We just got back from the first Broadway preview of [title of show]. It was a night at the theater I’ll never forget.
[title of show] is a musical about its own creation. It was written for the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2004, transferred to an Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theater, and led to a series of YouTube videos about the gang’s quest to get their show on Broadway. (More here.) It’s developed a big cult following among the theater geek set. We first saw it at the Vineyard a couple of years ago, we’d both watched all their videos, and we’ve listened to the cast album a lot, so a few weeks ago we decided to get some tickets for the first preview.
I have never heard cheering in a Broadway theater as loud as I heard in the Lyceum tonight. It was overwhelming. The audience was clearly filled with fans. From beginning to end, the audience screamed and shouting and clapped its heart out for the five people up there. It was a wall of sound.
I felt bad for the elderly couple sitting next to me. They seemed thoroughly baffled. I was next to the husband, who was using the theater’s hearing equipment. At the very beginning, when Larry Pressgrove, the music director, who is actually part of the show, walked out onto the stage, and the audience erupted in cheers, the man leaned over to me and asked who the guy and why everyone was cheering for him.
For the rest of the audience, it was lots of fun. And since the show is about trying to get to Broadway, and this was the first preview on Broadway, it was poignant. The audience spontaneously broke into a standing ovation at the end of the second-to-last song, and it must have lasted a good minute and a half. Who knows what the four principals, Jeff, Hunter, Susan, and Heidi, thought of this. Their expressions were frozen on their faces as they waited for the ovation to die down, but they must have been overwhelmed. During the final number, which is a low-key, poignant piece, a couple of their voices broke as they sang, and Susan’s eyes were filled with tears.
I don’t know how run-of-the-mill Broadway audiences will respond to it. They certainly won’t respond like the audience did tonight. That’s why it was so much fun to be there tonight.
There are a few kinks they need to work out with some of the new material. But the show remains clever and witty and endearing, and it’s filled with inside theater jokes. If you’re a theater geek — or any sort of creative type, for that matter — you’ll appreciate the show and its message.