Sunday, November 23, 2008

Curtain Up! Light the Lights!

Hello, darlings! Well, looks like I'm going to be recanting some statements today, folks. Lenora and I went to see Gypsy this afternoon. Side note: Lenora's older sister is the only person I've met who can keep up when I talk Broadway. Brava. But anyway. Our day began with a visit to Starbucks. Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I don't do Starbucks. I have no idea what the difference between "grande" and "tall" is. I don't drink coffee. I don't know how to pronounce the word "chai." So while I stood in the world's smallest Starbucks, surrounded by people who were ordering fast and furious at the counter, I amused myself by playing Spot the Tourists and Spot the Actors. I'm very good at both, but Spot the Tourists in more fun. And less creepy. And easier. But that's all beside the point. So after this little corporate encounter I decided to show Lenora the greatest store in the history of absolutely everything: Colony. They have every single piece of sheet music ever written, and it's all for ridiculously high prices. Fun. (And if you've never gone to Colony get up and go RIGHT NOW. 49th and Broadway. I'll wait.) Of course, this heavenly store is on the same block as my poor fated Spring, and seeing the theatre where I was having so much fun a mere six months ago once again viciously ripped open the already festering and gushing wound in my heart that the closing notice had left. Happy Exaggerate Outrageously Day.

So we scuttled over to the St. James Theatre, where we were informed that Patti LuPone would, in fact, be going on today. Damn it damn it damn it damn it damn it. As we settled into our wonderful aisle seats, I prepared myself to sit through another three hours of her snarling voice and oka acting. Since I had seen the show before, I knew that Patti first made her entrance by running down the right aisle. It so happened that we were now sitting next to this very aisle. Lenora and I, being the freaks that we are, obsessively watched the back door, waiting for Patti to make her secretive entrance. Confession: When she finally did, my heart started hammering. I am not and probably never will be a LuPone fan. But she's still a legend, and being in her presence was enough to make me freak out. But, let me tell ya, Patti wasn't looking too happy. I dared to glance at her twice, and she was scowling at the stage. I was afraid to look at her after that, for fear that if we made eye contact it would cause her to attack me with a hatchet. This is the woman who told the orchestra to shut up as she was accepting her second Tony. Just imagine what she would do to and unsuspecting, innocent little girl like me.

When she finally did stream down the aisle yelling, "Sing out, Louise!" I knew right away that this time was going to be different from the first time I had sat through Gypsy. I wasn't too fond of the show back in July. But it was different this time. It had evolved. It had gotten better. All that time ago, when I was such a wee inexperience theatre goer (remember, it's Exaggerate Outrageously Day), I thought that LuPone's performance was underdeveloped and amateurish, because it was exactly how any person off the street would behave. I didn't realize how incredibly hard it is to get that good. So I'm not denying that she has the acting chops. HOWEVER, I still can call her on her snarling dog voice. And I'm sticking by my theory that the real one to watch is Laura Benanti, who plays Louise, "the stripper." The one that stole the whole show was Marilyn Caskey, who played Electra, the stripper who's had too much electroshock therapy.

We hung around after the show. When one of the ushers (and, may I point out, the St. James has rather snippy ushers. If I want to unwrap my Twizzlers during Some People I'll do it, damn it!) came up to us to kick us out, I grew indignant and thundered, "Don't you know who I AM?" The poor usher shrank back in shame and said, "Oh, my God! You're the Incendiary Goat! Oh, God, I'm sorry! How could I not have recognized you?" Yeah, that's right, punk. Well, due to my celebrit-ay connections, and the fact that Lenora is related to one of the ushers, we were able to talk our way backstage. We went through several narrow, freezing hallways, past a few setpieces, and finally stood center stage. Trust me, it's not that great to see what Patti LuPone sees every night. The theatre isn't that big. I was tempted to go all Rose's Turn and scream out, "Here she is, boys! Here she is, world!" or perhaps sing a chorus of Together, Wherever We Go, but I was able to fight the demons and contain myself. You gotta admit, though, it woulda been pretty kickass to tell my grandkids that I performed Rose's Turn on the same stage as the legendary Patti LuPone. Of course, she wasn't actually ON the stage with me at that time, but I would leave that part out.

So we scuttled back through the hallways. We saw Boyd Gaines, who played Herbie. I heard someone yell out, "Bye, Boydie!" I turned around and oh my sweet Jesus it's the actress who plays Mazeppa, the trumpet-blasting stripper. Guess what her name is, guys. Guess. Lenora Nemetz. LENORA Nemetz. I'm not making that up. Lenora Nemetz is my new favorite human being. Best part: We exited through the stage door. There were crowds of people out there, and they all looked up expectantly when we walked out. Hello, darlings! Yes, it's me. No autographs, please. Life's good on the other side of the barricade.

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