From there, I went to the Gershwin Theater to check out the ticket lottery situation for the 2:00 matinee of Wicked. There were already a couple of people in the cancellation line.
I sat on a bench next to a lady who was setting out the souveniers that they'll sell during the show -- t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, coffee cups, programs, the soundtrack on CD, etc. This gal had so much energy; I enjoyed watching her. Every time, and that was a lot of times, anyone came in the door, she yelled, "Can I help you over here? We're sold out until July 26th." This was enough to satisfy many people. Others came up, and she continued, "There are two ways you can get a ticket today. One is the cancellation line, and the other is the lottery."
"The cancellation line forms over there, and it's first come, first served. You have to stand in that line over there until 2:00 when the show starts. At that time, if we have any cancellations, you'll have the opportunity to buy up to two tickets, full price." There were people already in this line, now, at 10:00AM. These are people who really want to see this show.
"We also have a lottery, for 26 tickets, two hours before the show. At 2.5 hours before the show, so at 11:30, for today's matinee, come back and put your name in the lottery. We'll take the names between 11:30 and 12:00, and then draw 13 names at noon. Each person can purchase two tickets. If a single wins, we'll draw another name until we get another person who wants to buy just one. If you win, the tickets will be front row, and $25 a piece, cash only. There's no sense lining up now, as it's completely random. As long as you get your name in the hat, it doesn't matter where you were in line. There's generally between 200-400 people in the lottery."
"The lottery for this evening's performance? Again, 2.5 hours before the show, so come back at 5:30. We'll take names from 5:30 to 6:00, and then draw at 6:00."
I sat and listened to her repeat this over and over until about 10:45. By that time, as people were walking in she was saying, "We're sold out until the middle of August folks. There's two ways you can get tickets for today's performance..."
At one point, in a lull, I said to her, "I really admire your energy. You're very helpful to people, and you don't mind going over it time and time again." She talked about how she was on "autopilot" at this point, and that it helped pass the time away. She also wished everyone who chose to either get in the cancellation line or enter into the lottery, "good luck."
I asked her if she'd seen either The Producers or Hairspray, which were the two plays I was interested in seeing if I didn't get into Wicked. She hadn't seen either. I asked her if she new at all if those two shows were being offered through the TKTS booth in Times Square, and she didn't know. I asked her where I should start the line for the lottery when I got back, if it hadn't already formed, and she was, of course, happy to tell me. And wished me good luck as I ran over to the Times Square TKTS booth to see what was up for half price tickets.
Neither The Producers nor Hairspray was on the list, which was good to find out so I'd have time to think about alternatives. When I returned to the Gershwin, the lottery line had started, and I became about the 15th person in line. A very talkative woman got behind me, and she struck up a conversation with the man behind her, and eventually drew me into the conversation asking me if I had seen anything else since I'd been up there.
The man, then, asked me where I was from. I told him Raleigh, and then asked him where he was from. Dallas. I then asked each of them if they were buying a single ticket. I was thinking that I should "pair up" with someone else buying a single ticket, with both of us requesting two tickets (the limit). That way if one of us won, we could sell the second ticket to the other. And, if by some statistically impossible chance, we both won, we would have no problem selling the other two tickets.
Neither of them were buying a single ticket, but the man said that he was actually trying to get three tickets, and that his wife was in the cancellation line. "I'll buy the other ticket from you if you win." Well this would work out nicely for him, but it didn't do anything to increase my chances, as would working with another single. Oh well. "Sure," I said. "I'll request two." Again that extrovert disappointment thing; I really didn't want to go up and down the line, like a real extrovert would, and try to find a single.
Right at noon, they stopped taking names, and the place was pretty crowded. I'd say there were 250-300 people waiting to see if their name got drawn. The guy came out to do the drawing and it got very quiet. The first name was called, and a woman screamed, and ran up to the front. The fourth name called was, "John Martin." Amazing. I said, "Yes!" quietly, and made my way to the front.
While they were calling the next nine names, I ran inside to tell that man from Dallas that I'd won. He came out, and told his wife, who as it turned out was standing right in front of me in the crowd. He gave me $25 to buy the other ticket and then went back into the cancellation line. He was going to give the ticket to his 21-year-old daughter, who was on her way, and has been trying to see this show for four months, while she's been in New York doing an internship with an advertising company, and has not yet been successful in doing so.
After 13 names were called, they verified each of us by photo ID, and then asked us loudly in front of all the people left, "All of you want the number of tickets you asked for, correct? No one wants to turn one or more of your two back in, correct?" We all said, "Correct!" He turned around and said to the crowd, "Well folks, I have two more tickets to give away." A loud cheer went up. He called one more person's name, and she had run inside to ask someone something or talk to a friend or something, and came running out. "No. Nope. You were inside; you're disqualified. I told you at the beginning, you have to be outside for the drawing." They want to make sure you're not both in the cancellation line, and in the lottery. So, of course, most people were in parties of two or more, and one person stayed in the cancellation line, and the other person stayed outside for the lottery. There was a little drama back and forth, with the woman assuring him that she was not in the cancellation line, but just talking to a friend. Surprisingly, in this day and age, in New York City no less, the crowd was on the woman's side, and when the guy finally said okay, they clapped.
