Batman vs. Broadway

“What is the similarity between a white woman and a tampon? …They’re both stuck up cunts.”

The whole audience moaned and gaped at the obscene joke. I gasped and then chuckled, reveling in the collective: “Oh, shit!” moment I was sharing with the hundreds of strangers watching the same show. My buddy laughed, his giggles carrying over the mezzanine and echoing off the rafters.

Oh, live theatre. How I’ve missed you.

I sat through the entire production of “Clybourne Park” on the edge of my seat. The acting was superb, the writing was delicious and the stage production’s resources were drool-worthy. At the curtain call I immediately jumped to my feet and applauded as the actors dropped their characters and became themselves to bow to the audience. Totally worth chucking 70 bucks at the TKTS lady for a chance to see professional theatre done right.

My friend, visiting from Chicago, was just as excited about seeing that production as I was. We chatted animatedly over the experience, each laughing again at the snappy dialogue and the well delivered monologues. I found myself jumping with excitement over the idea of one day being up there on a stage like that and performing with other dedicated, beautiful, healthy, strong, talented actors that I could learn from and play with effortlessly.

Being a Broadway Star looks so effortless when watching the one’s who are: they make it look so easy! “Pshhht… yeah, I only did about 15 regional productions of this show, and I only worked at being told “NO.” over and over again for, like, only 7 years. I starved, I begged, I waited tables and then waited for nothing, I faked it, I made it, and then I didn’t…” but…. there they were, and there I was watching them hoping to God and all that is Holy to one day be where they were tonight: looking out at the room full of standing, clapping audience members.

I compared this experience to the one I had a couple days ago, while watching the most recent Batman Movie. The theatre was dark, relatively crowded. The sounds of munching popcorn filled all silence, and the special effects boomed and glared through the speakers to take the overall experience up another couple notches on the “extreme” factor. I was with my sister and a really good friend. We decided, relatively last minute, to go see the film. The tickets were 14 bucks (no IMAX, thanks) “14 bucks? What the fuck? How much was your show, Nat? Only 18?! Goddamn. Aw, what the hell, this is Batman, right?” I had heard from friends who saw the film that the experience was totally worth it. I was invested, I’d seen the last 2 movies and this was, apparently, another epic summer action flick… Then, 2 hours went by.

The guy next to me fell asleep. The guy two chairs down from me started picking his nails while using his phone’s flashlight. The girl behind me was texting. I turned to my compatriots and began to snicker. We giggled throughout the film. My buddy got up to pee, came back and said “Don’t tell me! ’cause, I don’t care.” We erupted into suppressed laughter. The actors on screen didn’t hear us. Who cared?

At the end of the epic 3 hour saga of bloated, over saturated dialogue, terribly bad cliches, and about fifty shots of Anne Hathaway’s doggy-style butt position on Batman’s incredibly phallic motorcycle, my cohorts and I left the theatre with looks of thoughtful disgust. What the hell was that garbage? That movie had all the money in the world! The talent, the time, the people, the resources, the locations… and that movie was so incredibly forgettable that I felt a bit of bile in the back of my throat. One liners like: “Mom always told me not to get in cars with strange men.” rang through my head and made me want to begin a petition  to help save the American public, and indeed, the World from the awful cliched fluff that I had just spent 14 dollars and 3 hours of my life on. I felt sad. This is the best? Really? Where did the talent go? Where did the feeling of pride go? I imagined myself in one of these mega-blockbusters and tried to see the virtue in it. Hathaway is a size 00 and was “kicking ass” when confronted with 300lb men (Oh, and she did all of it in 5 inch heels). Oy. How would I ever get down to a size 00 when even a size 4 seems like a really long road to hoe?

The Broadway show I just shelled out 70 bucks for: totally worth it. I saw the sweat drip down those actors’ foreheads! I saw the work that they all put into that production! I felt revitalized. I felt invigorated! I felt like I could do that! That I wanted to do that! That I will do that!

And, Batman… Well. That’s not the whole movie industry. There have been plenty of times when I’ve walked out of a theatre and loved every minute of what I saw after watching a really great flick (“The Avengers” was a fantastic action movie!) But for now, I’m putting my faith back into the American stage and I hope other’s reading this post will see that live theatre is so worth the money.

August 29, 2012 at 5:27 am by Natalie Allen