To me, Thanksgiving means three things: delicious food, quality family time and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nothing says "It's the holidays!" quite like wrestling a turkey into the oven, while looking over my shoulder to make sure I haven't missed the Radio City Rockettes. (This has yet to end in disaster, knock on wood.)
So each November, I begin scouring the web for hints about the year's dancetastic performers. And I'm super psyched for what 2013 has to offer.
First, there's the pre-parade show, which features an assortment of fun dance numbers to celebrate the year's new Broadway shows. Get excited for excerpts from Motown, Pippin, and Matilda:
The Revolting Children from Matilda the Musical
In case that's not enough, we get a sneak-peek at The Sound of Music, Live!--an NBC telecast, airing December 5 at 8/7c, starring Carrie Underwood:
(courtesy NBC/Everett Collection)
The pre-parade show also features the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, who never fail to kick it up a notch:
The Radio City Rockettes perform at the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (by Taylor Hill/Getty Images North America)
After that, the parade procession begins (led by those ginormous character balloons..Snoopy's coming back this year guys!).
My favorite part of the procession? The various dance teams, who travel from all over the country to show off their spirit and skill in the Big Apple. This year, we'll be entertained by the South Shore Drill Team, Varsity Spirit Cheer, Spirit of America Dance, All That! (a clogging group that appeared on "America's Got Talent") and J.U.M.P. (Jumpers United for Macy's Parade).
Varsity Spirit Cheer brings infectious energy to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Added bonus: Cirque du Soleil is teaming up with Macy's this year to debut Dreamseeker, one of the parade's largest floats (which is sure to feature some of our favorite bendy acrobats).
Get excited! (And don't forget about that turkey in the oven...)
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.
I realize that if I were to ask you what your favorite Broadway musical is, you're likely to tell me it's Wicked, The Lion King, Newsies or Annie, yeah?
There are some instant-classic current hits rocking out on the Great White Way these days.
But let's not forget about the great shows of the past.
In fact, let's bring them back!
Beginning March 23 (and officially opening April 25), you can catch Pippin, back on Broadway! (Yes, the musical. Not to be confused with my favorite little dancer ever.) Plus, it's being directed by Diane Paulus, who did the revivals for Hair and The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess. And those both won Tony Awards. Just saying.
The revival is currently playing at the American Repertory Theater near Boston, but it will move to the Music Box Theatre in NYC this spring.
Not familiar with the ol' tale? Here's what you're in for: Fosse.
Oh I'm sorry, did you want to know more? Why does it even matter? This is a Bob Fosse show, people. He directed and choreographed the original when it opened in 1972. And that man could do no wrong.
But if you really did want to know more, I'll tell you that Pippin is about the soul-searching son of the first Holy Roman Emperor and it's all pop-rocky and whimsical and fun. There are also circus-y elements.
I'm excited. Join me!
If you're in NYC this month and free at lunchtime, consider heading over to Bryant Park for a special Broadway treat. Each Thursday (until August 14), performers from the hottest shows will come together to sing and dance their hearts out as part of a special summertime event hosted by 106.7 Lite FM.
Last week, performers from Pippin, Les Misérables, Chicago and the off-Broadway show Atomic took to the outdoor stage, and this Thursday, the lineup is even better: Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Avenue Q, Piece of My Heart and Bullets over Broadway. Take a look at the complete list of performances—you don't want to miss out, especially when the shows are free!
Can't wait until Thursday? Check out these clips of Chicago's Bianca Marroquin (Roxie Hart) and Amra-Faye Wright (Velma Kelly) from last week's show. Be sure to get to the park early to stake out a spot.
Broadway Week is definitely one of the most magical times of the year. Why? Because through February 6, many Broadway tickets are now 2 for the price of 1. The best musicals ever for half the price? AMAZING. Now's your chance to catch up on the latest and greatest on the Great White Way. Click here for the full list of participating shows. And here are our must-see options with a little video inspiration:
After Midnight. Because Duke Ellington, tap dancing and so many split leaps.
Chicago the Musical. Because you loved the movie, and live is better. (And it's now starring Bebe Neuwirth as Matron Mama Morton!)
Matilda the Musical. Because look at all the cuties!
Newsies. Because it's still the danciest show on Broadway.
Pippin. Because Fosse.
This is pretty much how we felt when we heard that "Matilda: The Musical" had earned 12 noms. (cast of "Matilda" photographed by Joan Marcus)
...and some of our favorite dance-y musicals racked up quite a few! (Not that we're all that surprised.)
