Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Double Header

About a year and a half ago I thought decadence was seeing two Broadway shows in less than a week when Ashley and I saw "The Lion King" on a class trip, and then Don won tickets to see "Hamilton" four days later (and gave us the tickets). 

About two months ago I thought someone was crazy for seeing two Broadway shows in one day. 

About two weeks ago I had the brilliant idea to see two Broadway shows in one day.

Why the change of heart? you ask. It is a fair question. It was a combination of a couple of really good sales, the realization that by the time we get into New York City we have already spent a good amount of money (either on train tickets, or a combination of gas, tolls, and parking), plus Ashley identified two shows she really wanted to see before they closed.

Ashley and I took the 9:10 AM train in from Princeton Junction. It was an early start to the day, but the only way to score one of the five free parking spaces at the Princeton Junction lot that open up at 9 AM. Most of the lot is for people with parking passes, plus there is a day lot that fills up at 6:30 AM ($5 for the day). There is also a lot that works with an app that I am still trying to figure out. It shouldn't be this complicated.

Ashley and I had lunch at Schnippers -- a place we have been meaning to try for years. I had a great salad with beets and goat cheese.

A day in NYC would not be complete for Ashley without "stage dooring" it. She has known drawn the entire cast of "Hamilton" (including Chicago and touring, I believe) and "Come From Away," so even though we were not seeing those shows, we hung out near those stage doors.

The "Come From Away" actors started their day by being on Good Morning America at 6 AM.
They then had a 2 PM matinee, and an 8 PM evening show and still had the energy for fans.

Ashley did her braid by herself. I couldn't do that.

Jen is mighty talented and vert friendly.
Before taking this picture we saw her having an animated
conversation in sign language with another fan.
She also has great taste -- she loves Ashley's picture of her.

Meanwhile over at "Hamilton" the crowds were INSANE!

Ashley and I saw "Natasha and Pierre and The Great Comet" at 2 PM. The show is scheduled to close on September 3, 2017. We received an email offering tickets for $39 each. Even in 2017 prices, that is a steal.

The show is based on 70 pages of Tolstoy's "War and Peace." It is well known for its odd staging. It is billed as theater in the round, but that's not how I imagined theater in the round. There are sections of seats ON the stage -- some in small pods, others in stadium seating. We were in the cheap seats not on the stage, but where the actors came to us instead of us to them. Well, mostly the musicians. The actors and musicians interact with the audience. At one point one character "mails" a letter to another by sending it down the front row of seats. Audience members really have to keep on their toes.

The show is famous for the controversy surrounding the casting of Pierre. In the beginning of the Broadway run it was Josh Groban. Then it was Okierete "Oak" Onaodwan (who was in "Hamilton" before this). Then Mandy Patinkin. Then there was controversy surrounding the recasting of a young African American man with an older white man and suddenly the show was without a Pierre and announcing it would close. Whew! We ended up seeing David Malloy in the role -- the man who originated the role off-Broadway and who is the songwriter. He was excellent. 

I had troubles getting into the show. I didn't know where to look. I hadn't had a chance to listen to the music before the show and as a result had trouble following the plot -- which felt like an opera with people talking in the third person and singing EVERYTHING. My friends who saw the show before us loved it. I felt I needed to see it a couple of more times from different angles to fully appreciate it (something at $39 if it wasn't closing this weekend I would have been willing to do). Also, I kept waiting for the Great Comet, which didn't make an appearance or even a mention until the last five minutes as if the playwright realized he had an awesome title and needed the comet to appear in order for it to make any sense at all. I loved the costumes -- especially for the extra animated musicians. They hinted at being Steampunk and seemed a lot more vibrant that what peasants would have worn in 19th century Russia.

After the show we met up with Don for dinner at The Counter. As always, it was enjoyable.

Onto show #2: Bandstand

I wish this show wasn't closing. The plot was completely predictable, but we didn't care. It was reminiscent of a Rogers and Hammerstein musical. You know what is going to happen, so you sit back and enjoy the musical ride.

The show received a lot of positive attention from veterans groups for how it portrays life after war. Each person in their seven person band had their lives changed during the war, including the lead singer whose husband was killed by "friendly fire." I could easily recommend this show to so many people -- including my parents and their friends (Baby Boomers, not WWII vets). Could certainly encourage veterans to see the show. Unfortunately it will be closing on September 17. A casual conversation with the usher and we learned she blames the super discounted tickets for shows closing. Ouch! With paying only $69 each, we were exactly the type of theatergoer she was referencing. If the tickets had been well over $100 each, we would not have gone. I suspect others feel the same way. I really hope "Bandstand" makes the rounds so more people can be inspired by it.

We had awesome seats -- front row mezzanine, nearly center with no heads blocking our view. Much better than when we saw "Great Comet" and missed a funny ad lib scene on the stage because our seats were so far to stage right.

Hopefully someday we'll do the double header again. We are really glad with the order we went with since we left "Bandstand" smiling and tapping our toes and left "Great Comet" confused and bewildered. Oddly enough we saw someone in the parking lot elevator who had just seen "Great Comet" (the 8 PM show, not the same 2 PM one we saw). She was also confused and bewildered by it. Don is really glad he only saw "Bandstand" since he enjoyed it, too.

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