Friday, October 16, 2009

♪ New York, New York, It's a Wonderful Town ... ♪

So I went to the Big Apple this past weekend to visit my friends Elisabeth & Tyler and to go to some shows. I have always enjoyed going to NY and in the last several years my visits have become more frequent and I seem to be taking annual trips now. I just love that city and I've become a little obsessed with trying to get to see the Original Broadway Casts of musicals. Elisabeth's sister Jordan came too and we had such a great time. Ty and Elisabeth moved to NY this past spring for Ty to do a year of Grad School at Columbia University and their apartment is right by the school.

We had some wind and rain the first couple of days, but it was mostly the perfect temperature and we were just moving the whole time. Jordan and I were on different airlines but both got in at 6pm on Thursday, hopped on the bus and met Ty at their apartment at 7pm to drop our stuff. Then we headed downtown and met up with Elisabeth, had dinner at a yummy restaurant called Cosi, walked around for a while and then went up the Empire State Building. It was a clear night, so we had a great view of the lights of the city, and it wasn't nearly as crowded as it can get up there. Jordan had never been to NY before, so it seemed like a good first-night-in-NY thing to do.

On Friday, while Ty was at school and Elisabeth was at work, Jordan and I headed down to South Street Seaport to get Saturday matinee tickets for something at the TKTS booth there. We ended up deciding to just wait until Saturday and wing it in the hopes of getting student or rush tickets. so then we walked around South Street, walked over to see the progress on Ground Zero and then walked over to Battery Park to get a view of Lady Liberty. Then we, a little awkwardly because I had never been before, made our way to China Town for lunch. We picked a place that looked pretty big and prominent presuming that would be a better chance of having waiters that spoke English. Not so much. It was this huge room of tables and they seat you wherever there is space so we were at this table with these two girls speaking purely Chinese. There were carts rolling around asking if you want any of the food on them and after about ten minutes of not really knowing what to do, we tried a couple things and then finally, with lots of apologetic smiles and hand gestures, sorted out how to order a chicken and noodle dish. It was all very good and quite the authentic experience ;)

After that we went uptown and browsed the Metropolitan Museum for a couple of hours and then met up with my friend Brian in Central Park. (Brian had just gotten engaged to his lovely Isa the day before! Yay! He got her a Tiffany's ring. Always the way to go if you can make it happen.) We then went to play in the amazing toy store FAO Schwartz for a while (made famous by the giant floor piano scene in the movie Big). I was excited to see that they have this new section that is like Build A Bear except its Muppets!! Then we headed to Times Square and met up with Ty & Elisabeth for pizza and went to The Lion King. Through all of my years of show-going, I had somehow never seen it. It wasn't the best-show-ever like some say, but the costumes and puppetry and the creativity of some of the scenes really is incredible and definitely worth seeing. I maybe cried during the opening sequence... and when Mufasa dies... and maybe again at the end.

On Saturday we went straight to Times Square and got tickets for the matinee of Burn the Floor, and then we headed up to my beloved Serendipity for lunch, which is one of my NY traditions. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (no, that is not a misspelling) is the main reason to go there, but the food is also extremely unique and delicious. We also stopped at the adorable little boutique Laila Rowe by Serendipity and got a couple of fun accessories. Then it was back to Times Square for Burn the Floor. Though the show is technically on Broadway, it isn't a storyline with a plot, it is a fast-paced dance show, mostly Latin and Ballroom. It was really good and I especially loved it because Pasha and Anya, who were contestants in Season 3 of my beloved So You Think You Can Dance, were in the show so it was fun to see them.

Then Ty came down to meet us and we went over and tried our luck to win tickets in the Wicked lottery they do every night because neither Ty or Jordan had seen it yet, but it is always sold out, so unless you buy your tickets months in advance for full price or want to pay like $250 for Premium tickets, this is the way to do it. Sadly, no such luck. So then we were sort of down to the wire with what shows still had tickets available, because we had been hoping on Wicked, so we frantically ran around to the box offices of different shows and ended up getting tickets to Shrek. We had dinner at Stardust, a burger place where the waiters sing and dance on the tables, and then hustled to the show. I sort of went into Shrek not expecting a lot, but it turned out to be very funny and the sets were really impressive.

