Three days after the TONY Awards and I’m still recovering from all the happiness and the love and the theater and the happiness and the love… More so because of my chance to play audience member to the dress rehearsal! 16 Handles, which is only the best froyo to grace planet Earth with its presence, held a contest for three winners to win a pair of tickets each to the dress rehearsal if they could write a short entry on why they should win. I didn’t actually save a copy, but my entry went something like this:
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! I LOVE YOU 16 HANDLES! I’D DO ANYTHING! ME BROADWAY WANT!
Nah, guys, for real, it was much more eloquent than that. I made some witty Broadway puns, compared yogurt toppings to the Kinky Boots costume department, said they’d be my fairy godmother taking me to the ball… stuff like that. Plus, I mentioned LMezz and how wonderful y’all are.
Winners were announced on Thursday. I got the e-mail while at work and I was smiling like a crazy lady all day long. Then I made my sister and Norma fight to the death for the second ticket and after a brutally bloody battle (hair was ripped, skin was scratched, shoes were thrown) Norma won!
I was under the assumption that seats were first come, first serve, so of course I got to Radio City Music Hall about two hours early to find that there were only about fifteen people in line! SCORE! ORCHESTRA SEATS! Well, no, actually– seats were actually assigned. Sticking to our namesake, we were seated in the first mezz. And even though I got stuck in a useless line for two hours alone listening to other people brag about ‘hanging out’ with Hugh Jackman and Idina Menzel (psshhttt yeaahhh) I got to see a few cast members arrive at the theater and unload their sets and costumes.
I also got to enter the theater early and catch a quick pre-dress run of the opening number. And can we just take a minute to talk about how miraculous beautiful that opening number was?! It was big, it was hilarious, it was NPH at his very best. It was well-choreographed. It mixed Broadway-insider jokes with a healthy dose of, well, Mike Tyson. It had magic! (If someone can explain to me how that trick was done, I’ll love them forever.) But most of all, it was inspiring. It got to the heart of why Broadway and any celebration of the performing arts is vital to our culture. It gave hope to current and future struggling performers that their work can pay off.
At the same time, there were several jokes throughout the evening that gave us a grittier insight into the life of someone in the performing arts. The ‘TV Show’ number, the jokes about equity and sketchy insurance plans, it perhaps was meant to take a stab at depleting arts funding and the current instability of the arts field. Which was why it bothered me so much that presenters from long-running shows (like the Newsies boys, Guy/Girl, Mufasa/Simba) went unnamed throughout the evening. I mean, can we at least get a “And now, welcome (Actor’s Name) as Simba!” It’s not that hard. (The Craptacular writes pretty insightfully about this and points out as well that NO ONE would expect a well-known star like Alan Cumming or Scarlet Johanssen to present without a proper introduction.)
And speaking of presenters, apparently, showing up to dress rehearsal is optional. Bigger names, like Tom Hanks, ScarJo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Alan Cumming, Cuba Gooding Jr. (who subsequently flubbed his lines) didn’t show up. But Anna Kendrick did (and subsequently covered for Cuba), Sally Field and Jesse Eisenberg did. So did Zachary Quinto (in a brooding blaze of glory). Every time a presenter was announced, there was this suspenseful atmosphere– would the famous name actually walk out from backstage or would it just be a Theater Wing stand-in? It was actually kind of fun placing bets in the split second before the presenter walked out on whether the name would match the face. And oh the applause when it was actually them! And when Patti Lupone walked out in her sweatpants, and Bernadette Peters came out in flip-flops… it was glorious.
The nominees weren’t there either (unless they had to perform) and stand-ins were also used in their place. Winners were announced (with FOR THIS REHEARSAL ONLY stated before each one) and fake winners accepted awards along with fake speeches. It was pretty interesting to see what speeches the fake winners would actually come up with. Most went with the “You know, when I was a little girl…” or the “Broadway is magical because…” route. Tom Hank’s fake winner broke the cliches with “Please donate to my charity for children in Salzburg who have never seen The Sound of Music.”
All the performances were brilliant. It made me realize how much I’ve missed out on this season. I gotta get on Matilda like right now. It was also fascinating to see how staging works at an awards show and how much a good camera angle can hide while another performance is setting up or a presenter is moving around on stage. But can we just talk about Arthur Darvill and how amazing he is? You poor television broadcast-watchers only got to see half of his Once performance. We got to see the whole caboodle. (You can too here.) And Arthur, what a voice!
And then this happened:
It’s me in the cropped right hand section. Just take it for granted.
Let me tell you a story about why this photo is so important. Two Easters ago, the Doctor Who cast was filming in New York in Central Park. So if course, I stalked. Now, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are wonderful. I had previously met them when they premiered season five in New York along with head writer and evil torturer Steven Moffat. I even got a photo with Matt Smith. That was nice. But, this time around, I was set on getting a photo with Arthur. Anyone who has watched the Who knows that Rory Williams is probably the most perfect male character on television and all men should probably be him at some point in their lives. No pressure. And Arthur, while not as intense or keen an actor as Matt Smith or David Tennant, plays Rory with charm and great comedic timing.
So I waited an hour or two at Central Park while the cast filmed. There was a giant crowd of Who fans surrounding the set and the actors would not possibly be able to get pictures or sign autographs with everyone there. But lo! it appeared that Arthur had finished his scenes and was getting ready to leave. So Arthur and a few crew members slipped quickly away while Matt and Karen stayed behind to finish shooting. So I too quietly slipped away. While the other Who fans stayed watching the rest of the shoot. And I had the PERFECT opportunity to get my photo with Arthur. There were no fans around and all I’d need to do is ask nicely and get a quick shot before skipping away like a happy fangirl. But I didn’t. I chickened out. And as Arthur and the crew drove away, this incident became a metaphor for all the times in my life that I let opportunities pass me by. Womp Womp.
So when I exited Radio City Music Hall and I saw Arthur Darvill standing right in front of me taking a picture of Radio City Music Hall, it was like getting a second chance to redeem my life wrongs.