Sara Godwin

Ah, New York: Way Too Hot, and Totally Cool

In Baby Boomers, New York, Travel on October 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I’m a California girl. I believe that good weather is my birthright. New York City, specifically Manhattan,  does not feel obligated to acknowledge my birthright.  It is hot — the mid-90s — and muggy.  Not quite so muggy that you could drown by taking a deep breath, but close.  Very close.  On the other hand, California doesn’t have Broadway.  To see Broadway shows, you gotta go to where they live. That being the case, that’s what I did.

The first stop is to drop off the bags at a friend’s Upper East Side piéd-a-terre, easy walking distance from the East River, a longer jaunt to Central Park, straight down 63rd.  The second stop is TKTS (pronounced “Tee Kay Tee Ess” , not ‘tickets’), a subway ride away at 47th just east of Broadway in Times Square.  I use the time standing in what looks like a really long line to review the Broadway shows with seats available for that night.  The TKTS box offices open at 3:pm, sell only seats for that evening, and the line moves surprisingly fast. (Check out TKTS.com before you go to see which shows are offering discounts.) In the category of useful general information, many theaters are dark on Monday nights, and curtain time is usually 8:pm. Discounts range from 25% to 50%. There are separate lines for Broadway musicals and plays. If a play’s the thing, ask to be directed to that line; it’s way shorter.  Me, I’m there for the music.

‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ has music by George and Ira Gershwin, and a seriously silly plot, to the extent that it can be said to have a plot at all. I would listen to the Gershwins if they were playing scales, so a playlist that includes “Someone To Watch Over Me”, “Fascinating Rhythm”,  ” ‘S Wonderful”,  “Lady Be Good”, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”,  and “But Not For Me”,  was all it took to gain a firm grip on my attention. There’s also a little sleeper tune I’d never heard before called “Blah, Blah, Blah,” that’s worth the price of the ticket all by itself. (According to a 1983 New York Times review of a Tommy Tunes and Twiggy show (don’t ask), the Gershwins originally wrote it to be a send-up on how to write a love song for “Delicious”, a 1931 Janet Gaynor ( don’t ask) film musical.)  Here it’s used as a love song, and it’s a charmer.

Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara do the best that can be done with the goofy script (O’Hara was nominated for both a Tony and  the Drama Desk Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’) and the  dancing is spirited.  Besides, you don’t want to miss Estelle Parsons doing a star turn in the last act as the only sensible person in the entire play.   Truth be told, given the Gershwin music, they all could have stood on a bare stage in front of mikes and read the phone directory, and I’d have stayed to listen.

Having filled my  required quota of grins and giggles, my husband and I swanned off to Sardi’s, the classic Broadway café, for a late dinner. The time between ordering and serving can be spent amusing oneself with the hundreds Richard Baratz’s caricatures of celebrities from both coasts that line the walls from the wainscot to the ceiling. (Baratz is the sole caricaturist at Sardi’s; Al Hirschfeld did caricatures, but none at Sardi’s.)  We were especially pleased to get ‘our’ table, back against the side wall with its perfect view of  of everyone coming in and going out.  Sardi’s is not about the food; it’s about who’s there and who’s not, about seeing and being seen, about who you recognize, and sometimes, about who recognizes you.  Think of it as an extension of the theatre: It’s all about watching.

Speaking of Al Hirschfeld, (see the parenthesis just a few sentences ago), there’s an opulent theatre at 320 45th Street (Built as the Martin Beck Theatre in 1924) that was named for him in 2003.  It was there that Fela! opened for a 32-day limited engagement (July-August, 2012), and if the place still has a roof, it’s a miracle.  That opening night performance was all about the cast trying to blow the roof off the place with Fela’s AfroBeat songs and the wildest dancing I’ve ever seen.  A BioMusical based on the life of the Nigerian activist songwriter, the plot hangs lightly on the highlights of his life and career, but Fela’s politics aren’t the reason to see this.  The singing and dancing have been blowing audiences away since it first opened on Broadway in November, 2009. It received eleven Tony nominations in 2010, and won Best ChoreographyBest Costume Design of a Musical, and Best Sound Design of a Musical .  It starts before the audience is seated, and just doesn’t quit.  Noisy, colorful, and compelling, I walked out with my head spinning.  The touring company has done — and is doing — shows all over the world.  When it gets to your place on the planet, go!

In between shows, we walked the length of the High Line and watched New York’s multi-barge Fourth of July Fireworks, but that’s for another post.

 

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  1. Ahh, the old love hate relationship with New York, I know it well. It’s the first place I’ve ever lived where the weather was so horrid that it made me move.

    • Thanks for your perceptive comment. I did the bi-coastal thing for years — San Francisco-New York — once a month. It required two wardrobes, and two different sets of shoes, heels, boots, et cetera et al. And yet, and yet, I really do love the stuff I can only do in New York …

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