My daughter’s first Broadway show was a blackout
This was such a me thing to happen.
I had tickets for my daughter to see Frozen on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. She was traveling with her brother on Sunday to Mississippi for visitation with her mother, so these Saturday night 8pm show tickets were perfect. We'd be home in time for her to sleep in late and catch the afternoon flight and it would be a nice thing to do together before she'd be gone for 3 weeks.
Perfect I tell ya! (Yeahhhh, no.)
Everything was great. We had no traffic delays driving over to Metropark train station. The train was even on time. So we had time to grab a quick dinner at the TGIFriday’s at Penn Station. Then she wanted a frozen yogurt (we were going to see Frozen after all) before we made the walk up 8th Avenue.
We were having a great dad and daughter evening, talking about anything and everything, and certainly about the show. This was going to be her very first Broadway show you see. And I was so excited to be able to take her.
As we walked up the avenue sirens were blaring behind us racing north. I didn’t think anything of it since this was NYC. There were always sirens. Then a few more. The sidewalks were packed. The last few short blocks I don’t remember noticing anything wrong with any traffic lights. Perhaps we had just gone with the flow of pedestrians.
It was as we rounded the corner onto W. 44th that we knew something was wrong. A thick wall of people in front of all the theaters. Almost like Times Square on NYE. We worked our way to the St. James where hundreds of people jammed the street. There was no line waiting to get in. No order. Just a sweating mass of humans. I asked a woman what was going on and she told me the place has been evacuated. She and other early arrivals had gotten their seats when the lights went out and everyone was made to leave. It was a neighborhood power outage. A blackout. Forty-two years almost to the hour of the citywide blackout of 1977.
They told us nothing. We stood with people pressing in from all sides as theater employees stood out front answering no questions. There were plenty of questions, but they had no answers. I warned Mina right away that with a blackout it was unlikely the power would be restored in time to have the show go on.
Of course it didn’t.
The following canceled their July 13 evening performances:
Ain't Too Proud
The Book of Mormon
The Cher Show
Come From Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Lion King
Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow (Off-Broadway)
Rock of Ages (Off-Broadway)
A Strange Loop (Off-Broadway)
What the Constitution Means to Me
Ours is in the middle of that list. Frozen. Which is what I was afraid my daughter's heart would be. You promise your 12-year-old girl her very first Broadway play...and there's a blackout. A cancellation. A long trip for nothing. Cue the Price Is Right loser music here.
But I'll never forget this special night. Because it turns out my daughter took it like a champ. Took it like the woman I'm trying to raise her to be, and I was so proud of her. She reassured me she understood there was nothing I could have done. We could see it another time. Then she even thanked me for simply trying to take her. To top it off, we were walking back down to Penn Station to catch a train that would get us home by 11pm when she saw a man sitting on the sidewalk in a doorway. He had his few possessions scattered about him. He looked exhausted and hardened and dirty. She asked me if she could give him her own money that she brought. My daughter has often talked about the plight of homeless people and her desire to help. Sizing the man up, I noticed he wasn't asking for anything. No sign. No collection cup. If anything he looked like he wanted to disappear, not draw attention. In other words, he didn't seem like one of countless professional beggars. He seemed to be one of NYC's legitimately homeless.
We went over to him, carefully of course, and my daughter had asked if I would make the first move. I asked him if he needed help. He nodded yes. Then my daughter held out a twenty dollar bill she'd brought and told him she wanted him to have it to get himself some food. He took it and his eyes welled up. He was hardened but not to the point that couldn't happen. He thanked her, profusely, and the poor guy went on to talk about how there was a black hole that took the electricity. I don't know if he meant blackout or really thought there was a black hole responsible. Either way, we walked the rest of the way to the train not with Mina sulking about the canceled show but with her feeling good about helping someone less fortunate. She never got down. On the way back she said on a scale of one to ten her night had been a 9.7; going out to eat, getting a frozen yogurt, funny people watching, experience the chaos of a NYC blackout, helping a homeless man and just hanging out with her dad.
If you ever read this Mina, know your father is very proud of you. And even though the show was lost to a Con Ed power failure I had a great time too. At least a 9.7.
Maybe a 10.
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