Right now, there is precisely one musical for which I would, without hesitation, pay full price to get a ticket, and that musical is Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, with which I have carried on a swoony love affair since the early 1990s, when the magnificent Lincoln Center production aired on PBS. I had a two-tape VHS recording of that production and watched it over and over and over. I knew—and know—all the words to “The Miller’s Son,” and all the harmony parts to every song, and all of the wonderful everything.
On my first trip to London, in November 1995, I saw several plays at the National Theatre, where it turned out that A Little Night Music was also up. I tried to convince my friends that we should try to get student tickets, or even standing-room tickets, or any tickets at all. No one else wanted to go, and at that point I didn’t quite have the chutzpah or the city savvy to feel comfortable launching out all on my own.
And so I missed seeing Judi Dench as Desirée Armfeldt, which would have been wonderful.
But what I now have not missed is the chance to see A Little Night Music in London. It’s in performance at the Garrick Theatre (and will, by early next year, be up on Broadway), and as soon as I found that out back in April, I bought a ticket without hesitation. And now, barely hours before my departure homeward, I’ve just returned from the theatre.
And it was wonderful, just as good live as I’d always hoped it would be. One of the reviews posted outside the theatre door said, "Kill to get a ticket to this show." That seemed excessive.
This afternoon, as I left my hotel to return to the last part of my conference, Piotr, on duty as the hotel's top-hatted doorman, stopped me to ask about my necklace, a stainless steel pendant of an Australian succulent. It took me several days of smiling and saying hello to him as he held the door, but he finally let himself acknowledge me. We smiled and greeted each other each time I came and went for the rest of the day.
This time tomorrow, if all goes well, I will be on my second flight, most of the way home, where, if all goes well, I will find my dear friends and their small daughter in my living room.