Les Misérables, Heathers, Once, and If/Then | The Musicals I Saw in NYC

the heathers musical stage







TIA HERE with a song and dance for you to enjoy! This summer I had the amazing opportunity to see three Broadway musicals and one off-Broadway musical. The verdict: J'ADORE! Let's go through the list, but keep in mind that all of the pictures you see here are from when I saw Heathers: The Musical, as it is generally frowned upon to film during a musical (and is illegal, I think) so I did not bring my camera (or camera mindset) with me to most of the shows. I did happen to have it on the day I saw Heathers however, which is why I have a couple photos here of that!

Let's begin with the very well-known classic, Les Misérables. I saw the movie with no prior knowledge of the book or musical, so I learned everything about the songs and storyline from that solitary experience (and the covers on Glee). Still, I felt as if I knew the music very well, and I was impressed by the cinematic lighting, stage design, and performance. I've always been a sucker for musicals, since they combine everything good in the world, and this was no exception. I felt so involved in the story and was so emotional about the characters--although I have to say that the only performer that I was not smitten by was Eponine. It had nothing to do with her acting--I just felt her voice wasn't right for the role of Eponine... too sharp. I feel like Eponine is a more sympathetic character when she's more pitiful (jeez, I sound terrible!), but this Eponine had a confidence about her that I do not think worked in her favor for this role. For a character that pines hopelessly after someone who does not return her love, I was unconvinced. I'm all for more confident women, but in this role I felt it diminished the impact of Eponine's death. My personal opinion at least!

a heathers the musical poster out front




Next, let's talk Heathers! Of the four musicals I saw, Heathers was by far my favorite. While Les Mis is undeniably excellent and grand, the music of Heathers really blew me away. Not gonna lie, I'm a huge fan of "mean high school girls" stories, and I'd already seen the movie, so it was really fun to see the musical. While some of the jokes--often the ones taken verbatim from the movie--fell very very flat (and it was awkward in the theater) and some of the jokes were a little too much for my "must be politically correct" leaning (it had to do more with the things that people in the audience laughed at; it was a little disturbing what they reacted to, even for a dark comedy), I loved the musical holistically. I've been listening to the soundtrack nonstop since and I'm in love. The songs are so fun to sing along to, and I highly recommend buying the OST if you're a fan of musicals. I especially love "Dead Girl Walking," "Lifeboat," and "Candy Store." So catchy! Since this off-Broadway musical is finally off the streets for good (I think it's closed, at least for now), don't fret that you can't see it--just buy the music. That's the best part anyway.

Moving on to Once, I'll preface my review of this musical by admitting that I had no idea what it was about before seeing it. The music was good--genuine, heartfelt--like the rest of the musical. As one who desires grandeur or at least comedic campiness, I found the one-set setup a little underwhelming, although it suited the simplicity of the story. Speaking of the story, I think it was right for it to end as it did (no spoilers!), although I--once again--still felt underwhelmed afterward. The singing was truly wonderful, as they were all very talented singers, but the accents were horrendous! I didn't realize the Irish accent was so challenging, but I was definitely not feelin' it (haha). Still, overall, I thought it was a touching and important story about artists and inspiration, with upbeat engaging music. While none of the songs caught my ear (ha!) in particular, I did end up getting "Falling Slowly," because I love a song with a simple harmony.

the caricatures featured in the new world stages theater
Finally, last but not least, is If/Then. Known to me previously as "the musical Idina Menzel is in that isn't Wicked,"If/Then delivered an interesting concept and really interesting set (Trees! Moving platforms! Electric signs! Mirrors! It was incredible.), but didn't have any songs that I was interested in hearing again once it was over. The story was really engaging at first, but became a little convoluted near the end (the plane crash part; not really a spoiler) and finally concluded with a predictable happy ending. Still, it was exciting and bizarre to see Idina Menzel in person--especially looking like a normal person in cardigans and blazers (rather than, say, painted green)--and the characters alongside her all proved to be wonderfully developed. I was especially smitten by her friend Kate, played by LaChanze, who was an incredible singer with some really great songs that she completely slayed. She stole the show! And I never thought I'd say that about anyone in a show with Idina.

To wrap up, I would highly recommend you go out and buy the Heathers OST, get "Falling Slowly" from Once, watch the Les Mis movie, and listen to some LaChanze! Then you'll be getting the best snippets for the minimum price. But if you can, definitely head out and see these shows in a theater. I adored them all!

For more, check out Tia's new blog!

Much love,

T.