Sunday, July 30, 2017

The night that I almost Didn't see the Great Comet

I wasn't going to do two blog posts this weekend but with everything that has happened in the past week, I want people to know what I think of this show. If one person goes to see it I will feel that i have accomplished something.

This Broadway season has been ridiculous! So many amazing shows have opened this year. One job that I would not have wanted this year..... Tony Voter. Seriously folks, I cannot even imagine how difficult their job was.

My best friend of over 25 years texted me to inform me that there were tickets available. They were premium seats. I was not paying $400.

I almost did not see Great Comet. . .

After an annoying meeting at work I made a decision. I would go to the Imperial. I would see if they had any seats. If they did not, I would go across the street to see Come from Away again, or I would see A Dolls House.

Guess what????

Duh. I got the LAST SEAT IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I arrived at the box office the associate looked less than thrilled to see me. I asked if there was anything left for that night. She said there was one seat and pointed out where Josh would be. I found that odd, and I was slightly offended because while I was excited to see Josh, that was not the only reason that I was seeing the show. I decided to get the ticket. I asked if people were being kind to them in the box office. She said no, patrons were being awful. Seriously folks, be nicer to the box office and house staff.

So, I got THE LAST TICKET IN THE THEATRE!!!As I walked back to my office I chose to get a gift for the box office.

I just wanted them to know that some people are truly thankful for what they do. I went to the box office to drop off the flowers and the staff looked confused. I told them that the person that I had spoken to earlier seemed to not be having a great day and I wanted to thank them. I know from my job working WITH box office managers and staff that these people are not treated very well.

One thing you should know about me, I'm not a huge fan of actors intermingling with the audience. Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory and Lorelai are watching the performance at Miss Patty's and all of the kids come into the audience to perform Magic to do? Yeah....this one That's normally my reaction.

This night, everything was different. I settled in to be transported to Moscow. I even got a dumpling!

Before the show started the very kind couple sitting next to me said "that's Lin"

Yup, it was. . . . I would be experiencing this amazing show at the same time as Lin Manuel Miranda. I would later learn that Leslie Odom Jr. Was in the house with his lovely wife, Oak was in the house, AND Laverne Cox was also in the house. (45th street was a real joy when the theatre emptied)

The show started and I was glued. I was surrounded by some of the most incredible orchestrations that I have ever heard. This production happens all around you. The performers are everywhere, and so are the musicians. The First time that I heard Grace McLean belt out "Welcome to Moscow" I think I knew I was in for a ride, and I was very willing to enjoy it.

Denee Benton actually glows on stage. I realize that you are not supposed to leave a theatre humming the lighting design, but the moment that was created by Bradley King at the end of "No One Else" Is truly the most beautiful lighting that I have ever seen. She is standing on stage glowing amongst the stars. it was breathtaking.
So many moments stand out in the show, It's just so impossible to take it all in. It's constantly moving, constantly changing. Once you settle in to a scene, and you are instantly transported.

At the end of act 1 all I could say was Wow. Yes, out loud.

As Act 2 started I realized that I hadn't listened to act 2 much. I listen to music on my commute to work. Since Comet is a longer soundtrack, I don't think I had ever listened to the entirety of Act 2. That might explain why during Sonya Alone I just wanted to reach out and hug Brittain Ashford. My heart still aches every time I listen to it.

Having not listened to all of Act 2, I had never experienced the final scene. If I didn't love Josh Groban before, and yes... I'm an admitted Grobanite, I loved him more after this scene.

So much happens in this show, it's impossible to put into words. The beauty on stage, the talent of every single person performing. It's overwhelming.

My lesson to you all, theatre doesn't last forever. Not every show is going to run for years at a time. Some choices were made by producers, and whether those were the right choices or not i will never say. Yes, I have strong opinions about what was done. But that is not what this blog is about.

If you cannot get to New York to see Comet, find a show to see locally. Support the ENTIRE production.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Before I saw Come From Away (Because it needs come context)

During that "week of Shows" in June I saw Come From Away. I want to give you a bit of background on me before I saw this show, and what lead up to it, so that you understand why so much of what I say about the show is so emotionally driven.

How did I hear about Come From Away

I follow a number of blogs and one of them is OnStage. I enjoy the opinions of others, and blogging is a great place for that. Well, April of 2016 I read this As I read the article now, I realize that I probably should not have been as angry about it as I was in April of 2016. But when I read this, I was angry.

