Questions of eternal significance: What is the best play you've ever seen?

I know that not everyone is as big of a theater geek as I am, but I think that most of us have seen a broadway show or two that knocked our socks off. (And if you haven't . . . skip the Starbucks next month and get yourself to a local theater!)

Today, I've been thinking back to some of my first theater experiences, in particular because we just bought tickets for the whole family to see The Lion King. (Incidentally, those tickets cost about as much as my first car. But as a family, we've identified theater and travel as the two things we splurge on. We may be driving 10-year-old cars, but dammit! This family is gonna see some shows.)

I've also been contemplating taking India to see Les Miz. It's touring her next year and she's been begging me. She knows the music and has watched the PBS concert numerous times. I'm a little ambivalent about taking her. On the one hand, I really want to share that experience with her. On the other hand . . . prostitutes and Gavroche’s demise.

But it has made me reflective of my first time seeing Les Miz. Look, I know Les Miz has been overplayed and overdone, especially after the movie event last summer. But let’s take it back . . . back to that first time. Back before our cynicism kicked in, before the mainstream appeal cheapened the story, before Russel Crowe . . . back to our first response at the music and the story. You have to admit IT WAS AWESOME.

My mother-in-law and I were talking about our first time seeing Les Miz the other day. My mother-in-law describes her first time seeing it as “a religious experience”, which I love. This was true for me as well. My parents didn’t take me to a lot of broadway shows growing up, even though I was a full-fledged drama geek by my teen years. When I was about 16, Les Miz was showing at a local theater but the tickets were way beyond my budget. One Saturday, I decided to drive to the theater and try my luck finding someone selling a ticket on the cheap. I found a man who was there with his three young sons, whose wife had gotten the flu that morning. I bought his extra ticket and sat next to this man and his three little boys, who knew all the words and sang along. They asked questions throughout the play but I thought their presence and curiosity was just so cute that I didn’t mind. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to introduce my own kids to the theater.

This show of Les Miz was also the first professional show I had ever seen, and I was blown away. I remember sobbing from intermission right up until the final bows. And that moment, when they hit the perfect high notes on “to love another person is to see the face of God . . .” I CANNOT EVEN.  My favorite theater moment.

Although seeing the original cast of In the Heights wasn’t too bad either.

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(Karis’s first show!)


How about you? Do you have a favorite theater moment?

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