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For “The Best Man” and Woman

I have always wanted to grow up to be like T.V.’s Murphy Brown. I loved that show. She was smart, strong, funny, and independent. I realize now that I was probably on the young side of her fan base but it is a show that has always resonated with me.  I even remember the controversy that surrounded the show when former Vice President Dan Quayle criticized Ms. Brown as though she were a real person for being a single mother, and the backlash that ensued. In the years after the show was canceled I was always happy to see reruns on Nick at Night or any other channel. But it has been a long time since that has happened. I haven’t thought about Murphy or her real life counterpart, Candice Bergen until I recently got the opportunity of a lifetime. I could see her in a Broadway play. It was a no brainer.

Besides my affinity for Candice Bergen, the cast of “The Best Man” has a slew of other wonderful actors including but not limited to: Eric McCormack, James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, and Dankin Matthews. The storyline is about a presidential campaign in 1960. Between the stars and the topic I was in heaven. I knew this was a must see show for me. 

Upon arriving at the theater there was an insanely long line from the box office to the corner of the following avenue. It was blocking almost every other show. I couldn’t quite figure it out at first but no my instincts were right. That was the line for ticket holders to get in. I have never seen anything like it. It was only thirty minutes until the show began and they only had one door open. It looked like I would be seeing the show in a week rather than in a half hour. It was insane. On top of that other patrons for different shows were clearly confused and mistakenly getting online so every other theater had to open their doors and let those people right in. Between the heat and confusion tempers were flaring. It was so poorly organized. I was disappointed by that.

However, once I did manage to get in (before the show started) I was in a completely different world. I was transformed by my atmosphere into the time and topic of the play. The set decorations extended out into the audience and even onto the employees wardrobe. It was magnificent. There was the sound of campaign music and chanting playing. There were signs for the fictional characters everywhere as though we were really about to vote for them. But my favorite was all of the old television sets they had throughout the theater that would eventually come on and play a part in this show. They even had some of the balcony seats corned off for an announcer to “broadcast” to these T.V.s. It was so creative and added so much to the environment. It is amazing how all the little things always matter.

I love politics. I read about it constantly and am a passionate voter, so I thought this topic would be right up my alley. It was, but I am afraid there was a minor problem. Namely it was too long. There were two, yes two, fifteen minute intermissions. I was not aware of that ahead of time but that wouldn’t have changed anything. That put the total of the show at close to three hours. There were very long monologues that could have been reduced. While all of the acting and storytelling was very well done, there was no need for any show to run that long. I believe after a while you lose your audience. For me I have to say after that second intermission I had just about had enough despite wanting to see the end.

Of course I did stay until the end and I do not know how these performers do this on the days they have two shows. Running times must be so close together there must be almost no break. I have great compassion for them and great admiration for their talent. It is clear here that this was the Olympics of the theater. We were watching the best of the best so even if they were having a conversation about paint drying it would have been good. Luckily for us, there was more to the story than that.

When it was all said and done there was no contest who I was most excited to see. But before I met Ms. Bergen, I had the pleasure of meeting Dankin Matthews a.k.a. Joe Heffernan on the King of Queens to me. I love that show and his was great in this play. He was so sweet in person and I was so thrilled to have met him. He said “there are bigger starts than me coming out.” I said “not to me.” And Dankin certainly not any nicer Sir.

Next walked out John Larroquette with his arm in a soft cast! I had just watched this man for hours walking around throwing things, banging on things, and he said he couldn’t sign because he was hurt. My first thought was of how much pain he must be in from having to perform without the cast and the second was of his gesture. He stood in the center of the two barricades set up for us to take a few photos and then got in his car. I have had the privilege to see Mr. Larroquette when he was in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” ( Daniel Radcliffe and I know for a fact he normally signs as much as possible. I thought that was such a classy move to be honest and still try to show appreciation for the fans in some way. He also happens to be amazing in the theater and I recommend seeing any show you can that he is in.

Finally my moment with Murphy came!! Candice Bergen came out and for a moment I panicked as it didn’t appear she would come over and sign. But I thank my lucky stars she did! She looks just as good as she did years ago. She was soft spoken and polite. I was so happy to meet her and get her autograph. I hope I get to see her in more roles soon. She still has such a strong, silent presence and exudes such confidence. Her acting abilities are undeniable and I loved seeing her in this role. No one else would have fit so perfectly. However the one downside was that her part wasn’t as big as I would have liked, after all it is called “The Best Man”, but to me it was also about the best woman. She is still my role model.

I waited about another thirty minutes to see Eric McCormack. He was worth every second of it. He had a visitor backstage so he was held up but when he came out he determined to make up for lost time. He was funny and sweet. He tried to get to everyone, take as many pictures as possible, and flirted his butt off, literally. He was unbelievably good looking it hurt. I loved that his role was atypical for him. It had a little bit of a bite to it, not so goody two shoes. He played it flawlessly. What can I say, the man has more skill in his pinky finger than most people have in their whole body. I am so glad I got to see him in person both on and off the stage.

The only two main cast members I didn’t get to meet were James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury. I was told at the stage door that James Earl Jones was going to be another forty-five minutes and I couldn’t wait any longer. At this point I had already been waiting ninety minutes. I was lucky enough to meet him in 2008 when he was in a star studded revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Not surprisingly he was wonderful then and wonderful now. That man is unstoppable. Unfortunately I have never met Angela Lansbury but in the last few years she has been a mainstay on the Broadway stage. I am glad I finally got to see her perform. She was energetic, strong, and funny. She too brings me back to my childhood as I remember fondly watching “Murder She Wrote” with my grandmother. It is unbelievable when you get the honor of seeing a living legend. There are no words.

Leading up to the June 10, 2012 Tony Awards I had booked the last of the shows I was aching to see before they closed or sold out. This preparation created my very own Broadway marathon wee
This show was a great way to start as I would go on to see a total of three shows in six days.

Up next is Death of a Salesman.

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