What to see on Broadway this Valentine’s Day month
Few cities in the world can rival the romantic appeal of New York City. From the cascading skyline marked by an Empire State Building shining brightly in red to ice skating in Central Park, from a romantic five-star dinner to a stroll along the cozy streets of the West Village–the city is full of opportunities for romance to bloom. And perhaps there is no place where this is more apparent than the Broadway stage. Known for being the birthplace of some of the greatest love songs ever written, romance is something the Great White Way does exceptionally well. From the classic standards of Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein to contemporary pop ballads, there are several opportunities for theatergoers to find songs in their hearts this Valentine’s Day in the Concrete Jungle. Aladdin, An American in Paris, The King and I, and She Loves Me offer perfect options for those looking to celebrate love in the month of February.
Inspired by the beloved Disney classic, the Tony Award nominated musical Aladdin is not only a family favorite but also a romantic tale at heart that takes audiences on magic carpet night after night. This spectacular production features a soaring score by Academy Award winning composer Alan Menken featuring “Arabian Nights,” “Friend Like Me,” and the classic love duet “A Whole New World.” Aladdin is the story of a young pauper who spends his days scraping by on the streets of Agrabah. After a chance meeting with Princess Jasmine and a magical encounter with a Genie in a bottle he is transformed into a prince in hopes of marrying the woman he loves. Along the way and with the help of his friends, Aladdin learns that true magic comes in learning to follow his heart and “beeeeing” himself. With eye popping effects and showstopping dance numbers, Aladdin is an inspiring hit that makes for the perfect date. (New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W. 42nd St.)
Perhaps the one city to best New York in reputation for romance is the City of Lights—Paris, France. Thankfully those looking to capture the spirit of l’amour need look no further than the Palace Theatre where audiences continue to fall in love with An American in Paris. Inspired by the 1951 film of the same name, this shimmering new musical, was nominated for an impressive twelve Tony Awards including Best New Musical and Best Choreography for its dazzling ballet sequences. Classical dance superstar Robert Fairchild and leading lady Leanne Cope also both received nominations for their lead performances. An American in Paris follows the romantic adventures of a young soldier-turned-painter living in a newly liberated Paris after the end of the Second World War. His romantic affairs with a beautiful young French woman and wealthy heiress features a sumptuous score by the great writing team of George and Ira Gershwin with such classics as “I Got Rhythm,” “S’ Wonderful,” and “An American in Paris.” (Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway)
A 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, the Lincoln Center’s lavish production of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece The King and I is an everlasting classic that is at its heart a story of the power of love. With a sweeping romantic score featuring such favorites as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Getting to Know You,” and “Shall We Dance,” The King and I sweeps its audiences to Siam in the late 1800s where the spirited English widow Anna Leonowens travels to serve as a teacher for the King’s children. Amidst cultural differences and despite the monarch’s stubborn strong-headedness, Anna and the King develop a tender relationship that bridges the East-West divide through the connection of the human heart. This beautiful production is at once romantic and dazzling with its famous “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” ballet in Act II. Kelli O’Hara and Ruthie Ann Miles both earned Tony Awards for their respective and moving performances as Anna and Lady Thiang. The sentimental story is given fresh new life by the renowned Broadway director Bartlett Sher. (Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St.)
The golden age musical She Loves Me is a winning romantic comedy that makes for the perfect evening to spend with a someone special. The show tells the story of Amalia and Georg, two sparring coworkers who are constantly bumping heads in the charming perfume shop where they both work. Much to the amusement of their fellow employees and regular customers, the two continue to battle it out while not realizing that the anonymous pen pals they have both been secretly falling for happen to be each other! With a joyous spirit and buoyant score featuring “Ice Cream” and “She Loves Me,” and in celebration of Roundabout Theatre Company’s 50th anniversary, She Loves Me returns to Broadway for the first time in over twenty years in this revival directed by Scott Ellis. Based on the same story that inspired the hit movie You’ve Got Mail, She Loves Me features Tony winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, “Nashville”), Zachary Levi (First Date, “Heroes Reborn”), and Tony winner and Emmy nominee Jane Krakowski (Nine, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”). (Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.)
(Photo Credit: An American in Paris / Angela Sterling)