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Tale From the Road: One Tony Visit to NYC

Scott Vogel

The Tony Awards are in less than two weeks, which means that we'll soon know the outcome of this year's most hotly contested race, that of Best Actress in a Musical. If their respective marquees are any indication, both Patti LuPone ("Gypsy") and Kelli O'Hara ("South Pacific") are giving the performances of their careers. "She's so ferociously compelling that you'll have to remind yourself to breathe," said the Wall Street Journal of LuPone. She "creates a study in ambivalence that is both subtly layered and popping with energy," said the New York Times of O'Hara.

In other words, there's never been a better time to play hooky from work on a Wednesday, zip up to New York for a matinee of one of these Broadway classics and then an evening performance of the other. It's a decadent idea, admittedly, but that's exactly what I did a few weeks back.

Wow.

I won't spoil it for you except to say that Broadway is back with a vengeance, and these two first-class revivals are only part of the fun. If you hurry, you'll also be able to catch two terrific exhibits at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (which is adjacent to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center, where "South Pacific" plays).

You'll have to hurry to catch "Writing to Character: Songwriters & the Tony Awards," which closes June 14. The exhibition draws on the library's incomparable collection of theater minutia, everything from a marked-up original script of "My Fair Lady," to Boris Aronson's model for the ingenious set of Stephen Sondheim's "Company," to the piece of paper on which Jonathan Larson, while writing "Rent," calculated how many minutes there are in a year (525,600, as every theater lover knows).

Also at the NYPL is "New York Story: Jerome Robbins and His World," through June 28. One of America's greatest choreographers, Robbins was equally at home in the worlds of classical ballet and Broadway, as this exhibit makes abundantly clear. Fans of shows like "Fiddler and the Roof" can see clips of the famous bottle dance and view lots of material from "West Side Story" and other now-classic musicals.

Seats can be hard to come by (especially for "South Pacific," which is one of the hottest tickets in New York), but every theater aficionado deserves the extra boost that Broadway provides.

Anyone else seen any great theater in New York lately, or elsewhere? What's your idea of a perfect theater vacation?

By Scott Vogel |  June 4, 2008; 6:21 AM ET  | Category:  Scott Vogel
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The Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario is an unforgettable experience. This season, Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy are among the stars. And the town of Stratford itself is charming.

Posted by: Jamie | June 4, 2008 10:24 AM

Just came back from taking the Megabus to NYC this past weekend. Playbill had sent out discount e-mails about Altar Boys and Passing Strange. I chose to see the latter, and, WOW! it was a great musical. I don't go to the theater often, and ususally not to musicals. I'm glad that in my musical mode I chose Passing Strange. It was wonderful.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 4, 2008 12:34 PM

I've got tickets for South Pacific and Boeing-Boeing the week after the Tonys. Really looking forward to seeing both shows.

My perfect theatre vacation would definitely be NYC, and I'd probably just pack in as many shows as possible.

Posted by: Julia | June 4, 2008 1:22 PM

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