Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shakespeare in the Park

This summer's fare at Shakespeare in the Park includes the Merchant of Venice, with Al Pacino in the role of Shylock.  I usually obtain standby tickets for Shakespeare, which allows me to avoid the early line (which can start to form as early as 10:00PM the night before).  People in the standby line usually arrive around 5:00PM and tickets are distributed until 8:00 PM.  But given Al's popularity, standby was a bust this year.  So I set my alarm for 5:30 AM, rose with a nervous flutter in my stomach (even at this hour, tickets are not guaranteed), and arrived in Central Park at 6:19 ( I checked my watch. I wanted to remember this moment.  I vowed it would never happen again).  Hundreds of people had arrived before me.  Poochini and I took our place in line near The Rock of Hope (those in front of The Rock have a 50-50 chance of getting a ticket, those behind have a 50-50 chance of *not* getting a ticket). We waited all morning, through intermittent rain showers and blistering heat.  We chatted with our neighbors.  The silent (competitive?) girl next to me softened with time, done in by the elements.  By 11:00, she was bringing Poochini water.  Tickets were handed out at 1:00, and we had mixed luck.  We received vouchers and were told that we had a 99.9% chance of getting tickets if we returned at 6:00.  Freshly showered and sans Pooch, I duly returned at that time.  I waited until 8:00, when I received one little ticket, far off to stage right and four rows from the back.  I triumphantly grabbed the ticket, found my seat, and plopped down, exhausted.  The woman next to me beamed and said in an Irish broag, "Can you believe I got my ticket through the internet lottery?  It's the second time I've tried, and I got an email this afternoon that I could just drop by and pick up two tickets.  I didn't need two, so I turned one in.  Glad you could use it."  Though happy to have a ticket, I had difficulty summoning a thank you.  I blame it on heat stroke, but the honest reason is because she had gotten her ticket the easy way, while sitting in air conditioning.  Nonetheless, waiting in the god-awful Shakespeare line is a New York institution.  Al stole the show, and like many things in New York, was well worth the inconvenience.    

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