A trip to NYC. Such excursions are usually full of negative stories of mishaps and kvetching (see your yiddish dictionary) about rude bus drivers. Ours was almost perfect. A 2 hour wait on the runway at Toronto (due to La Guardia weather) was the extent of any inconvenience or disappointment. Here’s what we did:
- Incredible effeciency: On arrival at La Guardia, we left the plane, picked up our baggage, took an airporter bus to our hotel in mid Manhattan, checked in and were in our room a little over an hour from when we left the plane.
- Dinner at GoGo Curry (believe it or not – Japanese)
- Breakfast (eggs, sausages, fried pots) at the Times Deli; on our way we happen across ABC’s Good Morning America and Connie gets on camera with the street audience; neat coincidence (even if kinda lame).
- Museum of the City of New York: great historical exhibitions – explains so much about what New York is.
- 8th Ave. Deli bagel, lox and cream cheese and piece of cheese cake (all the food we had was fresh, top quality and GE—NER—OUS!)
- Matinee performance of “Daddy Long Legs” at the Davenport Theatre (see my review below)
- atmospheric & varied Greek dinner at Dafni on 42nd St.
- Breakfast at Stage Door Deli. I had a sausage and peppers hero – Woo Hoo! (It was so gigantic, I only ate half )
- the brand new One World Tower at the World Trade Center “almost” matches the hype.
- went “walk about”, saw Zucotti Park (site of the “Occupy Movement” tent city – not a single acknowledging sign of this major Sept. 17 – Nov.15, 2011 event. (Not surprising since it took place near Wall Street and Wall Street clearly would just as soon “bury it”.)
- through Chinatown and Little Italy; Chinese lunch.
- Mahler 8 performance in the immense Cathedral of St. John the Divine – When you could hear them, the choral work and general musicianship was flawless, the soloists superb and the conductor excellent, but acoustically it was like watching the Royal Winnipeg Ballet perform in an acre of mud. There were admirable (but rarely successful) experiments with amplification. But, boy, that gong in part 2 and the final chord with the great organ blast were magnificent! (cleverly veiled sarcasm). At “creation” the two biggest mistakes which God made were: making it impossible for choirs to sound good outside; and making the speed of light faster than the speed of sound. One word would describe this magnificent cathedral as a venue for this performance. the same as one of my students responded, when asked her opinion on my sense of humour : “Inappropriate”.
- – “Dinner” in the hotel (take out food, including the other half of my Hero sandwich, from breakfast, all consumed with a really awful wine (but a great episode of “The Good Wife”).
- Up at 5:40 to brave wind & freezing temperature during a 15 minute walk to Penn Station, dragging wheeled luggage.
- The Amtrak train to Staunton, Va, has comfortable seats with LEGROOM, and great views. I love the train!!!
Stay tuned for South Africa trip in June……….
Notes on “Daddy Long Legs:
A fabulous experience! Quite likely the top live theatre experience of my life. It was a sort of “Chamber Musical”. It had all the best features of the genre. The singing was fabulous (although I don’t normally like the Broadway musical singing style). Acting was first rate – Connie and I had tears rolling down our cheeks, not just from the touching love story with a happy ending, but from the sheer beauty of a great work of art. Even though I had a real association with musicals, from high school and UBC years, I dread certain aspects of the genre:
- people singing when they should be talking (the genre used to be called musical comedy for a reason.
- you don’t sing when you’re killing someone – that should be left to opera).
- huge song and dance chorus lines
- massive larger than life sets, story lines and over-acting – not to mention ridiculous hype in advertising.
- insipid, moronic music (won’t mention any names, but initials are A.L.W.)
- huge theatres in which you can’t see or hear, with tickets from $200 Cdn
This gem had none of that. There were 2 characters who carried the show (not to mention incorporating stage set manipulation during dialogue). The band was three players (piano, guitar/percussion and cello), and all were flawless musicians. The stage set & lighting & costuming were impressive and highly attractive. The theatre was intimate but full-featured, with just over 100 seats. We were 3 rows from the stage and adored every moment. Music theatre, more than any other idiom, suffers from a constant battle between form and substance.
Substance clearly won out here.
In October of 1969, I sang on the Ed Sullivan Show (in the Ed Sullivan Theatre – Letterman, Colbert) with the Yale Glee Club, backing up Lee Marvin in his scintillating performance of “I was born under a wandering star”. Imagine my surprise while walking up Broadway to see this sign: