Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tony Night!

More stage door.
Not only is today’s matinee my last performance during this amazing trip, but it is also Tony Awards night! I have a friend coming to Newsies with his mother today, so I will be meeting up with them for the show and then I planned to head back to my hotel and watch the Tonys in bed with some yummies – seemed like a solid plan when I made it. Now, I don’t usually wait in the line to get into the theater (it’s assigned seats, and if you walk right in past the line security doesn’t care), but since my friend and his mom were already in line I thought I would go stand with them. On my way around the block to find them, I was stopped by someone who shall not be named (but who is AMAZING) who essentially told me I had just “won a contest” and could attend the official Disney party tonight if I was interested. My response? “Umm, yes!”  I think that might have been the best “contest I ever won.”

While that amazing development sunk in, I chatted with my friend and his mom about the show. He had seen it before, but his mom was new, so I was excited for her response come intermission. She loved it!

This being my 8th show of the week, I was actually really excited to get my playbill and see that Laurie Veldheer would be going on as Katherine! Kara Lindsay had been sick, and since she had to do the Tonys that evening, I guess Laurie went on to give Kara some time to rest. Laurie usually plays Hanna, so it is great to see her in the spotlight. What a great performance from Laurie! It’s funny, because even thought they are both great as Katherine – they play her so differently. Kara has a lot of quirky things she does with the character and get a lot of laughs; but Laurie plays her very strong and stubborn. It was really great to see it done in a new way. Great job Laurie! Especially since she let slip at the stage door afterwards that she hadn’t performed it for an audience in over a month! When she saw me, she immediately asked “How did I do?” I guess when you see the show all week the cast starts to value your opinion on things! Of course I told her she did a fantastic job, and that I was really glad I got to see her go on. Even some of the Newsies asked me throughout the week which shows were better… I just can’t say that sort of stuff surrounded by other fans who saw it for the first time. It wouldn’t be fair for me to spoil their thoughts on the show they saw.

Because I had to chat with my friend and his mom after the show, I was actually late getting to the stage door, which meant I was all the way in the back of the crowd. Thankfully, the security guys have gotten to know me throughout the week and made sure I got the rest of my trading cards signed. They are awesome over at the Nederlander. Not a single person who works there ever seems to be in a bad mood. I don’t know if that’s the Disney gun to their heads or what, but it is really refreshing.

So I finally head back to my hotel, after some thankful goodbyes to the folks who work the doors and barricades at the theater. When I was packing my bags in FL before the trip, I thought I should pack a cocktail dress just in case… well I am glad I did! My contingency dress absolutely came in handy! I did have to go on a quick hunt for a clutch to wear for the evening, but that didn’t take too long so I had about an hour and a half to get ready and out the door.

I think it is one of the prettiest marquees in the theater district. 
Even though the party was at the Hard Rock in Midtown, and I was a few blocks away… I really didn’t want to exhaust myself in heels, so I took a cab. $5 later, I was safely in front of HRC.  Walking in I felt relieved because someone at the door immediately pointed me to the Disney party. So far so good with the fitting in! Gave them “my name” and I was in. I didn’t know a soul there, so I immediately went to the bar for a drink. Thanks Disney for the free wine and beer (even though actual Disney folks were a bit disappointed in the lack of booze). I stood awkwardly for about 10 mins with my glass of chardonnay when one of the wonderful guys from the online marketing department noticed me and gave me a big smile/hug. Thanks to those awesome guys I had some people to spend the evening with. I felt absolutely comfortable at the nerd table all night – with the guys who spent the entire evening on Twitter, Facebook and their phones. Thanks Kyle, Greg, Peter (and your beautiful dates) for being super awesome and making me feel like I belonged!

I am sad to say, I did not take any pics  at the Disney party. I didn’t take pics with the actors I talked to... it was open bar, and I forgot. I did however talk to Garret and Ryan Steele – who I am sure I gushed to for entirely too long. But their hugs were my favorite thing all night long. I swear I could watch those boys smile for hours. I talked to Thayne as well, and Evan K. I think I said a few quick words to Ryan Breslin, and Laurie (who I might have called Caitlyn by accident – I was a little tipsy, and Caitlyn is actually Laurie’s swing as Hanna. Sorry Laurie, if I did!) I did see Jeremy when he arrived to the party, but there was quite a crowd around him, and I lost track of him after that. I didn’t really want to impose, so I mostly just chatted with people I bumped into naturally. Of course I talked to a lot of the crew and behind the scenes people who make everything happen. Everyone (mostly) was really nice. I did get a few strange looks from people who didn’t really think I belonged, but “I won a contest” seemed to appease them.  

