So I've gotten in a huge writing rut again, but what better fodder to get going again then an amazing NYC event? I think yes.
Let me rewind a bit and recap the pretty rough month of February. I basically didn't write because there just wasn't anything to say.
I got my wisdom teeth out on the 1st (after being on IV antibiotics and in the hospital for five days). It actually went really well, but the pain lasted for like 3 weeks and it was just really hard. I had been on such a high from how everything was going then I'm knocked on my ass again in surgery mode and am eight teeth less than I was before.
Then I was just beginning to feel better from that, and I got the evil flu that was going around. I was in all bed all weekend with fever and chills and just felt horrible. I ended up going to the dentist with a fever, to get my teeth cleaned because I had to get my braces put on the next day (the 26th)
2 days later I left for DC.
That was actually pretty cool. I did a presentation on Celebratory Learning, and we went out to some crazy nice restaurants. It was also nice to be down there where it was about 70 degrees when here it was icing, snowing and sleeting. Overall it was pretty sweet, other than the fact that my mouth hurt the entire time and I felt like a three year old learning how to eat....stupid braces. I'm getting better though. My self-confidence is finally getting back where it was (like I could lose it right? I was shocked myself)
We were a bit worried we weren't going to be able to fly home because of the ice storm expected up north, but luckily it was just rain by the time we got there, and we got home fine. Which was awesome, because we had exactly one day to do laundry, repack and drive to NYC!!!!!
We drove down a day early, because otherwise we would've gotten there after a 6 hour drive and had to rehearse, which wouldn't have been fair to the show people, or me and Maisy cause we would've been fried.
Since we were going in a night early, I decided it would be a sin not to see a show, so I scored some discount Tickets to RENT. Also, it's closing in June, and Maisy is at the perfect place emotionally to see it. I want her to be one of the few kids of her generation to say she saw it on Broadway and not just be like "OMGZ I'M SUCH A RENTHEAD CAUSE I SAW THE MOOOVIE." ew, no.
favorite waitresses and had some great food and drinks. We just kept ordering stuff cause they didn't want us to leave and we weren't really in a hurry to either. Finally we did leave, and took a cab in the pouring rain to the argument of who was going to cry. Maisy was positive she wouldn't and I won't give any spoilers, but towards the middle of the second act I could feel her convulsing next to me and we just held hands for most of he 2nd act. I shed a few tears too, as I had forgotten how much more impacting it is than the movie, you just don't get the same things on screen that you do on stage. I had never cried at it before. It was just incredible. It was still nasty out so we just took a cab back to the hotel to crash before long day #1 was to ensue.
The next morning we had breakfast down in the hotel restaurant and met the campers and counselors to take a shuttle to the City Center where we would basically spend the next three days. I got to see the amazing Mary Mitchell Campbell who was our musical director (and who has musically directed Company, Sweeney Todd, and is K. Cheno's personal piano player) she's my new BFF. Bla bla bla. We danced and sang for like 6-7 hours, and had costume fittings (love our costume ladies...one of them worked on 42nd st.) We were scheduled to have dinner at Mars 2112 (does that sound familiar anyone?) We had eaten there when we saw Wicked, and Ipersonally loathe it, but it was a little more fun with camp people (the service and food was still subpar however) Before we had left though, I had lunch with Mary-Mitchell and she was telling me about the new show she was MDing, off-broadway called Next to Normal. It starred Brian D'arcy James (who a certain other musicall director BFF is obsessed with) and was directed by the same guy who directed RENT. She said if we wanted to go she could get us tickets. Some camp people were like "omg you're going to be so tired you should just stay in" but I was like "hello, you don't turn down free hookups like that especially when they involve BDJ" So, we went to a crazy dinner at Mars 2112, where there was some mysterious liquid driping from the ceiling that burned a hole in a napkin, and when the staff was told about it they said "oh well, you're on Mars! Hope it doesn't get on your food!" Yea... us too!
