Saturday, July 11, 2009

Puppies and Normals and Hair, oh my!

Oh my goodness, today was SO AMAZING.

Started off with sleeping in. Which was fantastic, after all these crazy days of classes. Read a lot of my book, then decided to head to Times Square around 12:30 to try my luck at the TKTS booth. I decided that since I wasn't getting up before the crack of dawn to get in line for Twelfth Night, I wanted to definitely see a Broadway show that day!

I found TKTS and saw a bunch of shows that still had tickets, so I decided to pick between Next to Normal, Hair, Mary Stuart, the Marvelous Wonderettes (no idea what that is, but it sounds adorable), and Rock of Ages (just for laughs ;)). And when I got to the front of the line (which was in no time at all, I guess getting to the TKTS booth at 1:20pm isn't as bad an idea as I thought it would be), I picked Next to Normal. I got an orchestra seat, which usually would have been about $120, for about $75. It was a partial view seat, but that only meant that I couldn't see the third level of the set. And since the actors weren't up there a whole lot, it wasn't too big of a deal. My bigger problem was that I was freeeeezing cold. I forgot a jacket... Whoops.

The show itself was really good. It's about a not-so-normal family with a bunch of big problems. I won't say more, because it's very complicated and intense, but it was a great production. The actors were all really good. Most of them were the original cast--I think the son was a replacement. Alice Ripley was really good too; I can see why she won the Tony for best actress. I was a little too far away to really see their faces, but that's OK. I just wanted to see the show, find out what the hype is about. Now I want to buy the music and listen to it a bit more. I'll say, it's not my favorite musical ever, but I'm very glad I went to see it. It was quite the experience, and I definitely had a few WOAH moments as I watched the story unfold. And a funny thing that happened--before the show, I had purchased a pretzel and was eating it in front of the theatre, and I ran into my roommate and her friend! They were checking out the rush policies for other nearby shows. I just think it's crazy--what are the odds that, in this giant city of New York, in all the crowds of Times Square and all the shows playing this afternoon, I'd run into my roommate? Just insane...

After Next to Normal ended, I walked out of the theatre and ran into dogs. Lots and LOTS of dogs. I guess today was the 11th annual Broadway Barks event. There were raffles and silent auctions for different Broadway-related things, like dinners with cast members and giant dog stuffed animals, signed by the casts of different shows. Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore were the hosts, but I didn't get to see them. I only stayed until 5:30, and I think the part where all the different Broadway stars came by was later. I thought they were going to sing, but perhaps they were just showed off their puppy dogs and kitty cats and asked that people adopt the adorable little animals. Anyway, I stayed for a while, then went to the Hair box office to put my name in the lottery with Rachel.

I got there, wrote my name and zip code on a sheet of paper, and waited for Rachel to come by. And, again, I ran into my roommate and her friend! They were trying for the lottery too. While waiting for Rachel to come, I wrote her name down on a sheet of paper and turned it in. Then she showed up, and wrote her name down as Sophie. Just to help increase our chances ;). (Sophie was at another dinner and couldn't be there for the lottery itself.) But hey, we had a plan. If we didn't get Hair, we'd rush Blythe Spirit, which has Angela Lansbury. And if that failed, we'd attempt something else. We were seeing a show that night, and that was that!

Well, the lottery started, and the guy who was picking from the bucket told us that there were 28 seats available. And I swear, there were at least 100 people! I was starting to get nervous... He pulled out the first slip and paper and announced... ME!!! I WON THE LOTTERY!! TO HAIR!!! When he announced MY NAME I raised my hand and bounced like a school girl for a minute then started off the line of lottery winners. Because I was the FIRST PERSON to get tickets!!!!!

Sadly, neither Rachel or Sophie was picked, so it wouldn't be the 3 of us watching the show. But since I won, Rachel and I got tickets! After he finished announcing everyone, the guy went through our line and verified that I was indeed me, then I went up to the box office and we got our tickets. A1 and A2, box seats house right. It was a little after 6 at this point, and we had time before the show, so we went on a dinner hunt. On the way we passed Broadway Barks again, and I actually saw Bernadette Peters this time, as well as Alice Ripley, Stephanie J. Block, and J. Robert Spencer (who had been the dad in Next to Normal). They weren't performing, but it was still really cool.

