I slept in this morning, then headed over to Lincoln Center and met up with Dave (founder of my company, and a musical theater geek.) We saw the coveted South Pacific, and it was exceptionally good. Kelli O'Hara was the perfect Nellie, and she managed to be both worldly and innocent at the same time. We left the theater agreeing that it was an exceptionally good show.
Afterward, we walked over to the half-price ticket booth to see if there was anything interesting for the evening. I knew I'd grab a ticket, and he would too if there was something we both wanted to see. The only thing on the list that he was interested in was Gypsy, and so that's what we did.
From there, we wandered around until we found a restaurant that looked interesting, and wound up at a Thai place called Breeze. It was good-- interesting, but not exceptional-- and just the right thing.
And then Gypsy. I'd never seen it, and didn't really know a lot about the story, but it starred Patti LuPone, and you have to like anyone who spells Patti correctly. At intermission we agreed that she was brilliant, but that we thought South Pacific was the slightly better of the two shows.
I've seen a lot of musical theater, including some truly outstanding performances. So has Dave. near the end of the show, we were both treated to something we'd never seen before-- a literally show-stopping performance. Ms. LuPone's performance of Rose's Turn was... well, so amazing that I don't have words. She pours so much into that character, shows its complexities well, and the role is made for her. The audience burst into a standing ovation at the end of the song and again at the end of the show, and it was one of the most genuine ones I've ever witnessed.
Laura Benanti also does an exceptionally good Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee, and watching her transform from one to the other is remarkable. The two of them also manage some exceptional mother-daughter interactions near the end of the show.
As the house lights came up, Dave and I turned to each other and said "wow!" in perfect unison. We kept saying it for the next five minutes. And then he asked, "OK, *now* which one did you like better?" Gypsy by a mile. I have never seen anyone inhabit a role so powerfully and perfectly before.
I saw two truly exceptional shows today. As I said to Dave as we parted ways, "This was the best theater day of my life!"
Tomorrow, brunch with friends, probably another show, maybe catch up with another coworker so I can meet his fiancee, and then a late flight home.
(axiomaxiom sorry I didn't get in touch with you. I wound up not having any free time.)
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