Broadway Time Machine: Falsettos Choreographer Spencer Liff Reveals 5 Musicals He'd Love to Go Back in Time to See
November 8th, 2016
by Spencer Liff
Astaire Award winner and 2016 Drama Desk nominee Spencer Liff is the man behind the movement of some of your favorite recent Broadway revivals. The two-time Emmy-nominated So You Think You Can Dance choreographer did the 2014 Tony-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Deaf West's 2016 Tony-nominated revival of Spring Awakening, and Lincoln Center Theater's current hit, Falsettos. (His work in "March of the Falsettos" and "Jason's Therapy" will have you smiling from ear to ear.)
BroadwayBox asked Liff to imagine he had a Broadway time machine and tell us about the five Broadway musicals he most wishes he could go back in time to see in their original productions.
Gypsy (Broadway Theatre, 1959)
Ok it's cliché, so what?! Of course I want to see the original production of my favorite musical. I've seen A LOT of revivals of this show (and random fact; I'm actually in the Bette Midler TV movie version) but I want to see ETHEL! Also, "You Gotta Get A Gimmick" is my favorite number ever, maybe in 20 years they'll do another revival but with guy strippers and I'll come out of retirement and be Electra.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Jane Street Theatre, 1998)
I was too young to see Hedwig downtown. When I choreographed the revival I was very cautious not to go back and watch any footage of the original. I didn't want it to influence what I did for NPH. I worked closely with John Cameron Mitchell, giving him all new steps when he came into the Broadway production and it was a thrill seeing him do the moves we created. However, I'd still kill to go back in time and watch him do the show at The Jane. He's beyond electric and I'm sure that room was on fire! I'd love to discover new things about the show by watching JCM do his original staging.
Sweet Charity (Palace Theatre, 1966)
So many incredible dance numbers! I want to see how Fosse staged them. I love how it's all shot in the movie, but I want to see his original proscenium version. Oh, and Gwen, obviously. That would be an incredible evening in the theater.
Company (Alvin Theatre, 1970)
This album was on repeat when I was young, of course much of the content I didn't really understand until I got older. I just loved the music and the sound of Elaine Stritch's voice. I think now, as a 30-year-old bachelor with some baggage, I would particularly appreciate seeing this trailblazing show live in its original form. Also, shout-out to Company and Sondheim for paving the road for shows like Falsettos to exist! Insert Shameless plug to come see the current revival of Falsettos at The Walter Kerr!
A Chorus Line (The Public Theater, 1975)
If I could only pick one, this would be it. The original album and those voices are forever engrained in my brain from the hours spent dancing around to the music in my bedroom. Actually, I would probably just cry the whole time if I could sit at The Public Theater and watch the originals do this masterpiece. Imagine taking the show in for the first time not knowing anything about it... Life Changing! I lived for a winter in Los Angeles in the apartment below Donna McKechnie. On occasion, after we had a few cocktails in the backyard, she would share stories of this time and naturally I fixated on every word. Until we invent time travel, that's as close as I'm gonna get.
See Spencer Liff’s choreography in LCT’s critically-acclaimed revival of ‘Falsettos’ at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre through January 8, 2017.