From fairy godmothers to lions, witches and outrageous wardrobes, the Great White Way has something for everyone. Here’s your guide to the greatest—and danciest—hits.
New & Noteworthy
Cinderella (by Carol Rosegg)
Cinderella: You know that story where a dowdy (but beautiful) young girl meets her prince charming and gets to rock a pair of glass slippers? The first Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical has furiously fast onstage quick changes, a flying fairy godmother and two hilarious stepsisters.
Matilda: The Musical (by Joan Marcus)
Matilda: The Musical: Roald Dahl’s story comes to life as Matilda, the bookwormiest kid in her class, discovers she has supernatural powers, bringing the audience into a fun and mischievous world of imagination.
Motown: The Musical (by Joan Marcus)
Motown: The Musical: Think VH1’s “Behind The Music,” stage-style, in this awesomely soundtracked show about Berry Gordy, the man who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
Pippin (by Joan Marcus)
Pippin: The circus comes to Broadway! Kind of. In this remake of the 1972 Bob Fosse classic, young prince Pippin embarks on a soul-searching journey—and director Diane Paulus has brought some acrobats along for the adventure. Expect tons of high-flying action on top of Chet Walker’s Fosse-inspired choreography.
Kinky Boots (by Matthew Murphy)
Kinky Boots: A straight-laced shoemaker’s son and a flamboyant cross-dresser team up in this ode to unexpected friendships. You’ll love the chorus of dancing men in dangerously high heels belting Cyndi Lauper tunes, plus you’ll learn an important lesson about acceptance.
Jersey Boys (by Joan Marcus)
Jersey Boys: Learn how Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons hit the big time while dancing in your seat to the killer soundtrack, which includes hits like “Rag Doll,” “Sherry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
The Lion King (by Joan Marcus)
The Lion King: You already know the Disney story of Simba and his jungle buddies—and the Broadway version doesn’t have a happier beginning (R.I.P. Mufasa). But the cast members in life-sized hyena, elephant and giraffe costumes will blow your mind. Hakuna matata!
Mammi Mia! (by Joan Marcus)
Mamma Mia!: If you liked the Meryl Streep movie, you’ll go dancing-queen–crazy for the original stage version, set to ABBA’s greatest hits.
The Phantom of the Opera (by Joan Marcus)
The Phantom of the Opera: It’s the longest-running show on Broadway and Act I ends with a bang (really): They drop a crystal chandelier from the theater’s ceiling onto the stage!
Wicked (by Joan Marcus)
Wicked: This show is consistently at the top of Broadway’s “most likely to sell out” list, and for good reason: The sets and costumes are lavish, the flying monkeys will keep you on the edge of your seat and the heartfelt tale of how Elphaba and Glinda—the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch, respectively—grew up together just may get you to shed a tear.
Fun for the Whole Family…
Lilla Crawford as Annie (by James Lapine)
Annie: An orphan girl meets her Daddy Warbucks, and suddenly it’s not such a hard-knock life. The cast of cute kids—and a dog!—will get you singing along and beaming from ear to ear. After all, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (by Jacob Cohl)
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: High-flying adventure, a love story and an original score by U2’s Bono and The Edge? Sold!
The Book of Mormon (by Joan Marcus)
The Book of Mormon: The F-bombs may fly at rapid speed, but the tap-dancing missionaries are adorable and Casey Nicholaw’s choreography makes this 2011 Tony winner for Best Musical unforgettably fun. Just proceed with caution: The show, created by “South Park” masterminds Matt Stone and Trey Parker, isn’t for the easily offended.
Rock of Ages (by Joan Marcus)
Rock of Ages: It’s the ultimate jukebox musical that’ll make you want to sing along—you just may not want to do so alongside your parents. The “small-town girl meets rocker boy” material is mostly PG, save for a few raunchy scenes involving a bathroom stall. We say take your girlfriends—or pas de deux partner!—instead.
Go for the Dancing
Newsies (by Deen Van Meer)
Newsies: Arguably the danciest show of them all, Newsies burst onto the scene last year to rave reviews and standing ovations (plus a DS cover story!). The boys in this cast jump so high, turn so fast and sing with such heart that you’ll be tempted to leap onstage yourself. Hey, seize the day!
Chicago (by Paul Kolnik)
Chicago: It’s sexy, it’s scandalous—it’s Bob Fosse on Broadway. You know the songs and you’ve danced your own version of the “Cell Block Tango”; now it’s time to catch the fishnet-filled original.
