Grand Horizon – The Helen Hayes Theater – February 2020

I planned this New York weekend solely because I wanted to see A Soldier’s Play before it closed on March 15th. I didn’t have a show planned for the Saturday afternoon I got into the city and decided to hit the TKTS booth at Time Square and just pick from whatever they were offering.

Initially I was looking at Ain’t Too Proud but after the 45-minute wait in line all that was left were obstructed view seats. So I glanced at what they had and decided even though I knew literally nothing about the show I’d go see Grand Horizons – for two reasons: 1) they had orchestra seats for half the price and 2) it was in a theater I haven’t yet been to.

As an aside, The Helen Hayes is number 30 of Broadway theaters where I’ve seen a show. I have 11 more to go to have seen a show at every current Broadway theater. It won’t be that easy to finish my quest. I have a feeling I’ll never see Hamilton in New York so getting to the Richard Rodgers will take a bit of time. I have no desire to see Chicago at ALL so that let’s out the Ambassador Theatre for, at this rate, possibly the rest of my life. Harry Potter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and I’m just not feeling it, so no Lyric Theatre for me. (I will say that I could be convinced to go see Dear Evan Hansen in New York, so there is still hope for the Music Box Theatre.) At any rate, it’s a fun diversion from the real world to see how many theaters I can get to so I jumped at the opportunity for another one on relatively short money.

I was so in the dark about this show that I didn’t even know it was a comedy. A laugh out loud, the woman next to me kept hitting my arm and the guy behind me kept kicking my chair they were laughing so hard, comedy. One line, delivered so flawlessly by Jane Alexander that she could win a Tony for just that alone, actually had me gasp. Loudly. Much to the enjoyment of the older women sitting around me.

The show is about a family, all adults, and how they deal with major changes in their lives. But that doesn’t even really cover it. It’s about adult children having to deal with their parents TREATING them like adults. It’s about learning that your life isn’t always what you thought it was and that’s okay.

Also, I was incredibly impressed with Ashley Park. I fell like folks might dismiss her because of Mean Girls (which itself is crazy because Gretchen is easily one of the best roles in that show) but she carried a LOT of this show in big and small ways. She’s one of those actresses you can’t help but watch even when she isn’t really doing anything on stage.

There is a scene where Michael Urie, as the younger of two sons, has a (unwanted) serious conversation with his mother that leads to her sharing some insanely personal details of her life. (This is the scene that led me to gasp. I sense the older women around me thought it funny that I gasped at another older women talking opening about enjoying sex. It was more the words she used than what she was talking about…but still…woof.) Urie is every adult person who is not ready to hear that their parents are actually people with desires and faults and secrets and he does so much in this scene while barely speaking. His physical comedy, without being extremely physical, had the entire audience SCREAMING.

Every actor in the show was amazing. (I had to explain to someone who James Cromwell was because everyone was buzzing before the show about how exciting it would be to see him on stage and this guy had no idea who he was. So after naming some stuff I finally said “He’s Babe’s dad!” and the guy instantly remembered him.) Cromwell does much of his acting from a sitting position. And in a comedy that’s pretty unique. But he kills every line and even tells a couple of jokes (he fancies himself a stand up comedian) that had the audience laughing so hard he had to pause before picking up his dialogue.

I enjoyed the hell out of this show.

An aside not related to the show: While in the TKTS line there was a couple trying to decide what to see and they seemed to have no real idea about ANY of the shows. So they asked me if I knew anything about Jagged Little Pill. I haven’t seen it in New York, but I saw it in Cambridge at the A.R.T. and really enjoyed it. I gave them some background on the show and even told them about how every time Lauren Patten sang You Oughta Know she got a standing ovation – during the show. (I’m not sure if that’s happening in New York but it happened almost every night in Cambridge.) I sold them on the show like I had money in it. They ended up getting tickets to the show for that afternoon.

Fast forward to the end of Grand Horizons. We’re all leaving the theater but are having a hard time moving once we get outside. Not totally unusual, there are quite a few theaters on West 44th Street and they all get out pretty much at the same time. But this time we noticed the actual street was full of people too and no one seemed to be moving. Then we heard the sirens. And saw all the police cars and ambulances and then, finally, a fire truck. I found my way off the street and when I got back to the hotel looked up Jagged Little Pill on Twitter and got the story: Someone at the show had pepper spray and it went off not long after the second act began. They evacuated the theater and then ended up canceling the performance. And it happened BEFORE Lauren Patten got to sing You Oughta Know.

I’m not usually someone who gives out advice or suggestions unless people force the issue. This couple has lived…and learned.

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