I essentially spent the night "nobbin' with all the muckety-mucks" and beautiful gay men (in fabulous clothes) brought me drinks all night. It was pretty fantastic. 

All I can really say is that it was a great time. Being in the room with all the people who worked SO hard to make sure Disney went home with so many wonderful awards was… magical. I am honored and so incredibly thankful to have been able to be a part of that once in a lifetime sort of event. 

While the after-after party was in my reach, I had a flight to catch the next day so it was time to say goodnight. I passed out pretty promptly once I got back to my hotel. I had really great dreams though, so I would say the night was an overall success. :) 

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Security is always happy to help with a photo. 
I have to admit, I am always incredibly proud of myself when I come to NYC and manage to navigate the subways by myself. So this morning I went out and did some shopping, didn’t get lost, and made it back to my hotel in time to get freshened up for the matinee. It’s Saturday, so of course Twitter is destined to blow up with #SIP tags. Meaning Saturday Intermission Pics – a fun meme for Broadway casts where they tweet pictures of the bizarre things they do backstage during intermission. If you aren't familiar, just type #SIP into the Twitter search bar, and enjoy the wackiness. I am partial to the Newsies posts, of course. 
The show was good, but the fatigue of Tonys week is definitely visible to someone who has seen the show a lot. To everyone else, it was amazing, and that is all that matters. I hope they have some time to nap before the evening performance. 
When the evening performance rolled around, I realized I had decided to treat myself back in March when I originally bought my seat. Second row!  A few things to know about sitting so close to the front of the stage: 
  • These actors (especially Davey – Ben Fankhauser) love to spit when they sing/talk, so be advised front row is the “Splash Zone”
  • You can really absorb a lot of the details you don’t see from farther back, from the set to the costumes – and my personal favorite observation: Ryan Steele and Ryan Breslin play “audience” to Medda’s show, and they wear hilarious fake mustaches during the scene. I think there needs to be a pic of the guys in those get-ups, cause they look hilarious.
  • A downside to sitting so close… it’s hard to see the top of the set, so you spend some time craning your head up to follow the action. Also, it is hard to take in the entire set in one scope, so you might miss some of the impact of the dance numbers, limited to what is happening right in front of you. 
  • On the plus side? You are mere feet away from the prettiest boys on Broadway!
Used to be Garett on this door - now it's Jeremy.
I want to make special mention of swing performer, Jack Scott. He did double duty today, playing two different roles – Henry in the Matinee and Mush in the evening. He did both damn near flawlessly, so here’s a huge pat on the back to Jack! Just like Michael Fatica (the other swing), Jack does have a trading card, but you have to ask him for it because it is not part of the “complete” set.
Jeremy Jordan, as much as I adore him, has been doing this strangely hilarious play for laughs. I don’t know when he started it, but he did it all week. After he and Katherine kiss the first time, he is naturally caught off guard. This moment used to pass with little real reaction other than the standard “oooh” from the audience. Now, he seems to ad-lib this dumbfounded “Whuut?” after the kiss – to which the audience absolutely erupts in laughter.  He wouldn’t keep doing it if he didn’t WANT the laughs, but it just seems like such a weird place to want that reaction. Regardless, I love it because it’s him. It makes me laugh too. I can deal with it, as odd as it seems. Last show tomorrow! What WOULD have been closing had the show not been extended through August, the first time around. Tomorrow is also Tony Night! 
Stage door panoramic. Thanks to security guy, Nelson for taking it for me. I'm over on the left.

Friday, June 8, 2012

15 Seconds of Fame

My day started out pretty normally – hung out with some friends. Ate a couple slices of delicious street pizza. Walked around and did some window shopping. But around mid day I got a Twitter message from the dear folks at @Newsies, asking if I would record a “Viddy” message for the guys. Of course! I met Greg, one of the friendly marketing people, at the theater an hour before the show, and after a few takes we got a message that fit the 15 second time limit with no mistakes on my part. Happy to be of service any time marketing folks! You know I dig you guys and all the hard work you do. So stay tuned to the Newsies Viddy channel to see me wish the guys well for the Tony Awards. Not sure when that will get posted. edit: Here's my viddy! 

