An Excursion to NYC for Love, Love, Love

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My badge was on display!

Hello! I’ve had an absolutely lovely trip to NYC and thought I’d share some of my impressions on Love, Love, Love and provide a report on my fangirling adventures as well.  In case anyone was wondering, given the paucity of bloggerly motivation and posting in recent months, I can really assure you with 100% confidence that my deep and abiding admiration for, and, well, overwhelming attraction to Richard Armitage really hasn’t gone anywhere, though I suppose my general level of “active” preoccupationwitharmitage does wax and wane. So first off, apologies that I’ve become a really sorry-ass excuse for a blogger in recent months!  But even when I’m experiencing that loss of motivation to post, you can believe that the moment something like an announcement (or strong suspicion/well-supported supposition/wild-ass guess) about a live performance series occurs, I’ll be all over it, researching the theatre and ways to get tickets and checking my calendar. Simply based on my experience of the man’s onstage capabilities in The Crucible, I was willing to buy advanced tickets to Love, Love, Love– a play about a topic that didn’t seem interesting, by a playwright I’d never heard of, and before there was any solid intel beyond some Twitter follows and a response RA made to a fan’s tweet that hinted the name of the play. And I’d do it all again in a New York minute!

Okay! That’s out of the way. Now I’ll begin my recollection of my fan-diddily-damn-tastic trip to New York City! And let me just say that the Love, Love, Love I experienced was not just the title of the play… I also rather fell for the city (a huge surprise for me!), reignited my devotion to RA, but most importantly, I was downright blown away by the laughter, camaraderie and chance to make hopefully lasting connections with other fans. Richard Armitage was lovely, and he thoroughly delivered onstage, but in some ways he was more like icing on the cake.

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Flying into LaGuardia

Many months ago, before there was even a definitive confirmation of Richard Armitage’s involvement in Love, Love, Love, I became a Roundabout Theatre donor a couple of days before the advance tickets were to become available so as to have a shot at some great seats. As a donor, I was able to score front-row seats in both orchestra and mezzanine sections at a reduced price for myself and for fellow blogger Hariclea, who likewise was eager to have premium tickets even if none of us were entirely certain at the time that Richard was, well, involved! Hariclea and I planned to room together and have a long-awaited meet-up, but unfortunately In Hari’s case, the uncertainty about the trip was even more outrageous, and even up until the very morning she flew out, the feasibility of the trip was doubtful due to bureaucratic factors completely out of her control. In the several days leading up to the trip, as it looked less and less likely that Hari was going to make it, she and the well-connected Guylty reached out to several lovely local fandom members, including Armitagebesotted, NycPat, and DaphneHS, not only to offer to gift them with tickets, but to try to arrange for some friendly faces on my behalf, since it looked as if I’d be “solo” in The Big City. I still get emotional thinking about these marvelous ladies and their warm response.

As it happened, I awoke at 4am last Friday to wonderful news, a last-minute, powerfully exhilarated email from Hariclea stating that she was on her way to the airport after all!!!! I flew into NYC likewise in great spirits, with plans to meet Armitagebesotted and DaphneHS at a pub just across the street from the theatre for dinner before the show. Hariclea was supposed to be there as well, but ran into some horrendous traffic en route from the airport and wound up meeting the three of us at the theatre instead. It was really an entertaining chat before the show, where we exchanged our Armitage-initiation stories and the NYC contingent (veterans by now of the whole routine) mapped out exactly where and how I should reach the front of the Stage Door queue, etc.

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Entrance to the Laura Pels Theatre

For the Friday (Dec. 2) performance, I wanted to basically Watch The Play. I had not previously read the script, and I have (even now) avoided reports and blogs about the material to prevent spoilers and also to avoid clouding my own interpretation and impressions with the interpretations and impressions of others. I basically knew the general outline of the play, that it followed Kenneth and Sandra in 3 acts at 3 different times in their lives, and that there would be some sort of theme and conflict involving their generation (the baby boomers) and that of their children (my generation as well, the Gen-Xers). To that purpose, I got a front row mezzanine seat for Friday night, not really wanting to have the distRAction of Richard Armitage up close. And this was an effective scheme… I was actually surprised at how well it worked, because I really didn’t pay disproportionate attention to RA’s Kenneth, and found myself almost unable to look away from Amy Ryan’s Sandra whenever she was onstage. [SPOILERS below!!!]

I was surprised at how hilarious I found the play. I didn’t go in expecting a comedy, but discovered that it was very sharply satiric and I was genuinely laughing throughout the play, perhaps a bit less in the 3rd Act, but even then there were moments of dark humor that were laugh-out-loud funny for me. Richard Armitage, as it turns out, has excellent comedic timing, and there were moments even without any dialogue that really had me giggling. I went in really curious about why Armitage chose this particular role, and now having seen it, I have to wonder if the opportunity to “chase comedy” was a factor. The play was not a light comedy, but it did have its share of farcical elements and exaggerated characters, Sandra especially, and it was entirely different fare from anything I’ve seen Richard do to date.

