Wednesday, February 22, 2012

waiting for book of mormon

February 14, 2012
Eugene O'Neill Theater, New York City

I figured we'd be good if we got here at 2pm, but it's our last day in New York - no second chances - so we show up early. We slept until 8, ate breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the post office a few blocks away to mail a gift to my little cousin in Princeton whose birthday party was canceled when she got strep throat. After that, we caught the subway to 50th Street and walked a block to the theater on 49th. I told Andy he could come join me later, but he came along from the start. It's Valentine's day after all.

Why am I here so early? Quite simply, I want Andy and Alex to see the show. I saw it in August with Fiona. Now, we're visiting her, and want to see it together as a family. later on, others will join the lineup. People line up every day for tickets. Alex will check in with us once he has finished breakfast. Fiona will come after she finishes class at the university.

There are three ways to get tickets:
1) buy them 6 months in advance at full price (the show is sold out until mid-May)
2) enter the ticket lottery 2 hours before the show - about 20 winners get $32 tickets for the front row of the theater
3) buy standing room tickets 1 hour before the show - about 20 more tickets are sold for $27 each, for spots at the back of the orchestra seating section
We didn't buy tickets 6 months in advance. We didn't plan this trip even 6 weeks in advance. We're unlikely to win the lottery. Being first in line today, we are certain to be able to buy standing room tickets.

Here I am, hanging out in front of the theater. I brought the Sunday New York Times to sit on. I brought today's New York Times to read.

A man from Australia stops by and asks what we know about getting tickets. He decides he might come back at 5pm for the lottery. Inside the theater lobby, we see cleaning staff dusting, wiping and vacuuming.

Andy holds the spot while I go for coffee and stretch my legs. Colony music store is at the corner of 49th and 7th Avenue. It's the best place for Broadway cast recordings, musical theater scores and memorabilia. I'm hoping to find a CD of Closer Than Ever, the musical that Fiona appeared in at the university, to bring home to my parents as a gift. Colony has the CD (of course!) but it's $45.99 because there are 23 songs, so it's a 2 disc set. I decide I will buy them a download instead.

I pick up a large coffee for Andy and a hot chocolate for me at Dunkin Donuts in the 50th Street subway station. Back at the theater, the hot drinks warm us. It's not as cold out as it was yesterday, but after an hour, it's definitely chilly. We brought warm clothing so we'll be okay.

Alex is here. We agree to be here all together at 4:30, when the lottery is scheduled to open. For now we'll take turns holding this place at the front of the line. A young man arrives to take spot #2. I talk to him, and find out that he is an actor, playing Tom Sawyer in a dinner theater production of Big River in a nearby city. Alex decides to take the Radio City Music Hall tour, and heads off.

Andy finishes his coffee, then leaves to explore for a while. I settle in with the newspaper and my iPod. If I lived in New York, I would spend way to much time reading the newspaper. It's really not uncomfortable here on the sidewalk. and people here are friendly. Passers-by ask what we're waiting for. Young lovers and delivery men carry valentine bouquets up and down the sidewalk. Couples pass by, holding roses and balloons, holding hands. We watch a string of limousines pull up, wait, and drive away. No celebrities on board, just bored drivers, waiting to get called to go pick someone up somewhere nearby, we think. Inside the lobby, the cleaners are finished.

A couple of people arrive and enter the theater lobby door, re-locking the door after they enter. Andy returns.

#3 spot is taken by another young man. We chat with him and find out that he is a singer.

Spots #4 and #5 are taken. Andy has gone in search of a bathroom. It's now just over 4 hours until ticket time, 3 hours to the lottery draw.

Andy returns. I go out to find lunch. I find a Europa Cafe on Avenue of the Americas. Before ordering, I get a key to the bathroom and YIKES! walk in on a woman using the bathroom! How embarrassing. She comes out a few minutes later and says not to worry. It seems that the lock doesn't work properly and they are giving out 2 keys for one bathroom. I use the bathroom very quickly, hoping for no visitors!

Lunch is a delicious tossed salad. I've enjoyed a few of these at various cafes during our stay. You choose a bowl with whatever kind of greens you want, then the chef puts them into a big tossing bowl and portions in "add-ins" as you specify. Some are $1.50, some $1 and some 50 cents. Then you choose your dressing. The chef tosses it all together and puts it back into the original greens bowl, with a lid. This time I choose mixed greens, beets, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, spicy tuna and sesame ginger dressing. It is very good, and cost about $8 for a meal-size salad. I bring the salad back to eat in the lineup so Andy can go get some lunch. He leaves for a few minutes and returns with a MacDonald's burger and fries. I think my lunch is yummier!

Alex returns. He reports that he has taken the Radio City Musical Hall tour, and he got his picture taken with a Rockette. He says that the theater was awesome and the tour very good. There are about 8 people in the lineup now. The atmosphere is relaxed. We should all get standing room tickets. Maybe some of us will be lucky enough to win tickets in the lottery.

Between 3 and 4:30, the lineup grows, and a crowd begins to form in front of the theater. Lots of people just want to get in the draw. By now there are enough people in the standing room lineup that it wouldn't be worthwhile to join it. Someone from farther down that line goes through the line asking each of us, "How many tickets are you going to buy?" Each person may buy 2 tickets maximum. That's why all 3 of us have to be here. We need 5 tickets in all, because Fiona is bringing a friend with her from university.

Here's the lineup at about 3pm.

Here are all of the people, getting tickets for the lottery.
Here's a draw ticket. A nice many hands them out to everyone in the standing room lineup, so they won't have to leave their spots. It's okay really, we have been looking out for one another, watching spots for other liners-up when they needed a bathroom or food break.

We put our names in the draw. Thirty minutes later, we don't win. I think there are about 200 people here by draw time. They draw ticket pairs, so about a dozen names are called. By now it's 5:15, and we know soon we'll have our standing room tickets and we can leave for an hour before the show begins.

We're ready when the window slides open. The man sells us 5 tickets for $27 each. I'm too excited to remember to take a picture, so this one is taken later. This is what a standing room ticket looks like:

The playbill we get when we're inside the theater an hour later.

The show was great! Andy and Alex laughed their heads off, and said it was the best thing they've seen, one of the highlights of the trip, worth the sidewalk vigil. I think the sidewalk vigil is a worthy part of the experience.

question: did you ever line up for something?

mompoet - loving New York


Pearl said...

what an adventure. I haven't lined up for anything that I recall, not for any amount of time anyway. glad it was worth the wait!

mompoet said...

Thanks Pearl. I think the lineup was about 1/4 of the fun. It would have been half the fun, but Book of Mormon was definitely that good.

Michelle said...

Wow your blog really helped me! I'm living in Hong Kong and am going to stay in NY for a month this coming July. I really wanna watch BoM but all of the $91 tix have been sold out lardy. I'm thinking if I should get the regular price ($2XX) tix or queue up for the standing room tix. How is the view from the standing room? btw standing room tix and lottery are both available to foreigners right? Anyways, a great post and thanks!