Well, I'm back from NYC, and my theatre addiction is somewhat mollified.
Our trip was fantastic! Dad scored us a fabulous hotel room that was literally on Times Square. It was great to be able to stop by during the day to drop stuff off as needed.
In addition to seeing the plays I listed before, we also did the Museum of Natural History (the Hayden Sphere exhibit was quite fun), the new MOMA, and some general wandering around. On Sunday, before our flight, we went downtown to the Greenwich area and wandered. To my utter contentment, we also went to the Strand bookstore, a great new/used/hard-to-find bookstore (I bought 7 books there) and to a drama bookstore closer to the Theatre District (4 books). Mmm... two bookstores in two hours - delicious!
As for the shows:
"The Musical of Musicals: The Musical" was hysterical, but you definitely had to be a musical-buff to enjoy it, I think. There were some references even I didn't get (mostly the Jerry Herman section. All I really know by him is "Hello, Dolly!".) The theater is was in was dang awesome, too. It was in a below-ground converted movie theater complex - five theaters ranging in size from about 200 seats - 500 seats. The whole thing was done in concrete and steel with ornate lime green and gold accents. A live-theater complex - oh the possibilities!
"Shockheaded Peter" was my favorite show of the weekend. Unfortunately, it was only about 2/3 full (I think it freaks people out). The theatrics, the use of puppets, the timing and playing with the audience was all excellent. I think I learned more watching this show than I would have at any teacher's conference (thereby justifying my taking a day of "professional development") to go on this trip. I recommend this show to anyone going to NY in the near future, although it doesn't look like it will be around for long.
It also made me wish that the Tony's would open up to nominees from off-Broadway as well. Some of those shows deserve the publicity, and the costuming of "Peter" was definitely comparable to any of the shows running on Broadway, let alone the other elements of the show. "Best Musical"? Probably not. The most innovative and stylish piece of theater I've seen in a long while? Definitely.
"Monty Python's Spamalot" was our original purpose for this trip. We actually bought the tickets back in January and even so were up in the nosebleeds. A stroke of luck - my friend (I should add quotes to that to pacify my students) Jason decided to join us in NY at the last moment, so we bought a ticket for this show from a scalper. It turned out to be in the row behind us, two seats over. Cool, huh?
The show was hysterical - very silly and flashy and fun. It's nice to see the musical comedy lording over the Lloyd Weber mega-shows. The most interesting part of the experience for me was seeing a show with an entire audience who had most of it memorized. I am used to seeing shows that I already know (probably 95% of the shows I see I have all of the music memorized beforehand), but here the actors only had to say the opening sentence of a bit ("Old woman!"), or in some cases, simply walk out on stage, and the audience would erupt in applause and cheers. The worst of it was when they sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" - there were many whistlers in the house. They anticipated this, though, and the bows included a sing-along to the song.
After the show, I did the cheesy thing and got some autographs. Sure, I had to explain to my students exactly who was David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry, and Hank Azaria and why their signatures are cool ("Who, Tim Curry? Jim Carey would have been cooler" I was told several times.) It was also pouring rain, at the time, which is why my poster is slightly waterlogged and why Tim Curry wound up signing my chest. (Hee!)
(Okay, not really. I just held the poster against my chest to give him a surface to write on. Still, my statement is not entirely inaccurate.... :) )
I look forward to seeing the Tony's (June 5th on CBS). I also look forward to going back. I still want to see "Wicked", and I don't want to see the reduced touring version. Perhaps this summer....
For now, adieu!