!!!

Chicago is my favourite Musical. Since it closed in the West End in 2012 (after 15 years in town) I have been itching to see it in New York but have always told myself I should see ‘new’ shows instead. This time though, I decided to have an evening of well deserved self-indulgence and buy myself a front row seat for the longest running Broadway musical and relive the memories again.

Tuesday was my last full day on Broadway and I made the decision to go and see the Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots (based on the 2005 film). I’d actually bought my tickets to this before it was officially announced it would be coming to London this August but was still excited to go and see what it was all about. Unfortunately, whilst it was good, it didn’t blow me away like I hoped it would. The songs are good and catchy but during the interval and after the show I couldn’t remember a single tune to hum. It has everything a musical needs to have and is a great fun night out but was a little forgettable. It will be interesting to see what UK audiences make of it this summer and if it is embraced the way it has been in America.

Sadly, that was the end of my trip but I was itching to get back to London and see what I had been missing out on in the West End while I was away! I’m already planning my next Broadway adventure (in my head at least!)