Karmel Knocking Around on Broadway
Melissa and I both enjoy seeing shows. Our tastes are distinctly different. And she lets me know that. I like a lot of music but I am partial to country music and pop. She, on the other hand, loves the “hair bands” and heavy metal. I don’t hate that, but it’s not exactly my choice. Melissa, well, she can’t stand when I have the Prime Country station on Sirius Radio, the “twang” annoys her, and inevitably we listen to the 80’s channel when we are driving together.
So when I approached her about getting show tickets, and she said, “Why not get Rush tickets?” I thought…nah…I will get tickets for a Broadway show. I had no idea that “rush tickets” were not “Rush tickets.” I thought she meant the band. I didn’t know that she meant the “tickets that are usually sold at the theater’s box office on the day of the performance at a significantly discounted cost.” Until Melissa finally explained to me what they were, I was clueless. I have been to dozens of Broadway shows in my life, I know all about the TKTS booth in Times Square, but I had never heard of rush tickets. You learn something new every day.
We both love the theater, and the start of 2022 was the start of a string of over a dozen shows we’ve seen, nine of them on Broadway. And it seems like each of them was featuring a big star…or two. Well…at least they were supposed to.
To Kill a Mockingbird at The Shubert Theater on January 9, 2022
Understudies are often underappreciated. Especially when they are stepping in for the star of the show, a star who is recognized for other work that they have done. Melissa so badly wanted to see To Kill a Mockingbird, mostly because Greg Kinnear was going to be in the role of Atticus Finch. It was my Christmas present to her. So as Seinfeld fans can relate – think “What? No Bette Midler?” – Melissa said, “What? No Greg Kinnear?” Kinnear was stricken with Covid and Christopher Innvar (Who?) stepped in to play the role. Let me say that Innvar was fantastic in the role. But when you are showing up to see Bette Midler, you don’t want to see Gennice Graham. (If you are not a Seinfeld fan, Google her, and Google Christopher Innvar while you’re at it.)
Plaza Suite at The Hudson Theater on March 26, 2022
I have always been a huge Matthew Broderick fan, but I, not Melissa, felt dubious, at best, about Sarah Jessica Parker. There is something about her that just irritates me. But Parker’s performance won me over and they both showed their versatility as actors. It’s not too often that you get to see two superstars, who are married to each other, perform together, live on stage. The natural chemistry they obviously have in real life made it enjoyable to watch them feed off of each other in the classic Neil Simon comedy.
Macbeth at The Longacre Theater on April 23, 2022
Melissa and I had both always wanted to see Macbeth. And when I saw that Daniel Craig of James Bond fame was cast in the lead role, I was truly excited. Craig, along with Ruth Negga, who starred as Lady Macbeth, had a presence. They were up there, and I enjoyed seeing them. But I am not sure how good they were, but Melissa told me they were. No, I didn’t fall asleep. It’s just that I am not good with accents. And in a theater, during a performance, Melissa can’t do what she normally does which is decipher for me what the person is saying. I hate to say it, but Roger Moore is my favorite James Bond. That’s what I got out of this one.
Funny Girl at the August Wilson Theater on May 28, 2022
We were actually supposed to see Mr. Saturday Night but we got hit by Covid (not us) as Billy Crystal fell ill and the show was cancelled. So we took a shot and we were able to get tickets at the box office (no rush) for Funny Girl, a show we both had also always wanted to see. Although Beanie Feldstein had gotten mixed reviews as Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice character, she was actually really good. But Jane Lynch, who was always a riot playing opposite Charlie Sheen as his therapist on Two and a Half Men, was simply not believable at all as a person who was supposed to have that New York Jewish girl look, attitude, and sound. I kept waiting for Lynch to make me cackle, but she only made me cringe with second hand embarrassment as she struggled with trying to pass as a native New York Jew. Oy gevalt!
American Buffalo at the Circle in the Square Theater on July 2, 2022
With Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss in the Circle in the Square Theater…all we could think of is that it would be Erin’s worst nightmare as a stage manager. Scenery and props continuously strewn about, only to have to be re-set over and over again. For me it was a bit disconcerting seeing people all around the stage, with so much movement going on. Great performances by all three stars, especially Fishburne who is always a very imposing figure.
Mr. Saturday Night at The Nederlander Theater on August 27, 2022
Billy Crystal and David Paymer recreate the film in this musical stage version. After recovering from Covid earlier in the year, Billy Crystal does an unbelievable job showing how multi-dimensional he is. It’s more acceptable to see him aged in the film than it is to see him attempt to look younger on stage. The same for Paymer but it is obviously much more noticeable with Crystal. However, the energy he puts out there belies the age that you know he really is. Crystal is an outstanding performer and I have loved him since he played the role of Jody Dallas on Soap. It’s a shame that it took so long to bring the story to Broadway, but Crystal is a real gem. See what I did there?
A Beautiful Noise at The Broadhurst Theater on January 27, 2023
I knew all the words to all the songs. Melissa…didn’t. That says it all. No, wait, there’s more. I had seen the show Beautiful, about Carol King and her music. This show with a similar name, had a similar story. Person struggles to succeed. Person succeeds. Person’s marriage falls apart. Person becomes famous. Person’s life is in shambles. Person has everything they dreamed of, but is miserable. Quoting Melissa: “Waaaaaahhhhhh!” The performances were great, Will Swenson does a fantastic job as a young Neil Diamond. Of course, at the conclusion of the show, the cast remained on stage and the entire audience joined in singing Sweet Caroline. Melissa did too. She knew the words to that one. Waaaaaahhhhhh!
A Doll’s House at The Hudson Theater on March 11, 2023
Melissa wanted to see A Doll’s House because it is starring Jessica Chastain, who has starred in many films, a number of which have feminist themes. The show has been performed many times in so many different ways and so many different languages. And its theme was relevant when first performed in the late 1800’s and it is still very relevant today. But while American Buffalo would have irritated Erin as a stage manager, this new version of A Doll’s House would leave Nick – a super talented prop crafts artisan – without a job. The show was great, disturbing, and triggering for many in the audience, given the nature of the show. But there was no set. There was a stage, there were chairs, but that was pretty much it. As a matter of fact, for people who like a real twist, the ending gave you one. So for anyone who doesn’t want to have the surprise ending ruined for them, stop reading here. Everyone else, go down past the picture.
When Chastain’s character Nora is leaving her husband, she begins walking toward the rear of the stage and, suddenly, what appeared to be a wall, rises up, and opens up….ONTO THE STREET. THE REAL STREET. What appeared to be part of the set, because that is what you would expect, was actually, THE STREET OUTSIDE. There were cars, taxis, people walking by looking in…I mean…WHAT AN EXIT!
And I guess…That’s All Folks! For now, anyway. See ya in the footlights!