So this weekend was Ana's big visit to NYC. We decided we would go see a show and on our way to the infamous TKTS booth (which has now been temporarily relocated to the Marriott Marquis) we heard a young guy call out "discounted front row tickets to Faith Healer". Okay, I didn't think much of it. I had already seen Faith Healer (after having waited since 1995 for Ralph Fiennes to come back to Broadway!!). We go to the booth, deciding between Bridge and Tunnel and Jewtopia when Ana notes that she would go and see Faith Healer, if I hadn't already seen it. I say, it's got Ralph, I'd see it again (noting however that it was a very heavy Irish drama which in polite theater jargon means-- don't hold me responsible if you think its awful!) Then I'm thinking well, if the guy shouted "discount" it must be that he's with TKTS and is just hawking for the booth. I go to the window and ask what seats they have for the show-- the woman says "mezzanine". Ana asks if I am game to jump out of line and find the guy with the tix. I say okay.
We head over to the general vicinity of where the ticket guy was and he's nowhere to be found-- though there are a bunch of other scalper types and oodles of tourists handing over crisp ATM-fresh twenties. Amidst the sounds of "Front row, History Boys, Front row, Drowsy Chaperone" we threw out an inquiry for "Faith Healer". Cell phone calls were made, we were told the guy would be back in a few minutes. So, I'm standing here on the corner of 46th and Broadway thinking-- what's going to happen next? How much is "discount"? Exactly what are the scalping laws in New York again? Is the NYPD going to be cracking down on illicit Broadway ticket offerings? Will these tickets even be real? And then there shows up Sal. Sal looks to be about 25, just a touch overweight, someone who would look more comfortable outside of Yankee stadium in the same trade rather than at TKTS. So, he shows us the tickets and they look good enough and he's selling at below face value so I feel a bit better about the ticket trade.
My lingering doubt, however, is as always that we're going to get our butts thrown out of the theater when the tickets are proved fakes and two little old ladies, or worse yet, nuns come to collect their seats right before the curtain goes up.
Sal advises that we *have* to be there on time since we're "so close" to the stage and he gives us his card and shows us his driver's license and a credit card in order to "prove" his id. Not like those couldn't be fake or stolen or whatnot, but hell, it was $75, in for a penny, in for a pound.
As show time got closer I started to get more excited about the prospect of seeing Ralph up-close, the last time around our seats were good but not up-close good. Of course the down side to all of this is having to sit through another two and a half hours of Irish drama. The other thing that happened as showtime got closer was that I realized that I was not really dressed for the occasion. I was going to be one of those disshevled tourist folk up in the front row that everybody else looks at and says-- "how did *she* get in?" Yeah, I was all decked out in lime green lacoste and capri pants with cole slaw spots from dinner at Junior's, no make-up and a day full of city grime on my face-- short sleeves I knew it would be cold, went to the Gap, found nothing good and decided to resort to draping a newly purchased skirt over my shoulders for warmth. At least it was a Bottega Veneta skirt, but I would still look like a crazy woman nonetheless.
At 8pm we strided into the Booth Theater and alas! What ho, the ticket scanner accepted our tickets. Still feeling a bit like we could get tossed at any moment we headed down, Uecker-esque "to the front row" (well, second row, but it was still very close). Right in the center, there we were Row BB, seats 105 and 106. Center stage. Much to my surprise the lights went down, curtain went up and no one evicted us. Instead two other groups of two shuffled in reluctantly (presumably also customers of "Sal" since he had four other tickets in our row to sell...).
I found that much like how the return trip from somewhere always seems to go faster than the original trek, the play was really easy to sit through and enjoy. I knew what was coming and when and I could just watch intently. This was broken up a bit when, in the first act Ana and the man in front of her had to dodge some errant Ralph spittle. Risk of the territory, I suppose. Another aspect of sitting up so close that was neat was there certainly seemed to be actual eye contact with the actors-- I have been on stage before and know that with the lights you usually can't see a damn thing in the audience, but it did seem on more than one occasion that you could catch their eye. Pretty neat, that is right up until I decided to keep my word and take a picture at the end of the play! Both Ana and I really do think that Ralph gave us the evil eye, or if not us, at least me. I tried to be good, I waited until the play was over and the gang was out on stage for their bows. I did turn the flash off, trying to be respectful (even if the sign outside said absolutely, postively, no photography, before during or after the performance). It was my groupie moment in the sun. And, what an outcome for my efforts:
Note to self: Next time you decide to make an ass out of yourself in front of The English Patient, USE A FLASH!