We place ourselves in a line that is full of old people. I am glad that I wore my suit jacket. Some people are dressed casually, but this isn’t a movie we’re going to see — it’s a Broadway show. An original affair. Each step performed perfectly. Live action, no redoes.
It takes around ten minutes for us to start getting let in. The usher scans our tickets and tells us to go left around some flowers and up an elevator.
“Look,” Musette says, pointing to some memorabilia.
Blue is the color of the show. There are blue berets, blue shirts, blue accompaniment books, and champagne flutes with blue lettering on them. The stand which sells the merchandise is blue. The only thing that isn’t blue is the show’s set which does not seem particularly focused on any one color. There is nothing symbolically blue within the show that I can see, but yet, all the same, I understand what they are getting at with the blue. It’s Paris. Beyond An American Within It. The raison d’etre. The reason we are here tonight, Musette and I. It’s the reason we painted our cabinets blue. It’s the reason the American stayed.
We take the stairs instead of the elevator. It is a long climb. The staircase is skinny in comparison to the grand one taken by showgoers with higher ticket prices and lower seats.
There are bathrooms on the second floor. A small line is formed outside the men’s room.
“What do you want me to do?” asks Musette.
“Find the ladies’.” I tell her, placing myself in line, which moves fast, even though the bathroom is very tiny. There are three urinals lined up against one wall. Across from the urinals are a couple of poop stalls and two sinks. Men are squeezing against each other to get to their functionary stations. When it comes my time to enter, I have to squeeze around an old man who is on his way to the sink.
There are two urinals open. A man follows me. He takes out his wiener and starts pissing. I can hear his piss bounce against the back of the urinal and bubble in the collective puddle pooled around the drain. He finishes before me.
I squeeze around some other peeing men, wash my hands, and return to the foyer. The ladies’ room is to my right. Musette is standing far back in a slow moving line. I approach her and she tells me to ask for directions regarding the next leg of our journey.
I ask a young lady at the snack bar
“How do I reach the balcony?”
“Go left, around the flowers and up the stairs.” She says.
I return to Musette with the information.
She doesn’t respond.
She goes to the bathroom and we climb the stairs around the flowers. I’m honestly surprised theatres even go this high. At the top, a man guides us to our seats. They are located right in the middle of the balcony. There is no one around us at this point, so nobody has to get up to let us in.
“Did you have to squeeze around women in the ladies room?” I ask Musette.
She tells me that she didn’t.
We were given programs by the usher. They have a rainbow streak running along the top. It is pride week. Allan Rickman is hosting the Tonys this year. There is an advertisement for it on the back of the program. He is with a woman. I ask Musette who it is.
“Just some woman.” She says.
The woman is blonde.
There are pictures of the cast inside. I don’t recognize any of them. The man who is playing the lead is trying to honor his idol, Cary Grant, who played the American in the movie version of the show. He has never performed on Broadway before.
The people here love Cary Grant. They can’t wait to see his spirit embodied in this fresh face.
“It says here he was in Dancing with the Stars.” I tell Musette.
She doesn’t recognize him. This last season was her first season watching Dancing with the Stars. She liked it and was always trying to get me to watch it. Bruce Willis’ daughter was on it this season. She won. Her name is Rebel Willis. Demi Moore is her mom. Everybody loved her. I don’t know who her dancing partner was, but I don’t think it’s the guy who is playing Carey Grant, because Musette would have recognized him.
There are three pianos on stage. One large one, right at center, and two miniature ones at the sides.
A white woman enters the aisle to our left. She comes down our row, walking fast at me, not saying anything.
“Are you trying to get past?” I ask.
“Yes.” she finally says.
I stand to let her pass.
“You could have said something…” I say to Musette, vicariously.
“She was a bitch.” Musette says.
The lady is with two other people. One is a skinny man with tanned skin. The other, a young blonde white girl. They are speaking French. The blonde girl and the woman, who I think is her mother, look American. The skinny tan man looks French. I think he is out of the woman’s league and I would be surprised to find out they were dating, but it does look that way, judging by the way they are laughing and sitting so close together.
The daughter and the tan man look more as though they should be a couple than the mother and the tan man do, but perhaps the daughter is not the daughter after all and is in fact a friend. Perhaps the mother is very fashionable, with money, or perhaps she simply has an accommodating spirit. Perhaps she is a patron of the arts, introducing the skinny tan man to all of America’s Picassos and Manets. Perhaps the young blonde is an open wife.
Another couple sits to our left. At first it is just a man. He sits right next to me and places his backpack on the floor between his legs. He is wearing a brown jacket, and he has short black hair. A girl joins him. She is attractive. She has dark hair and is wearing a dress. They both speak French, exclusively, to each other.
The symphony warms up. A flute goes up and down a set of scales. String instruments are groaning. And then the lights dim. The curtains part and a man with a limp approaches. He stops at the piano at center stage and leans against it. He lights a cigarette and starts talking about this American who decided to stay in Paris after the war. A massive Nazzi flag flies over the stage and transforms into a French flag.
The scenery is a great aspect of this show. Panels revolve around the stage projected upon by images of Paris architecture. Women are being kissed by men returning from war. The American spots a lone girl. He wants her. This is part of the reason he stays.
Entering a bar, he meets the limping man who is sitting at the piano trying to find the missing part to a piece he is working on. The limping man notices that the American has a sketchbook and takes him for the artist that he is. He tells him to take up room and board in the apartments above the bar.
