The new Broadway musical If/Then opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on a rainy March 30, and even in the abysmal weather, the show put us in a New York state of mind. We asked fans what show they consider to be the ultimate New York City musical. It’s been called a “hell of a town,” “a city of strangers,” and sure, “naughty, bawdy, gaudy, sporty,” but the results are in, and here are the top three shows that scream Big Apple.
1. Rent — 22%
The musical may have closed on Broadway in 2008, but Rentheads continue to make their voices heard! Of the 18 choices, Rent comes closest to depicting the New York we know today. Yes, the Life Café has since closed for good. No, people don’t leave messages on answering machines anymore (in song, no less.) And fortunately, our awareness and treatment of HIV and AIDS has developed since the mid-90s. But the late composer Jonathan Larson’s message of “no day but today” lives on, and that’s why Rent will always be a New York City staple—even if they spend their time daydreaming about Santa Fe.
2. Newsies — 21%
Oh, to return to the big city in the late 19th century! Times have certainly changed (thanks, inflation,) but what could be better than a town run by dancing paperboys? The Disney musical, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein, made the leap from screen to stage in 2011 at the Paper Mill Playhouse, and shortly thereafter became a Tony-winning Broadway hit. We’ll just ignore the fact that our leading man opens the show with dreams of escaping to, you guessed it, Santa Fe. (Hey, wait a minute! Is this a theme?) Either way, there’s no denying that these Kings of New York deserve a place on this list.
3. West Side Story — 11%
They’re drawin’ the line, so keep your noses hidden! The Jets and the Sharks danced their way into the final spot of the top three picks, with some mambo moves and rumble choreography in tow. The 1957 Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents has seen several productions since, in addition to a feature film. Thanks to West Side Story, songs such as "Maria," "Tonight," and "I Feel Pretty," are now part of the Great American Songbook. It just goes to show: it helps to know your roots, save a spot for the classics, and get cool, boy!