Several of our favorite shows on Broadway right now are super kid-centric. (I'm looking at you, Annie and Matilda.) Besides being insanely jealous of the munchkins who are dominating the Great White Way before they’ve even finished middle school, I couldn’t be happier for the stars of these shows. (Talk about a dream come true!)
And this just in: They’re all friends with each other!
I can’t get over the photos from Annie star Lilla Crawford’s 12th birthday party this week. She had it at Cake Boss Café, the new NYC bakery inspired by reality show Cake Boss (yum!), and the invite list included the kid cast of Annie (including February 2013 “You Should Know” Maddie Rae DiPietro) and the stars of Matilda: The Musical: Bailey Ryon, Sophia Gennusa, Milly Shapiro and Oona Laurence. Check it out:
Lilla Crawford gets a kiss from Sunny. By Joan Marcus
It’s definitely not a hard-knock life for Lilla Crawford. At only 11 years old, she’s singing, dancing and acting her heart out on a Broadway stage—for the second time! This L.A. native made her Broadway debut in 2011, playing Debbie in the closing cast of Billy Elliot. Now she’s donning a red wig to star in the title role of the Annie revival, opening at the Palace Theatre on November 8. Dance Spirit chatted with Lilla just a couple weeks after she started rehearsals.
Dance Spirit: What was your reaction when you found out you’d landed the role of Annie?
Lilla Crawford: I was really, really excited. I thought, “Wait, what? Really?” It was this moment of disbelief. It was Friday the 13th when I found out, so now I think that date is lucky.
DS: Who was the first person you told?
LC: I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone at first—I had to wait three weeks. I went on the “Today” show to announce it, and then we put it on my Facebook fan page. So everybody kind of found out at once. My friends were calling me like, “Oh my gosh, really?” They were sad to see me leave L.A., but they were so happy for me. I know they’re all going to come see me perform.
DS: What have rehearsals been like so far?
LC: Building the show in rehearsals has been so cool. Every day I learn something new, and I’m excited to do the show from start to finish. All the scenes are fun, and the other kids are my best friends. We met for the first time during the audition process, and they’re all so nice. Also, working with the dog who plays Sandy is great. Her name is Sunny, and she’s the cutest. We’ve been practicing together a lot.
DS: Do you have a favorite part of the show?
LC: I love the whole show! I’ve seen the movie a million times, and I saw the play when it toured to L.A. I don’t really have a favorite part, but I like the number “N.Y.C.” That one’s fun to perform.
DS: You made your Broadway debut in Billy Elliot last year. So far, how is Annie different?
LC: The rehearsal process is definitely different. With Billy Elliot, I was being put into a show that was already running, so I started rehearsing by myself, then with the other Ballet Girls, and then finally with the rest of the cast. But I only rehearsed with the whole cast once before I went on. For Annie, we’re learning it all together because it’s an original cast. I’m excited because I’ve never done previews, a tech week or an opening night before. I think my favorite part will be tech week, when we start to rehearse onstage with all the cool set pieces and costumes.
DS: Imagine yourself in 10 years. What will you be doing?
LC: I’ll probably still be acting because I love it so much. There are so many parts I would love to play, but my dream role would probably be Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. That would be a really fun character.
Putting a new spin on Annie, a show from the 1970s—which in turn was based on a comic strip from the ’20s—is no easy feat. After all, it’s hard to think of little orphan Annie without her signature red hair and old-timey catchphrases. When the latest film version of Annie hits theaters this month, though, it’ll be a totally fresh (but equally loveable) take on the iconic musical, with the lead role played by Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. (Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz also star in the movie, which was produced in part by Jay-Z and Will Smith.) Choreographer Zach Woodlee, whom you know from “Glee,” revamped the classic dance numbers. Dance Spirit caught up with Woodlee and Wallis to get the inside scoop.
Quvenzhané Wallis (far right) and the cast of Annie (photo by Barry Wechter, courtesy Sony Entertainment
Dance Spirit: What’s your favorite scene in the new film?
Zach Woodlee: Definitely “Hard-Knock Life.” Director Will Gluck wanted it to be very athletic, so there’s a lot of tumbling and throwing mops and brooms around. The hardest part was getting the girls to toss and catch the props while singing—and without flinching. I wish I had worn earplugs for rehearsals. There was so much clattering and banging!
Quvenzhané Wallis: That part was hard—we all kept hitting each other! Luckily, we figured it out. But my favorite part is “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” when I go to see where Jamie Foxx’s character lives, and I sing and dance while exploring the house.
