They say the neon lights are bright...

Tomorrow I head off on my annual pilgrimage to the Big Bad Apple, to see what's going on in the commercial musical theatre. I really hate to travel, but I love seeing friends and shows in New York, so it balances out. And this time, I'm seeing five shows in three days. Well, six, actually. (More on that later.) And I'll be blogging while I'm up there...

I"m seeing the new Broadway revival of Follies, which I've been told is the best production of the show since the original. I've seen two production of Follies before, one on Broadway in 2001, and one in London in 2002. I thought both were excellent, but I'm extremely psyched to see this one. It's such a remarkable piece of theatre, like no other show ever written. Definitely a show I'd love to tackle someday...

I'm also seeing the new off Broadway revival of Rent. I saw the original production of Rent just a few weeks after it moved to Broadway back in 1996, and none of the actors were out with blown vocal cords yet, so I got to see the entire original cast. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had in the theatre, dead center, tenth row. I hadn't heard any of the music, just read a few things, so everything about it was a surprise. And since all the tours and even local productions since then have essentially replicated the original, it'll be interesting to see a new take on the show.

I'm seeing Lysistrata Jones, the new musical that takes the classical Greek play Lysistrata, about women going on a sex strike until their men give up war, and transplants it to a college campus where the girls go on a sex strike until the boys basketball team breaks their endless losing streak. The show was off Broadway and has moved uptown. Sounds like fun.

I'm seeing Bonnie & Clyde, which normally would be totally exciting, but this one has a score by Frank Wildhorn, whose scores I usually hate more than later Lloyd Webber. So I'm a little wary. But I heard a lot of the music on the show's website and it's pretty good (actually, Wildhorn always writes good music, just lousy theatre songs). Also, the lyricist is Don Black, who wrote lyrics for "Tell Me on a Sunday" (half of Song and Dance), which I really like a lot. And it's directed by Jeff Calhoun, who directed that amazing Deaf West production of Big River, which was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

And I'm also seeing The Blue Flower, which sounds wild. Here's what says about the show: "Spanning two continents and half a century, The Blue Flower explores the romantic and tumultuous relationships among four young friends -- three artists and a scientist --as they create a world of art, revolution and passion amidst the turbulence and destruction of the World Wars." It goes on to say, "Set in Germany at the end of World War I and the beginning of the Weimar Republic, The Blue Flower is inspired by the lives of historical figures Max Beckmann, Franz Marc, Hannah Höch, and Marie Curie. Influenced by the art movements -- particularly Dada and Surrealism -- and the political tenor of the day, Max, Hannah, Maria, and Franz try to make sense of the world in which they struggle to create, relate, and survive." That sounds a New Line show, doesn't it?

And of course, I always have to take A Trip to the Library (to reference one of my favorite show tunes), to the New York Public Library's Theatre on Film and Tape Collection, at Lincoln Center. This time, I'll be watching excerpts (that's all they have) from Promenade, a bizarre, absurdist musical from 1969 that I really want to produce, and the original Broadway production of Carrie. And then I'll also be watching a full tape of The Burnt Part Boys, a recent off Broadway musical that I heard a lot of good things about. Might be a New Line show...

Tomorrow and Monday are entirely travel days, so I'll essentially be in New York for three days and I'll see six shows. Not bad, huh? Go ahead and say it, I'm an addict. I don't care. I'm not ashamed of it.

At age 47, I don't have the same wide-eyed adoration for Broadway that I once had. Broadway is different now. I'm different now. Now that I get to work directly with the writers on some of our shows, I can see how often commercial considerations on Broadway ruin otherwise wonderful shows. Sure, Broadway still sometimes turns out great new musicals, but the truly interesting new shows (the ones I want to work on) almost never start on Broadway, even though sometimes they eventually get there. Still, tarnished as the Great White Way may be for me, it's still Broadway, and since before I could remember, that word has always carried with it more magic than any other word I can think of.

Come on along and listen to 
The lullaby of Broadway, 
The hi-de-hi and boop-a-doo, 
The lullaby of Broadway. 
The band begins to go to town 
And everyone goes crazy...

Long Live the Musical!