Matilda in New York

This afternoon I flew to New York. I went to the gym in the morning and then pottered around at home until I left the apartment at 11:30. The US side of things was practically empty when I got there. As much as I love Glen, he can’t keep his mouth shut and his words to a minimum when going through Border Security.

Matilda the MusicalI was called up, responded to questions with near monosyllabic answers and was through without any trouble. The border guy seemed particularly bored (but he was good looking). Security was quick to. In fact, the whole process from border control to customs to security took less than ten minutes. I think that’s some kind of record.

Because it went so quickly and I’d gotten there two hours early just in case of trouble, I had plenty of time to kill before the flight. I read a book and waited for our flight to be called. In the boarding area was a group of men, one of whom was wearing a pink tutu, pink gators and a pink tiara, along with other pink and glittery things. His mates were all dressed normally. Bachelor party in Atlanta I think. They were getting pissed.

When I boarded the flight, I was behind an old black woman who was being pulled backwards in a wheelchair. She was talking at me. I have no idea what she was saying. Her accent was strong and then when I did respond, she couldn’t hear what I was saying and misinterpreted it. She was funny.

Though the flight was just about full, I had a spare seat next to me. I fell asleep before the plane took off and woke up with a start as we hit a patch of turbulence. I dozed the rest of the hour and a half flight and then got a bit panicked during the landing as it seemed (like it always does) that we were going too fast, landed too rockily, and would soon crash and burst into flames. As you may have guessed, we survived.

I caught a taxi to Manhattan. The traffic was terrible at 4pm, though not so terrible it wasn’t moving. It took nearly an hour to get to West Village, where Aaron lives. He’s very kindly letting me stay with him. I forgot to give the taxi driver a tip when I paid with my credit card. He was quick to ask about it and I apologised and gave him cash. I gave him too little as I only gave 10%, when the standard is 20% now. Poor guy.

I waited at the nearby Starbucks for Aaron to come back from an appointment. I didn’t have to wait long. We went to his apartment, chatted for a little while then headed out to catch the subway uptown. He was going to see a documentary and I was off to see Matilda the Musical.

I had booked a ticket a couple of days prior once Glen said it was ok if I saw it without him. I’d wanted to see Matilda ever since it came out in London. Friends who’d seen it raved about it and everything else I’d heard about it said it would be an amazing show. And with it being put together by Tim Minchin, it was sure to be a winner.

I collected my ticket a little after six. The website I booked it from had an incorrect layout for the seating so I bought what I thought was a ticket for a seat that, while in the front row, was on the very edge of the stage. Not exactly prime viewing.

When I went to collect the ticket, I asked if they had anything in the mezzanine, hoping I could swap it for something with a better view. The woman behind the counter read out the numbers of a few seats and I asked where they were. She then looked at my ticket and said, “But you’ve got an excellent seat.” She then showed me on a correct diagram of the theatre layout where I was sitting.

One row from the stage. Dead centre. I was on the aisle and the cast go up and down it all night. Any closer and I would have been spat on (as the people in the row in front of me were).

I didn’t think Wicked was all that great the first time I saw it but after downloading the soundtrack and learning the songs, I enjoyed seeing it a second and third time. Maybe that’s what I need to do for Matilda.

I was expecting a similar arc to that in the movie and confess it’s been so long since I’ve read the book that I can’t point out where the two differ (though obviously they do). So my preconceived notions of the story made me a little antsy, particularly as the telekinetic powers she gets don’t make an appearance until really far along in the story. So far in fact that you would think they weren’t going to be included at all.

There were a few things that I felt fell flat, like some of the scene endings, but there were plenty of fun moments. And Trunchbull was excellent. Played by a man, she was superb as the deranged and vile principal. She was the highlight of the musical.

Some of the songs were pure Minchin and my favourite was When I Grow Up and I could happily listen to that one on its own.

I’m not desperate to see it again but if it came to town, I probably would go. At least then I’d know what to expect and could focus on trying to enjoy more of what was going on in front of me than wondering where the story was going.

The playbill program had a few interviews and adverts for other plays on Broadway which I’d love to see. Hedwig and the Angry Inch was one, as well as Cabaret with Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming, and a play with Toni Collette and Marisa Tomei (the real-life Joneses or something). There are so many shows to see. Just not enough time and money to see them all.

I caught the subway back to Aaron’s and so ended my first day in New York.

What do you say, eh?

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