Musicals Thread (Live Performances)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. Each week I will post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to. This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard/seen any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it! 

Let’s talk about the experience of seeing a musical on stage vs. listening to the cast album. I have seen very few musicals in my life, so I rely heavily on listening to the albums. When I listen, I build the scenes in my mind. I have a pretty active imagination, so this isn’t that difficult for me. Sometimes I read plot summaries and other things online to help me understand exactly what’s going on, and I can usually piece everything together eventually. Of course, seeing a show on stage is a totally different experience. My question for everyone this week is, have you ever seen a show live that you knew only from cast albums that took you by surprise and/or really impressed you?

I don’t have that many experiences like this to talk about, but now that I’m a little more financially stable I’ve been trying to see more musicals. So, I was able to see Hamilton in Chicago last year, and it was amazing. I’ve never been that in touch with the “Broadway scene” so I’m usually pretty late to learning about new musicals. But because of my love for Jonathon Groff I heard about Hamilton fairly early on. When the cast album was released I listened to it immediately, and, like many others, I fell in love. It wasn’t until one year later that I was able to see the show, so by then I had the recording memorized. I had very specific ideas about how the show looked, how the characters behaved, and how I would feel seeing the show. Honestly, I didn’t think seeing it would be that different because the album is so complete. When I first discovered Hamilton I read a review on NPR of the cast album written by someone who had already seen the show, and their impression was “You’ll only take a couple losses if you can’t see Hamilton with your own eyes, King George being the biggest.” So, while I was incredibly excited to see it, I thought I knew what I was in for. But there was one part that I was really curious to see: Angelica’s “Satisfied”. I wondered, how do they rewind everything?

Well, it was incredible. I was totally blown away by every second. And not just by the visually compelling moments like “Satisfied”. The biggest surprise for me was how much humor was in the show. I’m not sure if it was just the actor’s choice, but Madison was hilarious (not something I ever thought I’d be saying). I know he was genuinely funny because I was able to laugh after crying for like an hour straight, and I heard my husband laughing too. This performance is what made me promise to see more shows. I love listening to cast albums, but it turns out that seeing a show live really is different. Who knew? In the future I plan on asking everyone about your experiences seeing a show before having listened to the album, but for now, let’s talk about your experiences with seeing a show live after listening to the cast album.