“The place fosters artists.” he tells him. “Especially Jewish ones.”
The American does not seem Jewish but the limping man tells him to pretend that he is his brother.
Another man named Henry, or Honore, enters. He wants to move to America and become a nightclub singer. The limping man is helping him write some music. He does not seem to like Honore, or at least does not consider him an artist. But Honore has money, so I guess that is at least one of the reasons he is helping him.
The three boys end up drinking as the bar fills with people. They spin chairs around, drinking more and more. The piano ends up spinning, and the day turns into night.
The power goes out as everyone is singing a really recognizable song.
All three of the boys, the three musketeers as they call themselves, end up falling for the same girl — obviously the one from before, whom the American stayed in Paris for. Honore is actually dating her and has been since before we are introduced to the show. The boys know that he is dating somebody but they don’t know that it is the girl whom they are all in love with. They even give Honore advice on how to proceed with her. Honore is more or less arranged to marry the girl. He wants to write her a letter defining the proposal rather than confronting her in person. The boys and Honore’s mother think this is a bad idea, but Honore refuses to take their advice.
The boys make many allusions to Honore being gay; however, Honore never pursues a path of homosexuality.
There is a blonde woman who meets the American while he is sketching ballerinas. She appears to want to be Parisian and makes some flirtatious advancements on Honore but after viewing the American’s sketches she ends up falling in love with the American. She decides to put on a ballet featuring the American’s sketches as set designs and starring the girl who everyone is in love with, who, it turns out, is an amazing dancer.
The American goes to the department store that the girl works for and tells her to quit. He puts on a great commotion which gets transformed into a raucous dance. The girl’s boss gets mad which causes the girl to quit and pursue her dream of dancing.
Later in the play, the audience comes to learn that the girl’s mother was a great dancer. She was a Jew who was persecuted by the Nazzis. Honore’s family took the girl in when her mother was captured, and it turns out Honore, who everyone thinks is a coward, had worked hard to keep her safe.
Both Musette and I fall asleep during the show.
The intermission can’t come fast enough. For the last half hour all I’ve been able to think about is coffee. I’m trying to keep my eyes open. I paid over a hundred dollars for these seats. It’s our anniversary. I’m making memories. This is the cumulation of year one.
We are saved finally following a masquerade ball where the American realizes that Honore and the girl he loves are dating. The American kisses the blonde woman, causing the curtains to close.
Musette and I stand and make the attractive French couple stand as we pass in front of them. I try looking at the man but am focused on the girl.
We go to the foyer. There is a line for the snack bar. A young black man with an afro is slanging cocktails. There is a small but interesting liquor selection. They have Disaronno and Courvoisier. Cocktails cost fourteen dollars. There is no coffee. We get some Twizzlers and a water. The Twizzlers cost four dollars, and the water is two.
Returning to our seats, we make the French couple rise again. Musette and I trade seats so that she can lean her head in the opposite direction than she has been leaning it. The young blonde white girl, who should be sitting at my right, is out of her seat. The thin tan man and the blonde mother are talking in French with each other. There is a beautiful Asian girl sitting behind me. She is wearing a dress and falling asleep. I keep turning around. My vision is almost eye level to the opening in her skirt. Her legs keep spreading as her head keeps slipping. I can almost catch a glimpse of her insides.
Someone calls her name and she startles awake.
I open the Twizzlers. Everytime I pull one out, the bag makes a horrible crinkling sound. I don’t like having these. It makes me feel like I am in a movie theatre. But a person’s got to do what a person’s got to do to stay awake.
The show starts back up as the blonde girl is approaching from my left.
“Sorry.” She says, passing in front of us.
All of the relationships are in their separate rooms. The main characters are having conversations expressing their trapped states and how they would rather be somewhere other than where they are.
The blonde woman, in an attempt at winning the heart of the American, introduces him to Picasso and provides gallery space for his art. The blonde woman and the American end up fighting in the blonde woman’s room, which has a large yellow painting of a woman’s face in it. The American tells her that money can’t buy love.
I’m crinkling the Twizzlers bag to pull out another strand. It sounds so much louder now that the show has started again. The time to do it is when everyone is clapping. There is a lot of dialogueless dancing in the show. Those moments are bad times for pulling out a Twizzler.
Honore writes his letter to the girl for many scenes. He has a hard time getting the words right. The girl is writing a letter to her mother about the American. The piano player is trying to write his song. Honore ends up getting the letter that the girl was trying to send to her mother. He tries not to let it affect him, to not think about it.
Honore puts on his show. In what appears to be an act of spite against Honore, the American directs Honore’s parents to the club that Honore is performing at. They are in the crowd as Honore struggles with his song. The piano player pipes in, reminding Honore of his dream of being a famous singer. The stage transforms into the Rockefeller Center. This is my favorite part of the show.
Everyone loves Honore’s performance. At first it appears as though Honore’s parents are displeased, but it turns out that they loved it and support his dream.
Even though the two boys loved his performance, they are angry with Honore for trying to force the girl to go to America with him just when all of her dreams are coming true.
“You can’t hold what you did for her above her head.” they say.
The girl puts on her ballet. The set is made of the American’s designs: surreal, modern art, cubist, red, yellow, and blue.
The girl admits to the American that the reason she did so well is because she was imagining dancing with him. Honore and the blonde woman see the American and the girl talking with each other outside of a party. It causes Honore to let her go. The American and the girl end up together. In the final monologue, the limping man tells the audience that he got the girl, that she is in his music.