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Broadway: In the Heights and South Pacific

In the Heights South Pacific

As the photos below will suggest, I got some research done at the New York Public Library, visited the Philippine consulate and marveled that Pacquiao's billboard was still up more than a month after he knocked out Hatton. But as usual, I spent more time—and money—watching Broadway shows. I went to lotteries, of course, and—what else is new?—didn't win. It looks like my Wicked experience was really beginner's luck. It got so bad, that I even considered buying full-price tickets from the Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center for some sold-out shows.

So what did I end up seeing? Altar Boyz, Hair, In the Heights, South Pacific, and West Side Story on Broadway and off, and Cirque du Soleil's Kooza. I had discount codes for two of them, bought partial view and student rush tickets for two more, purchased one at TKTS, and was treated by a good friend to an excellent orchestra seat for the best show I saw on this trip. By the way, I skipped Billy Elliot, this year's Tony winner for best musical, because I had already seen it last year in London.

Altar Boyz was forgettable, and Kooza did not quite live up to my expectations that were probably unjustly inflated by gushing reviews of other Cirque du Soleil productions. Hair deserved its Tony award for best revival over West Side Story, but I wasn't all that impressed with either one. But I did like In the Heights and South Pacific very much.

Rickey bought us tickets for In the Heights because he felt guilty that he missed joining me at a lottery. It's a good thing he did because I had already decided to pass on last year's Tony Award winner for best musical. What I liked about In the Heights was the fact that it is very now and that it has a familiar Filipino feel—perhaps because it's about a Hispanic neighborhood—from the emphasis on getting a degree to the shame that accompanies not being good enough to the importance attached to winning the lottery to the preoccupation with gossip. The fact that I had no idea what it was about and that I had an excellent view from an expensive orchestra seat (free!) probably contributed to my appreciation of the musical.

In contrast, I was prepared not to like South Pacific because I had seen the movie and a Repertory Philippines production, listened to the original cast recording many times and had read about almost every aspect of its journey from book to musical to movie. In short, I knew what it was about, and had fairly high expectations. And this production met or exceeded all of them, from the actors to the orchestra to the wonderful sets. But perhaps the most important detail of all was the fact that this was the best $20 seat I bought for a Broadway show ever. I got this cheap ticket, in particular, because I had a student ID. Usually, such discounted tickets get you a seat in the front row, back row or some not-so-good seat. But because just about any seat at the semi-circular Vivian Beaumont Theater has a great view of the stage, it did not matter at all that I was not in an orchestra seat or sitting in the center.

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