Are we a little bit sad that Matilda's noms don't include any for the four extraordinary little girls who play the title character? Totally. But thankfully they'll receive their own special Tony Award. And the Best Actress in a Musical category is already stacked with talented dancers, including Pippin's Patina Miller and Motown: The Musical's Valisia LeKae.
Other highlights include nine nominations for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, four for Motown: The Musical and two for the dearly departed Bring It On: The Musical. Click here for the full list.
[Sidenote: What could make Tony Award nomination day feel even more like Christmas morning? Broadway-babe-turned-TV-star Sutton Foster and best "So You Think You Can Dance" judge ever Jesse Tyler Ferguson making the announcements, that's what! Adorable.]
Pippin, with Patina Miller (center), looks more like a circus than a Broadway show. (Michael J. Lutch)
Die-hard musical theater fans rejoice: A classic is returning to the Broadway stage! For the first time since its original five-year run closed in 1977, Pippin is making a whole new mark on the Great White Way.
The original production featured choreography and direction by Broadway master Bob Fosse. This updated version, which was first performed in December at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, fuses the old with the new, with updated choreography by Chet Walker. “There are a couple places in the show where the original choreography appears—the ‘Manson Trio,’ the calypso dance from ‘With You’ and then a bit of ‘Magic to Do’—but with a twist,” says Pippin dancer Molly Tynes. “In the other numbers, Chet kind of tips his hat to the Fosse choreography.” Walker was in Pippin’s original Broadway company and is one of the few choreographers sanctioned by the Verdon/Fosse Estate to teach his iconic style.
So, we know the dancing will be phenomenal, but what is Pippin about? The dark musical comedy tells the fictionalized story of Pippin (the real-life son of King Charlemagne), who is trying to find his place in life. The plot is peppered with over-the-top characters: a mischievous lead player (a sort of emcee), an evil stepmother, a quirky grandmother and, of course, a beautiful love interest. And this production pulls out all the stops, presenting Pippin’s adventures as a circus. In fact, half the ensemble members are dancers, and the other half are circus-trained acrobats. Tynes walks that line, as the only dancer who also does aerial work. “The acrobats bring an interesting flavor to the cast because they come from a completely different world,” she says. “They’re doing these absolutely insane tricks you’re just not going to believe.”
Fosse-style choreography, a stage-ready story and classic Broadway tunes—why did it take so long for this show to be revived? “I think it’s difficult to take something that’s so memorialized and make it appealing to new audiences without alienating the old,” Tynes says. “But adding the circus element gives the show a new context, and we’ve had great feedback from people who loved the original and feel this is the way to bring it into the future.”
Pippin opens at the Music Box Theatre in NYC April 25. Get your tickets at pippinthemusical.com.
Patina Miller (center) as the Lead Player in "Pippin." Photo by Michael J. Lutch.
Once upon a time, about 35 years ago, a college guy fell in love with one of his classmates. She was not interested, which made him sad.
The guy, being kind of artsy-fartsy, was a member of an a cappella ensemble. One day, feeling inspired, he decided to arrange "Corner of the Sky"—a song from one of Broadway's biggest hits at the time, Pippin—for the group. It was (and is) a great song, openhearted and earnest, with lyrics about the challenges of finding one's place in the world.
The guy sang the song at his a cappella group's next performance. The girl heard him sing it, and suddenly she began to see the guy in a new light. She started falling for him.
A few years later, the guy and girl got married. And more than three decades after that a cappella performance, my parents are still going strong—and singing songs from Pippin.
OK, I'm sorry. That was a lot of non-dancey mushiness. But there wasn't any other way to explain to you why I'm so excited about the fact that a new production of Pippin just opened in previews on Broadway. Thanks to Mom and Dad, I grew up listening to Pippin’s Stephen Schwartz soundtrack over and over on family car trips. Then, once I started dancing, I got reaaaally into the show's choreography, by this dude Bob Fosse you've maybe heard of a couple of times. (You guys: Watch this, right now.) In college, I even toned down my bunhead-iness enough to perform in a production of it. It's one of those shows that's defined my life.
Not many people are familiar with Pippin these days, but my obsession with it isn't unmerited: As we told you a few weeks ago, it's a great musical. And the revival has a circus-y twist, with crazy acrobatics spicing up Chet Walker's re-imagining of Fosse's original choreography. I got a sneak peek at the new Pippin, directed by the amazing Diane Paulus, a few weeks ago, and it looked absolutely fantastic. (You CANNOT MISS Patina Miller as the Lead Player, a role originated by Ben Vereen.)
Anyway, all I'm really trying to say is: Go. See. This. Show. It's in previews now at the Music Box Theatre, and officially opens on April 25th.
I'll see you there—and so will my mom and dad.