Venturing Into the Woods at Sondheim in the Park
Gianfranco Lentini joins the line for free tickets to the popular musical, and chats with fellow theatergoers about their experience.
The cast of Into The Woods (© Joan Marcus)
12:30AM: I pack up my belongings and gather my wits as I head into the night. With my friend beside me, we make our voyage to 81st Street and Sondheim in the Park!
1:00AM: Making our way to the entrance of the park, we find a decently pleasant mix of smiling homeless men and eager theatergoers. Unrolling our towels on the ground, we take our places as numbers 9 and 10 in line and begin to wait.
2:00AM: "What's that?…" -- The famous Central Park raccoons decide to pay us a visit and spend the next hour watching us from their perch in a tree.
3:30AM-5:00AM: Watching your friend sleep on a manhole cover… it's mildly entertaining after minimal sleep.
6:00AM: Heading into the park!
6:15AM: "Now, you continue to wait here," says the Delacorte usher as the line begins to groan again from hunger and exhaustion.
6:45AM-7:45AM: Blackout from exhaustion, and in the haze of memory, breakfast actually gets delivered to the line.
8:00AM: Our smiling, drooping faces are broadcast on TV for the delight of a morning news show and a too-happy-for-this-early-in-the-morning news anchor. Yes, we even sang parts of Into the Woods for the anchor.
12:00PM: As our last hour of waiting had come upon us, I decided to do some good, old-fashioned reporting from the field. I took to the line asking a few questions to people who'd been waiting just as long as I had.
Gianfranco Lentini: What time did you get in line? Will Porter: 12:30 AM Patrick Clement: 1:00 AM Kyla Williams: 1:00 AM
GL: How did you prepare yourself for waiting in line?
WP: I literally brought everything: sandwiches, blankets, pillows, games, crafting supplies (which I never used). I was preparing for the zombie apocalypse. PC: I brought the bare essentials and didn't use them. No craft-making occurred. KW: I brought a towel and a neck pillow and a pair of shorts to change into the next day. I thought about what kind of a wonderful and unique memory [the whole experience] would create, and that powered me through waiting the next 12 hours.
GL: What was one thing you were expecting from the waiting process?
WP: A headache but also a ticket. My expectations were simple. PC: A big line early, but it wasn't. I thought I'd be in the back of a line at 1AM, so it made me paranoid. KW: I was expecting to encounter shenanigans and unexpected laughs.
GL: What is one thing that has caught you by surprise during this time?
WP: I didn't realize how fatigued I'd be for a ticket to Into the Woods, but it's all incredibly worth it. PC: How friendly everyone is in line. We've become a big line family for 12 hours. KW: The raccoons! And I didn't expect it to get as cold as it did in the wee hours of the morning.
GL: Do you have advice for others who'd like to do this as well?
WP: I don't think it's that worth it getting here as early as I did. Thanks to the stadium seating, I can't imagine there's a bad seat. That being said, you do feel cooler than everyone else, so if you wanna feel cool, come on down! PC: Come with a good attitude. We're all here to see theater and it's FREE, so why shouldn't you be in a good mood? KW: Stock up on your supplies! I'm talking fold out chairs, blankets, snackies, and drinks.
GL: Will you be doing this again next year and into the future?
WP: Yeah, but not another 12 hour stint. That's a long time for even a free ticket. PC: Yes, depending on the show, especially if it was The Crucible and Legally Blonde in the same season. A double bill! KW: Next year, hopefully. In the future, definitely.
2:00PM-6:00PM: A proper meal and then a 3 hour slumber.
8:00PM-11:00PM: Perfect, center-stage seats and a fantastic looking sky with swirls of purple clouds. No rain in sight. Also, Stephen Sondheim is sitting 6 seats to my right. HYPERVENTALATING!
24 hours of my life, and if I've learned one thing from all of it, it'd be that I'd gladly do it again! That, and the simple fact you should go see this phenomenal, new production of Into the Woods before it closes August 25th! I promise, the lack of sleep is worth it.