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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Just Concluded The Crucible Family Night

Whew- busy week! I’ve been avoiding blogging for a week now, trying to be a responsible adult, catching up on dictating my charts at work, chasing documents for the accountant, arranging and rearranging my latest quilt on the design wall, sheltering from Oklahoma tornadoes, enduring power outages, and running the kids here, there and everywhere… but I thought I’d share a quick update on the Armitage-related doings.

Confirming what we all already knew, I did spend another small fortune in pursuit of my Richarding interests. After finding out that I couldn’t satisfactorily watch The Crucible on my large screen TV in any other way… even if I timed it well and did use the Samsung SmartTV DT app for my measly 48 hour window, unfortunately the quality of our wireless out here in the boondocks would not allow streaming to the TV without crap quality and ridiculous buffering… so I opted to invest in the laptop. Hubby didn’t ask the price, just asked that I not inquire about any new bass guitar that might appear in the near future.

As if I were the type to even notice a new bass guitar! He finally broke down and asked if I’d seen his new bass several weeks ago, the one he’d hinted about hiding in plain sight when I outed myself about the blog, and the answer was “Oh, you did buy that bass? Where is it?” (It was on the bass stand in the craft/music room we share, and I’d been in that room piecing my latest quilt for 2 weeks without ever catching on, even when he was in the room, practicing on the damn thing… my bad!)

So, yes… I’m the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro, and I have to say, I love it. It’s pretty nice to have access to my Richarding when the kids are monopolizing the desktop in pursuit of Minecraft on YouTube, or Hubby is browsing his mineral auctions or his political sites. I’m liking it a lot. I wrote my latest spoof from the comfort of the couch on my new laptop, and it’s a lot faster than the desktop. My one disappointment was figuring out that the Giffing Tool is not available on iOs. This means I’ll have to pursue my new Giffing habit at work or horn in on the desktop occasionally, but I suppose I’ll make do. I was able to install the DT desktop player and download The Crucible, though, and so we invited family over for ribs and theatre night this evening.

Hubby has been perfecting his smoking techniques lately, and has wanted to have the family over to try his amazing baby back ribs, and that was a big draw for the men. Don’t know that they were too interested in the theatre aspect of the evening, but most men will come for ribs. LOL. Even my brother was initially game, but he then opted out at the last minute, citing the need to study all weekend. Turns out his study partner is a girl, and he sheltered with her on Wednesday, when severe tornadic storms blew through, over at her place. All night. And now needs to study over at her place, all weekend. Right. So evidently even the lure of smoked ribs was not enough to overcome this newfound academic dedication. Lol.

Happily, the kids were shuffled off to the Gymnastics Play Night, a parent’s night out initiative at the local gymnastics academy, and we were free to watch The Crucible free of constant interruptions, disputes, requests, spills, and so on. The laptop-HDMI-TV method worked exactly as it should, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.

OK, so the stepdad nodded off in Act 1 and missed its entirety. That’s his usual MO for any movie, so no disrespect to Richard. He did wake up and watch Act 2 when Mom loudly announced Richard was about to take his shirt off, and I endured a bit of ribbing from everyone, not to mention Hubby flashing his left nipple at me just when the shirtless John Proctor stretched out and I was enjoying that lovely side-view. Yes, he did. Luckily Mom was rather intently watching the onscreen nipple performance when Hubby did that. =)

I particularly enjoyed an interlude during the set change between Acts 3 and 4, when I checked to see if anyone was sleeping, but didn’t have a good view of Mom, whose face was obscured by a couch cushion.

“Is she sleeping?” I asked Hubby.

Mom sat up indignantly. “No, I’m not sleeping!”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you slept during The Crucible…” I goaded her.

Hubby, adopting Judge Danforth’s strident tone, demanded, “DID you, or DID you NOT sleep on The Crucible Front Row? WHAT SAY YOU, Goody Brown?”

To which Mom cried, equally dramatically, “I were JET-LAGGED, Mister! I were jet-lagged, but I am awake NOW!”

