On November 14-16, 2008, I traveled with SVU to New York City to see two plays on Broadway. The whole group of SVU students saw Wicked on Friday night, and In the Heights on Saturday afternoon. Johanna Shiraki and I were able to see a third play, Gypsy, on Saturday night. I had an incredible time!
I was impressed by the uniqueness of the theatres on Broadway. There were varying degrees of opulence in the theatres as well as different views of the stage. The Richard Rogers theatre where I saw In the Heights had a steep mezzanine level and a great view of the whole stage. The St. James theatre where I saw Gypsy had a gradual incline on the Orchestra level, so even though my seat was close to the stage, my view was semi-obstructed by the people seated in front of me. My seat for Wicked was fabulous and I had a full view of the stage and sat house right about 10 feet over the stage.
There seemed to be a more formal atmosphere in the audience for the evening performances than the matinee. People were more dressed up, especially the drag queens in their sequins and mink. There was an excitement in the air and I felt like I was about to take part in something special. Each production was successful at making the world disappear during their performance. In two days I went to Oz, Washington Heights, and on the road with Rose and her troupe through the magic of theatre.
Wicked was the highlight of the trip. I had heard a little bit about the play before going to see it, but I fought the urge to research it before going to New York. I didn’t want to have any preconceived ideas or expectations. I was delighted by the story and identified with Elphaba on multiple levels. I loved the music! I especially liked the songs Popular, Defying Gravity, For Good, I’m Not That Girl, and As Long As You’re Mine. The cast had phenomenal voices and I have tremendous respect for the dedication they have to their craft. I would have purchased the Original Broadway Cast recording on the trip, but my budget was extremely limited. It would be wonderful if a DVD recording was made of the play. While a movie would be interesting; however, the play and the methods used to portray the magic on stage would be lost.
We took a backstage tour and had a question and answer session with the actors after seeing In the Heights. I wasn’t really interested, because I enjoy the magic from the audience. I took a few pictures during the tour with the stage lights on, but it really didn’t reflect the mood on stage during the performance. The play featured too much hip-hop music for my taste, but I enjoyed the salsa music and dancing. After two years of Spanish I understood a fair amount of the Spanish dialogue.
I enjoyed seeing Gypsy because it was an opportunity to see Patti LuPone perform. She won the Tony for her performance. It was marvelous. My favorite scene in the play featured the song Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick. I laughed out loud. The strippers were all older, sagging and washed up, not just lacking talent, so it was hilarious.
I am very glad I was able to go on this trip and watch true professionals at work. I am more in love with the theatre than ever before.