Today’s prompt is “Happiness Is” and my first thought was that I could finally finish this draft of a post about my visit to Neverland with my mom back in January. There’s a lot of ways I could answer that prompt (watching the sunset over the ocean, a really good hug, when the Giants win the World Series), but watching Matthew Morrison sing and dance his heart out from the front row is up there.
I had third row seats in March, so I didn’t think that moving up two rows would make that much difference. As you can see from the photo, we were seated directly behind the conductor with about 5-6 feet between us and the edge of the stage. Being so close, we missed out on the beautiful Tinkerbell light trick that starts the show and a couple of other moments designed to reach the back of the house (the sheet “waves” in “Believe” mostly cover the cast on the bench and in “We Own The Night,” most of the under the table action was only barely visible). But the trade off was just being so ridiculous close to my favorite performer as he works his butt off in this show.
Matthew’s Scottish accent has either gotten better or I was just more prepared to hear it because it didn’t take me out of the moment when he first came on stage. “If the World Turned Upside Down” isn’t close to my favorite song in the show, but I will admit I started to tear up when he started to sing. I mean, he was RIGHT.THERE.
There’s a moment you’ve been waiting all your life for
When you find the very reason you’re alive for
And it happens when you seem to least expect it
All at once you come alive and feel connected
Kelsey Grammer lifted our hopes for a brief moment in December when he changed his return date to January 15th, but alas he changed it back to January 19th as we descended on Manhattan, so we were not blessed with his Charles Frohman/Captain Hook. Paul Slade Smith was fine (although he seemed to be a spitter), but having seen the show with Kelsey Grammer, it just wasn’t the same. (They did take out the “Cheers!” “Do they say that in your country?” joke that brought down the house last time.) We were also missing Carolee Carmello, but I quite enjoyed Kristy Cates. There was almost an entire new cast of boys as the Llewelyn Davies brothers (and even role switching before curtain, so I’m not sure which ones on my Playbill insert are correct), and they were quite good. The littlest one in particular had a fantastic voice in “We Are All Made of Stars.” Teal Wicks (my fav besides Matthew) was in fine form and I still use her “let’s drink champagne!” in “All of London is Here Tonight” as a life motto.
Remember this? Well, one of the best/worst things about sitting in the front row is seeing just how close Matthew Morrison gets to the edge of the stage during some of the dancing numbers. He’s clearly done it hundreds, if not thousands of times, so he’s not going to fall on the conductor, but I’d still catch my breath when the toes of his shoes would go over the edge a bit.
My favorite number is still “Stronger,” which closes out the first act. Sitting in the front row, it was hard to taken in a lot of the action that was happening on the sides, when the pirates are erecting rope ladders to hang off of. But as I was building up to watch Matthew take us to intermission, I realized that the pirates were putting the plank directly above my head. As Matthew hits that last note (which was not the original high note, but still beautiful), he was perched on the end of that plank just a couple feet from my head. IT WAS AWESOME. As the lights came up for intermission, I turned to my mom, who had big eyes, and said “Wow!” Regardless of the cost, those front row seats were definitely worth in that moment alone, but we weren’t through!
The second act is a lot sadder, with less moments of levity and fun, so it’s not my favorite because crying in a public place really isn’t my jam. However, three of my favorite things from the whole night happened in the second half, which I was not expecting. (One of the problems of writing this months later is the details escape, but the impressions are there!)
- I made solid, sustained eye contact with the Crocodile. I know that’s sounds insane, but at one point, the guy in the Crocodile costume crawls toward the front of the stage and he was right in front of me. Unfortunately, who plays the Crocodile isn’t billed, so I’ll never know with whom I had a moment!
- While Matthew was singing one of the final numbers, he totally looked at me. Now, I know that’s not possible given the lights and you know, he’s the star of the show, but my mom and I totally looked at each other afterwards and were like, “he looked at me!”
- The “glitter tornado” is just powerful and awesome. Being with my mom in that moment made me want to believe that’s how we’ll all go out some day.
All too soon, they were singing the “Finale” and it was time for the bows. The littlest Llewelyn Davies boy ended up in front of me and I made eye contact with him as I cheered. It was a bit strange to personally cheer for an elementary school kid, but hey, he was REALLY good and I wanted him to know that.
I screamed like crazy when Matthew came out for his bow and I realized that they DON’T get rid of all the glitter from the air during the last number like I had thought before. Matthew had some stuck to his costume, so when he bowed, it flew off. I tracked it with my eyes and as soon as the curtains closed, I was down on the ground to grab it. And right there with me was my mom, who had seen the same thing and wanted me to be sure I got it. She’s a fangirl at heart as well and it’s just one of the reasons I love her.
We didn’t end up staying for stage door shenanigans (it was cold and the crowd was already three deep by the time we got out of there), but even without the Matthew Morrison selfie, it’s one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Happiness indeed!