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New York City - Theatre

Wendy R. Williams'
Theatre Column


Greetings Theater Lovers,

July was a sparse month for theater attendance. I saw only one play, Mamma Mia, and I saw it for the first time. Now you might rightfully ask, why now? Why go to Mamma Mia now? Couldn’t you make up your mind which side you were on – the critics who uniformly thumbed-it-down or the audiences who have ignored the critics and made Mamma Mia a sell-out-hit since it opened on Broadway in October of 2001 (yes, that is right after 9/11).

Mamma Mia

Well, I had been waiting for the same reason that most New Yorkers delay hitting the big Broadway musicals - waiting for out-of-town company. And this summer I hosted my brother and my teenage niece so the time had come to yet again “do a big Broadway musical.”

The Phantom of the Opera

First I sent them off alone to The Phantom of the Opera. It is not that I did not want to go myself, but I had seen it six times already and thought I would take a breather from non-stop New York tourism. And what did they think of Phantom? They loved it. They came home raving about the music, the scenes (the boat ride, "Masquerade") and the sheer spectacle and romanticism of Phantom. Phantom is the perfect show to introduce anyone to the magic of Broadway. For more information, log onto: thephantomoftheopera.com.

And what did I think of Mamma Mia? I liked it. I totally saw the clumsy plot points that had the critics so up-in-arms. The shows creators took the Abba songbook and created the plot of their show with a “Why don’t we write this scene so we can sing this song?” mentality. And that let's-use-some-chewing-gum-here plot-planing device definitely shows. But I simply did not care and neither did the rest of the audience who filled the theater to capacity on a hot summer night in July. The show is upbeat, campy and fun. The songs are show stoppers and the lead, Carolee Camaro (she plays the Momma), is phenomenal.


I will admit that Xanadu (xanaduonbroadway.com), which I loved, is a much better juke box musical (Xanadu boasts an incredible book and stars). But there is no reason not to see both and throw in Jersey Boys too for good measure. They are all fun shows to share with out-of-town guests. For more information about Mamma Mia, log onto: www.mamma-mia.com. And stay tuned, Mamma Mia is being made into a movie starring Meryl Streep.

Fall will soon be here and there is a plethora of interesting new shows opening on Broadway. Here are three that caught my eye:

The Farnsworth Invention

Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) has penned a new play, The Farnsworth Invention, which is opening on November 4, 2007 at the Music Box Theater. The show tells the story of the invention of television. Now I am a West Wing junkie (I have all the first four Sorkin years DVD's) and I really tried to love Studio 60, so I am truly psched to see this new play. Log onto farnsworthonbroadway.com for more information about the play.

Young Frankenstein

The Producers may have closed on Broadway but another one of Mel Brook’s campy movie classics, Young Frankenstein, is coming to Broadway, opening on November 8, 2007 at the Hilton Theatre. Now I just know this one is going to be fun and nothing like the other monster fiasco, Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula. Log onto
youngfrankensteinthemusical.com for more information about this show.

Lone Star Love

And last, Randy Quaid is starring in Lone Star Love, a musical retelling of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Lone Star is opening December 2, 2007 at the Belasco Theater. I saw Lone Star Love when it played off-Broadway back in February of 2005 and featured it in this column. It was a lot of fun and has the potential to be a hit on Broadway (you certainly can’t fault the plot). Log onto lonestarlovethemusical.com for more information about the show.

For information on all the Broadway shows, log onto our Broadway theater listing section.

Rock on!


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