|NYC Trip (with PICS!)
||[Jul. 11th, 2009|10:07 pm]
Okay, so it's been a little while since I've been back from the lovely place they call the Big Apple. But, I figured since I did it in '05, I should do it in '09!
Okay, took the train up on Friday morning (6 AM) and arrived at approx 1:45 PM. Took a taxi to our hotel (Marriott Marquis - on Broadway between 45th and 46th), and hung out there for a while. Unpacked and all that jazz.
This was our view from our room (39th floor):
Went to eat dinner at John's Pizza on 44th, then walked across the street to see Phantom of the Opera. This time, we were in the 3rd row, not the 5th row of the rear mezzanine. We tried to show Dad where we were last time, but the theatre is so tall that you couldn't even see that beginning of the rear mezz from the orchestra level! We were bad patrons and took a picture (sans flash) before the show started. PS. This is without zoom
Howard McGillian (Phantom) and Jennifer Hope Wills (Christine) were absolutely PHENOMENAL! Jennifer was miles better than Sandra Joseph (who we saw in '05), and it's hard to compare Hugh Panaro (our '05 Phantom) with Howard. For one, we could see expressions this time. I preferred Hugh's voice to Howard's (much smoother and soothing), but Howard acted the hell out of the part. Just simply excellent . . .the Carlotta (u/s Kimilee Bryant) was also exquisite. Our Monsieur Firmin (George Lee Andrews) was there back in '05 and he was great again.
Saturday morning, we went on the "Wicked: Behind the Emerald Curtain" tour. It was hilarious hearing some of the 10-14 year old girls who were completely OBSESSED with the show ask really hilarious questions like "Why can't you get the rights for Wicked?" and "Idina Menzel wasn't better?" (when Tony Galde stated that he thought Nicole Parker was the best all-around Elphaba they've had). Um . . .Idina Menzel is most definitely NOT the best all-around. Shoshana Bean wins vocals in my book - second being Stephanie J. Block. Anyway . . .not posting pics from the tour (many of them are on the Facebook).
Saturday afternoon, we grabbed lunch at Frankie and Johnny's on 45th - not the location that the mafia sends the limo to (that's on 37th) and saw . . .BILLY ELLIOT - 5th row seats - smack dab in the center.
Trent Kowalik was our "Billy" and he was also the one who did the dance on the Tonys this year. I personally thought the Tony presentation was quite lame, but that dance was 100% better in context of the play. Trent was absolutely phenomenal, as was Greg Jbara, who played Billy's father, and Haydn Gwynne, who played Mrs. Wilkinson. I'm so glad this one didn't win Best Score (for those playing the home game, Next to Normal won that fair and square) because that's not the good thing about the show - there are some good numbers ("Solidarity," "Electricity" being the best), but the story, the acting, and the dancing is what really captivates you. I went in there not really knowing what to expect, and I was completely enthralled with the entire product.
Me and Trent Kowalik (such a nice guy):
Waited for Greg Jbara to come out - but he didn't. Bum.
Basically went back to our room and napped until our show. Our show was in the hotel (ha). 9 to 5: The Musical - 4th row seats for that sucker - woot! Allison Janney was VERY good - she surprised me - she might not have the greatest voice (she's much more appealing than Ethel 'I-have-no-talent-so-I'm-just-going-to-sing-really-loud-so-you'll-think-I'm-good" Merman and Carol 'How-the-hell-am-I-famous-I-suck-so-much' Channing). Stephanie J. Block blew me away with her "Get Out and Stay Out" number, and Megan Hilty did Dolly proud. Allison Janney didn't come out of the stage door (Mr. Stage Door Johnnie said she had been sick for a while - but she usually comes out). Stephanie J. Block was out pretty quickly:
Then came Ann Harada (whom we caught on her next to last performance - she went back to Avenue Q on July 6). She really wasn't expecting anybody to want her autograph. She came out when Stephanie was signing a bunch of stuff, and she was trying to let her have the spotlight. Finally someone about 10 feet down from me was like, "Ann!!!" and she signed people's stuff. She's really cute:
Then Megan Hilty came out. I had met her in '05 after Wicked and she was so sweet. Well, guess what? . . .she hasn't changed at all.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo.php?pid=30132488&id=1563090005 (I don't know why this one is funky colors)
Waited and waited and WAITED for Marc Kudisch for about 25 minutes after Megan left, but we just left. I thought he usually came out - I was pretty excited to meet him - but hey, I saw him live, so . . .
