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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Give my regards to Broadway...

Well, yesterday was "Get in line four hours early and stand around waiting for the possibility of free theater tickets" day.

This, was, btw, a successful endeavor. If "A Chorus Line" is nirvana for theater addicts (and it is), the current production of "South Pacific" at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles is the Rapture. Holy crap is it ever good. Don't moan and think "Rodgers and Hammerstein 1950's schmaltz". This is compelling, it's real, it's as romantic as all get out and it's just plain beautiful to watch. And hear. Oh LORD, what sound. Instead of the standard 4 - 6 musicians with a synthesizer there are 25, count 'em, 25 musicians who play an individual instrument. A real instrument. As in a violin. NOT a box that makes a sound JUST like a violin but a violin. And there's a guy hitting a big, bass drum and someone plays a harp and there are real flutes and a conductor who stands in front of them and conducts.

Now, as for the stand by line...

Sorry, but I think it's time to start handing out quizzes. Simple questions with a hard line rule "If you get more than one wrong you have to leave".

Question #1: What are you here for? Please be specific.

---The answer should include the title of the show. If not, something that includes a performer's name, the composer or anything remotely related to the theater will be acceptable. Answers that include phrases like "I brought my camera 'cause I heard the cast of "The Hills" was coming," "I got off at the wrong stop and the next bus won't be here for 90 minutes" or "I heard your giving away something free" are NOT correct and are grounds for immediate expulsion from the stand by line.

Question #2: What sex was Ira Gershwin?

---Anything other than "Ira was George's BROTHER, what kind of a fool do you take me for?" will be considered wrong.

Question #3: What state is New York City in and why should you care?

---You're in a line for THEATER tickets, THAT'S why you should care. You don't have to LIKE the place but you really should have a vague idea of what Broadway IS.

Question #4: You have been instructed to "dress appropriately" for an Opening Night. What is the minimum length your pants should be?

---If your answer, either in words or in actual FACT(as in "Dude, I"m LOOKING at you") is anything shorter than "They should at least reach my ankles," sorry, but you won't be around to play Final Jeopardy!

Question #5: At what point during the performance is it acceptable to take calls on your cell?

---"You should wait until there's a quiet, meaningful conversation during the play itself. That way the person who just called me will be able to hear me and I won't have to shout to be heard over the noise from all those people singing "Hello, Dolly!" on the stage" will get you marched off the theater property, preferably by an usher who has taken hold of your ear. Said usher will also get to keep your car should you have parked in the theater parking structure.

See? Five simple questions. There are a few other rules of behavior which, I feel, can be enforced by specially hired security personnel, trained in voice and dance and bouncing. For example: If someone standing in the Opening Night Stand By line happens to win tickets to that night's performance in a raffle and you immediately run over to see where the tickets are located and then volunteer the information that you won tickets once and you couldn't see anything because they put you in the luge...well, don't expect to be sitting in the same theater I'm in. I can, of course, understand why you didn't see the show very well as you were flat on your back hurtling down an ice chute at Squaw Valley. My only regret is that I wasn't standing at the top of the run to give you a nice, flying start.

I suppose that could be question #6 though:

"What is the difference between a luge and the loge?"
--- The answer, of course, is "If you can't tell the difference between the Winter Olympics and "Oliver!" you don't belong in a theater let alone a ticket line."

Oh, and, now that you're seated? The INSTANT that all those people in the funny clothes up there on the stage start making so much noise that you're having trouble hearing the story your friend has been telling you about Aunt Gertrude and the ambulance driver, you probably need to leave anyway. Because, for one thing, all those people in your row are getting kind of stiff from sitting still and paying attention will relish the break when you block the view of the stage and we all have to stand up, fold our seats back and lean perilously into the cleavage of the lady seated behind us in order to give you enough space to get your picnic hamper, your Uncle Calvin, your over sized tote, your four children and your over sized ass into the side aisle and the blessed freedom from all those snotty "artsy fartsy theater snobs" who insist on turning around and staring at you because they really want to hear the end of your story.

In short, there's just way too much stuff to do in a town the size of Los Angeles without boredom driving you into the Opening Night stand by line.

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