The guy announced that that was it, and we winners stood in line to the box office, and purchased our tickets. I gave my other one to the girl's mom. I said, "I guess I'll meet your daughter at 2:00. I assume our seats are together." I saw her look me over, and said, "Oh you don't have to worry, she's safe with me; I'm gay." She laughed.
I left the theater on a high. I've never won anything like this before, and I was just so excited. This show is the buzz of Broadway, and it stars Idina Menzel, who played Maureen in the original cast of Rent, which I saw, and also has Joel Grey starring as The Wizard. And I'll be in the front row. For 25 bucks. I called a few people to "celebrate." I couldn't reach Robert as his phone was off. I called mom and dad, Vivian, and Steve.
Steve was so sweet. He said, "Well John Martin, no one deserves it more than you. You're so giving to other people, that it's great to see something coming back to you." As it turned out my call was good timing for him, as he had some venting to do over "current events" in his household, and he took the opportunity to do it. We hung up each noting that we're looking forward to our week-long vacation in Montreal the first week in August.
Robert called, and I shared the news with him. "You live a charmed life," he said. I asked him how the evening was, and he told me, "pretty dead." He had checked out the Wood Shed bar, too, that we had seen advertised the last time we were in Charlotte. It seems like a lot of folks had headed to Atlanta for the weekend, where it's Pride Week.
It's Pride Week here in NYC, too, but I haven't seen any evidence of it at all. Of course, I've not been down to Greenwich Village at all, either, so that may be why.
I walked down 53rd street, which was having some kind of "Mardi Gras street fair," looking for something for lunch. I ended up getting a hot dog from a street vendor on the way back up 52nd street to avoid the crowd on 53rd walking back. I had only about a half hour in the room, during which I watched some of "Sleepless in Seattle." I've seen it, but I had forgotten everything but the gist of it. I thought it might be neat to see them meet at the Empire State Building, being in New York and all, but it was just at the beginning.
I arrived at the Gershwin at about 20 till, and I bought a refrigerator magnet of Wicked. This will be one to remember, even without yet having seen it. Winning the ticket lottery alone would do it. I passed the man and woman who bought the ticket from me, who were still in the cancellation line, and they said, "She should be right up."
"Good luck," I replied.
I was in my seat about 10 minutes before "Lindsey" arrived.
"You must be my ticket-mate," I said.
"And you must be the guy who got my ticket."
She told me how she had been running late earlier when this all happened, and her mother had given her bad directions, and she was a little snippy with her when she got here, and then her mother said, "Would I make it up to you by telling you you had a front row ticket?" She couldn't believe it.
She's in her last week here in New York after doing, I believe she said, a 6-week internship. I resisted the urge to make an "intern" joke, since she was 21 and beautiful, and I'm sure she gets that all the time. I believe she also said she didn't get paid to do it, which surprised me. Seems like an expensive internship to not get paid -- the housing alone must have been outrageous. Oh well, that's what daddies from Dallas are for, I guess.
Just before 2:00, she called her parents down in the cancellation line, and they still had not gotten tickets. She told them that she was going to put her phone on vibrate, and to send her a text message to let her know if they got in. She evidently didn't "feel" their message, checked it at intermission and it said, "We didn't get in." She caught up with them by phone, and they said they were just walking around.
What can I say about this show? Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. When I first looked in the program, and the sheets, that's plural, sheets announcing understudies fell out, I was very disappointed to read that both Idina Menzel, playing Elphaba, the lead, and Joel Grey, playing the Wizard of Oz, were not going to be in this performance. Great!, I thought. Then Lindsey said that she had heard that the understudy lead was excellent, and as it turned out, she was. The actress playing Glinda, the Good Witch, was just wonderful. She was just perfect for that role.
After a few minutes, one of the other characters, "Boq," looked familiar. I kept looking at him, and then thought, "I believe that's that kid on Queer as Folk! Justin, is it? The young blond kid." As it turned out it was him, which was cool. I left the theater just loving, loving, loving that play. I thought about arranging a trip to NYC for Vivian and Jeff during Christmas break with two tickets to this show, and a night at the Sheraton on my points. That would be very cool.
From there, I went to the TKTS booth line in Times Square to see what half-price tickets were available for the evening shows. The line was still quite long, but it moved quickly. The two guys behind me had just come from Wicked, and after about 10 minutes of standing in front of them and hearing their conversations, I noted that they, too, were gay. They were going to get tickets for "Wonferful Town," which I hadn't heard of, or if that was sold out when they got up there, then Aida.
I had heard a couple of people mention The Assassins, but really wanted to see Frozen, as I had read about it, and was intrigued by the cast and by the storyline. When I first walked by the boards to go get in the line, The Assassins was still up there. I was sort of hoping that by the time I got up there it would be sold out, and that's exactly what happened. I got a ticket to Frozen, which is starring Swoozie Kurtz. I just love her. She was my favorite character on Sisters, when Donna and I used to watch it, what now seems like, light-years ago.
