This month we’re talking with Bangkok University graduate student and Broadway musical superfan Phongsiya Pradityont. In July 2014, she and a friend spent a week in New York City seeing seven Broadway shows in a row. She chronicled her American theater experience on Instagram under the hashtag #7DaysonBway.
So what made you decide to go “Broadway hopping”?
In 2014, my friend and I heard the news that Neil Patrick Harris, the actor from How I Met Your Mother, would be playing the role of “Hedwig” on the Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. 1:55 I’m a big musical fan already and whenever a touring company comes to Thailand, I always go. When I found out Neil would be on Broadway, I did some research and saw that that year Broadway would be very exciting as there were many interesting shows and casts I wanted to see. So, my friend and I came up with an idea that if we could go to New York City and watch all of these shows in one week it would be awesome and so worth it.
How are Broadway musicals different from others?
I’d seen live musicals before when the touring companies came to Bangkok. Some were OK since it was as close as I could get to the real thing, but once I got to see a real Broadway show, the vibe, the environment, the cast and their professionalism really showed me there wasn’t any real comparison. During one show, I got to sit in one of those pricier orchestra seats and actually had tears in my eyes during the performance! At that moment, I understood why people spent a lot of money for this. When you hear live music from the orchestra pit underneath the stage, the feeling is just so powerful.
What was the most memorable moment from this trip?
I saw Les Miserables twice. The first time, the actor I wanted to see was not performing that night so I wanted to go again. The second time, I sat in the orchestra section and my seat was so close to the stage I could fully experience the lighting, the sounds, and the emotions from the actors. That said it wasn’t the most impressive part. As part of Broadway fan culture when the show finished, I came outside with other superfans to wait for the actors to come exit the stage door (On Broadway fans often wait for their favorite cast members to exit the theater to sign autographs). Although I didn’t know these other superfans, I felt like we could talk for ages and share our umbrellas if it was raining while we waited for the actors. It’s such a comforting community. This is the experience I couldn’t get in Bangkok. The cast was so friendly and they greeted each and every one of us. I really felt like these stars cared about us.
But the tickets to these shows are expensive right?
Yes, tickets to some of them can be quite expensive. But, our trip was in July and we started planning in February, so it wasn’t so bad since we had time to save money. We also spent less on other things like lodging by using Airbnb and stayed at someone’s apartment instead of a hotel. It was a once in a life time trip!
Was it your first time in New York City?
Yes, it was my first time. However, I spent most of the time at the theaters. Of course we saw a little bit of the city and I found it to be an interesting mixture of cultures. I didn’t have to adjust myself too much as New York City is quite similar to Bangkok in a way. It’s very mixed, there’s everything for everyone, and I am used to the chaotic environment like back home.
What I don’t get about New York City is their subway system. You have to know exactly which route, direction, and train you have to take before deciding to descend into the station since the entrances are not connected. If you go into the wrong entrance you’ll have to come back up and find the right one. I don’t understand why we couldn’t just go down there and then decide which way to go.
What stood out the most to you about New York City?
New Yorkers are extremely friendly and strangers will talk to you all the time.
Have you been back to see Broadway shows again?
Right now as a part of my graduate program I will be spending my summer semester in Boston so I hope I will get to see some Broadway shows again. If there are a touring companies in Boston then I will go see those as well. If my weekends are free, I will definitely make time for Broadway.