First time at Broadway musical, Central Park draws shock, awe
One of the main reasons why I wanted to move to New York City was Broadway. I have been a fan of musicals since I first saw “Annie” and “The Sound of Music” more than a decade ago, and Broadway is the holy grail of musicals. Broadway is where a musical begins and, if it’s good, flourishes.
But my parents don’t particularly like musicals. Innumerable times I have excitedly ran to my parents to deliver news of a favorite actor joining a show or a national tour coming to Minnesota, and all they do is visibly shudder and say, “that’s nice, dear,” before returning to their hockey games and snowmobiles.
Now, I like hockey just as much as the next Minnesotan, but musicals are glamorous, dramatic and they set my soul on fire. Ever since I finally made it to New York City, a dream I once thought impossible not too long ago, I have been itching to see a show.
Shows are expensive, though, and the cheap student tickets require planning and a very free day, which is rare in the city that never sleeps. So, when my exchange coordinator announced we were attending “Wicked,” I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
I mean, come on, “Wicked” is the quintessential new musical. I’m well on my way to listening to “Defying Gravity” 100 times, and I can barely contain my adulation of Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, the original Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. Also, seeing “Wicked” as my first show in New York City is a ridiculously amazing opportunity, and I won’t forget it.
We went to the show on a Thursday night and we decided to spend the whole day in Manhattan in preparation. The weather was particularly beautiful (sorry, Midwesterners) so we trooped our way to Central Park. It was my first time in Central Park and it was definitely more “Lord of the Rings” than I thought it would be.
There were giant slabs of rock that appeared to have deep ridges, perhaps as a result from ancient glaciers. We climbed around these rocks in our fancy theater clothes, because who can resist a giant slab of rock? No one.
There were obviously no leaves on the trees, so we could see the looming skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan through the branches. The park was fairly empty on a Thursday afternoon, with the exception of ice skaters, caricature artists and a talkative fiddler. Also, I found all of the dogs in New York City. I am in serious dog withdrawal right now and long to snuggle with my Critter and Belle again, so I made do with petting every dog being walked past me.
My friends led us to Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon near his Upper West Side apartment that Yoko Ono still lives in. There is an “Imagine” stone mosaic in the sidewalk, and a man wearing a vest covered in “Grateful Dead” and “Protest War” patches was laying down flowers and mementos.
There wasn’t any special event going on, but everyone at the memorial was very somber. I had the crazy urge to just start singing “Imagine,” but I held it in for the sake of my friends’ dignities. After Central Park we walked (and walked and walked) to a bookstore to kill time before our dinner reservation.
This bookstore was my heaven. It was three stories high and insisted, through use of posted placards, that cell phones were to be put away. There were books stacked everywhere and the largest fashion book collection I have ever seen was organized by designer, era or clothing item. All four of us split up to our respective interests and reemerged an hour later, dazed but refreshed and calm.
After gorging ourselves with pasta and sangria at dinner, we waddled our way to the Gershwin Theatre to see “Wicked.” It was an experience I am still processing, but all I can say is I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time, with a few breaks for tears and clutching the knees of Kaylie and Isabel at important times. “Defying Gravity” was incredible. No adjective seems enough to describe that moment.
That Thursday will forever live in my memory as a perfect New York City day and night. I spent it with my favorite people in my favorite city in the world, doing some of my favorite things. It doesn’t get better than this.
Amanda White is a junior majoring in journalism. She appreciates good books, good style, and good conversation.