The on again off again rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit. The energy was tangible the moment we stepped onto the 6 Train and headed downtown.
We got off at 51st Street and walked over to 5th Avenue. The rain was picking up as we found our viewing spot at the corner of 50th and 5th Avenue.
Umbrellas obstructed a lot of view early on but about a half hour into the parade the rain let up and the umbrellas were packed up.
Jimmy and Carolyn were up early and out exploring Times Square and Central Park before making their way back in our general direction. CeCe stayed on the corner watching the parade and Elizabeth and I walked with Jimmy & Carolyn backed to the sleek hotel.
We dried out for a few minutes and were back out in search of lunch. As we walked, we talked…about all kinds of things – but mostly where we should eat. I mentioned Say Cheese and Elizabeth joined me in talking it up. I was just there on Friday with CeCe, but I didn’t care.
We crossed over to 9th Avenue and walked down to Say Cheese.
When the food arrived and Carolyn and Jimmy started tasting the delicious bread and cheese and the BEST tomato soup – I knew we’d made the right choice. Everyone loved it.
After we ate we walked over to Times Square, shopping around a bit and then tried killing some time in the Village. As we stepped out of the subway station at Christopher Street, I knew that this excursion was not the best idea.
We walked up into the heart of the parade ending. There were barricades, police, etc. We walked up a couple blocks (passing the 9/11 tiles) and got back on the subway.
We exited right across the street from the Nederlander Theater where the musical RENT is playing.
CeCe met up with us there (his friend Theo with him) and we all put our names in for the show’s $20 lottery. A half an hour later both Theo and CeCe’s names were called. They both had 2 tickets each – so 4 of us would be seeing the show.
Elizabeth wanted to head back, today was her only day off and she was ready to spend some time at the apartment. I wanted to see the show, especially with Jimmy and Carolyn since we’d talked about it so much last night, but was ok not seeing it – since Theo was CeCe’s friend and would probably want to see it with him.
It was discussed and hashed out and soon I was on subway heading home with Elizabeth.
After she and I got off the subway and rode the bus across to our apartment, I got several voicemails from CeCe.
Catie, a girl in the winner’s line behind him, had an extra ticket and it had my name on it.
I rushed out of the apartment. Missed the bus across, so took the 6 Train down to 59th street and changed to a N Train to get me to Times Square. The show started at 7:00 and as I was running up the steps, out of the station and crossing the street, I saw that it was already 4 minutes after 7:00.
I rushed to the door (in what has become CeCe’s highlight of his trip) with a look of frenzied exhiliration on my face.
As I walked down the aisle, to the front row of the theater, I discovered that my arrival was a surprise to Jimmy & Carolyn. I had thought they knew about the extra ticket and everything CeCe was doing to try and get me back. They thought I was back in my apartment, settled in for the evening.
My seat was dead center on the front row. I was between Jimmy and our new friend, Catie, who had given up her extra ticket for me to use.
The show was absolutely amazing. It is now in its 10th year and still going strong. I haven’t seen it in a couple years but I was honestly transported back to the first time I’d seen it. The entire show, even though I did see the movie version a couple months ago, was fresh and new to me.
Into the second act, I was so incredibly moved that I was literally choking on my tears. It has been a long time since I’ve had that kind of reaction to a show. I don’t know if it’s because it was PRIDE and I’ve seen where prejudice has been, where it is now and where it has to go. I don’t know if it is because I’m a New Yorker now and the story has a more personal feel to it. Or if it’s because I was seeing with Jimmy, Carolyn and CeCe – three of my oldest friends…
I don’t know what it was, but my soul connected completely with the show. It is a night I will long remember.
Afterwards, standing on 41st street, Carolyn was getting her Playbill signed by one of the show’s terrific ensemble members, Frenchi Davis (of early American Idol fame). I stood off to the side and watched. Carolyn moved on to the next cast member and I hung out on the fringes of the group gathered.
As I stood there by myself, Frenchi came up to me. I didn’t have a Playbill out for her to sign, I hadn’t waved her over for an autograph, etc. She just made her way to me. I complimented her on a wonderful show and a brilliant voice. I told her that it had been 9 years since I’d seen the show there at the Nederlander, but it was still just as powerful and moving.
Without saying anything, she stepped forward and hugged me. CeCe later said that he’d spotted her looking at me several times.
We spoke for just a few minutes about the show, her connection to it, Atlanta, New York, future projects, etc. But there was something unique there – especially when we talked about how the show still effects people. Then she hugged me again.
The whole moment was unplanned and unstructured – and very, very real.
CeCe headed to Penn Station to see Theo off and I walked with Jimmy& Carolyn to the subway station, where we said our goodbyes. They have a full morning planned and I have to work tomorrow afternoon, so that would be it.
I can’t wait for them to come back and I look forward to them having more time here.