A Broadway Diary: Saturday – flights and strikes

Sunday 11 November 2007

Phil needed new underpants. Desperately.

And given the pound’s current exchange rate against the dollar, the only sensible thing to do was fly to New York and buy some. And maybe take in some shows at the same time.

But who could have thought Broadway would have reacted so vociferously to the news?

Is it coincidence that on the day the Whingers arrive in New York, the Broadway stage hands go on strike?

For the Whingers arrive jet-lagged and grumpy to find all Broadway productions cancelled bar eight: Cymbeline, Mary Poppins, Mauritius, Pygmalion, The Ritz, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Xanadu and Young Frankenstein.

Coincidence? As the New York Times notes: “This is the second strike on Broadway in less than five years. The four-day musicians’ walkout in 2003 was the first in almost three decades. But this is the first time Local One, a 121-year-old union, has called a strike on Broadway.”

What it fails to mention is that this was the last time the Whingers were on Broadway and that the strike thwarted their attempts to see the revival of Nine, the musical.

This was too much. Andrew’s pre-trip “research” had already revealed much to fret about:

  • A row about a blogger getting free tickets for preview, leaving in the interval and resulting hissy fits all over the shop.
  • Steve on Broadway claimed that he would be unable to meet the Whingers during their sojourn to the Big Apple because he would be in Kansas (presumably with his little dog too)
  • It is actually illegal to stand still in New York. Apparently “a man named Matthew Jones was charged with disorderly conduct after doing just that in June 2004. According to court papers, a police officer “observed defendant along with a number of other individuals standing around at the above location, to wit a public sidewalk, not moving.”
  • Would the Whingers even get that far? US border guards are now using the Internet to weed out undesirables. Supposing our immigration officer looked up West End Whingers?

And then, of course, came the strike which means that it looks like being curtains for Curtains – one of the main reasons for the Whingers condescending to visit the Great White Way.

With so many Broadway shows off the agenda, would this mean the Whingers would be forced to dip their toes into the fringe? If so, would they be reduced to seeing:

  • Doris to Darlene, a cautionary valentine: “In the 1960s, a biracial schoolgirl is molded (sic) into a pop star by a whiz-kid record producer. In the 1860s, Wagner writes the melody that will become Darlene’s hit song. In the present, a teenager obsesses over Darlene’s music–and his music teacher.”
  • Hamlet: “The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater comes to Jane’s Carousel for a very unique production of Hamlet. Featuring 4 actors and several marionettes, the famous soliloquies will be performed as musical songs.”

Andrew was hoping that all these cancellations might mean he could persuade Phil to see the Moscow Cats Theatre at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center (sic) but bizarrely this too has been cancelled. Are the cats striking too?

On the plus side, the strike is producing some quite funny coverage coinciding happily, as it does, with the opening of Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: the Musical. “As if the Grinch really had stolen Christmas, children cried and parents were crestfallen. Confusion, surprise and anger played at ticket windows, and dispossessed theatergoers shared the sidewalks with grim pickets Saturday as the stagehands strike shut down most of Broadway’s plays and musicals.”

On another plus note, the Whingers were thrilled to find that the Wellington Hotel is the one Borat stayed in the film Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Mysteriously Borat only paid $117.13 for his night at the hotel but the Whingers have been stung for $300 a night (apparently this is New York’s busiest time of year).

One of the gags in the film is that Borat thinks that the elevator (that’s American for lift) is his room. Well, half funny, because the Whingers’ room isn’t that much bigger. But on the plus side, they are on the 24th floor with a half-decent view of Central Park.

So, some last minute rearrangements of itinerary are in order, but the Whingers shall overcome. Tune in tomorrow.

2 Responses to “A Broadway Diary: Saturday – flights and strikes”

  1. Whingers, What’s left open on Broadway is a mixed bag. Here’s how I would rank them in order, best to worst:

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee ****
    Mauritius ***1/2
    Mary Poppins ***1/2
    Pygmalion ***1/2
    Young Frankenstein ***1/2
    Xanadu **1/2
    The Ritz *1/2

    Sorry, but I haven’t yet seen Cymbeline so I can’t tell you anything there.

    BTW, the link you provided to Steve On Broadway (SOB) was incorrect.

  2. Ian Says:

    Glad you are having a great time in New York. Having stayed at the same hotel I am sure you are finding it comfortable if a little basic maybe. I hope you are in the front part of the hotel and not the back part where I found my room which came with a free gift in the bed side draw. I will not allude to the nature of the gift except to say that it was for personal use. Nice to see the rooms are so well cleaned between guests.
    Anyway I am glad you both are getting to see some shows despite the strike. Keep up the good work.

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