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Fierce Anticipation: New York! New York!


a substitue blogumn by Michael Gutenplan

Hello all!  This week I’m filling in for Mr. Ryan Dixon.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m a professional magician, work in TV, was born an Aries and love New York— especially Broadway.  So here’s a little article to hold you over until next week when Ryan can return with his usually witty blogumn.

You Should Fiercely Anticipate

The Big Apple!

newyorkStart spreading the news!  If you have never been to New York City or haven’t been in a while, smack yourself a few times and get your tickets now!  New York is better than ever and this is the perfect season to take a little trip to the Big Apple.   

My trip to NYC was a mixture of pleasure and obligations. I was originally going for my fraternity brothers wedding (yes, I was in a frat- but it was not like other frats- it was a dry, Jewish fraternity- enough said), but I thought it would be a good idea to take the entire week and see some family, friends and of course, Broadway.  

With my return ticket booked- oh, that’s right- I FORGOT to book a plane ticket TO New York! How does this happen?  I don’t know, but I guess I booked a one way ticket coming home but not going, so, with a last minute ticket to New York booked (thank you Jet Blue for having an affordable last minute ticket) I was finally on my way- but what to pack?    

It always amazes me that autumn in New York City creates a unique weather phenomenon.  During the days (when it’s not raining), the temperature is often in the mid to high sixties, sometimes going in to the seventies, but at night the temperature can drop to the low forties.  So with the unique and always changing temperature and a decent chance of rain, I packed the biggest bag you’ve ever seen with all sorts of clothing, from shorts, a few pairs of shoes to a heavy leather coat… you know, just in case!  I couldn’t help but notice as I looked at the other travelers around the airport that I was the only one with a large suitcase. Seriously, everyone seemed to have some sort of small carry-on bag or nothing at all.  How do all these people know what the weather will be like?  I figured I over packed, but with Jet Blue’s generous policy of not charging for the first checked bag, I figured I had nothing to loose by bringing what amounted to be a steamer trunk!   

Finally arriving in New York I spent my week eating at fantastic restaurants, seeing my family and friends and just enjoying New York’s sense of awesomeness.  Seriously, my favorite moments were just standing around Union Square Park watching the people go about their daily lives.  Try standing in a busy spot for twenty minutes, watching the people and life go by and you’ll be amazed at how different people act, react and spend their lives.   

You Should Book Your Tickets Now!

Before I left Lala Land, I had booked tickets for a few shows, actually one for every night I was free to see a show.  I love Broadway, I really do, but sometimes it’s hard to love something with so many different personalities.  Reviews can help, but most of the time there is no way to really tell if a show is going to be good or bad until you see it.  Thank goodness most of the shows that I saw were very good.

nexttonormalcoverlo12Next to Normal is a show about a bi-polar mother and her family.  A riveting and hauntingly wonderful score creates what for some people is a life changing theatrical experience and for others the most boring show ever.  Just like the main character, the show creates bi-polar reactions within its audience in that some love it and some hate it… I loved it and though I didn’t have a song in my head as I left the theater, I was thinking about the play throughout the next day, which I think is the sign of a solid, strong and compelling story.

hair_playbill_image-755560Hair is the hit of the year, winning the Tony and the hearts of every wanna-be hippie and former hippie and it is still packing them in.  I was tempted to wear a tie-dyed shirt but I didn’t pack one because I ran out of room in my oversized luggage. Hair is everything it’s cracked up to be.  A somewhat faithful recreation of the original 1968 Broadway show but with a better-looking cast.  I had the pleasure of seeing the show with someone who had seen the original and though she had some criticism, including that the cast was “performing what they thought the 60’s were as opposed to being faithful to what the 60’s was,” she enjoyed it.  I really liked being able to get on the stage at the end of the show and dance and sing to “Let the Sunshine.”  It creates what I call the Mamma Mia effect, that is, if everyone is dancing and singing at the end of the show, everyone will remember having a good time, whether they did or not .

memphisMemphis is about a white guy loving black music and spreading it to the greater white masses through the radio.  While the plot was very predictable and the music seemed to be the reject songs of Dreamgirls, Cadillac Records and every other “Black girl makes it big in the music industry” show/movie, the show was, in my opinion, fantastic.  White people love to watch black people sing and dance… because God gave black men and women the gift of sounding amazing and moving like gods.  I think that the talent that was on that stage is enough to keep the show alive for a long time.  I had fun watching this show and I left singing “Everyone Wants to be Black on Saturday Night” for the next few hours.  I hope this shows lasts because the cast is great and the show is fun (except for the whole, racist South in the 50’s thing).

Wouldn’t Go If You Paid Me!

westsidestoryOh, that’s right, I saw one more show.  West Side Story is one of my all time favorite musicals.  I always cry just listening to the music and if the movie is on TV I can’t shut it off, so it was with great surprise that I hated the production I saw at the Palace Theater.  

First of all, Tony is from the west side of Manhattan, not New England.  Yes, this Tony seemed to have a New England accent, which made me want him to say “Maria, afta the rumble, daling, I think we’ll head up to the cape for my families clam bake.”  Yeah, it just doesn’t work, and also, all the boys, all the big bad gang members were the cleanest cut group of gay boys I’ve ever seen.  And they just didn’t seem to be into the show.  Maybe it was the night I was there but the dancing was uninspired and the acting was nonexistent.  How sad because the music is still amazing and the overall story is great, but the production, well, it would have been a decent high school production – if Tony wasn’t from Boston! Save your money and rent the video.

Well, there you have it.  A week in New York, watching (mostly) wonderful theater and checking out all the sights and sounds that the city has to offer.  Do yourself a favor and pack an oversized suitcase, get yourself a roundtrip ticket- make sure it’s really roundtrip- and treat yourself to a week in the Big Apple! And here’s a hint… find a friend to stay with because hotel’s are really expensive.  I stayed with my friend Judi and she is the greatest… thanks Judi!