Saturday, November 28, 2009

A weekend in New York: Chapter three

As we settled into our seats, just before they lowered the lights, I texted my friend Josie…

At Wicked with some friends who were dying to see it. My first Broadway show without you…it won’t be the same.

Josie took me to my first show, Hairspray, six years ago. We drove to New York from Ohio, arriving just a few hours before the show started. We didn’t have tickets. Josie never has tickets ahead of time. She doesn't need them. We walked up to the box office. She said, “I need your two best seats.” The man behind the glass mentioned something about row Y. She said, “No, no…you misunderstood. I need your best seats.”

In the end, we sat in the sixth row in the center. I’ve seen several musicals with her since—Aida, Rent, Wicked. We’ve never had tickets ahead of time. When you’re with Josie, you don’t need them.

The first time I saw Wicked, it was from the very first row. These seats are not actually considered the best in the house, but, until just recently, they were my favorites. Wicked was sold out, but the seats in the first row were raffled off a few hours before the show. When we stood in line for the raffle, Josie said, rather matter-of-factly, "I'm going to win two tickets for tonight, and then we'll go shopping and get a bite to eat before the show starts." At this point, I had known her long enough that I would have been surprised if we had walked away without the tickets. She is luck and magic, and while she can't seem to find a decent man (or her keys), she can, in moments like this, bend the very laws of the universe to her will.

Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth were on stage that night. Stephen Oremus was conducting. By the end of the show, I had a huge crush on Stephen. (Some well-meaning reader is headed to the comments section now to tell me that I’m probably not really his type. Thank you, well-meaning reader.) I loved those front row seats because I loved being so close to the orchestra. There was something about seeing them play. I remember staring at the sheet music on the piano below, part of me wishing I could sit right there, on that bench.

This time, I sat in between Evan and Graci. It is a new favorite seat. Watching these two watch a musical is a joy in and of itself. At the end Defying Gravity, the lights came up for the intermission and revealed Evan, crying. Because, as he said, "It was just so beautiful." That is, in fact, how I would describe Evan: Here is a man who cries when it is just so beautiful. Graci was choking back tears of her own.

Blake looked at Evan, laughed, and said, “I knew it! I knew you were crying! I thought, when the lights come up, he’s going to be crying.” I could say something like…and that is, in fact, how I would describe Blake: Here is a man who laughs at other men when they cry. But, to be fair, he doesn't laugh at all crying men, just the one he's in love with. He’s not completely insensitive, just mostly.

At the end of For Good, Mr. Mostly Insensitive was the only one of the four of us with dry eyes. It was then that we diagnosed his condition—congenital absence of tear ducts. He didn’t choose this dry lifestyle. He was born like this. He can’t help it.

After the show, we made our way to the West Village. In the planning of this weekend, Evan found Marie’s Crisis, a bar where everyone stands around a piano in a space the size of your bathroom and sings show tunes all night. This is, perhaps, where the case for planning can be made. Sometimes, through some online research done ahead of time, you find something great. You make plans to go there. Then you go, and it’s great, and you can say, “Hey, that was great. I’m glad we planned it.”

I imagine that’s what Blake and Evan say about all 800 of those pictures from Europe. I’d ask, but then I’d be subjecting myself to 800 stories in which I play not even a supporting role. Who has the patience for that? I'm kidding, of course. I'm very interested in what their lives were like before they knew me. (Just not 800 stories interested.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Marie’s Crisis. It looked exactly like this…

Exactly. We stood in that very spot and sang along as that very person, a guy named Dexter, played that very piano. (Thank you, woman named Ingrid, for posting the above photo online.)

Dexter was playing a lot of fabulous stuff—Chicago when we first got there, Mary Poppins (which sounds lame but is really sort of surprisingly fun to sing in a large, drunk group), Hair, Little Shop of Horrors—but no Rent.

At some point, Blake leaned over to me and said, “You should yell Rent in your lesbian voice.” I don’t really have the space here to fully explain that lesbian bit, except to say that I’m not actually a lesbian. I just look butch compared to all those Georgia peaches Blake is used to. I mean, I do listen to a little Indigo Girls, recycle, donate to the HRC, and get annoyed at people who don’t know the difference between a Flathead and a Phillips screwdriver. But still, I’m a cultural lesbian, at best.

There was a lull in the music. A boy chirped, “Guys and Dolls.” I bellowed, “RENT.” Someone behind me said, “Well...the bulldyke has spoken.” And Dexter started Seasons of Love. Exactly what I was hoping for when, in my butchest voice, I politely made the request. Evan was sitting right next to the piano. This song is one of his best. He taps into his inner Black woman and does Joanne’s solo, complete with high note. It is magnificent.

And it was magnificent.


dive said...

The bulldyke has spoken. Hee hee hee. Too funny, T.
I've not seen Wicked, though for the past two years I've walked past its West End incarnation every day on my way to work (it's playing at the Victoria Apollo just around the corner from the office).

Anna said...

I haven't seen Wicked but I imagine it's fabulous.

As for that bar, I have never, ever in my life wished more that I could have been there. This is the one bar I was born to go!

Maybe you'll come with me? I could use someone to bellow "RENT!" for me. Oh and, Josie sounds like a hoot. Some people just have it, don't they?

Susanlee said...

I am so jealous right now I could crawl out of my skin!!!

Shan said...

It is funny that you have such a voice and know when to use it. :D I once yelled at someone I was desperately trying to make feel included and I barked "COME BACK JENNIFER!!!" in the deepest most demanding voice I didn't even realize I had. It was a fun joke for my bf and I for a goodly while.

I also got mistaken for a lesbian my first year at (my Christian small town) college due to the short straight up hair do and avant-guard appearance. It was most awkward when even my mom asked once. Ayeeee! :D

You just can't help but cry in Wicked unless you have a tear duct disorder.

Glad you had fun!!!

Maria said...

I never planned to cry at WICKED. And me, being me, didn't cry when everyone else did. No. I cried when they kidnapped the cowardly lion and let him go. But, I did feel my heart sing when Elba sang about defying gravity. Because all of us want to and so few of us do.