Dance Spirit's Very Official Broadway Show Guide
Virgil "Lil' O" Gadson (center) and Karine Plantadit (right) in After Midnight (photo by Matthew Murphy)
After Midnight: This show is all dance, all the time. There’s no complicated plot—just a ton of tap and a lot of jazz honoring the 1920s Cotton Club scene in Harlem. Hot tip: Get a seat in the balcony to really appreciate all the formations.
Aladdin: You already know the story of Disney’s Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, but we promise it’s even better on Broadway. The sets are lavish, the costumes are exquisite and there’s high-energy dancing from start to finish. (Turn to p. 59 to go behind the curtains at this instant hit.)
The Book of Mormon: Not for the easily offended, this show nevertheless tells a heartwarming tale about two missionaries serving in Uganda. It won Best Musical at the Tony Awards in 2011, thanks in part to flashy tap dancing and Casey Nicholaw’s campy choreography.
(L to R) Beth Johnson Nicely, Paige Faure and Brittany Marcin in Bullets Over Broadway (photo by Paul Kolnik)
Bullets Over Broadway: Woody Allen’s crime-comedy film about a playwright, a mobster and a showgirl during the Roaring Twenties comes to the stage with choreography by Susan Stroman. Expect lots of laughs, high kicks and jaw-dropping sets.
Cabaret: Alan Cumming (as the Emcee) and Michelle Williams (as Sally Bowles) star in this revival that follows the oh-so-scandalous happenings at Berlin’s beloved Kit Kat Klub in pre-World War II Germany.
Rogers + Hammerstein's Cinderella: You know the tale: A beautiful young girl is mistreated by her evil stepmother and stepsisters before sneaking off to the ball and dancing the night away in a pair of glass slippers. But here’s an interesting fact: While the show is a longtime classic, it didn’t make its Broadway debut until 2013.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder: With 10 Tony Award nominations this year (including Best Musical), this English comedy has become a smash hit. But dancers beware: There’s only one big dance number, choreographed by musical theater vet (but Broadway newcomer) Peggy Hickey.
If/Then: Broadway darling Idina Menzel leads the cast as 40-year-old Elizabeth, a divorcée who moves to NYC from Arizona in pursuit of a fresh start. What she really gets, though, is an adventure in leading parallel lives. The show features choreography by Larry Keigwin.
Gaten Matarazzo as Gavroche (photo by Michael Le Poer Trench)
Les Misérables: If you saw it in movie theaters, you know what to expect from the Broadway revival: an epic, passion-packed story about the French Revolution, brought to life by powerful songs such as “On My Own,” “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More.”
Mamma Mia!: Just because Rocky is at the Winter Garden Theatre doesn’t mean ABBA’s greatest hits in musical form have left Broadway—they’ve just moved around the corner. Come with your family and get your dancing queen on!
Matilda: The Musical: “Even if you’re little, you can do a lot,” the show’s title character sings—and she’s right! The Roald Dahl novel comes to life as Matilda and her mischievous fellow schoolchildren learn how to outsmart their parents—and wicked headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
Mowtown: The Musical: Your parents will love this show, which uses basically all the music from “their generation” to tell the story of Berry Gordy, the man behind the careers of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Try not to be embarrassed when they start karaoke-ing from their seats!
Newsies (photo courtesy Disney)
Newsies: The Newsies boys landed themselves a DS cover back in 2012 and have been earning nightly standing ovations ever since. The show features megawatt dancing from start to finish—try to resist the “seize the day” urge to join the boys onstage.
Once: A street musician in Dublin is ready to give up on his dream—but then a beautiful woman takes an interest in his love songs. All the actors in the show are also musicians who play their own instruments onstage.
The Phantom of the Opera: You get all the Broadway staples in this show: a damsel in distress who can really belt a tune, a mysterious admirer, a timeless love story and one especially big dance number (“Masquerade,” which opens the second act). Unsurprisingly, it’s the longest-running show on Broadway.
Pippin (photo by Joan Marcus)
Pippin: In this circusy remake of the 1972 Bob Fosse classic, prince Pippin takes off on a soul-searching journey—and he encounters some memorable characters along the way. High-flying action spices up Chet Walker’s reimagined Fosse choreography, which earned a Tony nomination in 2013.
Rock of Ages: If you love singing along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” you’ll probably love this show. It’s the story of how that small-town girl meets her city boy, and they rock out all along the way.
Rocky: Boxing takes Broadway! The dancing men in gloves are a major highlight of this Steven Hoggett– and Kelly Devine–choreographed show about Rocky Balboa, a down-and-out boxer in Philadelphia. The underdog story will tug at your heartstrings, but once “Eye of the Tiger” starts blasting, you’ll be ready to jump in the ring.
