It’s hard to pass near the Big Apple without going in to explore Manhattan and catch a Broadway show. So after wrapping up our summer tour in New Jersey – yes, a summer library program in mid-September – we hopped on a train into the city for a day of New Yorking.
We met up with a rather unlikely companion: our friend Sue Ellen from the San Francisco Bay Area, who’s known us from the beginning. (She is in fact the one responsible for our meeting in the first place.) She’s still a very active director in the Bay Area, and she still takes an annual pilgrimage to Gotham to catch up on the latest Broadway shows. Tonight she was on her way to see “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. (Yes, he sings and dances. And he may not be a wizard in either department but apparently he can hold his own.)
We, however, were on more of a budget; and finally, we were able to get discount tickets to “Billy Elliott”, which we’ve been dying to see ever since it opened.
After we strolled around town a bit, we decided to take a sightseeing bus tour – the first time we’ve ever done that anywhere. So we bought tickets from one of the fellows on the street selling them via a little handheld computerized gizmo. It turns out he was from Africa (we forget what country); and when we expressed a wish to visit his region of origin someday, he assured us we wouldn’t have to put up with snow like in New York.
At times, of course, the traffic didn’t move any more quickly that the shoe leather express would have. How do people drive such big vehicles through such a condensed mass of vehicular sludge? But it was a fun and relaxed way to see the city, providing a higher perch from which to view – we were on the upper deck of the open-top bus. Among other things, we got a glimpse of the new World Trade Center, which is shaping up quite nicely.
After the tour, which lasted much longer than planned (about twice as long in fact) we grabbed a quick bite to eat at an Italianish restaurant that had deli-type service. The food wasn’t bad, but as in many such establishments in New York, the flies thought it was really wonderful. They’ve become so commonplace that they seem to have become invisible to New Yorkers. But my fly radar is finely attuned, so I had the server (who concocted a special vegetarian wrap just for me, since they were out of their usual ones) heat up my food to kill any microbial hitchhikers the little varmints may have brought along.
Then we said our goodbyes and went to our respective shows. “Billy Elliott” lived up to, nay, far surpassed all its hype. The dancing left us dazzled, and the choreography was the most brilliant and imaginative we’ve ever seen. We’ve watched, and been involved in, lots of theater in our time, and we’re pretty hard to impress these days. But at the conclusion of the first act, we looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Wow!” And the second act was equally dazzling.
We really need to do this more often.