DS: What were rehearsals like?
ZW: A lot of movement came out of the girls themselves. The rehearsal space looked like someone had put a kitchen and janitor’s closet inside a dance studio—it was filled with everything you could imagine, from feather dusters to hula hoops to pogo sticks. When we’d take a 10-minute break, the girls would play with all the props, and then I’d incorporate that into the choreography.
DS: Quvenzhané, what was most challenging about playing Annie?
QW: Remembering all the choreography. But I really like dancing, so it was fun. I’d love to do another role with dancing.
DS: Zach, did Quvenzhané have a lot of dance training coming in?
ZW: She didn’t, though her older sister dances, and sometimes they’d practice together. Her mom also helped out: In one of Cameron Diaz’s songs, the script dictated that the girls were to play double Dutch—but I didn’t know how to do it. The next day on set, Quvenzhané’s mom ended up teaching all of us!
DS: What do you love most about this Annie?
QW: It takes place in the present, and it’s really upbeat. And I love the music—this version has hip hop and R&B. And there are new songs, too.
Save the Date!
You won’t want to miss the other musical making its way to the silver screen. Into the Woods—the Tony-winning classic that weaves all of the best fairy tales into one adventure—hits theaters Christmas day. The film’s cast includes the legendary Meryl Streep, Broadway baby (and former Annie!) Lilla Crawford and Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick. And it’s directed by Rob Marshall, who’s no stranger to bringing Broadway to Hollywood: He directed the Oscar-winning film version of Chicago. Visit movies.disney.com for more info.
(Photo by Tracy Whiteside/thinkstock.com)
1. Your teacher asks you to freestyle at the end of class. What’s your go-to showstopper?
A. A huge shimmy followed by a big body-roll
B. Time steps, pullbacks and wings until your taps nearly fall off
C. The quadruple pirouette your teacher didn’t even know you’d mastered
D. Sky-high extensions with perfect turnout and pointed feet
2. At lunch, you’re most likely to be surrounded by…
A. …all the boys.
B. …the girls you’ve been best friends with since kindergarten.
C. …no one. You kind of do your own thing.
D. …dance friends one day, jocks another. You bounce from group to group.
3. Your school’s big homecoming dance is this weekend. What are you wearing?
A. Something bright, flirty and spotlight-worthy
B. Whatever’s clean—everything goes great with a smile.
C. A black dress. I stick with what works.
D. Something that coordinates with my friends’ outfits
4. What’s your karaoke song?
A. “Roar,” by Katy Perry
B. “Royals,” by Lorde
C. “Born This Way,” by Lady Gaga
D. “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift
5. You’re competing this weekend. Which routine are you most looking forward to?
A. My solo. When I’m onstage alone, I don’t have to worry about showing up my teammates.
B. The small group jazz routine my friends and I have been working on all season. It’s not too complicated, but it’s tons of fun.
C. I was gunning for a solo, but it went to another girl at my studio, so I’ll be in the audience watching and learning.
D. My duo. My partner and I have tons of chemistry, and we can’t wait to show it off.
6. Your birthday’s coming up. Any fun plans?
A. I’m throwing a big party—the whole grade is invited!
B. I’m secretly hoping for a trip to NYC with my parents. But if that doesn’t happen, maybe a movie with my friends.
C. A quiet night in. I doubt my classmates even know it’s my birthday.
D. I’m planning to show off my new look—I’m getting a birthday makeover!
7. If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
A. Mind reading. I’d love to hear all the wonderful things people are thinking about me!
B. The ability to talk to animals. I know they have a lot to say.
C. Flying. Sometimes you just have to get away.
D. Time travel. I wouldn’t mind reliving last summer—it was amazing!
8. What’s your best subject in school?
A. public speaking
B. home economics
9. There’s a rumor going around school—about you! How do you handle it?
A. I laugh it off and confront the big talkers. People are just jealous. Plus, all attention is good attention, right?
B. I ignore it. It’ll all blow over by tomorrow.
C. I’m embarrassed at first, but then I move on. I don’t need validation from others.
D. I cry and go straight to my friends for support.
10. You’re in a crowded convention class with your favorite teacher. Where do you stand?
A. Front and center. I want to see her, and I definitely want to make sure she can see me.
B. I lead my studio friends toward the front of the room, but off to the side where there’s room for us to stay together.
C. It doesn’t matter, as long as I have enough space to dance full-out every time.
D. My friends have usually staked out a spot by the time I get there, so I join them.
Scroll down for your results...
