Remember your Hamilton-induced FOMO, when all your friends saw it before tickets hit the $1,500 mark? How did they do that? Lin-Manuel’s zeitgeist-maker started off-Broadway, at NYC’s Public Theater, before moving to bigger digs, allowing the theater-obsessed to see the musical months before the rest of us even caught on. While there are plenty of shows that debut off-Broadway around the city, there are more that get workshopped way off Broadway—like, Chicago. If you want to see the next big things before they hit the Great White Way—including a Cher biopic, a Beetlejuice musical, and Ewan McGregor-less Moulin Rouge—you can make a weekend out of it. Beat your friends to these musical previews across the country.
The Cher Show
Coming to: Chicago
The Cher Show is about as Cher as it gets. The pop superstar’s own fashion designer, Bob Mackie, is doing the costumes. There are at least 30 classic Cher songs from across her more than 50-year career. (“I Got You Babe”! “Believe”!) And three—count ’em, three—actresses will play the icon at the same time throughout the musical, which will be formatted like an episode of, well, the Cher show. Rick Elice, who co-wrote Jersey Boys, is on the script, perfecting the show before it moves to New York in November for previews. It officially opens on Broadway December 3 (tickets just went on sale for NYC).
Where to Watch: At Chicago’s Oriental Theatre from June 12–15. The Oriental opened in 1926 as a movie theater and was remodeled in the late 1990s. Now it houses all of the Broadway-bound shows and national tours in town. Tickets to The Cher Show are as low as $30.
Where to Stay: So many of our favorite Chicago hotels are within walking distance of the Oriental, but we have two in mind. Embrace your inner Cher at the
Smart but doesn’t take itself too seriously
a reboot of the former CAA with elements of its 19th-century interior in tact. (And a killer rooftop bar.)
Where to Eat: The kitchen at
Deeply flavorful American classics in trendy digs
A modern, exciting Mexican experience
offers modern Mexican food and a top-notch mezcal list. The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m., so it’s best for after the 2:00 p.m. weekend matinees or before the late 8:00 p.m. show.
Jagged Little Pill
Coming to: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Keeping the jukebox musical tradition alive, Jagged Little Pill taps into the angst of singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette and 22 of her songs. Diablo Cody (Juno) wrote the book, weaving Morissette’s music into a plot that follows eight characters struggling with a personal trauma, like drug addiction or rape. (The joys of musicals!) It’s a heavy, moving, and compelling, The New York Times said in its May review, breaking the mold of the biopic musicals before it. Bonus: Wicked and Frozen superstar Idina Menzel sang the lead while the musical was being workshopped, so fingers crossed that she follows the show to Broadway.
Where to Watch: The show opened in May at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge and runs through July 15. It doesn’t have a Broadway transfer date yet, so it may find itself in the 2019–2020 season instead. Tickets start at $25.
Where to Stay: If you want to stay right by the A.R.T. and its Ivy League neighbor, Harvard University, you should look for an Airbnb. Our readers’ closest favorite hotel (the
Where to Eat: You’ll want to make reservations ahead of time, as these two hot spots can get crowded at dinner. The first,
is a bit more casual, but only in its homey setting. The restaurant serves French New American food, like Vermont pork made three ways: a confit shoulder, slow-cooked belly, and confit tongue.
Coming to: Boston
Finally, yes finally, Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning movie musical is coming to the stage. Led by Aaron Tveit (Grease: Live and Les Misérables) as Christian and Karen Olivo (In the Heights) as Satine, the musical will feature all of the beloved mash-ups from the movie, as well as new pop songs that came out after the movie hit theaters in 2001. Besides the big-name cast, the show has a big-name director: two-time Tony Award winning Alex Timbers, who also co-created Amazon’s popular sex, drugs, and symphony show Mozart in the Jungle.
Where to Watch: Moulin Rouge! hits Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre on June 27, and has already extended its run, from August 5 to August 19, giving you more chances to tearily lip-sync “Come What May” in the audience. Tickets are more expensive for this show, starting at $50. There’s no official date for when these can-can dancers will head to Broadway, but it shouldn’t be too far off.
Where to Stay: Just off Boston Common, the theater is near a number lot of the city’s best hotels. We’d go with the
, for its newly renovated interiors, in-house restaurant, Cultivar, and coffee-shop/library, just in case you need to work remotely to catch the show on a weekday.
Where to Eat: For pre- or post-show dinner, you’re having oysters. Go old school at
‘s marble bar for a freshly shucked plate and a lobster roll.
Coming to: Washington, D.C.
There aren’t a lot of details out yet on Beetlejuice—not even casting—but the creative team looks pretty damn promising. Alex Timbers, the same Alex who’s directing Moulin Rouge! in Boston, is in charge of this dark comedy as well. TV writers Anthony King (Broad City) and Scott Brown (Difficult People) will adapt the story, and Australian comedian and singer-songwriter Eddie Perfect has written the music. As long as “Jump in the Line” makes the cut, we’re in.
Where to Watch: The musical will make its debut at the National Theatre October 14, running through November 18. If the theater’s name sounds at all familiar, it may be because it was home to another movie-turned-musical last year: Tina Fey’s Mean Girls, which is currently on Broadway. Tickets for Beetlejuice aren’t available yet, but they’ll pop up on the theater’s site in the next few months.
Where to Stay: If you want to be close to the theater (and steps from the National Mall), book a stay at the ultra-elegant
Unbeatable location and impeccable service
A high-energy gem among stuffy big-box hotels
, one of the best new hotels in the world, thanks to its bright, airy rooms filled with home goods you want to take home and buzzy restaurants. It’s one of the hipper options in D.C.
Where to Eat: The biggest issue here is finding something nearby and open at reasonable hours (most restaurants are open from 5:30 to 10 p.m., which is a very tight window for a 7 p.m. show). Bon Appétit favorite Zaytinya is just a few blocks away, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. most days, takes reservations, and serves up Mediterranean mezze, with something for everyone. After the show, it’s a 10-minute walk to
, open until midnight serving up all things meat, from beef-fat fries to heart ragout.