I have often called theatre my church. It is the place I go to for transcendence — the communal experience makes me feel more connected to my own humanity. I love live theatre, be it Shakespeare in the Park or a black box solo performance, and musical theatre holds a particular place in my heart. I measure musicals by how soon and how often they make me cry, how many months on end I play the cast recording, and how often I quote them in daily life.
Here are some of the musicals getting me through the pandemic.
Wicked was the first musical I learned all the way through. When my friend first played it for me in middle school I didn’t quite get it, but a couple years later in preparation for a Wicked themed theatre camp session, it clicked. It’s still one of my top five favorite musicals. I related so much to Elphaba’s feeling of being on the outside looking in. I cried the first time I saw her live on stage, at a tour of Wicked in San Francisco. I also sobbed like a baby through most of the Idina Menzel concert I went to a couple years ago. That show is musical theatre for me.
Current song getting me through: “What Is This Feeling?”
In addition to Lizzo, this was my most-played album of 2019. I love everything about it, from the love stories to the bluesy folk melodies and the Greek mythology backdrop. It’s one of the musicals I’m dying to see when the Broadway lights go back on. I regret not seeing more theatre before it all went dark. I think the pandemic will reshape the way we see the people and things we love.
Current song getting me through: “Come Home With Me/Wedding Song” and in particular the line “Spring will come again.”
- In The Heights
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first (and arguably best) Broadway musical is a love letter to his home in Washington Heights. Just blocks from my apartment, Washington Heights is a vibrant and quintessentially New York neighborhood. They are also the hardest hit neighborhood in Manhattan. So much love to my community and my Latinx siblings up there. My heart aches and swells for my city, which is dealing with such incredible loss right now.
Current song getting me through: “Paciencia Y Fe”
- Next To Normal
Anyone who’s ever dealt with mental illness can find something relatable in Next To Normal. Now more than ever, folks are dealing with some pretty isolating feelings and triggers. It helps to know that other people have similar struggles. And the music in Next To Normal is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Current song getting me through: “Who’s Crazy/My Psychopharmacologist and I”
Waitress is an amazing musical to listen to while baking. The airy refrain of “sugar, butter, flour” that repeats throughout the show is infectious and allows me to imagine I’m in a quaint bakery instead of my tiny NYC kitchen. Cooking and baking are a deep comfort to me, something creative and productive to do when so much of the world is uncertain. Plus, I get something delicious at the end.
Current song getting me through: “What’s Inside?”
I’d love to hear about the musicals, songs, and other art getting you through. I’m also loving Dua Lipa’s sophomore album, Future Nostalgia. The 80s-inspired frothy pop makes me feel like I’m in a club sipping a vodka soda. I can’t wait to go dancing again.
Love and theatre,