You guys, I have never, ever, in all my life, in all of the entirety of my existence, in all the almost 33 years, had more fun watching someone watch a play then I did when I took my son to see Wicked. He was ALL OF THE EXCITED and so, okay, he's going to kill me for saying this but we got home from church and I laid out his niceish theatre clothing and he wanted to put it on SO badly but he's an eight-year-old boy and so, NO, we are not going to give you 10,000 opportunities to soil your clothing before we leave. A few minutes later he ran past me and he was wearing ONLY his UNDERWEAR and when I asked him why, he said he was waiting to put on his nice clothes. You know, several hours later.
Finally we got ready and WHAT IS IT WITH YOUNG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BOYS AND THEIR TOTAL INABILITY TO GENUINELY SMILE WHENEVER A CAMERA IS PUT IN THEIR FACE?
I asked him what he wanted for dinner. This is a completely stupid question to ask my son because the answer will always be Red Lobster and the first time he answers with something other than Red Lobster the world is going to spin like a whirling dervish right off of it axis and into the abyss of space. I informed him that we had neither the time nor the resources for a seafood feast. His second answer, Taco Bell.
I offered up a handful of restaurants not as nice as Red Lobster but more upscale than the Taco Bell. Places where, you know, I'd need to leave a tip. Nope. There was no deterring him. "I think I'd really just like Taco Bell," he said.
"Taco Bell it is," I replied. Then he requested, as though I just might say no, two cheesy roll ups and one Doritos taco. To the tune of less than five dollars. Pricey date, that kid. He was such an expensive date, in fact, that I threw in a milkshake on the way home. For good measure.
When we got to the theatre, and were walking across the crosswalk, he shouted, "WHOA! THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE!" Then, once inside, as we made our way up, up, way up, to our completely overpriced nose bleed balcony seats (because UTAH IS AN OUTRAGEOUS PLACE TO SEE THEATRE AND I CAN'T AFFORD IT HERE AND IT IS A GIGANTIC AND DEVASTATING TRAGEDY) we kept passing the doorways to the better, much more ridiculously priced, seats. He could see the stage through those doors and he asked, "Do those doors lead to other shows?" He'd just never been inside of a theatre where multiple doors led to the same play. Once I clarified that all doors led to the same show, he said, in awe, "This place is huge."
We passed all the various tables selling candies and shirts and socks. He very much wanted to buy a $35 dollar 11 inch dragon puppet. But, like, no. Our money doesn't buy $35 dollar dragon puppets. I tried to explain that the less we spend on dragon puppets and chocolate covered peanuts and the REALLY COOL WATER BOTTLE THAT I WANTED THAT SAID...
...the more we have to spend on things like ACTUALLY GOING TO THE THEATRE.
We finally found our up, up, way up seats and he asked, "When it starts, will I be able to see it better?" Hmmm...the joy of balcony seats is that you're at least in the theatre and you can see the people and experience the thrill of live art for less money. But then, there is the little fact that you can't see their faces. Like, at all. I whipped out my handy binoculars and gave them to him.
And as it turns out, I totally could have saved all the money I spent on the tickets and just told him that I owned tiny binoculars because they were a MAJOR hit. "Where did you get these?" and "How long have you had them?" and "How did I not know about these all my life?"
We decided to head to the bathroom and, on our way, I walked him down closer and showed him the pit. I explained that there would be an orchestra in there playing the music that he heard. At that point he sighed. It was a happy, contented sigh. "Thank you, Mom." I was actually a little bit confused because we were staring down into an empty pit and I wasn't entirely sure what the gratitude was about.
"For what?" I asked.
His huge eyes stared up at me. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "For everything." If the night had ended right there, it still would have been worth it.
We explored a little more...
Then we made our way back to our seats and Garrett saw a few stage crew members performing various tasks. We had a long conversation about the importance of stage crew and how, really, they're the ones making the whole thing actually happen. I mean, without all the behind the scenes people, you'd have a few actors in jeans and t-shirts hanging around on a stage. There would be no costumes, no lights, no sounds, no set pieces, no nothing, really. "I think I'd like to work backstage sometime. That sounds so fun!" And, really, it can be. Depending on the varying levels of prima donnas one might be working with.
Photography is strictly forbidden. Disobeying the ushers is probably a sin for which I should ask forgiveness. But my boy just loved the enormous dragon so very, very much...and it's the only picture I took...and...
See how we go about rationalizing our iniquity?
I've seen Wicked four times now. It could be a problem for which I need an intervention. But that fact allowed me the opportunity to take my eyes off of the spectacle before me and turn them to my right. Because, to my right, sat a little boy, experiencing Broadway for the very first time.
**SPOILER ALERT** (Except not really because everyone knows that the "wicked" witch flies.)
At intermission, I asked him if he was surprised when Elphaba flew. He said he was and I followed with, "Wasn't that magical?"
Then, that logical little beast looked at me like I was the world's largest idiot and said, "No. Mom. Here, listen. I'll explain it to you. It's not magic at all. What they do is that they..." and then he proceeded to almost completely accurately, explain to me how people in shows can fly. So maybe there is stage crew in his future after all.
When all was said and done, he loved it. And I hope it was just the beginning of a long theatre life together.