8 January 2019
Of course, there’s a story about why we found ourselves sitting in the second row orchestra at a Broadway theater in New York last Sunday. The headwaters of the story started with a trickle, naturally, and the trickle grew in to a stream of coincidence as many stories in New York do, simple because in the shoulder-tight crowds you come across here, there are more folks to find a connection to and, sometimes, coincidence flows from that. Here’s the trickle that started it.
Three weeks ago Roberta and I went to see The Other Josh Cohen, a very enjoyable off-Broadway show. Roberta managed to get second row seats (no connection to the above second row seats) and her seat was next to a young woman. They both looked at each other commiseratingly, since a woman sitting in the first row in front of them had a hat the size of a pheasant’s full fan of tail feathers. They smiled and wondered how they’d handle l’affaire du chapeau. But they didn’t have to. The woman, aware of her hat, removed it.
Roberta and the young woman continued to chat, though, about shows they had seen. The woman glowed about just recently having seen Hamilton. Roberta asked how far in advance she had to buy tickets. She didn’t buy them, she said, she won them in a Hamilton lottery…a lottery run by the theater. And her lottery-won ticket…if you’re going to gasp, gasp now…was ten bucks. Roberta put down her knitting (she doesn’t knit, she just got real interested) and started to ask questions in earnest. Somewhere on the Hamilton web site, the woman told her, there are instructions to a lottery check box. Just check and that’s it. Each entry lasts the one day, so each day you enter anew.
So part of Roberta’s routine each morning upon waking was to check the Hamilton lottery box. And last Friday, after a mere three weeks, hardly a burdensome labor, Hamilton delivered a bouncing twosome of tickets to her for Sunday’s performance. First time I ever won anything, she grinned. If it wasn’t for the coincidence of sitting next to that young woman…well, you get the idea.
So yesterday on a line for the royalty of lottery winners, we were ushered to seats in the first two rows. The sightline was just about at stage floor level, which, I guess, the high priests of the theater didn’t think was suitable for the king’s ransom pricing for the rest of the house. But we sat on our jackets, straightened up and saw just fine. And the people sitting next to us…they had checked the lottery box every day for three years before they won. And, you don’t need me to say it, the show is sensational.
As if that wasn’t tour de force enough for one weekend, Roberta, before winning the Hamilton lottery, had found a bit of exotica for Saturday night at the 14th Street Y in New York. It was Samuel Becket’s play, Waiting for Godot…in Yiddish with an English translation on a screen…from French to Yiddish with nary a blink. Waiting for the theater to open, I asked a fellow playgoer…why Yiddish? Well, he said, I’ve read it and seen it a few times and considering how irrational and foolish life can be…why not Yiddish? He caught up to me after the show and asked what I thought. I told him he was right, it did work well in Yiddish. As a metaphor for Jewish life in Europe with its precariousness and uncertainty. it had more meaning than for most others…like a fiddler on the roof, which we also saw in Yiddish. But that’s a story for another day.