Wednesday, June 25, 2008

... and Broadway

This trip to NYC was not about sightseeing, but just to catch up with friends. And Broadway. Or to be more precise, RENT. This was my opportunity to experience the phenomenon before it closes on September this year. So we booked a Sunday afternoon show at Nederlander Theatre.
And Broadway is literally a just a broad way connecting two ends of the New York City. The theatrical district is just a small part of it. The good thing about all American cities is the well laid out plans and streetways. You just need to know the nearest intersection of roads. And in places like NYC where all the streets are numbered in a systematic way (Streets running East-West with increasing number towards North and Avenues run North-South with increasing number towards East), its hard to get lost. Still we managed to make walk in large circles just to reach to the next block! And the subway map is really complicated. So many routes... I wonder if A.J. Deutsch were to write the famous sci-fi now, he would've written it about NYC MTA not about Boston MTA! Coming back to Broadway, we just had a short walk down 7th Ave from 34th St to 44th St to reach the junction of Broadway and 44th St at the famous Times Square (which, eventually, is a triangular junction) and again traced back along the Broadway just to find the we were actually hardly a hundred feet away from our destination from where we started! You know actually we were not paying attention to the street and avenue numbers as we had plenty of time to kill. We were just drifting with the crowd which being mainly tourists had obvious destination of Times Square.
And then the Nederlander Theatre. A shabby, old building in a narrow lane. Who thought that a theatre with more than 1200 seats will be there. Its hardly distinguishable from other buildings. On the other side of lane there is another old almost-derelict building with old stairwell hanging outside. That is the Amsterdam Theatre playing "Mary Poppins". The entrance to the Nederlander Theatre was 'guarded' by parked cars on the road and a big tourist bus covered the entire facade of the building (which was nothing but a series of posters of Rent on an old wall with wide doors!
Inside the theatre, things are as they should for a play whose premise is shady areas of mid-nineties New York! And with a lot of deliberation I had bou,ght four tickets of orchestra seating in fourth row with the idea that its gotta be a big hall to accommodate 1200+ people. And soon we realize, its apparently not that big and from our place we can touch the stage if we try hard! But the real problem was that we were little too close to the loudspeakers; nonetheless that didn't prevent us from enjoying the show. And that was a thrilling experience, but that story is somewhere else.
And back to Broadway again. That place - the place cordoned by Broadway, 7th Ave and 40th to 46th St is simply ... what should I say ... awesome, at least to me! Which way I turn my head I see a theater hall playing something. And not only something, they are playing plays like 'Rent', 'Boeing Boeing', 'Grease', 'Gypsy', 'South Pacific', 'Sunday in the Park with George' and what not! Its like a treasure trove! Theater is something I cherish and Musicals are something I love. I know some theatricians might not get that excited about Broadway because its not really a playground of experimental theater. Broadway is the capital of mainstream theater and hence the main interface with the crowd and the theatrician. I respect this community for having such a conglomerate of theaters here and making them a social outing place. Its like making theater more and more common-man-friendly. But there is a concern, too. Now-a-days just like any other popular media, Broadway is losing its originality. It is getting overshadowed by Hollywood. If you just go by the current shows at Broadway, how many of them are new and original? Not much. Mostly are wither revival (Boeing-Boeing, Sunday in Park..., South Pacific, Grease, Gypsy, etc.), or continuing old play (Mama Mia!, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Lion King, etc.) or adapted froma hit movie (Lion King, Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstine, Xanadu, Hairspray, etc.) Earlier the trend was opposite, there were Broadway productions first then there were movies based upon that. Think about shows like 'Hair', 'Sound of Music', 'Fiddler on the Roof', 'West Side Story', 'Oklahoma!', 'Miracle Worker' and lots more. Now its opposite. There are movies like 'Legally Blonde', 'Hairspray', 'Cry-baby' which are the sources of new theater of Broadway. This is saddening. Theater used to be so much live, so much fresh, so much original...

But I have had my experience on Broadway, at last. And that too with Rent!

1 comment:

aarshi said...

broadway.
sigh.
and yes, the "baranda" is the best part of being home.