Every card-carrying homosexual remembers his first Broadway show. Mine was On the 20th Century, which I saw on March 16, 1979, a few days before it closed (the show was winner of the Tony for Best Musical in 1978.) I saw the show with my older brother, and our orchestra seats were $17.50 apiece. Since I'm not a native New Yorker, it wasn't until I was 21 that I saw my first show. However, once I moved to New York, I went to the theater on a regular basis. And while I don't consider myself a "theater queen", I manage to see about four or five shows every year (and I have the Playbills and ticket stubs as proof). My peak year was 2002 when I saw thirteen. And of the 150+ shows I've seen, On the Town was the only one I walked out of.
My most favorite shows: Evita; Anything Goes; Damn Yankees (a great shower scene); The Music Man; and 42nd St. Off-Broadway productions I've really enjoyed include Oil City Symphony; Take Me Out (an even hotter shower scene than Damn Yankees); Eurycides; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; Oil City Symphony; and Musical of Musicals: The Musical (which I saw three times).
Some memories that stick with me:
- During a July 1995 performance of Hamlet a rainstorm during the second half was so torrential that water steadily dripped onto the stage.
- The haunting scene in the very short-lived Coram Boy (which closed after just 30 performances in May 2007) where dead babies were exhumed from little graves scattered around the stage under trap doors.
- Sideshow's awkward scenes in which the Siamese twin sisters discussed how to coordinate sex with their fiances.
- The night I saw How to Succeed in Business (the '95 revival with Matthew Broderick) was Sign Language Night and I became distracted by the signer who I could see from the corner of my eye.
- I was seated in the front row at a performance of Xanadu and at one point in the show Cheyenne Jackson's character (pictured, below) came down from the stage and did a little dance in front of me.
- Not until I sat down and opened my Playbill did I discover that Amadeus wasn't a musical!
- The heartbreakingly beautiful last story of Metamorphoses in which the elderly couple became two intertwined trees.
- The audience's excited anticipation before the curtain went up at a preview performance of The Producers a week before it opened.
Most of us have experienced the heartache of discovering the little white slip in their Playbill announcing a featured actor isn't appearing in that day's performance. My disappointments have included: no Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls; no Sutton Foster in The Drowsy Chaperone; no Kristin Chenoweth in Wicked (at least Idina Menzel performed) and no Douglas Hodge in La Cage.
I'm not a big fan, but I've seen Nathan Lane in six shows: The Lisbon Traviata; Guys & Dolls; Love, Valour, Compassion!; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; The Producers; and Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus . Patti LuPone has starred in five: Evita; Anything Goes; Pal Joey; Gypsy; and War Paint. And although I've seen nine Steven Sondheim musicals, I never saw Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods or A Little Night Music.
Finally, "huzzah!" to gay-themed shows I've greatly enjoyed: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Love, Valour, Compassion!; Take Me Out; Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake (in 1995 and 2020); Whoop-De-Doo!; End of the World Party; March of the Falsettos; Naked Boys Singing; Torch Song Trilogy; and The Temperamentals.