Lame Adventure 417: Theater Karma

As much as I love theater, I hate the ticket prices. But, it is my passion so I try to see as many plays as I can for bottom dollar. Volunteer ushering off-Broadway plays has allowed me to see three of the last five Pulitzer prize winning shows for free. Unfortunately, Broadway does not allow volunteer ushers. About a week ago, Milton, sent me an email asking about The Realistic Joneses a 95 minute hit comedy written by Will Eno playing on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The poster features a dead squirrel lying atop a mailbox.

Eye catching poster.

Eye catching poster.

Milton wrote:

Milton: Are you interested in this?

Is grass green, is the pope Catholic, does New York stink in summer? Sign us up! Because we are both of modest means, we agreed that we would settle for balcony seats to the tune of $39 each. We’re not wild about seeing it from the proximity of Canada, but at least we’re getting to see it. The ticket seller asked:

Ticket seller: Can you handle climbing seventy-nine steps?

Me (thinking): Is this a test, should I be insulted, can she not see that I am the icon of fitness for my age demographic?

Me (answering): Yes, absolutely!

As soon as I spoke I imagined Milton screaming:

Milton: I’ve got to walk up seventy-nine fuckin’ steps?

We’re not seeing it for another month, so he has four weeks to prepare himself mentally and physically for this challenge.

As I walked past the Cort Theater, where a revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, was in previews, I noticed a sign on the door announcing the $37 rush ticket policy.

Head turning sign.

Head turning sign.

I asked the ticket seller how soon one should get in line for rush tickets for weekend performances.

Ticket seller: I’d say an hour would be fine. No one is aware of the rush policy yet. The sign was just posted today.

When that play was staged in London, where it also starred Radcliffe, it was a huge hit. The run sold out. Word travels fast in New York. I had seen this play five years ago off-Broadway for free when I ushered it. I loved it. It is a black comedy set in 1934 Inishmaan, an island in Ireland, where nothing much happens. Even the gossip is dull. One day a film crew arrives. That causes tremendous excitement, but no one is more excited than Billy, the cripple in the title, whose favorite pastimes are reading and staring at cows. It’s a tale packed with idiocy, cruelty, redemption and a lot of wit. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

I had a feeling that it would get rave reviews here and then I learned that it was opening this weekend, on Sunday. Once the raves pour in, getting weekend rush tickets might require getting in line several hours in advance. The weekends are when I power sleep. So Milton took sleep deprivation upon himself and got into the rush line this past Saturday at 8:52 in the morning waiting for the box office to open at 10 am. At 10:09 am, while I was deep in REM sleep, he emailed me that we got tickets to that evening’s final preview performance at 8 pm.

Cort marquee.

Cort marquee.

Our seats were in the center orchestra, row AA. That’s directly in front of the stage. We could almost eat the styrofoam painted to look like Inishmaan’s sea wall.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

I asked Milton what he thought the seats behind us cost.

Milton: $400.

As for the play itself, the story was as wonderful as I remembered. The supporting cast was brilliant. The way one actress repeatedly delivers the three-word line, “Not a word” blew what remains of Milton’s mind. Daniel Radcliffe was a far prettier Billy than Aaron Monaghan, who I thought was perfect in the role five years ago. Milton was impressed with Radcliffe’s gay male following in attendance, but he thought that Radcliffe was the weak link in the production. Yet, his star power guarantees box office sales. He is adequate in the role. To his credit, he doesn’t chew the scenery. Overall, we were entertained.

When we were leaving the theater, a woman who probably paid ten times what we paid for her ticket, found my iPhone. Unbeknownst to me, it had slipped out of my pocket and she noticed. Afterward, at a pub, the bartender bought us our second round of suds. Overall, it was an excellent night. The play opened on Sunday to the rave reviews I anticipated.

Bring on that dead squirrel!

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57 responses to “Lame Adventure 417: Theater Karma

  1. I thouroughly enjoyed this with the sense that you got much pleasure from writing it.

    Thanks for another night on the town.

