Yesterday, we left the house just before 11:00 in the morning. I filled up on gas and we bought bagels before our drive into the city. We had the day planned for a few weeks. We did the same thing two years ago. Catching two plays and spending the night in the city. The first play was Glass Menagerie, starring Sally Fields. The second was Evening at the Talk House starring Matthew Broderick.
You know one of those days when everything fell into place. There was a coupon for half off 24 hour parking which I printed. The traffic to the city was very light and we made great time. The parking garage on East 38th took my car. We walked up to the hotel. The Courtyard on east 40th and to our surprise there a room was available. We had a room with a view instead of an alley, we could see buildings. The low hurling clouds which carried looming rain; scraped over steel roofs.
We made excellent time. Made it to the Belasco Theatre and waited in line for ten minutes. We walked up to the balcony. I forgot, but I bought tickets for the first row up. First row on the balcony. Our seats were very good. We saw an incredible play. I was struck with Sally Field and how she captured the part of Amanda Wingfield. Reading who’s who in the cast, I read this is Madison Ferris’ Broadway debut. This is an actor who is disabled and yet like an ignorant fool, I thought she played the part. She was incredible and I wish her a successful career. I can’t forget Joe Mantello who throughout the play kept the audience hanging on the edges of our seats.
After the play we headed back to the hotel and looked at some places to eat along Fifth Avenue. We walked down to Grand central, I thought it would be a good idea to dine in one of the restaurants under the still blue constellation ceiling. Nothing really struck us, and certainly not in the lower dining area. We found the Brooklyn Diner on 42nd Street. The same place we ate two years ago. I had matzo soup and a Stella and ordered a Cuban chicken meal. Ali ordered chicken soup and a burger and a Coke. The soup was delicious and I thought our waiter was the same we had last time we dined there. The soups were large portions – large enough – could easily have made it our entrées. The rest of the dinner was just a delicious and we headed outside and felt the first heavy drops of rain.
Ali needed batteries for her hearing aid, bought them and walked around Times Square in the rain. We had our umbrellas and were prepared, unlike a lot others. I heard some call out, I didn’t know it was going to rain! With time to kill before the next event, we stopped into a deli for some coffee, tea and a split a brownie. Our timing was perfect. We sat on stools facing the street and watched the pouring, windswept rain rip across the street, racing strangers and tourists, some wearing ponchos on open double decker busses were huddled together. The deli was filling up with strangers to get away from the rain and to buy anything. Thunder and lightning struck. I looked at my watch and suggested we leave at 7 which will give us more than enough time to walk to The Pershing Square Signature Center.
Gradually, the rain lightened. More and more were making their way down the sidewalk and we left our deli and ventured into the light rain and leapt over puddles and made out way inside the center. We waited. When the theatre was opened we were greeted by Jill Elkenberry and Annapurna Sriram who were serving drinks to the audience who were coming in. The stage was set between two sections where we sat in the second row. I was impressed. A couple came in and were taking their seats next to us and asked if we had mingled with the cast who were walking around the set. No, I said. They went back down and started talking to John Epperson. I met Larry Pine who thanked me for coming and then spoke to Michael Tucker who I have seen on TV. We spoke about the weather what else do strangers talk about? The play itself was bizarre. It was funny at times and yet both Ali and I were sort of distracted by a subplot within the story which did not add up. I’d like to speak to Wallace Shawn about this play and make some sense of it. Not that I would. As we were walking away from the theatre, I overheard a man declare, “I hate Matthew Broderick, he plays the same fucking character in all of his plays!”
We went to Junior’s like we did two years before and took our seats at the bar. I had a vanilla shake and tea. Ali had a tea and ordered a slice of their famous cheesecake which we split. I noticed one of the bartenders who was serving in another section and said to Ali, I think that’s the woman who served us two years ago. No, she said. And eventually she came down and took my credit card. I asked her how long she has been working there, she smiled and said two years. I said I remembered her. Not that she would remember us, but we discussed the plays we saw and were going to see for the rest of the year. Before we left, I asked her name, Jess. She works there on Saturday nights, so if you’re ever in the need for a suggestion of what to see on Broadway…talk to Jess. And we made our way back to the hotel as a massive crowd was flooding its way out from The Lion King. Traffic came to a stop and the crowd was dense. Eventually, we made it back to our room and I lowered the shade and called it a night. A rare night when my wife and I could get away from the house and kids and hear the rippling winds on the 26th floor in New York City. Maybe it will be in another two years? I hope not.
Thank you for reading this.