Being in “the room where it happens”: the harrisite broadway-philes

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Every year, there are  three major productions at Townsend Harris; FON, SING and the school play leave the student body wanting more of the colorful costumes, mellifluous melodies and vibrant dance moves. Many students have to venture outside the walls of THHS to fill their theatrical needs and make their way to Broadway.

Townsend Harris students are well acquainted with the shows on Broadway, but all of them have different reasons to go. Junior Raya Kazdan was introduced to Broadway when she watched “the classics as a kid on dvds.” In contrast, junior William Mun was not introduced to Broadway musicals by his parents but he gradually began to grow a preference for them. Freshmen Joshua Villas was introduced to Broadway because of his brother’s love of it. When he saw his first musical he “loved watching people add their own little twist, flare, or style to their roles.”

Due to the extensive selection available, Harrisites embark on jaunts to see shows that greatly differ from one another. In addition to Cabaret and Rent, Raya mentions  Les Misérables as one of her favorites. Sophomore Elizabeth Teperino commends Les Miserables for “the history involved” and for the characters, who are “martyrs” and “passionate about what they love.” Despite the difficulty in relating to the audience to demonstrate “what they were going through,” this barrier was overcome with “the emotion conveyed through the acting and singing.” Other Broadway musicals met with acclaim are Wicked, Newsies, Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Matilda, and West Side Story.

The price of Broadway musicals are a common setback for THHS Broadway “junkies,” as Elizabeth puts it. William expresses this struggle saying, “I can’t see Broadway shows often, that’s a lot of money that a lot of people like me don’t have.” Sophomore Aaron Fernando has similar opinions saying that although the performance he saw was “breathtaking,” tickets are “fairly expensive.” Aaron expresses interest in acquiring  “tickets one day through the daily Hamilton ticket lottery.” Although he has not yet seen it, Aaron lists Hamilton as one of his favorite musicals for “the music—hip-hop and rap conveying the life of a historical figure, with brilliant lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.” Furthermore, he views  “the fact that the cast is mostly minorities” as “refreshing, because sadly, as in most of entertainment, minorities are underrepresented.” Additional musicals on Aaron’s “bucket list” include: Wicked, Aladdin, West Side Story, and Les Miserables.

William attributes his Broadway thrill to its “unlimited potential to whisk the audience’s minds to the world on the stage.”  He says that Broadway shows “tend to be more wondrous” and have “bigger choreography, bigger sets, bigger casts, bigger numbers, just bigger everything!” Raya adds, “I saw the play Harvey a few years ago in Stage 54. Then this past year, I saw Cabaret also at Stage 54 and it seemed like a completely different theater.”

Broadway musicals have touched Harrisites from all grades, inciting their imaginations through the media of dance, acting, and singing. According to sophomore Elizabeth Teperino, “the thing I love about Broadway is that it’s not just one way to tell a story like other shows, but is a balance of all three [media] making it all much more interesting to watch.”

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