Saturday, April 12, 2008

36 Down, 3 To Go

36 Down, 3 To Go

Last week, Chris Caggiano over at Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals was musing about how he'd finally get inside Broadway's Lyceum Theatre now that [title of show] is headed there this summer. He mentioned how that would leave just three Rialto theatres in which he's never stepped foot.

His post got me to pondering whether I've been in all 39 Broadway theatres that are currently functioning, and like the geek I am, I systematically went through the Internet Broadway Database's encyclopedic history on each venue and discovered that I've now been in all but three myself. And those three might actually surprise you.

First, the theatre housing Broadway's all-time longest running show is the Majestic Theatre. Is it heresy for someone purporting to be "Steve On Broadway" to admit he's never actually seen The Phantom Of The Opera on the Great White Way? Sure, the show's been running for 20 long years, but since I first caught the London production about the time the Main Stem incarnation was first being performed, I didn't feel compelled to go to see it at the Majestic. Oh sure, I've seen it again -- thanks to freebie tickets 10 years ago in Los Angeles, and then again for kicks and giggles just last year in the truncated Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular -- but suffice it to say that as long as The Phantom Of The Opera is playing the Majestic, I won't be going there.

Second is the Nederlander Theatre, home to the musical Rent since 1996. I've seen Jonathan Larson's landmark tuner twice, just never in New York. In fact, the first time I saw it was when the first touring company swung through Boston during the winter of 1996-97, and I saw it again in St. Paul in 2000. Unlike Phantom, I actually enjoyed this profoundly moving show, and I had even considered (at the last minute) to get tix for the Broadway version when Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp reprised their turns as Roger and Marc, respectively, just last year. But alas, the show was sold out the first time I tried and only had back row seating available the next. With the departure of Rent from the Nederlander now imminent, coming in September, I suspect that I'll finally get into that theatre sometime in the next year.

Finally, I have never been to the Neil Simon Theatre, host to current occupant Hairspray since 2002. Through a little bit of serendipity, I actually saw and loved Hairspray with its original cast, but it was when I was passing through Seattle during its tryout performances there. And I also enjoyed seeing the first touring production when it passed through Minneapolis. While its current cast is appealing, I am probably not inclined to go see it, saving my theatregoing dollars for other shows.

So which theatre have I been to the most? That distinction goes to what is arguably Broadway's worst venue: the Booth Theatre. Always one for prestige productions, I've been going there since 1992 when the acclaimed revival of The Most Happy Fella enjoyed a 229 performance run. Almost in spite of how lousy this theatre itself is, including some of the least desirable seating (read: tightly crammed), some of my best Broadway memories came from this house, where visions of Paul Newman, Dame Edna, Vanessa Redgrave and others still dance in my mind. And I'm absolutely looking forward to returning next month to see Laurence Fishburne in Thurgood. I'm just not looking forward to being uncomfortable.

Finally, my very first Broadway theatre ever was none other than the Winter Garden where I caught Cats near the beginning of its 18 year run. Fortunately, as much as I disliked that show, it has not deterred me from coming back to the Great White Way for performance after performance.

I just wonder how many more years it will take for me to check the Majestic off my list....

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 12 April, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

Hey Steve,
I've been to 18 of 39 Broadway theaters in just one year! In fact, today marks the first anniversary of my first-ever trip to Broadway. I've never seen "Phantom" in any incarnation, but if it comes down to the end, and the Majestic is my last theatre, I will swallow hard and go see it.

Probably the most surprising thing about Broadway theatres is how small they are, how close you can be to the stage. For "Passing Strange," I was in Row M of the orchestra at the Belasco, but the orchestra section is so intimate, I had a great view. (And I was on the aisle, which helps). On the other hand, I was in Row L of the orchestra at "Young Frankenstein," and I felt soooo far away at the cavernous Hilton.

Of course, I've also realized how small the theatres are in terms of cramped and squished. The Richard Rodgers lobby makes me feel especially claustrophobic. Then there's leg room and bathrooms. Well, best to not even go there.

I've only seen "Hairspray" on tour, so I'm definitely planning a trip to the Neil Simon at some point. I love the music and I really want to see it on Broadway. The same goes for "Wicked." And it would be kind of fun to see "Rent" at the Nederlander. But like you, I'll probably wait for the next tenant. There's just so much else to see!

At 12 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

You go, Esther! That's pretty incredible for having never been to Broadway before a year ago today. Congratulations on your anniversary. Perhaps over the next year, you'll leapfrog me by attending shows in the remaining 21 venues!

