Shakespeare in my heart

Whenever I think I’m done with this hectic, smelly city something happens to renew my love for NYC. Yesterday I waited on line (yes, New Yorkers say on line, not in line) for free tickets to Into The Woods. For the past 50 years, Shakespeare in the Park presents free plays and musicals in Central Park.  They are able to attract amazing talent such as Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, Bernadette Peters and Ann Hathaway to name a few. Last night, 3 times Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams was playing the part of the Baker’s wife and the incomparable Donna Murphy was playing the Witch.

This line usually extends for a mile!

The lines for Shakespeare in the Park are insane. People wait overnight in Central Park and they bring sleeping bags,  blow up mattresses, I-pads, and all the books they ever wanted to read. It’s quite a scene to see every socio-economic class represented; stockbrokers sitting next to homeless men, retired old socialites next to high-school drama kids. It’s the great leveler!

Since I didn’t have time (or the will) to sleep over in the park, it took me three attempts to get tickets. The second time I went they ran out of tickets two people ahead of me! Tickets are handed out at 1pm and I got there at 9am yesterday. I was the 361st person. The wait is one of the best parts of the experience. People get so bored they let down their guards and get really talkative and goofy. The guy ahead of me was with his kids and he was a musician who helped write songs with Susan Vega in the 80s. When it came up that I was engaged he gave me tons of unsolicited tips on raising kids in the city. The woman behind me was a toy developer! They guy next to her was an actor and it was his fourth time waiting for the show. Everyone was so friendly, and when someone ordered food from a nearby deli, he got coffee for everyone on our section of the line.

The performance is in the outdoor Delacorte theater, with the backdrop of central park’s lush trees and a beautiful full moon. If you don’t know this about me, I’m a huge fan of musicals, an even bigger fan of Sondheim, and Into the Woods happens to be my favorite of his musicals, so I was pretty darn happy.

Into the Woods is a quirky, dark musical about a baker and his wife who are cursed by the witch who lives next door. They must go into the woods and collect 4 things to undo the spell that’s keeping them from having a baby. On their journey they run into characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. Instead of being a usual fairy tale where are the characters are truly good or truly evil, and all the ends get neatly tied, these complex characters have to deal with the consequences of their actions. The emotions are raw, the jokes are witty, and the songs are catchy. One of my favorites songs is Agony, when the two Prince Charmings, who are chasing Rapunzel and Cinderella, are competing over whose agony is more painful. One the great lines: “You know nothing of madness ’till you’re climbing her hair.”

After the show, Mike and I strolled through Central Park. It was nearly empty and it felt like it was reserved just for us. The lights from the buildings twinkled above us, and the crickets chirped. I guess NYC isn’t as hectic and smelly as I thought.


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