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"The Shaquille O'Neal Center?"
Theatre: Title of Show: Poster
jgesteve

My weekend escapade in NYC/NJ, let me show/tell it to you:

Took the 'hound up Friday night and made decent time. Pissed a bunch of people off because I had been willing to shell out the extra $5 for priority boarding so skipped to the head of the line. Got up there and was starving because I hadn't eaten dinner yet, so I struck off to find a pizza stand before heading to meet my sister. Had been hanging out for a few minutes with my sister and her friend at a bar, when someone that was also in the friend's show stopped by and within 15 seconds had lived up to the stereotype of the "pretentious actress who name drops Uta Hagen." Headed home to Jersey and showed my sister this year's Broadway Bares 19: Click It! since it starred Heidi who we'd be seeing on Sunday night.

Saturday, we headed into the city. Sis had a rehearsal on the Upper West Side, so I walked down Columbus Avenue towards Times Square shopping all the way: Kiehl's, Express (to get a shirt to hide the dorkiness that was my Die, Vampire, Die T-shirt on Sunday night), the 2 for $10 Sunglass vendor at the Broadway market (wearing sunglasses on a sunny day in NYC is an exercise in extremes), and finally Colony Records (where my hopes of ever finding a karaoke version of Bosom Buddies were dashed). By this time my sister's rehearsal was finishing up and the line at TKTS was forming up for the evening performances.

In the TKTS line, I had to crush the dreams of the Spanish tourist behind me in line who asked: "Which is better: Phantom of the Opera or Billy Elliot?" To which I responded that there's not a chance in hell that Billy Elliot is going to be on the board tonight. Started to talk to the guy in front of me, whose family left him to hold their place. He was trying for Shrek since he had the kids, and when I mentioned that Hair was on our list he mentioned he'd recently seen it. To which I raised my eyebrows and laughingly asked, "With the kids?" Ironically, there was an article in the Playbill by Seth Rudetsky discussing the family friendliness of various non-Disney shows up to and including Hair. We got ourselves some Orchestra tix to Next to Normal, and then headed off to the Discovery Times Square Titanic Exhibit.

I was having major flashbacks the whole time we were at the Titanic exhibit. First there were the flashbacks to my days at Nature Company because a) it was Discovery, b) it was the Titanic which was big when I was working there, and c) the first part of the exhibit was playing the music from Riverdance in the background which was also huge when I was at NatCo. Then, we rounded the corner to come upon the large placard with the schematics of the Titanic and I had a major flashback to 7th (or was it 8th) grade when I did a GATE project on the Titanic. As part of the project, my grandfather (if you ever wondered where I get the anal-retentiveness from, this would be it) had used his jigsaw to cut out a side elevation of the Titanic to which I'd pasted the schematic. Also, as part of the project I'd printed out the survivor and deceased lists, one name per line in about 24pt font (on our good old dot-matrix printer), rolled them up, and then unrolled them during the presentation. Needless to say the deceased list reached the back of the classroom, and then some. There wasn't much in the way of new information for me, but the presentation was awesome. Not sure if it was $24.50 awesome, but perhaps if you also wanted to do the Lucy exhibit, it'd be $17 awesome (the aforementioned grandfather would be the one I got the frugalness genetics from too ;-)

Killed some time by hitting up Drama Book Shop where I picked up Built of Books (a biography of Oscar Wilde focusing on how the literature he read shapped him) and Sis and I headed to the Times Square bandstand to chill out for a bit and read. Best overheard moment while there: Two people were discussing how to get somewhere, here's the setup: Person A said that it was like 20 minutes by car. Person B asked if they could walk there. Person A said they could but it'd be like hours but they could take the Subway.

Person B: Where's the subway?
Person A: (not sarcastically) I dunno... down?
Grabbed our usual dinner at Juniors, then mosied across Shubert Alley to the Booth for Next to Normal.

