The Holy Grail

Two weeks ago, a very special thing happened. People probably read about it in the national press. People may have heard whispers about it in the street. There is a chance people even felt the earth shake.Put simply, it was important.

I finally achieved a two-show day.

For years I have been an unabashed, deeply committed theatre-nerd, specialising in the musical variety. Which is not to do down any other kind of theatre. Basically, one could put me in front of a stage in the dark for a couple of hours with a people doing any kind of thing, and I’ll probably be happy. Or at the very least, quiet. And either is a good thing.

Today is the last day of Broadway week. New York has all kind of ‘week’s where activities are discounted, and they are truly terrible at having them actually be seven days in duration. Case in point, Broadway week runs for fourteen. But despite my disapproval of some, frankly, appalling awareness of the most basic workings of a calendar, Broadway ‘week’ reminded me that I hadn’t been to see anything in New York since the beginning of the summer.

So we booked some cheap (not cheap actually, but at least heavily discounted) for Saturday evening, and decided that since that was going to prevent us straying very far away from home that day anyway, we may as well shoot for the stars and queue up for afternoon tickets for something as well.

We’d seen an insane queue for Pippin when we queued early for tickets to a different show over the road – it stretched for miles, and even after people were handed slips of paper to say they were guaranteed tickets, and the rest were denied, the others still held on. We knew competition would be fierce so we decided to take the pain and get up at 5am. We were in line by 6am for a box office opening time of 10am. Because we are hardcore. And so were the (literally, I counted) 35 people in front of us in the queue.

We sat on the pavement for four hours. I’d grabbed some free ad papers on my way out of my building, much to the bemusement of the doorman, and so all we had between us and the cockroach-y floor was a ‘discount detergent’ coupon or two. But we waited and waited because, as previously mentioned, we are hardcore. As the summer is disappearing at a rate of knots, we huddled up to some pumpkin spice lattes (Britain, get on this) for warmth. And we waited and waited. Because we are hardcore. I’m playing this up, I admit, and that’s because while we are hardcore, we have both promised that we will never be that hardcore again. Because do you know what else was hard? The concrete we sat on for four hours. And I was cold to my core. Have I oversold this yet?

At ten a.m. when we were allowed to buy our tickets we realised that the only problem was the fact that we still had a long way to go before we could actually get in to the theatre. We decided instead to head to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which I have mentioned before as I visited it early on.

Once again it was fun, but once again I fell victim to the curse of the serenading waiter. This time it was ‘It takes two’ from Hairspray. I wasn’t actually sure what was happening until I saw Fallulah staring off to one side and found a seventeen year old sitting next to me and trying to make earnest eye contact while he sang. He was truly talented. He knew exactly how to time it so that I’d just taken my most giant faceful of food (corned beef hash with a side od bacon and no, I am not ashamed) yet when he drew the entire restaurant’s attention to me. You could have cut the sexual tension with a knife. Nothing says ‘romantic’ like being serenaded while you have a piece of scrambled egg on your cheek.

When we eventually got to go and sit down in the theatre (we ended up having to kill time in Central Park and try not to fall asleep because it’s a long time between 10am and 2:30) we had great seats for a heavy discount. A man outside had actually caught me waving my ticket around, sensed a bargain – as the older generation are wont to do – and asked me how I managed it. When I told him, he was very interested until I pointed out that the bags under my eyes were new that day and I feared my coffee breath might be irreversible.

Pippin is a show that’s apparently quite commonly done by amdram groups, and it must be terrible. But the way it was done here was brilliant – it was all circus people doing insane stuff. I say it must be terrible because when an amdram group does it, I can’t imagine the vicar’s wife in the local village production dangling off  of a trapeze with a musclebound shirtless man. And without that, it makes no freakin’ sense.
After the show we made the poor decision to kill time in a bar until our next engagement, and drink pumpkin beer. For this is America and in September, all must be pumpkin-flavoured. However, when you got up at 5am after a late night, it makes a person sleepy. I had to hunt down a large amount of Red Bull to redress the balance.

I’m secretly hoping that I’m going to seem prophetic in choosing to go and see ‘Big Fish’ as part of a two-for-one deal. Of course, by it’s very nature, it was a joint decision, but I will be claiming full credit if the show takes off. And Fallulah (My theatre buddy) will most likely do the same. Which is completely acceptable.
It was a preview, having only started earlier in the week, and it was great. It was probably the worst show we could have seen in conjunction with an early morning, because the script wasn’t fully cut-down so it was about a million years long. However it was a very good show.

And then I went home. And then I went to bed. My English teachers from every year of school I’ve ever been in would murder me for ending any kind of writing like that, but you know what? Sometimes it’s just the gods’ honest truth.

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