At 13 April, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

That's funny. As I was sitting in line for rush tickets for Gypsy last week (yay! I got it and saw it! Front row centre looking up Patti's dress the entire time!), I was wondering to my sister if we will ever get to go into the Majestic since I won't step inside it right now for its current show.

(On a completely side note, if you happen to pass by DC in the next week (or anybody reading this does), make sure you catch Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Signature. It was AMAZING tonight. hopefully ill post a review soon). Will be definitely in the running for the best show I will see this year.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

I love the Lyceum! In fact, my Little Love and I are planning on buying it and renaming it The Bernadette Peters. When you go inside, you'll see why.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, I have been in the Lyceum and agree it's a great little theatre.

At 14 April, 2008, Anonymous Chris Caggiano said...

This is so incredibly geeky, but I have a number of copies of the STUBS book, the one with all the seating charts for all the theaters. When I come home from a theater binge, I open the latest STUBS to the pages for the theaters that I've just been in, and I list the show I saw, as well as the seat that I sat in.

Right now, the theater I've been inside the most is the Richard Rodgers (8), followed by the Vivian Beaumont (6) and the Marquis (6).

Taking up otherwise useful space in my brain.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chris, Had it not been for your post, I never would have decided to sit down and figure out all the Broadway shows and theatres I've been to, so I'm indebted to your geekiness!

I have maintained most of my ticket stubs through the years, so maybe you've inspired me to do something else during my downtime.

P.S. You and I are tied on the Marquis. But you're way ahead on the Richard Rodgers and one up on me for the Vivian Beaumont.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, Given where you were seated, did you also get showered by LuPone when she tore up that letter or receive the party favors from the strippers?

Won't be able to get to DC before Kiss Of The Spiderwoman closes, but I'm scheduled to be there for The Visit next month with Chita!

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Yup Yup, we kept the shreds of paper (which really DID have a letter written! totally awesome that it was actually that nicely detailed).

Funny, I actually had started making an excel file of all the shows I've seen (though mostly to figure out how much I've spent, for an upcoming post as proof that you can see tons and not break the bank completely) but I should add in theatres as well! Good idea Chris! (Granted, half my shows were in Toronto or London).

Yeah, I'm trying to schedule a time to go back to see The Visit! Why have I never heard of the Signature before this year? So good!

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, That's an excellent tidbit from Gypsy that I really wanted to know. But because you were so close, didn't you miss all the action further back on the stage?

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Missed a bit, but Im tall so I just stretch my neck a bit and could see, and I didnt notice Patti sneaking in the back while the kids perform at first but i did see it still. If you are short though, those seats would pose a problem. Then again, they were $27 so I can't complain.

I think I only missed the moment Louise rolls around at some point. On the other hand, Patti was basically in my face the entire time, so I could def. deal.

Oh, and I counted. I've done only 24 of the 39 Broadway theatres.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I was in the third row, thinking what a wonderful, perfect seat I had, all while wondering what those folks in the front row were thinking/missing. But I guess you got all you needed!

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

I've been in the Eugene O'Neil 26 times.

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Were all 26 times for Sweeney Todd or have you managed to see Spring Awakening, too?!

At 14 April, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

Hey, I love Chris' idea about the STUBS book! I think I still have all my ticket stubs, too. Keep those geeky theatre tips coming!

At 15 April, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

Caroline, or Change 2 times
Sweeney Todd, 22 times (Patti 21, Judy 1)
Spring Awakening 2 times

I save my Playbills and the stubs stay with them so that I know the exact date I saw that particular show and who was in it. I know. OCD. Well, everybody's gotta have a hobby. Playbill sells archival sleeves but they are expensive so I'm currently searching for an alternative. Taking suggestions...

At 15 April, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

hmm... I now have all the playbills in a box but the box is getting too small and was looking for a better alternative too. (and I also refuse to buy the overpriced plastic sleeves which probably cost a penny to make).

26 times!??? Granted, I've been 6 times (all for Spring) which is the most I've been. The St James is the most I've been for different shows (3).

At 15 April, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, I no longer feel so wicked for having seen my favorite show a fraction of the times you've seen Sweeney!

Fortunately for me, my theatregoing has been noticed by my family and friends who have been gracious in giving me said Playbill archival sleeves to me for Christmas. They're so thoughtful that way! And like you, I do keep my ticket stubs.

Vance, Before I had those sleeves, I simply kept them on a book shelf in alphabetical order.

At 15 April, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

Oh Santa did hook me up with a few volumes of Playbill binders with the archival sleeves but then declared, "I can't keep up with you." Cheap Santa.

And I know Steve you've seen Wicked less than I've seen Sweeney, but come on, there's a reason for that. Wink.


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