Friday, December 08, 2006

Even Annie can't kick out these blues


I loved the musical "Annie" when I was a kid. I still do actually, though I haven't seen a professional production of it since about 1979.

My love for this show began on a couch in the music room of the house I grew up in. I had severely sprained my ankle when I was twelve, resulting in my getting to stay home on that couch for a whole week instead of going to school. Rock on.

My mom knew what a junky I was for Broadway musicals, so to cheer me up she brought me home the original cast album of "Annie," which was the new smash Broadway hit at the time. As soon as she started up the record player and Andrea McArdle belted out the first heart-string tugging lines of "Maybe," I knew I was hooked. I had every line for every song memorized by the end of the week.

I listened to that album so many times that today, nearly thirty years later, I still know every word to every song. I thought this was normal behavior until one night at Marie's Crisis, when the crowd was singing the entire soundtrack to "Annie." I frequently noticed I was the only one singing; no one else seemed to know those lyrics like I did.

At one point I was stared down shamelessly by a group of drunk young women as I belted out the whole "Yank the whiskers from her chin!!!" interlude from "Hard Knock Life" with the enthusiasm of a junior-high cheerleading squad.


Could there even possibly be anything gayer than that?


Anyway, imagine my excitement when I heard about the new "Annie" national tour coming to New York! I immediately signed up to get us tickets for the show at the Madison Square Garden theater. George and I went last night.

Before you ask me how it was, I'll tell you this: if you ever have the chance to see a legitimate work of theater in your life, I would strongly encourage you not to do it in a venue that simultaneously offers NBA basketball and/or professional boxing as entertainment. Let's just say that this was not your typical sophisticated New York crowd.

For starters, I should not have been surprised that the audience consisted almost entirely of children under the age of seven with their parents, although one does wonder why someone would want to spend $60 per ticket and up on taking a kid to a show that he or she will likely not appreciate.

I am further disheartened that parents today do not seem interested in teaching their children to behave in public at all, let alone sit quietly through a performance that the rest of us have paid good money to see.

As we endured an evening amongst full voice parent-child conversations and tantrums as loud as ten freight trains, I experienced multiple flashbacks of sitting in church as a child and having my arm nearly ripped out of its socket for daring to make any noise louder than a pin dropping. As harsh as they were at times, at least my parents knew what they were doing with regard to teaching me public decorum.

To make matters worse, Madison Square Garden treats the subject of "theater" with all the grace befitting an Evander Holyfield match. The ushers actually walked up and down the aisles of the theater selling popcorn, beer, Coca-Cola, cotton candy and "Annie" memorabilia. I have personally attended pro-wrestling tournaments that had less noisy hubbub and commotion than this so-called "theater" at Madison Square Garden.

The show itself, or what we heard of it, was passable - though barely. In all fairness to the performers, I would like to see them again in a proper venue, or at least one that wouldn't necessarily require a thorough hand-washing after touching one of the seats. But that's just me.

As sad as it is to admit, I've seen not one but two community theater productions of "Annie" that far outshone the spectacle I witnessed last night. And for less than a quarter the price, too. So much for our hip, sophisticated New York lifestyle.

Damn.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

CP-- did you see the New York Times article this week on that very subject-- people bringing young kids to shows, where the kids act inappropriately?

In addition to being a teacher, I'm a waiter, and I have found that many parents believe that in a public place, filled with not only people trying to enjoy a meal (or show), it's okay to have their children running wild. And then I get them in a classroom, where they believe they have the right to talk, walk around, etc. whenever they want. God help us as they approach adulthood.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on the children in public places. Funny how parents can inflict pain in public without anyone else seeing it!

Dale said...

At least you got the dog! And I love what you've done to your hair CP.

It sounds like a bit of a trainwreck event but I applaud you on only writing about it and not killing a child in full view of that audience.

Coaster Punchman said...

Thanks for the tip on the NYT article, Johnny Yen - I will look it up. And I'd welcome God to start helping us now if he has any extra time.