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Act 1. Kenneth, Sandra and Henry. Though Kenneth’s hair was MUCH nicer than this. I’m to understand that early in the run he sported this god-awful wig, but his hair had grown out enough by now that the wig was (thankfully) unnecessary. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

Despite his weaknesses, I did rather adore Kenneth as a character. In Act 1, Richard was able to almost bound about the stage with the sort of loose-jointed energy and enthusiasm of a great big, eager puppy, and I found him quite endearing as the 19 year-old Kenneth. I liked that he did show hesitation (and later, at least a fleeting remorse) when Sandra came on to him, though he wasn’t at all capable of eluding temptation. And I bought in to the idea that he was so young, and thought RA did a great job capturing that essence of youth in many ways, from the voice which occasionally broke high, to the way he slouched and lounged on the couch, to the fawning adoration on his face as he stayed glued to Sandra from the moment she entered the room. He also behaved like a typical youth, surreptitiously kicking stuff under the couch during the tidying session, making sure he affected a pose as carefree and worldly as possible while awaiting Sandra’s entrance, and adopting an exaggerated pout when he let her know that his brother had told him to make himself scarce and use a bucket to piss in, if need be, while Sandra was in the apartment. Well done, Mr. Armitage! This youthfulness was different from anything I’ve seen him do, and really refreshing and probably something we’re unlikely to revisit as fans. What other role would require him to play the 19 year-old ever again?

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Act 2. Amy Ryan stole the show. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

While Kenneth was my favorite in Act 1, I felt that Act 2 really belonged to Amy Ryan and her portrayal of a once again wildly self-indulgent and inebriated Sandra. That “pterodactyl screech” of hers got me every time, and she was so absolutely over-the-top awful as a mother! Both parents were clearly out-of-touch with the children and had trouble keeping up with their parental duty to know the basics (their daughter’s age, which instrument she played, where she was in her schooling… all funny moments that also called for a sympathetic cringe), but it was Sandra who was the most cruelly indifferent to her children’s feelings. The truly hot-in-dad-pants Kenneth was at least “companionable” in his oblivion, but Sandra showed no remorse whatsoever that she’d forgotten to attend Rose’s concert, took alarming pleasure in informing her daughter of her boyfriend’s flirtations, and was so wildly inappropriate at the birthday celebration that I actually gasped out loud during the cake scene. Here it should also be said that Zoe Kazan brought her A-game (in both of her Acts, really) and I literally made sympathetic little noises on her behalf even as I winced and laughed my way through Act 2. Aside from the pterodactyl screech, I especially adored the long moments of silence as the clock ticked down to midnight, and father and 14 year-old son sat smoking across from one another at the table… it was so surreal, and I loved how the audience just snickered all the way through it, then guffawed as Rose entered the room and reacted to the illicit recreations at her horrible party!

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Act 3. Kenneth and Sandra, retirees. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

Act 3 was very unsettling in many ways, and I thought all participants were again excellent. Here again the comedy was an uncomfortable type of comedy, as it became clear that Ben Rosenfield’s adult Jamie was not only completely disconnected from interpersonal relationships, but seemed to be verging on mental incapacity. Drugs, alcohol, trauma-of-youth or a some combination of these made him really a sad figure, though still quite funny in his mannerisms, repetitions and random interjections. Richard’s retired/senior citizen Kenneth was well done. I liked his intonation as he mused about the quality of the wine, and he definitely moved about the stage with a believable (though subtle) stiffness and hesitation while seating himself and rising, a nice contrast to the springing movements of his character in Act 1. (He was still pretty spry for an old guy… and really just as hot… don’t fear the salt and pepper hair, Mr. Armitage… you wore it well!) Once again he showed that amiable obliviousness in his failure to recognize that something was very “off” about Jamie. Truthfully, he reminded me in this sense of my own father, who is as affable as anyone you’ll ever meet, very loveable, but entirely incapable of confronting problematic behaviors on the part of any family member. Sandra, as usual, commanded the stage the moment she entered, captivating me as she did in every act with her high-flown extravagance and egocentrism. One thing I did conclude, on evidence of Kenneth’s similar reaction to Sandra (almost mesmerized from the moment she entered) which occurred in every act, was that he did love and admire this woman, despite her faults. Not perhaps the kind of love that embraces the hard work and mutual selflessness that keeps a marriage intact for the long run, but some kind of love nevertheless. In many ways they were well-suited as a couple, and had they not had children whose lives they clearly damaged, had they been free to pursue their reckless course without those children, I almost could have applauded them.

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Act 3. Rose and Jamie, adults. (Source: Roundabout Theatre Company)

I think Rose as a character deserves a paragraph of her own for Act 3. I did sympathize with her to an extent, but couldn’t help feeling that she became very off-putting when, at the age of 37, she essentially blamed every poor choice she ever made on her parents, and demanded they buy her a house. What?!?! Just buy her a house outright, as if a house would somehow make her into a happy person, which is an unreasonable expectation in and of itself. As I discussed with Hariclea after the play, at some point one has to take responsibility for one’s own decisions. It would be like me, looking at my student loans (which will likely take another couple of decades to pay off), and castigating my parents for not insisting that I choose medical school rather than veterinary school, for a similar investment of time and money but quadruple the salary! I chose instead to follow my dream, and if I’m not as well-off as my parents were at this stage, well- my life to live! Rose was absolutely right that they were shitty, narcissistic parents and I’m sure that both children really were never the same after that fateful birthday party… no doubt whatsoever. We discover in Act 3 that Rose was so distraught by the events of the evening that she actually attempted suicide moments after she turned 16. However, the irritated-at-Rose part of me begs to point out that her actions, while coming from a very valid state of emotional devastation, had to have ALSO contributed to Jamie’s trauma of the evening and her own observation that he was “never the same”… this is borne out by his strong agitation when it finally dawned on Jamie, in Act 3, that Rose’s feelings were hurt by the discovery that brother and father had made a trip into London for a musical, and hadn’t ever thought to call her while they were in town. This was possibly the most alert moment of Act 3 for Jamie, and it was an acute distress when he realized that she was upset. He settled down again and wandered out to sunbathe, but later, when the family was gathered and shouting, he burst back on the scene in a state of incoherent panic.

