Thing that makes me happy #4: Broadway.
As cliche as it sounds, there is something simply magical about Broadway. Professional theater has always been something I’ve been completely fascinated with, from the choreography, to the set design, to the music, to the acting. Despite the fact that it’s so obviously fake and fabricated (unlike Hollywood which is designed to give the impression that you’re watching something that could be quite real), I have always thought Broadway was one of the greatest creations ever.
There is also something pretty magical about sitting in a theater, too, especially an old, historic theater like the ones in Manhattan. They lend itself to an old-time era. I think back to all the rich aristocrats who must have sat in these seats (or at the very least, sat in the this very theater), watching a production because it was one of the only forms of entertainment there were. If you’ve ever been in one of the theaters in New York City – at least, one of the old ones – you’ll see gilded ceilings, thick red velvet curtains, and maybe even a chandelier.
This weekend, I’m going to see my NINTH Broadway show, which I think is pretty impressive for someone who grew up in Oregon. My first Broadway show was at age 15, when my mother and I came to New York City, for a quick vacation before Children’s Congress in Washington D.C. We went down to the TKTS booth at the World Trade Center, because it was the only one open at the time. It was my one and only time being in the World Trade Center, as this was in June 2001. From the available shows, we picked Chicago, because one of the actresses in it was from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira). I thought it was funny that my first Broadway show was called “Chicago.” I’ve never seen the movie, so I can’t compare it, but I have a sneaking suspicion I got the better end of the deal.
When I was in college, I came back to New York City with my friend, D, who lives down in Philadelphia. We decided to risk it with TKTS, the discount ticket booth smack dab in the middle of Times Square. D suggested Movin’ Out, which I had never heard of, but apparently was a musical ballet set to Billy Joel music. It was wonderful and made me a Billy Joel fan for life.
Back in Oregon, my parents took my brother and I to see The Lion King at the Keller Auditorium, which was also terrific. The costumes were simply AMAZING, turning humans into animals with just a bit of make up, some well-place costumes, and impeccable choreography.
My first summer actually living on the East Coast, I saw three Broadway shows: Spamalot (with my mother and brother), which was wonderful if not completely unlike the movie; Curtains (with my friend Y, from college), which was HILARIOUS and wonderful and it makes me sad it ran for such a short time, damn you David Hyde Pierce and your awesomeness; and The Year of Magical Thinking (by myself, yes, I do things by myself occasionally), which was a one-woman show starring THE Vanessa Redgrave, about a woman who suffers the death of her husband and only daughter in the same year, written by Joan Didion who made a special appearance at the end of the play.
My brother and I in front of Spamalot.
Last year, my mother came back to visit and I got us tickets to see A Chorus Line, using the discount service offered at my work. The seats weren’t the greatest since we were close to the theater but waaaay over to the left side. But it was still wonderful, and who doesn’t love T*ts and A**!
It was almost a full year before I managed to see another show, when Erik and I went to see Speed-the-Plow. I had received an advertisement for the play in the mail a few weeks earlier, and it starred William H. Macy and Elisabeth Moss, both of whom I love. The tickets were pretty reasonable so we purchased the tickets that night! The play was short, but intense, and of course, being mere feet (Ok, hundreds of feet, but still!) from William H. Macy was amazing.
I think that’s another thing I love about theater. Seeing the actors in person. It’s such a thrill to be so close to actors you admire, even if they can’t see or hear you from the stage.
Anyway, tomorrow night, Ms. Cara and I are attending a showing of Next to Normal. A musical of which I, again, know nothing about! But it’s supposedly receiving rave reviews from The New York Times and the Rolling Stones, so if they like it, I’ll probably like it too.
Every time I leave a show, I always think, “That’s my favorite show!” But honestly, I’ve loved all of them, in different ways. I think it also depends on what you prefer and what kind of mood you’re in. The Year of Magical Thinking is probably my favorite as far as star power – Vanessa Redgrave – but it’s very serious, and sad. Curtains was hilarious and peppy, but Chicago and A Chorus Line are both classics and really hard to beat. Yet still, The Lion King had jaw-dropping choreography and costumes.
Maybe Next to Normal will be my favorite?