I was not in New York on 9/11. I was in North Carolina. I had never felt so alone in my life, and yet I was embraced by the people that were around me at the time. All of us were away from home, we were nomads working a summer Shakespeare Festival. I had also never heard this story of Gander. I was intrigued.

In April of 2016 when I read this article I was angry. I was angry because I have heard so many people say "you weren't in New York, so you did not experience 9/11" I will NEVER diminish what it must have been like that day in New York. I will never even try and imagine it.

Okay, so we have established..... the blog post made me angry. So, as soon as I read that post I wanted to know more. I read up on the show, I saw where it was, how it was doing. I found out more about Gander, and I made plans to see this show early. I was actually planning to see it during previews on Presidents Day weekend. My friend and coworker, a fellow theatre junkie like myself, decided to make a weekend of it. We had been trying to do this for years and never had. She knew someone in the show, I wanted to see it, and we had a long weekend. So, we decided we would see it.

Why Previews didn't happen

President's Day Weekend previews did not happen. Not only because plans fell through, but because I lost that Friend on January 16th. The day that we should have been sitting in the Schoenfeld, I was watching her memorial service via a facebook live feed.

But here is the thing, in the sadness and loss, I had actually forgotten about us making those plans. I forgot until I was actually in New York. I was working out of our New York office. I had been listening to the soundtrack, and of course to Jenn Colella. For some reason, the name started to ring a bell. I looked at her bio and I saw that Jenn had been in Chaplin. Cristin LOVED Chaplin. She's actually possibly the only person that I know that saw Chaplin.

I spoke with a coworker about this, and we found this picture on Cristin's Facebook:

Immediately so many things came back to me. How much Cristin admired Jenn. How she had worked with her on a show at the York Theatre, how she had gone to see so many of her shows. I hate that I couldn't see this with Cristin.

I made a couple of decisions there and then.
1. If there is a performer that I know Cristin admired, not only will I find a way to see their shows, I will be sure to thank them for bringing so much joy to her life.
2. If there is a performance that touches me, I will make sure that the performer receives a note as to how much their performance touched me.

So, that's my BCFA post. I hope that when you read my post about my reactions to the show, this will make sense.

Oh yeah, see come from away! you won't regret it.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What I'm knitting (visiting an old friend)

I have a tendency to acquire lots of patterns and knitting books. Some people horde yarn, sneak it into the house under the dark of night so that nobody knows about it. Me, its knitting books and patterns. Nothing gives me more joy than spending a night with a cocktail, some music, and a pile of knitting books.

I read about the patterns and the stories behind the names. I love to see how the combinations of stitches will ultimately create something amazing. I immediately head over to ravelry to see what other people did with that pattern.

When it actually comes to casting in a project, I frequently go to a pattern that I know. I think I've made 4 ishbels. We all know about my affinity to koolhaas. How many times have I knit the PatPat Hat (don't count, I'll just say it's a lot). 

A pattern I revisit as often as my favorite pizza place (or so it seems) is the chevron scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I revisit a number of patterns from this book, but this is the favorite.

Full disclosure, this is not a last minute project, but it's a great one. First, find two of your favorite sock yarns, then knit.

I love the ease of this pattern, there is very little thinking involved. My fingers seem to know what to do before I even start.

I love how no matter what colors you are using, they always compliment eachother. 

This particular scarf is a gift. It's for my sister (it's okay, she knows).

She chose blues because it compliments a lot of her wardrobe. She "approved" a scarf because the AC on Florida is ridiculous. I use chose this pattern because it symbolizes so much about her to me. My sister always had a blue gingham blanket. Our grandmother bought it for her. When I got one of my tattoos, I chose to have it colored blue and purple for my sisters. It's not her favorite color, but it's the color that I always think of with her.

Then there is the chevron itself. My sister is getting her pHd in special education. I could not be more proud. She did not take an easy path to this accomplishment. Some people choose a school system in a small town, some choose to teach in established schools with super high test scores where the students are motivated and have tons of parent support. I applaud all teachers no matter where you choose to teach.

My sister started her teaching career in East Los Angeles. Many of her students did not speak English at home. Many of her students did not have meals at home. Some of her students watched their parents struggle with addiction and immigration issues. She continued to work in schools where children were frequently overlooked. She helped some of these students become the first in their families to graduate high school, and many went on to thriving careers because of her support and guidance. She worked to ensure that all of her students received a fair and equal education. Inclusion was always her most important goal for her students. She wanted all of her students, no matter what their learning situation, had the opportunity to spend time with their peers.

