Saturday, September 9, 2017

Four Shows

Before heading to NYC I had bought tickets to two shows - Waitress and The Great Comet. I would enter the lottery for other shows (including Hamilton, which is still a bit too pricey). I ended up getting into two other shows!

I knew I wanted to see this after watching Jesse Mueller's performance at the Tony Awards last year. I tried to see it when I was in NYC back in April, but it just didn't work out. When I decided I was going to New York for my ten year anniversary the first thing I did was buy a ticket to Waitress. It's based on the 2007 movie of the same name, with songs and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. I love Sara Bareilles, and you can tell the songs are from her. I liked how the show found a way to incorporate the thoughts in Jenna's head as she plans pies that relate to her feelings and predicaments. The band is on-stage most of the time, and the background characters are regularly integrated into the story.

This is a very emotional show, with the main character, Jenna, having to deal with a very bad husband and the choices she has made in her life. I love that she is allowed to be multi-dimensional; she makes good and bad choices and yet I never judge her. The females characters have a strong bond, but are allowed to fight and still be good friends.

The Great Comet
I didn't know very much about this show other than Josh Groban was once in the lead role, and the whole brouhaha with Mandy Patinkin. A friend suggested it so I went ahead and bought a ticket a few weeks ago. I got there just in time, because the show ended up playing its last performance the day after I saw it.

The play is based on a 90-page slice of War and Peace. There are a lot of characters, and the Playbill provides a chart of who is connected to who; I found this very helpful. The play is immersive, with most of the characters on stage during the whole run time. The stage was reimagined to accommodate this experience, basically blowing out the entire back of the stage and providing seating right next to the actors. It turned the normal "Broadway play" on its head, and I wish it had gotten more notice for the way it was so different.

The Book of Mormon
Besides the tickets for the two previous shows, my plan was to enter lotteries and see what happened. After The Great Comet I went back to my Airbnb to reassess what to do for the night. I hadn't won the lottery for anything yet. I decided I would go back to Times Square and see about getting a cheap/standing room only ticket for The Book of Mormon. When I arrived about thirty minutes before the show, the Box Office told me they didn't have any standing room only tickets left. However, they did have single tickets available to sell. I decided to wait it out in the cancellation ticket to see what my chances were - if I was going to be paying a lot for a ticket I wanted it to be a good seat! I stood in a line that had just one other person in it - an English girl from Houston! We each ended up getting a premier producer's seat for a third of what they normally go for! My seat was in the orchestra, in the middle, about ten rows back.

The play was awesome! It was so much fund and everyone was laughing the whole time. I think it's probably better if you are Mormon or know Mormon culture, because you get the little jokes and comments that others don't. It is entirely irreverent (what else do you expect from the creators of South Park). I laughed a lot, which made for a very fun night. I stage-doored it in the rain after and had a couple of the actors sign my Playbill.

Dear Evan Hansen
When I told one of my friends about my plan to go to NYC he said he'd love to see Dear Evan Hansen. I remember seeing the posters for it when Ivy and I were in NYC, but I wasn't all that familiar with it. I looked at getting a ticket but just never committed to it. Then it won a boatload of Tony's in June, I loved Ben Splatt's performance, and I wanted to see it. Too bad - ticket prices had now sky-rocketed (not to Hamilton level, but still a bit too pricey for what I was willing to pay). My plan was to enter the lottery and hope for the best.

By Sunday afternoon I hadn't won any of the lotteries I had entered, and had pretty much resigned myself to not seeing it. I was taking a walking tour of Greenwich Village when I decided to just check StubHub again and see what the prices were. At 1:30 p.m. there was a single ticket for the 3 p.m. show that was at a price within my budget! So I bought it right then and there!

When I got to the theater and the line started moving, I felt so happy and lucky that I was seeing it! As I got to the theater doors I noticed a white sign posted: The role of Evan Hansen usually played by Ben Splatt will be played by Michael Lee Brown. Well, that explained the relatively-cheap ticket I was able to buy. And I was bummed.

But then I got over it! Because I was seeing Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway with all of the original cast. It did not disappoint, and understudy Michael Lee Brown was amazing. Like seriously. He is the understudy for two other characters and has played them all throughout the run. That's right, he understudies for three characters - three sets of songs, three character's dialogue and movements and props. That is amazing. I stage-doored it afterward just because I wanted him to feel special, and he signed my Playbill.

I loved all the shows I saw, book-ended by the emotional stories of Waitress and Dear Evan Hansen and stuffed with flair and fun of The Great Comet and The Book of Mormon. I loved the kids and pre-teens I saw at the shows and the excitement they had for theater. The kid sitting behind me at The Great Comet was seriously so excited his mom had to tell him to stop talking at one point and not spoil the show for her. So many kids had posters and art and I could feel their excitement.



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