People think of New York as a vast, forbidding colossus, but the mood inside Lincoln Center Theater, as the crowd trickles in before a hot day’s matinee, suggests the casual friendliness of small town. A low buzz fills the Beaumont lobby. As people enter from the plaza, they comment appreciatively that the place is cool, just as, in February, they give thanks that the place is warm.
The main difference between now and the frigid months, though, is the presence of children. During the academic year, kids at a Wednesday matinee are mostly under the tutelage of a teacher, or, at an official schools matinee, of teachers. But in summer the adult minders are parents, taking their kids to see a show before sleepaway camp starts, or after baseball season is over.
At this week’s pre-matinee lobbyfest, I met a family who were in town briefly between the end of baseball and the beginning of soccer camp. They were from Maryland. In the company of their mother, Jan, the son was James, 11, and the daughter was Emily, 13. James told me he had never been to a musical on Broadway, though he had seen The Book of Mormon on tour, even though his mother wasn’t sure he was old enough for it. (Dad said otherwise.)
Emily had watched the Tony awards this year and said she was especially interested in seeing Kelli O’Hara as Anna. “My father is from Oklahoma,” Emily said, “and Kelli is from Oklahoma, and that’s a connection.” Another connection: “I’m a starting player on my soccer team, and I watched the World Cup during the past month. There’s also a player with that name on Team USA.” (Kelley O’Hara.)
Emily said that she was hoping to travel to downtown Manhattan on Friday morning to see the parade for the American women. “My mom’s afraid it will be too crowded.”
Could Dad say otherwise?
“He’s not here with us,” Emily said, “so I may have to watch the parade on TV.”
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.