Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our Journey to "South Pacific"

Posted by Bruce Miller
As I mentioned earlier, Terrie, Hannah, Curt and I ventured to NYC for Columbus Day Weekend. I love New York, and not just cause the slogan tells me so. My mother is an NYC native, and I’ve spent my entire life visiting the homeland at least once or twice a year, often more. I’ve always felt comfortable there, and it’s important to Terrie and me that Hannah and Curt feel comfortable there too.

So we don’t really need a reason to visit the Big Apple. New York is New York, with all that that entails. For us, that’s reason enough. But if we had needed additional motivation, seeing the smash hit revival of South Pacific would have been it.

The Tony Award-winning, Lincoln Center production stars the luminous Kelli O’Hara and features Richmond’s own super-talent, Jerold Solomon. Ever since seeing Light in the Piazza, Kelli O’Hara has been Hannah’s favorite leading lady under 40. I greatly admire her as well. (I have to include the “under 40” caveat out of respect for Kristin Chenoweth, Victoria Clark and Bernadette Peters, who also head Hannah’s short list of beloved musical theatre actresses.)

When we saw Piazza (also at Lincoln Center), Hannah LOVED the show, and wanted to meet the cast at the stage door following curtain call. (I loved being able to use Hannah as my excuse for wanting to do the same thing.) For reasons I don’t know, there’s usually a much smaller crowd at the stage door at Lincoln Center than at the stage doors of other Broadway musicals. So, when Victoria Clark and Kelli O’Hara exited, there was no mob, and both of them were very gracious in talking with Hannah and me. They made a terrific impression.

When Hannah saw Kelli O’Hara in South Pacific on the Tony Awards, that Rodgers and Hammerstein classic immediately became her #1 choice of shows to see. (She’s never quite forgiven me for seeing Pajama Game, which also starred Ms O’Hara, on a business trip without her.)

And then there’s Jerold. Hannah was very fortunate to have played the Oomiak in King Island Christmas years ago at Theatre IV, under Steve Perigard’s wonderful direction. Hannah won the role fair and square, and did a terrific job. Among her costars in that production was Jerold Solomon, who played Ooloranna, the Inuit leader who conceives of the plan to carry the oomiak (a walrus-skin boat) over the mountain that divides one half of King Island from the other, rescuing the island’s priest who had been stranded in an ice-bound ship offshore.

Every week, show after show, Jerold, Jake Mosser and the other men of King Island hoisted Hannah up high and carried her all around the stage. When you’re a little girl, and it’s your first starring role in a show, and a handsome and able 22-year old man is carrying you around stage for 90 minutes, it’s got to make an impression. Suffice it to say that Jerold will always hold a special place in Hannah’s heart.

Our only problem was this. We decided to take this trip sometime in August, and by the time the decision had been made, South Pacific was already sold out for the entire month of October. You can always go through a broker to buy tickets in advance to sold-out shows, but it winds up costing an extra $35 to $150 or more per ticket. And that's money we don't have. So I decided to take a chance, and try to buy a last minute ticket from a broker on the street. This is a risky venture, to be sure, but the two times I’ve tried it, it’s worked.

Coming tomorrow – Buying Last Minute Tickets from the Stranger on the Sidewalk … and LOVING South Pacific!

--Bruce Miller

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