Tuesday, July 05, 2016

New York, New York

My friend, Donna Seaton, and I headed off to New York for the long weekend. It was a Broadway weekend for us. If I'm going to NYC, it's usually for Broadway.

We flew Southwest from Nashville to NY on Friday. If it's a Broadway weekend, I stay at the same hotel, the Hilton Garden Times Square. It's convenient for walking to all the shows I want to see. I knew they had closed their restaurant, Pigalle's, for renovation for the next three months. But, it appears that Pigalle's is closed for good, if the signs are any indication.

Yes, that's a guillotine outside the restaurant as it's being torn apart. I have the feeling the management and staff are not pleased? I'm a little unhappy. I've had fun meals there with my friend, Anna, with husband and wife team,  Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini (who write as Cleo Coyle), with my family. I'm sorry to see it go.

But, Donna and I were usually not looking for full meals. There's a Food Emporium on one corner across from the hotel, so it's easy to pick up breakfast and snack items. And, we ate two meals, a lunch and dinner at the West End Bar & Grill because neither of us were up to heavy meals. And, of course, I took her to my favorite tourist restaurant. I don't care how touristy it is, Junior's Restaurant has fast service and good food if you like matzo ball soup and cheesecake, or a full breakfast. It's always packed, but I can get in and out before a show. (Can you tell I'm not a foodie in NYC? I go for the shows.)

Friday, we even had time to do a little walking to Times Square while we were picking up our tickets at different theaters.

And, here's a possibility for November when my sister, Linda, and I do a Broadway weekend.

Friday night, though, our show was She Loves Me. If you know the story of You've Got Mail, you know the plot of She Loves Me. It's about a couple who are writing letters to each other, "Dear Friend", but don't like each other at work at a Parfumerie in Budapest in 1934. It stars Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, and an absolutely wonderful, funny Jane Krakowski. And, Jane Krakowski sang a fun song called "A Trip to the Library". How could two women who work at the library not love Krakowski's role?

And, there's always something fun about knowing I'm going to see a show at the historic Studio 54. I also love Roundabout Theatre Company, and have seen three or four of their shows in the last couple years.

Saturday we had a lazy morning with a late breakfast at Junior's. We also stopped in St. Patrick's Cathedral. I made that stop for my family since last summer, when they were there with me, there was scaffolding all over the church as they prepared for the pope's visit. So, for them - here are two photos of parts of the church they did not get to see without scaffolding.

The Rose Window

I know I didn't mention it here, but Donna and I had tickets to two shows that ended their run early because they either didn't get Tony Awards or they didn't bring in enough money. (I, personally, blame Hamilton for the problems for the other shows.) So, we had to substitute two shows, our two Saturday shows. So our selection for our matinee show on Saturday was Fiddler on the Roof. Actually, I'm so glad we had to substitute, and picked this one. Danny Burstein was marvelous as Tevye, with a twinkle in his eye. So much love for his daughters. Such interesting conversations and gestures to God. I've seen this live several times. But, from the moment the entire cast rose from the back of the stage for the song "Tradition", I cried. Just a gorgeous show. I love a good story, and Fiddler definitely has a good story. And, The Fiddler himself, Jesse Kovarsky? Mystical, magical.

Saturday night, our other replacement show was Waitress starring Jessie Mueller. Check out the curtain.

That curtain had revolving pie racks on both sides of the stage.

Terrific cast. And, of course, Jessie Mueller has a gorgeous voice. But the person who stole the show was Christopher Fitzgerald as Ogie, who courts one of the waitresses, Dawn. He was funny, lovable, and perfect in the role.

I wouldn't call Sunday a lazy morning. Actually, we walked over six miles on Saturday, and over five miles on Sunday. As much as I love Central Park, I adore Bryant Park. We sat and watched people play bocce there, walked around the whole park while I pointed out to Donna the apartment building I'd live in so I could walk to Broadway, spend time in Bryant Park, and live across the street from the New York Public Library. I know it's a little too close to tourists and Times Square, but it's within walking distance of Broadway, and that's all that counts for me.

