Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Broadway Week -- Amazing Grace

Living as close to NYC as we do, we really should go into the city more often than we do. We have neighbors who commute in every day, yet when I go into NYC I need to recover before returning. I have been to New York City more often this summer than in the past decade.

Two weeks ago it was the unicycle festival.
Last month it was Summer Streets.
In July it was a surprise visit to see Seward Johnson sculptures, Manhattanhenge, go on High Bridge, see Noemi's show Manuel and the Statue of Liberty, and see Wicked for a belated birthday present (no blog posts for the shows, sorry I should fix that).

For us, that is a lot of times in and out of The Big Apple.

Add another one to the list: seeing "Amazing Grace" on Broadway. Our goal is to take our theater-loving girl once a year to see a Broadway show. Some years that doesn't happen. We honestly thought this was going to be one of those years. We saw "Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Paper Mill Playhouse in April anticipating that was as close to Broadway as we would get in 2015. We were wrong.

When I heard Amazing Grace was coming to Broadway as a musical describing the history behind the show I knew Ashley would get a lot of out seeing it. A few months earlier upon learning about the story behind the songwriter she felt so moved she wanted to preach about it at church. What 12/13 year old feels that way? I'm on the planning committee so i suggested it, and they encouraged her to preach.

Broadway tickets are expensive. So I needed another push. That came when I learned about Broadway Week. Tickets would be buy one get one free for shows between September 7 and the 20th. We got tickets to the performance on the 19th (Don had two major bike rides on the 12th and 13th, and it wouldn't be fun without him).

We needed a fourth person to make this work out, so we invited my mom to join us. We allowed plenty of time to go into NYC, which allowed time to eat dinner at The Counter and walk around a bit. We stumbled upon the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary exhibit, but only went into the gift shop. Mom and I are both Paramus High School alumnae, and they used to spoof on our Spartans. Our school colors were blue and white, but we posed with the statue anyway.

It was a beautiful night to walk around. Not sure if the Empire State Building was Yankee Blue or Mets Blue that night (since the subway series was taking place) or blue for another reason. It was a pretty color.

The play itself was wonderful. About the same time we learned it is closing on October 25, or I would tell you to go. I was hoping Ashley's class trip would be to see it since they studied this in class and since the 8th grade tradition is to go see a Broadway show.

The show centers around the true life story of John Newton, an English slave-trader, and his transformation. The story is moving and inspiring. It starts with seven adults being removed from a shipping crate in front of our eyes and sold. As they were sold, they were branded on stage with their owner's mark. History we have all learned, but not witnessed.

I noticed the audience had both black and white adults in it, but not children (other than Ashley). I also did not notice anyone Asian or Hispanic. I found that interesting. Other than the people gabbing behind us through much of the show, people seemed to give the production their full attention.

My parents also saw "Kinky Boots" that week. Other friends posted pictures of seeing other shows -- "Matilda" and "Wicked" come to mind.

Hopefully we will hear about Broadway Week again next year and be able to see another show. While we love the concept of TKTS, the planner in me wants to know what I am going to see. A trip to NYC feels too important to go in and just wing it. Or rather, it is too much of an expense and too time consuming to head in just to turn around and come home.

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