We could sleep in today, but I ended up waking up early. We had come up with a plan to get show tickets for the day. Maggie and Emma wanted to see Spiderman, but I had no interest. I laughed when I saw the reference to a “record-breaking show.” It was record breaking all right-for injuries, delays, and production expenses.
If you really want to see a particular show, I do recommend buying the tickets before you come to town and as soon as you pick your travel dates. Most Broadway tickets are sold through Ticketmaster or Telecharge. Other services will charge heavy premiums, although they are sometimes your only option when buying tickets to the most popular shows or at a late date. While in New York, you can also go directly to the Box Office for remaining spots or late-released tickets. Another wonderful option is TKTS, the half-price ticket booth right in the middle of Times Square. Although most tickets are 50% off, sometimes the discount is only 30 or 40%.
The tickets for the evening performances go on sale at 3 pm. For matinees, sales begin at 10 am. They are sold only on the day of the performance. If you want to go to four shows in one weekend, you need to go in with a strategy. You may want to buy your tickets ahead for the Friday night performance, unless you get into the city by 3pm on that day. Also buy your ticket for Saturday night at home. On Saturday morning go by to get a matinee ticket and do the same on Sunday morning. You will be in your matinee performance on Saturday when the evening show tickets are released at half price. Since the Saturday night show is the most popular time slot, if you wait until the end of your matinee to go over and get evening tickets, your options will be very limited. If you are not picky, just head over to the booth and see what you can get (have your mind made up by the time you reach the window though). Some of the “risk” tickets I have bought in the past have been to terrific shows.
After the ticket purchases, it was time for breakfast. As we walked toward central park, we saw some urban gardening and stopped into Pie Face where the mini and small individual pies have about everything you can think of in them. I got bacon and eggs. The pastry was flakey and the eggs were fluffy. Fortified by our breakfast, standing of course, it was time for some outlet shopping.
We walked back to the theater district via 9th Avenue. There are lots of fun places to eat in this area of the city called Hell’s Kitchen. When the weather is nice, the restaurants add outside tables on the sidewalk. Since we needed a quick lunch, we stopped at the Galaxy Diner at the corner of 9th avenue and 46thstreet and snagged an outside table at the end near the neighborhood brownstones. After lunch, it was straight to our respective theaters after for our matinee performance.
Maggie and Emma saw Spiderman. There were mildly impressed. They didn’t care for the music at all, although both generally like Bono. In their phrasing, when the technical stuff was done well, it was done really well. That said, the story line didn’t hold up and many of the songs were just plain silly.
In contrast, I scored with a ticket to see the Columnist with John Lithgow. It was based on the true story of an old guard writer with ties to the Kennedy administration. The story begins with Kennedy’s inauguration and progresses through the Vietnam War. Joseph Alsop wrote a popular column and liked to throw dinner parties with “the right people”. He was also gay and when in Moscow the Soviets set him up, taking pictures of his liaison that they use to blackmail him. The play was very well done, building your interest throughout.
Since it was understudy weekend-unofficial of course-we had an understudy in the female lead. However, it was the other female character that had me guessing. She looked so familiar. It took me the first act to figure out it was Meryl Streep’s daughter. After the show, there was a question and answer session with four of the actors. Now dressed as herself and not as the character, Grace Gummer looked even more like her famous mother-especially in profile. The session was quite interesting with the actors talking about the challenges of bringing a real story to life and how that is different on the stage than in film. The understudy also spoke of how her inclusion changes the performance and some of the rehearsal tidbits she saw.
We met back at the hotel and set out again, this time for dessert at Magnolia Bakery. You know it is good when there is a line to get in, another line to place your order, and a third line to pay for your purchases. I got an individual caramel cheesecake and the other girls got vanilla cupcakes. We walked down 5th Avenue, where chain retail has taken over and stopped in Little Miss Matched where they sell socks in sets of three mismatched socks. That way it doesn’t matter if you loose one.
We passed by Radio City Music Hall (ah, memories of the Tony Awards) and watched them dismantle the equipment from an afternoon movie shoot that had taken place along that street. They were filming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller. We had a traditional dinner from the hotdog vendor. (I know you thought I was kidding when I told you that this is the way my sister and niece eat while in New York.) Since we were having our Magnolia Bakery treats for dessert and needed to sit down, we watched the rest of the equipment removal from the movie set.
Our second show for the day was Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber now in revival. It wasn’t on Emma and Maggie’s radar originally, but I wanted to go because I had performed the songs from it in junior high. (I particularly remember the colorful, yet horrible, jumpsuits we wore for the performances.) As with any opera, there is no spoken dialog all the words are set to song. In Superstar, the only exception was words spoken by Jesus on the cross, giving that significant moment an even more powerful impact. The limited staging was most cleverly used. Loved it and I remembered every word from my JH days.
It was only a two-hour show and we got out early by New York standards, so we did what Emma and Maggie love to do late nights in New York. Wait for it…go to a movie. No kidding. We saw Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp. So ended our second night in New York.