It's that time: letting you know what I've overheard audience members at Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown say before curtain, during intermission, and on their way out of the Belasco. If you don't think real-life theatergoers occasionally talk like cartoon characters, you need to hone your eavesdropping skills. As Santayana once remarked of the author of A Christmas Carol: "When people say that Dickens exaggerates, it seems to me that they can have no eyes and ears for how people really do gesture and speak."
* * *
Woman On Ticket Line: This musical has something to do with gazpacho, doesn't it?
Her Friend: Yes, I think so.
Woman: Do you think they'll be selling gazpacho at the bar during intermission?
Her Friend: Why not? They sell tequila at the bar, don't they?
* * *
Elderly Woman in Blue Coat, looking at marquee: I think this must be the longest title ever for a Broadway show.
Elderly Man: Not even close. Just off the top of my head I can think of Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad.
Elderly Woman: Oh, yeah, they turned that into a movie starring Rosalind Russell.
Elderly Man: I loved Rosalind Russell.
Elderly Woman: You obviously didn't see THAT movie.
[Editor's Note: The full title of the play-in-question, by Arthur Kopit, was Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad: A Pseudoclassical Tragifarce in a Bastard French Tradition.]
* * *
Tall Man: Did you see the movie that this musical is based on?
Taller Man: Yes. I've seen all the Almodovar movies starring Javier Bardem.
Tall Man: I don't think he was in that one. I think it was Antonio Banderas.
Taller Man: He's married to Penelope Cruz, isn't he?
Tall Man: No, that's Javier Bardem.
Taller Man: Who's Antonio Banderas married to?
Tall Man: Nicole Kidman.
Taller Man: Oh.
* * *
A burly middle-aged man is standing outside the Belasco with his wife and what looks to be their eight- or nine-year-old daughter. The man stops another bystander.
Man: Excuse me. Do you know if there's nudity in this show?
Bystander: Beats me. Why don't you ask at the box office?
Man: I don't want to wait in the line. And you looked like you might know.
Bystander: I'm not sure if there's nudity in this show. I think it's a comedy, but I don't think it's Mary Poppins, if that's what you're looking for.
Man: We've already seen Mary Poppins. We're just looking for something new that's family friendly and that doesn't have any goddamn nudity.
* * *
Elderly Woman: Notice anything unusual about what the women in the lobby are wearing tonight?
Her Middle-aged Son: No.
Woman: Lots of women are wearing leopard prints, like Patti LuPone in the musical.
Son: "The audience was peppered/With ladies in leopard."
Woman: My son: a regular Stephen Sondheim!
* * *
Man Looking At Cast Photo Outside Theater: The women in this show are supposed to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. They don't look very crazy to me.
White-Haired Woman: They're supposed to be nervous, not crazy. This isn't The Madwoman of Chaillot.
Man: Was that a musical, too?
Woman: No, it was a play. The musical version was called Dear World and starred Angela Lansbury.
Man: Is she still alive?
Woman: Alive? I think she's on Twitter!
* * *
Teenage Girl: Justin Guarini is so cute in this show.
Her Mom: I know. I've liked him ever since American Idol.
Teenage Girl: Do you think he might do Dancing with the Stars next?
Her Mom: It's possible. If Bristol Palin can do that show, why can't Justin?
Teenage Girl: Does that mean that Bristol Palin might end up in a Broadway musical soon?
Her Mom: Trust me, she'll be in Chicago by next Christmas.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.