Waiting for the Show
This summer, though, the lines have been epic in nature. Not surprising, as the drama currently on offer is "Mother Courage," with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline.
But still. Usually it's just people sitting on the sidewalk, perhaps using their jackets or a newspaper, or at most one of those collapsible chairs, to keep their little drama-hound bottoms from the nasty sidewalk. For this, though, I have daily seen people in SLEEPING BAGS who have clearly spent, if not the night, then at least the predawn hours kipping outside the theater in hopes of snagging tix.
I have to say that although I find this a tad bit excessive, in my younger years I too waited from early hours for the first showings of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." No more, though. Now there are midnight or 11:59pm shows of the things I like best, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. And a fine thing it is, to be sure.
It's fun seeing stuff like that with a packed theaterful of people who are just as crazy and excited as you. People wearing pointy hats and Gryffindor scarves, or pirate clobber. Or, most notably, people sporting gray cloaks and green-and-silver mallorn-leaf brooches...
When "The Return of the King" opened in December 2003, there was "Trilogy Tuesday" at the big fancy movie house on 42nd Street. All THREE movies, back-to-back-to-back, with ROTK premiering at eleven pm or so. I took my two Elf-mad nieces, Catie and Shannon, their friend Pam and my friend Grace (otherwise known as Little Khaotic One, whom I got to be friends with during my first Mets season back in 1999. More about that later), for what Grace still refers to as "The Night of Smite."
It was amazing. We started at I think 11am with "The Fellowship of the Ring," had a lunch break, then "The Two Towers" followed at around 4, then a longer dinner break. Before the premiere of "The Return of the King", we were plunged into darkness, and then a voice came over the PA: "Hello, preciousssesss!"
It was Andy Serkis, who played Gollum, and everybody went nuts. Then he came in, accompanied by Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee), Dominic Monaghan (Merry Brandybuck), and to the everlasting delight of every teenybopper there, Frodo himself, Elijah Wood. Whose blue eyes could be seen clear to the back wall.
They were clearly amped to be there, and there was much loud and happy discourse. Elijah Wood used the f-word a time or two ("You've been here through two f-ing movies?" Crowd: "YES!" EW: "And you're sticking around for another?" Crowd: "YEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!" EW: "You're all f-ing crazy!" Maybe. And nice mouth for a Hobbit. Bilbo should wash it out with soap...
But it was just incredible, and mathoms were passed out by New Line minions: a neato little gray resin sort of shrine with three actual film cels in each one. I got Gandalf entering Bag End with Bilbo opening the door to him, Aragorn and Eowyn on the march to Helm's Deep, and Sam in Shelob's lair.
And my nieces and their friend got to be on "Entertainment Tonight"! On air and online for a week thereafter. They were interviewed about the movies and the books and how they got into LOTR. I think they were all having out-of-body experiences by that point. So fun to watch them.
We got out at two in the morning, happy and exhausted, having been there from 8am the previous morning. Almost as if we'd been on a journey of our own. Cool.
So I can sort of see where the sidewalk sleepers are coming from. But they just get free tickets. No collectibles. Bummer.