Have you heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need? It’s a psychological theory on human motivation that includes things like safety, self-actualization, and love/belonging. I think my hierarchy would include a segment for theatre tickets. I’m not saying a big piece… but still a piece. In the past few years regular concerts have lost the power that they once had for me, but Broadway has inched its way into their place because they offer a more immersive experience, since it’s hard to find at a concert unless I invest the effort to be front row, which I do for the right artist.
Theatre tickets are expensive, though, so what I’m willing/able to pay varies pretty heavily by my interest in the particular show…. It’s a whole other Hierarchy of Need. For example, I LOVE Hamilton, but I can’t bring myself to pay $250 for the last row of the balcony with the current cast. However I would have done it a year ago, if I could have, with the original cast. I did willing spend $150 to see Brenden Urie in Kinky Boots from the second row of the mezzanine…. Even though I was just in New York three weeks ago and swore I wasn’t going back for a while so that I could go somewhere new. Listen to “Soul of a Man” and imagine him singing it and you’ll understand.
This isn’t new for me. I’ve done trips to New York just to see Broadway shows before; twice each for American Idiot and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’ve also tacked a show on anywhere I could on other visits. When I travel I’m usually trying to find the cheapest way to get through the day, including 99 cent slices of pizza, and that extends to theatre tickets, too. Below is the result of years or experience and research on how to get myself in to the shows I love, even when I’m broke.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have possibly less-than-healthy love for the Muppets. When I saw Steve Whitmire (voice of Kermit after Jim Henson’s death) and he pulled out Kermit I broke down in happy tears that I battled for more than an hour. I very vividly remember imagining meeting Kermit or just being in the room with him when I was a kid, and here I was in the room with the frog himself.
Soooo, one of the many research k-holes that I went down when planning my 3 days of wandering around New York had to be The Muppets. I found the brilliant tour of New York on Tough Pigs, but some of it was on the older side so I wasn’t sure what shape some of the locations were in currently. One morning I got up early and took myself on a hike with my Muppet’s playlist, a chocolate croissant, and the sweet, sweet nectar of life that is New York street cart coffee.
Despite never seeing it performed, I have a love for Hamilton: An American Musical that can only be described as obsessive. Fanatical. Compulsive. Enthusiastic. Rabid. All-consuming.
Ok, there are more than a few words for it. There are jokes among friends and co-workers that it’s all I talk about and the three magic words in my world *might* be Lin-Manuel Miranda (Seriously, a co-worker said them yesterday to talk about Moana and my ears perked up.). This extends to the mix tape that just came out yesterday (I’m slightly obsessed with “An Open Letter,” “Congratulations,” “Wait for It,” and “Burn”. I was already in love with early releases “Satisfied” and “It’s Quiet Uptown.” )
I can’t explain any of it, either. I’m not really an American history buff and while I can obsessively research dozens of musical genres, I am woefully uninformed on hip-hip, beyond the standard surface history that I’ve picked up from a lifetime of rock docs. I liked In the Heights, but I didn’t LOVE it. But still, it makes my heart beat a little bit fuller.
So yes, I entered the lottery for all four performances while I was in New York. Each day the time leading up to the close of the lottery was nerve-wracking. “I know it won’t happen, but what if it does?” Sitting in a matinee of Waitress, which is brilliant, didn’t even calm my fears. As the close of the show and lottery approached the announcement that it was against New York state law to use cell phones during Broadway performances was echoing in my ears. “What if I won?! What if the show runs long and I miss the one hour window to buy $10 my ticket?!”
As far as I’m concerned if you don’t come home from vacation tired and sore you must be doing something wrong. If I don’t hobble off the plane and limp for a week then I have failed. The game is to get as much stuff crammed into those few days as possible, because it’s all one big scavenger hunt (like that time I spent 3 days driving all over the Mississippi Delta looking for blues landmarks.). I don’t go on vacation to relax and I’m more likely to spend half a day on the sidewalk in front of a music venue to ensure a good spot then I am to spend it sitting on a beach. It’s no surprise then that I have just as much fun compulsively researching a trip as I do actually taking it, because how else am I going to cram ALL THE THINGS into a few days without ALL THE RESEARCH?