When Girls Kiss at Gammage

I was at Gammage the other night.

That’s how we say it in Arizona: “I was at Gammage.” Old timers might say, “I was at Grady Gammage,” but most of us don’t bother with the full name.


If a big Broadway show is coming to Phoenix, you can be sure it will be at Gammage and this year we’re getting a buttload of them.

Even… (drumroll, please)… Hamilton!

That’s coming up in January,and it’s the main reason we bought season tickets. Fun Home was the first show of the season and I was anxious to see it.

Do you know the story? It’s based on the memoir of Alison Bechdel. Basically, it’s a coming of age tale, but unlike most of the coming of age stories you’ve heard, this one involves a lesbian.

Husband and I knew the story fairly well without ever seeing it. Son saw it in New York twice, and from his descriptions and playing the soundtrack over and over, we knew it inside out. Plus, I read the book.

Our seats were in the Mezzanine area, and in general, I’d say that’s a nice place to sit. We had ample space in front of us, meaning people could walk to their seats with no difficulty.

Except for one guy, who was without a doubt the slowest shuffler I’ve ever seen.

For those of you of a certain age, just picture Tim Conway’s “oldest man” character from the Carol Burnett show. (See him here.) Dress him in khaki pants that are too short and a Cardinals t-shirt and cap, and you’ve got our man.

Here’s the drawing I made of him:


That’s him shuffling in front of us, on his way to his seat. (Notice the three little lines to his right? That indicates movement.)

Please ignore the fact that he looks like he’s going to the bathroom. As I’ve said before, I can’t draw hands. I tried putting them in his pockets, but… look, just ignore that part, okay?

As to the musical, I must say, it’s interesting watching people’s reactions to a story you know well. There were lines that caused huge laughs, but Husband and I knew them so well we didn’t react.

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the play. Far from it. Also, that’s not to say everyone found it funny.

I think we were about a half hour into the show? Not sure, but it was about the time college-age Alison has her first experience with a girl.

You don’t see it happen, of course, but you do see them tangled in sheets. It’s the point where she starts singing: I’m changing my major to Joan!… I’m changing my major to sex with Joan!

The audience burst out in laughter and applause, with the exception of this guy:


Yep. That’s when Shuffler shuffled his way out the theater. (Note how the three motion lines switched sides?)

I guess the subject matter was too much for him.

Shuffler aside, Fun Home was a great hit in Phoenix. If it makes it to your area, I highly recommend it.

Oh, one more thing: On our way out of Gammage, making our way through the parking lot, I noticed two women ahead of us. Older women, in their 70s I guessed, and they were holding hands.

Not like friends holding hands, but like a couple holding hands. For that is what they were. A couple.

And once again it hit me how very far we’ve come as a society. Sure, there are problems, and sure, we’ve got our Shufflers. But overall, things are so much better than they were. And if we don’t lose heart, I’m convinced they will keep on getting better.

Because eventually, even the Shufflers will get used to girls kissing.

Anyway. Those were some thoughts I had when I was at Gammage the other night.

20 thoughts on “When Girls Kiss at Gammage

  1. We saw so many good shows at Gammage, this brings back fantastic memories.

    I think Gammage’s audience is likely to skew towards a more accepting crowd, so I find your take a touch optimistic. Or perhaps I’ve lost a little faith in our level of tolerance thanks to recent events.

    But my being a Debbie Downer aside, we saw Fun Home here on Broadway, and absolutely loved it. Hamilton will be a blast, no matter how many times you’ve heard the soundtrack or read the book 🙂

    1. I like Gammage if my seats are good, but you sure don’t want a balcony seat there. Years ago we saw Phantom from the balcony… well, actually we didn’t “see” it. We saw some specks on the stage. 😉

      Fun Home is a great show. I loved seeing the clever way the story is told and staged. It definitely deserved its Tony! 🙂

  2. My first year at ASU in 1979, I lived in Hayden Hall on Apache Boulevard right next to Gammage. As you know, it is a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright designed building and excellent performing arts venue. I remember seeing Bob Dylan, Elton John, and others at Gammage. Thanks for sparking those great memories.

    1. No kidding? You’re not the first ASU grad I’ve had visit. It really is a beautiful building. I think it’s one of his last commissioned pieces, but not sure on that. Definitely a great place for a concert — I bet Elton John was a blast!

  3. Ouch! Poor Mister Shuffles. I loved this piece … it was like a lesson in linguistics. We are, you see two nations divided by a common language and I can see that I need to forget about conjugating French and practice my American before I come back. And possibly that I need to practice an entirely different form before venturing south, no?

    1. Oh dear, now I’m filled with linguistic anxiety. Please don’t use my scribblings as a study in American grammar, as I thumbed my nose at all of the rules I didn’t like (read: didn’t understand), and never looked back.
      Plus, my Creative Writing teacher told me, “To find your voice in writing, write with your voice.” Meaning, write the way you talk. A terribly freeing practice, even if linguistically confusing. 😉

  4. I’m having one of those “hey, wait a minute” moments where I could whole-heartedly testify that I left a comment on this post last night, yet my fingerprints are missing. Hmm. What is up with WP these days?

    Anyway, enjoyed the post, and I am especially fond of your mention of the women in the parking lot. I read this post just after having returned from a meeting of our neighborhood association, wherein we babbled about things that no one cares about outside of the neighborhood. But at one point I looked over and spied two women sitting together, with one of them having her arm draped along the back of the chair of the other. At surface glance, it did not appear to be of much import, but as with your savvy notice of the parking-lot hand-holding, it was clear to me that the arm-draping was a comfortable display of love.

    It thrilled me, the comfort, and the fact no one batted an eye, at least not noticeably.

    We still have miles to go before we fully reap, but the destination is in sight…

  5. Stories like this give me hope as well. For every menacing act there seems to be a counter act of acceptance and love. I never could understand why people were ever hateful towards same sex couples. I always thought it was odd. Seems to me if two people are consenting adults and aren’t harming others than how could that ever affect me in a negative way? We still have some major shufflers lagging behind, but at least progress is being made.

    1. I was listening to a podcast that was saying how throughout history, whenever there is a big push forward in society, there’s always a counter movement against it that will take us a few steps back. But never all the way back, it’s just a temporary shift until we move forward again. The guy in the interview said that’s what’s happening now with Brexit, Trump, etc. Eventually things will get back on track.
      Sure hope he’s right!

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