The Guys and Dolls Question
There are some perks to living in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan. For instance, a new TKTS discount kiosk
that's opened up just blocks away from us. We'd been wanting to get out, and we'd also been wanting to take our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter to a show; here was our chance.
My husband called from outside the ticket window (there was no line!) and announced that they had the expected fare of older shows, like "The Little Mermaid"
, but that he was able to get tickets for the recently opened "Guys and Dolls"
at 40% off. Should we see that?
Heck, my mother-in-law had been singing her "A Bushel and a Peck", a song from the show, since she was a baby, and she loves to dance to the Broadway soundtrack at home. Enough of Disney princesses! "Guys & Dolls" would be her very first Broadway show!
As we rushed to get ready for our night on the town, we played the show's tunes once again, allowing her to take in as much as she could last minute. My husband started to tell her the show's story line as we were walking out the door, but my daughter said, "Can't it just be a surprise?" And as she hop-skipped to the subway she yelled, "We're going to the movie theater in Manhattan!" We explained the difference between a movie, and a live stage show.
Arriving at the theater, my husband told me to pick up our daughter so he could snap a picture of her with the show marquee in the background. It would be something for her scrapbook. As people started shuffling past, we were met with many smiles and a few people even pointed at our daughter. We looked around for other parents with children, but we didn't see any at all, much less four-year-olds, and all of the sudden, I wondered whether we'd made a mistake bringing her to see "Guys and Dolls."
But, we were here now, and even at 50% off, the tickets were still a special splurge, so onward and upward. The ticket checker gave us the once-over, but didn't say anything except, "Up the stairs and to the left." As we went up the stairs and to the left, my husband said to me, "If anyone asks, the babysitter cancelled on us."
Almost immediately, our daughter asked for popcorn, and she was sorry, and a bit confused to hear there wasn't any. "They always have popcorn at the movies." So much for our earlier explanation. As we sat down, we breathed a sigh of relief to see that our seats right near the entrance would allow for an easy getaway if necessary.
"So, where are you from?" the couple sitting next to us asked excitedly. "Brooklyn," I answered. From the disappointment on their faces, they'd clearly assumed we were tourists. "But, it's our daughter's first Broadway show," I added. That perked them up, until they peeked over to see her. They responded with a quizzical look and then informed us in the most serious manner, "Well, the guy who's playing the role of 'Nicely Nicely' was also Sebastian in 'The Little Mermaid'!" And that response perked my daughter right up! "The Little Mermaid! We're seeing 'The Little Mermaid'!"
But the curtain lifted, the band began playing, giant electric dice lit up the stage, and she was entranced during the big opening number. Of course, soon came her first out loud question, "What's craps
?" My husband began to whisper an explanation about gambling, and I began to get nervous. After the first two numbers, there was an awful lot of dialogue. Lots of double-entendres and not a lot of plot. Where was all the singing and dancing? Our daughter began fidgeting in her seat. She started fanning herself vigorously with her Playbill.
What were we thinking? And what was everyone thinking about us bringing her to see this show? As the acts continued, the craps question was followed with, among others, "Why did that lady kiss that man if she just met him a few minutes ago? Why is Harry the Horse not a horse? Why is luck a lady? "
But, she settled in, and for the second half of the show, she sat mostly on the edge of her seat. I'm not 100% sure if that's because she was having such a good time, or because she couldn't see. But, by the time we hit "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat," it was clear that she was not rockin anyone's boat around us in the theater. (During this number she did ask me, "Why does that big woman keep hitting her own butt like that?" Too much to explain. You'll have to see the show to understand that one.)
As we left, we asked her if she'd liked the show, and in between yawns she replied with a nod, yes. She fell asleep in the cab home and the next morning, didn't mention a word about the show. While we sat and ate breakfast, we told her about our favorite parts of the show and tried to get her to do the same. And then, for some reason, it occurred to me, that maybe she didn't even know what "Guys & Dolls" were? "...So you see, Sweetie, the guys are the men and dolls are the women." And it was like a little light went on. To that my daughter said, "But Mommy, women AREN'T dolls! They are real, living people with feelings and it's not nice to call them that!"
My daughter, the natural born feminist! What was I worried about?
But I have to admit that I'll never quite picture my mother-in-law singing "A Bushel and a Peck" the same way again. It's a burlesque number.
Maybe next time we'll just take our feminist daughter to see "The Little Mermaid".
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