The remainder of our four days and three nights in the New York-area was a Yankee Stadium-sized clustershtup. Through no fault of the V’s or of our travel agency, our last three days had a number of itinerary changes. Our tour escort, Elise, did an extraordinary job in keeping us up-to-date on the changes, some of which had to be made on the fly.
The consulting company that organized the Finale National Show Choir Championships was the guilty party of making a royal mess of things. By the end of the weekend we learned just how badly the company made a mess of things.
Our itinerary included one Broadway show, solo performances by two Bishop Dwenger choir members, and competition performances from both Elegance and Summit Sound on the stage of Radio City Music Hall. The kids were crazy with excitement to be singing and dancing at the world famous venue. We were scheduled for some more tourist trap stops, had one more “fancy” dinner to look forward to, and, sadly, had very little time to explore on our own.
The Broadway production we went to was the Disney musical The Lion King. Maggie and Abby were nearly overcome with glee that we were going to see this particular show. I let out a leonine yawn. I complained to the girls at every opportunity that I didn’t want to see a musical about a silly little Disney movie. The show of my choice was Wicked, an equally silly story but one, by all accounts, performed on a grand scale. In truth I didn’t really give a shit what show we went to, I just wasn’t going to let the girls know that. I continued my curmudgeonly ways right up to show time. The girls played along, giving me hell each and every time. They insisted that The Lion King was going to be spectacular and finally told me to shut up about it.
The worst part of the night for me was Mrs. V’s caveat that we were expected to dress up for the event. Dress up for me is my newest pair of jeans, newest pair of tennis shoes, and a decent shirt with buttons. If the mood hits me, I won’t wear a ball cap. The girls insisted that I had to dress up for real. Shortly before the trip I took the girls out to shop for nice clothes for me for our big night on Broadway. Their ideas for dressing up were, and still are, vastly different from mine.
Maggie and Abby spent about an hour of picking out shirts and pants for me to try on. Some of their choices were, in my opinion, beyond the absurd. We first settled on a pair of gray pants. I like gray. They weren’t a pair of Levi’s, but they were okay. The longest and most difficult decision to make was the shirt. I just wanted something conservative, like a white or similarly muted-colored shirt that would not draw attention and a tie. Maggie absolutely forbade me buying such a lousy combo. The girls looked for and brought me some of the least likely shirts to ever adorn my round torso. Most of the garments they picked out may have looked good on a young male model. On a middle-aged and out of shape guy like me, not so much.
We finally settled on a purple shirt then picked out a gray tie to go with it. For me, the shirt was the least hideous of their selections even though I can’t stand the color purple. I realized this more for them and their big night on Broadway. This is what they wanted me to wear so I rolled with it, even though it pained me to do so.
The Lion King was performed at the Minskoff Theatre right on Broadway near Times Square. The energy of the area was just as exhilarating as I remembered it. The changes made since my last visit in 1981 were beyond my imagination. Gone were most of the large neon lights of the distant past. They had been replaced by ginourmous high definition screens of every size and seemingly every shape. It was mesmerizing watching all of the multi-story screens hawking their various wares.
Abby made good on her promise to sit with Maggie and me during the show. She spent most of our first two days hanging with her friends while Maggie, Elaine, and I puttered around on our own. I teased her about it as is my wont. She felt bad about not spending time with us despite my admonitions not to and declared that she would make an effort to spend more time with us during the rest of our stay.
I was still teasing the girls about our preferences of musicals from the theatre entrance all the way to our seats. They told me one last time to hush up about it. I was fully satisfied that I had gotten under their skins once again and sat there between them feeling full of smugness.
The show soon began. The singing started. The sun started to rise. Abby squealed and grabbed my arm. All feelings of smugness were erased.
Within the first two minutes of the show I told the girls they were right and I was wrong.
It was an amazing night.