(In purple) Karen Olivo as Anita with the Shark girls in West Side Story (Photo by Joan Marcus)
If you scored mostly A’s, you’re Anita from West Side Story.
You love being the center of attention, and you’re not afraid to show off for a crowd. The more sparkles on your costume, the better!
Lila Crawford as Annie with Sunny (photo by Joan Marcus)
If you scored mostly B’s, you’re Annie from Annie.
You’re a loyal friend, and you’re always thinking about what’s best for your entire team. You’re endlessly optimistic—if you don’t nail that tough combination today, you’ll get it tomorrow.
Nicole Parker as Elphaba in Wicked (photo by Joan Marcus)
If you scored mostly C’s, you’re Elphaba from Wicked.
You’re strong-willed, independent and willing to work hard for what you want—even if that means flying solo sometimes. Your determination will pay off in the end.
Max Crumm and Laura Osnes as Danny and Sandy in Grease (photo by Scott Gries)
If you scored mostly D’s, you’re Sandy from Grease.
You’re perky, preppy and a hopeless romantic. You’re a perfectionist in the studio, and you have big dreams for the future.
January 5 was a sad day—it marked the final performance of Annie The Musical's Broadway revival.
But there's good news: Columbia Pictures is in the final production stage of its modern remake, which is set to hit theaters this Christmas. That's right, Little Orphan Annie is coming out of the Great Depression and into the 21st century.
Star of the Broadway revival, Taylor Richardson (left), poses with "new" Annie, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Sunny the dog (Sandy!) (Photo by Bruce Glikas)
The new Annie, played by the Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of a Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave), is a foster kid living in Harlem, who bumps into a wealthy politician (played by Jamie Foxx!) while running through the streets of NYC. Another familiar face? Cameron Diaz is Miss Hannigan.
We don't know about you guys, but we're totally sold.
Just some casual NYC street dancing...with a full band, of course.
But if you're a little bit more skeptical (looking at you, diehard Annie fans), check this out: On Wednesday, Columbia Pictures released the movie's first trailer—and we're excited to say that it includes both singing and dancing to the original songs we all know and love.
Looks like the sun will come out tomorrow...or rather, on Christmas Day. But, you know, we can wait.
I am thankful for these puppies. So thankful for these puppies...
Between the turkey, the gravy, the stuffing, the desserts and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, there's a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.
But take a moment today to think about things in the bigger picture you're thankful for, like finally nailing your triple pirouette—on pointe!—or landing your dream role in your company's production of The Nutcracker.
We have a tradition here at the Dance Spirit office: I force everyone to tell me what they're most thankful for, and it has to be dance-related. In the [dance] spirit of sharing, giving and being grateful, here's what each DS editor had to say...
"I'm thankful I get to live in NYC. Yes, it sometimes smells like garbage and there are way too many people on the sidewalks at any given time. But it's also the city of Broadway, which is my favorite thing in the whole wide world. While we're on the topic, I'm thankful I get to chat with Broadway performers every day for my job!" —Rachel Zar, managing editor
"I'm thankful for Nutcracker season—and those are words I never thought I'd say. It took me more than a decade to go from 'I never want to hear that music again' to 'Maybe I'll just play a little Waltz of the Flowers to get me through my workout.' But here I am, rooting for Team Nut. It's a magical ballet with a magical score, and I'm seeing three different productions of it this year. Thanks for bringing me—not to mention countless trinas-to-be—endless joy, Nutcracker." —Margaret Fuhrer, associate editor
"I'm thankful for a job that combines my two passions: writing and dance. And I'm thankful for ballet class. Any time I get homesick, I just reach for the barre and I'm home." —Maggie McNamara, assistant editor
"I'm thankful I've been able to experience so many difference facets of the dance world—dancer, teacher, administrator and now Dance Spirit fashion editor!" —Meggie Hermanson, fashion editor
My beloved Matilda kids. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Me? I'm thankful for the Newsies boys, the Annie orphans and the Matilda revolting children on Broadway. I'm thankful for my dream job and the fabulous DS team that makes each issue so great and each day so fun. I'm thankful for the In the Heights soundtrack, which powered me through mile 15 of the New York City Marathon earlier this month, and I'm thankful for all those Sunday afternoons when I discover Center Stage on TV. And, of course, I'm thankful for each of you for reading Dance Spirit and sharing your wonderful stories with me.
Dancers reveal the funniest—and sweetest—things their fans have ever done for them.