I was somewhat surprised to learn at the celebrity series Q&A (on Sunday) that Richard sympathized with Rose to the extent that he, Richard, would have bought her the house. Taking care of the down payment, co-signing the loan, some sort of compromise… yes, why not? Or helping her in another way, maybe paying for her to go back to college for a more useful degree or enter a trade school to set her on a new career path… this also would have appeased me, as it would still require Rose to take some responsibility for her future prospects. But to just buy a house outright, out of a guilty conscience? I’m not sure I agree with this and again, I’m not sure a house alone would turn her life around.

It was also interesting in Act 3 that for the first time, Sandra rather than Kenneth seemed to have qualms about pursuing a purely selfish path in retirement. She seemed to be momentarily considering whether she could afford to buy Rose the house after Rose and Jamie left the room, though she dismissed it almost immediately. Then Kenneth essentially suggested he sell his lovely home, Sandra abandon her ailing husband, and the two of them go gallivanting around the globe together, leaving the hapless Jamie and hopeless Rose to struggle on without them! All along it had been Kenneth who seemed to have some modicum of proper parental feelings, even if he was ineffectual at following through or reigning her in, but in Act 3, she was (at least fleetingly) more cognizant of the children’s predicament than he was. Whether Kenneth and Sandra ultimately decide to up and go is left to the viewer to interpret, and my personal feeling is that neither of them would really leave comfortable homes behind permanently. I suspect that Sandra would probably have a torrid affair with Kenneth, perhaps run off on a nice, long, adulterous vacation, but ultimately not spend a happily-ever-after with him.

A few more impressions… I really liked the wardrobe choices and set designs. Needless to say, Armitage was appealing whether half-dressed, business-dressed or in funeral-wear, and Sandra’s wardrobe was also great at conveying her love of style and “fabulousness” in each era. In Act 3 it was awkward seeing the dowdy, well-worn funeral garb that Rose was wearing compared to the glitter and diamonds of her mother. As to the set designs, Act 1 (in Henry’s flat) showed a low-ceiling, grimy walls and boring, unattractive furniture with little to no décor. Act 2 (in Kenneth and Sandra’s home in Reading) did not have a ceiling, but the height of the ceiling was suggested by taller walls, that it was a multi-story abode was shown by a staircase in the hall, and the room boasted modern artwork and furniture that appeared to be teak, all of which could have belonged in my own parent’s home at the time. Act 3 had yet higher walls, giving the impression of quite loftily high ceilings, glass doors and windows leading onto what one imagines to be a beautifully manicured/landscaped estate with mature roses in bloom, and the furniture and décor on the interior was quite high-end and tasteful.

The entire cast, I felt, really delivered in their roles. Alex Hurt as Kenneth’s rather stodgy brother Henry was a little less memorable, but I think it’s supposed to be that way. The world, after all, simply revolves around Kenneth and Sandra, doesn’t it? Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan were fantastic on keeping their characters cohesively “themselves” through 3 different time frames, and Zoe Kazan and Ben Rosenfield were really well-cast and broadcast their characters’ vulnerability (the fragility of youth in Act 2, and the vulnerability of two separately damaged adults in Act 3).  Every one of them had excellent comedic timing and projected emotions and impressions so forcibly. One could almost taste Henry’s vexation, Kenneth’s exuberant idealism and lifelong devotion to recreation, Sandra’s marvelous self-absorbtion, Rose’s mortification and fury, and Jamie’s ultimate detachment from reality.

After the play was over, I booked it on out of there and, thanks to prior friendly tutelage, queued up right near the front of the Stage Door, the first of our group of 4 to arrive. I loved the buzzing excitement and anticipation, though I hadn’t yet had enough time to process my impressions of the play and probably didn’t contribute very intelligently to discussions other than those of the most superficial nature (like how nicely tailored Kenneth’s pants appeared, particularly from the rear, and other observations along those lines!) Although I knew that theoretically Armitage may or may not appear on any given night, I admit it was a quite a let-down when he failed to appear that Friday evening for reasons unknown. I did see a very good-looking figure of a man wearing a beanie exit the theatre, and had a fleeting thought that he had celebrity-level good looks, and later learned that was Sebastian Stan of Marvel fame. Pretty sure I’d rather have seen Armitage flash past, and we did loiter a bit, wondering if he might come out a side garage-door style exit, but no dice.

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We bounced back quickly, though.  Armitagebesotted, DaphneHS and I were wide awake and rather buzzed from the couple of hours spent in the presence of Richard Armitage. Hariclea was understandably exhausted from her transatlantic travels and the preceding stress and uncertainty, but nevertheless agreed to pop over to Times Square to see the sights…The City at Night. This would most certainly not have happened had I been on my own- I’d have been far too intimidated to venture off alone at such a late hour! But Besotted and Daphne made for wonderful tour guides and it was fantastic to have the perspective of locals and be given insights that would never have occurred to me. Fascinating to hear about the history of Times Square and the transition from what was once a theatre district to more of a red light district, with half the businesses topless bars, to the far more family-oriented and commercialized version that exists today. Looking around at the brightly digitized billboards on every building, I would have thought it was “just the New York Way” – but Besotted said no, that the signs were actually legislated and required to meet certain criteria as to size, moving images, color! Her knowledge of the area and the history of the streets and buildings was so interesting and enjoyable. As it was late and Hari, especially, was knackered, we said our goodbyes, and Daphne arranged to come for us in the morning for yet more sightseeing before the matinée.

