7 Places You’ve Gotta Visit If You’re A Total Theatre Nerd
We're going way beyond Broadway.
We theatre nerds have a lot of common traits. We alienate people at parties by playing show-tunes through the Sonos, we have a love/hate relationship with Glee, and most of us probably have a pet named Liza (okay, all of us).
There’s also another thing that ties theatre nerds together, and that’s our bucket lists. It seems that every dedicated fan of performance, music, and the business they call “show business” dreams of the places they’d like to catch a play or musical. New York and London always top the list for the obvious reasons, but we’ve come up with some other destinations that will make that dramatic heart of yours beat wildly.
Here are our top picks for the best destinations to tick off that bucket list:
#1 New York City
The home of Broadway is a hell of a town. Steeped in grandeur, hope and glittering lights, New York City is a dream destination for actors and theatre-goers alike.
The theatres in New York City are the stuff of legend. Some are said to be haunted by actual ghosts, others just haunted by the egos of the likes of Orson Welles and Arthur Miller. Whatever Broadway ticket you get your hands on, you’re sure to be stepping into a slice of show biz history.
Paris has a culturally rich past and present, with the kind of historical significance that is hard to fathom. Each year, lovers of art and culture flock to the capital to soak up all that France, and Europe, have to offer.
The art galleries and the architecture and the food side of Paris are easy enough to approach without the problem of a language barrier. But what if you’re a theatre nerd (you are) and want to experience an authentic French production of Cyrano de Bergerac without being bored senseless?
Thankfully, Theatre In Paris has your back. Hosted in the stunning Théâtre Michel, the recent start-up puts on classic French productions with “surtitles” above the stage that translate the whole performance.
For this one, we’re taking it way, way back. The Ancient Greeks were the original theatre MVPs. They gifted us compelling plays performed in jaw-dropping venues, so we owe them a lot for how we consume and appreciate modern theatre.
Athens hosts the Athens & Epidaurus Festival each year, putting on a variety of ancient, classic, and contemporary plays in the same grand amphitheatres that Euripides did over 2000 years ago. This includes the incredible Sanctuary of Asklepios, an amphitheatre considered one of the most important monuments of classic Greek architecture.
You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of it, but Ashland, Oregon, is home to the one of the best Shakespeare festivals in the world. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs from February through to November, when it’s the beating heart of the small, picturesque town.
Situated on the border between Oregon and California, the Shakespeare festival has become inextricably linked with the town. As stated on its website, “the City of Ashland has co-existed with the Festival for nearly as long as it ever lived without it”. So, it’s basically a town full of nerds and it straight-up looks like Stars Hollow.
The festival isn’t exclusively Shakespearean, but provides a variety of classic productions such as Great Expectations and The Wiz, as well as modern political pieces like Roe.
The West End and Broadway have always been pitted against each other, but the style of performance, audience and atmosphere of each city’s theatrical community are distinctly different. Shows that are box-office hits on Broadway have been known to suffer on the West End and vice versa. One thing London does have that New York has never been quite able to match is consistent star quality.
In an average show on the West End, you can catch Emma Thompson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Radcliffe, Sir Ian McKellen or even Aussie actors like Cate Blanchett. English actors seem to have a special reverence for the stage, and thus the line between film and stage work seems to be jumped more frequently.
Shows on the West End are just as sought-after as they are on Broadway, but the tickets are cheaper.
You must catch a show at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a recently reconstructed remake of Shakespeare’s own theatre. The season runs through the summer and, if you’re willing to stand in the stalls, you can grab a ticket for as little as $8.
If improv is your thing, Chicago is your city. It was the training ground of the world’s biggest improv legends, like Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Mike Myers, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poehler, and that’s only the beginning. A trip to Chicago will allow you to see shows with future comedy legends in the making.
If variety is what you’re after, Edinburgh is the theatre destination for you. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and features acts specialising in drama, comedy, sketch, music, ventriloquism and everything you could possibly imagine squeezed in between.
The world-famous festival runs for three weeks in August in the Scottish capital. It provides a mixture of established and up and coming acts so you can get a true range of experience. To give you an idea of scale, the 2016 festival saw 50,266 performances of 3269 shows in 294 venues squeezed into those three weeks.
If the Fringe sounds ideal to you, we’d suggest booking in advance. Due to the international popularity of the festival, accommodation and hot tickets sell out quick.
(Lead image: Broadway & Beyond / Flickr)