    Ever,

    R.

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  2. As a suburbanite who rarely gets to the theatre I get so much vicarious pleasure from reading your cultural adventures. Can’t wait to learn about the dead squirrel!

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    • Dorothy, the dead squirrel play looks like a winner to me but from where we’ll be sitting it will be a lot like from a squirrel’s eye view from a very tall tree. Hopefully, Milton’s vertigo won’t kick in. Then, terror will be included with the comedy.

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  3. Many wins here …. Getting to see a play that you enjoyed in the past … the revival was good (not a let down), Milton stood in line to get the tickets, and you got to sleep!

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  4. Sometimes the pieces all fall into place. Your karma must have been good lately.

    Dead squirrels on mailboxes has my mind occupied in odd ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is very true that we’ve had good karma lately, Jim. I like to think that it offsets the many years of my being paid little more than a potato and health insurance. If one must have a dead squirrel associated with one’s mailbox, it seems best to find it lying in repose on top than inside. But I’m funny that way. To each his own. Possibly there is someone out there who would prefer their squirrel surprise inside.

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  5. Thanks for the great review, V! Sounds like it was a win-win. I love your theater posts. I read the NYT review – maybe those of us who don’t get to see plays on Broadway very often will at least get to see it in our local movie theater…

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    • Glad you liked the post, Cathy. I’m not sure if this one will be filmed. If an Irish touring company ever visits Fort Collins and stages it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. That’s a big endorsement from me since I find so many shows disappointing, and those usually just rate another section of my liver at whatever watering hole I visit afterward.

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  6. What fun!! I just read about this play. I would love to see it, Radcliffe, and the Styrofoam up close and personal.

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  7. That’s a great price for up-front seats. I swear, if I lived in New York, I’d be there with you. As for the other show and the balcony seats–maybe you will be able to see Russia from there! Thank God you’ve been spinning!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • You’ve got that right about the price, Kathy. We did find that sea wall lurking over our heads daunting, but once the play started, we adapted and fortunately, it wasn’t an obstruction. I also find that when a show is highly entertaining, I get so absorbed, I become oblivious to everyone and everything around me unless Milton emits one of his legendary “this is sheer torture” sighs. Generally, when that happens, we’re sighing in tandem.

      As for spinning and stair-climbing, I was so out of shape a year ago, Milton might have had to scrape me off stair 15.

      Hugs back from the Apple,
      V

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  8. Score on The Cripple of Inishmaan, and on getting your iPhone back. You just avoided everyone’s worst nightmare. Let us know how it goes with the Joneses. When I’m really far from the stage and can’t make out people’s faces, I like to imagine that the actors are all stand-ins. How about packing a telescope? (too subtle?) Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny you mention a telescope, Terri, because it’s an object that’s a running joke in the play! Years ago, I think Milton may have once brought binoculars to a show, but generally we just squint and bear it. I finally did get new glasses this year and they’ve such a difference in my life. I’ve told Milton that I wish I could re-watch every film and play I’ve seen in the past five years.

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  9. Great experience. It is a shame, a cultural crime, that New York Broadway theatre prices are out of reach of most people who used to form the best audiences in the past. I remember going to plays in NY from when I was five to fifteen years old. My uncle acted in some of them.Those were the days when one dressed for the theatre; it was an occasion to be honored. I feel sorry for the students who used to be able to attend for free or very low- priced tickets.

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    • Many of our fellow rush seat theatergoers were well under age 30, so they got the memo about rush seats. In addition, many theater companies offer excellent deals for the younger generation such as $20 tickets. They know they have to cultivate the millennials and they’re heeding the call. Casting Daniel Radcliffe in the lead also has wide younger audience appeal. When my teenaged niece visited New York three years ago, she made a bee-line to see him in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. Of course, her wheeler-dealer aunt also knew how to get her a good seat for bottom dollar. I’m rather relieved that few dress up to attend the theater anymore. I’d rather invest the funds I’d have to pour into less lousy looking clothes into tickets.

