Opening, Part II: Miss Abigail and Friends Hit the Big Apple

Not only was I considered tried-and-true band geek in high school, I was a thespian. While most of my roles were as stage manager or in the chorus, I did get to star in Our Town. While I didn’t have the passion (or rather, skill) that others in drama did at Charlotte High School, I’ve always been a fan of the theater. So when I was contacted just over a year ago by producer Ken Davenport about optioning the theatrical rights to my book, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, how could I say no? I enthusiastically signed up for the project. Ken and his co-writer Sarah Saltzberg visited my house one Saturday afternoon in December, to talk advice and to pour through the books that inspired this website and my book. If you’d like to see some of the original quotes from the book that were also used in the play, visit this link. After some months of script writing and testing in New York, the show opened in June in Tampa to try it out on stage. And by the end of the summer, New York dates were announced. Hence my scrambling to get a new version of this site up this summer, and the book republished!

So that is how, as the “the real” Miss Abigail, I came to witness first-hand all the fun and excitement of an Off-Broadway premiere of a play that was inspired by my book, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage last weekend. I got to share the wonderful weekend with many, many friends and family (12 of us attended Saturday’s matinee) and over 30 joined me for the opening night performance, including a number of co-workers from the Library of Congress. (A special shout-out to Ken’s staff Melissa and Jody for their help getting everyone booked and putting up with my endless questions as we prepared to travel to the Big Apple.)

central park
Liz, Abbie and Laura in Central Park

I arrived Friday by BoltBus with some friends from D.C. We dropped our things in my friend Laura’s family’s lovely apartment and hit the town. The weekend was not just to see the play – we enjoyed the grocery stores and cafes in the Upper West Side neighborhood we were in, toured a neighborhood in Brooklyn where another friend had spent the first year of her life, and hunted for an elusive apricot turkish delight from later in her childhood (not quite, but found something close). The weather was great and we visited Central Park (a few times), and the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History.

But back to the play…

Niece Ally spots a sign at the train station in Connecticut

Saturday’s matinee was my first introduction to the theater and location – a mere half a block from Times Square. Advertising for the show was everywhere – we spotted a few brave giant heart-shaped sign wearers handing out flyers, and ads in parking garages – even one in a train station in Connecticut (reports my family, who came by train from that direction).

Sign Carrier
Spotted in Times Square - a lady with a giant heart! Awww!

Our seats were in the front row, and I won’t spoil the show but I will tell you my family got up close and personal with the stage version of Miss Abigail (Eve Plumb) and her hunky side-kick Paco (Manuel Herrera). A good time was had by all.

Sunday, we had a lovely brunch and talked Muppets and Sesame Street with my friend’s dad Al who used be a lawyer for the Jim Henson Foundation. He’s got a muppet of himself to prove it!

Al and his muppet
Al and his muppet lookalike

Sunday night, a bunch of us gathered a nearby pizza joint before heading over to the theater.

pre party
Pre-Show Partying

We met up with the rest of the gang, and took our seats and eagerly awaited the performance. I felt a bit nervous (not sure why – I didn’t write the play and I wasn’t on stage!) but I think it was just excitement. I get to dance a little with Paco (fun!) and then the theme music was cued… and the show starts. Some of us were again in the front row (click on “October 24, 2010 – 7:30 pm” for evidence – I’m sandwiched between my husband Denis and my Dad Dave, who is sitting next to Michelle and Neil).

After the play was over, and the actors left the stage, there was a sudden rush and a ton of photographers started snapping someone’s photo – none other than Dr. Ruth!! I had seen her earlier but it didn’t click that it was really her. Then I look over and see that Barry Williams is there, getting his photo with Dr. Ruth. Somehow I end up on stage and I’m chatting with Barry about Dancing with the Stars and I then we are told “look at me, now look at me” by all of these photographers. Eve and Manuel come out from backstage, as do Ken and Sarah. All I could think of was how strange this all was and how much total wacky fun it was, and “shoot, I wish I had worn makeup” (naw, not really) and how happy I was that I got a new outfit, and thank goodness there is photographic evidence because they are never going to believe this back at the office.

Me with Manuel, Eve, and Barry. I said, "that's my friend Liz!" and everyone turned for this photo.

After the photoshoot, I went on to the reception/after party with a smaller group of family and friends. We had a lovely time. I luckily got to meet up again with Laurie Birmingham and Mauricio Perez, who played Miss Abigail and Paco in Tampa. Eve Plumb’s saxophone-playing husband hit it off with my own saxophone-playing husband. I got a photo with Dr. Ruth.

dr ruth and abbie
Dr. Ruth meets Miss Abigail

After a few glasses of wine, my playing-it-cool broke down and I mentioned the Brady Bunch a bit too excitedly to Barry Williams (my only major faux pas of the evening – as far as I know). We joined up with some other friends to top off the evening at a spinning restaurant on Times Square, where we had desserts and called it a night.

On Monday we managed to wander the city a bit more before taking the train home late. I got back to work (aka reality) on Tuesday (library, what’s a library?). And now I am eagerly reading the reviews and hoping people buy the new version of the book and visit this website and enjoy the play!

[Exit stage right]

Miss Abigail and Denis
me and MY hunky sidekick (saying "truuueeee")