Yesterday I returned from my first visit to New York and I’m still wide-eyed and silly-grinned. I stayed at a Comfort Inn in mid-town Manhattan, on 35th, between Macy’s and The Empire State Building. The hotel only reinforced the notion that I should be wary of businesses that name themselves in an all-too-obvious way, because it always ends up being ironic and I hate irony. Especially when I’m tired.
Let’s just chalk this one up to the “true price” of affordability. The view ended up surprising, though – I threw back the curtains and opened up the windows to see a bunch of (wait for it...) other buildings! Discovered several hours later during a post-traveling daze that one of the buildings was the Empire State. Not so bad after all.
That first afternoon I took the subway down to Greenwich Village, and after walking around a bit decided on a Mexican joint for dinner and a margarita. The waiter took my order and returned moments later, put a hand on my shoulder and asked, “how do I know you?” After a second look, I excitedly recognized him as a long-lost friend from freshman year of college. There was lots of laughing and hugging (he started it) and I was thrilled and shocked - I couldn’t believe that within hours of stepping off the plane into a very large, very foreign city, I was beautifully greeted by an old friend.
I managed the whole Manhattan scene pretty well – wore dark colors, walked fast, talked regularly and without shame on the cell phone I only use for emergencies in Minneapolis. Locals (okay they were kids, but they were still local) asked me for directions on the subway and I was able to answer them correctly. I studied those maps HARD before going in public. I walked in places that I’ve seen a billion times in movies – Washington Square Park, the Bethesda Fountain, The Mall in Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Times Square - and can’t wait to see the movies again so I can geek-out with a silent and giddy I was there!
Here’s where the theater part (and relevance to the greenroom) comes in. I had advance tickets to the opera, but dutifully stood in line in Times Square for tickets to a couple of Broadway shows. I saw:
Tosca at The Met Classic opera, everyone important dies long, brooding, tragic deaths. Open letter to the leads: What is UP with the curtain-call bows several times before the show is even over and after your character already died? Holy ego, Batman!. Sincerely, A Confused Novice Opera-Goer.
RENT at the Nederlander Theatre (Broadway) This completely renewed my faith in being a performer - it truly blew my mind. The talent was astounding. I wanted to forget all about my grad-school aspirations and march down there with resume and headshot in hand and give it everything I had. It made me long to be a part of something entertaining and relevant and inspiring again.
La Cage Aux Folles at the Marquis Theater (Broadway) So bad. Really, really, inexcusably bad. Okay, the ensemble and sets were fantastic, but the primaries were lame. Beach impersonated Nathan Lane admirably, Goulet phoned it in, the kid who played his son had a great voice and no stage presence, the girl who played the kid’s fiancé was so less than one-dimensional that she almost reached void status. It gets a big, fat thbbt.
Shows I’m kicking myself for not seeing Wicked, Avenue Q, Spamalot, and Shockheaded Peter (off-Broadway). Especially the latter because I was hoping there'd be some crossover from the cast/crew of Improbable Theatre's The Hanging Man that we hosted here in Minneapolis in fall of 2003. I gotta tell you, nothing funnier than a visit to Sex World with bunch of Brits...
So, that was my first New York experience. I’ll return in the fall to attend an info session at Columbia for their graduate program, and call all the people I know out there to get exposure to the outer boroughs. I think I’ll love Brooklyn.
I’ll also plan on many more theater-related experiences: a friend is best buds with the sound designer for Spamalot (free tickets!), and another, new, friend is rehearsing a show with Richard Maxwell/New York City Players (the Walker Art Center brought Boxing 2000 and Joe here as part of the Out There series)…he’s invited me to a rehearsal that would be fascinating to watch (free rehearsal!). Another friend acts as a lighting tech/company manager for Ann Bogart’s SITI Company (free tickets?), and another friend is lighting designer for the San Diego Opera and the Old Globe Theater (free tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Turandot?) Oh – is that your phone ringing? Why, it’s me! calling in favors!