I <3 NY

Let me just start by saying how absolutely delighted I was that I got to see this current production of Spring Awakening. I’d actually first read about it during its initial run in Los Angeles and it sounded amazing. When I heard it was moving to Broadway for a limited run, I planned to get tix to go along with tickets to Hamilton – only to discover SA was scheduled to close a week before my arrival in NYC in January. Well, they extended the show by a couple of weeks – not only did I get to see it, I got my tix for half-price at TKTS.

Now the show was not without its flaws – having seen the roadshow of the original production back in 2009, I was so enamored of the music that I didn’t cast too critical an eye on the story itself which is a bit overwrought (though I suppose that this is an accurate interpretation of how teenagers view their own lives…) – but I noticed it this time. Also, I think they pared down a couple of the musical numbers – which I can understand, given that half the cast is deaf, but it was a bit of a disappointment for me.

With all that being said, I thought this particular imagining of the show was masterful. Pairing deaf and hearing actors who performed using voice and ASL was astonishing from a technical perspective but also added another layer to the story’s portrayal of the difficult and awkward transition from child to grown-up – especially for adolescents seen by parents and teachers as not measuring up or being different. The use of a pair of performers in the roles of both Wendla and Moritz – a deaf actor taking the lead, while a hearing counterpart also appeared on stage to sing and deliver lines vocally not so much as an interpreter but as an alter ego to the character – was really quite extraordinary.

Suffice it to say, this was a wonderful evening at the theater. And almost as wonderful? My Jewish deli fix post-theater at Sarge’s. Pastrami delicious as always and the matzoh ball soup saved me from the near hypothermia I’d suffered on the walk their…

Tuesday morning I headed back to TKTS at South Street Seaport – again, took advantage of the 11AM opening time AND the fact that they sell matinee tix the day before the performance rather than day of in Times Square. Got a great seat for Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” featuring jug-eared dreamboat Russell Tovey. Rowr…

Headed back uptown, including a blustery walk along the Highline, for lunch with my dear friend Ralph. Returned to Porteño, an Argentinian place we’d been before (and which was the shortest walk from his office) and had a delicious plate of empanadas, followed by a chicken cutlet for me and a flank steak for him. And we kept the conversation light – starting off with the lead poisoning of the entire population of Flint, MI and ending up comparing notes on various friends and family battling cancer. We did manage to avoid comparing notes on our aching joints and other maladies associated with aging – though I’m sure that’ll be next… But I had a lovely time. As much as I love NYC in and of itself, some of my dearest friends live here and I’m always so happy to see them.

Speaking of friends, dinner that evening was with Michael and Justin at Artisanal Fromagerie (warning: site will autoplay audio, which is annoying AF; scroll down to stop it) where we had charcuterie and fondue and cheesecake and some really sensational wine. It was a perfect meal on this frigid night. Afterwards, caught up with my friend Dawna – she’s my theater buddy for this trip and had flown in that afternoon. We found a great little cocktail lounge right up the street from my hotel called The Raines Law Room. Super yummy cocktails as we regaled each other with our latest stories and plotted our plan of attack for shows.

Wednesday we met up at 11AM for Swedish meatballs at Smorgas Chef at Scandinavia House. It’s Restaurant Week here, so the prix fixe lunch was a reasonable $28. Then, off to Broadway! “Misery” for Dawna, “A View from the Bridge” for me. Had a bit of lie-down that afternoon, a snack downstairs at the hotel, then back to Broadway for the raison d’être for the trip: “Hamilton”!

I really enjoyed the show – smart, funny and rather brilliantly performed. My criticism? The love story component felt a little tacked on – but maybe that was because I found the political storyline, particularly in Act II, to be so engaging.

Dinner nearby, a brisk walk home and another day in NYC came to a close. Tomorrow, back to South Street Seaport TKTS to pick out another show to see Thursday night. Fingers crossed for “Fun Home”…

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