Kristin Cato, Berkeley Rep’s bookkeeper, was part of the Theatre’s delegation to New York for the Broadway opening of American Idiot. You can see Kristin in the photo below (courtesy of Mina Morita), her head poking through almost dead center. The group includes, from left, Mary Susskind, Terence Keane, Sally Smith, Amy Potozkin, Kristin, Emika Abe, Maggi Yule, Tom Pearl, Andrew Susskind, Karen Racanelli, Christine Bond, and Susan Medak.
Below are Kristin's observations of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Ah, the hum and beat of New York. Taxicab blurs and Times Square’s over-sized phantasmagoria of molten corporate psychedelia splatters across skyscraper. It’s the ‘hood where musical theatre still lives large. And it’s an ironically glamorous, frenetic, yet apt setting for American Idiot, a tale of an underbelly youth’s false start in the metropolis of his (broken) dreams. After all, the youth does belt out “One nation controlled by the media/Information age of hysteria” in the opening number.
Being a big fan of the show during its Berkeley run, I had been hankering for months to see the Broadway production, and had contemplated an overdue visit to the Big Apple. So naturally I was thrilled to win a ticket to opening-night festivities in a staff lottery. What a gift and opportunity! Thank you, lottery goddesses!
About a dozen of my fellow Berkeley Rep co-workers also flew in from the Bay Area. We met up at the legendary Sardi’s next door to the St. James Theatre for a pre-show reception, compliments of Board member Sally Smith. I gazed around at caricatures of the famous – past and present – plastering the walls of this dark-wooded restaurant. I easily spotted the hand-drawn faces of Sophia Loren, Tom Brokaw, Rosie O’Donnell, and Kermit the Frog. Many others looked vaguely familiar. I had seen them in something, somewhere. Little did I know, I would be partying with Rosie O’Donnell in a couple of hours, alongside Serena Williams, Michael J. Fox, a host of TV stars, and of course, Green Day and the American Idiot cast. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was time to head to the theatre!
After the reception, as Gustav Davila, Berkeley Rep’s director of information technology, and I joined the throng of theatregoers heading into the St. James lobby (seen above), a burst of girlish shrieks announced a red-carpet sighting of the band. The band. Meaning Green Day. I caught a fleeting glimpse of Billie Joe Armstrong, but arms and backs and journalist cameras quickly obscured my view. Oh well, I thought. I had mingled with the band several times in Berkeley – even got a photo with Billie Joe – and could hobnob again at the after party. (Or so I dreamed, anyway, ha ha.)
Once in our seats, we found ourselves in the dark, the red curtain lifting. The show was powerful, throbbing. I knew every step, having seen it five times at Berkeley Rep last fall. The show has grown richer since its initial run, with embellishments. Yet the show had the same spark we saw in our own Roda Theatre. After a thunderous standing ovation, director Michael Mayer joined the cast on stage, followed by Green Day. Drummer Tré Cool playfully shot across the stage to plant a kiss on ensemble member and timpanist Gerard Canonico’s lips, while Billie Joe Armstrong hugged each and every member of the cast. I almost expected them to perform a song, which they did two nights later, much to the ecstasy of a Thursday-night crowd.
What weather we had for the New York opening! After the show, we headed into the warm, almost balmy night to attend the after party at Roseland Ballroom. “You can’t come in without a ticket!” a bouncer yelled at the Green Day groupies swarming the metal fence. “We have tickets,” I said. “Oh, right this way.” We entered right behind “Little Steven” Van Zandt, the bandanna-wearing rock guitarist from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. This was going to be fun.
Green Day arrived shortly after we did. After munching a few chips and guacamole, we gravitated toward their corner. The “Berkeley Rep brigade” mingled there awhile, eyeing the band’s bodyguards, attempting to name celebrities in our midst. Later we congregated near the dance floor, and few of us got a temporary tattoo of a hand holding a heart grenade. Around midnight, I achieved my goal of snagging Tony Vincent’s signature on the new American Idiot cast album for a friend. Tony plays the electrifying St. Jimmy. I also snagged a photo with Tré Cool (seen above).
It was an unforgettable star-studded encounter in New York, indeed and the culmination of five days of shows and museum visits in a city I love. It was getting late, so at last I rambled back to the ever-awake Times Square, dwarfed again by media blitz, and headed for my hotel. “Television dreams of tomorrow...” I had a flight to catch later that day.
great report, kristin! you should think about writing instead of math/bookkeeping for a living ;)
I know, huh? Thanks, Emma.
I'm so jealous! I wish I could win tickets, but they'd have to include a flight from the UK, or better still, the show needs to come over to London!
Fab report! xxx
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