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BWW Blog: The Inheritance, Hillary, and Me

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I found myself at the Ethel Barrymore theater where a 1pm performance of The Inheritance was starting in 20 minutes.

BWW Blog: The Inheritance, Hillary, and Me

As I pack up my world in Maryland, I find myself looking back to my last memories in New York, back in early March. I'm remembering the last restaurant I ate in, the last hug I had with my friends, the last dining hall grilled chicken that is always there. I crave those things that were so simple. But I also find myself thinking back to the last show I saw.

The morning of Saturday, March 7, 2020, I got a bagel with cream cheese and tomato, went to the bank, and then hopped on the Q train to 57th Street. I soaked in the sun, dodged tourists in Times Square and found myself needing my artistic well filled. I found myself at the Ethel Barrymore theater where a 1pm performance of The Inheritance was starting in 20 minutes. I really had no knowledge of the show at all, only that Tony Goldwyn was in it. My "Scandal" obsessed self led my heart into the box office. I asked for the cheapest ticket, $30, and it was the last row of the mezzanine. I handed the money to the box office employee and he smiled at me. I cannot tell you what he saw, but for some reason, he knew that he had the chance to change my life.

I stood, waiting to get my ticket and when I received it, I found that he had moved me to the 10th row in the orchestra. I was flabbergasted and thanked him repeatedly. I walked into the theater and was surrounded by men of all different ages. There were a few miscellaneous teen girls and their moms, there for Tony Goldwyn aka President Fitzgerald Grant (I'm not embarrassed to say I was one of them). I sat my butt down, and smiled at my seat mates around me. It was all very nice and I was excited for the show. I turned off my phone when 1pm hit and suddenly, the volume in the room changed. Something was different. I looked up and saw at least 6 people walking down the aisle. Everyone was watching them, my head went "Okay people, be on time for the theatre PLEASE" but then I realized what we all were staring at. In the middle of the group of men in suits, stood my role model, the woman I owe my everything to, the woman who changed my life. Standing a mere 8 feet away from me, was Hillary Rodham Clinton. I felt like I couldn't breathe. She was here. I knew she came to Broadway shows but I had never been in the same audience as her. I held my breath as she walked down the aisle and immediately chatter started. That was her.

BWW Blog: The Inheritance, Hillary, and MeThe show began. She was only 4 rows ahead of me, on the aisle. Her head was in my line of sight from where I was sitting and I tried so hard to focus on the show. Eventually, the shock wore off and I calmed myself down. Before I go any further in this journey, I must talk about the show itself for a bit. I loved this show so much. I'm gonna be honest, when I looked at my Playbill and saw 1 woman in the show, I was quite confused. I silently pleaded for the show not to be about white men thinking they know everything. But I was taken into a whole new world. I laughed, I cried, I cried while laughing, and I laughed while I cried. I understood the demographic of the audience and understood. I had never experienced as many audible reactions from an audience in any show, ever.

Act 1 ended and she was immediately ushered away. COVID had just really started popping up in the US so they kept her separate from everyone, but the entire audience knew she was there. When the lights went down to signal the end of the show, the cast came onstage as a sort of like pre-act 2 hang out (very Once on the Island revival with the actors already onstage before it starts). Clinton was ushered back to her seat and suddenly the entire audience started clapping and cheering for her. The actors onstage joined in and it was just something unlike any other. I was crying.

Act 2 began with a scene of almost all of the men onstage at some sort of party, I think. They were talking and talking and then someone brought up like gay rights issues in America. The conversation continued until one line that made my heart burst into two. "... And these are the things we have the chance to make some real progress once Clinton is elected." The entire audience burst into cheers. The actors stood on stage crying and just drinking in the moment. I looked through my tears and screams at her smiling face. Once the applause died down, another line was spoken. "Are we certain she's going to win?" You could hear a pin drop. Everyone was holding their breath as the actors argued onstage about the 2016 election. Tears were streaming. There were lines like "There's no way she's not gonna win" and "my girl's gonna win" and more gut wrenching, "I'm afraid she's going to lose." This was the first time I had seen my fears from that crazy Fall on a stage.

The plot continued to the storyline. I calmed myself and dried my tears. About 7 minutes later (8 pages in total in the script), I found myself sobbing hysterically once again. I remember looking down at something for a second and then hearing "On election night, Eric gathered with his friends..." I looked up to see a man wearing a shirt with a bunch of different pictures of Hillary's face, one balloon with her face on it, I'm With Her signs crowding the stage, and party poppers. I felt like I couldn't breathe. Every single one of the actors was crying onstage as they did this scene. It starts out with a weary "I'm worried about Florida" but it gets overshadowed by "She just won Connecticut" "New York! Massachusetts!" With every state, they would pop mini confetti. One actor acted as the narrator, speaking of the times as the night would go on, "8 pm, 9 pm, 10, pm, 11 pm." As the scene progressed, the men onstage started cursing, yelling at Florida and then finally the line, "they waited, waited for a miracle." The lights started to dim and then Jasper almost whispers, "They just called Pennsylvania. That's it. It's over."

When I tell you, I couldn't breathe, I really couldn't breathe. Every single person in that audience started to cry. The scene only lasted for 3 pages in the script, but I think I will remember those 3 pages for the rest of my life. I had looked at her periodically throughout that scene and she was crying a little bit too. I just wanted to give her a hug (also so she could hug me haha). The show went on and just broke my heart. Throughout the rest of the act, there were a few mentions to protesting cabinet appointments, the Inauguration coming up, but each time, you could hear a pin drop in the room.

BWW Blog: The Inheritance, Hillary, and Me
From Ashley Park's Instagram Story

Act 2 finished and there was a short 8 minute intermission before Act 3. She was staying in her seat and her security guards weren't letting people take pictures or anything. I got up and just knew I had to say something to the woman who made me who I am. I ended up trying to have a conversation with one of the security guards. He was not having it and after a while of me asking him questions about the microphone and his job, he sighed and said "Do you want to meet her? You can't take a picture, just I feel you want to say something." I looked at him, eyes teary and nodded. He let me through and I entered into the row in front of her. She looked at me and smiled. I said "I'm so sorry if I'm interrupting. I just want to thank you for everything you have done for me." Tears were streaming and she thanked me "sweetheart" and I started crying more. I went back to my seat and just was in awe of the world. Act 3 began and I sobbed again. I ran downstairs to get a copy of the script and got a free poster cause the show was closing. I thanked the cashier and ran outside. I crossed the street, found a little corner and just sobbed. (I'm crying as I write this)...

I called my mom and told her about the show, excluding the part about her being there. I told her about the Election Night scene and just how special it was and she started crying. That is when, through muffled sobs, I said "Mom, she was there. Hillary sat 4 rows ahead of me. She was there." I really don't remember what our conversation was after that but we both were just sobbing. I cried and cried with my mom and then called my dad. I told him the entire story and he started to tear up too. I then proceeded to walk over 30 blocks back home to 11th street. I called at least 10 people from my family and told them the story. Every single time I told it, I started crying. I still do. This show completely did change my life. This experience completely changed my life.

I now smile at the Inheritance poster that hangs proudly next to me as I type this up. I carry this show so heavily with me. It has been the thing to keep me going through quarantine. Theatre is so freaking amazing. I can't wait for Broadway to come back. It will, and I can't wait to be there when Glinda comes down from her bubble and says "It's good to see me, isn't it?"

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