8:00pm show tonight, so I had plenty of time to gussie up. I like to at least try to look decent at the theater; even though most people are in whatever they wore that day - from tourists in sneakers to lovely older ladies who bust out their furs. A few people in the show seem to sound like they are coming down with something or are sick, so I hope whatever is spreading around back stage stays away until AFTER the Tony’s live performance! Otherwise the show was the show, and it all went well for the most part. As someone who has seen it repeatedly, it is fun for me to experience a new audience every night and hear their reactions. A few murmurs during intermission definitely indicate most people love it. There was a guy in front of me who seemed mostly ambivalent towards the show until Kin g of New York, and then he was all in. Nice to see folks make a turn around like that. Sherrie Sheppard from The View was in the audience tonight.

So I stage doored again, and got a few more of my Newsies trading cards signed. A tip to those who want a complete set – I don’t think Michael Fatica (the swing) has a card at the merch booths, but if you ask him personally, he might have one. He did tonight! I got lucky! He said he doesn’t usually have them. He was on for Kyle Coffman, who has been out a couple shows now. Hopefully he’d not battling sickness too. Good night for stage door. Crowd was a little thinner than usual, but MUCH more well behaved than the last few I have been in. And if you will allow me to absolutely fangirl out for a moment – I am excited to report that Jeremy remembered who I was tonight and said hi to me and smiled at the stage door. I am going to take that as an epic win, and let it gently cradle me to sleep tonight. :D

Anyway, we are one day closer to the Tony Awards! The guys are definitely excited, but tired. They had rehearsal for the awards show earlier today, and then the regular show at night. I would gift them all naps if I could, but I am no Dream Lord (Doctor Who reference, for the nerds out there).Two shows tomorrow. Only 3 more left for this trip! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Softball and Two Shows

Group shot after their first win!
So I woke up bright an early, debating whether or not I wanted to head out to Central Park to watch Team Newsies play softball in the Broadway Show League games. I guess there was some misinformation flying around, because a lot of fans thought today’s game was cancelled due to the Tony Awards schedule and the fact that Newsies had two shows today. Not the case… or maybe the game was reinstated last minute. Either way, I am really glad I went because it was a beautiful day in the park, the Newsies were out there having a great time, and they won! Great experience all around! I wasn’t super chatty with all of them… just because they were there with friends and family, so who am I to intrude on conversations? I just sat quietly most of the time and enjoyed being supportive. A few of the guys are darn good players, and a few definitely seem to take it more seriously than others. It is not just for fun! There’s a trophy and bragging rights to be had, so they want to win. Sadly, Newsies is the worst team in the league at the moment (they have only won once so far). Regardless of how well they do, they are definitely out there having a ton of fun, and that is great to watch.

A classic Tommy Bracco (Spot) pep talk! Psyching the team up for
the day/week ahead - the Tony Awards and more shows.
After softball wrapped a little after noon, the guys had to get to fight call which started at 1pm, so things broke up pretty quickly and everyone headed back towards the theater. I happened to be catching the same train as John Dossett (Pulitzer), John Brady (Weasel) and Jeremy Jordan (do I really need to tell you who he plays?). All very nice gents, despite my inability to carry on an entertaining conversation.
Matinee started at 2pm, so I raced back to my room for a quick shower and to change out of my “park clothes” to be more theater appropriate. I made it back to the Nederlander with time to spare, and the matinee went off without a hitch. Honestly, at this point the cast is so well rehearsed, very little goes wrong that I can see. Not that I would point out that sort of thing anyway… I don’t think I need to throw mistakes back in their faces. Everyone makes mistakes, after all. At this point I think the show is running pretty flawlessly. Except for the sound effect when Crutchie predicts the weather with his foot. That just always sounds off to me. Always too soon, or too late, or both. It bugs me.

I would consider this an average crowd for the stage door.
So stage door at the matinee was a mad house, as it usually is, but an especially insane moment occurred when some girl flipped her shit the minute she saw Jeremy and started shrieking “I LOVE YOU!” repeatedly. I will never understand why girls think screaming at boys they adore is going to somehow make him fall in love with her. This is the stuff fan fiction is made of, people. And I know… I was into boybands. (Though I can honestly say I have never shrieked at them – even at 17).