Our Sunday matinee was Shuffle Along. It's hard to say which big production I liked more, Fiddler on the Roof or Shuffle Along. I love the story of Fiddler. But, the dancing, the songs, the stars were all magnificent in Shuffle Along.

I know there are so many people who are fans of Hamilton. I think the cast of Shuffle Along was robbed. Where can you see and hear the voices of Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, Joshua Henry? The dancing was spectacular. Brian Stokes Mitchell sang a song that tore us apart. Billy Porter was funny and adorable. How can you top Audra McDonald/s voice? I saw Joshua Henry in his Tony-nominated role in Violet. Another gorgeous voice.

Brandon Victor Dixon deserves special mention in his role as Eubie Blake for his portrayal, and his brilliant smile alone. We had seats in the middle of the first row, right behind the orchestra. Partway through Act 1, when "Shuffle Along" debuted on Broadway in 1921, Eubie Blake was to conduct the orchestra for that show. Dixon appeared in the orchestra, next to the actual conductor, turned around and flashed that gorgeous smile to the first row of the audience, and then "conducted" "Shuffle Along". He reappeared for a short time in Act 2, and talked to the audience, telling us some of the history as to what happened.

The final scene was sad as they summed up what happened to the actual creators of that 1921 show, and the performers. But, the 2016 version of Shuffle Along deserved every ovation it received.

What better way to end our New York City trip than dinner with a close friend? We joined Chantelle Aimee Osman for dinner at Trattoria Trecolori, an Italian restaurant just a couple blocks from our hotel.

The food was good. I understand the wine was good. But, it was the three hours of conversation and laughter that made the evening so enjoyable.

It's always hard for me to leave Broadway behind. But, my cats were waiting, and I understand from my terrific cat sitter that they didn't have a great weekend between thunder and fireworks. So, they were definitely glad to welcome me home.

Southwest and Broadway and I have another date in November, though, and I'm looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

So glad you had a lovely time! I'm jealous. :-)


Janet L. said...

I love seeing Broadway through your eyes. Lesa. So glad you had a good time and happy to hear you will go back in the fall. Janet L.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Great choices! You can't go wrong with Junior's cheesecake, can you? Our latest favorite there is the carrot cake cheesecake (which is just what it sounds like).

Audra McDonald is the best? That's why she has deservedly won five Tony Awards.

You probably didn't notice it as much in Midtown, but the city was a lot quieter than usual this weekend. We were actually in the Village on Sunday for an off-Broadway show (OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES, starring the ageless 88-year old Estelle Parsons and Judith Ivey). We've seen SHE LOVES ME in a previous incarnation (1994, with Boyd Gaines and Judy Kuhn), and of course have seen FIDDLER several times, including in London with Topol. And we've seen Danny Burstein in several shows, including SOUTH PACIFIC (as Luther Billis) and FOLLIES.

Sounds like a great visit, and you even had beautiful weather without excessive heat! They are predicting 90s and humid starting tomorrow.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

One more coincidence: last year at this time friends were here from Detroit and we met them for dinner. Jackie checked various places in the area and we ended up at ... Trattoria Trecolori! Next time try another in the area that will remind you (after September, for sure) of New Orleans: Bourbon Street Bar & Grille. They have a nice prix fixe menu and a real New Orleans atmosphere.

Lesa said...

Jeff! My sister and I ate at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille when we were there last July. Really liked it. I was just afraid to take Donna there since she returned from New Orleans just a couple weeks ago. Lots of coincidences there. The city did seem quieter, which made it easier to walk around. I really enjoyed the weekend, and sounds as if you had a nice one as well!

Lesa said...

Are you up early or late, Anna? Don't worry. You'll be off to London soon, and I'll be jealous.

Lesa said...

Have tickets to two shows already, Janet - Front Page with Nathan Lane & John Goodman, and Holiday Inn with Bryce Pinkham, who I saw 3 times in Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. We haven't decided on our other shows yet. Cats is a maybe because I don't know if my sister saw it before, or if she liked it.

Beth Hoffman said...

Great virtual tour, Lesa! Loved the photo of you with CATS!