On the way back to my room, I grabbed dinner at Popeye's chicken, and sat in the window there to watch street performers, who were dancing outside the window. They were pretty good doing all kinds of break dancing and flips and such. There was a table full of black guys next to me who were watching them. I think they were gay. I'm pretty sure I heard the one say, "Look at the body on that one with the white tank top."
Back at the room, I dropped off my ticket for Frozen and the souvenir Wicked magnet, and went back out to walk the route to the Big Apple Ranch, so I'd already know where it was after the show got out around 10:00. I wanted to get there as soon as I could as the dancing was from 9:00 - 1:30. As it turned out, it was way too far to walk, especially in boots, so I turned around, stopped at the Fleet Bank to withdraw cash, and returned to the room.
I changed into my jeans, Queen City Stomp t-shirt, and my boots, and left shortly for the 8:00 showing of Frozen. It was a small theater, and I had a good seat, in row G. The play was all drama, no music. Just four actors, one of whom did not speak the entire play. What was funny about that was in the Playbill, in his cast listing, he said, "And I want to thank everyone who got me here, especially my voice coach!" HA!
This play was very, very intense. Swoozie did a phenomenal job. Her character's daughter had been raped and murdered by a serial killer, and she let it eat at her for 20 years. Then, at the urging of her surviving daughter, now 33 years old, she confronts the murderer to tell him that she forgives him for killing her daughter. Very intense.
There was a couple sitting to the right of me, and the woman got a little upset at the beginning. Her boyfriend, or husband, leaned over at one point, and said, "Are you alright?" I wondered if she had had a similar tragedy in her life.
The show ended with a standing ovation, and I rushed out to try and get a cab before the mob. There were no cabs in front of the theater, but several limos. I walked over to Seventh Avenue, and the traffic was just jammed up through Times Square. Rather than pay a cab to sit through that traffic, I started walking downtown, and made it faster than all of the cabs, to the subway stop at 42nd Street. I decided to take the subway downtown, and then catch a cab on 23rd, where there would surely be a lot less traffic, to take me to 19th. I got off on 23rd, and caught a cab right outside the subway terminal, which delivered me to 39 West 19th Street.
If there hadn't been a sign on the door, with rainbow colors, that said, "Pride," and "The Big Apple Ranch," I never would have found it. It did not say "39" above the door, and it looked just like an entrance to an apartment building. There was just a little lobby with nothing but elevators in it. Fortunately, as I walked in, a cowboy came out of the elevator.
"Any men up there?" I asked. I was afraid this was going to be a mostly Lesbian gig. Not that there's anything wrong with Lesbians!
"Oh, lots!" he said, and then, "It's so hot up there!"
Didn't like hearing that, but God knows I'm used to sweating at Flex every week.
"What floor?" I yelled as the doors were closing.
"Five," he replied.
It turned out to be quite festive up there. Once again, I was not a good extrovert. A guy named Fred, now living in New Haven, Connecticut, but from Baltimore, Maryland, asked me to do the Barn Dance. It was a huge circle, and even after playing three different songs during the dance we never made it back to our original partners. The second song they played during that dance was "Let's Get Loud," which we do the Mambo Shuffle to back in Raleigh. There were just a couple of cuties who passed through as we exchanged partners during the Barn Dance.
After this dance, Fred asked me to two-step. We both could either lead or follow, and I preferred following, where he preferred leading. Perfect. He lead. He wasn't a great lead -- held my right hand just a little too close to our bodies and restricted, but he was using it as a serious rudder, and it was effective in that capacity. It just didn't feel right. Nonetheless, I was happy to be dancing, and to not have to lead.
That was the only two-step I did all night. They didn't play very many line dances at all, but I did do the Circle Jerk, Back Street Attitude, and the dance we do to Dizzy. Oh yeah, they played Neon Moon, and they all did that partner dance to it that is so pretty. I went in the middle, by myself, and did the Cruising dance to it. And I'd only had one beer.
It was fairly hot in there, but there was air conditioning, and if you were able to get a spot under one of the vents, it was very, very cool. That's where I hung out.
Things started thinning out at about 12:30, 12:45, and I left at about 12:50. There weren't any cabs right out front, so I started walking to the closest avenue. After I walked about 500 feet, an available cab came by, which I flagged down. The cab fare back to the Sheraton Manhattan was $7.00. Can't beat that.
There was still a lot of hustle and bustle going on at 1:00 in the morning. I decided to walk in the uptown direction just to see what was going on, and to perhaps check out a little snack. There were people in a restaurant, eating, outside, at 1:00 in the morning. This truly is the city that never sleeps. I ended up getting a slice of "Ray's New York (where else?) Pizza," with bacon and sausage on it. Quite yum. On the way back, I stopped at the 810 Deli, and bought a 20 oz. bottle of A&W Root Beer, and a small square of Carrot Cake.
Back in the room, I called Robert, knowing full well that the chances were slim-to-none that he would have his phone on at this hour. I reached his voice mail right away, indicating that his phone was turned off. I ate the carrot cake, and had root beer, and caught up this journal entry for the day.
It's 2:48 AM now, and though this town is not going to sleep, I am.