Sunday, December 29, 2013

NYC Day Three

It's about five in the morning here in New York, and there's a lot that I want to write about, but I'm going to stick with the basic stuff. We're halfway through our trip, and in some ways it feels like we've been here for a week or two. We aren't totally used to the subway system yet, or familiar with where most things are, but the Manhattan attitude seems to have sunk in, at least for me: I don't meander, I keep my eyes straight ahead, I'm friendly but not familiar, I ignore Walk/Don't Walk signs. The usual.
Saturday began with us being pretty much out of luck for Twelfth Night, and running out of time for the rest of the shows I wanted to see. One was already down for the count (Sleep No More), and it was looking like number two wouldn't be seen either, so we shuffled our plans around and that became another cold, early morning line to get tickets to Pippin.
Daniel was assigned to the rush line for The Glass Menagerie, to try and get into the matinee, but while we waited, I read a book and chatted with a couple visiting from Miami - one of whom, Justin, actually began talking about Utah. I couldn't help eavesdropping, and chiming in with my hometown info. He told me he was going to be working for the Utah Festival Opera this summer for the second year in a row, and we talked about Michael Ballam and the nature of Joseph's amazing Technicolor flak jacket, and finally it was ten o'clock. Just before the box office opened, however, Daniel came over to my line just in time to get a voucher to buy a ticket - they handed them out, one ticket per person, and if you didn't get a voucher, you were out of luck for the day. Good timing for Dan, but bad luck for Menagerie - they weren't selling any rush tickets all weekend. But we got tix for Pippin for that evening, and then sauntered up to Times Square to see if the TKTS booth had any discounted tickets for Glass Menagerie available.
When we saw the line, though - which ran in the range of three or four hundred people, at least - we gave up on that idea. We ducked into the Disney Store for about ten minutes - enough to realize it was not a place for grown men unless they had small children with them. Finally, we decided to head over to the Shubert Theatre to try and win lottery tickets to MatildaThe crowd wasn't huge, but we didn't get lucky; we'll probably try again on Monday. However, by then I think we were both frustrated with the whole system, and we sprang for guaranteed Menagerie tickets, then Waiting for Godot tickets, then Once tickets. Considerably more expensive than the rush tickets we'd been hoping for, but... well, I suppose we'll see if the money is worth it.
At that point, though, it was noon, and we were both hungry. Daniel suggested Ellen's Stardust Diner, which was fine with me as I'd never been there, so we headed up to 51st Street and waited in a short line to get in. I'll tell you this: the waitstaff can sing! The food was passable, and Daniel was loving it. But I was directly beneath a very, very loud speaker, and the only showtune on the set list while we were eating was "Tomorrow" from Annie, so I can't say it was my favorite. But it wasn't bad for a quick lunch. After eating, we decided to head back to the apartment to relax.
We were both desperately in need of a nap at that point, but I stayed awake and worked out what we were going to do in this foreign country if our last spot for a show didn't work out. A movie had worked for us yesterday, so The Plan started to include cinematic storytelling as well as the theatrical variety. More on that later.
Eventually evening came along, and we headed just a block downtown to the Music Box Theatre to see the show I was most excited for. I must say, despite far house left tickets that were considered partial view, for me, the show did not disappoint in the slightest. All the original principal actors were still there except for Andrea Martin, who was replaced by the hilarious Tovah Feldshuh. The music...was utterly gorgeous. The voices, the orchestrations, the emotion in the lyrics and notes...I wanted to stand up and sing with them all for two and a half hours. I wish deeply that Utah's audiences were able to understand the need for 'questionable' material onstage in order to teach moral lessons: this show teaches one of the best, purest principles, but it may not ever be seen on a large scale in our community, because of a few words and a symbolic scene. That is more tragic to me than anything. 
Specifically, Patina Miller was glorious. She was seduction in black. She earned her Tony every minute she was on that stage, and didn't even hint that this was her second incredibly exhausting show of the day. Wow. Matthew James Thomas was endearing and simple - almost too much so. Rachel Bay Jones was wonderful as Catherine, and the ensemble... I've never seen that much athletic and artistic ability onstage. So, so, so good.
After the show, we waited for signatures, and got several, but despite waiting until midnight in the cold, (featuring a quick surprise hello from my friend and old roommate, Tim Reed), many of the players never came out, including Patina. It made me a little sad. But, we bucked up and went down a couple more blocks to see another show - a movie this time. Since we hadn't been able to make it to a matinee, we got late-night tickets for The Book Thief, which I don't think is even out in Utah yet.
When it comes out, go see it. Go. See. It. Writing, acting, music, cinematography, etc., were all wonderful. Only two really big names, but the lesser-known actors were also absolutely perfect. It's a tragic and hopeful movie, at the same time. Oscar bait that really deserves some recognition. I loved it, and it made me think.
But now, I have to stop thinking, so I can go to sleep and stay awake for our matinee tomorrow. Good night!

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