Giving credit where it's due...Corb took this photo, and he likes to call it "Morose in Manhattan."
How tough are things out there? Apparently, Elmo just got laid off from Sesame Street!
So here's the story of what I like to think of as my own little economic stimulus package for Broadway...open curtain on "Five Plays in Four Days."
This just in: I've been informed by das Corbster that the correct title of his photo extravagaza is actually "Forlorn Elmo." So, there you are..."Forlorn Elmo" it is! Doesn't that sound like some kind of perfume, though, like "Forever Britney" or "Jilted Bristol"?
Show 1: Guys and Dolls, Thursday night
This show has pretty much been panned by everyone, and this time, the critics were right. So, I won't belabor the subject any further, and will devote the rest of this space to talking about our trip down to New York. Or maybe, some things that happened before we saw Guys and Dolls. Or maybe, I'll just babble. Hell, I don't know.
I may have mentioned that our group consisted of Corb and myself, driving down with two ladies who were not a couple. Well, not a couple in the sense that WE were a couple. Judi and Sue, our two stalwart companions...because every dynamic gay duo need a pair of straight female sidekicks, don't you think? Sue was our driver, and a better driver I couldn't ask for. She kept me calm the whole way through, and given what a horrible backseat driver I am, that's saying something.
We stayed at the Marriott Marquis, on the 38th floor. Judi and Sue had a great view of Times Square, and an even better view of a naked fat man in his fifties, who was in the hotel next door and spent his nights spread out on his bed, watching television. Corb and I, on the other hand, had a lovely view of a slab of concrete.
Although we thought that the first night spent in New York was just going to be spent with the four of us, we learned on the way down that Judi, as it turns out, has a New York groupie. A few years ago, she directed a production of Anne Frank, and befriended a young girl I'll call Agnes. Agnes, desperately in need of a mother figure, found it in Judi. Although Agnes moved with her father to NYC, every time Judi's in New York, Agnes wants to spend every waking moment with her.
It started on the trip down. Judi received seven calls from Agnes, even though she had told her that she would be seeing her on Friday night.
And, the minute we stepped out of the hotel to head to Ellen's for dinner, there she was, just coincidentally "bumping" into us on the street. At dinner, where her father joined us, she protectively hovered over Judi, jealously guarding her every move.
For me, it was motivation to order a martini.
Show 2, Wicked, Friday night.
I don't think anyone really needs another review of Wicked, although I do have to say that we've seen the show three times (once on Broadway) and this time was, far and away, the most enjoyable experience. We were in the sixth row, center, and could see everything. Plus, the two leads were superb. It was a marvelous experience.
Instead, I'll devote this space to dinner. Friday was the night we were supposed to meet up with friends. I had two dear friends meeting up with us--Carey and Courtney, both leading ladies in shows I've directed. Judi had her pals Ken and Glenn driving down to help celebrate her birthday. I sat next to Ken, who runs his own theater company, and we talked theater all night.
We ate at Ruby Foos, and I made the mistake of ordering tempura shrimp roll. I thought it was going to be fried, and was surprised to find out that it was actually sushi.
"What's this?" I asked, wrinkling my nose.
"I knew you were going to say that," said Corb, grinning.
"Can I send it back?" I asked. "It scares me."
"Dip it in soy sauce," said Ken. "Just try it."
I grabbed my chopsticks and delicately balanced a shrimp, lifting it up to my mouth. I just knew this was going to be a horrible experience.
It wasn't. In fact, I wanted more. I was disappointed when my main dish came. I could definitely have gone for seconds!
As it was, I didn't get to eat much of my main course. We had to rush out, to catch our show. Just as well, I suppose, because Agnes was headed over to the restaurant at that exact moment.
Show Three, West Side Story, Saturday afternoon
This show's currently in previews, and I just read a press release that said it's taking in an incredible amount of money.