After that I had some time to kill so I went back to my hotel room where I desperately fought off the urge to nap. I really only had about an hour between leaving stage door and having to head back to the theatre to meet up with a lovely girl from a local NPR affiliate who wanted to interview me about being a “Broadway Groupie.” Interview went well… I will keep you guys posted as to when it turns up. Won’t be for a little while still, but I’ll tweet out a link when I know it exists.

Just some more stage door flavor.
Evening show… same old same. BUT there were a couple movie throw backs we usually don’t get. Ephraim Sykes, who plays “Mush” let out a very emphatic “Tell ‘em Jack!” during Seize the Day! Why someone doesn’t yell this every night, I do not know, but that line is very iconic for hardcore movie fans. It warmed my heart to hear it tonight, so thank you Ephraim! AND Jeremy let out a “Cheese it!” during the strike/fight scene at The World gates. Awesome, and also not usually a line we hear. I dug it. Whether the boys saying those lines was intentional or not, it was pretty fantastic to hear them.

Unfortunately the audience was filled with talkative school groups and teachers who had zero control over them. I know it’s Disney, but come on people… give your kids some theater pointers before you show up. They were playing with their phones, unwrapping candy, and TALKING the whole show. It sucked. A lot of people thought it sucked too, it wasn’t just me. Also, because of these groups, stage door was NUTS. A least a hundred people all crammed against a barricade, with big yellow school buses in the street right outside the doors taking up space. I already mentioned I lived through the hay-day of boybands, so none of this is new to me. I am just a little old to still have to put up with it. And yet, I shoulder on because I must get every single piece of memorabilia signed. I am sure you all understand. My new goal is the trading cards. Gotta catch ‘em all… I mean, get them all signed. So to recap, the guys played softball, won, and then performed two perfect shows… all in one day. I’m impressed. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oldies Need Love Too

Another great show! Not much to report, except that Julie Andrews was in the audience and I DIDN'T SEE HER! I don't know how that happened, cause I am usually really good at celebrity spotting. I am bummed, but honestly, I probably would have started crying or something if I tried to talk to her. A lot. It would have been ugly tears! Probably for the best I didn't hear she was there until the show was over. 

I will say, the Oldsies (as they call themselves) are some really awesome guys. Really nice, and really appreciative of my dedication to the show. I have to thank them, cause they have made me feel especially welcome at the stage door and around the theater. The extent of which I am not sure I should really mention online, but I'll just say they have been inviting and outstanding. :) Being a super fan has it "perks" in a way. 

For example, a local NPR affiliate wants to interview me about being a "Broadway Groupie," which is... interesting. I was already interviewed for a national publication not too long ago, which went alright, so I guess I am ok with doing another one for what I assume is just a local radio news story. I'm meeting a gal tomorrow before the evening show to chat. Should be fun. I shall try my best to sound intelligent. As as side note, I saw Peter and the Starcatcher last night when Newsies was dark, and it is wonderful. Really, really fun and imaginative. And as the world has already pointed out, Christian Borle is phenomenal. The entire cast is fantastic. So if you're not going to Newsies (why are you reading this?) go see Peter and the Starcatcher! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Back!

The big Newsies billboard in Times Square!
After a brief hiatus, in which I went back to FL and back to my job (so I could make more money to see more Newsies), I am finally back in NYC - for an entire week - and seeing Newsies 8 times while I am here! Travels were easy, cause I am very fortunate to be able to pass out on airplanes. Before I knew it, I was back in NY and surprisingly... it's chilly here. In June! That's a nice reprieve from the 90 degree weather of Florida this time of year. Anyway, enough about the weather! Let's talk about Newsies.

I headed to the theater around 6:30pm for a 7pm show. President Obama was in the theater next door for a rally of some sort, so things outside were not totally normal. Barricades were set up outside and secret service were everywhere, but it didn't seem to affect the show much, if at all. The show did start later than I remember, around 7:15 or so, but that might not have anything to do with the president... it could just be the groove the show has worked itself into. 