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Back at the hotel, Hariclea pretty much fell straight to sleep as by then she’d been at least 24 hours without it, and while I was also quite tired, I experienced the same euphoric insomnia I’d had after attending The Crucible in 2014… too wired and energized and filled with thoughts about the play, the Armitage, all of it. The following morning, Daphne arrived and off we went again. She escorted us around Rockefeller Center, where we ogled the famous Christmas tree, watched the ice-skating, lit a candle inside the stunning St. Patrick’s cathedral, went along window-gaping on 5th Avenue, saw the now rather infamous Trump Tower, and sat for awhile on a sunny bench, enjoying crisp weather and late fall color in the surprisingly large and beautiful Central Park.

Then it was time for the Saturday Dec. 3 matinée, and I was in the front row, center section for this one. Now having familiarity with the play, I allowed myself the pleasure of really studying Armitage, and I’m pretty sure that for this (and for all the performances) I sat with a stupid grin on my face the entire time. It’s easy to tell the regular theatre-goers from the Armitagers. Some patrons’ heads move naturally back and forth as dialogue is exchanged, while others heads move in whatever direction Kenneth is moving! I chatted with Hariclea, Daphne and others of our ilk during intermissions. It was really amusing to discover that every one of us blessed with this near-stage proximity had noticed that famous left nipple make itself apparent through the sheer fabric of his shirt when the alarmingly attractive senior citizen Kenneth removed his jacket in Act 3, for instance. =) I also found myself clinically obsessing over a particular area of Armitage anatomy (it’s not the one you might think) every time the man made certain gestures, and this continued through subsequent performances until my conclusion as to the nature of the incongruity was drawn.

One of the reasons we’d selected this weekend for attendance was the fact that there was to be a Celebrity Series Q&A session after the matinée, but I was again to be profoundly disappointed, especially in light of having that front row center seat for the event, when all the cast except for Richard appeared. Prior to the Q&A, I did see a short man, in profile, waiting briefly for admission at the entrance to the backstage area, but he disappeared before I could be sure of his identity. I thought it looked rather like Leland Orser of Berlin Station, but never saw any mention of this by anyone else including Orser. However at the time I wondered if Richard skipped the Q&A in favor of catching up with a friend…

I don’t remember too much about that Q&A except for that Hariclea had the first question and it was a good one, but I keep having a mental block as to what the question was! Too much interference from other events of the weekend, no doubt! I was surprised at the difference in persona of Amy Ryan, who was fairly quiet and laid back, in contrast to her wildly commanding stage presence. Zoe Kazan, who was undoubtedly marvelous in her performance, was sort of strangely eating a cup of oatmeal and seemed less than excited to be there. She made the mistake of saying “MacBeth” aloud, which is apparently a huge superstitious taboo in theatre-world, and was made to run offstage and cleanse herself somehow, then ask for permission to return, lest that evening’s performance be doomed. LOL

We three went off to dinner at a nearby Brazilian restaurant and enjoyed reliving the performance and speculating about whether that evening, the last realistic opportunity for a Stage Door Runner event, would prove fruitful. We also continued our conversations comparing and contrasting our daily routines, as its hard for me to imagine what life is like living in that enormous city and equally strange for them to imagine having 10 acres of land and all sorts of animals! The more time we spent together, the more I really wanted to celebrate how amazing it is to truly befriend and connect with women of so many different cultures and lifestyles through our shared admiration of this one actor.

The Saturday Dec. 3 evening performance went off without a hitch, probably a relief for the cast after the forbidden utterance by Kazan earlier that afternoon! Hari and I had adjacent seats for this one, on the left side front row, where we did have a really nice sprawled-leg view of an interesting hip wiggle by youthful Kenneth, and also a high-flying robe at one point that really gave a nice view of that muscular lower back! Daphne was across on the right side that evening but she also appreciated that flash of back, and commented immediately upon it at the first intermission. (You can see we were all quite comfortable ogling, and reminiscing upon our ogling, by this time!) I was by now quite sure of the little anatomical anomaly I had noticed, and in this performance I was also rather taken by the expressiveness of the young Kenneth’s feet and toes!

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My newly autographed fan art!

When it was over, I made haste for the Stage Door once again, and it really wasn’t long before Himself arrived. I was right near the front of the line again, and this time I was determined to remember what I said to Richard Armitage because I cannot recall at all what I might have said to him in London. So I held out my metallic print of the Iconic Richard Armitage that Guylty and I had months ago collaborated upon, and I said, “Richard, I really enjoyed the play!” I was looking at his face, and as I can only surmise that it was NOT the utter brilliance of my conversation that gave him a momentary pause, maybe it was the one-of-its-kind autograph item that caused him to briefly glance up from his signature and straight into my eyes, completely electrifying me with that flash of blue, and he smiled and said thank you, before moving on to Hariclea beside me! I was dazzled for a few moments and by then he was halfway down the line, but I belatedly remembered to turn on my phone and snap a quick picture of his posterior for posterity. =) Then I got myself in gear and hustled down and tried for some other photos but none were worth a damn because he was in full-on Stage Door motion and moving far too fast.

