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Heaven on Broadway: 5 Divine Shows for 2012

January 4, 2012

Heaven on BroadwayThe 2011-12 Broadway season has had patrons rejoicing for months, and it looks like more of the same for the Great White Way thanks to the strong lineup of shows that have cropped up over the last several months. Interestingly, more than a few happen to have prominent Christian themes. But non-Christians need not feel excluded; any theatre fan can appreciate the brilliance inherent in these fine shows, regardless of religious affiliation (or lack thereof). Don't miss these 5 musical gems--they run the gamut from revivals of true classics to a spirited new piece based on a beloved film to the most recent Tony Awards darling. Drive, fly, or walk on water if you must to get to these Broadway hits and you will be testifying their greatness to everyone you know!

(1) The Book of Mormon: Nominated for an amazing 14 Tony Awards and nearly sweeping the ceremony by winning 9 statues, The Book of Mormon was certainly the critics' choice this year. And judging by the fact that it keeps breaking box office records at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, audiences couldn't agree more. The show follows two mismatched Mormon missionaries on their mission to Uganda, a war-torn and poverty-stricken country where the people have little to be thankful for. Horrified by the villagers' opinion of God, they try to get them to see the light. Co-written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this show is not for the faint of heart; there is plenty of swearing, blasphemous language, and crude humor. But aside from its shock value, it is still a poignant story with a real heart. The Book of Mormon is the whole package for those with an open mind and a sick sense of humor.

(2) Godspell: Originally premiering off-Broadway in 1971, Godspell, with music by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), has become a cult classic musical. It is loosely based on the Gospel of Matthew and features a series of parables punctuated by modern-style songs with biblical lyrics. The cast is made up of an eclectic bunch of actors known only by their first names, and together, they act out the parables and learn together until the passion of the Christ is presented at the very end. The current Broadway revival stars Weeds' Hunter Parrish as Jesus alongside amazing Broadway talents including Lindsay Mendez and Telly Leung. Presented in the round at the Circle in the Square Theatre, this show is intimate, fun, and an emotional experience everyone should have.

(3) Sister Act: Anyone who remembers the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film of the same name (and its sequel) will be delighted by the energetic stage adaptation. Sister Act follows Delores Van Cartier, a night club singer who witnesses a crime and has to flee to a convent to avoid being caught and killed by her gangster boyfriend, Curtis. A fish out of water in this new place, she eventually finds her place directing the choir, and eventually earns the love and respect of the sisters, chiefly the stoic Mother Superior, with her passion for music and its power to bring people together in joy. Featuring a series of peppy song-and-dance numbers, this show is a glittering piece of Broadway fun.

(4) Anything Goes: Perhaps one of the best known classic musicals ever written, Anything Goes has enjoyed several Broadway productions, each time updating to keep it fresh for new generations of theatregoers. It follows former evangelist and current night club entertainer Reno Sweeney on a trans-Atlantic cruise with friend Billy Crocker, who is desperately vying for the hand of the beautiful Hope Harcourt. Meanwhile, small-time gangster Moonface Martin is stowing away and causing trouble, but helping out his old friend Reno when he can. The formidable lead role of Reno has been memorably performed by the likes of Ethel Merman and Patti Lupone, and the current revival's leading lady, Sutton Foster, is easily their equal as she stars opposite legend Joel Grey's Moonface Martin. This show's classic tunes and precise choreography are nothing short of amazing. Catch this ship before it departs!

(5) Jesus Christ Superstar: The electric rock opera chronicling the last week of Jesus' life is returning to Broadway in March, and fans of this Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice masterpiece are ecstatic. The acclaimed Des McAnuff-directed production that premiered at the 2011 Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada is finally transferring to the Great White Way, bringing most of its extraordinary talent with it, including Paul Nolan as Jesus and Josh Young as Judas. Songs like "Heaven on Their Minds," "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and, of course "Superstar," drive this emotional roller coaster of a show. Christian or not, get your tickets now; this is an epic story told in the most epic way.

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