So, about the scarf:
One of the yarns is from a stash. I think it is leftover from my own ishbel, and it's a Plymouth yarn that is not made anymore.. 

The other is from a Gilmore girls yarn club. I adore what it is doing color wise. The blues and purples are just incredible!!! 

The pictures are not doing it justice, so you'll just have to trust me. I would appreciate many prayers that I have enough of the contrast yarn to finish, because .. well, it will all have to be frogged if I run out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yes, I saw Hamilton, and in one word.....(Then I use a lot of them)


That really is the only word that I can use to describe this production. It is perfect. Every single element comes together to create a true masterpiece There is nothing extra, there are no flaws. It is simply perfect, and yet not at all Simple.

Let's back up. We purchased our Hamilton tickets in September. I almost didn't go, I wasn't going to pay too much for them. I just don't do that. Yes, I love Broadway but I'm not a fan of paying too much for tickets because if I pay less I see more. The tickets were $179 and that is reasonable. So, yes, as my sister stated "our tickets could have given birth to more tickets." Sadly they did not, but that's okay.

On Tuesday June 14, 2017 I saw Hamilton. I was slightly late to the Hamilton party. I knew it was good, I had heard of Lin Manuel Miranda, but I hadn't gotten into In The Heights, so he actually wasn't on my Radar. Memorial day weekend 2016 I took time to listen. When I listen to a new soundtrack I really try and listen straight through a couple of times. This is a thing that I have done for years, and it works for me. At first I was thinking "okay, it's good" Then act 2 started and I was SOLD!. What did I miss is my favorite number. Lin has been quoted saying "If you don't like Hip Hop, don't worry Act 2 will start soon and that is totally the Musical Theatre number." He is correct. THat is the number that drew in THIS Musical Theatre kid.

Now, I'm rambling a bit because there are spoilers to the show, so if you don't want to know about the show, you really should stop reading. I will try not to give away too much, but you do know that Burr shoots Hamilton right? okay, good.

So, here we go.

We arrived at the theatre. I was very excited to potentially see a high school friend. Mike has worked at the Rogers theatre for a few years as a bartender and he is one of the kindest people that you will every meet. If you go see Hamilton, I highly encourage you to stop at the bar and ask if Mike is working so that you can see him. Tell him you know Betsy, I can promise you will get the biggest smile. Just Like that one !

Mike Made sure that I had a beer, FYI there is a Rise Up Rye that is really good. I really enjoyed it. It was created for the Broadway Brews Project

So, went up to my seat to get settled in. My seat was probably 2 rows from the back of the house, but I never felt I was far from the stage, which is a testament to the design of the Richard Rogers Theatre. Also, to the producers of the show. If you haven't read Hamilton: The Revolution, I encourage you to do so. I personally listened to the book on Audible, it's read by Mariska Hargitay, which is never a bad thing. Anyway, in the book they discuss why the Rogers was so important to them, and it's very interesting.

So, I got to my seat. I had my beer, I had my knitting, and I had my Beads of Courage (more on that later)

I knew what to expect, and yet everything was a complete surprise. At times, I felt that I had to remind myself to breathe. The show is a true roller coaster. Keep your hands a feet inside the ride because it is NOT stopping for anyone along the way. One reason that I really wanted to see Hamilton In New York, and not wait for the tour, is because of the sound design. While I know the tour will be true to the design elements, sound is one that always concerns me. I wanted to see the show in the space where the sound was originally designed for (again, read the book, they spend a chapter on sound design, I promise it's not boring). You don't just hear the sound in this show, you feel it. You feel every bit of the bass that is pumped into that room, and it is incredible.

I was overwhelmed with the intricacy of the choreography, I was amazed at the simplicity of the Costumes, I was (and will continue to be) fascinated at how tight the show is, and if anyone wants to get me a ticket to sit on headset, that would be amazing.

Act one ended, and I wasn't breathing. I was not. I was actually holding my breath.

Things to know about Hamilton if you go. There are no balcony/mezzanine rest rooms at the Rogers. At Intermission, you have to go down three flights, and make it back to your seat. You also have to be sure you GET to your seat in time because they do NOT hold the intermission curtain.

