Thursday, April 26, 2007
You know, they say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. In fact, they say there's always magic in the air. But is there really? Is Broadway, the street, the theaters, the shows, the experience, is it really as incredibly as the songs and legends say it is? The answer is a resounding no.
Broadway itself is exactly what the name implies, a broad way. The street isn't paved with gold, it doesn't glitter brighter than the night sky on fire, and unlike 34th street, I don't believe any miracles have occurred there recently. It's not like going to Oz, it's like walking down any other street in New York. It's crowded, it's loud, it's bright, and it's full of life. It smells of cigarettes and roasted nuts. It's nothing special compared to the rest of Manhattan, not in the slightest.
However, who really wants to compare it to the rest of Manhattan?
Leaving the rest of the city aside, forgetting Times Square and Central Park, Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn and Queens in their entirety, Broadway is by far the best place in the world.
Of course, being an incredible theater geek, with often more enthusiasm for acting than for life itself, I may be just a bit biased in saying that. Spending two days in the New York City theater district can do strange things to a student actor, my two days was no different.
The atmosphere of a Broadway theater, just being there, is incredible in itself. I don't know what it is. Theaters of any kind thrill me, I could spend hours just standing in a theater, backstage, offstage, on stage, center stage, anywhere, and I'd be happy. Sitting in the seats of my school theater for an hour, just sitting, was the best school day I've ever had. I love theaters, but there's something about a real, honest to God, Broadway stage that's just...perfect.
If I had had it my way, I'd have been there all night. I was perfectly willing to stand outside the stage door to meet the actors of the show (we saw Wicked, BRILLIANT show, go see it) for hours. I was willing to stand in the seats looking around...for hours. Hell, I was willing to jump on stage and explore for hours. If only. The theater was absolutly fantastic, my complete ideal place to spend...god knows how long. Like I said, perfect.
And then there was the actual street. Broadway. Broadway. Broadway. Broadway. The name gets tossed around a lot, and has lost a lot of it's meaning. Standing in the center of Broadway, you're surrounded by theaters. Giant posters for thousands of different plays, musicals, and productions, all brightly lit high above the world. Behind you, a shady man in a large coat tries to sell you probably stolen tickets, while in front of you elegantly dressed people file into the theater for a night on the town.
It's a surreal experience, surrounded by the high class and the low class and the middle class and the theater. Drama can make you forget it all. In a theater, no matter who you are, if done correctly, an actor can make you weep. You may be the happiest person in the world, rich with legally bought, ridiculously overpriced tickets and I promise you, you will still cry with the actor. Same goes for if you're unhappy. You could be the most miserable, depressed person in exsistance, and you will still laugh hysterically in a theater. Broadway the district represents the ideal of the theater, that all the world's a stage. No matter who you are, you can walk down Broadway, and no matter who you are, you can laugh and cry and be moved.
So to sum up my point (god that sounds so "official") Broadway is not what you expect. It's not magic in itself, it's just pavement. At first glance it's no different then any other street in Manhattan, it's just...a street. The "magic" that most people think of when they think of it, comes from behind the surface. Stand in the center of the street, right in front of that weird Sci-Fi theme restaurant (Mars something, I think) near the Gershwin Theater, and watch the thousands of different kinds of people living their lives, arguing, laughing, segregating, combining, whatever. Then go into a theater, go see a show, and suddenly watch all these people laugh and cry at the same time. It's brilliant. That's the magic of theater, that's the magic of Broadway.
Broadway rhythm, everybody dance.