And so on… it was a fun evening, and good reviews all around, for both the smoked ribs and The Crucible. Hubby and stepdad broke into loud applause when it was over, which I suspect may have been precisely because it was over, so I made a point of complimenting Richard’s nipple just to get Hubby’s goat! Mom thought that was outrageous, and I almost told her then and there that there was a lot more to be said about that nipple, and it was to be found on my blog… SURPRISE!… but I decided at the last moment not to go there, mainly because we needed to be responsible and pick our children up from Gymnastics Play Night, and needed to get on the road if we weren’t to be *those parents*, the ones whose kids are very last to be picked up. (That happened to me once, at Girl Scout Camp… my folks had the pick-up date wrong and had to be called when every last kid except me was gone, and they didn’t show up. It was the most excruciating and embarrassing 3 hours of my childhood, waiting around with the camp councilors as Mom and Dad sped 200 miles across New Mexico to fetch me, knowing that they all probably had party plans but had to sit around babysitting The Lonesome Girl Scout instead.)

However, it’s back to the design wall at Mom’s quilting loft tomorrow, and I’m quite sure Mom will be there, ready to offer her two-cents on my design, and I may just tell her about the blog then.

We’ll see. =)

Nipplegate Spoof

Actor’s Left Nipple Breaks Records, Spawns Debate

Actor Richard Armitage found portions of his bared torso at the center of yet another fandom controversy this week with the much-anticipated release of the Digital Theatre production of his critically acclaimed performance as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was staged at The Old Vic in London’s West End and captured live on film in September 2014. The actor’s decision to remove his shirt to sold-out audiences throughout the run of The Crucible during the period referred to as “The Summer of Love”, recently came under fire when screencaps of a controversial scene in the opening of Act 2 went viral and caused an ogling epidemic in the fandom.  At the center of the latest debate, through ripped and thread-worn prison garb, peeks Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.

With the release of the production in its entirety, many more GIFs and screencaps have emerged, several of which have allegedly interfered with viewers’ abilities to appreciate the somber subject matter as well as the talents and capabilities of Armitage as an actor. One vocal member of the fandom, a self-appointed delegate for SPOOFER (Spokespersons Policing Oglers Or Fans Exploiting Richard), who wished to remain anonymous, expressed disgust and disdain for the appalling “absence of maturity and decency, of understanding what this role, the play entails” and was deeply saddened when one screencap, obtained during the curtain call, drew undesirable attention to Armitage’s left nipple through a large rent in his costume over the pectoral area.

When the relatively small but vocal minority, SPOOFER, attempted to reign in and subdue the members of the fandom who were less than discreet in their appreciation for images of John Proctor’s left nipple, debate erupted in what is now being called the Tumblr Nipplegate Scandal. Many commenters argued that just because some fandom members had the audacity to celebrate the reappearance of the nipple in Act 4, it didn’t necessarily indicate incognizance on the part of the posters for the devastating themes of The Crucible, or the brilliance of Armitage’s portrayal in the leading role. “Proctor is supposed to be sexy, so what is wrong with acknowledging that, and throwing in some irreverent humor along the way? Puhleeze. Are the Puritans alive and well on Tumblr?”

Armitage is not the only celebrity to find himself embroiled in a so-called Nipplegate Scandal. Pop singer Janet Jackson, author of the original  Nipplegate Superbowl XXXVIII Halftime Scandal of 2004, could not be reached for comment. Jackson’s representatives, however, expressed confusion when they were told that the controversy surrounding Richard Armitage’s exposed nipple was directed not at the actor himself, but at certain factions within his fandom who drew attention to the nipple. “Where’s the outrage? When Ms. Jackson’s nipple was inadvertently revealed by a spontaneous wardrobe malfunction, Ms. Jackson herself was hounded and demonized! Where’s the pasty? At least Ms. Jackson’s exposed nipple was covered with a pasty onscreen and during the live performance!” Janet Jackson’s representatives do seem to have made a pertinent distinction between the 2004 and 2015 Nipplegate scandals: it is impossible to attribute Armitage’s visible left nipple to a wardrobe malfunction, when the nipple is reputed to have been exposed approximately 101 times during the run of The Crucible.

