NYC vs LA: Why I’m not missing Broadway anymore

photo by: Roderiques Photography

photo by: Roderiques Photography

by: Natalie Lipka

As we all know, LA and NYC are both spectacular cities for different reasons. I grew up in New Jersey, so while I have never technically lived there, I have been lucky enough to take more trips to New York than I can count. It’s a city like no other and the home to the magical world of Broadway. As an actor, I think seeing a Broadway show is one of the best gifts in the entire world. Living in LA, I’ve missed the feeling of Broadway. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing theaters and theatrical performances in Los Angeles. It’s just that the allure of Broadway is like no other. Broadway is what truly made me fall in love with acting. As I mentioned in my blog The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Got About Showbiz, I had plans to see Wicked at the Pantages Theatre. So after waiting two months for my Christmas present show dates to arrive, I finally got a taste of Broadway and NYC just twenty minutes from my home. From beginning to end, I felt like I had taken a trip back to the Big Apple, all the magic without the frigid weather of course. (Sorry fam back east!)

Riding on the Subway…
I believe the LA Metro is so underrated. True, it is not as accessible as the NYC subway, but the park and ride options are pretty convenient. I highly recommend taking the metro to the Pantages. We drove to the Universal Metro Station, hopped on the Red Line and got off two stops later at Hollywood and Vine. It was super easy. And instead of driving around looking for parking and then paying at least $10 to park, we parked in under a minute at the Metro parking and paid $1.75 each way. I’ve lived here ten years now, but still wasn’t quite sure just how close to the theater it would bring us. When we came up the stairs from the Metro stop, it was directly across the street! The theater basically hits you in the face. It’s an absolutely stunning site. From the moment I saw Wicked on the marquee, I was instantly excited all over again. This was the first moment that made me feel like I was on Broadway, yes, there was only one theater, but it was enough.

Nobody Walks in LA…
This is an old saying, but in this case I beg to differ. There were a lot of people milling about that night. Thanks to the ease of the Metro we got down to the theater in enough time to walk around Hollywood Boulevard and have a drink before the show. There were so many options! There was Wood and Vine, 33 Taps, among others. We decided on Cleo, which is a cute Mediterranean restaurant on Vine that is part of The Redbury Hotel. The lighting and mood made me feel like I was stepping into a little NYC restaurant. We grabbed some wine and amazing clam flatbread (don’t knock it till you try it) and were soon on our way to the theater.

The Pantages Theatre…
Is GORGEOUS!! From the moment we walked up to it, I could feel the rush of the city. I could feel the magic of Broadway in my hometown. Thank you Los Angeles for giving this to me! Walking in was just the beginning. The very friendly ushers guided us to our seats in the mezzanine. We sat down, looked around and were simply amazed at the beauty of this theater. Then the show started. I must admit, I feel guilty, but I was a bit skeptical of the lead actresses, Chandra Lee Schwartz (Glinda) and Jennifer DiNoia (Elphaba). I mean, come on, the original Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth and Elphaba, Idina Menzel left some pretty big shoes to fill! But my cynicism quickly faded as Schwartz and DiNoia provided a stellar performance. Their chemistry on stage was beyond my expectations, especially since DiNoia just took over the role of Elphaba about a week before this performance. And then there was a moment where I completely lost it in the best way. The most magical moment of the show for me was at the end of the first act during the song, “Defying Gravity.” As tears streamed down my face and DiNoia belted, “So if you care to find me, Look to the western sky,” I fell in love with theater all over again.

What’s your favorite place to see theater in LA?