Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Wall to Wall Broadway

I've been grading and sending out a steady stream of at-home puzzles, and still the pile never seems to shrink.

I took a break today to see a matinee of "The Philanthropist," a 1970 British play by Christopher Hampton. I couldn't get used to Matthew Broderick and Steven Weber with English accents, and the play got dull and overly talky during the second act. There was a small wordplay element (he anagrams!), but not enough to merit a special trip.

I should have gone to the ladies room at the theater or NYT (conveniently nearby), but figured I'd be home shortly. First, I wanted to stop off at Symphony Space for Wall to Wall Broadway, going on all day. I saw many Broadway musicals as a kid, sang along with the albums, and performed plays with our dolls using scripts from the library. As an adult, I've been less familiar with the music and performers, but thought there'd be enough here of interest.

I had been to at least one other Wall to Wall event, but the details are hazy. Pianos? Or was there singing? I remembered waiting on line outside and being admitted in shifts. This time, I arrived around 4:30, and was waved in through a side staircase. The orchestra looked packed, so I continued to the right balcony. The balconies are unusual, running along the side, 4 seats wide, with each seat a step down from its neighbor. The back row seat by the balcony railing (with a clear view to the stage) was empty and I grabbed it.

A producer was being interviewed (turned out it was Hal Prince, per AMNY's helpful live blog). After that, there was a break where I moved up to the same seat one row ahead. I still needed to go to the bathroom, but didn't want to give up the seat. I'd just have to last as long as possible.

Next was music from the Loesser family, starting with the haunting familiar music from "Hans Christian Andersen," followed by one of the highlights of the day, musicals in development. I was quite taken with Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler (working on an "Ever After" adaptation) who performed their own songs really well. Hear for yourself in this concert (click on Play this Performance). Another group previewed a musical based on Dan Savage's "The Kid."

Then came a parade of Broadway stars who were between their matinee and evening performances. Pretty nice. Sheldon Harnick and young Lin-Manuel Miranda of "In the Heights" exchanged raps. Then supposedly humorous songs that didn't always work.

There was a long break while a full orchestra set up for the next segment. I was going to have to go to the bathroom, or leave and go at home. It was getting so crowded the usher stopped people from entering my balcony, and the show was about to start so I asked the lady next to me to watch my stuff (coat and tote with nothing valuable), and dashed off to the ladies room, which was almost directly under us. Whew! The performance was starting so no line there.

Suitably refreshed, I could now enjoy the rest of the show. "Fiorello" was my first Broadway show, but I recognized nothing from the overture, which sounded very generic. Brian Stokes Mitchell did a phenomenal rendition of "Soliloquy" from "Carousel." "If I Loved You" made me teary (Broadway sometimes does that). "I Cain't Say No" from "Oklahoma" seemed un-PC. BD Wong did a tour-de-force playing several characters. More familiar and unfamiliar songs. I stayed to the end. It was just great, one of those only-in-New-York events. And it was free! But of course I donated something.

Now I can't get "Hola Lola" out of my head (encore on the Marcy/Zina concert link, which I also heard live).

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