Broadway Bonanza!

July 31, 2010

Elephants parading in the aisles! A falling chandelier! Flying monkeys! There’s a little bit of everything—and something for everyone—on Broadway right now. Here’s a breakdown of the 19 danciest shows on the Great White Way.

The Addams Family

What you’re in for:
The Addams family members—including Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday and Pugsly—are an unusual bunch. In The Addams Family musical, 18-year-old Wednesday invites her boyfriend’s straight-laced family to dinner and, as you might expect, things get creepy and kooky. But in the end, the audience realizes that every family is a little bit weird (in a good way!).

Dancing in the show:
Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is stiff—because it’s danced by a corps of dead Addams family ancestors! The powerful moves are choppy and angular. To master the style, dancers must be versatile technicians who can integrate character and choreography.

See it with:
Your own (slightly strange) family. This is a fun-filled musical that will get everyone giggling, from your youngest sibling to your grandparents.  —Katie Rolnick

American Idiot

What you’re in for:
It’s post-9/11, and a group of confused young Americans are trying to find their place in the world. And they do it all while singing Green Day classics, including “21 Guns” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

Dancing in the show:
Steven Hoggett’s choreography is thrashy, angsty and adrenaline-fueled. The cast head-bangs for the majority of the show.

See it with:
Your big brother. With a whole lotta sex, drugs and rock and roll, this isn’t a show you’ll want to see with your grandparents. Take your bro instead—he’ll dig the tunes and won’t freak out when the ensemble strips down to its skivvies or starts shooting up.  —Alison Feller

Billy Elliot The Musical

What you’re in for:
It’s the mid-1980s, and Billy Elliot lives in a small mining town in Northern England that’s struggling to survive. Billy’s mom died when he was younger, and his father and brother are wrapped up in a strike, so he finds solace in an unexpected place: ballet class. It takes him some time to convince his dad that boys can dance, but once he does, Billy’s dancing dreams come true.

Dancing in the show:
From comedic ensemble numbers to high-energy tap and passionate ballet, Billy Elliot has it all. Billy has some especially challenging technical choreography, while his ballet classmates, fondly known as the “ballet girls,” fill the stage with zany enthusiasm.

See it with: Your favorite dance teacher—the one who has always encouraged and supported your dance aspirations.  —KR


What you’re in for:
A twisted story of corruption, showbiz and one dazzling murderess’s rise to fame in 1920s Chicago.

Dancing in the show:
The choreography is steamy, sexy, classic Bob Fosse, with hip thrusts, battements and precise, intricate isolations.

See it with:
A Fosse (or fishnet) fanatic!  —Michael Anne Bailey

Come Fly Away

What you’re in for:
Set in a swingin’ NYC nightclub, the nearly all-dance musical, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, follows four couples as they make up, break up and dance up a storm—all to Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits.

Dancing in the show:
The choreography is quintessential Tharp: intricate, high-energy numbers grounded in classical ballet technique.

See it with:
Your grandparents. They’ll love the familiar score. (Be warned: The second act gets a little steamy.)  —Margaret Fuhrer


What you’re in for:
Fela! tells the story of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s life as an artist, political activist and revolutionary musician in Nigeria.

Dancing in the show:
Bill T. Jones staged this Afrobeat show, and the dancing is nonstop. Whether the girls are doing African-inspired choreography barefoot or showing off dance club–style moves in heels, they’re working hard the whole time.

See it with: All your girlfriends who like to bust a move. During the first act, the audience gets a booty-popping lesson, so be prepared to shake it!  —AF


What you’re in for: Peace and love, man! This groovy revival follows the long-haired members of a hippie “tribe” in the late ’60s as they embrace the era’s political, sexual and social revolutions. Note: This production features brief nudity, so check with your parents before you go.

Dancing in the show: Though “punk ballerina” Karole Armitage choreographed HAIR, the gyrating and head-banging never get too technical.

See it with: Your bohemian, free-spirited older sister. Wear your biggest bellbottoms and join the dance party onstage at the end of the show!  —MF

In the Heights

What you’re in for: This is the story of a close-knit community of characters working hard—and falling in love—in Washington Heights, NYC. When one of them wins the lottery, they’re faced with the reality of their dreams and, in the meantime, discover what matters most.

Dancing in the show: Highly skilled dancers bring the street scenes and incredible music to life in this heartwarming, passionate show. Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography includes fiery Latin and hip-hop numbers interlaced with classic Broadway moves.

See it with: Your girlfriends from dance class. There are cute boys to check out (Corbin Bleu is currently starring!), and you’ll leave the theater singing the tunes and plotting your rise to stardom.  —Kate Lydon

The Lion King

What you’re in for: A visual feast with plenty of the songs from the film. You’ll be mesmerized by the magnificent sets, costumes and puppetry as you watch young Simba’s journey to become the king of Pride Rock.