I don't know, I was less than thrilled. It's two innovations are that it's being directed by the same man who directed it in the fifties, and also, that several songs are being sung in Spanish. I didn't personally find this very innovative, and really thought the whole thing was...well...a bit of a throwback. It just didn't do much for me, it didn't make me feel alive or excited, except for the gunshot at the end. Some of the guys were hot, though. Other than that, it all seemed really familiar. I've seen it done before, and better.
So, I will devote the remainder of this space the assholes we saw in New York. No, not the body parts. I mean, the creeps that think they can say anything and get away with it.
At one point, we encountered one guy with a cat on top of his head. Corb tried to take a photo, but it came out blurry. And when he took the photo, the guy called him a cocksucker.
On Friday, Corb and I were on our way back from picking up shirts when a bunch of rappers surrounded us and stuck a CD in my hands. "You look like a rapper," one of them said to me. Yeah, right. "Here, take this...it's free!"
I started walking away, with the CD in my hand. "No, wait wait wait!" the man said. "You need me to sign it, and that's not free."
I'll pass. But they weren't done with us, not hardly. The followed us for another half a block.
Another guy tried to sell us tickets to Wicked...which, I may have mentioned, we had already seen. Judi, who is always nothing but polite, tried to say no, several times, and as we were walking away, the guy said, loudly, "You know what I love best about out of towners? The ugly things that they wear!"
He was talking about Judi, who was celebrating her birthday that night, and takes such pride in how she looks. Fortunately, Corb was on hand, and he turned around and screamed at the guy, "Like we're going to take fashion advice from a guy on the street scalping tickets?"
Show Four, Billy Elliot, Saturday night
Okay, I know that this show has been talked about a lot, and I really don't need to sat anything further, but here's the thing: this was simply one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life.
I have rarely seen a show with a story told so creatively and so believably. Just set aside the themes of feeling different from all the rest and the search for gender and sexual identity that form such a key part of the show, and definitely reminded me of similar struggles that I've experienced. Set aside the fact that the show clearly follows WC Fields advice about children or animals. The simple fact is that this musical is incredibly moving, with some fine music by Elton John, more than making up for that Lestadt monstrosity. From practically the start of Act One, I was finding myself on the verge of tears, and by Act Two I was openly crying...and I wasn't the only one. Even Corb was getting choked up, and that never happens.
Do yourself a favor, if you can. SEE THIS MUSICAL. What it has to say about human relations, about being different, about love and family...and also, the way that it advances its plotline, the way that it creatively incorporates set changes, the way that it develops its characters...I'm absolutely speechless.
In a way, I'm awfully glad I saw this show the same day that I saw West Side Story. Because while WSS was certainly considered innovative, in its day, that certainly can't be considered the case with this current revival. Of course, it is one of the greatest American musicals. Of course, it was revolution. But Billy Elliott showed me how far theater has come in 40 years...and Billy Elliot makes West Side Story looks like a museum piece.
Oh, and one other thing: ate at Havanas that night. I had three mojitos, and they were out of this world! What a perfect night.
Show Five, The 39 Steps, Sunday afternoon
What can I say about this show? Four actors recreating a classic Hitchcock film, playing over 100 roles...it was an awful lot of fun. And, non musical, which was something of a relief after all that music and dance.
So, I won't say much, except to say that I sat behind an older woman with her twenty year old son. He has beautiful, long blond hair, which reminded me a bit of Corb, in a way. It was a similar color and texture.
This woman kept putting her arm around her son and petting his hair. She just sat there, petting and stroking it, and then petting it some more, like he was an English sheepdog or something. the whole thing just seemed really odd to me...I mean, at one point, she must have continued petting his hair for five minutes straight!
I can see showing affection to your kids, and I'm all for that. Even so, I don't like to see a mother engage in such heavy petting with her son. It just doesn't seem right, for some reason. It reminded me of the character on Little Britain that's still being breast-fed from his mum at the age of 30...some things just look WRONG!
Anyway, we made our way home from New York City much poorer than we left. But, what a week-end! It was one of the best trips to the Big Apple I've ever taken.