"What's it about?" my husband asked me as we drove into Hollywood yesterday.
"It's the untold story of the Wizard of Oz," I replied. Predictably, he groaned. He's not as big a fan of classic movies as I am, especially that one.
And at the end of the first Act, I could tell from the way he was sitting that he wasn't enjoying the show. "Are you bored out of your mind?" I asked him.
Yeah. He was. "Don't they ever stop singing?" he asked.
He had a point. I knew it was a musical, but Act I plays more like opera. The 2 1/2 hour play features a total of 19 songs (plus a couple of reprises).
My friend Debbie wasn't enjoying it much more than my spouse. That didn't surprise me, as she has always said she wasn't a fan of musicals. What had surprised me was that seeing "Wicked" had been her idea, one we'd considered briefly when planning our weekend jaunt to New York last year. Those plans were briefly abandoned when we discovered the price for the house seats she could score was a whopping $300 a ticket.
So when tickets for the L.A. production went on sale for $75 orchestra, we felt like it was a bargain. Debbie snapped up six of them -- and then asked us if we wanted to go.
That was six months ago -- such a long time that I had to look back at my check register to confirm if I'd ever paid her back. (I had. Whew.)
The matinee started at 1:00, so we decided to get together in Hollywood around 11 for brunch. There are a number of trendy new restaurants near the fabulous Pantages Theater -- but I was unsure if they were open that early, so we decided to meet at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, located in the Hollywood-Highland shopping complex. Yes, we'd have to deal with hotel prices, but the parking would be free and I knew we would be able to eat and get out in time for our show.
There are shuttles from Hollywood-Highland to the Pantages for evening performances, but I had not heard of any for the matinees, so we drove the several blocks to the theater. Parking there was a whopping $20. The souvenir program was another twenty bucks. I suppose they figure that if you can afford $75 a seat, an extra $40 isn't going to hurt you.
I noticed that the Pantages is directly across the street from the Hollywood & Vine Metro station; I took a mental note -- we could have saved a lot of money by meeting in the Valley and taking the subway into town. I'll remember that -- if I can ever drag my family and friends to another theatrical production.
You see, I have a soft spot for the big American musical. When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to the LA Music Center season, which had a reciprocal agreement with the late, lamented Shubert in Century City. I was mesmerized by productions of shows like Follies, Evita and A Little Night Music. As a single adult, if there was a show I wanted to see, I would just do it.
But it's different when you're a part of a family and the other members aren't that into it. After all, yesterday's cultural excursion ended up costing us a lot of money -- it's not worth doing if I'm the only one who's going to enjoy it.
As it turned out, I was NOT the only one. Megan loved the show as much as I did -- and the second Act had a lot more dialogue -- and meat to it. Gareth found a few things he liked about the production: the actors' singing voices, the gorgeous sets and lighting, and spectacular theater itself.
And this morning, Debbie called me to let me know that at the end of the day, her family concluded that they'd enjoyed it, too.
So maybe I won't wait another 20 years to see a musical again. I'm really dying to see Spamalot...