And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Thursday, April 15, 2004

My Adventures in the City

Tuesday night I got to have a great treat -- ten hours to myself, a trip to New York City, and great seats at a musical I've been waiting to see for almost three years. I went to see Assassins, by Stephen Sondheim. I first got to know the musical in college, when my best friends introduced me to Sondheim musicals and I became obsessed with them. Assassins never made it to Broadway the first time around (in 1991, I think), but they did produce a cast album, which I listened to with relish. The play basically strings together the stories of all the people who have tried to assassinate presidents of the United States, from John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln) to John Hinckley (Reagan) and including Leon Czolgocz (William McKinley (he "succeeded")), Charles Guiteau (Garfield (also a "success")), Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK), Giuseppe Zangara (FDR, when he was President-elect), and Sara Jane Moore and Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme (both attempted to kill Ford). I did that all from memory -- are you impressed?

Anyway, Assassins was supposed to come to Broadway in October 2001 with Neil Patrick Harris (you know, Doogie Howser) in one of the lead roles, and I was all hopped up about that way back then -- and then 9/11 happened, and somebody decided that maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea to stage a musical about killing presidents in that climate. And I've been waiting ever since. When I found out it was finally scheduled again, I snapped up a ticket to a preview, figuring that I didn't want to take a chance on it being cancelled before it even opened!

And it was so worth it! I loved the show, and loved seeing some of the story that happens between the songs. Almost all of the characters were as I pictured (except for Zangara, who was played by a very WASP-y accountant-y looking guy -- odd for the role of an illiterate Italian menial laborer). Neil Patrick Harris was actually phenomenal -- a great voice, great acting, and just an electricity that I didn't expect (I now have a crush on him). I was pleasantly surprised to see that James Barbour, who played a dreamy Rochester in the fairly short-lived Jane Eyre musical was also in the show, there were a lot of swoon-worthy moments. The woman who played Squeaky Fromme was pretty amazing too -- a very believable "dippy hippie"/follower of Charlie Manson. All in all, a great show. And another pretty exciting thing -- sitting three seats away from me, in the banquette section (like little couches), was Stephen Sondheim himself! Pretty cool! Although of course, I didn't have the presence of mind to ask for an autograph or anything.

The rest of the City visit was pretty fun, too. Despite a nasty drizzle/light rain, I did a lot of walking after taking the train in. I browsed the garment district and picked up some fabric for my proposed crazy quilt Indian fabric duvet cover project (it's only been in the works since Feb. 2003), all the while being hit on by a Bangladeshi man who was old enough to be my father, who decided I was so "nice" that he'd keep giving me discount after discount. I got hot dogs from the famed Gray's Papaya, since I actually happened to find it. I wandered through Macy's annual Flower Show (site of a nightmare Katie meltdown last year, so doing it alone was a nice change). I people-watched. I had some lousy Mexican food but a nice raspberry margarita at a restaurant with great atmosphere (does that make up for it? No, not really.). And then I had a little too much to drink when I decided to have a glass of wine at the show, only to find that they didn't sell wine by the glass, but by the 1/2 bottle (about 2 glasses). Apparently, I've become some kind of lightweight. I was fine until I got up to leave, and then I realized I was a bit tipsy -- and even embarrassed myself by breaking the wine glass. I'm still a bit mortified. Fortunately, by the time I got some coffee at Penn Station and sat on the train for the hour's ride back to my car, I was fine to drive.

The drive home provided some supreme irony, however. I was listening to the BBC World Report on NPR -- aside: What on earth is up with cricket??? I heard a report of a test series (I think?), where one team was 466 runs behind -- 466!! -- and then some bloke came on and said he thought they had a good chance of turning it around! I boggled. But anyway -- and there was a story on about how research has shown that listening to loud or fast music can impair one's driving. The researcher was saying, "Even a decrease in reaction time by 1/3 of a second can be fatal --" and a bunny jumped in front of my car on the highway. The poor thing didn't have a chance, since I was using cruise control and going about 65 mph. It was my very first roadkill, and I was sad, though not as distraught as I would have thought. I was quite bemused by the coincidence of the radio story, though.

So that's the story of my foray into the City. The kids did great without me, though Ian hasn't slept very well at night since (I mean, he's worse than the usual waking three times a night). I was so glad to have the opportunity to indulge, since my chances of seeing Broadway plays will probably decrease phenomenally when I live in Alabama.