Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Show Must Go On

Admittedly, I have an issue with plays. I think it stems from the fact that I like movies so much. I like movies, and a movie, in a worst case scenario, will set me back 14 dollars. Much more frequently it will cost 5. And not infrequently it will cost me zero. If I like it I can eventually procure my own copy of the movie. And if I really like the actors, director, writer etc I can follow their work to other movies ad infinitum.

When I go to a play, I get a similar experience to seeing a movie, with much more inconvenience and much higher a cost. It’s kind of neat that the people are there, acting in front of me, but it’s only kind of neat. Not $100 neat. And so, traditionally, Broadway is not my favorite part of the New York experience. It’s just not my scene. And I’d like to delude myself and say that I’m just as cultured as theatergoers, but perhaps I’m not.

But perhaps because I’m buying plane tickets left and right these days, the $26 rush ticket price of a play seems like a small sacrifice these days. So while I was in town for business, I made sure to hit up some shows.

First and least, Perfect Crime. I saw this play for a number of reasons. It’s a murder mystery about psychiatrists, so that’s a plus. They didn’t seem like particularly good psychiatrists, in any sense of the word, but that at least was a draw. It’s also the longest running play in NYC history, which is notable on its own. I suspected that its longevity was related to its quality, which I realize isn’t necessarily true. Oprah’s been on a long time. Even more notable than the longevity of the play is that the lead actress has been playing the role since 1987 and only missed 4 performances. Think about that for a minute. But, no offense to Catherine Russell, I don’t think this is necessary a good thing for the play. Literally every character in the play falls in love with her character, and I felt this would be more believable if she were 23 years younger. I may sound negative, but all in all it was an enjoyable play. It was frequently funny, always twisty and just generally a quality production. It just didn’t blow my mind, which happens relatively infrequently.

Next and not a play, I finally made it to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. On my last couple visits to NYC I’ve meant to make it to the theater. It’s an improve studio, whose most notable alumna is Amy Poehler. They had a tv show in the late 90s that was twisted, bizarre and awesome. Since seeing the show, I’ve wanted to see a live performance. I’d thought that Amy would be at the show, but instead Horatio Sanz was there. I was disappointed for no Poehler-love (I think she’s better at improve than sketch) but Horatio was actually quite funny. Bobby Moynihan was there as well (he’s another SNLer) and the rest of the crew were up and coming comedians. And they were hilarious. The longform improv of UCB is sometimes amazing to behold. I’d have a hard time ranking comedy acts as they’re all so different, but this was certainly one of the best I’ve seen.

Last and my favorite, Avenue Q. This was another one that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time. It even came to Columbus and I missed it. Stupid! Oh well. But I was back in NYC and I was not going to miss it this time. It took going to the ticket office on 2 different days and waiting in the cold for an hour (I’m pretty sure it didn’t get above 30 degrees during my whole trip) but I got my ticket. And it was a dang good time. The play is, shall we say, spicy. I think people hear song titles like If You Were Gay and The Internet is for Porn and think the show doesn’t have legitimate content, only shock. And although my theater experience is intentionally limited, this is one of my favorite plays. It has the spice, but is also innovatively funny, quite good musically and has a real, if not deep, story. In any case, I knew I liked it, I got to go, and indeed very much liked the experience.

And because I know I won’t have time to write another NYC blog post, here are some other tidbits:
- The UN building is pretty cool.
- The Met was closed when I went, so instead I went to Midtown Comics. It’s a famous comic book store. It was fun so I’m kind of glad the Met was closed.
- My sister and I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. I liked the museum in general (it was modern without being in your face LOOK HOW MODERN I AM) and the Burton exhibit in particular was great. It was completely jammed with people, with is less than ideal, but I guess comes with the territory. Props from movies, original sketches, personal history etc etc. If you’re a Burton fan, it’s definitely worth dealing with annoying crowds.
- I was going to write a post about Phoenix people v New York people (as I will almost certainly be moving to one or the other next year) but that will have to wait.
- I went to church, it was a smaller ward than I expected, but they seemed nice enough.

That’s it for now. I’m off to South Africa on Saturday. I have no concept as to how often I’ll have internet access over the last month, so you’ll just have to be flexible along with me.

Bon Voyage.
(Maybe I'll take pictures)

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