The show was great. I mean, I am biased... clearly. But honestly, all these months later I was thrilled to see the cast up there with just as much energy as they had during previews. I do notice the little things they have changed within their own performances, and I adore that stuff. It's why going back again and again is ok... because every show has the potential to be different from the last. Jeremy is still mind-blowingly awesome, and Kara seems to have really found a groove with her performance. Their chemistry is lovely from off stage. The audience really seemed to be into the show, which as a fan who has seen it so many times, is really moving for me. I don't know WHY I care so much, but man it sure is nice when the audience gasps and laughs and cheers at all the right moments. 

So the show was great, and curtain call was high energy and fun as it always is, but when it was over and before the cast had left the stage, the theater made an announcement over the house speakers saying the NYPD has asked that everyone stay in their seats due to the event next door (that would be the President's shindig). For how long? That was not known. The orchestra played out a little longer and the cast left the stage to change out of their costumes. Andrew (Crutchie), however appeared on stage still in costume within moments and with a hand held microphone. At that point I knew we were probably going to get an impromptu talk back... and I was right. Andrew bantered with the audience a bit and took a few questions. Slowly some of the other Newsies and cast members began to trickle out and hang out on stage. 

A few highlights include a seemingly intoxicated girl inviting herself on stage and asking if any of the Newsies were "single and ready to mingle." The lack of interest from the boys was not shocking (and for those wondering, the general consensus is that most are engaged, or otherwise committed). After sending her back to her seat, a little bit later a younger girl asked if she could get some kisses on the cheek since it was her birthday. She was also denied access to Newsie love, but they did acapella sing "Happy Birthday" to her... with harmonies. It was nice. Someone has it up on YouTube shot from the balcony. (Please don't ask me why I didn't video the talk back - lapse in sanity; though I saw some other cameras out, so it might turn up online). 

I'm not sure how long the talk back lasted, but I am guessing after 15-20 minutes or so, they finally opened the doors and let people out. The street was a mess because they wouldn't let anyone go left down 41st, so everyone was funneled right. Some gawkers stopped to take pics of the president's car and stuff, which slowed down the whole movement process, but it was manageable. I didn't actually see the president. It didn't really seem like NYPD wanted people hanging around the barricades, so I headed back to my hotel. From what I could see and the state of the street, I don't think there was any stage door signing to be had. 

Once in my room I saw some twitter reports of Jeremy Jordan being chased down 8th Ave by some teenage girls. As ridiculously amused by this as I am, I want to point out that this is NOT OK. Girls, I know the Newsies are irresistible, but chasing them down the street is all kinds of uncomfortable for them. Try not to do that. Of course this all could be over-exagerated and the chase could have been a few steps. I didn't see it, I'm just horrified and amused enough to mention it. 

Newsies will be dark on Tuesday, so my plan is to attempt to score lotto tickets for Peter and the Starcatcher. Fingers crossed, because I've been blowing my dough and going deluxe with Newsies, so I could stand to save some pennies elsewhere! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shows, Shows, Shows!

From March 16-19th... I saw a lot of shows this week, and I promise I will recap my adventures eventually!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preview Opening Night

Lottery line, from the @Newsies feed.
My sister and I are in there!
My sister was seeing opening preview with me, but we had practically the entire day to kill in anticipation for the 8pm show, so we walked around the big city and did some shopping until it was time for the Newsies lottery. A friend of mine who lives in the city wanted to see Newsies too, but he didn't have a ticket so we were going to try our luck in scoring him one. We lost! But the lottery was fun and insane. There were probably 100 or so people all vying for the same 28 seats! We went to dinner where we met up with my friend who wanted the ticket, and one of my sister's friends who is a playwright living in the city. I broke the bad news to my friend that we lost the lottery, but he could try swinging by the theatre before he went home to see if maybe they had something left over. He left dinner a little early to check the box office. Not long after he bid us adieu and we were wrapping up dinner he text me to say he went ahead and bought a full price ticket in the 5th row. He just couldn't NOT see it since I was such a big fan. I guess my excitement is contagious!

This is Paper Mill, but the set looks the same on Broadway.
The Nederlander feels a lot smaller than Paper Mill, but it is
cozy and nice.
We make it to the theatre about 10 minutes before show time, so the giant line has already filtered in. I immediately hit up a merchandise booth to collect one of my my Newsies messenger bags. I told the guy I had 11 vouchers, and he told me I better take them all right away because there is a good chance they will run out. So I do, but it takes a little while for him to get them all collected for me, and the show is about to start. I tell my sister to go to our seats and I will join her as soon as I can. I have seen the show after all, so if I miss the very beginning I won't be too upset about it. She had never seen it, so I wanted to make sure she didn't miss a thing. She is a theatre professor, and she and I both grew up with Newsies, so I am really interested in her reactions to the stage adaptation. I am also really excited for her to experience the energy I haven't been able to shut up about since I saw the show at Paper Mill those few months ago. The lights dim - the screens retract, and there we are, high above the stinkin' streets of of New York with Jack and Crutchie. 

