Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ballyhoo too

My sister lives about an hour or so north(ish) from Chicago, and usually when I'm visiting her we'll have "Sisters Day," in which we take the train into the city, have lunch, shop, get into trouble with security guards at that fountain thing with the jumbotron know, the usual. One year, Katie had a gift certificate for Ticketmaster, so we decided to see a show. As it was spur of the moment, all the good plays were sold out. It was a week too early for The Nutcracker and she wanted to save Blue Man Group for a family outing. We settled on one that looked interesting, "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." It was playing at the Mercury Theatre in about an hour. Cool! We bought the tickets and began looking for the Mercury Theatre. Where is that blasted theatre?? Finally, we discovered that it was not in the general theatre district, as we had been led to believe, but rather out of town a's a map.
That red square is downtown. Readers familiar with the Chicagoland area will realize that's kind of far away, but not unreasonable. After all, I'm not one to shy away from public transportation. So, Katie and I hopped on the L (brown line, I believe) and got there just in time. Our tickets were row A and we joked about being in the front row...and we the front row. In fact, had we been any closer to the stage, my knees would have been touching it. I've had more legroom on a 747, that's how close to the stage we were. Plus, we were the only ones in that row. And to make matters worse, the action on stage moved very close to the front of the stage. There's one scene in which a piece of scenery rolls out to look like a train compartment and I swear the actors had about two feet between the scenery and my lap. It was fairly ridiculous. Oh, and the rest of the theatre patrons were all senior citizens, like a field trip from a nursing home.

Well, anyone who knows me knows you can't take me anywhere, and my sister is cut from the same cloth...hilarity ensued. We tried, really we did, to suppress our giggles. Unfortunately, the production was not good and the situation got more absurd by the minute. At intermission, we just left. The entire train ride back downtown we giggled ourselves silly about how the actors were going to come back and wonder what happened to the two women in the front row.

I related this story to my friend Denise last night as we enjoyed a glass of wine* before heading over to the Kirk Douglas Theatre for a wonderful production of "The Cripple of Inishmaan." She noted that our seats were also Row A, and I giggled at the prospect of another knee-crushing performance. Fortunately, there was considerably more room this time, although it was still close, as evidenced by this photo I snapped surreptitiously while turning off my cell phone.
But the play was great and we didn't mind the front row at all, although there was a moment with smashed eggs that made me think we'd stumbled into a Gallagher show.

*We stopped here for wine. I recommend it mainly for the hotbed of handsomeness. Seriously, it was like a casting agent had scoured the city for "handsome, older Frenchmen" and plopped them all right here. Check out the wine list. We had ourselves a full body mouthful...then giggled because we're 12. But, really, the wine was delish. We want to go back for dinner some day.


Ellen Bloom said...

Sounds like a great time...Chicago AND Culver City!!! LOVE the visuals included in the post!

San Diego Momma said...

Oh man. Those front row seats.
A few years ago I took my kids to a Christmas play and we were four of eight people in the audience and we were in the front row.
And it was an audience interaction play.
And it was painful.