This week, I participated in a New York ritual: waiting for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. Here’s what you do: Arrive at Central Park at 6 AM (no later, really), wait in a line with New Yorkers of all ages until 1 PM. At 1 PM, a free ticket is yours (the earlier you arrive, the better the seat). Return at 8 PM for outdoor theater in a unique setting.
Thankfully, I slept over at a friend’s house on the Upper West Side. She lives way closer to the park than I. We woke up at 5:03 (ocd problems) and groggily dressed. On the walk to the park we were shocked to find an open starbucks! We ran in and ordered double and triple shot beverages, while heaping effusive praise on the barista for being open. I hope we made her day. We got to the line at ten to six, before the park opens. Once we were guided in, we set up camp on a beach towel and got ready for the long haul.
sandals (it’s comfier to be barefoot for so long)
There are entrepreneurs who walk through the line, offering chair rentals and food delivery. We saw some people with air mattresses, some with chairs, some with ipads, some with crossword puzzles. There were veterans, chatting about all the shows they’d seen (Hair was a favorite), and first timers like us.
We got our tickets (5th row center!) and staggered back to shower and plop. After lunch, time in the airconditioning, and impromptu naps while watching friends reruns, we left to see the show. Let me tell you, it was all worth it. Into the Woods, with its inventive staging, adorable narrator, and talented performers, blew me away. The wind and the sunset worked perfectly with the show’s narrative arc and the crowd was responsive and excited. Steven Sondheim was in the audience and everyone kept craning their necks for his reaction.
Shakespeare in the Park is a true New York experience, one I look forward to repeating summer after summer. Next time, I may bring a chair (or at least a cushion). My back is rather sore today!