From what I can tell by watching the opening scene from the merchandise area, this scene hasn't changed much since Paper Mill. The blocking is better and makes a lot more sense. The dialogue is a little different, but is still relaying the same message. I am watching from the back of the theatre, because it takes the entire opening scene for me to get my merchandise sorted, but I take my seat during the scene change and try to find a place to stuff 11 messenger bags at my feet.

Almost nothing from the set has changed, though the Nederlander Theatre as a space is a little more... awkward? Not for the actors so much as the audience. Over half of the orchestra audience can't see the top of the set (the third tier) due to the mezzanine overhang. Thankfully, this is only a real problem for one moment in one song (the very end of "Once and For All," in Act 2). Otherwise any seat in the house is a great one. Mezzanine seats are actually pretty prime real estate in this theatre - you'll see it all unobstructed. Orchestra first 3-5 rows are a little TOO close to see the whole body of action at once. If you can manage to sit in that golden section of the orchestra that is not too close, and not under the mezz overhang, then you are in for a perfect view. I prefer to hang to the right hand side of the orchestra, because Jeremy makes an audience entrance and I get cheap thrills from being near him as he walks by, but that is certainly not a requirement for a good time. ;)

The show is wonderful. My sister is really enjoying it, as is the rest of the audience. Now, I get the feeling there were a lot of super fans in the audience for opening preview, because they are erupting in applause in all the right moments, and even some unconventional ones. I have no problem with that at all, because if you are going to see a show, it might as well be with people who are excited to be there! Despite the fantastic energy from the crowd, and the great performances happening on stage, I did get the impression that the show was moving along a little slowly, but if no one else noticed, then I didn't care. Especially since I figured the cast was probably exhausted from rehearsing earlier that day, as well as the late night they probably all had the night before. Not to mention the rigorous rehearsal schedule they have been dealing with for months. I can tell they were tired, but they were still amazing. 

Pulitzer has a new song. I am not sure it is any better than the original one from Paper Mill, but it is certainly not worse. It's less silly, which is good, so Pulitzer has a little more authority by the time the scene is done. I just don't think the song lends well to the reprise in Act 2... but I don't know anything about music so I am probably wrong. John Dossett continues to be a great Pulitzer, despite being one of the many cast members seemingly suffering from vocal strain/fatigue this particular night. 

Hanna has some balls! She is no longer the squeaky voiced idiot taking notes for Pulitzer. Now she has some brains and she uses them to stand up to Pulitzer. Glad to see one of the only other female characters in the show be more assertive in a world of men!

We still have a historical inaccuracy problem with some things in the show, but it's Disney, so they get a pass for the most part (hey, if we can forgive the ending of Hunchback, we can forgive some modernish dialogue in Newsies). Medda has more lines, which is super helpful for her character. She finally has some purpose in Jack's life, and makes some sense for the overall story. Her new song is clever and fun, letting us know she is rich (so I guess that is how we can get around the race issue of the time period). The audience responded really well to this new song, so I guess it is an improvement over the old one from Paper Mill. Parts of the old song are still in the Broadway show, as the dancing girls sing it in the background when Jack sings about Katherine in the foreground. It works, but the background vocals were a little too loud and distracting so I think it took away from the important action, which is Jack sketching Katherine. Audio levels as a whole were wonky opening night, but they got it down in the next show or two.

