Sunday, November 9, 2008

On the Boards

As you may have read on Michael's Twitter log, we made our Broadway debut yesterday after seeing Hairspray...sort of. The impetus for this trip was to see our friend Susie in the show, and she was great. Her comic timing and command of the audience really stole the show. So afterward, we got to go backstage to say hi and meet some of the cast. I say backstage, but we were actually onstage. Waiting along with us was actress/comedienne Mo Gaffney, which was a special treat because we're both big fans of hers and have just missed meeting her a few times back in Los Angeles. We chatted with her and took pics and indulged in our own little fantasies of traipsing the boards on Broadway. When Susie joined us we also got to meet cast member Kevin Meaney and saw, from just a few feet away, George Wendt, who's currently playing Edna in the show. Overall, really a fun and exciting experience!

Then, last night we got to have another one of those once-in-a-lifetime theatre experiences. We got to see Patti LuPone in Gypsy. Michael got the tickets, but it was 100% for me. Michael was not a Patti fan. He used to cringe whenever one of her songs came on the Broadway channel on Sirius. My theory is that you really have to become a Patti fan early on. You have to be a 10-year old gay boy who saves his allowance for a month to buy the dual-cassette cast recording of Evita with Patti and Mandy Patinkin. You've got to listen to it until it wears out and stand on your bed, arms outstretched, belting "Don't cry for me, Argentina!" That's where and how life-long Patti LuPone fans are made. Michael didn't do any of that. Crazy.

I'd never seen her perform live before, so I was pretty much a trembling mess when the orchestra started the overture. I wasn't the only one. The audience went nuts as soon as they heard that distinctive voice yell from the back of the theatre, "Sing out, Louise!" She was phenomenal! Even Michael admitted admiration for her when all was said and done. The whole show was great, really. The staging was simple, but very clever and evocative of the time period. I'm glad they saved money on the sets, because they splurged on a full orchestra and put them right on stage behind the scrim. It was thrilling to hear that score and that voice with a full orchestra! So many shows now are skimping on the music, using smaller and smaller orchestras to try to save money. Ask before you buy your tickets!

Above and beyond her vocal prowess, Patti gave a raw, complex and sometimes sinister performance as the mother of all stage mothers, Mama Rose. It really was thrilling being that close to that much talent. Which brings me to my final thoughts on not only Gypsy, but all the theatre we've seen this weekend. Namely, I'm jealous. Why couldn't I have been born talented instead of just a smart ass? Why can't I dance and sing? It's completely unfair that instead of leaping and spinning and belting B flats, I'm sitting in the audience trying not to mangle my Playbill. It doesn't help that Gypsy is all about someone with no talent who makes it to the top (of the bottom). But it's especially cruel that she's played by someone with talent! Why couldn't they have cast someone with no talent to play the untalented daughter?

It's a personal injustice that's right up there with my height. My father is 6'3" and I'm 5'9". What the hell? My whole life would have been different if I could have just been a tall dancer. Stupid genetics.

So today we're off to see the sights, do some shopping and have vegetarian Dim-Sum before going to see Susie's cabaret show tonight. People from Los Angeles may remember us dragging them one-by-one and in groups to see CA$HINO. It'll be fun to see it in its New York incarnation.

And still have to try to make it to FAO Schwarz.


Jeremy said...

You met Bo?! Way cool!

Heath said...

You'll have to forgive me for the million hateful daggers I'm sending in your general direction...but as a fellow Patti fanatic I'm sure you'll understand the level of jealousy I have right now.