Monday, September 22, 2008

Young Frankenstein & Fire & Delays. What a Great Night.

Thursday morning I receive a text from a friend in town interviewing for jobs. Suzanne asks I want to attend a Broadway show that night, and I tell her it has to be cheap. Then I get one back saying it’s her treat since she already bought the tickets.

Young Frankenstein. 8 o’clock.

One’s first Broadway show is a bit overwhelming. I’m not sure where the theatre is or what to wear. My roommate Allison (who works in fashion) suggests shirt and tie, but no coat. I arrive at the theatre to find I’m a bit overdressed compared to the rest of the crowd. However, I’m fine with this. It’s theatre. One should dress up. I wore a suit to the Shakespeare Festival back in Alabama, so Broadway should warrant at least a tie, no matter where you call home. At least I’m looking like a slack jawed yokel like the guy next to me. Shorts? Sneakers? Jersey? And the rest of the country looks down on Southerners. At least I can tie a tie.

Once settled into our seats, we begin the wait for the show. Someone comes out on stage and informs us they are having computer problems and asks for 10 minutes. Suzanne and continue chatting, sometimes with a thick New York accent sporting woman next to us. The same man comes out and asks for 10 or 15 more minutes. A transformer on the street is causing problems.

During this wait, Suzanne and I are asked a question you never want to hear in a theatre: “Does it smell like something is burning?” our neighbor asks us. Unfortunately, it does. The fire alarms do go off temporarily. (Cue “yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” joke.) Suzanne then notices the theatre is smoky. No one is leaving, so we don’t either. I guess we’re those people who stay behind during natural disasters assuming the best. (At least we’d get interviews on CNN… if we survived.)

As it turns out, the kabob stand in front of the theatre has caught fire and filled the building with smoke. At least it’s not us. This may be why the monster is so afraid of fire. It really makes things happen later than intended. Suzanne and the temporary neighbor assure me this is not normal. This has never happened, and they’ve both been to dozen of shows. I guess they don’t realize I think this is fantastic. This is a great first Broadway experience, because I have a story for parties. I’m an English major. I live for that.

Finally, they ask for a few more minutes and the show starts around 8:45.

The show is great, though I, as a Broadway virgin, have nothing to which I can compare it. The sets are huge and beautiful and fast changing, and the cast is funny and can sing. Igor certainly steals the show. (The song "He Was My Boyfriend" is still stuck in my head.)

In the end, Broadway may be overpriced and Times Square an unholy tourist ridden hell hole, but it’s worth it. Just make sure the kabob cart out front is fire proof.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To Have Bogey and Bacall on the Big Screen

Imagine - if you can, I know this is difficult for some - being a fervent Woody Allen fan. Now imagine, and this may be even harder, being that same Allen fan in Alabama. Recently I drove from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham (1 hour) just to watch “Vicki Christina Barcelona.” (It was well worth it, and not just for the over-hyped, transatlantic lesbian kiss between Johanson and Cruz.)

Part of the reason I love Woody Allen is that I love the movies. The classics: “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather,” “8 1/2” and “To Have and Have Not.”

Unlike Allen I didn’t grow up in an area where I could see these films in their original big screen glory. (Of course, given Allen’s neuroticism and sexual frustrations, perhaps not growing up in Brooklyn was ultimately a good thing.)

Finally, I have made the northward move from ‘Bama to Brooklyn, and I had the chance tonight to see Howard Hawks’ “To Have and Have Not” in a real theatre, with a real audience and real (really) salty popcorn. It's a movie I own and have seen, but never like this. The BAM Rose Theatre is in the middle of Hawks film festival, which means I may soon be broke.

No offense to Bose and the new fabulous home theatre systems from major tech companies (I’d still like to own one if anyone is feeling generous), but these movies are meant to be seen in uncomfortable seats in cold theatres surrounded by happy strangers. The names involved in this production are too big to be contained in a television: Howard Hawks. Humphrey Bogart. Lauren Bacall. William Faulkner. Ernest Hemingway.

Bacall has never looked sultrier than she did on a giant screen. Bogey never more badass. Hawks' direction never seemed more sure. The audience certainly took notice.

Seeing this film with a live audience changed my perception of it. The movie was much funnier than I remembered, and I have the laughing, paying public to thank for reminding me. Bogart's reaction to Bacall's famous "whistle" line generated several belly laughs, causing a big smile to find its way to my face. Bacall's impersonation of a character flirting with Bogart's Captain Morgan (yes, Captain Morgan) also drew laughs, reminding me this familiar scene is genuinely funny.

I love my DVDs. I love that I can pull out Jean Luc Godard’s “Breathless” or Allen’s “Manhattan” and watch them on a cinematic whim. However, if I have chance to either on the big screen, I’ll be sacrificing a few meals to pay to see them the way they were meant to be seen - large, loud, bright and beautiful. The experience is priceless, and we should take advantage of every chance we get.

Let's Do This!

So I've decided to start blogging again. It's true. It's been a while since I've done this (over a year if you look at the previous post.)

But I'm back, baby! And in New York! 

I'll be posting about movies, music, life in NYC and my constant job search.