When Les Misérables first lumbered onto the Broadway stage in 1987, my daughter had not yet been born, but its theatrical life was so robust that it was still running strong in the 1990s when she achieved sentiency. As soon as she did, she glommed onto it with the fervor only a pre-adolescent can have for things she loves. The songs were played endlessly in the house and in the car, and all manner of professional and amateur productions were attended. She would burst at unexpected moments into renditions of “Master of the House,” and “ Do You Hear the People Sing?” — the first with a perfect cockney accent imitated from the CD.

I had plowed through Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, in college — impressed by the panache with which Hugo concocted the plot in defiance of logic and common sense. I felt I understood the famous response of… More…

I’m in the St. James Theatre watching the new Broadway production American Idiot, and I’m imaginig Sid Vicious watching with me. The production really begins in the lobby, which is full of messy graffiti and black paint. An air of menace is further created by signs that warn of graphic language and strobe lights. This isn’t Mary Poppins. This is Punk. On Broadway. American Idiot the musical (based on American Idiot the Green Day concept album) opens with a high-energy rendition of the eponymous song. Young men and women wearing old T-shirts and jeans run around the stage performing stylized headbanging and mosh pit machinations. The walls are plastered with flashing television sets and concert posters of West Coast punk bands — Dead Kennedys, Social Distortion. The orchestra is a rock band that plays right on stage. People in the audience are cheering and bouncing up and down. Now this… More…