More of an adventure

‘Twas the day before the night before Christmas and seeing as I had the day off of work, I thought I would finally get around to posting an update.

Joseph came and went, oh so quickly like such shows tend to do. I don’t think I really had much of an emotional response to it until it was over, when I suddenly felt the loss of it all. I didn’t really get a chance to bond with this cast the way I have some others… perhaps we were all just too busy, or too aloof or something. All I know is that as we finished striking and people started saying their good-byes I all of a sudden felt the absence and regret for not having made more of it… I suppose this show had to end for me to properly appreciate it.

It’s one that I personally struggled with quite a bit, initially just with the mechanics of it (as the dancing and singing were both extremely challenging), but later more with the acting side. By the end of it I could do the choreography in my sleep, but was still fighting a constant, uphill battle with my portrayal of Potiphar and trying to make him both comic and believable. At the end of the day I feel like my performances were pretty uneven, and if I were to go by the audience responses (which I generally try to avoid, but in the end I suppose they have the final say), then they definitely ran the gamut. It was nervewracking, knowing that I was cast primarily for my acting and comedy skills and clearly not my singing and dancing skills, I felt all the more pressure to prove myself and demonstrate that whatever I lacked in the latter I could make up for in the former. You never want anyone to regret trusting you with a role.

It didn’t help matters that a cold was circulating around the cast and I naturally picked it up just in time for our final three shows. It’s been making itself at home in my chest and lungs since the beginning of the week, and it wound up impeding my performance a lot more than I’d hoped. Even little things I’d never anticipated, like bowing down with your head touching the ground for a minute or so is difficult when you can feel your sinuses draining towards your eyes the entire time. I got through it, though, and while perhaps not outstandingly I like to think I still kept it respectable.

I do think I’ll keep going back to Broadway Fit in the new year. It was great exercise and a relatively inexpensive way to keep improving at my stage movement, even if only marginally.

As if life wasn’t busy enough with work and Joseph, Elizabeth and I took a whirlwind trip to New York City with our travel buddies, Colin and Ashley (with whom we’d previously gone to Las Vegas). It was very much an impulsive splurge in response to a sale by Alaska Airlines where tickets from Seattle to NYC were $100 each direction, easily the lowest I’ve seen them in years. As a group, we decided it was too good an opportunity to pass on, especially with the shows currently on Broadway that we’d all wanted to see. We worked it so that we flew into Newark at midnight, were there for Tuesday and Wednesday (enough time to see two evening shows and one matinĂ©e) and then were gone the next morning.

It was less of a vacation and more of an adventure, as we were going on a shoestring budget, with no time to rest and the entire city to see. We dragged ourselves around the bulk of Manhattan both days, before schlepping back to the airport Howard Johnson’s in New Jersey, one of the trashiest and noisiest hotels I have stayed in but marginally functional as a base camp. Our primary targets were to see The Book of Mormon and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Book of Mormon had been such a notorious hit (it cleaned up at the Tony’s) that tickets were only available through “resellers” (basically scalpers with a legitimate-looking storefront), and cost us an arm and a leg. Elizabeth wanted to see How to Succeed because it was starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame), and it was a rare opportunity as he was leaving the show at the end of the month (along with John Larroquette, who piqued my interest).

Perhaps the biggest theatrical treat came in our third show, however. Elizabeth had wanted to see War Horse, but our contact for tickets didn’t come through for us. I jumped at the chance to see the original cast of Venus in Fur, a new play by David Ives, who is one of my favourite contemporary playwrights, but there were almost no cancellations at the box office. It happened that we were meandering around Times Square when someone noticed the marquee for Follies, a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical featuring Bernadette Peters. We figured a chance to see (living legend) Bernadette Peters was as worthwhile a way to spend our time on Broadway as anything, so we went to the box office and were relieved to discover they still had tickets. After some discussion we dished out the extra for tenth row orchestra seats, which as it turns out was probably the best decision we could have made for a show like that.

Despite my general familiarity with Sondheim I didn’t know Follies at all, and didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was probably the best show I’ve ever seen on Broadway. There were no weak links: all triple-threats, with some of the best singing, dancing and acting I’ve seen in my life. Bernadette may be the star, but she was hardly the stand-out, with all four of the leads just spectacular, and the rest of the ensemble knocking it out of the park. As the play went on we found ourselves increasingly dumbfounded as they would surprise us with something more impressive than anything we’d seen so far, and then proceed to top it with something new. I’m personally not used to seeing someone nail a passion-fueled, emotionally wrenching scene and then perform a song-and-dance number that rivals the best I’ve seen. We were told afterward that there were seven generations of Broadway performers on that stage, and it was truly a sight to behold.

Book of Mormon and How to Succeed were also a grand time, Book of Mormon in particular was hysterical and a real treat to get to see with the originating cast. They were great experiences, although I won’t remember being moved by them the way I was by Follies.

In other news, I turned 32 just four days ago. (It may not seem like a very significant age, but for computer scientists it’s a milestone.) Elizabeth surprised me with an overnight stay at the Willows Lodge, conveniently located in Woodinville, about a fifteen minute drive from us. Comparing it to the Howard Johnson we stayed at in Newark would be like comparing a Cadillac to a bicycle. We had a delightful time and (importantly) a relaxing time, with dinner at the Barking Frog that was some of the best food I’ve had in ages, hot-tubbing and jacuzzi time as well as just lying around and resting in a five-star environment. Unfortunately it was also when my cold started to kick in, so that was some unwelcome timing. It was still a great little retreat for both of us, though.

Now with the Christmas holiday around the corner, I finally have some time off, and we’ll be off to Florida in just a week. A welcome change, for sure!


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