South Pacific was….magical. My plane landed at LaGuardia at 11 a.m. Sunday. I cabbed over to the Omni Berkshire, dropped my bags, and trotted over to Lincoln Center (ok, actually, I cabbed there too. It was frickin’ cold!) I managed to buy one of the last tickets available for the 3p.m. matinee, nearly choking at the price. But this was, as my friend Beth would say, a from-me-to-me early Christmas gift. Like Nellie Forbush, I’m as corny as Kansas in August, and I just adore musicals. My mother loved musicals too, and always took us to see movie musicals like Gypsy, Sound of Music and The Music Man. I think the first song lyrics I can remember came from the cast album of My Fair Lady. But Mom had never been to New York, or seen a show on Broadway, until four or five years ago, when my older sister Susie and I, and Katie, took her to New York as a Mother’s Day gift. We had tickets to see Gypsy with Bernadette Peters, and we went to see a cabaret act at The Algonquin, lunch at Tavern on the Green, and dinner at Sardis–all the things she’d always dreamed of doing in New York. She had emphysema by then, and couldn’t walk much, so we even hired a car to pick us up and take us to and from the theatre. The weather that weekend was sunny, but a little cool, and Mom was so excited to be in New York, we even got her to walk down Fifth Avenue and window shop at Tiffany’s and Bloomingdales. She dined out on stories of that trip for months afterward, and when she died a little over a year later, we were so glad she’d finally gotten to see New York. For this trip, I decided if I could only see one Broadway show, South Pacific, in its first revival since the original Broadway run ended in 1954 (the year I was born) would be the one. After I bought my tickets, I still had a couple hours to kill, so I took myself over to P.J. Clarke’s across the street, for a leisurely lunch. It was so much fun watching the holiday crowds at the theatre. Ladies wrapped in mink, shod in Prada, ginormous Louis Vuitton bags casually slung over their shoulders, important big girl jewelry twinkling in the lobby lights. I knew I’d bought an expensive ticket, but it wasn’t until the usher showed me to my seat that I realized I was in the fourth row center, orchestra! When the house lights dimmed and the overture began, I got a huge lump in my throat, thinking about how much Mom would have loved being there. And when David Pittinger, the actor playing Emil de Becque launched into Some Enchanted Evening, with that gorgeous baritone voice of his, I found myself fighting back tears. Sure, the song was unbelieveably romantic, but I was thinking of my dad, and his favorite knock-knock joke, which went like this: “knock-knock.” Who’s there? “Sam and Janet.” Sam and Janet who? “Sam and Janet Evening…” Daddy was the king of corn. So I shed another silly little tear, then I sat back, and let the music and the acting sweep me away to that far away south sea island.
It was dark and cold outside when the show ended, but I decided to walk the twenty blocks over to Times Square to try to buy tickets to another show. Alas, White Christmas was completely sold out. So I walked over to a lovely Italian restaraunt near my hotel, Il Corso, and I toasted the evening, and memories silly and sad, with a couple of glasses of prosecco and some pasta. And it truly was an enchanted evening.