Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Love Being a New Yorker!

Sometimes when you live in one place all your life, you can take for granted some of the things that place has to offer. I am a Native New Yorker, born and bred.

I was lucky to have parents who also appreciated what this city has to offer and probably have done more than most of us NYers have in our own city. Museums, cultural venues, historic sites - my city has it all.

Anyone who has known me more than a minute or two knows that I have a passion for theater, and have never lost the appreciation that Broadway is in my "backyard!" My dad first took me to see a Broadway show when I was quite young, and I saw my first musical shortly after that. (At that time Broadway wasn't as family friendly - read "safe" - as it is today. It was a rough neighborhood. It was not a tourist attraction and was our little special part of NYC.) My wife and kids have also caught the Broadway bug.

It was with that in mind that my wife and I did one of our favorite things earlier this week, and took the ferry from Staten Island into The City to see a show. As NYers, we probably do it differently than most. We take the Staten Island Ferry (past the Statue of Liberty) into Manhattan and then the subway to Times Square. (Actually 50th Street since it is closer to our next destination.) Assuming that we are planning on seeing an evening show, by 2:30 we get on line at TKTS and await its 3:00 opening. At TKTS, you can purchase tickets to that night's (or afternoon as well on matinee days) show for 30% - 50% off. While most shows do offer tickets at TKTS, some very popular shows do not ... yet. At the head of the line is a list of what is currently available, and is updated as tickets are purchased. It is only at this point that we know what is available to choose from and we make our choice of they 3 top shows we want to see from that list. Most of the time we get our top choice. Today we choose Jersey Boys (a show which was unavailable at TKTS for years) and do get orchestra seats for our selection.

One of the things I enjoy doing while waiting on this line (which despite its daunting looking length moves quite rapidly) is meeting and talking with the people on line with me. Most of the time they are tourists and we have great conversations - which also helps make the wait seem shorter. This day was no exception as I started a conversation with the couple behind us on line. Turns out that they were from Germany (though he was born and raised in Virginia) and this was their first visit to NYC. He was an opera singer and she was a production supervisor. I, as you probably know, have spent over 40 years in community theater as a musician and musical director, so we had even more to talk about than usual. It was a sunny, hot day, and our conversation helped the time pass. When she went to get something to eat and drink, she came back with bottle of water, not only for the two of them, but for my wife and myself as well. This simple act of kindness was appreciated tremendously. I Love New York, being a NYer and being able to have these experiences. (They wanted, and got, tickets to see Porgy and Bess ... at a 50% discount!)

Once we got our tickets, we had a number of hours left until our 7:00 PM curtain, so we next went for a relaxing late lunch/early dinner at Bubba Gump Shimp Co. (a regular stop of ours in Times Square). A table by a window overlooking Times Square was our location for the next hour and more as we sat and ate our meal. Since it was a weekday and the restaurant was not very crowded (meaning tables were available and no one was waiting for one) we took our time and had a leisurely meal.

Still some time until we would walk the few blocks to the theater so we stopped into the lounge at the Marriott Marquis and had a glass of wine while we waited.

It was now time to head to the August Wilson theater. This theater is an old traditional Broadway theater, and I have seen many shows here. In fact, the very first Broadway show I ever saw, The Royal Hunt of the Sun - with my father, I saw in this theater. (The first musical I ever saw on Broadway was Funny Girl in case you were wondering.) It was the ANTA theater back then. One of the features in the Playbill is an article which lists some of the shows which have played in the theater. Among the shows I have seen here have been Little Shop of Horrors, Smokey Joe's CafĂ©, and Shenandoah.

We had wanted to see Jersey Boys for many years, but for a long time tickets were very difficult to get - even at full price through the box office. My wife and I are big Four Season's fans, and have seen them in concert many times - as well as Frankie Valli solo. I learned a lesson about singing along with Frankie Valli on the way to teach a course many years ago. After singing in my car as I drove to the location (the only place I am allowed to sing - and only when I am alone ... if you have ever heard me sing you would understand), singing along with Frankie Valli's falsetto left me with no voice when it was time to do the training. <groan>

The original, Tony Award winning actor who played Valli had recently come back to the show and we had the pleasure of his performance, better than some of the times we heard Frankie Valli himself in concert!

A wonderful day ended with a return subway and ferry ride back home.

As I said, I love being an NYer and being able to appreciate some of what makes my city what it is!


Do not sing along with this (or any other Four Seasons/Frankie Valli song if you need to speak in front of any group of people ...

And a montage from the Broadway Show, Jersey Boys



  1. How wonderful! The Jersey Boys is playing in Brisbane at the moment and I'd LOVE to see it!
    How lucky are you?

    1. Very lucky indeed that whenever we have some free time, we can just hop a train, ferry and train and be in Times Square in about an hour and spontaneously get tix for a Broadway show. :-)

      (and that is only PART of being a native NYer!)

  2. You're so mean to tease me like that! The day you and I went to see Phantom, in the manner you mentioned, was one of the highlights of my trip. Can't wait to do it again one day!

    1. You know you are always very welcome back. :-)