Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I want to be a part of it, New York, New York

I’m going to justify my blogging absence with the fact that I was gone for most of the summer anyway. With the random vacations, houseboat, florida, Atlanta several times, I just haven’t written much of anything down. I suppose I should work on that.

Week before last I went to NYC for my annual conference. My friend Beth and I went up early to see some extra shows and hang out in the city a little more because we don’t have much free time once the conference starts. I got to see 8 shows in 6 days and it was more fun than I could tell you. This is one of those moments that I will reiterate just how much I love my job. I saw some really great shows and some that I thought were just ok. I guess it all depends on mood.

I landed in New York mid morning on Saturday and headed straight to the hotel. We had just enough time to check in and find a place for lunch before our first show of the trip- JERSEY BOYS. I loved the show. It’s the story of Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. It is everything that a Broadway show should be. The music was incredible. We actually had the understudy for Frankie Valli and he blew me away. The rest of the guys were the originals. I’m not at all surprised that the show won the Tony for Best Musical a couple of years ago. It’s really an incredible show. I can’t say I’ve ever been someone to listen to a lot of oldies, but it’s funny that I still knew all the songs. I wonder sometimes what kind of a musical legacy today is leaving. Is there anything that will be worth listening to when my children are my age? (Granted I have to have children to be able to really ask this question, but we’re just going to assume that someday maybe before all of my eggs disappear I might get the opportunity to use them. I’m just saying.) Now that I’ve totally derailed- the show was great. It was a lot of fun and a great great show.

Our second show of the trip was CURTAINS. This is the show that David Hyde Pierce won the Tony for best actor in a musical for in June. He was fantastic. The show is a murder mystery musical comedy and somehow it’s pulled off really well. The show was the last collaboration of Kander and Ebb who are best known for CHICAGO and CABARET. I loved this show too. To be honest I wasn’t that excited about seeing it b/c it just seemed to be the old style big Broadway show that tends to get a little boring and feel a little long. It was great though. It was really funny, and well written. The dance numbers were fun and the cast was great. I’ve read some poor reviews on the show and have heard a lot of people say they were bored but I thought it was great. I loved seeing David Hyde Pierce in the role and I’m not at all surprised that he got the Tony for this role.

On Sunday, the first show we saw was LEGALLY BLONDE. I have to tell you that I didn’t love the show. I thought it was cute, and it was fun, but there were several numbers that just got on my nerves. The opening number, Omigod You Guys was stuck in my head for almost the entire week, and I can’t say that was a good thing. It was entertaining at times, some songs more than others and the dog was great, but overall it just felt like fluff. I guess a lot of entertainment is like that. And it’s not like I walked away changed from JERSEY BOYS or CURTAINS but I just felt differently about LEGALLY BLONDE. A lot of people loved it though, so maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I will say Laura Bell Bundy who plays Elle was incredible. She has a fantastic voice and I would love to see her in other shows.

Sunday evening we hadn’t originally planned to see anything but decided since we were there, we might as well go to another show. We tried to get tickets to CHORUS LINE but it’s dark on Sunday evening so we ended up with tickets to a little show off Broadway called WALMARTOPIA- A Musical With A Mission. I think it goes without saying what the show was aiming to do. I had heard most of the subject matter concerning Wal-Mart that they included in the show. (The insane number of lawsuits against them for sexual discrimination in the promotion of men over women, the fact that everyone thinks they’re products are “American made” but in actuality a very large number is sent to China to be produced for pennies, etc.) The show hadn’t been open long, and there were a couple areas where lines were dropped or just hesitated on long enough to show that it wasn’t as polished as it could be. It’s cheesy but in a good way, and I feel like they do a good job of conveying what they’re trying to say. I’ve had some issues with Wal-Mart for a while now, and have a hard time with that balance of disagreeing with how they run their business, and at the same time, knowing they are the cheapest and going there anyway. At this point I’m on a Wal-Mart break. I think I’d rather pay a little more than feel guilty over supporting a company that I just don’t agree with their practices.

One of my best friends, Jamie, flew in Monday morning and spent the day with us walking around SoHo. We had a lot of fun wandering into random stores and ending the afternoon at the Magnolia Bakery which is really well known for its cupcakes. You feel a little strange waiting in line just to get a cupcake, but I have to say it’s worth it. Jamie and I then had tickets to RENT Monday evening. It was the best production of RENT I had ever seen. I have seen the show probably around ten times by now but it was the first time to see it on Broadway. We got tickets specifically because Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, the original Mark and Roger were in it. It was incredible. They blew me away, especially Adam Pascal. His vocals were amazing. Tamyra Gray is currently in the production playing Mimi and she was phenomenal. I think I cried through almost the whole thing, no surprise there. I’m really really glad we decided to see it while in New York. It was easily the pinnacle of all of my other experiences seeing RENT.

Our conference started Tuesday evening with a cocktail party then everyone had tickets to see SPRING AWAKENING. I was more excited about seeing this show than any other while in New York, well except maybe RENT. I’ve been listening to the cast album for several months now and thought it was incredible musically. The show blew me away. It was far and above, the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage. I don’t know that I have ever been so emotionally affected by a stage production in my life. I would tell you about the show, but if I tried to describe it, it would just come across sounding offensive and not conveying any of the feelings that I was left with after I saw it. I lucked into a front row seat for this one, and the show is set in a theatre with steps coming down from the stage where the cast will stand and sing different numbers. Being that close and hearing the vocals raw before they’ve even been amplified was incredible. I think that this is an incredibly beautiful show. It deals with really heavy topics. It’s based on a play written in the late 1800’s in Germany about teenagers growing up and essentially not understanding all the feelings that they are coming into- emotionally, sexually, physically. It’s definitely an adult show, but if I had teenage children, I would want them to see it, if for nothing else than to open up lines of communication. I think our society does a terrible job of just saying don’t do this, but without ever explaining exactly what “this” is, or how it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. The show left me completely leveled. I couldn’t even talk about it after it was over without crying. (Just a warning if you decide to check the show out, it deals with very adult themes and the language is very colorful.) The show won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical and I have to say it deserved every single one of them. It blew me away. I could’ve gone to see it again the next day instead of seeing MARY POPPINS again (which was a little boring the second time around.) I can’t wait to go back to New York and see it again.

Thursday evening I went to see XANADU the musical, yes, that XANADU. Yes on roller skates. It was so funny and a nice shallow show after being so affected by a couple of the others earlier in the week. We flew home Friday evening so no show there on the 7th day.

Extra credit to you if you made it through that entire rambling New York review. :) Tomorrow I'm flying to Baltimore for a show preview (THE WEDDING SINGER) which I've heard not so great things about, so we'll see. I'm just sad that I'm not going to be landing until mid afternoon, it's well past the time where I can sing Good Morning Baltimore....