Broadway on Broad Street

In a previous post, I wrote about how to take a trip up to New York City to see a Broadway show.  In this post, I’ll write about how you can see Broadway shows without even leaving Philadelphia.

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Bullets Over Broadway tour at the Academy of Music, October 2015.

Once a successful Broadway show has finished its run in New York (or, in the case of hits like Wicked, The Book of Mormon, and Hamilton, while it is still running), its next step is to go on tour.  Broadway tours have the same production quality as they do in New York and sometimes even have stars from the original productions!  Back home in Hawaii, we would get maybe one Broadway tour every year or two.  Philadelphia is a great place to be because every year, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with The Shubert Organization, hosts a number of Broadway tours in the city.

This 2016-2017 season is full of amazing shows.  Unfortunately, the shows An American in Paris, Mamma Mia, The Bodyguard, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time have already moved on.  Still to come are:

The King and I (March 22-April 2) • Academy of Music
Cabaret (April 4-9) • Academy of Music
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (April 18-23) • Forrest Theatre
Dirty Dancing (May 16-21) • Merriam Theater
Motown the Musical (May 30-June 11) • Academy of Music
Fun Home (June 13-18) • Forrest Theatre
Wicked (July 26-August 27) • Academy of Music

We’re very lucky to have such a diverse lineup of quality shows coming our way.  All of these shows are very different, so there’s something for anyone.

The Shows

Out of the bunch, my favorite, and one of my favorite musicals of all-time, is Fun Home.  If you’re looking for a traditional musical, this show is not for you (in both form and content), but I would still recommend seeing it because it tells a unique story that “anyone born to a mother” can relate to and it won five Tony Awards in 2015, including Best Musical.

Now, if you do want a traditional musical theater experience, The King and I is a perfect choice.  One thing that annoys me about new musicals is that at some point composers stopped writing overtures (the instrumental piece that plays at the beginning of a show and introduces the audience to the various musical themes to come).  With The King and I, you get an overture (followed by a truly beautiful score), brilliant performances, a touching story, and a stunning set.

Do I need to say anything about Wicked?  Go see it.

Cabaret and Hedwig and the Angry Inch are both great shows, though a bit risqué. I guarantee these can be laugh-out-loud funny, with some sobs thrown in, but if you’re someone who’s not okay with the content, these might not be the shows for you.

I personally don’t know anything about Dirty Dancing or Motown, but I would assume that fans of the original movie and fans of Motown music would enjoy these shows respectively.

The Theaters

The most important thing to know when going to a see a Broadway show in Philadelphia is what theater its at.  There are three theaters that Broadway tours go to: The Academy of Music, the Forrest Theatre, and the Merriam Theater.  You’re in luck if the show is at The Academy of Music, because you can get the most affordable tickets, as long as you don’t mind

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Me and my roommates at the Book of Mormon tour at the Forrest Theatre.

where you’re sitting.  On the day of the show, you can purchase $30 rush tickets from the Academy of Music box office. Amphitheater (the highest seating section) tickets at the Academy of Music can be as low as $20 for obstructed view or limited comfort seats.  However, every time I have seen a show from the Academy of Music Amphitheater, the section has not been full and I have been able to move to a better seat.

Unfortunately, tickets at the Forrest Theatre and the Merriam Theater are all close to Broadway prices.  I’m still trying to find a good way to get inexpensive tickets to shows in those theaters—if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

I hope this post has given you some good information for seeing Broadway shows in Philadelphia.  Let me know if you see one!  I’ll definitely be hanging out in the Academy of Music’s Family Circle for The King and I and Cabaret.

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