Second in a series

NEW YORK – You’d never guess what the first musical I saw on Broadway during my first trip to New York in 1974.

It was the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Nnight Music,” in 1973, precise date unknown. It played at the Shubert Theatre, and was that season’s hot ticket – which means getting tickets were not easy.

My wife Vi and I booked a room at the quaint Algonquin Theatre, on W. 45th St., the same street that the Shubert was located. So we dropped off our luggage and headed to the box office, seeking matinee tickets.

Back in the ‘70s, you could have ordered tickets via a phone call and a credit card and snail mail was not appropriate, because you’d have to seek specific seats and it too long to keep the seats tied up. Remember, there was no internet nor the iPhone to order electronically.

If you had a friend or relative, he or she could go to the box office and secure seats, with your permission.

Or you could show up yourself at the box office in person, which is what I did.

I was meek and uncertain, since this was my first effort in securing Broadway tickets. And this show had been a major sellout.

Bu if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

The box office attendee declared that officially, “A Little Night Music” was sold out. But the woman behind the cage said there were two seats left, with partial visibility. What’s that? Simply, seats that could not afford complete view of certain scenes because of pillars that would, for brief moments, shield visible scenes for a moment or two,.

Of course, I bought the tickets – sorry, I don’t remember what admission was back then.

What I do recall is that I was such a country jack, when I was seated. I looked up, left, right, rear … just to soak in the glory of being inside a legit Broadway venue. I couldn’t see the balcony seats, because the tickets I got were beneath the balcony, in the second to the last row in orchestra.

Well, “A Little  Night Music” earned 12 Tony nominations and won six including Best Musical, and formally introduced me to the Great White Way luminaries, like composer Sondheim, songs he wrote like “Send in the Clowns,” book writer Hugh Wheeler, director Hal Prince, and such actors like Best Actress in a Musical winner Glynis Johns and Best Featured Actress in a Musical Patricia Elliott.

So much education, from one show!

Over the decades, the Schubert has been home to such hits as “Hello, Dolly!” with Bette Midler, “A Chorus Line,” “Spamalot,” “Matilda the Musical”  and  “Memphis.”

Worth noting: For all its gloried past, the Shubert does not have ADA compliance when it comes to providing restrooms for handicapped guests. On site, all bathrooms have steps to encounter.

Joy Abbott

Worth remembering: Handicapped viewers at the Shubert can use the facilities in a Sardi’s restaurant building across the street from the theater. To the right of Sardi’s restaurant, enter the adjoining building and use the escalator to the fourth floor. There, there’s a bank of toilets open to all, not just the handicapped. There’s no frenzy and crush of the usual intermission break. This secret was shared by Joy Abbott, the widow of famed Broadway writer-producer George Abbott

And that’s Show Biz…

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