Old Lady, George and I would have enjoyed inflicting some pain on a few of those parents. A few weeks ago my sister was here and had the back of her seat kicked repeatedly by a little brat when we were at a show. My sister turned around to shush the kid and was promptly reprimanded by the little brat's mother. I think a full-on bludgeoning would have been justifiable.

Thanks Dale-gee, my hair smells terrific! As for killing a child in public, see above.

Mombi said...

Yesterday I informed someone that "this place better shine like the Chrysler building" and they had no idea what I was talking about... I weep for the future.

And in a related note, I vote for bludgeoning.

Coaster Punchman said...

Ah, Mombi, I may have found yet another kindred spirit in you. A fellow "Annie" lover with a penchant for bludgeoning rude assholes. Wouldn't the world be so much better if everyone was like us?

wonderturtle said...

Oh man, it sounds like an ordeal out of an art film. That's what I like to think to myself when I find a sitation unbearable.

lulu said...

Someday I am going to lose it on a child in a public place, or more accurately, on that child's parents. We had a whole lot of drama in my neighborhood a while ago because a local cafe owner put up a sign saying that children of all ages had to use their indoor voices in the cafe. The local mommies staged a protest and were all over the news complaining that he was unfair.

If you can't teach your children to behave, stick to Chuckee Cheeze.

I'm sorry you had a lame time.

(and I can't believe that all the other boys at Marie's didn't know all the lyrics, and they call themselves gay?????!!!!)

Anonymous said...

Oh my God! This is so weird! The whole time I was typing my response to you, all I could think of was that scene you just told me about with your sister. Swear!!!

Anonymous said...

oh that sucks. I love good theater but have never seen anything in america. During highschool in Germany you have to go to a certain amount of theater (I think it is 6 a year) so I saw everything from Jesus Christ superstar to Faust. One of these days I would love to be able to go to new york and see a show/play on broadway.

p unemployed musician g said...

It is too late for America, we are raising a future clutch of nitwits. I no longer wish to pursue a deeper understanding in the expression of my art as anything I do would be futile at this time in our history. America is being spoon fed mediocrity that is marketed as high art. Run screaming for the hills while you can and leave your ipods and cell phones at home...

Tenacious S said...

Personally, I have perfected the "don't push me another inch" glare and the hard arm squeeze that lets my own kids know I am not kidding around. This is also usually coupled with me smiling while I whisper some threat of a dread punishment in their ear. You know what? It works.

Tumuli said...

How I loathe rude, unruly, impolite children disturbing an otherwise wonderful performance. I wish someone would penalize them, if not "kindly correct" each with jeering and sharp objects.

Bubs said...

Sorry about your disappointing theater experience CP.

As much as those loud and misbehaved kids might've messed up the atmosphere, the sad truth is that their oblivious, talking, cellphone-toting parents probably would've been nearly as bad on their own.

I can't STAND wild, poorly-behaved children in public. My girls were always raised to behave better in public places than at home.

Grant Miller said...

I'm sorry you saw poor theatre.

We named our second daughter Annie and she has red hair. Although, we named her Annie for "Annie Hall."

Sorry.

Coaster Punchman said...

WT: Art film? I wish. I'll have to try that.

Lu: It's true! Most of them anyway didn't know the lyrics. One of the regulars stood next to me and said "I love it that you know this!" I felt very special. And then very gay.

Old Lady: Did I just inspire a psychic moment?

Dino: You're probably about an 8 or so hour drive to NYC? Is that right? If so, you should do a weekend up here some time and see some shows.

Yes George, we realize we are in trouble.

Ten-S, I'm sure it does work. In fact, I'm already afraid.

Tumuli, I also loathe these people. Thanks for confirming.

Bubs, although Miss Manners would argue that people should be well behaved in all places, I would agree that the manners had better come out the second you leave the house if nothing else.

Well Grant, if there is a call for open auditions in Chicago, your little girl already has a head up to get the lead. And then she can support you for a while. Sounds like fun!