Monday, October 31, 2005

improv and boners, new york-style

Mom goes to New York twice a year for various conferences, and I take the train up to meet her so we can shop, take in shows and generally abuse her various expense accounts. This weekend was no exception. I occasionally feel mildly guilty for going to New York only to completely ignore the various museums and cultural opportunities outside of Broadway. However, when we stumble from the first of several West Village boutiques laden with bags full of clothes I cannot afford to buy with my own money, or emerge from yet another fantastic show, that's all gone and done with. Besides, we have a damn good time. I feel really lucky to be able to be friends with my parents... that's a rare thing.

Sometimes we pick clunker shows, but not this trip. Light in the Piazza was stunning. The music was lush, utterly gorgeous and more operatic than one usually hears in a Brodway show. They really got the lighting right, too-- there was one scene in particular that perfectly captured Florence, a few blocks I specifically remember on the east side of the city. As the cliche goes, writing about music is about as useful as dancing about architecture, so I'll just encourage you to go see it. It's at Lincoln Center, which I'd never been to before, so that was an extra treat.

The second show we saw, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, was beyond funny. Two solid hours of laughing. Of course, it didn't help matters that I unwittingly wound up as part of the show. It's a musical about a spelling bee (duh), and I had read reviews of it that mentioned audience members being pulled up to play spelling bee contestants. We got to the theater way too late to sign up for this, not that I (or my mother) ever would have. However, it turns out there's another part an audience member plays.

One of the characters is eliminated fairly early on due to... the distraction of hormones. Again, I knew this plot twist was coming from reviews. However, I didn't realize that his inspiration would be an audience member. Another actor had already pointed to our row to indicate his "family," but then this actor pointed right at me and said "Leaf, is that girl in the tube top sweater your sister?" Next thing I know, there's a spotlight on me, this actor is calling me "Marigold" and singing a song about how I gave him an "unfortunate erection." At one point he gave me a bunch of juice boxes. Bear in mind that this was a thrust stage in a U-shaped theater, so the entire audience had a truly fantastic view of me as he performed this hysterical number. You really had to be there. Of course I totally played along with it for the rest of the show-- I kept on winking and waving little waves, and blew him a big kiss at curtain call (he was no more than two feet from me at bows-- this is how close we were sitting).

We lingered outside the theater waiting for Kisha to meet us. I exchanged conspiratorial chitchat with the audience members who'd been pulled onstage to spell and was taking a photo for a large family from Indiana when the teenage son asked me "Hey, were you that tube top sweater girl?" I said yes, and he responded "Well, there goes your boyfriend."

Sure enough, the actor was walking out the front door with a group of friends. I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to do this, but I called out after him "Hey, you said you would call!"

He turned around and took a second to distinguish me from the creepyish people who usually wait outside Broadway stage doors. I took advantage of the pause to have more fun with him. "You men are all the same!" I yelled in mock bitterness. "What am I supposed to do now?!"

He broke out into a huge grin. "HEEL!" he shouted back. "You guys have a good time tonight?"

"We did!" I replied. "Thanks for a great show. You all were hilarious."

"Good!" He waved goodbye and disappeared down the street with his friends.

Mom and I waited a few more minutes for Kisha, but she never showed. My fault-- I'd left my cell in Washington and hadn't called her to confirm. We walked out to 50th and Broadway to get dessert and drinks, still laughing about the show and my brush with greatness. As we turned the corner, I heard someone yell behind me "GOODBYE, MARIGOLD!"

We turned around to see the actor half-leaning out of a cab idling on the corner. "I'll think of you always!" I cried back.

"I love you!" he shouted.

"I love you MORE!" I yelled back. He cracked up laughing and slammed the door of the cab, speeding past us towards Times Square.

Ten years of acting classes, kids. Knew they'd pay off someday. And, though I doubt I could ever live in New York, why I love visiting her.

Now the only question is, "Can I put 'Marigold Honeybear, Original Broadway Cast, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee' on my resume?"

1 comment:

jaimie said...

Nice blog. Just came across it randomly.