Violet: Sutton Foster (remember her from “Bunheads”?) takes the lead as the show’s title character, a young woman with a disfigured face. Violet believes a televangelist in Oklahoma can heal her, so she hops on a bus and finds true beauty along the way.
Wicked: Get comfortable on the edge of your seat, because that’s where you’ll be perched for most of this popular Broadway production. It’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz that tells the unusual story of how Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) and Glinda (the Good Witch) became frenemies. Watch out for the flying monkeys!
Get in, losers. We're going to Broadway.
OK, not losers, actually—more like the bajillion die-hard fans of Tina Fey's 2004 cult hit Mean Girls, who've been wearing pink every Wednesday since a musical adaptation of the film was first teased back in 2013.
Now their world is like a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, because Mean Girls the musical, which had a trial run in Washington, DC, last fall, is set to open at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre April 8. And in a very grool twist, it turns out the show—with direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a book by Fey herself—is delightfully dancey.
So WHY isn't there more video evidence of this hidden talent?
A few years ago, 16-year-old Kayla Gonzalez found herself dancing alongside a mean-spirited girl. “She could be so rude," says Gonzalez, who trains at The Dance Zone in Henderson, NV. “It got worse at competitions. She'd make up lies, saying my teammates and I were doing things we weren't. She was always trying to get ahead." Sound familiar? A competitive environment can bring out the very worst in some dancers' personalities. When put in a stressful situation, students can become bossy, overdramatic or downright mean. Here, DS breaks down four toxic types you might encounter, and offers tips on how to respond.
We've all seen the videos on Instagram: a professional ballerina, casually perched atop a BOSU ball, développé-ing like it's no big deal. When done properly, BOSU ball exercises are both insanely impressive and incredibly effective for strengthening your core, ankles, and overall stability. Dance Spirit turned to Joel Prouty, a NYC-based personal trainer and injury prevention/exercise-conditioning specialist, for his top three BOSU ball moves, ranging from easy to hard.
Photos by Erin Baiano. Modeled by Lauren Post, dancer with American Ballet Theatre.
Brian Friedman is not only a legend in his own right—he's also worked beside the biggest legends in the business. Growing up a Scottsdale, AZ, comp kid, Friedman was soon dancing behind Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Paula Abdul, and as an OG Newsie in the 1992 film. Now he calls the shots: He's choreographed and been creative director for icons like Britney, Cher, Beyoncé, and Mariah. Nominated for five MTV VMAs, two Music Video Production Association Awards, and four American Choreography Awards, Friedman's won an Industry Voice Award for best choreography, and a World of Dance award. Dance Spirit talked to Friedman to find out what inspires him. —Helen Rolfe
Let it gooooo! The much-anticipated musical version of Frozen, with choreography by the fabulous Rob Ashford, opens on Broadway tonight. And to get you even more excited about this latest dancy Disney venture, the show's team just released a brand-new trailer—a sneak peek at how they've translated the film's special magic into perhaps-even-more-impressive stage magic.
Dance competitions are where great memories are made. But—between the traveling, the challenging routines, and the bazillion costume changes—they're also the source of many, many #struggles. If you're a comp kid, you'll 100 percent be able to relate to these 10 problems.
Veteran Brooklynettes dancer Asha Singh knows what it takes to get a crowd pumped: This NBA season marks her fifth year on the squad. And as team captain, she's also well-versed in the art of keeping a team looking picture-perfect. An Overland Park, KS, native, she trained in ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, and tap as a child, and later majored in dance at the University of Missouri. Since then, she's danced with music legends, including Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, and performed in commercials for big brands like ESPN and T-Mobile. Catch her courtside cheering on the Brooklyn Nets—and read on for The Dirt.
Odds are you already know the photography of Omar Z Robles, whose images of dancers in striking natural settings mesmerize his hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers. Recently, Robles paid a visit to his native Puerto Rico for the first time since it was devastated by Hurricane Maria. And the images he captured of its resilient dancers, finding beauty in the ruined landscape, will bring tears to your eyes.
Principal Lloyd Knight has become a true standout in the Martha Graham Dance Company thanks to his compelling presence and dynamic technique. Knight, who performs leading roles in iconic pieces like Appalachian Spring and Embattled Garden, was born in England and raised in Miami, where he trained at the Miami Conservatory and later graduated from New World School of the Arts. He received scholarships to The Ailey School and The Dance Theatre of Harlem School in NYC and joined MGDC in 2005. Catch him onstage with MGDC during its New York City Center season this month. —Courtney Bowers