"Into the Woods"

About a month ago I was listening to something on the radio and there was a segment on the fact that this summer is the 50th year they are doing Shakespeare in the Park in New York City. I got this I need to do that feeling that often comes with something I haven't done before but can can probably work into my life. A couple of hours later I g-chatted my dear friend who lives in Philly and said, do you want to meet in NYC and go to Shakespeare in the park? The answer was a yes. We quickly looked at the ticket options and picked a weekend. The weekend we picked the show was "Into the Woods," one of my friends' favorites. And although it's not Shakespeare I will continue to to refer to it as Shakespeare in the park instead of Sondheim in the park.

So last weekend, she took the train up and I drove down. We got up at 5am Saturday morning so we could leave by 530 to get to the park at 6am when they technically speaking "open." We had read on the website, which both of us combed several times, that they do not condone lining up in the park before the park opens at 6am and that if you want to line up before 6am you have to do it outside a specific location and then get walked in by theater staff. We both thought that they would not have this warning if it was not a thing that really happened, so we decided to get there as close to 6 as we could without violating the opening times. 

We did well getting to the Delacourt Theatre at about 615am. When we got there the line snaked around the bend in the path already. People were camped out, literally and it looked like some of them had been there for some time. We saw people with an air mattress, and a few people blowing up those pool bed things. My friend said I wonder why they are blowing those up now. We made it to the end of the line and shortly after a person who worked at the theater came by to give the rules. It went something like this, you can't leave line, you can't have anyone come be space holder for you, if anyone comes to visit you in line, they cannot get tickets, each person in line can only get two tickets, only two tickets per address, you need id to get into the show in the evening, you can't leave and come back unless you are going to to the bathroom, doors open at 730pm and the show starts at 8pm.  Oh and most importantly they do not give out tickets until 1:00PM. 

Now both of us had read the website backwards and forwards, and no where on it did we see that tickets were not released until 1:00PM. We were surprised to say the least and proceeded to sit down on our jackets since we had neglected to bring anything to sit on figuring they have out tickets at 9 or 10. They would have no real reason to give them out any later than that. My friend and I are the biggest readers we each know, and both of us had neglected to put reading material in our bags. At the last minute I put a Yoga Journal in there, but that was all we had. We are each reading multiple books right now, and neither one of us brought any of them. We had water, an apple, two lara bars and a raincoat each. We were terribly under prepared in a way I am pretty sure neither of us have been before seeing as neither of us has ever waited in any type of line anything close to what they were suggesting in our entire lives. I waited in line once to see Amma the "hugging saint" but even that was less time than what we were potentially going to do at that moment. 

As we sat down we started talking about it, are we really going to do this right now. Are they really serious that it isn't until 1pm? No wonder those people have an air mattress. Etc, etc. I was fully ready to just go back to the apartment and try to online lottery instead of waiting in line. But my friend made the great point that it was the whole reason that we came into the city and that we should wait. The guy that worked there had said that if we were at that point in the line we were guaranteed tickets, so that was a big boost and reason to stay also. It was an adventure weekend after all.  And then before we knew it, we were just doing it. The hours started to tick by. We made friends with the woman on one side of us and the man on the other. They had both waited before for previous shows and were giving us the inside scoop on questions we had, for instance, is it general seating or are the tickets numbered., they are numbered thank goodness! So as we got to know our neighbors and caught up on some quality time with each other and people watched in the park, the hours started to surprisingly float by. 

During our wait in line these are some things we learned, the box office has a concession stand that opens pretty early so people in line can get stuff. Andy's Deli delivers to the line in the park. The delivery guys come in on a bike a start yelling out names. The food wafts through the whole line leading no doubt to more orders. 
People bring full coolers, games, blankets, chairs, tents, books, and  just about anything you can think of to entertain themselves. There is also a guy who rents chairs for $5 until 1PM in case you didn't bring one. We did not rent however in my head I considered it several times. All the while I was thinking about the contents of my trunk which we had stopped at before walking to the park. In my trunk I have two yoga mats, a sleeping bag, a beach blanket and a bamboo mat. All of which we could have easily grabbed when we were grabbing sneakers. 

My friend's friend from college who lives in the city brought us some pretzel chips and more water at around 11am, which was perfect timing as we were both hungry  and had run out of water. It was also nice to have a visit to break it up a bit. Every time I went t use the bathroom, which was right next to the theater, I checked to see if there had been any movement in the line or if any of the box office windows were opening up. Instead what I saw was sleeping people, lots and lots of sleeping people. I couldn't believe that so many people could be asleep out in the open in the middle of the park. I am not a good enough sleeper to be able to do that, but these people were out. 

Just before 1:00 they came through the line and told people to start packing up. We had discussed what we thought the process might be. Considering they had said the thing about the limit per address and ID we figured the line would move very slow and the process would be a bit arduous. Then my friend said "you know, I'm going to be real pissed if they just hand out tickets." The line moved slowly at first and then it moved much quicker the closer you got. We got to the last section of the line and they were just giving tickets out. Two a piece, and then you just walk away. No ID check,  no address record. It was pure disinformation for crowd control. We could and couldn't believe it. We laughed at the pure blur that the last 6.5 hours had been. Then we strolled back through the park to the apartment. 

The show was great, it rained a bit, but the show went on. The theater is really nice, stadium seating so there really aren't any bad seats. The theater holds about 1800 people. The big star of the show was Amy Adams, and a number of famous Broadway starts that I am not familiar with, which isn't saying much considering how little I follow such things. Since we got four tickets between the two of us, my friend's college friend and her husband joined us. They have lived in the city for nearly ten years and had never gotten tickets before. I was glad they could come. 

It was truly an adventure. One I am glad to have experienced. We each said that we might do it again if the show was one we really wanted to see. We would just make sure to be more prepared. It was quite the learning experience. 

Top Tips

- If you are only half hearted interested in the show, do the online lottery. It is hard to get tickets, but worth a shot if you are only half interested. 
- Bring food water and something to sit on. 
- Bring a raincoat to both the line and the show, even if there is only a slim chance of rain. They don't  cancel the show often so the chance of getting rained on is high. Basically be prepared for all types of weather in line and at the show. 
- Get to the line as close to 6:00am as possible. The line expanded behind us with more than a hundred people. 
- Bring an activity, book, game, etc. People watching can only last so long. 
- The more people the better in your group. Then it is just a hang out in the park and not a line. I mean really when was the last time you  just sat around for 6.5 hours with your friends?
- Talk to your neighbors in line. Not only can it be interested and help you learn something, it is a great way to pass some time with strangers. And you will undoubtedly see them that night at the show as well, reminisce about the line and laugh. 

The front of the line, not Occupy Wall Street. 

The line that formed behind us after we got there at 615am. 

The prepared people in front of us. 

Park Avenue at 545am.