The Drawbacks of Distance

With social media, YouTube, and more and more productions touring and being filmed (legally) it is very easy to keep up to date with all things Broadway, even when you don’t live in NYC. In my first post on this blog I talked about the ways I keep Broadway as a big part of my life even though I live in Canada. 

But then there are times when you really notice just how far away you are from New York City and this post is about those times.

Like I said, social media really is great for keeping you up to date with all the Broadway news and lets you see pictures and videos of pretty much everything that happens, but sometimes I find it also just draws attention to all of the things you are missing because you aren’t there. Sometimes it works to think about how expensive some of those things are and knowing that you wouldn’t be there even if you were in the city but being far away, you know there really is no chance at all.

There always seems to be some Broadway-related concert or one-time-only event/performance happening  in New York. Following anything to do with Feinstein’s/54 Below is both a good and bad thing here because I love hearing about all of the upcoming performances and seeing the videos from them when they are posted on YouTube. At the same time though I wish I could see them in person. I have had the privilege of attending one performance at 54 Below (Matt Doyle) and it was a great experience, which also increases my desire to return. Signings and performances at places like Barnes and Noble and the Drama Book Shop also get my attention.

Then there are the annual events like Broadway Barks, Stars in the Alley (which I did get to attend this year), Broadway in Bryant Park, Broadway Barks, the Broadway Flea Market, BroadwayCon (I’ve been able to attend this both years so far and a lot of my New York trip planning has become centred around this particular event). All of these events look like so much fun, whether it’s getting to see performances or having the chance to buy souvenirs and memorabilia and see the stars outside of their shows. Thankfully I have managed to attend some of these but there are just too many to plan trips around all of them, as much as I wish I could!

Then there are the shows themselves. Broadway shows are always opening and closing which can be hard to watch from afar. Sometimes there’s a particular show or performer you wish you could see. There are the shows with limited runs and shows that will never tour, or if they do it won’t be for a long time, or not in a city near you for a long time. Or sometimes your favourite shows (which perhaps you have gotten to see) are closing and you can’t get back to see them before they do.

If I were living in NYC I think I would be more inclined to try for lottery or rush tickets since, if I didn’t win one day, I could just try again another day. As it is when I do go to New York it’s always for a limited time so I usually either get tickets ahead of time or get them at TKTS (with some preparation ahead of time with regards to which shows I want to see and looking at what had previously been available to have an idea of what the options will be). There have been some exceptions to this, but generally, that’s how it goes. I don’t want to risk not getting a ticket for anything at all which could come with rush/lottery tickets, at least the ones for which you have to physically line up. The number of digital lotteries now helps with this a bit. On my last trip we did actually enter the Dear Evan Hansen digital lottery and when we didn’t win that (it was Dear Evan Hansen, we weren’t expecting to win!), which we found out in the morning, we were still able to head to TKTS to pick up other matinee tickets that day. I would certainly be more inclined to try more digital lotteries on future trips, but it would be a lot nicer to be able to try it more often without that potentially being my only chance to see the show.

This month (September) has been one of those when it’s particularly disappointing to not be in New York, as there are/have been lots of events and show closings. This month’s show closings, that stood out for me, included Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (September 3rd), Bandstand (September 17th), and Groundhog Day (September 17th). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would have loved to have had the chance to see both Great Comet and Bandstand again. At one point, before its closing was announced, I had even checked to see when Bandstand was on sale until, wondering if I would be able to see it again when I plan on going back to New York for BroadwayCon. At that point it wasn’t, but I had hoped for an extension, not a closing notice! I also wish I had gotten to see Groundhog Day. I had heard a lot of good things about it. The day I saw BandstandGroundhog Day had been my other choice for a potential show to see. I certainly don’t regret my decision as Bandstand is one of my new favourite shows but I wish I could have fit Groundhog Day in too. (And I do love Andy Karl in a show!)

Notable events this month include the Theatre Mania Block Party, which happened on the 10th, and the Broadway Flea Market which is actually happening tomorrow (the 24th). One of my goals in life is to attend the Broadway Flea Market. Someday I will be there!

There is just something about New York and the Broadway “scene.” There’s a sort of vibe to it that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a place where it seems there are always these theatre-related events happening and even when they aren’t there are still the shows themselves. There are so many of them! And that’s not even counting Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway! The list goes on and on. I know there is a lot of good theatre in other cities too but when your passion is (Broadway) musicals it just seems that New York is the place to be.

Outside of New York City there is also a lack of places to buy Broadway related items (merchandise, books, etc.) which also leads to looking at shipping availability (or sometimes lack thereof) and expenses. Yes there are some book options at Chapters/Indigo (the big chain bookstore we have here in Canada), Amazon, etc., but we don’t have anything like the Drama Book Shop. There used to be a store in Toronto called Theatre Books but, unfortunately, it closed a few years ago. So while it is possible to get Broadway/theatre related books here, it’s not the same as having somewhere (like the Drama Book Shop) to go and browse and be surrounded by those types of books, and like-minded people who are also interested in those books. It gets more difficult if you’re looking for Broadway merchandise outside of the city. New York has stores like Theatre Circle and One Shubert Alley that are full of Broadway merchandise and memorabilia. There actually used to be a store like that in Toronto too. I only managed to go there once and then it closed not too long after that, which was extremely disappointing. There is a lot of Broadway merchandise available from the Playbill Store, which does offer international shipping but it gets quite pricey. It’s probably better for my wallet that there are limited options here in Canada, but the lack of (reasonably priced) options can be annoying.

Obviously when topics like this come up so does the question of relocation. Relocation is one of those issues that varies depending on where you want to relocate from. In all cases, money is definitely a factor, but then it get even harder and more complicated for those of us who’s distance from the city is beyond the borders of the USA. As soon as international relocation is considered visas are involved and things get more complicated. It’s true that non-Americans do successfully make the move to the city, but, at least for me, it isn’t really an option.

This is when I know I just need to focus on all of the ways I can keep Broadway in my life (again going back to my first post here) and I am very thankful for all of the websites, posts, videos, etc. that do bring Broadway to the rest of the world. And I can focus on the times that I do get to make the trip to the city. Every time I get to plan another New York trip, it’s so exciting, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to make it a somewhat more regular occurrence over the last couple years. It’s always nice knowing I’ll be back in the heart of the theatre world I love, even if it’s just for a few days at a time!