Earlier this month, the Lovett Honors Theater class took their annual trip to New York City. After a brief break in tradition due to COVID-19 last year, the students, including yours truly, could not wait to take on the “Big Apple” for five days.
With a group of only nine students, we were able to personalize the trip by doing activities that we wanted. For example, as we were walking past the New York Public Library, Leila Beaver spotted one of her favorite matcha shops and screamed. So, half of the students bought the green drink, and the other half played with the sidewalk pigeons. (I think matcha tastes like grass, so I stuck with the birds.)
We saw a total of four Broadway shows including Company, Six, Wicked, and Hadestown. Each show was drastically different, and everyone had a favorite.
On the first day, we saw Company, which we did not know anything about before entering the theater. It was going to be a ‘surprise’ show, as the others some of us knew by heart. We truly did not expect it to be as good as it was, and everyone was laughing the entire time. We saw an understudy take on the female lead role for the first time, which made it even more magical. The show “gender-bended” the roles, meaning that this version swapped male and female parts.
Broadway legend Patti LuPone also starred in the musical, and she had the audience in the palm of her hand, as she received a standing ovation from the second she stepped onstage. Company put the feeling of a midlife crisis to song, as we saw 35-year-old Bobbie tackle romantic relationships, friends getting older, and learning to love herself in a big place like New York City. Company even features Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning songs, such as the iconic “Being Alive.”
The second day was a dream. We saw Six, and I think I lost my mind during that show. Six is about the six wives of Henry the VIII who make up the historical saying “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” The show follows these womenas they explain their relationship with the king, and the tragedies, heartbreak, and successes that happened to them along the way. But, the entire show is supposed to be a competition between ‘who had it the worst,’ and they engage the audience in the concert-like experience.
I was sitting in the second row for this show, and the actresses were staring at us the entire time, as we were screaming every time they finished a song or dance. In the middle of the show during the song “Get Down,” senior Julia Jamieson was so into the number that they asked her to get up and dance with them in front of the entire packed audience. Then, they pointed at the rest of us along with Julia and broke character for around two minutes because of how much we loved the show. Later, Julia was asked to meet the cast at the stage door, and she was given a show goodie bag by one of the leads. So many of us knew every line and detail of the show, so we felt like we were dreaming. It was right out of a movie.
On the third day, we saw the iconic Wicked. It was the biggest theater, stage, and set I had ever seen, and so much magic happened. Wicked is a musical centered around how the characters from The Wizard of Oz came to develop their relationships and destinies. It mainly follows the friendship between the green Elphaba, as she navigates being ‘different’ from the rest of her classmates in school, and the bubbly Glinda, as she goes from manipulation to attempting to do the right things. Though Wicked has come to Atlanta multiple times in the past, I was one of the only ones who’d never seen it live, but I was so glad I did. It truly is a mega-musical, and I can’t imagine the behind-the-scenes work that went into forming that show. When Elphaba flew up in the air during the famous “Defying Gravity,” I definitely stopped breathing.
On the final full day, we saw Hadestown. I am proud to say that it is the best show I have ever seen, and I am now obsessed with the music, actors, and set design of it all. It tells the story of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus ventures into the underworld to rescue his love. The storyteller, Hermes, warns the audience that they are about to witness a tragic tale, but I was not expecting to be THAT moved. It is truly heartbreaking, and I am still not over it. The show features such a small cast, but they tell the story so incredibly well. The ensemble moves the set pieces during the music, and they are an integral part of the story, too. I got chills during the song “Wait for Me,” as a breathtaking set change took place and stunned us all. It was amazing.
When we weren’t at the theater, we did other activities including riding the SeaGlass Carousel made of plastic fish, which made us all smile and laugh like little kids. We also rode the Staten Island Ferry along the water, which was beautiful, too. We made a much more somber stop at the 9/11 memorial, where we silently walked around, taking it all in.
We did some shopping all around the city, and we ate at a variety of restaurants. My favorite meal was the breakfast and bagels at Barney Greengrass, as we met the coolest worker with the thickest New York accent who was hilarious. Leila even got her ear pierced on the trip for her birthday because she wanted to do something reckless.
While the shows were my favorite part, I just loved being with everyone, as we are a close-knit group that is inseparable. We have so many photos and memories from the trip, and I can’t wait to return next year, even if our group will not be the same after the seniors depart for college. New York is truly magical, especially when you are with the people who make you laugh and smile the most.
Now you might think that theater kids would be singing in the streets of New York without a care in the world, much like we do in the Black Box, on the way to the deck after rehearsal, or at sleepovers, but we were warned not to before departing.
“No singing or screaming in the streets,” Mr. Freer told us, “or you will get mugged.”