Summer is the perfect time to catch a Broadway show, and not just because the theaters are so well air-conditioned. Summer 2014 marks the last time to see some of Broadway’s most talked about names, while the many new musicals that debuted in spring have worked out any kinks and are in full swing. We also threw in some perennial favorites that have been going strong on Broadway for years. These family-friendly shows (for both boys and girls) are top picks for summer vacation and will keep the kids far from bored. Here are our picks for what to see on Broadway this summer in New York.
The Book of Mormon
If you haven’t seen this hiliarious hit musical yet, what are you waiting for? From South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez (who also won a Tony for Avenue Q and just won an Oscar for Frozen) comes this riotous send-up of organized religion. Sharp, incisive satire combines with solid storytelling as two Mormon missionaries find themselves in the poorest country in Africa. Right after the show won Best Musical at the 2011 Tony Awards, tickets were almost impossible to get. Seats are easier to come by now, but The Book of Mormon is still one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Serial killers and musical comedy seem like an unlikely combination, but the daffy and delightful A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder brings out the laughter in manslaughter. When destitute Monty Navarro discovers he is ninth in line to a fabulous fortune, he begins eliminating his relatives in increasingly inventive ways. Jefferson Mays’ spectacular performance as all eight of the victims is reason enough to see this funny show, but there are also wonderful turns by Bryce Pinkham as the charmingly murderous Monty, Lisa O’Hare and Lauren Worsham as the ladies in his life, and Jane Carr as the mysterious servant Miss Shingle. Add witty songs with tongue-twisting lyrics and you have a must-see.
The 2013 Best Musical Tony winner still rocks Broadway, with Cyndi Lauper’s soulful score and Harvey Fierstein’s warm and witty book. Kinky Boots, based on the 2005 movie, follows shoe factory owner Charlie Price as he struggles to save his father’s legacy, finding help in a flamboyant drag performer named Lola. Billy Porter, who portrays Lola, won the 2013 Best Actor in a Musical Tony for his performance, and isn’t leaving the show any time soon.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
This beloved classic is the ideal show for little princesses and their families. Based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein TV-special (as opposed to the Disney cartoon), Broadway’s Cinderella will still be familiar to anyone who grew up with the iconic fairy-tale. The show does get a modern-day make-over thanks to Douglas Carter Beane’s witty book and Mark Brokaw’s clever staging, plus William Ivey Long’s Tony-winning costumes are a show unto themselves. Pop princess Carly Rae Jepsen stars as the title character and Fran Drescher as her wicked stepmother, but only through June 8.
Broadway isn’t just for little girls. Their brothers will also love Disney’s Newsies, which features a chorus full of scrappy newsboys tapping and brawling as they fight for their rights against an oppressive publisher in turn-of-the-century New York. It’s some of the best choreography on stage now, featuring flips, spins and jumps that has the audience on their feet (the show was, unsurprisingly, the 2012 Tony winner for Best Choreography). Your challenge will be keeping the kids from trying to recreate the moves on crowded New York sidewalks. The show will be closing for good on August 24, so don’t miss out.
Bullets Over Broadway
This one is for the adults. Woody Allen’s wildly funny film comedy Bullets Over Broadway comes to the stage with music from the Roaring 20s. Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, Big Fish) directs and choreographs the riotous action and Allen himself writes the book based on his screenplay, co-authored with Doug McGrath. As with the movie, the plot revolves around an aspiring playwright who gets his chance to see his show produced on Broadway, but it comes with strings attached by the mobster financier. The show will be closing on August 24, so this summer is your last chance to see Scrubs star Zach Braff making his Broadway debut alongside theater vets Marin Mazzie (Ragtime) and Brooks Ashmanskas (The Producers), plus The Sopranos’ Vincent Pastore.
The cast really does have magic to do in this reinvented staging of the 1972 razzle-dazzler (read how the show got its circus look here). Astonishing, gravity-defying circus acts punctuate Stephen Schwartz’s memorable score as the young Medieval prince Pippin seeks his destiny. Pippin is a perfect show for family audiences. Kids will be enthralled by the juggling, acrobatics and knife-throwing while adults will be enhanced by the virtuoso singing and dancing.
The musical Rocky is a rare example of a screen-to-stage transfer which improves on the original. Andy Karl adds a glimmer of street smarts to Sylvester Stallone’s iconic underdog and director Alex Timbers stages the climactic fight right in the audience’s lap. You’ll be cheering for Rocky in his heavyweight bout with the bombastic champ Apollo Creed as the ring revolves, video cameramen capture live footage on jumbotron screen, two sportcasters offer color commentary in a booth high above the stage, and two top pugilists trade punches. The show will only be at the Winter Garden Theatre until August 17, so don’t delay.
Even after a decade, the origin story of the witches of Oz is still one of the most popular shows on Broadway. Wicked‘s story of good versus evil will resonate with kids of all ages, as will the shimmering costumes and high-flying antics. In fact, Elphaba’s gravity defying moves made our list of the best special effects on stage. Chances are the kids will still be talking about it when school starts back up in the fall.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
This is not a conventional Broadway show by any means. Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the tale of an East German wanna-be rock star dealing with a botched sex change operation. The show won the Tony for Best Musical Revival this year, and Neil Patrick Harris won the Best Actor in a Musical Tony for his dazzling performance as Hedwig. Lena Hall also won Best Supporting Actress for her transformative role as Hedwig’s husband, Yitzhak. Harris will star until August 17, and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon) will take over the Hedwig role on August 20 for an eight-week run.