It appears that everyone in our village is celebrating something this week. Layers of vanilla, devils food, and white cake are spinning around icing turntables at a furious rate. The order forms are full of cryptic messages and color directives. I cannot keep track; pastels and pop, bumble bees and elephants. Ombre ruffles are a category unto themselves, ditto mythical horse creatures with curious foreheads. As of this writing, I am unable to politely verbalize my sentiment regarding unicorns and rainbows. Suffice to say that unicorns and rainbows are not flavors. Their sole purpose in the pop sugar culture is to simply elevate the status of Fudgy the Whale.
Sequestered amongst fruit and pie shells, I am trying to tune out the cake and cookie madness, choosing instead to mull over Sunday evening’s Antoinette Perry (aka Tony) Awards. I will be the first to admit how lucky I am.
Should you think I take the luxury of theatre going lightly, rest assured I do not. Each time I crawl over a row of individuals, stepping on toes and tripping on oversized handbags, I pinch myself. The truth is, while quietly negotiating a peaceful armrest resolution with the person next to me, I acknowledge my good fortune. Though diligent in turning off my cell phone, on more than one occasion, I have been guilty of the dreaded wrapper crinkling. Not candy wrappers, cough suppressant crinklings, but only under the most dire of circumstances. It has been a tough cold and flu season, and nowhere is this more evident than in the still of a theatre, namely during the climactic monologue or heart wrenching ballad concluding the first act.
This season, several plays have boasted more than one intermission. This begs the question, when should one attempt a mad dash to the Ladies Lounge? There is no correct answer, though leaving the high heels at home increases one’s chance of success. Personally, I find a low-heeled boot offers both speed and ease of movement, critical when seated in the middle of a row. Boots also mean you can wear any pair of socks and leave the dreaded pantyhose buried in the bottom of your dresser. Though I would love to, I’m not saying toss the pantyhose in the trash. An evening will arrive when you need them. This Sunday evening, for instance.
At six o’clock on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall, theatre lovers will elbow Broadway’s elite in the grand foyer. Overhead, chandeliers weighing approximately two tons each will illuminate the art deco lobby. I happen to know this little bit of trivia as a former member of what was known in the 1980s as RCMH Guest Relations. I vaguely remember being trained to provide a positive guest experience, whatever that means. Honestly, the challenge of memorizing the 6,000 seat auditorium, navigating the labyrinth of backstage hallways and running the dreaded Guest Elevator were the main focus of my attention. Members of the Guest Relations team constantly rotated assignments. As a totally inept elevator operator, I look back and wonder how many people barely escaped irreparable harm traveling from lobby to mezzanine with yours truly as pilot. Thankfully, my stint in Guest Relations was short-lived. Waving good-bye to my former Guest Relatives, I would later find out why I snagged the highly coveted job in the Art Department. Not only was I competent behind a typewriter and a bottle of White-Out, my previous college employment at Ithaca’s Home Dairy Bakery proved I had real life work experience. Unlike today’s unpaid internships, my first job out of college was pretty spectacular.
On Sunday night, I will take particular note of the twenty-somethings working the lobby, taking the tickets, and ushering 6,000 high-heeled and tuxedoed guests to their seats. I’m still on the fence concerning footwear, particularly now that my weather app indicates scorching temperatures. Inside the theatre, the air conditioning will be freezing cold and I’ll wish there was a blanket stowed beneath my seat. Just about 10 pm, a stomach beneath a sequinned dress will start to grumble from hunger, and someone I know will wish she had tucked a rainbow sprinkle cookie (or two) into her tiny evening bag. Hopefully the Tony-goer seated in close proximity will have a package of Peanut M&Ms in his tuxedo jacket pocket. And in case the peanuts tickle my throat, a supply of non-crinkle wrapped cough suppressants.