Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Broadway Review: "Mamma Mia" (well, not really)
Last week, a few friends and I went to see "Mamma Mia", the Broadway show based on the music of Abba.
Before you get all up in my face, you should know that women were involved in and arranged this. It wasn't like me and six dudes were at the titty bar and in between sucking down $15 vodka tonics and telling the strippers I'm a writer for "Conan O'Brien" I said, "You know what? I think we should all go see a musical." Nay, instead it was one of those giant group emails sent by a female friend saying "Let's plan this way in advance with a big group of people because we don't see each other that often" type of thing.
And to be honest, I fucking love Abba. I'm serious. Not in a creepy "I have every album and their posters cover my bedroom walls" way, but I do own both "Greatest Hits" albums, and I'm not ashamed of this. I'm totally ok with the fact that I know way more Abba than any straight 25 year-old guy should, and it doesn't make me a homosexual. Neither does melting every time I see Kyan from "Queer Eye" or any time I hear his voice or whenever I think of him in a wife-beater doing jumping jacks (which is at least three times a day). I'm 110% straight. Probably.
So I was down for the idea. I've been living and working in NYC since I graduated college in 2001, and often times I think I forget where I am. I get so caught up in going to work, getting drunk, and arousing myself that I forget that I live in the entertainment capital of the world, surrounded by all sorts of things to see, places to eat, and women to harass. Another resolution of mine is to take more advantage of living in the greatest city in the world, so I was happy to be going to the show. Besides, it beats my usual weekday night routine, which consists of going home, making four servings of my special chili and eating them all by myself, eating a sundae, watching tv, drinking some beer, masturbating, and going to bed (this is exactly what I do three-four nights a week).
We all met up beforehand in midtown at a bar near the theater for some drinks. I often don't like to drink at these kinds of things (before plays, before/during concerts, before movies, etc) because I have the smallest bladder in the world, which causes me to have to take a piss every fifteen minutes. I'm not making this up - it's horrible. Everyone who's ever been out drinking with me has remarked at some point at the frequency with which I go to the bathroom. Little do they know that half the time I go to use the restroom I don't actually pee; I instead sit on the toilet to work on some lyrics, so that one day I can fulfill my dream of co-writing a rap song with Ice Cube.
I've written before about how I get uncomfortable in situations wherein I'm supposed to act like a cultured young man. I can do this pretty well most of the time, but it still makes me a little...eh. And even though I was surrounded by friends, this was one of those situations: there we were in midtown Manhattan, all of us dressed to the nines having come from work, sipping fancy expensive drinks as we socialized before seeing a Broadway show. Again, little did my companions know that the highlight of my week came the day before, when after eight days of on-and-off downloading, I was able to finally completely download the full ninety minute porn movie, "Trailer Trash Nurses 6", featuring my new favorite porn star, a Louisiana belle called Stormy (hottest. porn star. ever.).
Anyway, when I get nervous or uncomfortable, even slightly so, I drink very quickly. I was plowing through vodka tonics so quickly that I had to switch to pints of beer, and started to feel pretty good. I then thought of a hilarious joke, which I told people repeatedly throughout the night: "You know, 'Momma Mia' is Italian, and, when translated literally, it means 'My Mom'. I don't know if you guys know that or not." Sure, this isn't funny, but what was funny (to me and me only) was that I said this about 150 times during the course of the evening, each time getting a "You know that's not even funny, right?" response. Good stuff.
And so we entered the theater, took our seats, and the show began. The premise of the show is that there's this 20 year-old girl getting married, and she doesn't know who her father is. She finds an old diary of her mother's, who was apparently a tremendous slut, which says that twenty years and nine months ago she slept with three different guys in a very short time span while vacationing on a Greek island. The daughter tracks down these men and invites them to her wedding, which is on the same Greek island, where her mother now owns and operates a little hotel/cafe, where the men had visited twenty years and nine months ago. Oh, and one of the men is American, one is British, and one is Australian, so it has lots of international flavor.