      Hey thanks for commenting and for visiting!

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  10. Sounds as if theater night was wonderful, V. And seeing that kind of play for next to nothing must have made it even more wonderful. I look forward to your review of the dead squirrel play as it sounds quite divine.

    P.S. (glad that lady found your iPhone or this would’ve been an entirely different post).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brig, I had no idea that I had dropped my phone. That woman was my hero. Afterward, when we noticed that our bar tab was half of what it should have been, for a beat we thought do we keep our pie holes shut about the error? Then we reasoned that maybe because we’re both honest by nature, that was why I didn’t lose my iPhone. When we fessed up about the error and the bartender said the second round was on her, we were thrilled. Milton left a very generous tip.

      It was an excellent evening. We’re psyched about seeing the dead squirrel play next month.

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  11. Is Michael C. Hall taking over in The Realistic Joneses?

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  12. Close call on the iPhone, but even that might have been a decent sacrifice for such a great score.. well, maybe not. Anyway, glad you had such great seats. I know my mood improves significantly knowing that I am surrounded by people who paid ten times what I did for the same thing.

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    • Losing my iPhone would have been equal to losing my mind, Jen, considering that Verizon gave it to me last summer to the tune of a $30 upgrade fee. Yeah, I got it free so its loss would have been real rough. No more theater-going for me until 2015. I was so happy, I could have kissed that woman on the lips, but I controlled myself and thanked her profusely. Yes, there is an element of immense satisfaction to paying less, especially when you can’t afford to pay more.

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  13. I’d say you scored pretty well this weekend.

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  14. Yay for you! Now that I’m getting the Times delivered, I read all about these productions so I am green, kelly green with envy!

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  15. How cool to see the show with such good seats. I guess waiting in line was worth it. I must get my theater dose from you as I haven’t seen a show (or been out!) in ages. How fun! It sounds like fun was had by all, even Milton! Say hello to Milton for me, will you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy, if we sat any closer Milton and I would have been on top of Daniel Radcliffe. Since Milton did all the work of waiting on line at the crack of dawn this time, I just freeloaded. It was a super sweet deal for me. When I see Milton mid-week, I will definitely say hello to him for you, but even though he is a phantom who rarely comments, he is very aware of what’s going on in Lame Adventures.

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  16. Never imagine the extra benefits of going to a show is the workout. But glad Milton found those AA seats and that you both had enjoyed yourself, and, regaining trust in your fellow New Yorkers. BTW, the last time I was in NYC I watched a Broadway musical with my then very young son, Beauty and the Beast. Yes, I still have the T-shirt, so I know the exact year, 1994. I sure hope to go back one of these days, or years…

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    • A new Disney musical is on Broadway now, Arti, Aladdin. I intend to skip it as I’ve skipped all Disney musicals on Broadway including the Julie Taymor-directed The Lion King which is supposed to be terrific. If I had a kid in my life, I am sure it would be a very different story. Wicked is another giant hit with kids. Milton scored a rush ticket to that one on his 50th birthday a few years ago. He was the biggest and oldest kid in that front row seat. He told me that if he had seen it as a tyke, he would have gone out of his mind, but he seemed to have had a very good time watching it in mid-life. I do hope some day you will make it back to NYC. I think you’d still enjoy seeing a show on the great white way. The sets on Cripple of Inishmaan were very impressive, as was the entire production.

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      • LA,

        My son is now 24. As a matter of fact, he’s planning to visit NYC this summer. This time, not with his mom, but his girlfriend. Oh, the circle of life. BTW, I was only interested in just one Broadway Disney, and that’s B&B, my favourite. But I’d love to see a play in a NYC theatre… next time.

