Friday, April 08, 2011

Start spreading the news...

So the first four days I was back east with my sister, I spent in New York City goofing off. Quick trip highlights: Lincoln Center, the MoMA, shopping around Canal Street, meeting people in person that I've only known online, watching a Broadway-bound musical in previews, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and taking three different subway trains across town to find a place where I could watch General Conference. Whew.

Oh yeah, and also a rare film and a live performance both featuring Robin Williams on stage, on which I shall have more to say presently.

In addition to the MoMA, my sister and I went to visit the American Folk Art Museum, which is right next door. For a small space it has a lot to exhibit.

I'm kind of a geek for patchwork, so I gravitated toward the quilt displays -- everything from a traditional album quilt to Gees Bend-style primitive quilts to modern free-form quilt pieces.

On April 1, I had one of the signature peculiar experiences of the Internet age: meeting in person a group of people I've known only from online contact. First up was Linda, who runs the Robin Williams Fansite. I'm writing an article on the history of producing Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the USA, and it was research time, so we met at Lincoln Center to watch a rare video of Robin Williams and Steve Martin in a 1988 production of Godot. (It was well worth seeing, even with the last part of the first act apparently gone missing. It's a shame it's never been commercially released.) I never quite know what to say when I meet people for the first time, but Linda is very easy to get along with -- and it also certainly doesn't hurt that we have a similar sense of humor. So that went well. (Yay!)

Killed time shopping for most of the afternoon, until the time rolled around to meet the others from the fansite who would be going to see Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo that evening. We all repaired to an Irish pub for dinner, introduced ourselves, sat around yakking convivially and occasionally posing for photos. (Meh. Photos.)

When the time came we ambled back toward the Richard Rodgers Theatre, plunked ourselves down in various seats and watched the show. I think I'll save a full discussion of Bengal Tiger for another post, but suffice to say it was a vivid and thought-provoking if not entirely perfect play.

After the show Linda slipped backstage for a bit to talk to Mr. Williams, and I went out front to wait for everyone else to re-congregate. Hordes of people were clustered around the stage door, all waiting to get a glimpse of Big Famous Guy, so I stood back and waited. It was pretty easy to tell when Robin Williams emerged, even though I was too short to see what was going on, because the whole crowd erupted in noise, cameras came out and so forth.

I will freely admit that I don't understand the cult of celebrity. Yes, I am a member of a fansite, but I really don't see what people get out of the experience of biting and clawing their way to the front of the pack just so they can get someone's autograph. He's just a guy, people. Talented, certainly, but one assumes he puts his pants on one leg at a time. You couldn't prove it by that crowd, though. So I just stood back laughing at the mob antics until Mr. Williams had left the scene, and the crowd more or less instantly dispersed. Frankly, I felt sorry for the rest of the cast members who had all done excellent work, and who at most had half a dozen people come up to them and congratulate them.

Anyway, when Linda and the others arrived, we walked down to a 24-hour food court, mainly so we could sit and talk about the show. The other ladies were patient as I ran my mouth for something on the order of half an hour. (It's an unfortunate habit born of 1) nervousness and 2) the constitutional inability to keep an opinion to myself, I guess.) After a while we parted ways at Times Square and I rode the subway back to Julie's place.

Early the next morning, at the crack of dark, I got up and stumbled around blearily in the gloaming. Managed to shower and dress in that order (fortunately), then took the subway down to Battery Park, where I met up with Linda and Colleen to take the ferry out to Liberty Island. There was a considerable line and it took longer than we'd thought to get onto the boat...

...but as always, it was worth it. Call me a huge cornball, but I love this lady. She never ceases to inspire me. One of these days I'll have to finagle some tickets to go up to the crown.

We did not stop at Ellis Island this time, though I was delighted to discover that Colleen also had an ancestor who immigrated to the U.S. and was processed through Ellis. It's a surprisingly common aspect of American life -- having at least one relative who came through Ellis Island.

Back at Battery Park I had to bid the ladies adieu, so there were hugs all 'round and I set off to find my sister. We spent entirely too much time shopping for pants for me (cue Mission: Impossible theme song), had dinner, and I then dragged Julie to a preview performance of Catch Me If You Can, which probably will have opened on Broadway by the time you read this.

I'd seen the workshop version of Catch Me in Seattle in 2009 and was curious to see how the show had changed since then, and I have to say that with very few exceptions, the changes they made were for the better. They jettisoned the worst songs and replaced most of them with more upbeat numbers, restructured some scenes, switched around some lyrics, and did a better job of streamlining the show all the way through -- although, thanks to some changes in the libretto, the big show-stopping 11 o'clock number is now almost pointless. For the record, I really enjoyed it, though Julie did not.

Sunday was the LDS General Conference broadcast, and I wasn't entirely sure whether the local ward building would be broadcasting it, so I went looking for the stake center in the Upper East Side instead. Three subway trains and a few blocks walked on brand new high heels (ow) later, I was successful in my quest. It was awesome... well worth seeking out. I returned late that evening, having neglected to eat the whole day, and evilly stole a few homemade tacos from Julie's roommate Darcie (nom. Thanks, Darcie!). Then showered and fell into bed.

Next up: road trip!


Julie said...

I would like to state for the record that while I did not think Catch Me If You Can was the best show I've ever seen, I did enjoy it. I mean, it did have some great moments...

Soozcat said...

Hee. I was basing my assessment on what you said immediately after the show.