Marcus and I have been to NYC twice in about 6 weeks to see Broadway shows. We saw The Band’s Visit, School of Rock, Frozen, and Amy and the Orphans. Amy and the Orphans we saw twice.

Each one touched my heart. Yes, even School of Rock, which pleasantly surprised me. The Band’s Visit rolled along in a compelling, slow-build. I felt like I spent the first half with my head tilted, a question mark over me, waiting…waiting…until by the end I was sitting straight back, feeling full from the emotional journey.

Frozen is still in previews, but that’s kind of cheating because it pre-previewed in Denver. So, it’s probably as ready as it’s ever going to be. The audiences thrilled at the actor’s performances and the “theater magic.” Olaf was as good as we had hoped. For me, the new original song from Kristoff was worth the price of admission, tears streamed down my face in recognition…I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about that later, once the soundtrack is released.

But that’s not what you came to hear about, you want to know about Amy and the Orphans, the original Broadway play that features Jamie Brewer, a woman with Down syndrome, in the lead role of Amy.

To be honest, I’ve been tongue-tied to discuss the show. Which is a shame since Marcus and I were invited to see it after opening (we saw it the first time in previews) specifically so we would “talk about it.” Maybe that’s part of why I’m tongue-tied, you know, the extra pressure. Of course, while that may be true, it’s also a cop-out.

I admit I’m also a little confused as to how much of the story I can tell you about, the urge to avoid “spoilers” feels a bit of a gag order in this particular situation. Nearly every moment that impacted me, personally, and you – the people who love someone with Down syndrome – could be considered a “spoiler.” The stuff I am most compelled to share and discuss.

Still, at the moment I tread lightly and hope my vague illusions lead you to see the show for yourself. After the run is up, it is a limited engagement, we can (and I hope we will) discuss these points in further detail. Including, and what you may likely want to know the most, what Marcus’ insights were. Which hit me like a bomb, as they do. (Post add: Here it is in “Marcus speaks his Truth”)

For the moment, I will share with you his analysis of the storytelling, as you know we love to chat after each show, and maybe even for days after, his five pillars of a good story. He starts with, “Let’s talk Broadway…”

This was his analysis after the first time we saw Amy and the Orphans:

He began the prompt. “Set.”
I reiterated, “What is the Set?”
Marcus: “Car mostly. Road trip.”
Me: “What is the Adventure?”
Marcus: “Road trip.”
Me “OK. You’re right, that is both the set and the adventure in this one. What is the conflict?”
Marcus: “Family.”
Now, this is particularly interesting because “Family” is often a theater #Truth in Marcus’ analysis….
Me: “Good. What is the #Truth”
Marcus: “Amy has her own life.”
Me: Take a breath. Nod.
Me: “Are there jokes?”
Marcus: “Yes. The Juicer.”
Me: “Yeah, that was a good joke.”
(I’ll let you see it to get the joke.)

Here’s a clip of Jamie Brewer telling you about it:

Both times after the show Marcus had the opportunity to see cast members as they left the theater. They were all so gracious! Even calling Marcus by name (as Jamie knew we were there and must have mentioned him. Wow!).

The first thing Marcus said to Josh McDermitt after the show was, “I saw you with your shirt off!” Josh replied with, “Yeah. I’m sorry about that.”

As I write this “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls plays at the coffee shop.

And I don’t want the world to see me

‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

This is a favorite of Marcus’ (and mine). When you see Marcus singing this song, A part of your heart will break.

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive

This song relates themes in Amy and the Orphans pretty fully. I don’t know if that’s a spoiler, or a teaser, take it for what you will…

When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

Off all of the reasons I’m Tongue-tied (typing-tied? Is that thing? Work with me…) Is that it’s ALL…So. Much.

Between me and you, this is the bottom line:

Eight shows a week a person with Down syndrome holds theatergoers in the palm of her hand. Why does it matter? It Matters because society has a lot of “say” over what kind of life my son, and those who look and/or seem a little like him get the chance to live. Will “we” listen to him? Or hide him away? Will he be left to fend for himself, be put away, even die due to neglect? It’s not OK. IT’S NOT OK.

Now, to prepare words for the rest of the world. I have and will. You ready to show those, typical-audience friendly links?


 – Jamie Brewer on Broadway: Brutal and Beautiful

AMY AND THE ORPHANS – Can you handle the truth?

“Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls