Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Give my regards to Broadway...

I'm just back from a week in New York, mostly doing some business, but also helping a friend celebrate a milestone birthday. If you're going to celebrate, this is the place to do it, especially if you love theater as we do. We managed to cram in three shows, plus a very special jazz performance. And all of it reminded me of just how much I enjoy this kind of thing, though I must admit I came home exhausted. Being in NY pretty much requires that I stay up long past my preferred bedtime.

Still, if a New York trip happens to be in your future, I have some recommendations.

We started with the Tony-winning musical, Billy Elliot, which has not only some amazing dance and performances, but everything from broad humor to moments that brought me to tears. It was fantastic and deserved every single award it won. Can't get to New York? Try the movie, if you haven't already seen it. Music for the play, by the way, is by Elton John.

The next night we saw Burn the Floor, which is strictly ballroom dancing, rather than a play. The title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. The international cast of dancers is absolutely incredible. Though stars from Dancing with the Stars appeared early in the run, it was Anya and Pasha from So You Think You Can Dance, who appeared in this version. We were in the second row, which meant on occasion we were just about literally surrounded by dancers. Anyone who doesn't think of dance as exercise or athleticism hasn't seen these dancers up close. Oh my!!!

From that, it was on to South Pacific at Lincoln Center on Saturday. This lovely musical, filled with memorable songs, was first on stage in 1949, but this revival managed to feel contemporary with its issue of racial bias at its core. After seeing it, I discovered that the lead actress had actually been on the NBC show which cast for the revival of Grease a couple of years back. She's obviously made her mark on Broadway with this award-winning production on the heels of doing Grease.

That same day we went to Jazz at Lincoln Center for performances at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. The quartet was terrific, the pianist/leader absolutely amazing (somehow keeping four different beats at once -- one per hand and one per foot), but the show stopper for me was the night view of Central Park and the Fifth Avenue skyline just behind the band.

In the midst of all this, I stumbled upon the American Folk Art Museum, which has the 9/11 Tribute Quilt on display in the lobby. To see it on the weekend of all of the memorial services was especially touching.

Even though the weather was often dreary, the cab rides terrifying or annoying, and the crowds at times overwhelming, there's just nothing like a visit to New York to reenergize me. Whenever I go, it makes me wonder why I don't go more often. Once a year isn't nearly enough to go everywhere I want to go and see all the plays I want to see.

New York, New is indeed a wonderful town.

Do you have a favorite destination, one that always energizes you? If so, share your travel tips with us by clicking on comments below. I'd love to hear about them. Or if you, too, love New York, tell us about the first time you went there. I remember my first trip...seeing Julie Andrews in The Boyfriend (she and I were both very young!) and having dinner at the famed Stork Club.


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