Highs and Lows: 2013 Tony Awards

Very High [Like When You Score In The 99th Percentile On A Standardized Test Because There Is No 100th]: Matilda the Musical performance

I know as a grown adult I’m supposed to find kid actors insufferable, Broadway kid actors even more so, and Broadway kid actors affecting Mockney accents worst of all. But MATILDA! I loved the book and the movie, and my inner 10-year-old is scheming about how to get herself into the title role. Revolting Children was the most energetic Tony performance I’ve seen since Totally Fucked from Spring Awakening.

Middle-to-Low [Like When You Get Lower Orchestra Seats But They End Up Being Right Before The First Section Break]: Characters from musicals introducing numbers from other musicals

There’s a reason that, in Disney princess marketing, all of the princesses stare vacantly into different directions. You need to pretend that they’re all part of their own story. Tiana doesn’t know Ariel, you know (except probably in fanfiction).

I need the same things with my plays. The Newsies do not know Matilda, right? I willfully suspend a lot of disbelief when I’m watching a musical. Basically, we all know about the fourth wall, but now I want us to build a fifth one, too – between characters from different musicals who never the twain shall meet. What is this, that 90s antidrug video where every character from every cartoon united to keep kids off of opiates?

High [Like A Hemline That’s Not Scandalous But You Probably Wouldn’t Wear In A House Of God]: Neil Patrick Harris’s  play-musical mashups

42nd Streetcar Named Desire; Children of a Lesser Godspell; Cats on a Hot Tin Roof;The Diary of Anne Frank-enstein the Musical (Justin Bieber would love it!); Cabaret-son in the Sun. I have a soft spot for grandpa humor.

Low [Like When You Make A List Of Common Denominators Then Choose The Least One]: Tom Hanks’ mustache.

For a role, maybe? I used to live in the Mustache Capitol Of America (Buffalo, NY), and I’ve seen better. It’s looking kind of Chaplin-y… and that’s me being as inoffensive and charitable as possible.

Somewhere kind of in the middle, maybe slightly more toward the high end [like a house in a suburb where the school district is good but not great]: Bring It On: The Musical

I love musicals and I love Bring It On, but It’s All Happening was not all happening for me. Does anyone know if the musical is set in the early 2000s like the movie? I ask because of the costumes. If so, that bumps this performance up to a high.

Lower-Middle [Like If It Was A TV Family’s Socio-Economic Status It Would Be The Conners from Roseanne]: Cinderella

I don’t care how 90s this makes me, I love the version of Cinderella with Brandy and whoever that smokeshow prince was. And I always love a good Rodgers and Hammerstein show. It’s sort of nice how this revival is just genuinely and unironically Cinderella. Like, it’s the difference between naming a baby Barbara because it’s your grandma’s name and naming your baby Barbara because all of the other hipsters have used the good old-lady names. I just can’t get too excited, is all. My praise is this, then: this revival of Cinderella is like a baby unironically named Barbara in 2013.

Upper-Middle or Possibly High [The Huxtables in the TV Family Class System]: Motown The Musical

There’s no good reason this should be too much fresher than Cinderella. I mean, this could be a baby unironically named Sharon. I just really like these songs, though! I Want You Back is one of my top cleaning/ chopping veggies tunes and that little boy is SO good! Plot? Who needs it!

Pretty High [Like When You’re Doing A High Five But It’s With Someone Smaller Than You Like Maybe A Child]: Cyndi Lauper winning best score for Kinky Boots

Is her accent real or just an impression of Rizzo from the Grease movie? Or a NY-area pickle vendor from the 1930s? I don’t know and I don’t need to know. I love it.

Middling [Like A Regular Five With Someone Your Same Height]: The performance from the Annie revival

Like any glitter-blooded hammy American kid, I loved Annie. Still do. But I wasn’t much more blown away by this performance than by your average good local production of it. Jane Lynch got laughs, but it seemed more like that “haha, there’s Jane Lynch” thing that happens with stunt casting, not so much her performance. Also, the adorable and talented little girls are seriously borrowing Lauper’s accent, right?