The dancing is unbelievable, and the cast are nailing everything with grace and emphasis, so it is absolutely no surprise to me that in the middle of "Seize the Day" the audience jumps to their feet for a standing ovation. One man stood up from the second row, turned to the rest of the audience and urged us up. It took all of 2 seconds for the response because everyone was feeling it anyway, maybe just too scared to be the first to stand. But that guy did and started the chain reaction to the back of the crowd. (Was it Chris G.? I don't know. His seat was farther back, I thought). I have never seen a standing ovation in the middle of a show, let alone in the middle of a song but this cast and this show are deserving. That punctuating moment of "Seize the Day" is intense, and since it was opening preview with so many die hard fans in the audience, not to mention friends and family, we were all too happy to celebrate these kids for what felt like forever (but what was probably a minute or less). They held their positions as we cheered, and eventually the show went on, but that standing ovation is a moment I would like to burn into memory forever. It was nice to be a part of something so giving, and to see the looks on those boy's faces as we appreciated them as loudly as we could. See a bit of "Seize the Day" beginning at 1:18 in the USA Today video posted above.

Intermission comes and of course the audience is left to deal with Jeremy's big note... breathtaking, as always. My sister and friend are both super excited at this point, stating that a first act has never gone by so quickly, and thanking me over and over for being such a promoter of the show. I even get Twitter recognized in the audience and spend some time talking to internet friends. Newsies fans are a great bunch, and all of us feel the same way about this production. We waited patiently for 20 years, and now we all have something we can be proud of! All the important people are there, Harvey Fierstein, Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, Tom Schumacher, Noni White... of course Jeff Calhoun, Chris Gattelli and more I am forgetting, but lots of people who needed to see the big, positive response were there to see it. 

King of New York continues to open Act 2, except now it is more amazing than ever! At one point, a couple of the Newsies come out and play the spoons, to which the entire group follows suit. Now, I don't know why I love the spoons so much, but it might have something to do with the fact that I used to pretend I was a hobo riding the rails as a little kid, and always wanted to play the spoons... but when they come out with them and they are glistening in the stage lights, I am in heaven! This is an incredibly athletic tap number and it is just insane amounts of fun! I particularly find myself watching Evan K. while the spoon stuff is happening. He just looks so damn happy up there, I'm mesmerized by him. Everyone is having the time of their lives in this number and it really shows. 

The new love song in Act 2 is lovely, and very classically Disney. It almost feels like Aladdin's  "A Whole New World" to me in the way it is structured. The lyrics are more applicable to the story than the Paper Mill love song, but I will admit, I miss the old songs. Probably because they were also very lovely and I got used to them. I am sure I will get used to the new songs as well and wonder how I ever lived without them. The dialogue in this scene, while it makes the 16 year old girl in me squeal in delight, it pretty hard to swallow. Then again, maybe I just never dated a guy who outright wanted to talk about our relationship like Jack does with Katherine. Then again, this is a musical. The scene comes across as funny, and I am not sure it is supposed to, but it works for the moment because all the young girls are giggling anyway by this point. Pretty boys and kissing makes kids all squirmy. Ok, sometimes it makes the grown-ups squirmy too. ;)

Post-Newsies euphoria at the stage door!
Act 2, like Act 1 seems to fly by and before we know it we are on our feet again thanking not just the cast, but every person who played a part in putting this show together. I stay to see the last moments of curtain call, but from that point I race to the stage door. There is a big crowd waiting to see the cast, not surprisingly. I find a place towards the end of the line, and decide to get one of my messenger bags autographed. As the cast streams out, the crowd cheers, and one by one they make their way down the line, signing everything they can reach! When I ordered my presale tickets the special gift was explained to be the same bag the cast were going to get as a gift, but I guess they didn't get their bags yet because almost every actor asked where I got my bag, and if they were for sale. I explained to each cast member that I think they would probably get theirs on actual opening night. Great guys and girls, and you can tell they are excited to be part of something so special. My sister snapped some cell phone pics as I was getting my bag signed. Here are just a few:

Andrew Keenan Bolger - Crutchie
Jeremy Jordan - Jack Kelly
Ryan Breslin - Race
Kara Lindsay - Katherine Plumber

I wish I could say I was witty and intelligent at the stage door, but I was probably more spastic and silly. That happens when I am excited! I was pretty chatty with most of the cast, but when Jeremy gets near me I forget how to speak. All I can say is that pretty boys make me stupid, and for that I am sorry. If I was smarter I might have some great conversation to recap. :) I did let a few cast members know that I would be coming back all week. I don't think that info really sunk in until they started seeing me at the door after every show! More on that later. After the crowd dissipated from the stage door, the night pretty much wrapped up. I was so wired from the show, I could barely sleep, but I had to, because I was going to do it all over again the next day! 

