Usually on this blog I try to write about events you, too, could attend, or places you, too, could go here in NYC. But every once in a while the fact that I write this blog gets me an invite to an event I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to go to, and then I get to share it with you so you can live vicariously. Last Monday was one of those times, when I was invited to go to the Creative Alternatives of New York (CANY) gala at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
I’ve been meaning to see Matilda on Broadway for ages, but I only got around to it a few weeks ago. It was a no-brainer that I’d see it eventually. I loved the book as a kid – what book-loving kid didn’t love Matilda and all her books, not to mention her telekinetic powers? But while I’d heard it was a fun, I didn’t have an urgent need to see it, and I figured it’d run long enough that I’d get around to it.
I was talking about theater versus television and movies the other day with coworkers and I mentioned that while I usually want my movies and TV shows (and books!) to be fun and relaxing, I don’t mind it if the theater productions I see are more challenging. I joked that it’s because I usually live with a book or a show for longer than the two or three hours it takes to see a show, but there’s another reason. I mostly consume books, TV shows, and movies alone, but I almost always go to the theater with friends. When you see something that challenges you, it helps to have someone to process it with. On Saturday I went to see the new musical Allegiance alone, but I had already talked about it with a number of people and was meeting a friend who’d already seen it for drinks afterward.
You always remember your first time, isn’t that the phrase? I’ll never forget the first time I saw Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele having fake sex at the end of act one of Spring Awakening in January 2007. It was the first Broadway show one of my best friends and I saw together. (Most recently we saw Hamilton at the Public together.) She was a similarly theater-obsessed college freshman who had suggested we get tickets to see this new show that would go on to win the Tony that spring.
Fast forward eight plus years and there’s a revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway for a limited engagement. Clearly I needed to go. And just as clearly I should take my best friend when she comes later this month for five days of theater and hangout time. But said best friend was extremely understanding when I got an email (man, signing up for an email list paid off!) about discounted tickets. We’re still hoping to go when she’s here – because it’s so good, I’d see it again.
So a couple weeks ago my friend and I were in the mood to see a show – we didn’t really care which show, as long as it was pretty cheap. We started talking about it on Wednesday night and bought our tickets on Thursday night… for Friday night. Spontaneous planning is not often my thing, but it worked this time: We used my HIPTIX Gold membership with Roundabout Theatre Company to get us two $25 floor seats to the Harold Pinter play, Old Times.
If you glanced back up at the subject for this post you have already realized that this is not a review for that play, because my two-line review would be, “Wow, that play was really weird – I’m glad it was only 65 minutes long. I still have no idea what actually happened.” So instead of trying to explain this play to you, I want to tell you about the gorgeous place my friend suggested we go afterward, where we spent a solid hour and a half discussing the play and trying to decide what it was about: Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or have talked to me in real life, you know that I’ve been a tiny bit obsessed with a new musical called Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also stars in the show as Alexander Hamilton. The show’s premise? The life (and death) of founding father Alexander Hamilton, told through a variety of musical styles (from Broadway to hip-hop, with a whole lot of other influences and a ton of references), performed by a diverse cast.
If you live here in NYC, Hamilton has become ubiquitous — everyone is talking about it. The show ran at the Public Theater, off-Broadway, this winter into spring, and opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater this summer. I bought tickets to see the show at the Public way back in December, and in early March, just before seeing it, I bought tickets to see it on Broadway in August. All of us who have been following the show knew before we saw it that something special was happening here.