 

 

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Daphne, who really had devoted her entire day to us already, now offered to take us back to Rockefeller Center to view the enormous Christmas tree at night, and I gladly set off with her while Hariclea opted to wait for us in the comfortable lobby of the Hotel. The crowds near the skating rink and the tree were mind-bogglingly dense, and I had a giggle when I overheard a woman ask a food cart operator where she could find the big Christmas tree, and we were literally standing right in front of it. The man raised an eyebrow and kind of pointed backwards over his shoulder with a wry expression as the woman gasped in embarrassment. Ah, New York City and these little moments. I could relate, though. It’s a lot to take in. *snickers*… On our way back, we caught a really cool laser light show along the side of Saks 5th Avenue, then headed back to the hotel lobby where we reviewed our Stage Door Photos, giggled and fangirled together until 1 am!

Daphne was truly so, so generous with her time. Sunday morning she arrived again, on very little sleep I’m sure, as we all found it hard to come down from the high of the previous evening, and escorted us via subway ride to the World Trade Center Memorial. This was such a moving, haunting monument, and the many people gathered there were very somber, as was fitting. I had read about the concept of the Memorial- the huge square pools built upon the footprints of the towers and flowing downward in a waterfall, a vertically negative space where once the towers had stood… but seeing it in person brought tears to my eyes and made swallowing painful as I contemplated the magnitude and read name after name etched around the perimeters. Afterward we stood at the foot of Freedom Tower and gazed upward, then walked through the mall located inside the architecturally stunning Oculus, sharing our stories of where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001.

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Yum!

When we returned to the theatre district, we stopped briefly to contribute our wishes to the confetti that will be released on New Years over Times Square, then we met NycPat and friends, who had arranged for a really delicious lunch/brunch at a French restaurant (I had a crepe with duck confit filling that pretty much blew my mind!) and there we discussed a plethora of topics, including the NYC theatre scene, various stage door experiences with different actors, Richard Armitage, the cost of living in NYC, and of course Pat and I did also exchange pet rescue stories. Once again it was so delightful having the opportunity to put faces to names, and I was once again struck by how fun, warm and welcoming the NYC contingent of Armitage peeps have proven to be.

On the way into the theatre, the security guard joked to Daphne that she ought to bring a different purse next time so he could have something new to look at during the bag check. Then one of the ushers waved Hariclea in without giving her the usual spiel about the number of intermissions, saying she already knew the drill! I was thankfully more anonymous and in possession of a front row, right side seat for this final Sunday matinée, and I really kept my eyes shamelessly glued to Kenneth for the duration… it was my last opportunity to thoroughly study Mr. Armitage (until the next play, at any rate!) This performance was subtly different in Acts 2 and 3, something we all noticed and later commented upon. Kenneth was much more forcibly angry with Sandra during Act 2, and far more menacing when he confronted her with his suspicions of adultery. And Armitage brought the passion out again in Act 3 at the end, where the chemistry and attraction between Kenneth and Sandra really radiated in the final moments… *fans self*… I was in no doubt where they were headed (the bedroom!!!) as the lights went down.

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Illicit Celebrity Series photo op, titled “The Thumb”

Richard came out first for the Celebrity Series Q&A and I felt that he was the most “interactive” with the audience… although initially, he seemed distracted. Hmmmmm. He actually had to ask an audience member to repeat her question once! I also was a little distracted after I had to endure an embarrassing tap on the shoulder from the usher at one point when I tried to capture some little photos and an ill-advised video. *coughs* But on the bright side, one of my photos had a really fine thumb shot! Anyway, Hari asked the first question, as she had done the day before, and was a bit mortified when the host recognized her and proudly proclaimed it! Then to make matters worse, Hari’s question received rather a flippant brush-off from Zoe Kazan, and I really wished that Richard had taken the question instead.

Afterwards, Hariclea had to catch a plane, so we went back to collect her baggage and shared some final giggles about how we three had all noticed Richard Armitage’s left nipple during his final bow, and how we all managed to get some unsettling attention during our fangirling activities that afternoon. After a slightly tearful goodbye to Hari, Daphne had Christmas shopping errands to run in Bryant Park, where there was a really nice outdoor market, and I went along and wound up buying all sorts of little gifts for the family. We took a spin through Grand Central Station,  then had dinner and more laughter as we reviewed stolen photos and aborted video footage, and shared another really engaging conversation.

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Flight home Monday morning… Until Next Time!!

Wow, was this ever long! Nada for 2 months and then some 5000+ words! As you can probably tell from my excited ramblings, I absolutely loved the city, I loved the play, I loved Richard in the play, and most of all, I loved sharing the entire experience. It was one of the most wonderful weekends of my life, and I’m so thankful, and so blessed, to have partaken of it with friends.

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50 comments

  1. Pingback: Preoccupied with Armitage’s trip to #LLLPlay | Me + Richard Armitage
  2. Guylty · December 9

    What a wonderful post, Jenn – I loved reading all of it, not only because I know all the people you mention and whose hospitality and generosity I also enjoyed in NY, but because it felt I was there with you, again. Your observations about the play are really interesting – and reminded me of a lot of similar impressions I also formed (and have yet to write down). But boy, did I laugh when you came out with the “left nipple appearance”!!! That is one of the notable things that stood out for me (see what I did there?), too, and I actually even wrote it down in my notebook. Yeah – the *really* important bits of the play…
    Talking of which – I am not quite sure I have figured out what anatomical anomaly you discovered. I am really really curious, though. Share? Or NSFW? In that case – you know my e-mail *haha*
    In any case, I am absolutely thrilled that everything worked out so well – Hari was able to go, the two of you saw the play, you connected with the wonderful NYC trio of Daphne, Besotted and Pat – and you had a great time. What more can one wish for. Oh, yes, I know what – a repeat of it all. How lovely it would be, to come back, now that connections have been established… We can dream, though.
    Thanks for the long write-up. It more than makes up for the months when Preoccupied lay dormant 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · December 9

