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"That one," my wife said. "I want to see that show."
It was early June 2014 and we were at home in Texas watching the Tony Awards. The kids were finally asleep, and we were catching up on what we missed thanks to our DVR.
At the top of the ceremony, a medley from the Cotton Club-style revue After Midnight heated up our TV with glorious tapping, lush 1920s costumes, and performances by the musical's succession of stars -- Fantasia Barrino, Patti LaBelle, and Gladys Knight. All three divas were phenomenal, but what really got our attention was the dazzling dancing. (We weren't surprised when the show's choreographer, Warren Carlyle, took home a Tony for his work later in the evening.)
It was great timing. We were already planning a trip to New York City to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch later that month. By the time we finished watching the Tonys, we had tickets to catch After Midnight, too.
What we couldn't have foreseen was that a week after the Tonys, After Midnight would set its closing date (before Knight even got a chance to go on!). Luckily, it turned out our tickets were for the penultimate performance on Saturday, June 28, so we would actually get a chance to see it live.
The show was even more spectacular than we anticipated. Although it was hard for any production to compete with Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig, After Midnight won our hearts. We loved the songs, the dancing, the poetry, the sexy costumes, every flawless transition, and that crackerjack band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars. Whenever Ms. Patti LaBelle took the stage, it was as if cannons were being fired; there was nothing left of the roof when her songs concluded because her voice busted right through most of it, and the deafening applause and hollering that followed finished the job.
The show's de facto emcee, Dulé Hill, charmed throughout and -- whether due to the show's Golden Age of Harlem setting or its impending closure -- many of our fellow audience members were dressed to the nines. It felt like an event. I doubt I'll see this exuberant take on the music of that era on Broadway again, one infused with so much stage-rattling energy.
And that's where the heartbreak comes in. When you see a show that great, you want to tell all your friends and family, to blast it out on Twitter and Facebook, to buy another set of tickets and experience it again with loved ones you drag along, promising, "You're gonna love this!" With the show closing the next day, all we could do was talk about it in the past tense. "You should have seen it." "You would have loved it." "I wish we could go again."
There's something frustrating about discovering something you love and not being able to share it with others. All you're left with is a lot of vivid memories and a reminder that many of the greatest pleasures in life are ephemeral. Saying goodbye to an amazing show is always sad, but watching it leave when you've just said hello is extremely bittersweet.
Have you ever seen a show that's about to close and just adored it? Tell us in the comments!
Omar L. Gallaga is a technology culture writer
Photo by Matthew Murphy