When teenagers in other countries think about visiting America, chances are their thoughts tend more toward "bright lights, big city" than "main streets and backroads."
So, when my daughter's Facebook friend from Barcelona confirmed her visit, I knew I'd be taking them down to New York.
I asked our young guest what she wanted to see in the Big Apple. She mentioned all of the famous landmarks: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Abercrombie & Fitch.
I decided that a Broadway musical was also de rigueur.
Having recently watched the Tony Awards, I was eager to see Matilda and Kinky Boots. So, apparently, was everybody else. The shows were sold out, with tickets available through secondary market agencies at sky-high prices. I don't care how old or arguably successful I am ... I refuse to pay $200 or $300 a ticket!
My first Broadway show was Raisin, a musical adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. I went with my sixth grade class in 1974 and I'm assuming we got a group rate. My second was Pippin. I took my best friend to see it for her birthday and I paid for the tickets myself. Balcony seats: $7.50 each. Given that I was earning $1 an hour babysitting at that time, this was a significant investment. (And, Pippin remains one of my all-time favorite shows. The tickets for Broadway's current production are a little more ... but worth it!)
I decided I would do what savvy New Yorkers have done for the past four decades. I'd stand in line at TKTS. Run by the Theatre Development Fund, the TKTS booth offers same-day tickets at 20%-50% off. They don't typically have the latest and hottest titles, but there are plenty of options. The trick is to go with an open mind and have a list of several choices. For this trip, I was looking at Newsies, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia! and Once. My daughter surprised me by asking that I add Phantom of the Opera as well. She's seen it with her grandmother, and I've seen it too (oh, about twelve times). But, she argued that as penultimate Broadway musicals go, well, Phantom is way up there. Truth.
As I joined the snaking line around Father Duffy Square, the girls headed off to Forever 21. But, just as they left me, they added one more show and advised me that it was actually their first choice.
Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Really? Here I had tried to focus on grownup fare (no Annie, thank you very much, I'd rather drink Drano), and they were suggesting the musical I might have taken them to if they were five rather than fifteen. Really? Turns out they had heard great things about it from another teen with whom we'd had lunch earlier in the week.
Frankly, I was surprised.
Frankly, I was thrilled.
So, that evening, we went to Cinderella. Our (discounted — yay) seats were terrific and the show was absolutely magical. The music was wonderfully familiar, but the costumes, sets and even some of the major story lines had been reimagined. For example, did you know that Cinderella doesn't leave her shoe on the stairs after the ball? Nope, first she brings both shoes home, befriends one of her stepsisters, helps advocate on behalf of the kingdom's 99%, resolves a revolution, and only then drops the shoe. Truth.
We left the theatre bedazzled, singing and dancing all the way to 57th Street's Brooklyn Diner for late-night caesar salads.
You see, all modernization and social commentary aside, Cinderella and her Prince Charming still lived happily ever after.
And that magical night in New York, my daughter and our new friend did too.