I am in New York City for a quick trip with my sister and niece. There are so many ways to experience this city, but we enjoy staying in the theater district and seeing as many Broadway shows as possible. This was last-minute planning-a weekend away before my sister’s wedding next month-so we were not able to get tickets to all the shows we wanted to see. We came with tickets to see Memphis on Friday night and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man matinée performance on Sunday.
If you have someone to share cab fare into the city, a flight into La Guardia provides the quickest (and a relatively inexpensive) way to Manhattan. Arrival into Newark means a longer car ride and a much higher cab fare. However, Newark airport does offer train connections to Penn Station in New York for $12.50 one way (this includes monorail travel from the terminal to the airport train station). Perhaps because the connections from Houston are more limited, I never fly in and out of JFK. If you live on the East coast, train may be the quickest and most economical travel option.
My sister Emma and I flew into La Guardia together. I am leaving by myself on Sunday, so I am going to try the train connections. You can get the schedule on-line and there is even a video that walks you through the process of getting from Penn Station to the airport. Train travel for dummies. I found it very helpful. The station is about 12 blocks down 7th Avenue from our Times Square Hotel and the walk with crowds took about 17 minutes. (We walked down there today to meet my niece Maggie who was coming in by train from Philadelphia where she is a student at Villanova.) It may take a little longer on Sunday with a rolling bag. I will give you the scoop after my experience.
Penn Station is next to Madison Square Garden and is in the Garment District, so we wandered around that area. We stopped in a couple of specialty stores we have visited before-Emma is very crafty. Even if you are not talented in that way (as I am not), the vintage ribbons, buttons, and handmade craft items were interesting to see. Emma was looking for pieces to use at the wedding.
When I come to NYC with Boris, he loves to eat at some of the great restaurants here. I think Harry Cipriani’s is our favorite. But with my sister and niece, it is all about the hot dog venders. They simply don’t want to take the time to stop and eat. There really aren’t any good places to eat right in Times Square, but walk one or two blocks over and you can wander down 8th or 9th Avenue and find lots of good small restaurants. One of my favorites is a French Bistro called Brasserie Athenee. And you can’t go wrong with the Italian food in this area. We had a nice salad and a little pasta for dinner at Daniela Trattoria, a small Italian eatery at 728 8th Avenue between 45th and 46th streets. This must have been a special occasion, because we actually sat down to eat. (We didn’t skip the hot dog vender. That’s where we had a late lunch near Penn Station.)
My niece Maggie was excited to see this production of Memphis for several reasons. When she graduated from High School we came to New York and her mom surprised her (and I surprised Rocky) with tickets to the Tony Awards. That year Memphis won best musical. The Tony Awards Show was a great experience that I can highly recommend. Its black tie attire, even for non-celebrities like us. Yes, we had to go in a separate entrance, but from the lobby balcony we watched Angela Lansbury, Scarlett Johansson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lea Michele, Sean Hayes, Denzel Washington, Octavia Spencer and others enter. It was great to see what happens in the audience when the live show goes to commercial break. There were specific instructions on how to respond when we went live again. The energy in the room was infectious. (We had a “fabulous” dinner that evening too-hot dogs in the room before the show while we got dressed. It was the only time we brought them in and sat down to eat.)
Maggie was also excited because Adam Pascal was slated to play the male lead. Pascal was the original Roger in Rent and my twenty-year-old niece has seen that stage production 15 times (seriously). Her record is five times during one long weekend. When we arrived at the Shubert Theatre we found out there were four understudies performing that evening, three in major roles including that male lead. Maggie was extremely disappointed, so it was even more impressive when Kevin Massey did such a great job in the role of Huey. We had fun and hung around the stage door after the show and got his autograph. When he is famous at some future date, we can say “we knew him when” and sell that autograph on e-bay.
I realize that the show has been around a while, but if you haven’t yet seen Memphis, I can highly recommend it. It is an interesting study of race relations in 1950s Memphis, with the story backdrop of the birth of rock and roll. The music and dancing draw you in. It is also laugh out loud funny.
We weren’t really tired after the show, so we took some pictures on Times Square and wandered around the theater district, even ending up at one of the 16 McDonald’s that populate the area. The caffeine in my Dr. Pepper kept me awake, so you are getting a blog post. Good night from the Big Apple…