Baby Goes to an Off-Off Broadway Play

Nobody puts baby in the corner – or as it was in this case – nobody puts baby in the back row, middle seat of an Off-Off-Broadway show.

Our 7-week New York City babe has been schlepped all over the city, behaving like a quintessential sweet angel and receiving rave reviews (mostly by us). In her 7 short weeks, she has behaved perfectly through both Toy Story 3 and The Karate Kid. She has slept for countless hours as we paraded around Tribeca, SoHo and Union Square.

When a friend of ours asked us to come to his Off-Off-Broadway show last weekend, we thought, no problem! The theatre was on West 38th Street – about a 4 mile walk through downtown and Midtown Manhattan. We timed it just right so I could feed her as soon as the show starts and she’d be off in her milk coma for at least the first half and deep into sleep by the second half.

We arrive, sweaty, at West 38th Street, open the doors and see a sign that directs us to the theatre – on the 5th floor. We instantaneously see another sign – taped over the elevator – that says the elevator is out of order. Mom looks at dad. Dad looks at mom. Both look at the over-packed, over-sized stroller with car seat strapped on. My instincts said abandon mission, but we disconnected the car seat from the stroller and folded the stroller in the corner of a very small, seemingly unused make-shift lobby (that consisted of the entry to the broken elevator, the entry to the stairs, and some abandoned pieces of plywood).

I wanted to put the folded stroller behind the plywood, but we feared it would be mistaken for trash so we put a note on it saying ‘PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS STROLLER’ and up we went 5 flights of stairs, to be supportive of our friend, the playwright and director of this play.

When we arrive, we get oohs and ahhs over the baby, pay for our tickets and make our way into the theatre. I use the term theatre vaguely. Mostly it was a stage that was on the same level as the front two rows and then there was an incline to host another 8 rows or so. Of course there were no two seats together and several people wanted to rearrange their seats to accommodate us with our huge car seat. Finally they found a space for us in the back row – in the middle. (BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE…)

So here we are, in the back row, with no air conditioning, I might add, scrunched between a big woman and the man filming the production. Oh yeah, and the video man is also the friend/playwright/director’s dad. We say hello and introduce ourselves. He asks if the baby cries. We giggle and say, “Oh no, she’s very sweet. A perfect angel,” and as the words leave my mouth he looks down at her and retaliates with a look that says, “Yeah, right.” In my mind, I say, “He just totally jinxed it.”

“Well, if she cries, I have duct tape,” dad/videographer says.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I answer, “I have two sets of duct tape right here,” pointing to my boobs. He seems embarrassed and looks away.

Lights go down, actors enter on cue and start overacting on the stage about 20 feet from us. Perfect baby stirs. I don’t want her to get antsy so I proactively take her out of the car seat. She fusses. I try to stick the fix-all binky in her mouth – and she rejects it. What?! For the first time in her life – she rejects it. I feel glares on me. sweat beads form on my forehead and upper lip quickly. We try to shush her and meanwhile I whip out my boob – all modesty to the wind.

I’m shoving the boob in her mouth, and she’s howling over it – like a kidnapped animal I’m trying to gag. I shove the boob; her dad tries to shove the binky – nothing. She wanted nothing shoved in her mouth. She wanted nothing to do with this overheated theatre and she was having none of the videographer’s comments.

We think about a way out – and my boyfriend suggests going down the middle of the audience, across the stage and taking this wailing baby out. I say no way. we could try to exit at our aisle, over the big woman, I suggest. Except there the friend/playwright/director has set up his makeshift sound station and laptop. It also is about 3 feet off the ground. I see no height restriction – I just want out.

The boyfriend somehow shimmies over the big lady and jumps down into the aisle over the computer set up and I quickly pass him the baby. But not before some 20-something douchebag turns around and says, “Get that baby out of here – it’s ruining the whole video.” (Note that he did not worry about the live performers on stage – just the video.)

I pass the baby and I make my way past the large lady, miscalculating the height of the aisle, and jump around the computer, and landed remarkably on my feet. I envisioned a Bionic Man sound accompanying my jump. Miraculously my clumsy feed land safely and I grab the baby and bold out the door and down the steps. By the time I was one flight down, she was calm.

Needless to say, I did not go back (my boyfriend went back during intermission to get the car seat); instead we walked 2 blocks north to Bryant Park where no one cared if she cried and the air was much less stuffy. Moral of the story is movies: yes, Off-Off-Broadway shows 5 flights up: no.

One thought on “Baby Goes to an Off-Off Broadway Play

  1. One word: Babysitter.

    One question: in what world is it appropriate to take a 7 week old baby to a theater… any theater?

    Did it ever occur to you that the difference between live voices and recorded ones might be the difference between sleeping baby and cranky baby (never mind that the play may have been badly written or acted or produced, or what size or shape the theater was)?

    I'm sorry, I don't know you, but you sound like a selfish parent… not considering those around you in this situation who paid good money to see the show. Not to mention the actors on stage who are working! And how, I wonder, did your friend the playwright really feel about you showing up with child in tow and having to leave before it was over? If it were me, I'd say thanks, but no thanks. Come when you can see the entire thing or don't come at all.

    I understand how difficult it is to be a parent in New York, I get it. But there are also plenty of people who would happily take $15 an hour to babysit your kid (several out of work actors I know among them) while you have a night out. Then you can have a real night out and actually enjoy what you are watching instead of wasting your money to fuss over your infant in the back of a dark theater, or worse, leave before it's over because the child is crying. The cost of two off-off Broadway tickets plus a babysitter for four hours still doesn't equal the cost of one Broadway ticket, so while I get that everyone is on a budget these days, it's still a better use of your cash than wasting, what, $30 to $40 on tickets then leaving before intermission.

    Just my opinion. I mean, you put the experience in a blog so I'm hoping you learned something from it.

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