A few more pics:
My bag, all signed!
Adorable picture frame available at the show. $10, which is great, but it is made of cardboard, not plastic. Still, cute!
Simply delicious poster you get for free if you preorder the OBC album. $25 for the
album & poster. You walk away with the poster, but they will mail the album later.
Word on the street is late April. I tried to buy an extra poster without buying another
album, but they wouldn't let me. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Box Office & Newsies Final Dress

My new home away from home!
The first thing I did upon arrival was get my butt to the Nederlander Theatre to pick up all my tickets. The box office guys have the patience of saints, because I had 11 separate ticket orders they had to pull up one by one (four tickets were mailed to me for a total of 15 times I planned to see the show from open to close). Since 11 of my tickets were ordered during the presale, I also got 11 ticket vouchers for the Newsies messenger bag that was a special gift. Thankfully there were no other people waiting to be helped so I had some quality time with the adorable box office boys (who also happen to be from Florida - hi guys!). While I was in the lobby waiting for my stack of tickets to be printed, I could hear rehearsal going on. I arrived for the second half of Act 1, so I got to hear most of that, as well as Jeremy wailing Santa Fe through the doors. Emotional response - activate! It took about a half hour to get all my tickets sorted, but it was a wonderful half hour. The Newsies must have gotten a break during rehearsal, because I started seeing them coming in and out of the theatre. Lots of faces I recognized from Paper Mill, so I really felt like I was coming home to family. The cast, of course, had no idea who I was at that point, so I just smiled politely and let them go about their business as normal. 

Those are doors, for those of you who might not realize. I didn't.
After I had my tickets, I took some silly pictures with the Newsies advertising on the outside of the theatre. So fun, but I didn't realize those were doors, and at one point they swung open and into me as crew guys moved some stuff out and into a truck. My bad! No one got hurt, but it was pretty amusing. That night would be the Newsies' final dress rehearsal, which was going to have an invite-only audience. My plan was to somehow get in! 

My first night in the city, I was staying in a hotel right next door to the theatre, so as it got closer to final dress show time, I watched as the line began to grow and wrap around the block; full of excited faces, mostly friends and family of the cast. I will admit, I was a little embarrassed to stand outside and beg for tickets, so I didn't actually attempt it until most of the line had cleared and there were just handfuls of people standing outside the theatre waiting for their parties to arrive. I ran into Chris Gattelli, the choreographer, and we had a nice chat about the guys and how hard they have worked, and how the show is going to be wonderful. He didn't have any spare tickets, but getting to talk to him was prize enough for the evening. He also assured me that seeing the show the next night would be just as magical. 

Walking around Times Square since I couldn't weasel my way into
final dress rehearsal. 
Essentially, after waiting around a little while longer passed the point of the start of the show, my sister convinced me that I wasn't going to get in, so we moved on to walk around Times Square. I wasn't too crushed since I knew I was going to see it the next night, and for the rest of the week. Actually, in the first week of opening previews alone, I purchased a full price ticket for every single performance (a total of seven shows from March 15-19). At times, I was seeing the show twice a day. If the cast was going to do it that often, I was going to see it that often! I should mention that seeing a matinee and evening performance in the same day is exhausting, and I didn't even have to sing or dance. The fact that the cast and crew can do such a high energy show twice a day, multiple times a week is absolutely mind blowing. They deserve all the kudos in the world for the hard work they do. 

Walking around Times Square, my sister and I ended up being suckered into a comedy show. We followed some guy into a dark, scary basement where we spent the next hour or so watching mediocre comedians and sipping on overpriced drinks. About the time Newsies final dress was going to let out, I got a tweet from the lovely folks over at @Newsies, asking me to come to the theatre where they were interviewing fans. I guess my super-fangirliness was showing! My sister and I snuck out of the comedy show and raced back to the theatre. I met a bunch of wonderful  Disney folks - the friendly, smiling faces behind the Twitter account - who all seemed really impressed at my dedication to Newsies. They interviewed me and my sister about our excitement and what we were looking forward to in the show, though I'm pretty sure I did most of the talking, leaving my poor sister to just stand there while I babbled like a fangirl. That video hasn't seen the light of day, but if it does - trust that I will link it here so you all can laugh at my insanity. After the interview, that pretty much wrapped up the night for me. The travel day was catching up to me and I had to get some sleep. There would be more Newsies fun tomorrow for preview opening!