Okay, let’s talk about New York City.
This was one of the most EPIC trips to The Big Apple I have ever experienced and most of that “epicness” occurred in the first 8 hours of being there.
It all started with dinner reservations at Del Posto in Chelsea.
I was with two friends and we were totally ready for a night of eating fancy and pretending to be sophisticated and crap. After about two seconds of thought, we ordered the 7-course tasting menu and thus commenced to eat fancy food for THREE AND A HALF HOURS as well as devouring two AMAZING bottles of wine thanks to our incredible Sommelier, Lacey.
We even learned a new thing. Orange Wine. No, it’s not made of oranges, but it does have an orange-ish hue due to the techniques applied while making it. I suggest you save up and buy a bottle of it, particularly this label: Radikon, in particular their “Slatnik”. Holy crap, ya’ll. It was succulent and wonderful and – I’m not a wine aficionado or anything – but let me just say, “Yum!”
Also, you want to make a sommelier’s day? Ask about orange wine. Seriously. It’s like a super-secret-squirrel thing and sommeliers totally geek out over it. I’m all for anything that makes people geek out.
So, there we are, at Del Posto, having the dinner OF OUR LIVES and of course there is a piano player and at some point around the 4th course he starts playing “One” from A Chorus Line and the table next to us starts singing along. So, we spontaneously start singing along, and now there’s seven of us singing along at the top of our lungs, much to the consternation of the “aren’t we special we’re rich” diners around us, but we don’t care because this is awesome and we’ll never have the chance to do this again… ever. So there. So the song ended and we’re smiling like idiots, and Lacey-the-Sommelier brought us another bottle of wine, and we all dug into the next course.
Then, the OH EM GEE continued because as we were about to get course number 6, the table next to us gets up to depart. We barely noticed until one of the guys stopped on the way out to turn around and say he really enjoyed sitting next to us and that guy turned out to be JIMMY (FREAKIN’) FALLON!!!
Then he mentioned we should all come see him on Broadway and one of my friends was all, “Oh, we’re going to see Follies there tomorrow night!”
And Jimmy replied, “Really? You know, I got to sit next to him at one of his concerts. He was laughing at his own jokes. There was one song I really loved where there was a girl and she didn’t want to get married, it was really funny.”
So I picked up where he was going and said, “Oh yes! That’s ‘Not Getting Married Today’ from Company.”
“Oh yeah?” He said, “I love the line about cooking the rice.”
“My favorite is ‘perhaps I’ll collapse in the apse.”
He got excited and pointed at me happily, “Right?! So funny!” Then he thanked us again for being so much fun to sit next to and wished us a great evening.
Then we all sat there going, “Holy crap that was Jimmy Fallon” for the next two courses.
After dinner, and in delightful food comas, we decided to stroll on foot back to the hotel (not too far when you’re feeling no pain) and on the way passed a Gristedes which is mentioned in a lyric in a song from the musical [Title of Show], which is one of my favorite contemporary meta-musicals and so we paused for my friends to take a picture of me in front of it. And then this happened:
Is it still a photo bomb if the intended focus of the picture is aware of the bombing? I don’t know. Who cares. This was the most awesome photo bomb ever (next to THIS one, of course).
The next day my friends and I went separate directions. I headed to TriBeCa and they decided to hit the museums. Just as well, because as I was waiting on the subway platform this happened:
A SEA of Santas and elves and other Xmas-y dressed types flooded the subway out of nowhere, and they were all completely jolly and totally drunk… at 11am. Naturally, I took pictures and asked questions. Was this an Improv Everywhere thing? Something else? The hysterical thing was, none of them knew. Several of them said that they had just staggered home from pulling all-nighters and saw other people in Santa outfits drinking, so they cobbled together their own (or bought a cheap one on the fly at Walgreens) and joined the party. Only in NYC, for reals. Turns out there was something called “SantaCon” going on and part of the festivities involved a city-wide pub-crawl. Ho-Ho-Holy crap!
In TriBeCa I caught a matinee of the Off-Off-Broadway show She Kills Monsters at the Flea Theatre and it was insanely good. In a nutshell, the show is about a woman, Agnes (played by Satomi Blair), whose parents and younger sister Tilly (played by Allison Buck) all die tragically in a car accident. What a way to start a comedy, right? Anyway, Tilly was a huge D&D player and Agnes, in attempt to get to know who her little sis was, picks up Tilly’s custom module and starts to play, and things get really awesome really fast.
The production was fast-paced, extremely well-acted and wonderfully creative and there was even a DRAGON!!!
Leaving TriBeCa on a theater-high, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with my friends, grab a quick dinner, and head to the Marquis Theatre on Broadway to see Follies!
Was Follies amazing? Yes it was. Was it incredibly sweet to get to see Bernadette Peters live on stage? Yes it was. Was the production perfect? Almost. I’ve been very lucky to have had a number of “revelatory” theatrical experiences over the years, and I was hoping that this production of Follies would be another. It wasn’t.
Overall Follies was absolutely spot-on, Broadway-at-its-best, but I must admit (and it pains me to do so) Bernadette was miscast. The character of Sally is a tough nut to crack, and I think Ms. Peters made some unfortunate choices in her approach and ultimately, it wasn’t a good fit. I can think of a couple of other actresses who would have KILLED in the role, including Patti Cohenour, who (if you’re a serious theatre-nerd like me) you would be familiar with from The Light in the Piazza (among a BUNCH of others). But, ce’st la vie, it wasn’t Patti, it was Bernadette.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Follies was intensely good. Major stand-outs for me were Danny Burstein as Buddy and Terri White as Stella (who brought the house down with the show-stopper “Who’s That Woman?”). Also Jan Maxwell was exceptional as Phyllis and Elaine Paige was fun as Carlotta, the character who sings the famous “I’m Still Here” belt number. (By belt, I mean vocal, not wardrobe). The set was SPECTACULAR, the pre-show sound design was inspired and the transformation into “Loveland” was theatre magic at its best.
It was at this point that the “epic” quality of the weekend started to fade and become just another great time in the city. Sunday, our last day, once again I split off with my travel-friends so they could go do the “tourist-y” stuff, while I headed to Central Park West to meet up with an old family friend. I arrived uptown earlier than planned, and spent a good hour just wandering around Central Park, and taking pictures of places and things I’d seen many times, but never bothered/thought to photograph before.
As I neared the 72nd and Central Park West entrance, I remembered that it was only a few days after the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, so I paused at the Imagine Mosaic and took a quick picture there. Someone had left flowers. They always do. I found that comforting somehow.
After brunch with friends, it was time to head out of town. It had been quite a trip.