Ranch & Coast Magazine

November 2023

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Page 65 of 91

I'm still an admirer of Lady Liberty, but since that first visit, I've also become a fan of live theater, and now my New York trips are mostly motivated by Broadway shows. Of course, covid caused theaters to close, but they're open again and making a robust return to pre-pandemic numbers. At the moment, some of the hottest tickets are for shows written by songwriting genius Stephen Sondheim, who passed away while theaters were dark. One of these, Sweeney Todd: e Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is drawing capacity audiences. In addition to its rich score being played by one of Broadway's largest orchestras, the main attraction is the headlining presence of popular singer-actor Josh Groban in the title role. Nearby, Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along has received universal acclaim. Off Broadway, the hottest ticket in town is Here We Are, a new musical Sondheim was working on at the time of his death. Of all the non-Sondheim shows, I'm most intrigued by & Juliet, a pop-music romp that imagines what else might have happened after Shakespeare's Romeo takes his own life beside Juliet's presumed corpse. What if she awoke and decided not to end it all? is more female-friendly course of events flips the script and gives Juliet a second chance at life and love. Kimberly Akimbo is another highly original musical about a teenager who pursues joy in her life despite having a rare disease, and Hadestown is a musical update of the Greek myth about ill-fated young lovers. Have I seen all these shows? Sadly, no, but I keep abreast of what's happening through friends who are professionally involved. at's how I happen to know that Solea Pfeiffer, who is in Hadestown, was also in Almost Famous at the Old Globe, and Ryan Vasquez, who is in e Notebook, was in e Outsiders at La Jolla Playhouse. Both Pfeiffer and Vasquez are graduates of the stellar Department of Musical eatre at the University of Michigan. ere's also a major local connection to Hell 's Kitchen, which will open off-Broadway at e Public eater on November 19. is new musical is loosely based on the life of La Jolla resident Alicia Keys and, while she isn't in the production, the Grammy-winning artist wrote new songs for the show. e coming-of-age musical will also feature some of her best known hits. e Public is a nonprofit theater where A Chorus Line, Hamilton, and other blockbuster shows opened before migrating to Broadway. Chances of getting a ticket to Hell 's Kitchen anytime soon are, in the words of one of my NYC connections, "impossible," but Carmel Dean at Places Please Travel can sometimes pull the rabbit out of the hat for tough-but-not-impossible ticket << ranchandcoast.com 66 NOVEMBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE TIMES SQUARE & BROADWAY THEATER INTERIOR: PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARMEL DEAN

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