Sunday afternoon we grabbed lunch at Victor's Cafe (a Cuban restaurant) - very good. Had arroz con pollo and some baby octopus since Dad was grossed out by it (Mom and I laughed - it just tasted like fish to me . . .) Then we saw Jersey Boys. Dad was really into that one. It wasn't my favorite - it's basically a glorified concert, but the guys did a great job!
Sunday night we dashed over to 46th and saw In the Heights. I came in with really high expectations, and I was a little disappointing. I think it's a good show, but it's not MY kind of show. The choreography is FANTASTIC, and has some great songs and the story - but it wasn't geared for me. It's geared towards the people that are in the show - Hispanics and immigrants. Javier Munoz (Lin-Manuel's replacement) was very good, as was the Vanessa replacement (Marcy Harriell, I believe). Mandy Gonzalez's understudy was on, and she proved why she was an understudy (she doesn't have a mix voice AT ALL - quite disappointed with her). Really neat seeing PRISCILLA LOPEZ on stage though (for those who don't know, she was in the original cast of A CHORUS LINE and introduced "What I Did For Love").
After the show, we went over to Junior's for some cheesecake, and strolled through Shubert Alley where Next to Normal is (at the Booth Theatre - basically back-to-back with the Shubert Theatre), and guess who we saw come out of the stage door? ALICE EFFIN' RIPLEY!
Monday we just kinda farted around until the show at night, which was Avenue Q (5th row seats, thank you). I loved this cast - only one I wasn't crazy about was Carla Renata who played Gary Coleman - just took the character a different way - too perky for my taste. The Princeton/Rod understudy (Seth Rettberg) was on (and I found out, it was his first time going on in NYC for the role - he played it on tour) and was FABULOUS! His Princeton was better than John Tartaglia's (I found it much more believable - Seth was very sincere in the role), and his Rod wasn't too over-the-top like so many people do. Carey Anderson (Kate Monster/Lucy) played Kate Monster/Lucy - thought she was really cute. Christian Anderson as Nicky/Trekkie was absolutely HILARIOUS - I think I might have liked him a little more than Rick Lyon. Nicholas Kohn as Brian was really funny - his deadpan delivery was great - he reminded me a lot of Brad Sherwood. Ann Sanders as Christmas Eve had a great voice - and of course, everybody loves original cast member Jennifer Barnhart. I loved watching her facial expressions when she was Nicky or Trekkie's "other hand" or just when she was holding a puppet for another cast member - I think she's got the hardest job in the show!
Me with Carey Anderson:
Me with Christian Anderson: (he liked my REEFER T-shirt)
Me and Jennifer Barnhart: (SWEETEST woman - she loves this show so much)
Carla, Ann, and Nicholas came out - but I didn't get pics with them (don't remember why). Didn't see Seth, so we figured he wasn't coming out (everybody was coming out quickly). Starting walking back, and we were taking pics of the marquee, and then we saw Seth talking to somebody. So, we're like *RUN!* Talked to him for a few minutes - he's a recent college graduate, so he gave me some advice for going out into the "real world." Really nice guy, and very talented, too!
Tuesday, we hung around and shopped a little bit, then saw Shrek that night. Caught dinner at Rosy O'Grady's on 52nd & 7th, then cut over to 53rd & Broadway for the show. 5th row center. YAY! Both Daniel Breaker and John Tartaglia were out - but Brian, Sutton, and Chris were all there - so that made for a very happy Liz. Brian d'Arcy James (or, according to a 15-year-old Sutton fangirl behind us who didn't know ANYTHING about anybody else, Brian DUH-arcy - Mom and I started silently cracking up) . . .I can't put his performance into words. He made a cartoon character so much more than that. You really felt for this big green guy. I still think Brian was robbed of the Tony. The Billy guys were great, but if the award was given for the acting, wouldn't you think that only ONE of them would have gotten nominated - surely one is bound to be better than the other two! Beneath all that latex, green makeup, and fat suit, Brian gives a very compelling and endearing performance - not to mention he's got one of the greatest voices in NYC. Anyway . . .Sutton was great, funny, and adorable, as usual . . .Christopher Sieber was HILARIOUS - I knew he did the whole show on his knees and had seen clips of the show, but seeing it live is just so different (true for everything - live is always better). His timing is impeccable - comparable to any of the greats of yesteryear.