We took a cab straight from Mars to 2nd Stage Theater (Mais and I were still wearing sweats from rehearsal, but I didn't really care).
so, I'm standing in line at the box office and Mary-Mitchell comes up out of the blue and is like, "Mal I want you to meet someone." It took me about 30 seconds for it to sink in but before it did she goes, "This is Anthony Rapp." Yes....yes it is. Then my heart stopped for a brief period. He was so adorable and looks about 10 years younger in person. He had to run and didn't want to cause a scene or anything so I didn't get a picture or anything, but I gave him a hug and probably said some stuff, I don't remember what. I was shaking through the entire first half of the show. I probably could have gone home right then and been perfectly content with life. I still can't really believe it.
(I've since learned, Anthony assistant directed the show that's why he was there...)
The show itself was absolutely incredible, there are some audio clips on youtube but they obviously don't do it justice.
Mais and I ended up in the first row, mom and Dad were in the fourth... not too bad ;-) The actors were all incredible and the music was so intense. The story can't even really be explained, but it was definitely something everyone in our family can relate to in their own way.
After the show we got to go up to the green room and meet the cast- Brian D'arcy James, Alice Ripley, Asa Somers, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat, and the write (Brian Yorkey) and director (who freaking directed RENT!) Michael Grief. The guy who did the music wasn't there and Aaron Tveit, who played the son (and Link Larkin in Hairspray) peaced out (which is cool, cause Mais and I would've totally double teamed him) but it was absolutely incredible to hang out in the green room with everyone. They were all so down to earth and soooo sweet. BDJ is such a dad, I loved him. They all signed our programs and wanted to hear all about the show we were doing (Mary-Mitchell had told them about us!) Again, I think that entire night was pretty much the highlight of the entire trip.... I'm SO glad we didn't miss it.
Day 2 of rehearsing was really long and chaotic. My mouth hurt like the entire time and I just couldn't muster that much energy. Harry Belefonte ran his songs with us. He's 81 years old but still a spitfire, and he was pretty fun to work with.
Nathan Lane made me sad. I understand he was super exhausted and had just come from a matinee of November, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn't speak to anyone, and basically just made fun of everything we did. Not cool in my opinion. If you don't want to be there.... don't go. Sadly, it IS about the kids....
So that was kind of a bummer end to the day. And we went to a pizza restaurant where I almost choked on cheese and just wanted to cry and go home because I was in so much pain. Not cool either.
I was originally going to hang out with the counselors when we got back from dinner, but there was a miscommunication and I realized how tired I really was and called my bff Colin to tell him about my last couple of days, because nobody else could quite understand the gravity of it. And I just needed to hear his voice after being kind of lost in the shuffle of the day. That was good enough for me.
We crashed at like 11, which was also good enough for me. The counselors can party all they want, but guess who doesn't have to dance for 7 hours the next day? yea. Exactly.
The next day was show day.
Mais and I had to be at the theater at 9:30.
We inhaled breakfast (I'm truly surprised I didn't turn into a latte or croissant) and got to the theater. It was monday morning and there was traffic and we were tired but it was fun. We got there, and went to the wings where we would be running stuff and getting Mic'ed. The incredible Noodle saw we were barely conscious already and ran over with a notepad to take orders for a Starbucks run. god bless that woman. Seriously. We both significantly perked up after some iced lattes, but it was still a ridiculously long day.
Lunch brought a bit more excitement.
I sat with Mary-Mitchell who brought the pit over (how do I always end up eating with the musicians?) But anyway, it was pretty hot. Some of them remembered me from when we saw Next to Normal. One of them was Jason Robert Brown's bass player (Last Five Years, Songs for a New World) another one plays for Grease on Broadway. They were wicked cool, and Mary, Maisy and I told them stories of past gala chaos. It was cool. We're such eiltists, but its all good.
After we ate, we're sitting there, just chilling, and who walks in, but Bernadette Peters. All the campers were oblivious, but I in a moment of doing a double take, wipe out my water bottle and go into seizure mode. Maisy and I were then joking about my lack of composure which somehow resulted in me pretending to heave my water bottle at the wall, except I actually did.
Oh good I'm so subtle.
Then I told one of the costume ladies of my ridiculous faux pas, and she was like "well, you're introducing her right?"
"Yea.... i'm doing voice overs for like everyone."
"oh...well you have to meet her then!"
