Something Not Rotten At All!

If you are a regular reader, you know I love Broadway musicals. For me, there is nothing like escaping from reality for three hours while a talented group of musicians and actors transports you to another world where people burst into spontaneous song and dance.

Some friends and I have been season ticket holders for the Broadway Series at a local theater for several years. We have seen great performances without needing to take the three hour train ride to New York City. Each year, we speculate about what shows might be featured in the coming season. As soon as we heard about Something Rotten! we put it on our list of “must sees” and hoped the tour would stop here. So we were all excited last year when it was announced that Something Rotten! would be part of this year’s offerings. I had hoped to see the show in New York City, but knew that wasn’t going to be possible once I broke my leg last year and travel became more difficult.

Because things have been very busy these past two months, and since I spent most of December withdrawn from the world due to my father’s death, I missed much of the publicity about the show. I also did not take any time to research the cast or read reviews, something I normally do. I knew the show would be funny, based on this sneak peek from the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That was all I really needed to know.

Since I did not pay attention to any of the pre-show press, I was surprised when I entered the theater and saw Adam Pascal’s name on the cast list. To say I have had a mild infatuation with Adam for more than twenty years is like saying some cats like catnip. Not sure who Adam Pascal is? Maybe you’ve heard of a little musical from the mid-1990’s called Rent? You know, the one with the the song upon which I based Thursday’s blog post? Yeah – that show! Adam was the original Roger. He’s since gone on to star in other shows, such as Aida, Memphis and Disaster!

Let me put aside my obsession feelings toward Adam and offer my opinion on the show. It was FUNNY! You don’t have to be a Broadway musical geek to enjoy the show. But if you are? You’ll love it! I tried to count the many musical and lyrical references to other musicals and gave up after thirteen. Cats, Evita, The Fantasticks, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Sweeny Todd, Rent, South Pacific, Annie – the list goes on and on. I know I missed things because I was laughing, which only makes me want to see it again. If the show is coming to your city, I recommend you go. Three hours of fun and laughter, song and dance, plus a hot man who can sing who struts around with his shirt open for part of the show! Who can’t use that right now?!

While I loved the show, the highlight of my day happened after the final curtain. Knowing we had time to wait before the bus home, I told my friends I was going to try to get to the stage door for an autograph. Believe it or not I have only waited at the stage door after a show once before – when my friend Lauren’s brother Matt Meigs was in town with the tour of Mary Poppins. (Matt is currently performing in Holiday Inn and you should absolutely go and see the show if you are in New York!)

I held back as the crowds cleared the lobby outside the stage door, scoping my best course of action. After a few minutes, it became clear who was still trying to get out of the theater and who was waiting for autographs. I stealthily rolled around the crowd, doing my best to avoid running over toes while gradually inching my way between people until I was at the front, to the right of the stage door. I was just in time because once I got into prime position, the door opened and the first cast member walked out.

I waited patiently, preserving my space by occasionally moving my feet from side to side so nobody stepped in front of me. Then Adam came out and was greeted with loud acclaim. I was the first person he saw before people started shoving Playbills in his face. He autographed Playbills for everyone, graciously accepting their compliments and posing for photos as he turned towards me. When it was my turn, I simply smiled and handed over my Playbill as he leaned over and said, “Let me take care of this young lady.” Swoon!

He continued to stand next to me, signing Playbills and taking photos, thanking everyone for coming. I told him there was no way I could move out of his way because of the crowd.  “Oh, no, don’t move. You’re helping to give me space!”

Who said a wheelchair wasn’t useful?! I totally played the disabled card to get to the door, and it worked! When he was done, I moved out of the center of the crowd, which gave him a path so he could get to other people. Free from the crush, I finally brought out my phone and asked for a photo – which is how this came to be.

Selfie of a white man with blond hair and goatee next to a white woman with glasses and brown hair. The pair are smiling and are back-lit by hallway fluorescent lights.

Sure, the lighting is not perfect. But I got a photo! This theater geek is a happy girl indeed.

Sometimes, when we meet the people we admire, we are disappointed because they don’t behave the way we think they will. Or, perhaps they are rushed for time or having a bad day and the encounter is not what we wished for. Yesterday, I had the best celebrity encounter I could have imagined. Adam was kind, generous, gracious and appeared genuinely appreciative of the fans who waited to meet him.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go listen to the Something Rotten! soundtrack yet again to see if I can catch more of those musical references. Feel free to stay and drool over that smile for as long as you like!

Turn It Off!

A local theater hosts a series of Broadway shows. My friends and I have purchased a subscription to the shows for the past five years. We have seen some great tours – Wicked, Billy Elliott, Newsies, The Lion King, Fiddler on the Roof, Mary Poppins, South Pacific and more. Yesterday we went to see Jersey Boys. I’ve seen the show before, but the music is fun to sing along with so I didn’t mind seeing it again.

What I did mind was hearing the extra musical “accompaniments” which happened during the show. Right in the middle of the quiet introduction to “A Sunday Kind of Love” I heard a recording of a dog barking. Then as the actors playing Frankie and Tommy moved to center stage, there was a shrill ringing. Two rows over, a piano began to play “Fur Elise” as Frankie started to sing “My Eyes Adored You.”

How hard is it to turn off your phone? Apparently, really difficult because this happens at every show, concert or play I attend. Every. Single. One. And not only does someone forget to silence or turn off their phone, but then when it rings it takes them forever to locate the phone to silence it. The rest of the audience gets to listen to them try to find their purse or dig around in their coat pocket while the noise continues. When this happens, I feel bad for the performers. If I am annoyed, I can only imagine how they feel. There are some great videos of annoyed actors who have interrupted performances to interact with audiences when cell phones have gone off in theaters. Hugh Jackman discusses his experiences with Katie Couric in this clip:

Cell phones are not new. I have owned a cell phone since 1993, back when Verizon was Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile. I know for a fact it takes approximately 1.8 seconds to make a phone silent or turn it off – maybe a full 3 seconds for the technologically impaired. The theaters even make an announcement before the show reminding patrons to silence their phones. And it’s written in the program. So why do we continue to hear these interruptions?

I have tried to think of valid reasons for keeping your cell phone on during a performance. Maybe you are a doctor and you are on call so you have to remain connected to the world in case of an emergency. Maybe your daughter is pregnant and due to go into labor at any moment. There might be reasons to keep your phone handy. Here are my suggestions on cell phone theater etiquette if you feel you are so important and your phone must stay on.

  1. Put it on vibrate.
  2. Then put the phone in your pocket or on your lap so you don’t have to disturb the entire theater while you look for it.
  3. If you must answer it, for heaven’s sake – leave the theater to answer the phone! Yesterday, the owner of the barking dog phone answered and talked to the caller as he left the theater.

A few months ago I saw a photo of a sign on Facebook. The sign read: Any audience member who disrupts the performance by not turning off their phone will be forced to come on stage and play the bassoon. I think that is a WONDERFUL idea! I played the bassoon in high school. Other than my friends Allison and Penny, who also played bassoon in our high school, I don’t know any bassoon players. Clearly the world needs more of them. If this helps rectify the shortage, what a win!

So, please, leave your phone on during the next theater performance or concert you attend. Help solve the bassoon player shortage. Or, turn it off and let the rest of us enjoy the show.

P.S. To those of you who will now be singing music from the musical The Book of Mormon all day because of the title of this post, you’re welcome for the ear worm.