What happened at Intermission, I waited. I was sitting apart from my sister, Mom, and sister's BFF because one of our seats was separate. The couple sitting next to me was pleasant enough, but I did find it HILARIOUS that they were googling Lin at Intermission. While I had not followed him prior to the show, I certainly know who he is no (and pretty sure the rest of the US does as well, but whatev)

Bring on Act 2:

Full disclosure, if I could go back in time to be sure that I saw Daveed Diggs play Lafayette and Jefferson I would.

But I will give James Monroe Iglehart a TON of credit. He won me over. He held his hand out to the entire theatre and said "here, you just sit right here in the palm of my hand while I own this stage" and he did. Now, I knew I would cry watching Hamilton. I cry watching a lot of theatre, so I was prepared for when I might cry. Certain things surprised me, one I will not discuss because it is something that is actually NOT on the soundtrack and therefore I do not want to give it away.

Here is what surprised me.
Maria Reynolds

Yup, You heard me right. So, for those of you that have listened to the soundtrack, and read history books, you know that Hamilton was not the most faithful to his wife. This is portrayed in the number "Say No To This." I am not a person that tolerates unfaithfulness well. When I listened to Hamilton and heard that song, I hated Alexander a LOT, similar to how I hate Jamie in the Last 5 years during the song "nobody Needs to Know."

Until I saw it. I never expected to be sitting in the balcony of the Richard Rogers theatre weeping because I felt sympathy for a man preparing to cheat on his wife. I truly felt for him. I was so confused. This is the moment that stood out to me so much in the show. Maybe it was the chemistry between Javier Munoz and Alysha Deslorieux, I have no idea. But honestly, I was so confused by my own emotions.

and yes, Lin uses the line "Nobody Needs to know" in the song "Say no to this" and yes, that irony of me hating Jamie at that moment, and originally hating Hamilton at that moment, is not lost on me. (Also, I still hate Jamie, I no longer dislike Hamilton)

As I watched more of act 2 I started realizing, every single technical element could be removed from this show and it would still be perfect. The show is staged so simply when it comes to scenic and prop elements. The ensemble carries us through the show bringing on a piece of furniture here or there. You could remove every costume, every prop, every bit of lighting, and yes even the sound that I raved about. You could remove it all and this show would still be brilliant. I think that is what makes it so perfect in my eyes. The complicated simplicity of it all.

The show ended, and yet again I found that I was reminding myself to breathe. It was just so amazing. I did not want it to end, I wanted more. After sitting in my seat for 2 hours and 45 minutes, I still wanted more. I wanted a LOT more. I knew there had to be, but the house lights came up, and here I was not moving from my seat, and not wanting to come back to reality.

My coworker saw the show about a week before me and he created the #HamilCry hashtag, so, this is my #hamicry selfie

We went to the stage door, which was a touch too overwhelming for me, so I took a moment to sit and knit on a couple of hats (more on those in my next post because they are for the next show).

This show will live in history. The theatre world will never let this show be forgotten. It is amazing, it is brilliant, and I am so glad that I let these tickets sit in my possession for 10 months.

Monday, July 24, 2017

So Much Theatre, Decent amount of knitting

The past month or so I have seen SO MUCH theatre. It's sort of unreal.

I have seen

Come From Away
Natasha Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812
Angels in America
Beauty and the Beast.

it's also not over because I'm planning to see High Fidelity this weekend.

I've had so many thoughts about all of these shows, and I will tell you about all of them. I promise.

I will also tell you that there WILL be spoilers. So, if you don't want to know about a show, don't read the post. I will try not to give away too much, but some things I just can't censor. Yes, I will also tell you what I know while I was at the theatre, because there was a LOT of knitting at the theatre.

A lot is happening, and by the time these posts are over, I hope to be able to share more with you. For now know that I will be sharing lots of thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts.

I'll try and post one show a week so as to not bombard you... But I'll share some pictures so that you can get a sneak peek!!

One thing that I will say is that all of the shows are equally brilliant. If you ask be for a favorite, I won't be able to choose. To compare any of them would be like picking which child is the favorite. I think that is what makes theatre experiences so incredible. Each one is unique. Each one involves so much, each one is it's own moment.

Only pic for now, it properly combines knitting AND theatre. Yes, I made hats for the Cast of Come From Away

Two of the lovely cast members (Petrina Bromley and Astrid Van Wieren kindly modeled the hats ! They, along with the rest of this cast, should be given awards for being the Kindest Cast on broadway. But more on them later.