So I basically just hoped I didn't have food in my braces and Mais and I got to meet Bernadette in all her glory. Seriously she is stunning. I have no idea how she is 60. She looks about 18. there has got to be something about the power of the stage because all of these people are like ageless!!!! She was super nice too, which is always good.
We had more rehearsals, and dinner, but I didn't really want to eat that much so it was fine when I got whisked away to do a sound check and read through my voiceovers.
We took some "quiet time" and did a cabin chat, and then it was time to get ready! Insert second wind here! We got changed, and were led to our dressing room, where we all had our own lighted mirror (which has NEVER happened before!)
Maisy and I ended up using the quick change room though mostly where we had our own dressers who provided us waters with our names on them like the stars had and we stayed in the wings with the celebs to watch the show on the monitor.
I prepped emotionally with my kick-some-ass playlist on my Ipod and ended with Defy Gravity, and I'm Not Afraid from Songs for a New World, and before we knew it, it was: SHOW TIME.
Backstage I hung out and did voice overs for every act. Maisy and I opened the show with a speech and Maisy got to introduce Carole King. She's wonderful and remembered us from 01. OMG that was so long ago.
It was amazing to see Joshua Bell too. He talked about the gala he did in 2002, before his performance and when he came backstage I gave him a hug and was like "that was amazing.... but it was 2001."
We talked a lot and he totally remembered seeing us in Portland two years ago.
It was awesome to see him and Jim Naughton again. (we have the same phone) Maisy saw Julia, but I didn't get to :(
One of our waitress faves from Ellen's was in it too! We thought it was her and she ended up remembering US! It was pretty cool.
The last thing, was when I got to introduce my infamous wallclimbing video (which was filmed literally 10 years ago, so you can imagine how gorgeous I was, haha) But I was standing in the wings trying not to cry and Bernadette is there in the wings with us, watching it and she kept looking at me and smiling. It was pretty intense.
(other than the little kid who kept going "OMG THEY SHOWED YOU. THEY SHOWED YOU AGAIN! THERE YOU ARE AGAIN!")
Then we had to run on all pumped up for a cover of YMCA that one of the campers wrote. And you know it was surprisingly easy. It was such a great time. There is nothing like stage energy. and throw in camp, and NYC and it's beyond describable.
We did the finale, and it was over before we knew it. The celebs walked through us to bow, and we reached out our hands to give them five. Josh walked by and grabbed mine for a ridiculous long time. God I love him. He walked out with me too (completely sidestepping the counselor who was "Accompanying me") and was like "I think I have to go to some after thing :( " I desperately wanted to go with him.
We never get any after event. We dont even get food past like 5:00. We're just the show ponies....
But some day I've decided I'm going to attend a gala, and get glammed up and drink champagne instead of wearing hats and doing hand gestures. But for now, I don't mind being in the spotlight :-)
We had a few minutes in the chorus room to say hi to the few people who graced us with their presence....before we were hustled back to the hotel to pass out from exhaustion.
When we got back to the hotel there were some goodbyes and it was kind of bittersweet.
There was one girl, Amy, who I had sort of connected with. She is 17 and barely a foot taller than me. she is super adorable and really stylish and as soon as I saw her Victoria's secret hoodie (I have the same one) and manicure, I had a feeling she was not one of the small children and I needed to befriend her.
As soon as she learned I was 22, I could see the relief in her face and from then on we were pretty close.
After the show, she took me aside in the hotel lobby and burst into tears as she said "I just want to tell you, you have inspired me so much and I am so glad to have met you [I have goosebumps just writing this]. Sometimes it can get really hard and I finally feel like I have someone I can relate to."
I couldn't believe she said all that. I told her we have to stay in touch and there is totally a train from Portland to Mass, and its not out of the question. Beyond meeting Anthony, that was probably the highlight of the show. That is what camp is all about.
Overall, it was just incredible, like it always is, but it was more intimate in a way. It was about seeing people you missed, reconnecting, and putting on a good show, and remembering the meaning of camp. And how important life is and how lucky we are. I can't completely explain it, but as if RENT is not emotional enough, throw in Next to Normal and a camp gig, and you have more emotion than most people deal with their entire life. But it's all good. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Ever.
For more pictures go here and here. There are too many to post all here, but they're pretty cool.
Next up is Miami!