I don't know if any of you have ever filled out the lottery for a broadway show, but this is how it works. Two hours before the show, you go to the theatre and fill out your name on a card and how many tickets you want - either 1 or 2. At 12:00 (which is two hours before the matinee), they put all the cards into this round thing, shake it up, and draw ten names. Those ten people get front row seats to the show.
The likelihoods of winning? Not impossible, but not guaranteed, either. I've done it once before and I didn't win. There are usually around at least 100 people there, if not more, so while the chances aren't like, you know, the New York lottery, if you're one of those people who never, ever wins anything...well, I wouldn't get my hopes up. And believe me - I'm one of those people.
The experience is an odd one. You stand in the crowd, on tiptoes so you can see the guy announcing the winners (at least, I was on tiptoes since I'm not the tallest girl around, anyway). You hold your breath, waiting anxiously for him to read the first name. You have this incredible feeling in your gut that it could be your name he's about to read off. And then he reads it.
It is someone named Yamu Chin (or Billy Bob or Pablo Francisco). You sigh, stand down from your tiptoes, and watch disappointedly as Yamu (or Billy or Pablo) runs excitedly to stand against the wall where the winners are supposed to go. But then there's another name. You stand on tiptoe again, again holding your breath. This time it's going to be you, you just know it.
This time, it's Diane Alabama (or Patsy Wilkes or Marlene Updike). She shrieks, hugs her friend, and goes hurriedly to stand besides Yamu/Billy/Pablo, beaming all over.
And so it goes on. Usually, ten names are drawn, and read, ten times you stand on tiptoe holding your breath and ten times you sigh and watch wistfully as someone else is picked. Then it's over and you walk away, dejected and feeling that nothing else could be just as exciting as seeing that show so there's no reason to hang around Times Square and you might as well go back to your daily life.
Sometimes it doesn't end that way.
This is what happened to SJ and me this past Wednesday. SJ was about the seventh called. We were both in a sort of shock. How on earth did we win? How on earth were we picked?
We stood in line, got our tickets (because if you win and filled out that you wanted 2 tickets, then you get to bring someone), and then had two hours to wander around Times Square before the show started.
Oh, and by the way, the show was Wicked. We had both seen it before but, let me tell you, there was nothing like seeing it the way we did on Wednesday. After wandering through the M&Ms store, the Hershey store, Toys R Us and passing some actors running lines (which was SO COOL), we went into Gershwin theater and found our seats. Second row. Seats 2 and 4. The stage was so close, we could reach out and touch it with our fingertips from where we were sitting. Before the show started, we got to look down in the stage and saw the Orchestra. We were able to hear the actors backstage doing voice exercises. We were so close, that during the performance, we could see their tiny microphones, we could see their pimples underneath their make up, we could see that Elphaba was wearing a green body suit, we could see backstage what was going on sometimes, we could see their spit as they sang. We could see the actors muttering to each other during dances when they weren't singing. I wonder what they were talking about?
Sitting so close up, we weren't watching a show, we were experiencing theater in a face to face sort of way.
It was one of the most incredible things I've ever done.
I love Wicked. It's probably my favorite show. I loved seeing it in a normal seat a few years ago with the original cast (yay for Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith!), but I also loved seeing it the way I did on Wednesday. Yes, the seats were a bit partial view, but we had views of other things that the rest of the audience didn't. And we only paid $26.50 for our tickets.
Skipping class that day was so worth it.