Before I say anything, though, I want to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to two people for helping me take a vacation: sheafrotherdon and "lj user="moosesal"> for pinch hitting for me at Hey, Don't Judge Me with recaps for Hoarders and Top Chef, respectively. Please check out the wonderful job they each did. I had not one worry while away, knowing the two of them would do a wonderful job. And hey, lookee there! I WAS RIGHT. :D
And now for something completely different. New York is always wonderful. I mean, duh. New York and San Francisco are my go-to towns where I never have a bad time. Met up with flaming_muse and had the confirmation that she is in the Tribe of Joseph (where are my Anne Shirley girls? Holler!) I only travel with people that I know I'm going to enjoy in multiple situations, and yep, I was right with her. Not one bad moment, not one awkward pause, and I really could have used another three days with her, I'm just saying.
Day One: The first night/show was Sleep No More. Keep in mind that I'm writing up full reviews for HDJM, so I'm not going into detail here. But I will say that this is one of those "you're going to love it, or you're not" moments. Except for how I have no idea ultimately how I feel about it. I coined it "Hipster Ballet."
I think they're very successful in a few areas, mostly as the entire experiment comes off as Art Installation instead of Proper Theater Experience. Because it's not a theater experience. At all. But fortunately, it doesn't want to be. Think Halloween haunted house + mute ballet + social experiment and you have Sleep No More. The audience wanders through a massive "hotel" while wearing masks:
These are the masks you wear. They're going to make you schvitz, ladies, so bring a tissue. The card is your "admittance" ticket once inside.
and this leads to the social experiment part (imo) where the anonymity for audience members leads to some bad behavior. Shoving, pushing, jamming your face in places it doesn't belong (except for how the production wants you to jam your faces in places it doesn't belong.) If this sounds confusing, that's the point.
Some moments were really interesting, some were down right pornographic - and that was pretty damn ballsy. Imagine stripping naked, dancing, and simulating sex in front of a crowd three times a night, eight times a week. That's ballsy, my friends.
I have A LOT to say about this, so I'll add a link here when the review goes up.
Day Two was the Met, specifically the Egyptian Exhibit with my personal docent, flaming_muse. I know rudimentary things about Egypt, so it was so fun to have her point out tiny details in carvings, in the type of writing used, etc. So, so fun. Not to mention we talked non-stop about everything under the sun, and were eating delicious foods and in beautiful surroundings. LOVELY.
And then we headed to the Al Hirschfeld Theater for the Darren Criss Experience. Lol. The theater is beautiful in that old glamour of Broadway way, but DAMN it is tiny. I mean, hey. Pretty much every theater in NYC is tiny. But they seem so huge in pictures. It's like meeting a TV star and you realize they're beensy tiny and not six foot forty.
FM and I played Spot the Fangirl all day long in the city (We loved the fascinators, ladies.) but I was seriously worried about poor behavior in the theater. I am not above turning in my seat and shushing someone. Manners are free, so there's no excuse to not have any. I was happy to say that (for the most part) people truly behaved themselves. (Exception: as the cast was coming out for the curtain call, people were bolting to the stage door. NO. NO NO NO. You applaud the people that just gave you three hours of entertainment. You do not leave when people are thanking them. You don't need a freaking scribble on a piece of paper more than they need a polite hand clap. You're not changing Darren's life - nor your own - by getting an autograph.)
ANYWAY. I want to sing the praises of two actors in the show who made the whole thing worth it (and surprise! Darren Criss isn't one of them.) Holly Ann Butler was the understudy for the role of Smitty, the bespectacled and ambitious executive secretary, and she was HILARIOUS. Absolutely adorable and funny with excellent timing, and I watched her more than I watched J. Pierrepont Finch in their shared scenes. And I think y'all know that I find Darren Criss to be quite watchable. So there's that.
I also utterly ADORED Christopher Hanke in the role of Bud Frump. Talk about stealing the show in the best way possible... So funny, such impeccable comic timing and physicality on stage. What I would have loved to have happened after the show would have been to go to the stage door where a few enthusiasts such as myself would be calmly chatting about the production and see those two people as they left, wave at them and tell them how much I appreciated choices they made as actors. Maybe get them to sign my playbill, but that wouldn't be the be-all goal, that would be gravy. Because I'm not entitled to get autographs. But I do want to tell people who have given me a wonderful experience that I appreciated them. I would have liked that.