We got dinner at this little place, where I got a sauceless cheese pizza, a rice crispy treat and Pepsi for under $10. Not bad, for the expensive tourist-land that is Times Square. We avoided purchasing the $18 hot dog! Then we went to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to see HAIR! It was amazing. Our seats were in the box seats, but it wasn't like MVCPA's box seats. Instead, the balcony of the theatre extended all the way to the sides, so even though we were way above the stage we were in line with the front row of the orchestra. And right in front of our seats, which were the FIRST ROW (yay!!), was this little platform where the actors would frequently use. There were stairs right next to us, which the actors would go up and down to do various entrances and exits in the balcony. This was definitely a show that broke the 4th wall, but in an amazing way. They would talk to people in the audience, touch them (frequently in ways that, outside of this show would be awkward but in this show, was totally normal), climb over chairs and dance with the audience. And then some!

The show itself was amazing. I'm pretty sure this was the original cast, and there were no understudies, which is always awesome. The actors were FULL of energy and excitement, and just seemed like they were having the times of their lives! I had no idea what was going on half the time, but that didn't matter. The dancing and movement and pure emotion was overwhelming, in a great way. I was smiling the entire first act of the show. We were so close that we could see everything, pretty much, save what was far stage left and blocked by the platform. But when the people were on that platform, we couldn't get any closer. And it was cool, because the cast would look at the audience members, so we made lots of eye contact with the various members of the cast! And during the show, when they came up to the balcony and stood next to us, sometimes they'd give a little wave and I'd wave back.

And during the song Hair, some of them came up to the box seats and a few of them messed up my hair! There was one girl who came up and stuck her hair in front of Rachel and my faces, just playing around with it. And later, during the hallucination scene, there was this reenactment of the assassination of Abe Lincoln. The actress playing Abe Lincoln was onstage, and the guy playing John Wilkes Booth came up to our box, and he sat on my lap!!! He pointed his fake gun at Rachel and "threatened" the people around us, before "killing" Lincoln. Before he left, he apologized to the people onstage for killing Lincoln... but before going back down to the stage, he walked over and screamed, pretty much in my ear, "Not really!!" Or something of the sort. It scared me half to death, but it was amazing.

And at the end of the show, after bows, they invited the audience to come onstage and sing and dance with the cast. We weren't sure if we should go at first, but after a few moments passed (and the cast member that was currently on the platform told us that we should go), we ran down the stairs and went on the stage!! (Of course, the minute we got onstage, Gavin Creel went on our little platform... Oh well, he had already performed earlier on that platform. Hehe!) It was crazy crowded with a ton of people, but it was so amazing. I could see the "Chris Cam" (which I could see from our seats anyway, but now I didn't have to twist around to see it), and the techies (of which there were no more than 3, pretty much--there was literally no backstage. From our seats, we could see everything), and all the cast members were there, and I could see all the people in the orchestra (which I hadn't been able to see from our seats), and the HUGE audience! Since they were all on their feet, clapping and dancing along, it just looked huge! And now I can officially say that I've performed on a Broadway stage! (Hehe...) After all, I was onstage dancing and singing (kind of) and all those people were watching. ;) Anyway, it really felt like a big group of love and joy and happiness. It was the most amazing experience I've had in a theatre, pretty much ever.

After the show I bought a t-shirt and we got a few autographs from a few members of the cast. They were really chatty and friendly. I feel like with this show, you can't have real major divas or cattiness in the cast. Now, I'm sure I'm wrong, considering that there's no such thing as an environment with zero cattiness whatsoever, but the things these people do seem to require so much confidence and community that I can't help but imagine that it would spill into their lives offstage too. (And a side note? Their bio's were fantastic. They were written as if they were in character, practically. Only a few of them list all the shows the individuals had done. For the most part, it was about the things they love and qualities about the actors unrelated to theatre.) We got about 4 autographs and then decided to head home.

And now I've been back over an hour and a half, and I'm still pumped up by this show and my day! This was the craziest and awesomest theatre day I've had in a long time, if not ever. And Hair was probably the coolest theatre experience I've ever had. I was talking to Rachel about it, and we both agreed that we had the best seats in the house. We could see clearly, front row, got to have lots of eye contact and interaction, and danced a while onstage! I'd be happy to see the show again, but I don't think it could live up to tonight's experience. I'm still all pumped up about it!

And now I've just downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes, so I'm going to give it a listen and see it again in my minds eye. Those crazy costumes, awesome energy, fantastic cast... Yay!!!!!!!

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