"Valium is my favorite color":
For those who didn't watch the Tony Awards, here's the performance from the cast. You often hear the phrase "powerhouse of emotion" in reviews, but this is truly the case for Next to Normal. There are no emotionally dead moments in this show. My one complaint, and this goes for pretty much all of Broadway, get your sound house in order. If you insist on miking actors and putting the orchestra in weird places you owe it to your audience to make sure that the balance works for the entire audience. Thankfully, I'd heard the cast album before so I knew what was going on during those instances when the band overpowered the actors. Perhaps [title of show] had it right, just 4 chairs and a keyboard. It'd be pretty hard for even the best keyboardist to overpower the singers. When in doubt, the balance should always be in favor of the actors (sorry musicians and composers, but I've gotta side with the lyricists and actors here). The set was amazingly inventive given the rather pedestrian setting (in essence a suburban house) and the costumes were equally intriguing (Gabe's panoply of colored T-shirts that match Diana's outfits, Diana's finale outfit mirroring Gabe's opening outfit). I was at first disappointed to see that Mr. Ripley's daughter Alice would be out, but her understudy, Jessica Phillips did an admirable job though her voice had a slight twanginess that I wasn't fond of. Kyle Dean Massey, covering the role of Gabe while Aaron is in Seattle for Catch Me If You Can, was excellent (I seem destined to see KDM every time he covers a role-- for Curtis Holbrooke in Xanadu when he was off doing Saved!, for Aaron Tveit in this-- I hope he gets a chance to originate a role soon). J. Robert Spencer, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat, and Louis Hobson rounded out the stellar cast. The crime of the century ("Goldman knew it was only [2009]... and there were ninety-[one] years to go!") is that Billy Elliot beat this for Best Musical. In the end though, I think that this will be the musical from 2008-2009 that stands the test of time. I can see this being the next leading lady revival vehicle (after all, not to betray my god Sondheim, but Gypsy requires way too many other cast members ;-)

Sunday it was up for brunch with my mother. Well, I suggested brunch, it turned into 10am breakfast with her and Sis at IHOP. Then it was off to visit my Aunt at Hackensack Hospital. I'd not been there since probably my Grandfather's passing which was when I was in 10th Grade, so I was shocked to see how polished and ornate the lobby was now. After a visit with the Aunt, we headed over to my other Aunt's place to visit with her, and my "nieces" Kayla and Olivia. I promptly oohed and aahed over their artwork, and then crushed them in a game of Froggie Boggie. As future spinmeister Kayla put it, she didn't lose, or come in second, but we (me and her) beat our sisters. Then it was off to pick up Sis's friend J, and begin the trek northward to the O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT. Trip was mostly uneventful save for the momentary panic when the GPS informed us we'd arrived and we hadn't.

The event we went to see was a double-feature of cabaret works. Beginning with Better: The Songs of Edward Kleban during which I fell a little bit in love with Harris Doran (during his performance of "Do It Yourself" which is quite likely the best masturbation song ever). There was perhaps a bit too much self-congratulatory rambling during this piece, but for the most part the songs were good and well-performed, and I'd be interested to see Gallery if it ever comes to full fruition. Then came the reason for this entire weekend...

We Belong
The gang from [title of show] had put together a work-in-progress that had received its title only that day: And Now This is Happening. Some wonderful autobiographical sharing as well as a melding of original and pre-existing works including a wonderful rendition of "We Belong" by Heidi with Susan narrating Heidi's inner monologue. It was hilarious and beautiful at the same time, so in grand [tos] tradition, I guess that would be "hileautiful"? The evening also featured, as I'd hoped, a rendition of My First Time first seen at the 2008 Gypsy of the Year. Afterwards, Sis's friend J happens to be with Heidi and Hunter's agency, so we got to chat with them a little bit (though I forgot to tell Hunter about my Tony Cupcakes) and got some autographs and pics (Heidi & I 1,2; Hunter & I). Then, we began the trek back to Jersey.

Realizing that we wouldn't be getting home until after 2am, and that in order to make the 7am bus to DC I'd need to get up at 5am, I decided that sleep wasn't happening, and if it wasn't happening I might as well take the 3:45am bus back. So grabbed my stuff, got dropped off at Port Authority by Sis, and proceeded to attempt to sleep through the crazy driver's crazy driving. Went straight from the bus station to work, managed to make it through the day, got home, and crashed big time.


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Neat--a friend of mine was just on a cruise (Seattle to Alaska) with the [title of show] people (her fiance was the TD on the cruise) and got to see them workshopping what must be that "We Belong" stuff--it sounds like what she was describing to me. She said she liked it a lot.

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