Broadway: Saturday 29th March

Saturday in New York City and you really can’t tell it’s the weekend. The Big Apple is still a bustling metropolis of people, cars, sights and sounds.After seeing the mega musical Wicked a few days ago, this morning was our opportunity to be a part of a backstage tour of the production – Wicked: Behind The Emerald Curtain.

The day began with a 6.45am start and a brisk walk in a very chilly air to the local Westway Diner a few blocks away, then off to an empty Gershwin Theatre. A mezzanine level foyer became a Wicked museum of various parts of the show, from costumes and props to wigs and model sets. An information session was very professionally delivered to us by two of the cast members of the show who told us all about life in Oz in this amazing Wicked production. It was fascinating.

We were then escorted into the theatre proper, where we viewed a promotional video starring key personnel, including composer Stephen Schwartz. This was all done on a darkened stage of the show. We then had a lengthy Q&A session with one of the three stage managers for the Broadway production of Wicked, which revealed interesting details about behind the scenes aspects of the production. With over 120 people backstage every night, nearly 300 lighting cues and 50 automation cues for machinery on stage, Wicked is a big show, indeed!

Later in the day we went down to Greenwich Village via the subway. It was a beautiful locale and in amongst the pretty streets was the famous Off Broadway venue The Cherry Lane Theatre. It was here that we saw two one-act Edward Albee plays in The American Dream and The Sandbox, directed by the playwright himself. Albee is arguably among the top American playwrights of the 20th century alongside Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill. He is of course, most famous for his play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

These two productions were absurdist in style, challenging many among the group in their understanding of theatre. 80 year-old Albee, a New Yorker himself, is such a guru of American theatre. I felt privileged to see two of his plays Off Broadway, particularly to witness his direction on his own works.

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