Without getting too much into detail or spoiling anything, these three men each show up on the island, and hilarity and a whole fucking lot of singing Abba ensue.
Overall, the show was pretty darn good. I don't think the actors sang the songs as well as the originals, but that's kind of expected. Some parts of it were a little slow, and some of it was a little too much for me. For example, some of the song breaks were a bit of a stretch. I can't remember exactly, but there'd be two actors on stage talking, when one would say, "Can you give me that bag?" and the other would say, "Did you say 'Gimme'?" and then suddenly they'd break into "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and there'd be thirty people on stage singing and dancing. At that point, I'd look over to my friend Kelly or my buddy Tev and mouth the words, "What the fuck is going on?"
Also (and I know Jerry Seinfeld said this before about Mel Torme), I feel kind of embarrassed for those guys who are soloing. There were a couple of times when a male actor would be standing on the stage, the stage dark except for the spotlight on him, and he'd be singing his heart out to an Abba song. And it just made me...uncomfortable. The guy's just standing out there, belting one out, and I'm thinking, "Doesn't he ever think to himself, 'What the hell am I doing up here? I'm fucking singing an Abba song in the dark in front of 300 people!'"
Of course, I wasn't able to fully enjoy the show, as I was dealing with a tempestuous bladder that was on the verge of exploding. At one point, Kelly turned to me during a song and said, "I like this song." My response? "I think I'm going to piss myself." She started cracking up, which made me start laughing, because of that whole "forbidden laughter" - shit's funniest and your laughter is most uncontrollable when you're not supposed to laugh, like in a class or in church or in a crowded theater or right after a car accident. Before long, tears were streaming down our faces, as everyone around us looked at us with disdain. At that point I couldn't hold it in any longer, and got up to pee (the first of my several trips to the restroom - is there such thing as a bladder transplant?).
As the show came to an end, I thought to myself, "What Broadway show would be complete without someone in the audience having a seizure?" Fortunately, I was not to be disappointed, as someone in the row next to ours started flipping the fuck out. We were far away enough from the stage that it didn't get the attention of the actors, but this woman started spazzing out, having a real life seizure. Everyone nearby was freaking out as my friends and I watched in disbelief, but the people she was with were very calm. They brought her out into the aisle, only three seats away from me, where she spazzed out some more, but eventually it passed. She didn't return to her seat (I think they took her out of the theater), but she walked away on her own volition.
For the girls, their night was ruined, because they were so upset by the scene. I didn't do a very good job explaining the woman's seizure, not only because I'm lazy, but because it was kinda surreal. We were all sitting there, watching women and homosexuals sing and dance to "Dancing Queen", and then suddenly there's a middle aged lady in the middle of the aisle looking like some shit from "The Exorcist". The girls (and some of the guys) were pretty shaken up, but surprisingly, I was ok. I don't know why, since the slightest thing can upset me - I can't even think of Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" without completely breaking down into a mess of sobs - but I was calm. Probably because I was drunk. And of course I was able to lighten the mood afterwards, when after being asked my favorite part, I said, "It's close...I really liked 'Waterloo', but that seizure was pretty fucking awesome."
All in all, it was a lovely evening for a group of mildly-successful young people out in NYC. I had a few drinks with some friends and caught up, got to see a wonderful musical with good music and acting and some of the most flamboyant displays of homosexualism that I have ever seen (seriously, some of the singing/dancing of the male actors was so flaming that by the end I think the entire first row of spectators was on fire), and even saw some lady have a seizure.
So the next time you're in NYC, be sure to go see "Mamma Mia" (which, by the way, is Italian for "my mom" - just so you know).
And for those who wish to learn more about Abba, my top six favorite Abba songs (with three word descriptions):
1) "So Long" - rockin' and rollin'
2) "Waterloo" - even more rockin'
3) "Angeleyes" - sad but touching
4) "Take A Chance On Me" - so fucking catchy
5) "Honey Honey" - sweet, too sweet
6) "Super Trouper" - an aural assault