Very High Indeed [Like The Woman On The Bus Last Week Who Pulled On One Of My Curls Then Asked My Ethnicity]: Anna Kendrick

She only presented an award, but we’re fans here. I just like when she’s around.

High [Like a Thermostat On A Winter Day]: A Christmas Story: The Musical

Ladies and gents, 2013 is the year of musicals with a title followed by “colon – The Musical”. I don’t know if this musical is any good. I don’t care, either. The marriage of one of the most beloved Christmas films ever and the musical genre? I don’t object. Also, tap dancing.

Middle [Like A Christopher And Banks In The Center Of A Shopping Mall In The Middle Of The County In The Center Of The State That Is The Middlemost Point In Middle America]: Phantom Of The Opera

If Rodgers and Hammerstein is naming your daughter Barbara without irony in 2013, and Motown is naming her Sharon, this is naming her something crazy-80s yet flashy at the same time. Khrystall or Tyffani perhaps?

A Little Low [Like Realizing That Post-College You Can’t Drink Without Getting A Hangover]: The moment I realized that Billy Porter looks better in a dress than I do.

High But Trying Not To Be High [Like my friend in college who was smoking and started talking about how communist China was the best set-up in the world, and I told him “Yeah, unless you’re a baby girl”]: Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors In Memorium

This song always gets me. Remember the Dove commercial or something when a bunch of self-confident Girl Scouts sang it? Ugh. But it’s even worse when it’s played over an in memorium slideshow with Lauper on a melodium or something. I don’t want to love it, but I sort of love it.

High [Like A Beautiful Eagle Flying Higher Than You Can Dream]: Cicely Tyson

I understand that technically everyone is created equal. I just can’t help but feel that some people are actually a little better than the rest of us, though. Cicely Tyson is one of those people. Don’t think that I’m just saying that because she’s almost 80, either. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman-era Tyson was every bit as superior to you as well.

High Because It’s Low [Like that one song that reminds you of whatever it is that makes you saddest, that you still listen to sometimes to remind yourself that you still can feel]: Once: The Musical performance

Once is one of my favorite movies that I have seen only once or twice and may not be able to bring myself to watch  again. I love The Swell Season but they’re kind of a downer, in a hurts so good kind of way.

Low and Deep [Like that pit in your stomach when you check your work email on Sunday night and find out that Monday’s going to be crazy.]: The embarrassment that in 2013 we’re treating New York State Of Mind like a relevant song to parody.

Be My BFF: A Love Letter to Anna Kendrick

Of course I was aware of Anna Kendrick, mainly from Up in the Air, not Twilight (c’mon, folks). But the more TV interviews I saw of her, the more I knew we could potentially be the best of friends. Obviously I did some further research on Anna, and I made the connection that she was in Camp, one of the most niche, musical theater movies ever. In my opinion, she stole the show with her fantastic, mature version of Ladies Who Lunch. I used to listen to that version over and over again in 2003, and had no idea who she was or what was to become of her. Turns out, Anna had been on Broadway when she was only 12 years old, and had already been nominated for a Drama Desk Award AND a Tony Award!! My brain exploded. She was a theater girl?!!?  WE WERE MEANT TO BE. Then my fasination with her only began to grow, as I watched every interview, read every tweet, stalked every Instagram pic.

And that, fellow readers, is why she has a restraining order against me.

I jest. In an effort to get you all on board with the AK47 (which is her Twitter name and I just realized how awesome it was), here’s a few reasons why she is just the most awesome person ever. If you’re reading this… let’s be pals.