But I'm sure if you're reading this you know that there have been Beatles-esque riots at the stage door so people can convince Darren Criss to leave his girlfriend and run away with them. So. No stage door for me. In fact, when we left the show, we saw two large black SUVs parked right at the door so D Criss could slip in and GTFO of there. Huge crowd on both sides of the door, across the street, but it was subdued in comparison to how it was over the weekend. Which is freaking scary.
Terrible part of the show? BEAU BRIDGES. Absolutely horrible. He completely phoned it in, appeared bored at best and put-upon at worst. Darren corrected a few of his lines for him in places (wow, Beau) and the moment where I would have hissed if I wasn't raised better would have been at the curtain call when he came out. He planted himself center stage, throwing his arms wide, and just stood there, demanding cheering. That he didn't deserve. And then, after a moment passed with the applause remaining polite, he waggled his hands, demanding adoration. EFF YOU, BROSES. You sucked. When Hanke came out for his applause, he got whoops and cheers and seemed so pleased, it was adorable. And when Smitty came out in her adorable spectacles and blonde flip and FM and I were just shouting and whistling and cheering for her (as was most of the audience) she was SO PLEASED. Lady, you deserved every one of those claps.
The women in the show are absolutely solid. You'll notice that I'm not blathering about Darren. There's a reason. He was good, but he was just a part of a machine, he didn't stand out much. (A few numbers, especially the closing, are outstanding and he FINALLY has something to do.) But this is the perfect musical to plunk someone in the "lead" role because it's not demanding, not of them, not of the audience. It's not a bad thing, it's just how it is.
We met with regala_electra who also happened to be sitting right in front of us (and we were five from center. PERFECT seats. One row closer could be even better, but front row would feel TOO close, honestly.) and we skirted the crowd and some pinche chingada who was standing in the middle of the street screaming at everyone to go home, this was his neighborhood, etc., and as we passed him (leaving, as he was shouting) he followed me and called me a PUTA. Well. I am a god damned lady, and you do NOT call me a puta, so I shouted back at him for a moment, because no. NO, SIR. VETE A LA CHINGADA. Pinche chingadera. Cierre la pinche boca, pendejo.
ANYWAY. The three of went to an Italian bistro around the corner where I'm sure I horrified them by ordering a plate of salamis and a few glasses of wine. I DESERVED IT, OKAY? I needed meat after that evening. We fangirled for hours and shut the place down, which is one of my favorite things to do. I hadn't had a fun night of talking fandom with intelligent women in a long-ass time, so it was quite satisfying.
Day Three, or: When Stoney Lost Her Damn Mind At Book of Mormon, The Musical.
We had another lovely meal (I'm telling you, FM and I didn't have pauses in conversation for four days. Do you know how delightfully rare that is!?) and flagged a cab (I am proud of my NY skills, I have to say. I don't scream tourist, and that makes me happy.) Our cab driver had no idea what or where the Cloisters were. I very happily pointed up the street, told him which blocks to turn on, which road, which exit, and that was pretty bad ass. Esp. considering I've never been to that end of the island before. YAY.
And let me say, the Cloisters is an outstanding, albeit small and specific, museum. And FM very kindly indulged me as I wandered through their garden (to others it's just a dead garden waiting for spring, to me it was NOW I CAN SEE THE STRUCTURE OF THE ESPALIERS, etc!) and there were herbs still growing and blah blah, plants, I can't help who I am. Ha.) She and I geeked out over religion and architecture and stone work and gargoyles and Islamic/Judaic cultures. There's a cafe up the road from the museum that had delicious foods, a beautiful setting, and we sat for a few hours talking more, then hit the subway back home.
AND THEN ON TO THE EUGENE O'NEIL THEATER FOR MY LIFE AFFIRMING MOMENT.
