Daring new works and classic american stories take center stage
Whether taking in the brilliance of a fireworks display over the East River, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Yankee Stadium, or simply enjoying a cool sip of lemonade on the lawn in Central Park, there are many ways to celebrate summer in New York City. In addition to the general fun-filled events of summer, the month of July sees the day when Americans celebrate their independence on the Fourth of July. Amidst the spirited festivities the lights of Times Square continue to burst and flash on the great American institution that is the Broadway theatre. In the grand tradition of Oklahoma! and Death of a Salesman, thrilling American stories continue to unfold on the stages of New York. New sensations Hamilton and Hand to God entice adventurous theatre-goers while classic favorites Jersey Boys and On the Town continue to showcase great Stories of the States.
Perhaps the hottest ticket in town this past Spring was Tony award winner Lin Manuel Miranda’s multicultural hip-hop inspired take on the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. After a sold-out run at The Public theatre, the striking new musical Hamilton transfers to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre this summer. Following the success of In the Heights and with an electric score, Lin Manuel Miranda weaves together the story of an immigrant who went from being an orphan to the right hand man of President Washington. The musical follows his ambitious rise to power as he navigates war, romantic scandal, and the perils of a life in politics before changing the role of the newly founded United States in the global economy. Destined to join the ranks of other classic American musicals, Hamilton is the show to see this summer. (Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W 46th St.)
Another brave new American work is the Tony nominated play Hand to God. In his Broadway debut, playwright Robert Askins’ dark comedy examines the nature of family, faith and morality. Set in a devoutly religious small town in Texas, Hand to God tells the story of shy teenager Jason who finds a creative outlet for his inquisitive mind at the Christian Puppet Ministry. When the puppet he creates takes on a shocking life of its own, his world and relationships are thrown into upheaval. From its smash Off-Broadway run and featuring award nominated performances, Hand to God is a raucous and irreverent take on religion that has audiences sore at the sides from laughter. (Booth Theatre, 222 W 45th St.)
Perhaps no show currently running captures the rags-to-riches spirit of the American dream better than Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The rocking musical features some of the Four Season’s greatest hits including “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Jersey Boys follows the singing group’s meteoric rise to rock stardom from its humble beginnings singing on the street corners of New Jersey. Amid all the fame and fortune and along with the group’s signature harmonies come all the dramas of the rock and roll world including tempestuous love affairs and run-ins with the mob. A Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Jersey Boys has it all- the music, the story and a rousing finale that has audiences rising to their feet night after night. (August Wilson Theatre, 245 W 52nd St.)
A hit when it first premiered in 1944, the smash revival of On the Town is dancing its way into audience’s hearts all over again in 2015. With a classic score by Leonard Bernstein, On the Town is a spectacular golden age musical that embodies not only the American spirit but that of not-too-distant New York City. The show follows three rambunctious sailors as they take in all the sights and sounds the city has to offer on a 24 hour leave from the Navy. Along the way they meet three lovely women who help them to make the most of their brief sojourn. From Coney Island to Times Square, On the Town is a lovely musical tour of the city that never sleeps. The Tony Nominated revival features jaw-dropping choreography and such Bernstein-Comden and Green classics as “New York, New York,” “Lonely Town,” and “Some Other Time.” (Lyric Theatre, 213 W 42nd St.)