      “Stood out”… ROFL! It surely did… now that I’ve burst forth with all these impressions, I’m ready and waiting to hear YOUR review, so please do write it up! And once again I have to extend my heartfelt thanks to you for your role in connecting us with that trio… they were really the making of this trip and it wouldn’t have been half as fun without them! As to the anatomical anomaly… it’s safe for work but APM material so I’m keeping my cards close to my chest… and yeah I have your email! =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Guylty · December 10

        Oh, my review… yes. Um. With every day that passes, it feels less relevant tbh, especially as so much has already been said about it elsewhere. Luckily I have already covered the *really* important bits – of meeting REAL people 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • jholland · December 10

          No! Not to me, any way. Since I held off on reading anyone’s impressions it’s all going to be relevant. But agreed, the meetings and all the little tricks we get up to are the best part!

          Like

        • Servetus · December 11

          I know it’s the worst time of year for people with kids, but I would really like to read your perspective.

          Like

        • Guylty · December 11

          Hehe, can’t use my kids as an excuse anymore. If anything, it’s the increasing amount of work that collides with my private interests… But yeah, I shall attempt it, soon. I want to get it done *before* the play ends its run…

          Liked by 1 person

      • Hariclea · December 10

        oh come one, it’s not so bad! the little imperfections make the beauty! and it’s such a cute little thing LOL

        Like

  3. Servetus · December 9

    Thanks for the extensive report. We had a lot of similar reactions to Armitage’s performance. And I love, love, love the thumbshot!
    –a detail — re: “buy her a house,” one thing I learned this week by asking around (we had similar questions, why not a downpayment?) is that Rose’s stated income (a third of Kenneth’s) would not be enough to purchase even a small flat in London, even with the necessary downpayment, because the amount borrowed would inevitably exceed seven times her annual income. Presumably she’s tied to London because of her work, though.
    –I also picked a front mezz seat for the first performance, for the same reason. I didn’t want to be totally overwhelmed by the Armitage the first time (which was impossible to avoid in London).
    –I apparently am not endowed with left-nipple-vision!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jholland · December 9

      Oh you’re very welcome and now I need to go back and dig into YOUR reports- very next on my Armitaging Agenda, in fact. That makes a bit more sense, about the 7x annual income, but I still wonder if the parent couldn’t have been guarantor/cosigner? Or is that only for smaller loans- cars and such?

      Sounds like you and I were of the same mind, and I did enjoy the mezz during the first performance, and was also able to really see that haphazard cake chopping from above. In the front row seating I couldn’t see exactly what she did (but laughed anyway because the image was burned into my memory already!)

      Left-nipple-vision is a fine and wondrous thing. I’m so sorry. *snickers* =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Servetus · December 9

        Still no expert on property purchases in England, but from what I was told, Rose couldn’t be a borrower on a loan of the necessary size, even as a co-borrower. Might work in other markets, but not London as prices are so astronomical. So they could have bought the house and let her live in it (or let her make the payments, but that’s kind of the point, she doesn’t have the money for the mortgage payments).

        That cake chopping was a highlight even if I feel sorry for Ben Rosenfield. And Kenneth’s reaction to that frosting-covered server!

        Liked by 1 person

        • jholland · December 9

          Oh for sure, a highlight! In fact the entire scene at the table, from the moment Kenneth and Jamie sat there smoking, was just fantastically funny, couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Oh, and when she patted Jamie’s head and frosted him… ROFL!

          And forgot to say earlier… The Thumb shot at the celebrity series was well worth the humiliation of being caught by the usher.

          Like

  4. armitagebesotted · December 9

    OMG OMG this is soooooo funny!!! Thank you for the detailed write up, and your photos are fabulous, too! I laughed out loud, the loudest I have ever done, at “Some patrons’ heads move naturally back and forth as dialogue is exchanged, while others heads move in whatever direction Kenneth is moving!” So true! Over several viewings, I’ve trained myself to ignore Sandra (which is very hard to do, she’s quite compelling), tune out her talk (even harder), and just stare at RA for 2 hours straight. Divine. Somehow, I’ve always missed the nipple presentation, but there are so many other goodies to make up for it. Whew, fans self. Anatomical incongruity? Doesn’t seem possible with Mr. Perfection, but I’m curious….

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · December 9

      Oh my, this is getting alarming. I can’t imagine how the performance might suffer in absence of the nipple presentation! It’s just so pleasing when it flashes into focus…. LOL! I agree, Sandra is difficult to ignore, but, well… we’re devoted and certainly have trained long and hard to reach those levels of focus and concentration necessary to keep our eyes on the prize! Mr. Perfection, indeed. Whew!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariclea · December 10

        see they knew why they were blasting us with increasing doses of cold air from the aircon!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Lauren Quinn · December 10

          It was quite nippy in there wasn’t it….pun definitely intended, but seriously, I kept my coat on! lol

          Liked by 2 people

        • jholland · December 10

          LOL! All these sly references have really perked me up 😉 … but yeah, jokes aside, it was! I would spend Act 1 with coat off, Act 2 with coat as lap-blanket, and Act 3 with coat on. Every time! We wondered if they had it a little warmer during Act 1 to keep RA warm enough in his scantily clad wardrobe, then turned the heat down when he got dressed? =)

          Like

  5. Hariclea · December 9

    yay!!! can’t wait to read relive – i did my Chapter 1 just a few mins ago too LOL (the 6 months one, rest to follow ;-)) xx
    Wow your photos are soooo nice!!