Just know this: you need to see this musical, if you like musicals. If you DON'T like musicals, this is the musical for you. it's an astounding hat trick Matt and Trey have pulled off, making a musical that truly is accessible to anyone. Unless you're offended by their liberal use of the word "cunt." Which you shouldn't be, as it's positively Chaucerian. But anyway. It's outstanding. And it's even better than I had imagined it would be, and long-time readers of this LJ know how I have been dreaming of this musical.
I want to say this about it: the performers in this musical are the top of their game. Hands down. There is more dancing and singing in this musical than in any other musical I know of. REALLY. And no one is ever winded, no one's voice wavered, and that is TREMENDOUS all things considered. Not a character or moment is wasted at any point in time. It deserved every single Tony nomination and win. Probably more. Yes, I'm biased. But not with this.
I did sit there crying (trying to keep it on the down low) during "I Believe," because I can't help it. They just get it. And I can't tell you how gratifying it was to go to the very calm and respectful (and small) stage door gathering (maybe 15 people there?) and stand there with my Book of Mormon, with all of my notes taken earnestly, all of my post it notes with cross references and Points to Ponder and have them SEE THAT IN MY HAND and their faces change to utter shock and delight and gleefully sign the cover.
And then. Clark Johnsen (Mormons! Look at that name!!), who is in the ensemble and plays various characters throughout the whole thing (missionary, a Hobbit, pioneer woman, hahahaha) saw that, beelined to me and asked, "Is that your triple?!" Mormons are laughing right now. I told him yes, he asked if he could open it, and smiled when he saw all of my regulation highlights in there. And then we stood at the stage door talking for a solid 5 minutes (it felt like a half-hour) about how we were both from Pioneer stock (he was excited that my uncle is a General Authority) and THE BEST THING EVER WAS WHEN WE BOTH LAUGHED ABOUT WHAT THEY GET WRONG IN THE SHOW.
Ahahaha. Because that's so Mormon, I can't even. (No one else would give two shits about these things. But how the missionary center isn't in SLC, how when you baptize someone it's not how they do it in the show and you don't hold your LEFT HAND TO THE SQUARE, omg, and he told me how he wanted to change that, but was scared he'd get fired, then forged ahead anyway, because that's how we Mormons are, and OH MY GOD HE WAS DELIGHTFUL. I would have bought him a drink and talked his ear off, but that's inappropriate, and also he had to leave. hahaha.
I ended up with 8 cast members signatures, and didn't get Andrew Runnels (the lead) who took off, and I wanted a few of the "Africans" so when I go back in March (yay!) I'll see if I can't collect them all. Ha. They all laughed and enjoyed signing it, and Josh Gad let me take a picture (FM asked for me, because I'm weirdly shy about asking for that sort of thing) and he thought it was great, too. YAY. Amazing cast and experience. AMAZING.
The theater from my seat, on left - orchestra. Get center, if you can. There's scrim work off the wings that would be best viewed straight on, I think. Please note that the backdrop is how it looks in SLC Temple's Visitor Center, and the Angel Moroni at the top with his trumpet. And it moves. :D I DIED AT THE LEVEL OF DETAIL, YOU GUYS.
This is Rory O'Malley, the FABULOUS Elder McKinley (The one that has "gay thoughts.") Tony winning, and deservedly so. He is SO FUNNY. He has so many tiny moments that he's brought to the character that just killed me. Clever, clever, clever performer. ADORED.
The delightful Josh Gad. His face went soft and his mouth made a shocked "OH" when he saw what I brought for him to sign. Very gracious to all of the people in line, he's a pro and knows just how long to spend with each person and how to move on. I didn't want to pressure him for a picture, but he seemed very happy to take one with me. YAY!
Yes, this is my original BoM. The worn corners should give away how much it's been used. :)
After this, FM and I hit an Italian bistro with a terrific margherita pizza where we outlined the next fourteen Klaine fics we both want to write/are in the process of writing. So. Awesome, is what I'm getting at.
My flight was delayed by an hour and a half, so I spent a long time at the airport reading and people watching, then had a neighbor on my flight back. RANDOM? BUT NOW: I am getting the shakes from lack of breakfast and racing to type this up, so here I'll stop and divert the rest of my energies into the HDJM reviews of the shows.
IN SUMMATION: GREAT TRIP WAS GREAT. I love my friends. The End.