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  17. Well done on your bargain, LA! The play must have had rave reviews, as they reached our news here the other day!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have friends at work who are volunteer ushers from time to time. They’ve sat through amazing performances and doozies. I’ll have to clue them into the rush policy tickets, but I’m sure it won’t be long before word gets out and the lines will be around the block.
    It’s a good thing that you turned your clothes rack into a stationary bicycle. Now you can climb up all those stairs. I’m a little worried about Milton though. You may have to carry him sherpa-style.
    Glad you got your phone back.

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    • Whoa, me carrying Milton up 79 steps would definitely be theater, Jackie! Theater of the absurd!

      That dual purpose spin bike has been a miracle machine, but it still makes a great clothes rack the rest of the time.

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  19. Now I’m disappointed that I didn’t see the show when it was in London. I always have high hopes of seeing more shows but then I get lazy or distracted and then find out they have closed. Love the dead squirrel poster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If Milton and I lived in London like you, TB, we’d practically be residents of the West End. Possibly my impression is false, but I don’t think your ticket prices are as stratospheric as ours. In addition, UK theatergoers are not applauding fools like Americans. Milton has long believed that there are paid clappers in Broadway audiences. Inevitably, whenever the star of the show, especially someone with a high profile, sets foot on the boards, loons in the audience will have a clapping frenzy. Milton and I do not partake in this pandering, but if we were paid, hell, we’d scream cheer and throw our underwear at them, even if it was 86-year-old Estelle Parsons who’s currently starring in The Velocity of Autumn.

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  20. This is what I miss! I so enjoyed reading this and so want a trip to New York, if for no other reason than to spend an outrageous amount of money for an evening at of theater.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. CrazyGuyinThailand

    COOL

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  22. Oooh, color me jealous – I really love that play (I probably *would* have chewed on the scenery in excitement, chicken-flavored or no). Hope your next theater endeavor is worth the 79 steps!

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  23. I am so pleased that both you and Radcliffe chose not to bite down on the scenery. Things might have taken a different turn then!

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  24. Dude … this sounds awesome. I had no idea about these so-called rush tickets. That would rock my world here in California. I’m glad that you and your partner in crime could enjoy $400 seats for the price I pay to fill my gas tank half way 🙂 And that poster of the squirrel is definitely worth walking up 79 steps. I can only imagine how funny the play will be … tell Milton … Giddy up! 🙂

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  25. Given that the set is supposed to look like Ireland, it’s not surprising that it wouldn’t taste like chicken. Probably a little more like whiskey and potatoes.

    It sounds like you guys had a fun evening. I always have fun at the theater (but it occurs to me now that I haven’t seen a live performance of anything other than music in over five years!). Given the live nature of the performance, I tend to judge the theater much differently than I do films, which have all the time in the world to get it right.

    I’m glad to hear Radcliffe was competent. It sounds like his celebrity status didn’t unbalance the play. He doesn’t get nude in this one, does he? It’s funny, I don’t care for nudie bars a bit, but I find on-stage nudity to be thrilling.

    I’ve had the opportunity to see a few big talents in plays–Martin Landau in “Dracula” (although this was probably at the lowest point of his career; the performance was in Tacoma, Washington), and a bunch of B-listers (Gary Sandy from WKRP, Jean Stapleton from All in the Family, Marion Ross from Happy Days, Larry Storch of F-Troop fame and maybe–I’m not sure about this one–the guy who played “Barnabus” in Dark Shadows) in a delightful production of “Arsenic & Old Lace.”

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    • Smak, you’re back! Great to hear from you, buddy! If Milton knew that set tasted like whiskey and potatoes, he definitely would have chowed down on it — but after the curtain fell. So much can go wrong in theater since it’s live. I find it exhilarating. Film, if done right, is so polished and its rife with all kinds of special effects. I enjoy watching movies immensely, but they excite me in a different way than the stage. Radcliffe stayed clad throughout this one. We did see him full frontal in Equus a few years back. Eh. But I admire the fact that he’s such a team player on the boards. I would not be surprised if he’s an okay chap in Real Life.

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