This year, we went back, and I had the opportunity to bring a friend. I whooped and cheered, and then phoned the wonderful girl whom we shall call Belle, who also whooped and cheered and said yes please, take me with you.
We had a crazy, wonderful time. We saw some amazing, unique people: we met a lonely pig called Clarence: we wandered New York by night and by day: we climbed the Empire State Building... and in between, and sometimes during these activites, we ATE. Oh, how we ate (you can see us in the picture above... about to eat).
It just so happens that both of us have the same dream - despite the fact that we bonded over woodlice when we were 6, not the arts, we have both grown to love the theatre. A lot. Often, it's all we talk about. Which is fine by us. And so treading the boards of a Broadway or West End stage is, you know, The Big Thing for us. So when we got to Times Square... we were very excited.
There is a picture of us looking very excited.
Before I go on to tell you about what we saw, I first MUST let you know about a certain diner in Times Square. It is IMPERATIVE that I tell you about Ellen's Stardust Diner. It serves your typical American food - burgers, chicken, chips, you name it. I'm going to be honest, the food isn't really why you go (though it is good... and there's lots of it...). You go because of the staff.
I know, unthinkable in England, right?
The waiters and waitresses are in fact aspiring actors and actresses and Ellen's, through what I imagine is quite a severe audition process, is a surefire way to start to tread those boards. Because throughout your evening, instead of the manager sticking on a CD and letting it replay until your ears want to bleed, your WAITER will SING to you. EVERY waiter will sing to you.
They just get up, grab the mic, and serenade the whole diner with a chart-topping hit or tear-jerking number from one of Broadway's finest musicals. It's fantastic. Our waiter was fab, and even gave Mum the mic for some ABBA (note to Ellen's: you will lose custom if you do that too much.) I'd never seen anything like it.
We saw two, rather spectacular pieces of Broadway theatre. First was 'Seminar', a new play by Theresa Rebeck about a literary composition class and their debauched, licentious 'teacher', played by the one and only Jeff Goldblum. He essentially spends an hour and a half (no interval) ripping their lives, emotions, and writings apart. It was surprisingly good viewing.
One small hiccup; Belle and I had previously been assured that 'Leonard', the chap in question, was to be played by Alan Rickman, Professor Severus Snape himself... cue slightly choked, teary assurances that we'd still like to go, even though his run had ended.
But we did actually want to go.
We just enjoy the drama.
Especially memorable was Zoe Lister-Jones as Kate, a feisty, budding writer who thinks she sees through Leonard's crap, and doesn't want to take it any more. Her numerous rants and acerbic put-downs were hilarious, while her eventual sheathing of her feminist sword and acceptance of the way the world really works was ever-so-gently heartbreaking. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed it despite being greeted with this sign as we walked in late:
Cue my panic. I have NEVER been late to a performance. HUMILIATING. But hilarious if you're with the crowd I was... at the end a gentlemen behind us loudly exclaimed 'Well, I reckon the first 5 minutes were the best.' Whether he genuinely hadn't enjoyed it or just wanted to niggle at the people who had disturbed his view for 30 seconds we will never know. I like to think the best of him.
Our second Broadway treat was the production of 'Anything Goes' at the Stephen Sondheim theatre (yes... I got even more excited when his name came up). The story is complete fluff, of course, but it was rather spectacular - I saw Anything Goes in London a while ago, so I thought I knew what to expect... didn't really see the numerous tap and ballroom dances coming.
Those Broadway directors do things differently.
It was the last night of the run, and the cast were clearly having a whale of a time. Here is proof in a video that was made by them, behind the scenes. Brilliant.
So overall a total ball was had by everyone.
If anyone has a flat (or apartment) in NY that they are willing to rent out, please contact me. ASAP. Ta.