Accurately explaining the difference between East Coasters vs. West Coasters on Ellen

“Mysoginistic rapper Anna Kendrick has a dirty Taco Bell secret” on Conan

She already likes Azns (Per her Funny or Die sketch with real K-Pop group f(x) )

In the event you haven’t seen Pitch Perfect (do it), AK47 is an amazing singer

Like, really, really good. And living out the dream of singing with Kristin Chenoweth

Like, she’s so good, she’s playing the lead in the musical adaptation of The Last Five Years – WHICH IS ONLY MY FAVORITE MUSICAL EVER

She hangs out with the coolest people

But also wants to be friends with celebs, just like us

Laura Benanti, Broadway goddess

We have the same feels

And insecurities

And pop culture interests

And is just hilarious, in general

In short, I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And to answer your question, dough. Always dough.

The Theater Angel

Wang Theatre

Wang Theatre

One year for lent I decided that instead of giving something up, I’d do one nice deed for someone each day. I did well for the first week or so, but then I kind of made stuff up as the days went on. Like, “I said ‘thank you’ to the T driver, so that definitely counts as my good deed.” I found it surprisingly hard to go out of my normal routine to find a nice thing to do.

But one day, I was the recipient of the ultimate act of kindness, and it was something I will never forget.

The year was 2009, I was still living in Boston, and my good pal Brian and I went on one of our regular dates to the theater, because spending time together working at a theater meant needing to go out and enjoy it once in a while. Per usual, we opted for the lowest priced tickets to see The Color Purple at the Wang Theater. Now the Wang is one of the largest, oldest, and most majestic venues in Boston. Marble, chandeliers, and epic staircases – actually, we had our commencement in that very theater.

Anyways, we made our way up to the balcony – not the complete nosebleed seats – but high enough. We got settled in, looked through our programs, noticed LaToya London from S3 of American Idol was in it, laughed at that fact as one would, and I broke open my bag of CVS peach ring candy that I hid in my purse.

Just as Brian was reaching across and into my lap for the prohibited candy, a man came up to us asking if we wanted tickets to sit in the orchestra. B and I looked at each other quizzically, then at the man the same way. He was tall, dark, and handsome, yes, in a cliche way. He had a great smile and I asked if he was serious. He said “Yes, absolutely. Come follow me down and I’ll explain.”

Obviously the appropriate response to this was to follow the good looking stranger down, because we clearly won’t be killed just before watching The Color Purple, as I assume people have some courtesy when it comes to uplifting African-American musicals. As he was walking us down, he nodded to the ushers to say, “They’re with me,” in an extremely VIP way. I looked behind me at B and gave him the “WTF” face and responded with a “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON, BUT I LIKE IT” face right back. Theater Angel, as we dubbed him, led us down to the orchestra, probably about 10 rows from the stage, which you know cost the big bucks. He guided us to our seats, sat us down next to this pretty woman who turned out to be his date, and said, “Good seats, right?”

Um, yes sir. He explained that the first time he ever went to the theater was with his mother as a kid. They couldn’t afford expensive seats, so they always sat in the balcony, where the cheapo seats were, aka where we were sitting. But it was that first show that made him fall in love with theater. He continued going to play after play, made a career out of his passion, and now has become successful in the industry. Theater angel said, “One time, a man came up to me and offered me tickets to the orchestra. It changed my life. And I promised myself, that when I had enough money to buy not one pair but another pair of tickets, I would go up to the balcony and give a couple of people the opportunity I never had growing up, and sit near the front next to all the action. I’m paying it forward.”

I could’ve cried right there and then. But I had to keep it together, and could only mutter out thank you over and over again, just as the lights were dimming for the show to start. I remember we used our box office skills to find out his name via the ticket stubs, and we found our guy. Basically, he turned out to be some big shot theater producer, so clearly he had enough money to use on us.

I’ll never forget our theater angel, and the extremely random act of kindness bestowed upon us that day. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I will absolutely bring some crazy candy munching theatergoers up to the good seats. Because who knows, one random act of kindness might actually change their lives.