Barring some miracle, my 2008-2009 New York City theatergoing season is complete. It was a great year as always - I saw so many terrific performances and the plays especially were great - so much absorbing and inventive storytelling.
Now it's time for some end-of-the-season thoughts.
1.) Be flexible. In January, the plays that make up Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy The Norman Conquests weren't even on the list of shows I planned to see, yet they turned out to be one of the best theatre experiences I've ever had. I've never laughed so hard, so consistently. While each of the six actors created a memorable character, in my opinion Stephen Mangan as Norman gave a performance for the ages.
2.) Go off-Broadway more. Every season it seems like there are a few Broadway shows I could have missed and a few off-Broadway I wish I'd seen. Two of the best plays I saw were Black Watch at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, and Our Town at the Barrow Street Theatre in Greenwich Village. And I'm kicking myself that I probably won't make to Ruined.
3.) Luck was with me. Broadway actors are a pretty dedicated bunch but I know sometimes people get sick, go on vacation, etc. West Side Story was apparently hit with a rash of understudies earlier this summer. So I'd like to mention that practically every performer I wanted to see when I bought my ticket was in the show the day I saw it - even some who left soon afterward.
4.) The list grows shorter. I crossed seven more theatres off my list this season, including the adorable 597-seat Helen Hayes, which is so tiny I wish I could have packed it up, put it in my suitcase and taken it home with me! I've now been in 29 of the 40 Broadway theatres - not bad when you consider that in April 2007, I hadn't been to a single one. By the end of the year, I could be down to the single digits.
5.) I saw the light. I exited the Palace after seeing West Side Story and then realized the stage door was on the other side of the building, so I walked back through the theatre. To my surprise, the ghost light had already been put out on stage. I was thrilled! I'd read about that particular theatrical tradition but never seen one. A little thing, but it was cool.
6.) TKTS prices. I used the reduced-price ticket booth in Times Square twice this year but it's not always a great bargain. At about 20 minutes before curtain time on a recent Sunday, TKTS wanted $91 for a partial-view seat at Hair. I couldn't believe it. Sorry, but as much as I wanted to see Hair a second time, that's way too much money for not being able to see the entire stage.
7.) Where's the VIP? My ticket for Our Town cost $49.50, before fees. If I'd wanted to splurge, I could have spent double that amount - and I would have been upset once I saw the size of the theatre. Barrow Street, really, how in good conscience can you charge $95 for "VIP premium" seats in a theatre that's smaller than some living rooms? And where are the premium seats anyway - in David Cromer's lap?
8.) Color me disappointed. I don't buy a lot of souvenirs when I go to New York, but I do keep all of my Playbills. Now I realize when I see shows that have been open for awhile, I'm not going to get one with a nice color cover. But if you're switching to black and white, at least make it decent. I was shocked at how washed-out my black and white 9 to 5 Playbill looked.