Stagedoored this one (OF COURSE):
Chris Sieber came out VERY quick and left very quick - he signed stuff, but my mom was in the bathroom and had her camera, so no picture with him. Many of the ensemble members came out (Jennifer Simmard, Danette Holdren, Marissa O'Donnell). One of the swings (Ryan Worsing - was on as one of the Three Pigs) was signing stuff, and I complimented him on those aMAHzing harmonies between the three of them. He was like, "THANK YOU so much! I am always afraid that I am going to sing the wrong one someday! It's so nice to hear compliments like that." So, that was pretty neat. Cameron Adams (played Zaneeta in the revival AND TV version of The Music Man) was just moseying on through past Bobby Daye (u/s for Donkey) who was signing stuff, and I'm like "CAMERON!" She's like, "Somebody wants ME? I'm just in the ensemble, and I don't even have an actual part!" I told her how I thought she was so adorable in Music Man, and she thought that it was so neat that I said something to her. Right before she left a few minutes later, she came back to me and said, "Thanks for saying something to me - I really appreciate it!"
A few minutes later, Sutton came out (I didn't know if she was going to or not). I was like, "Oh, Sutton, I love your mix belt so much - it's so fab!" She laughed and said thank you. I told her that LC was doing Millie in the fall and that I was going for Millie (again, for those who don't know, Millie was Sutton's BIG break on Broadway - she won the Tony for it!). She said it was such a fun show. She signed a few more people's stuff and came back as she was about to leave and said, "I just wanted to tell you 'good luck' on your audition with Millie!" She sounded EXTREMELY sincere, too. (Not that she wouldn't be, but just really sincere for someone who doesn't know who the crap you are). Very, VERY nice woman. So, you heard it here, folks. I am the only one from LC who will carry Sutton's good wishes at her Millie audition. (haha)
Then, later, BRIAN CAME OUT. Oh, Lordy . . .took him less than half an hour to get all his makeup off. A woman at the stage door was like, "Who's that?" Someone else said, "Brian d'Arcy James - he played Shrek." And the woman goes, "That LITTLE guy?" Brian's only 5'9" and has an average build, but onstage he is much taller and has a giant costume on. For people who've never seen it, it must have been quite a shock. I had brought my Sweet Smell script for him to sign (he was the original Sidney in that show), and wanted to see his reaction when I pulled it out. He came over to me and he signed my program. I was like, "Can you sign something else for me? This is conventional - the other's less conventional." And he like, "Ooookay," (I was afraid he thought I was going to ask him to sign my boob or something!), so I pulled out the script and gave it to him. He looked at it for a minute, and was like, "Oh, wow. This takes me back.." I told him that I played his girlfriend in my college production, and he thought that was awesome. He signed it and took a picture, then said, "Thanks for bringing that. That brings back so many good memories."
Saw West Side Story Wednesday afternoon. Easily the worst one of the bunch. Karen Olivo was out, and her understudy was terrible - flat on some notes, and a pathetic actress. Josefina Scaglione as Maria was great, as was the little boy who sang "Somewhere," and Pamela Otterson who played Griziella. Matt Cavenaugh as Tony was boring as hell. At some points, I found myself watching the pit up in the boxes rather than the people onstage. No energy - I've seen better talent at some community theatre productions.
Saw Wicked that evening for our capper of the trip. Nicole Parker as Elphaba was completely fabulous. Acting-wise, she easily takes the crown as best Elphaba. Singing-wise wasn't the BEST Elphaba (again, best being Shoshana Bean), but she's a lot better than Idina Menzel and Eden Espinosa, easily! Alli Mauzey as Glinda, I wasn't crazy about. She made Glinda dumb - she's not dumb, she's just a pretty, popular, blonde girl who always gets what she wants. Mauzey also made her Glinda seem awkward at times. Nice voice, though. Kevin Kern as Fiyero - PHENOMENAL! Rondi Reed as Madame Morrible was AMAZING, and PJ Benjamin as the Wizard was very good.
Anyway, I've been typing for an hour and a half straight now, so I think I'll stop. Enjoy!