Broadway Shows I Wish I Saw in Their Original Run

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I recently watched Spring Awakening: Those You've Known. And it really made me sad that Spring Awakening debuted when I was ten. So in the course of a bad night of insomnia, as one does, I kept thinking about the shows I was never able to see the original production of, for reasons of geography, being able to get a ticket, too young, my parents would never, or I just wasn't born yet. 

I will preface that this is pretty much all musicals. Not because I'm against plays, but I think because we have some sort of performance recorded for posterity for musicals, plays don't usually have the same feeling that you missed out on something because you can see another amazing performer in that role and not have something to compare it to. 

In chronological order...

  • Ziegfeld Follies and Show Boat
    • I mean, this is a means to see Fanny Brice. And I want to know what the appeal was of seeing women in elaborate outfits walking downstairs. And Florenz Ziegfeld took a big gamble on producing Show Boat, the first musical play, and I think this was an important time in the history of Broadway, so I'd like to see it. 
  • Shuffle Along
    • I was lucky enough to see the 2016 production Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. So to see the original landmark show that was a harbinger of the Harlem Renaissance that launched the careers of so many, including Josephine Baker would be, I don't even know how to describe. Also, the 2016 show should have run longer.
  • Funny Girl
    • I mean, does this need an explanation? A show that hasn't had a revival until 2022, and turned Barbra Streisand into a star. And she hasn't been on Broadway since, so this is a must.
  • Sondheim Musicals of the 70s and 80s
    • Obviously West Side Story would be a must see, but this is his mega run and how became the god of musical theater. CompanyFolliesA Little Night MusicSweeney ToddMerrily We Roll AlongSunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods. I want to be able to witness all of that, the triumphs and the flops.
  • Chicago
    • I watched Fosse/Verdon like the rest of you theater nerds, so I'd like to see Gwen Verdon on stage. She only did so many movies and television performances, so we only have a tiny portion of her work memorialized. 
  • Cats (?)
    • Now, this is not because of Cats itself. Just to be in this era where Cats is a hit would be intriguing, because for the life of me, I still don't get how Cats became a thing. If I was seeing theater during this time, would I have been swept away by Cats or seen reason? I'd like to know the answer to that question.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
    • Sutton Foster's arrival! I have listened to the cast album so many times, I want to be able to see "Forget About the Boy" and "Gimme Gimme" performed in front of my eyes.
  • Spring Awakening
    • Again, I just watched the documentary, and I knew Spring Awakening was a big deal. I didn't know it was that big of a phenomenon in its run. The cast was in an ad for the Gap! When do Broadway stars star in ad campaigns? I was ten when this show debuted, before social media was a thing, at least in my life so I couldn't ride the hype train that follows mega musicals. 
  • The Scottsboro Boys
    • The last Kander and Ebb musical, so that is reason enough. But, it also has one of my favorite show tunes of all time in "Go Back Home" so that's another reason. 
  • Once
    • One of the few movies-to-Broadway adaptations that actually makes sense. One, because there are already fantastic songs in it. Two, the actual staging was so cool, and I normally don't like productions where the actors play their own instruments, but for this one it makes sense since they're all musicians in the story. 
  • Oklahoma! (2019 Revival)
    • aka Sexy Oklahoma! It was sold out every time I looked into tickets, and the tickets that were available were ridiculous. Such a reinvention of classic (and dated in some respects) material is a must see, especially when it's successful.

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