There were several things we really wanted to do while in New York City on that last trip. A visit with dear friends, dim sum in Chinatown, walk the High Line and, of course, a couple Broadway shows.
I am a theatre junkie and Dan has come to crave the Playbill almost as much as I do. While perusing the shows that were available the time we were in town I was stunned to see ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on the list. I admit, I don’t really follow what is happening on Broadway except for when we are going to have the opportunity to be there or when a play we have seen is going to make a Broadway debut. So, it was a big surprise to me to see my favorite book, adapted for the stage by my favorite playwright/screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin (insert girlish shriek here), with the amazing and talented Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. In my defense, it was still in previews so the buzz about it had not really built yet. Now I know that there had been talk for quite some time as Mr. Sorkin had received the rights from Harper Lee to do the play, but controversy had inevitably ensued. For an excellent article addressing that and more, check out Deadline.
I immediately got online and found tickets, bought my usual tickets in the back, had some weird message about it not going through, re-did the transaction, got two emails saying I had tickets which I didn’t open because it was about 2 in the morning at this point and I was keyboard drunk and went to bed. I tucked that little task in the “done” column and never checked to see if the tickets were really there, or if I had bought multiple sets. When we got to New York I looked for the tickets before setting out for the day because we were doing Ellis and Liberty Island then on to Broadway for the show. I was now acting like a responsible adult and making sure I had everything I needed for the day. And I had everything except…where the heck are the show tickets? I searched every email I could find and had no tickets. I went to my credit card statement and had no charge for tickets. DRAT! Nothing we could do, by the time I figured all this out we were on the ferry to Liberty Island and as far as I could tell there is no telephone number for the box office. I got online and tried repeatedly to buy tickets from a secondary market source but every time I got to the purchase screen the seats I was trying to buy were suddenly unavailable. The only ones I could find were over $600 and I just couldn’t make myself pull the trigger on that. I told Dan we would go straight from our tour to the box office and see what we could get.
Ellis and Liberty Island are not to be rushed. We spent the entire afternoon there and took the last ferry back. I was nervous, but it was the right thing to do. We rushed back to the subway and were lucky with getting trains right away back up to the theatre. Breathless and wet from a day of walking around in a driving rain I ran up to the ticket booth and somehow explained I thought I had tickets but didn’t and absolutely had to see the play that night. It was about 4:30. The very nice gentleman completely understood and said that he had $600 seats available. He saw our faces and said they had run out of rush seats already but had standing room tickets still available. We could barely stand at the ticket counter after doing Battery Park and the Statue tours, but we had a couple hours to recover so I asked him exactly how that worked. He told us that we would have assigned spots at the rail behind the Orchestra seats (those $600 seats) with a velvet padded cushion we could lean our arms on and it would only be one person deep, not a crowd of people trying to see. That sounded pretty good, so we shrugged and asked how much. $38…I think the tickets I had tried to buy were $120 and those were 2 stories above, in very uncomfortable seats! Yeah, we took them. And he thanked us!
We found an amazing place across the street for drinks and dinner, Dan was emphasizing the drinks part so he wouldn’t feel his feet for the 3 hours he would be standing for the play. It was a wonderful adventure all by itself, another blog perhaps. The standing room arrangement was amazing. We were right behind a small Orchestra seating area, but able to see above all the heads so we had a better view than they did.
It was comfortable to lean on and to be honest the production was so absolutely amazing that I would not have been able to stay in my seat for it anyway. Dan ran up to where I thought I had purchased tickets online and snapped this shot of what our view of the stage would have been. We won!
I’m going to resist turning theater critic here and just say that it was easily one of the top 3 theater experiences of my life, and we have had season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse for 20 years.
When it was over and I had found my breath again we dallied inside the theater and saw the cast gathering in the Orchestra seats for a post production meeting. I was dying to see if my idol Aaron Sorkin was there. Problem was, I am a horrible fan, I had very little idea what he looked like. So I am hanging back, frantically Googling pictures of him, trying not to be too obvious about peering into the dim theater to see if he is among the group gathered there. I think I spy him and we are politely urged to exit the theater.
Still on a theater high, which proved to last at least 3 days, we went out into the rain and decided we would wait by the cast exit to see if we could meet Jeff Daniels and possibly, way more exciting, Mr. Sorkin. We got to meet some great cast members most of whom were very gracious and clearly excited to be involved in the project and its clear success. I got to meet Jeff Daniels,
who may not have been feeling very well, not that it showed in his performance in any way. And then we waited. They took down the barriers, and we waited. The security dog left, and we waited. One other gal and us, Sorkin fans to our cold, wet cores. As we are chatting away, people would come out the door, we’d quickly look, it wasn’t him, they’d smile, we’d smile and we’d wait. Finally out comes a fellow with glasses and longish hair and I swooped! I gushed, I told him what a fan I was, how much I enjoyed his work and had to see tonight’s play and loved what he had done with it and OH MY GOD GIRL BREATHE!! And he said, thank you, by the way, my name is Bart.
OH MY GOD
He was so sweet. I was actually speaking with/gushing at the director of this fine play, Mr. Bartlett Sher. He let me continue on, after picking my jaw and dignity off the glittering streets of Broadway, and he and Dan and I must have talked for 20 minutes about the play, putting it together, previews, how he had worked at La Jolla Playhouse with Des McAnuff. All kinds of things, huddled under the eaves by the stage door of the Sam S. Shubert Theatre at 11:30 on a Monday night. What a gentleman.
As a very weak excuse, this is Aaron Sorkin, a picture grabbed of a TV screen.