I generally dislike Broadway musicals, and I've seen none of Andrew Lloyd Webber's, except for the movie version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and an occasional drama club production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Ok, and the movie version of Cats, which I hated. Talk about maudlin tripe!
So I'm the last person who should be meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber, let alone having tacos with him at 2:00 am. But that's what happened in the fall of 1999, when I was living in New York.
1. As you know, my friend Yuri, the Russian meteorology major, could get any guy he wanted: young, old, black, white, gay, straight. In the fall of 1998, I let him lose on my stuffy, elitist boyfriend Blake in order to make the "Roommate Switch." They only dated once, to the opera, but Blake continued to have a thing for Yuri.
2. Blake was a Big Wheel in the New York Arts Scene, with connections all over town, in classical music, opera, and theater. He went to all of the Broadway Cares AIDS fundraisers, and in September 1999 he invited Yuri to the Annual Flea Market and Grand Auction.
3. Not wanting to give Blake the wrong idea, Yuri invited me along, as his "date," but with the understanding that either of us could meet someone else and vanish (I had just broken up with Joe the Roommate).
4. We spent the afternoon sorting among the Jekyll & Hyde t-shirts, posters from Sunset Boulevard, aand Chicago light switch plates. Blake got a photo taken of himself and a naked boy (from Naked Boys Singing). During the Grand Auction, I bid for a walk-on acting job on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yuri cruised.
5. One of the celebrities manning autograph tables was John Benjamin Hickey, star of Cabaret and the gay-themed Love! Valour! Compassion! (this isn't him). Yuri got not only his autograph, but a lengthy conversation and an invitation to a party later.
6. Hickey picked us up at my apartment (Blake and I were invited, too), and drove us to Brooklyn Heights, to one of those ornate townhouses with living rooms that are pictured in design magazines. There were about two dozen people, including some recognizable celebrities: Judith Light (of Who's the Boss), Top Wopat (of Dukes of Hazzard), Roger Bart (of Hercules).
7. Yuri was occupied with Hickey, and Blake wandered off somewhere, leaving me on my own. I gravitated toward a short, middle aged man with a pie-pan face sitting in the corner by himself, leafing through The Encyclopedia of Pantomime. Short is my type, and there's something endearing about the lost and neglected. So I started a conversation with him about the Commedia dell'Arte of 17th century Italy.
"Do you think Cats has any resemblance to the Commedia dell'Arte?" he asked.
"Oh, the musical? I never saw it. I saw the movie -- what a train wreck that was!"
He grunted. I should have realized that he was involved with Cats, but I just thought, "What a cute British accent!"
8. Neglected, indeed! A fawning coterie soon enveloped us. I figured this guy was famous, but didn't know how. After being ignored for a few minutes, I moved on to cruise Tom Wopat.
9. It got later and later. Yuri had vanished, and Blake didn't want to leave yet. I was trying to figure out how to get to the nearest subway station, when the Pie-Faced Man approached. "Going into the City?" he asked. "I have a car, if you need a ride."
10. By "car," he meant limousine with driver. Now I knew he was somebody famous, but I couldn't very well ask who. I figured something to do with Broadway, so I said "I love You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
"What about Sunset Boulevard?"
I should have realized that this was a clue, but I didn't. "Well, the movie was great. I haven't seen the play."
11. We crossed the bridge into Manhattan, and the Pie-Faced Man said "You know what? I'm starving! These parties never serve enough food. Do you like tacos?"
"My favorite musical of all time is Chicago," I said. "Bob Fosse was a genius."
A little while later, he dropped me off at my apartment.
Blake called the next day. "How was your date with Andrew Lloyd Weber?"
"I saw you leave with him. Is he gay?"
Andrew Lloyd Webber! And I bad-mouthed Cats and Sunset Boulevard! "No," I said, "And after my performance last night, probably not a gay ally, either."
I was joking, of course. Sort of.