Here's the thing. Show Tune people. I am one. Its like meeting other Mormons random places or other Americans in a foreign country- there's an automatic kinship. Unlike other trips trips I have taken to see shows in NY (like when I went to see Thoroughly Modern Millie or Jekyll & Hyde or Wicked or The Light in the Piazza or In the Heights...) there wasn't one particular show that I was willing to give my left arm to see (and that is saying something, because I am left-handed, you understand ;). There were plenty of shows that I wanted to see, but nothing I was bursting my heart out about. This was a little disappointing because I love the anticipation of knowing that I am finally going to experience/witness/enjoy something that I have been looking forward to so much. On the other hand, it was kind of nice to not be so stressed out about making sure I got good (and always expensive) tickets to one thing especially.
That being said, after Lion King, Burn the Floor and Shrek, although they were all entertaining, I still hadn't been to something that really, really affected me. So, on Sunday (which was our first fully sunny day), we went to Sacrament at 11am with Ty & Elisabeth and then J and I went to Times Square and I got a ticket for the 7:30pm show for that night for Next to Normal. This is a show that came out early this year and won Best Actress and Best Score at the Tony's in June and I own the soundtrack of. I had really wanted to see it, but I didn't push that we all go because I wasn't sure that it would be for everyone. (Like Jersey Boys- completely incredible, but sort of a lot of language. call me desensitized ;)
We headed back to Ty & Elisabeth's apartment and met up with them and packed lunches and spend the afternoon strolling beautiful, ginormous Central Park. Then I split off from them and headed down to see Next to Normal. Wow. I mean, its really a pretty simple set and not fancy costumes or anything- its a family drama where the mother is bi-polar and has depression and hallucinations and how it affects her family. The music was rock style and there are only six people in the cast, with no ensemble, giving it a very intimate feel. the whole cast was so amazing and the story was so tragic and moving and hopeful. I don't know how these actors can handle doing it every day- it must be soooo emotionally draining! I was very glad I ended up going though, because it was my 'wow' show for the weekend. The one that stays with you after you exit the theater. I wish I had gotten to see Elisabeth more, but all in all the weekend was a great success!
* Too many pics to intersperse them within the post, so here they are in a slide show (and even these ones I narrowed down a bit ;) -

Now, of course, my head is whirling around with the potential of another NY trip next year!There are a few musicals starting in the next several months that interest me very much:

SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark - For real. The music was written by Bono & The Edge and it is directer by crazy-yet-talented Julie Taymor who made the movie Across the Universe and the extremely affecting movie of a Shakespeare play Titus with Anthony Hopkins. (If you know me, you know I get a laugh from horror movies and I love thrillers, but that movie really got to me.)

The Addams Family - Well, I guess if they can make musicals of Young Frankenstein and Shrek, then why not? Plus, Gomez & Morticia are being played by Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth, so that should be pretty entertaining ;)

Ragtime (Revival) - It will be a poor man's Ragtime without Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra MacDonald, but I've never seen it.

Dreamgirls (Revival) - You may not know that the 2006 movie was based off a 1981 Broadway musical that won six Tony Awards that year, including Best Musical. I would looooooove to here some of those belty ballads live. Maybe they can get Jennifer Hudson to reprise Academy Award winning movie role ;)

And then of course I would still like to get to Billy Elliot, but it is likely to stick around for a few years, and it isn't one that I feel strongly about needing to see the Original Broadway Cast of. I guess I'll have to get it sorted out and maybe this time it can be with the Mama cause the fam comes home this summer!


Andi said...

Ooh, how fun!!! I totally wish I could have joined you! I am craving some NYC right about now. You're very lucky to have gotten to do all of that.

Maybe your next trip will be to see us in D.C.? Pretty please?

SisterPresidentMann said...

Thanks for the heads-up on "cougars" - I'm sure I'll need to know that sometime? Yor trip sounds wonderful. Don't you love showing off a favorite city to someone new? Oh wait, I did that...with you!
Love, Mom

Elisabeth (and Tyler) said...

Ahhhh.. Best. Trip. Ever. Although, I would have liked to spend more time with you too. The weekend went by FAR too fast! Love you lots, thanks again for getting me to Christmas :) Baby stepping to December..

PS.. Special thanks to SisterPresidentMann for lunch :)