Except, except ... well, by any standard measure these were all strangers to me. Not to mention that I live halfway across the country. So how did it seem so comfortable and easy and stimulating? How do you feel at home where you are not home? With friends you've never met?
A big part of the answer is bearfuz, who organized the adventure. Chip is a friend of my friends rsc and jwg, and we've been corresponding a bit through livejournal comments. I very much wanted to meet him, so when he put out a call for interested parties I set about trying to determine if I could arrange my annual trip to New Jersey to accommodate this. And besides: It is a simple train ride from where my parents live in NJ to Newark. And besides that: mrdreamjeans, the actor we were going to see, is an ex of my new neighbor barak. And besides that: Well, I just like this sort of thing.
The other members of the theater party were New York Area men with livejournal accounts: Chip's partner trulygrateful, theoctothorpe, vernnyc, pagerbear, pagercub, and brindledbear. I saw the group across the lobby and easily recognized them collectively; I'm not sure it would have been so easy one at a time. I came up and greeted them as if I knew them all already, which may be a trick of sorts but it works because boom, it became real.
Well, I can't take full credit there. bearfuz is a man of dynamic social energy, which I suppose should have been evident in advance. He just brings folks in, aided by the equally engaging trulygrateful. And then there's theoctothorpe, whose provocatively sexy and handsome user icon might seem a little intimidating but his reality is one of soft-eyed sweetness. He will reach over and touch you gently at certain conversational moments, in a way that makes you melt. I didn't meet mrdreamjeans until after the show, of course, but he, too, has this embracing friendly sweetness about him -- as well as the same conversational habit of reaching over with a gentle touch now and then. Were I a giggly schoolgirl type, I would have been a puddle by the end of the evening.
I don't mean to leave anybody out here: All the boys were extremely friendly to me, and made a point of making me welcome.
Oh, yeah, and I enjoyed the show as well. I saw Evita in London over twenty years ago, and I remember that production vividly. This production was a bit pared down in some ways from that one, but the singing (by my lights) was just superb and captivating. When I think about it, there were times when I found that long-ago London production a little tedious, but not this one. And I am certainly not immune to the sense of self-importance that comes from knowing a member of the cast. Even if, technically, I didn't know him yet.
I am very happy I was able to be part of the evening. Thanks folks, and thanks especially to bearfuz.