In a series of happy accidents, I found myself catching not one or two live theater productions recently, but four Broadway-caliber shows within a matter of days (two of them actually on Broadway).
It started with a pair of tickets to Hamilton here in Chicago, tickets I’d purchased in March of this year and had all but forgotten about until September when I had to confirm they weren’t for a weekend during the Festival. Thankfully, they were for the Saturday immediately after, meaning the Universe did me a massive solid in rewarding a lot of hard work with a very awesome evening. What’s more, I got to take my kid brother with me. He’d read the companion book for a school project, so he was game to check out the real thing. What’s more, he’d never been to a professional production like this, so sharing that experience with him…priceless.
The next episode of scheduling serendipity was also a bit of a snafu, but it all worked out in the end. As soon as I saw that Fun Home was making it’s way to Chicago, I knew I wanted to snag tickets. I was living in New York when it opened on Broadway, and (as this was pre-Hamilton days) it was such a hit I decided to hold off on getting tickets until some of the buzz (and the prices) died down. Fast forward to the show closing after just over a year and, you know, my moving to Chicago. Now making the rounds on its first US tour, the show was only in town for two weeks and my availability was limited, so an aunt and I ended up snagging a couple tickets the same night as the Festival’s staff party. Though I was sad to leave the gang, the show proved as moving as I expected.
Just days later, I was on a plane bound for LaGuardia and a weekend away in my favorite city in the world. I’d looked ahead at my theater options (no need to see Hamilton this time!); it’s one of the main things I’ve missed about living there: the thrill of being on the scene when a new show opens, snagging tickets any given night. Catching the new production of Cats was high on my list, if only for the nostalgia factor. It was the first show I ever saw (I think I was like…seven?), and despite the absurdity of people dressed as cats leaping through the air and belting out ballads, I truly love the music and message. Rather than splurge ahead of time, I decided to take my chances day-of at the box office. Sure enough, the nice young woman behind the glass arranged a great deal on a first-row balcony seat. It was as campy and as wonderful as I remembered.
The last of the four shows in this run of productions was one I hadn’t originally sought out. When I let a friend know I was coming into town, he pointed out that Waitress was hosting a special Monday night show with audience karaoke hosted by none other than Sara Bareilles. Based on the film, the stage production is charming and heartwarming, and it’s been holding its own on Broadway since it opened in April. The post-show to-do sold me on getting tickets to this one, and the timing couldn’t have been better. On the eve of what ended up being quite a horrible election day, being in this theater filled with love and good vibes and great music (and an impromptu performance of Brave) was exactly what I needed to cap off an already amazing week of theatrical experiences.
Like the films I watch, I keep a running list of the shows I see throughout the year. I like to be able to look back, to see in one place the experiences I’ve collected. Before these last couple of weeks, my 2016 list was looking fairly slim (albeit with the crown jewel on there); turns out, all it takes is coming out the other side of a film festival and one trip to New York to get that list filled out.