    Like

    • jholland · December 9

      Oh, thanks! I was the consummate tourist, snapping pictures left and right the entire time. Even when I wasn’t supposed to… *clears throat* Loved your Chapter 1 (linked to it!)- it really was nothing short of a miracle that you made it in the end! =)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. armitagebesotted · December 9

    Thanks for the airplane shots, too. It always give me a charge of knowing I’m “home” when I see those giant buildings poking out of the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · December 9

      It was impressive, flying in… never seen such an expanse of city! And flying out… I was all choked up with this newfound NYC love. =)

      Like

  7. jaydee09 · December 9

    That was lovely – thank you very much for writing such a full and entertaining account. Glad that you and the others got to enjoy the entire experience.

    Like

    • jholland · December 9

      You’re very welcome, jaydee, and thanks for commenting. It was definitely entertaining (we entertain ourselves, knowing how laughably crazy it all is to be fangirling at this level!)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lauren · December 9

    Based on your description, I believe my husband and I sat direct behind you on the 12/3 Saturday 7:30 pm show!! It was the left side and we were in the second row back. The show was fantastic! At the stage door Richard signed my Thorin drawing and when I gave him a drawing he actually turned around and said “Wow, thank you so much!” With a big smile, but unfortunately my husband completely forgot to take any pictures lol. Sigh – I think he was star struck as well. You can see the top of his head in the pic you posted lol. Do you have any other pics from the stage door that night?

    I also completely agree with you about act 3, Rose kinda rubbed me the wrong way…I guess I would be considered the younger generation – given that I’m 28, and even with my parents being the way they are, I would never base all my life decisions on them or blame for all my failures and then turn around and act like I’m owed something…

    Like

    • jholland · December 9

      I believe I may have clocked the two of you, Lauren… and welcome to commenting! I do have a few more pics from the Stage Door and @DaphneHS also had quite a few… I’ll have to go through and have a look and see if one of us might have inadvertently captured your moment. Can’t blame your husband for being star-stuck… it happens to the best of us! LOL As to Rose, exactly! She accuses them of telling her to do this and that (follow her dreams, get a college degree… not exactly the parental recommendations that nightmares are made of!!!) and then screams at them that it’s all their fault when her life doesn’t measure up to expectations. It was a crappy situation- she seemed unhappily single and childless and broke- I get that, but she had some small part in all that! =)

      Like

      • Lauren Quinn · December 10

        That would be amazing and I would appreciate it so much!! Memories are precious but actually having a pic of the memory would be fantastic as well. At the moment, i only have a blurry screen shot from a video, but hey, it’s better than nothing right? lol!!!

        Like

        • jholland · December 10

          I hope somebody caught you guys- I sent some emails, let me know if any pan out. =) Also, Lena (@KuchingGirl) revealed on Twitter that she was also there that night and in the 3rd row in our section, not sure whether she was at SD but you could ask!

          Like

  9. Hariclea · December 9

    I’m so glad we all feel like we had one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives, felt like that to me too! And i giggled and am still grinning again at all the memories and discussions. And how utterly uni-directionally-observant we became on repeat viewings LOL. To be fair we also had the right one appear when we were on the left 😉
    And i’ll never look at his hands the same way ever again LOL
    And i love, love, loved NY, so much more than i thought i would. But nothing would have been as much fun without such great company! 🙂 to be repeated!!

    Like

    • jholland · December 9

      Um… I didn’t see the shy right nipple. Props to you for that elusive sighting!! ROFL- we really hit it off, didn’t we? And no, wouldn’t have been anything CLOSE without the companionship and joyful fangirling, would it? =)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. squirrel.0072 · December 10

    Je suis très heureuse de votre découverte de NY à Noel et de LLL avec les fans. 🙂
    Je ne pense pas qu’il faut condamner le comportement et les attentes égoistes de tel ou tel personnage. C’est une comédie caricaturale, qui veut être une dénonciation des travers de la société et des individus, à différentes époques de l’histoire contemporaine. La communication entre les générations n’est jamais simple, ici, l’incompréhension est poussée à l’extrême. Mais je mets quiconque au défi, de ne pas avoir retrouvé un parallèle avec sa vie familiale personnelle et de ne pas s’être remis en question, d’avoir un oeil neuf, à son retour à la maison ou au travail. Si Richard Armitage a choisi ce film, c’est peut être encore pour participer à une dénonciation des excès de la société et de certains humains. (comme dans N/S, la trilogie de Thorin, Red Dragon/Hannibal, Strike Back, MI5…) Pour moi il ne choisit pas une oeuvre au hasard, IL Y A TOUJOURS UN MESSAGE SUBLIMINAL OU UN QUESTIONNEMENT. Il représente un Don Quichotte, face aux moulins à vents.