Dancing in the show: This show features a taste of nearly every style, including ballet, modern, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics and even aerial dance.

See it with: Your little brother or sister with a short attention span—there’s always something new and exciting to look at!  —Colleen Bohen

Mamma Mia!

What you’re in for: Young Sophie is about to get married—but she doesn’t know which of her mother’s three former lovers should be walking her down the aisle (scandalous!). As she tries to figure it out, the cast grooves to an all-ABBA playlist.

Dancing in the show: This show is jazz dancing at its best. There’s partnering, pirouettes and jumps galore, so ballet training is essential.

See it with: Your mom. She’ll love the classic disco tunes.  —AF

Mary Poppins

What you’re in for: Mary Poppins helps the “all-work-and-no-play” Banks family find the fun in life. The musical expands on the film’s storyline with new songs and additional scenes.

Dancing in the show: There’s tap dancing on the ceiling! You’ll also get a sugary-sweet dose of jazz, ballet and modern.

See it with: Your whole family. Mary Poppins’ life lessons aren’t just for the Banks family—everyone can learn a little something from the practically perfect nanny.  —CB


What you’re in for: Set in the segregated 1950s, Memphis tells the story of Huey Calhoun, a white radio DJ who likes to play black music, and his determination to break racial barriers. The show follows Huey as he tries to pursue both a beautiful, young black singer and a spot in the middle of the radio dial.

Dancing in the show: Every number is packed with super technical choreography. Jazz tricks are staples, from controlled layouts to explosive leaps.

See it with: Your dance BFFs. This show is best experienced with people who will appreciate the killer moves.  —MAB

The Phantom of the Opera

What you’re in for: Currently the longest-running show on Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera is the story of a beautiful (and oh-so-talented) opera singer and her number one fan, the Phantom.

Dancing in the show: The theater’s pointe shoe–clad ballet chorus appears throughout the show in charming, technical numbers.

See it with: This Broadway staple is perfect for first-time theatergoers.  —MAB

Promises, Promises

What you’re in for: Chuck Baxter is a young executive in 1960s NYC who’s having a hard time moving up the corporate ladder. When he starts renting out his apartment to his coworkers for their extramarital affairs, Baxter finds himself advancing at the company—and falling in love with his boss’s leading lady.

Dancing in the show: The famed “Turkey Lurkey Time” dance is a testament to the dancing throughout the show: bouncy, cutesy, flirty and cheeky with plenty of turns, jumps and kicks mixed in.

See it with: Anyone with a sense of humor. The dialogue is sharp-tongued and witty, the dancing is full of energy and the music (including a rendition of “I Say a Little Prayer”) is sing-along-worthy.  —AF

Rock of Ages

What you’re in for: A small town girl meets a city boy—and you get to watch them fall in love while rocking out to some of the greatest hits of the ’80s.

Dancing in the show: It’s the best of hard, hot jazz. Each night, the dancers crimp their hair, squeeze into acid-washed mini skirts, strap on sky-high heels and get their shimmy on.

See it with: Your boyfriend. The show’s soundtrack will have you both belting out “Sister Christian” right up until the curtain call.  —MAB

South Pacific

What you’re in for: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical follows military nurse Nellie Forbush as she struggles to overcome her racial prejudices so she can be with the man she loves.

Dancing in the show: The show is lighter on dance than most, but you’ll still see some musical theater moves, tap and a little bit of pointe.

See it with: Your grandparents—they lived through the time period!  —CB

West Side Story

What you’re in for: On the streets of NYC in the ’50s, Tony and Maria fall head-over-heels for each other. But the couple’s love can’t conquer the battle between the Sharks, led by Maria’s brother, and the Jets, a gang of Tony’s friends.

Dancing in the show: Jerome Robbins’ original choreography is explosive and dramatic, helping move the narrative forward with a combination of balletic elegance and jazzy pop.

See it with: Your parents, who first introduced you to the film version of West Side Story.  —KR


What you’re in for: Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West knew each other before they met Dorothy and her pals on the Yellow Brick Road. In Wicked, we meet the former frenemies back in high school and find out what it is they’re both so worked up about.

Dancing in the show: You’ve gotta have endurance to keep up with the cast of flying monkeys. The ensemble dancers are constantly on the go with a mix of both technical and more relaxed choreography.

See it with: Your whole family. Everyone loves a good backstory!  —AF




What you’re in for: The cast spends 90 minutes producing a series of percussive beats using trash cans, pipes, brooms, lighters and even kitchen sinks.

Dancing in the show: There’s a lot of stamping, stomping, snapping and clapping in this show. You’ve gotta have strong rhythmic skills to pull it off.

See it with: Your friend who thinks she doesn’t like the theater. STOMP will change her mind!  —CB