Thursday, 29 August 2019

New York, Part I

Last week I was in New York, which even now feels like a surreal sentence to say and now I'm home it half feels like it was all a dream. I've always wanted to visit New York and see a show on Broadway. I don't know if I've got a 'bucket list' per se, but it's just always been a life goal of mine. I've been a fan of musical theatre for most of my life, since I saw the Oliver! revival on the West End as part of a school trip when I was 7 years old. I grew up just outside London and each year my school would trek into the city centre for a matinee performance, a privilege which I took for granted. I was probably about 16 when it went from being something I casually enjoyed to something I was passionate about, and I had wanted to make it my career but life had other plans (which looking back I'm thankful for as I prefer just being a fan, it keeps the magic alive).

I regularly travel into London to see shows, and of course New York has always seemed like the bigger, brighter option. Last November I decided that I'd had enough dreaming and wanted to put things into action. Moulin Rouge had premiered for a limited run in Boston earlier that year, and I was really excited at the prospect of it being adapted to the stage as it's always been one of my favourite movies, and it was starring some of my favourite American theatre actors such as Aaron Tveit as Christian. I had already felt a little envious watching everything unfold second hand through my computer screen, and decided to turn those negative feelings into something positive. I promised myself that when Moulin Rouge opened on Broadway, I'd be there and would see it with it's original cast. It didn't have a date at that time so I still had the comfort of it feeling a way off. For about a week anyway, and then the dates were announced and panic set in! I realised that I was going to have to buy a ticket on a random date and hope that I could scramble together a trip around it. And that's basically what I did, buying bits of the trip as and when I could afford it and hoping it would all come together. And I did it!

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

I still can't describe the feeling of actually walking down West 45th St and seeing the Al Hirschfeld up ahead and everything I've worked for and the emotional journey I've been on to get that point and the sheer surrealness of I'M ACTUALLY HERE, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. Seeing Aaron Tveit walk on stage and know that this is actually him, and he looks exactly like he does on my screen but he's real and standing less than 2 metres in front of me was like an out of body experience. I got a face full of confetti from Danny Burstein's cane twice, I got to look up and see Karen Olivo descending from the heavens on her swing, it was all just so amazing and I was just sat there in awe throughout most of the show letting it all wash over me.

So, was it perfect? No. As a fan of the film it fell a bit flat in some areas and I didn't like parts of the soundtrack, but as for the overall experience of the show it's the best I've ever had just for what it meant to me to be there. And it's only after thinking on it afterwards that I realised bits I didn't like so much, I didn't care when I was actually watching it as it didn't matter.

I was nervous about the soundtrack as I knew they'd updated it to include more modern songs, and I was worried that might ruin it. In my view the reason the original movie works so well is because it uses mostly old songs it doesn't date it even though it was released 18 years ago. The new songs did work a lot better into the soundtrack than I expected, but I guess only time will tell how well it will age and how relevant it will still be in 20 years. The set was absolutely stunning, there was so much detail in all of it and you can tell it's a really lavish production with a ton of money being pumped into it. The entire cast were amazing, I loved how the ensemble stalked the stage at the beginning before the show opened and sitting second row in the orchestra made it feel almost foreboding. And because it is so different from the movie it definitely makes it it's own thing and worth seeing so there is definitely that in it's favour.

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

I'd heard horror stories of the stage door, but as I was front of the orchestra I got out quickly and beat the crowds. The cast were fairly quick to come out after the show, and Aaron was actually the first. He doesn't allow photos as it would take too long to get through everybody, which I was a little thankful for really as it meant you could enjoy your time with him without everyone sticking cameras in his face. I gave him my artwork which I was super shy about as no one else was giving anyone anything, but he was really complimentary and he was very gracious and kind. I met a few more from the ensemble cast too, but quite honestly I was just on a high that I'd actually met my favourite actor and he was just as nice as he seems.

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

Because Moulin Rouge was so important to me and I had so many hopes pinned on it, I saw it twice. I knew the first time I'd just be in awe of the whole adaptation, and so the second time around I could take in the details as I knew what to expect. I also sat further back in the orchestra, so I was still close enough to be absorbed into everything but far enough away that I could take in the whole stage this time. I love being close to the stage as it feels so intimate and I get truly lost in it and entirely forget the whole audience behind me, but there's definitely a benefit to being further away too so I liked having both experiences.



And obviously I had to buy a few things to remember it by!

I did see other shows that I'll write about in another post, but as Moulin Rouge was so important to me and my whole reason for going to New York, and special as I met my favourite actor, I wanted to give it it's own post. It also made me think about how I'd like to incorporate more of this kind of thing into my life. I don't want this to be a once in a lifetime experience that's now in my past, I want to be this happy again, I want to make the effort to travel to see my favourite performers instead of wishing they'd come to me. And if that means cutting back in other areas and traveling long distances for just a day or two, then I think it will be worth it. Hopefully I can make the opportunity happen again!

2 comments:

  1. It looks like you had the absolute time of your life.
    How sweet of you to give Aaron your artwork. You’re such an amazing artist. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really did!
      Thank you! It felt like a fairly small token to give him considering what his work means to me :)

      Delete

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