Watching the Hugh Jackman-led Tony Awards last night, along with dazzling performances from this season’s biggest musicals, reminded me again of just how wonderful it is to take in a Broadway show.
I’ve always been a fan of musical theater but was blown away at my first Broadway production, which was a performance in 2005 of the musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with John Lithgow and a crazy talented song-and-dance man I’ve become a HUGE fan of named Norbert Leo Butz.
Wowza! This was a huge production with a giant stage but I was surprised that the theater seating itself wasn’t that big. I was only able to get seats on the very back row and so brought along my binoculars. But they definitely weren’t needed! I had no idea back then that many of the Broadway theaters actually provide a pretty intimate setting to watch stars and other lead performers.
By the way, Mr. Butz went on to win his first Tony for this role – and I was yelling and clapping in agreement when watching the broadcast from my home.
He won again in 2011 for “Catch Me If You Can,” which you can see in the video below. Just fast-forward to the 1:03 mark to see some truly remarkable dancing from someone whose lower half seems completely independent of his top half. It really is pretty wonderful!
Since that first show, I’ve seen quite a few other Broadway productions but there have been 2 that especially stand out. In 2011, I was able to see “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which garnered a Tony for its co-lead John Larroquette. And he was wonderful and soooo funny, as you’d expect.
But I was really surprised by the performance of the other co-lead, Daniel Radcliffe.
I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so I was excited to see him live, but I was blown away by his dance moves – especially the super intricate parts during the “Brotherhood of Men” song, which is shown below. I’m exhausted just watching it! (Again fast-forward, this time to the 1:58 point)
My other favorite memory is from the play, “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.” It starred John Larroquette again, as well as John Stamos, Cybill Shepherd, Kristin Davis, and Elizabeth Ashley. But I actually went for another featured actor – Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones.
Yep, I wanted to be able to say I had heard that voice in person. And I was not disappointed. In fact, I still get goose bumps when I think about his first appearance on stage, the crowds’ crazily enthusiastic reaction as though he was some huge rock star, and then his first words that came booming out before he broke into a loud belly laugh. Talk about a perfect memory flash!
Of course I also enjoy just walking around the theaters at night every time I’m in New York City for a visit. The bright lights and crowds and huge flashing signs feel like some kind of frenetic yet magical 3-ring circus right out on the streets, and I love it! What can I say, “the lullaby of Broadway” gets me every time.
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OK, after watching that video, I’m convinced Daniel Radcliffe is a Broadway star! He sings, acts, dances – what can the boy not do?
Ha – I agree! I was completely speechless watching him dance. Who knew?? And he was very, very funny in it too as someone who acts all angelic and sweet on the outside but is actually quite the master manipulator. To get all that across while singing, dancing, jumping onto tables, and flipping across the stage…. yep, it was quite a performance.
I got to see Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette in How to Success In Business and loved, both of them. What a surprise at the talent Daniel showed. What a talented young man.
He is! Sounds like he’s doing really well on Broadway and pleasing his fans.
Wow, that dance number from “How to Succeed…” was amazing and the treat of seeing James Earl Jones up close and personal(well, on stage anyway) would have definitely been a highlight of a trip to NY. Loved the write up. Once again, you have inspired me to make a return trip.
I know! I almost had to take a nap after watching that high energy performance. And seeing James Earl Jones live was definitely a treat. I just missed out on seeing Denzel Washington in A Raisin in the Sun on my last visit to NYC, which was disappointing. I think he’s one of the last greats on my “must see” list. Hopefully I’ll get another chance.