    Like

    • jholland · December 10

      Thanks for commenting! I think that was why I was so interested in why he chose this particular play, because yes, he does generally like to explore different themes or questions… and I know in preparation for this role he did some reading that explored the generations and so on. I also agree that the individuals were caricatures as much as they were characters… but I object on principal to painting entire generations in caricatures. Yes, I can (and did) draw similarities between my experience/my family and the play, but there are at least as many differences as there are similarities there. I guess I don’t buy into the idea of blaming one generation’s woes entirely on the whims/actions/good luck/bad luck of another generation in the same way that I don’t buy into the idea of crediting parents with all the success OR all the failures of a child. In my own family, the differences in my life situation compared to that of my brother, and we were raised under the same roof and given the same opportunities and limitations, are quite different and so I suppose I tend to believe it’s more down to individuals than to generations. Also I think that birth order of siblings has a lot to do with how they operate as they move forward in life, it’s fascinating to read the studies that have been done, and this is another theme that I thought these characters/caricatures really explored (and maybe more successfully than indicting entire generations.) These are just my personal feelings- I loved the play and thought it was brilliantly funny and absolutely thought-provoking. And I’m absolutely certain that the conclusions and interpretations after watching the play are highly individualized and influenced by each person’s life experiences/political persuasions/etc.

      Like

      • squirrel.0072 · December 10

        C’était aussi un moyen de dénoncer les différences de destinées dans un monde de croissance, d’inconscience, d’euphorie et dans un monde de récession qui engendre la peur et le replis sur soi. L’ainé de la famille n’a pas le même parcours que le second ou le troisième, c’est sûr. Après reste le débat éternel entre l’inné et l’acquis, il est pour moi une source de réflexion quotidienne. Aujourd’hui encore, alors que je repasse les vêtements de mes grands adolescents, après avoir pensé à la physique des fluides newtoniens en cuisinant, la réflexion sur ma propre destinée m’interpelle. Bonne fin de semaine.

        Like

        • jholland · December 10

          Yes, good point. It really is interesting to contemplate all the factors that are in play and to look back through history and how world events, wartimes/peacetimes, differing tensions, the health of economies all shaped and evolved destinies. Makes one’s head spin. =)

          Like

  11. squirrel.0072 · December 10

    Et “the Crucible” est la pièce la plus déstabilisante, il y a d’ailleurs excellé!

    Like

  12. Kathy Jones · December 10

    I have realized, thanks to your wonderful descriptions of the play, that I am nipple challenged. I never saw a glimpse of anything so wonderful. Maybe I was too focused on the play’s dialog. NOT! Anyway, it sounds like you had a fabulous time with the best of companions. I think it’s true that Mr. Armitage is the icing on the cake. Sharing all the fun with friends is the best part.

    Like

    • jholland · December 10

      Hi Kathy! You of all people, nipple-challenged? And here I was hoping you might burst forth with an ode to the nipple’s Off-Broadway debut!!!

      Like

  13. JennyS · December 11

    Hope you don’t mind a semi-lurker butting in to thank you for this comprehensive report, and all the pics. I love NYC in winter and I feel I’ve been there, with the added bonus of your account of the play and stage door as well.

    So pleased for you that you had such a good time among friends.

    Like

    • jholland · December 11

      Thank you! I’d never been to NYC, and I was happy to go, but not prepared to be “won over” in such a way. The fact that it was so festive and elaborately decorated was certainly a factor, but the city also just has this ineffable lifeblood and energy that was also really appealing. Then there were the local ladies who were just- the best. I’m glad you enjoyed, and welcome to commenting. =)

      Like

  14. Gratiana Lovelace · December 11

    I absolutely adored your travel/theatre report about Love, Love, Love! And I agree with you about several important plot points–mainly, that Rose’s whining should not beget a house! I so wish I could I could see the five of tactors in performance–hoping that they’ll film it, but I know that is a longshot. So glad you had fun with your wonderful RA Fan Friends! Meet ups are delightful! Holiday Cheers!

    Like

    • jholland · December 12

      So glad you enjoyed my report, Grati, and thanks for the link love! I really wish they’d film it, too, and I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see it, but now that it’s over, I would love to be able to revisit all that laughter- nothing like it! But mainly because there were so many that didn’t have the opportunity to see it, and I know how that feels… like with UATSC, sooo frustrating to have to miss out! But for sure, the very best part of the whole thing was sharing the fun with new friends. =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gratiana Lovelace · December 12

        You’re welcome about my sharing your post link! Delighted to do so! And let’s cross all our fingers that it gets filmed. Only one week to go, so not likely. But a girl can dream!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Love, Love, Love Travelogue and Review Essay by JHolland at her Preoccupied with Armitage blog is a Delight! December 12, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1014) | Something About Love (A)
  16. Esther · December 14

    Oh, that was a lovely read! I admit to some jealousy, would have loved to be able to go to NYC for this as well but reports such as this one make up for it to some extent. 🙂 I know Hari is awesome, I met her briefly in London last spring, and I love how wonderful it was for you to meet other Armitage fans as well! These are all memories to cherish for a long time. Thanks so much for sharing it all!

    Like

    • jholland · December 14

      Hi Esther! Lovely to hear from you- it’s been awhile! Hari is fantastic and so are the NYC Contingent. I believe I’m still riding the high, over a week later… =)

      Like

      • Esther · December 14

        It really has been a while! Have missed reading your blogposts, so hope this is incentive to pick it up again? 😉
        I can totally imagine you still riding high from that experience. 🙂

        Like

        • jholland · December 14

          Oh, I’ve been re-energized. I’ll try harder. LOL

          Liked by 1 person

        • Esther · December 14

          I really don’t mean to push you or tell you what to do, but yes please. 😉

          Like

  17. Pingback: #LLLPLay – about the play | Opera is Magic
  18. linnetmoss · December 14

    This all sounds so lovely, from the travel to the fan fun to the glorious, electrifying EYE GAZE!! Yay for you! And the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is the icing on the cake. I always love seeing that.

    Like

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