Corey Cott (by Lorenzo Bevilaqua)
Jack Kelly in Newsies on Broadway
"Newsies has the most incredible, loyal fans ever. There are kids who have come to the show 60 or 70 times, and at the stage door we’re on a first-name basis. They even come to our softball games (all the shows on Broadway have their own softball teams) and bring cookies and treats.
"They make us really creative things, like bracelets and drawings. Every day it’s something new. One fan gave me a toy train with the words “Santa Fe” on it, since my character wants to get on a train to Santa Fe. I have that on a shelf in my dressing room. And someone brought a rubber toy “pape” for my new puppy.
"The drawings people have done of me are my favorites. Some are more realistic than others. Over the last year I’ve hung them up on my dressing room door, and now it’s
become a wall of more than 25 drawings."
Maddie Ziegler (by Portraits with Pride)
"One time, I arrived at the studio and a boy came up to me and gave me a dozen roses and a long letter. He and his dad were in town for a hockey tournament. They were all dressed up, and had flowers for my mom and my sister, too.
"In the letter, he said he loved my dancing, and he gave me his phone number and a school picture. I still have the dried flowers and the letter at home. It’s funny that so many boys like the show!"
Sarah Lamb in Christopher Wheeldon’s Electric Counterpoint (Johan Persson)
Principal, The Royal Ballet
“I was dancing Sugar Plum Fairy once in Atlanta, and I received the most beautiful and surprising present. A girl gave me a very old copy of e. e. cummings’ The Enormous Room. She must have read in an article somewhere that he’s one of my favorite writers. It was exceptional; this girl seemed to know me so well, despite the fact we’d never met.”
Rasta Thomas (Courtesy Bad Boys of Dance)
Creator of Bad Boys of Dance
"I used to have a PO box where fans could send letters, and I would get pictures, candy and handwritten love letters with perfume and little lipstick kisses on them. Now, most fan mail is through Facebook or email. The love letters are always flattering—and the “Will you marry me?” ones are extra-special!
"Some of the dancers in my company have fans who have actually tattooed the dancers’ faces somewhere on their bodies. Ryan Carlson and the Lombard twins have both reached tattoo status. I can’t say I’ve been tattooed yet. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone—my nose is far too big!"
Amelia Lowe in a Mandy Moore routine with fellow contestant Will Thomas (Adam Rose/FOX)
“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 contestant
"Last November, I was on the 'SYTYCD' tour in Boston and we performed on the night of my birthday. I was bummed the whole day because it was my first birthday away from home and without my family around.
"When we walked out the stage door, there were about 70 fans who had waited half an hour in the cold to see us. I mentioned to one of them that it was my birthday, and then the entire line sang 'Happy Birthday to You' to me! It was this line of complete strangers who just wanted the best for me, and it totally cheered me up and made me feel special."
Yann Trividic in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony (by Kyle Froman)
Former principal dancer, Miami City Ballet
"Sometimes, when fans hug me, they try to sneak in a kiss! I have to turn my face so they wind up kissing my cheek.When people feel moved, sometimes they have a very special way of expressing how thankful they are. And that’s OK—I’m French, it works"
Sarah Pasch in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco (by Angela Sterling)
Corps de ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet
"Our company toured to NYC last February, and before we left Seattle, our videographer went around and asked a few people what our must-have airplane supplies were. I said crossword puzzles.
"When we got back, a young girl named Ella, who goes to the PNB school, stopped me in the hallway and said, “Sarah, I saw your video and that you really like crossword puzzles, and I brought you some!” It was the sweetest thing. Ever since she was my “daughter” in the Nutcracker a couple years ago, she’s been one of my biggest fans."
(L to R) Katie Finnegan, Clarke Thorell and J. Elaine Marcos in Annie (by Joan Marcus)
J. Elaine Marcos
Lily St. Regis in Annie on Broadway
"In my last show, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I did a dance number, and my “trick” at the end was shooting hundreds of Ping-Pong balls into the audience from my costume and my mouth. If someone got a Ping-Pong ball, it was like catching a baseball at a game. They would ask me to sign them at the stage door.
"A lot of fans gave me bedazzled Ping-Pong balls, and one fan made me a mold of a mouth with a Ping-Pong ball inside. There was glitter on the lips because Priscilla is all about glitter and sparkles. I thought, “Oh my gosh! Someone took the time to do all of this!” It was sweet, and very funny.
"Then, on my opening night of Annie, my former Priscilla fans sent me lilies, since my character is named Lily St. Regis. My entire dressing room was filled with lilies"