WELL THAT HAPPENED: Escaping Neverland

By on April 14, 2015
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The obligatory Big Apple shot. (Photo: Andrew Munz)

Standing beneath the gigantic skyscrapers of New York City as a surging ocean of strangers flowed around me, I should have been intimidated.And yet, last week everything was perfect. My fear was nonexistent. Everyone was so nice and helpful (although one 52nd Strett Halal vendor yelled at me for no reason). I even went into the dystopian toddler chaos that is F.A.O. Schwartz, and recognized some semblance of peacefulness. I stood next to dissonant, unmelodic notes being produced by the Tom Hanks floor piano and sighed.

I loved it here.

It’s important for everyone to leave Neverland. And of course, by Neverland, I am referring to our quaint town of Jackson Hole, a place where dreams run with the antelope and 45-year-old men say “sick, bro.” Locals have found a happy medium here, but the spring break exodus during off-season is the time when town is most noticeably empty. Everyone heads off to Costa Rican resorts, Mexican beaches and Utah campsites.

With every off-season, restaurants close, shop owners leave, event programming thins and Jackson Hole falls into a deep hibernation. It can be a depressing time, and I think we all try to leave to escape that depression. So I went to New York. The most “alive” place I could think of.

Through luck, happenstance and spending too much money, I ended up seeing a new Broadway musical: Something Rotten!; an old Broadway musical: The Lion King; and a Broadway play: It’s Only A Play, starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane and Stockhard Channing. These were my first experiences seeing big-budget, professional theater. While sitting in the audience, I kept thinking about Jackson Hole theater, the type I’ve performed in since fifth grade. The level of Jackson theater is nowhere near the professionalism of Broadway, but the level of applause and enthusiasm is really no different.

I’ve heard that Jackson audiences are too liberal with their standing ovations —seemingly every performance in the valley gets one — but even when I saw a one-man show of mediocre proportions, the cabaret audience stood up and cheered. With all the shows I saw in New York during that week, I probably spent a solid 15 minutes on applause alone.

I also attended the newly-panned Björk exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and really loved it. The exhibit required patience and a tenacious attention span — something 90 percent of the other patrons were lacking. They pushed past me, going from room to room that provided an abstract look into each of Björk’s albums. There was no applause there. Just critics eager to find the bloodstains that the scathing reviews left behind.

It was a week of balance and imbalance, a fast-paced journey of miles and miles of sidewalk that led to nowhere, but exactly where I was.

My escape from Neverland was eye-opening — from the street performers to the musicians and actors I had the pleasure of experiencing. Jackson Hole has the same amount of aspiring artists and performers, and just as many critics meandering around art openings munching on ham speared by toothpicks. If NYC is the pinnacle of art and performance, then JH is its own haven of art and culture on an admittedly smaller scale.

NYC is the city that never sleeps.

JH is the mountain town that’s kept awake by its locals.

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