One popular Armitage blogger, recently returned from her travels, was home just in time to weigh in on the nipple controversy, and recalls seeing the nipple many a time when she attended The Crucible live performances in London on more than one occasion. The blogger openly admitted to being sidetracked throughout Act 4 when she was seated in close proximity to the nipple. “That rip was so strategically placed… I remember consciously noticing it when I sat somewhere on the right-hand side of row 2 in the main auditorium. Boy, was I distracted. But well, my grateful thanks to the costume designer,” was her comment in response to another blogger’s edit designating the outer curve of Armitage’s pectoral muscle as one of the places deemed desirous to be kissed in a popular series titled “Places I would like to kiss Richard Armitage: Just South of the Nipple Edition.” Others commented, when the image appeared on a variety of social media platforms, that the screencap was impossible to view without the eyes being drawn repeatedly to the nipple.

Perhaps the most outrageous edit of the curtain call screencap depicts SpongeBob SquarePants actively laving Armitage’s left nipple, and caused an enormous uproar on Tumblr. We contacted the cheerful square-shaped sea sponge in hope of understanding his motivation for this unexpected and completely unanticipated appearance on the London stage. SpongeBob optimistically pointed out that it’s clearly clear from Armitage’s genuinely genuine, heartwarmingly heartwarming smile in the image, that both SpongeBob and Armitage had enjoyed the moment. “That moment, there in the finest theatre establishment ever established for theatre, was a moment I’ll never forget because it’s an unforgettable moment! There we were, in the midst of the most enthusiastic standing ovation where an audience ever stood and ovulated enthusiastically!”

SpongeBob’s PR representatives, employees of Nickelodeon, issued a warning that parental discretion was advised for the character’s appearance at The Old Vic, and hastened to apologize for SpongeBob’s use of the word “ovulation” in his statement. “Listen: everyone loves SpongeBob. He’s a loveable guy. We can all agree that SpongeBob SquarePants is a squeaky clean character, and sometimes that works to his disadvantage. In his naivety, we believe SpongeBob’s reference to ‘ovulation’ was intended to convey the concept of ‘applause’ and in no way did SpongeBob intend to imply that any audience members might have ovulated during the curtain call.”

Nickelodeon went on to explain that they believe that the screencap was taken out of context, showing only a brief and repetitive image that may appear to indicate undue attention was paid to the actor’s left nipple. “Furthermore, we would like to emphasize that there was no sexual impropriety on SpongeBob’s part. This unfortunate screencap, when viewed with a jaded eye, might appear to show SpongeBob’s ministrations in an amorous context, but we must reiterate that both Richard Armitage and SpongeBob had their pants on, and SpongeBob was merely performing much-needed ablutions for the actor following an extended incarceration of his character. The harvest and usage of sea sponges to perform cleansing rituals and exfoliation has been documented throughout history, and should have no innately vulgar associations.”

Whether vulgar associations are drawn from viewing Richard Armitage’s left nipple or not, no one can deny that its performance in The Crucible has enjoyed unprecedented success. Digital Theatre reports that the left nipple has been downloaded to over 1100 cities and has resulted in record numbers of sales and record-breaking traffic on their website since the production became available on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Reports have surfaced of would-be nipple viewers waiting up to 34 hours for their HD files to download, and the usually rapid Digital Theatre support staff has been working overtime to troubleshoot issues preventing the throngs of Armitage Admirers from viewing his nipple’s performance on the London stage.

When contacted to ask whether any priority was given to more serious theatre enthusiasts and Armitage Admirers who appreciate the actor’s talent and recognize his investment of “heart and soul to this piece of art” over those who might only have been interested in drooling over the nipple, Digital Theatre stated: “It is surprisingly difficult to make such distinctions or differentiate between our customers in this fashion. We actually encountered no references to Armitage’s Left Nipple in the queries submitted by consumers. Customers were and are being assisted on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the positive responses, when their technical issues are eventually resolved, have been astonishing.”

Reviews from both the Armitage fandom and critics alike for Yael Farber’s production of The Crucible have been overwhelmingly positive. The piece, which received an unprecedented number of 5 star reviews, has been nominated for two prestigious Olivier Awards: Best Revival, and Best Actor. It is not known whether the controversy will have any impact on the results, but many wonder if it is fair to the other nominees to have to compete against Richard Armitage’s Left Nipple.