On the Town

Whew. New York has a way of taking a lot out of you, and at the same time, filling you with so much passion and inspiration that you feel ready to take on just about anything. Since returning to the Second City incredibly early on Monday morning, I’m trying to process all of this past weekend’s events. Although exhaustion clouds my mind a bit, I am still left with warm feelings from a great time with old (and new) friends, and deep thoughts about future dreams.

My endless gratitude goes out to my hostess, Miss Jessica Schmidt, and her fabulous entourage, who introduced me to the wonders of Brooklyn and provided a great many adventures during my stay. We traversed that borough thoroughly (bad word pairings happen when you’re tired), and I got quite familiar with the MTA (CTA still wins!). Friday also featured a fun trek through Chinatown and Little Italy, leading uptown to the heart of Broadway and Times Square (beware the furries). Since this was my fifth visit to the city, I was less preoccupied with touristy amazement and more interested in the details of less obvious New York wonders. I especially enjoyed my first visit to The Strand bookstore and chance discovery of Tatayana, a vintage boutique that looked like ModCloth had exploded inside and taken me to heaven with it. We also stumbled upon Think Coffee, a hipster haven with seriously great caffeine and cool artistic vibes.

Friday night’s focus was a visit to…The Visit. Oh my gosh. Chita. Rivera: Chills. Kander and Ebb: Magically creepy music. Graciela Danielle: Consummately stylized choreography. And those yellow shoes…Well, let’s just say I’ll never wear yellow again without thinking about this piece. It was a thrillingly freaky story with the singular presence of a theatrical superpower front and center, and I am forever grateful for the chance to watch a legend work her magic.

Our post-show Friday night was just as magical, with a visit to an East Village speakeasy and reunion with my little Scholar, Jacob, who is doing marvelous things as he breaks into the New York fashion industry. We had a great time catching up, and even got a surprise serenade by a spontaneous moonlit marching band. For a moment, it felt like we had landed in the Big Easy instead of the Big Apple.

Saturday was fully devoted to Manhattan; I returned to Broadway Dance Center and had a fantastic musical theater class in the morning, followed by a two-show afternoon: An American in Paris and On the Town. What a perfect pairing of shows, beautifully incorporating fresh musical arrangements, mesmerizing integration of projections, and dreamy balletic choreography. Simply put, I had found my heaven. And in between trips to paradise, I revisited Rockefeller Center and Macy’s in Herald Square for the Art in Bloom series (something to be seen, for sure!).

Sunday was just as wonderful: Jess and I snagged standing-room-only tickets for The Audience with Dame Helen Mirren, then had a great reunion with more Youngstown friends, Kelly and Nate. So nice to see so many familiar faces in this city! After our lunch together, wherein we plotted a Youngstown takeover of all major theater scenes, Jess and I dashed back downtown for our appointment with the Queen, and it was not one to be missed. The corgis even made an appearance and succeeded in upstaging (only momentarily) her Majesty and her entire entourage. We left the performance as pleased as any Anglophiles could possibly hope to be.

Sunday night provided a splendid cap to the weekend’s amazing escapades. We hit the streets of Williamsburg for window shopping and more speakeasy fun, concluding with a birthday bash for local friends. Even the absurdly early morning flight on Monday could not deter my spirits; this weekend was one for the books, and I am so grateful for the kindness of friends and the warmth of a city that never fails to reinvigorate my passions in life.

Until next time, New York.

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