Monday, March 28, 2011

ROBBLOG # 241


More New York Stories

It’s hard to believe that New York City is so close to us. It’s less than an hour’s flight from Pearson International to Newark, New Jersey and Liberty International. A very nice airport. Not too busy and an easy monorail ride- similar to that at Pearson that connects the terminals, to the New Jersey Transit rail station. From the NJ Transit station it’s a 25 minute ride to Penn Station.

The cost? NJ Transit is just 12.50 per person each way. A cab from La Guardia (LGA) night set you back 40 to 50 dollar not to mention the additional travel time, honking taxis- and the traffic headaches in Manhattan.

Our hotel was an easy one block jaunt away from Penn Station- north, on 8th Avenue. Oh, here’s something to know when visiting. New York pedestrians don’t pay much attention to traffic lights. They are apparently there as a guide only. As soon as the traffic flow ceases, New Yorkers are off in a mad dash across the street. It takes a bit of getting used to but once the way is clear you cross against the red light too. It makes one feel so naughty!

Harvey and fans outside the Longacre Theatre

We were able to catch three Broadway shows while in New York. The first was La Cage aux Folles starring Harvey Firestein. Harvey actually wrote the show for Broadway- from the French version, 28 years ago. Now, he says he is “elder” enough to play the lead- Albin, opposite Christopher Sieber as Georges. In regards to the show, Harvey says be careful what you wish for. It may come back and bite you in the ass 28 years later!
Harvey and Christopher are a well-matched duo. We got front row centre seats. No, we didn’t know anyone at the theatre. We just went to the box office, smiled sweetly, flirted with the gentleman on the opposite side of the glass and voila! Obviously he attended the same church as we do!!

At any theatre, when sitting in row A, it’s quite close enough to see the actor spit. Harvey even sat on the steps right at our feet a couple of times. It was marvellous. It was as close as if he were sitting across the dining room table. You could see his eyes twinkling. The Cagelles were terrific! Each and every one built like a brick *hit house. If you’re not familiar with the show, the Cagelles are all guys- in Drag, who at times wear the teensiest of costumes. The location is a Drag Nightclub in St. Tropez after all!

The audience loved the show and a standing ovation was in order. After the show- as with most New York theatres, it’s quite appropriate to wait to meet the cast at the stage door. Not everyone does but we did. Later, on the street, I heard some fans complaining that Robins Williams didn’t come out to greet them after his current broadway show.
You win some and you lose some.
Back at La Cage, the cast began to leave the theatre one by one. Mr Sieber was engaging- although I didn’t speak to him. Finally, Harvey walked through the gate and past the one security person. He signed some Playbills for fans opposite to where we were standing. Then, he approached us, looked down and saw we didn’t have an outstretched hand holding a Playbill. He began to move on.

“Harvey!”- I said, “I just wanted to say that we saw you in Fiddler on the Roof in Toronto and after the show we ate at Fran’s and there you were sitting at the table opposite us. We wanted to say hello but you were eating and we didn’t want to bother you but I did want to say hello this evening.”

He smiled and said in his famous raspy voice- “I love Fran’s and that is the nicest thing anyone could have said to me. Thank You!”
He moved along.
Tom and I watched him talk to other theatre-goers and we snapped a picture or two- as you can see.

After chatting to fans, he stopped briefly to chat to a nearby New York Cop- who by the way all seem to be about five foot seven with beefy builds like little musclemen- only wearing uniforms. As Tom and I walked along the sidewalk on West 48th Street, we watched Harvey cross the street and disappear into a parking garage- alone.
No one followed him. No one bothered him for another picture or autograph.
One lady called out- “Safe trip home, Harvey!”
That was nice of her!
“Thanks!”- he replied as he walked at a fast clip. He had both a Matinee and an Evening show to do the next day- Wednesday.

East side of Broadway "Palace Theatre" in Times Square
We proceeded to Times Square and took a bunch of shots of all the flashing screens and billboards. Right in Times Square at the Palace Theatre, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently on stage. It had played for over 3 months in Toronto at the Princess of Wales before opening on Broadway a week ago- after a month of previews. As far as I know the same cast is intact- including a few Canadians. We hadn’t planned on going since we saw the show twice in Toronto.

Walking about in Times Square, one feels very safe with all those bright lights and people. Of course you keep a hand on your wallet or Murse just the same! I even do that at home. You have to keep you wits about you in areas where they aren’t tons of pedestrians. That goes for everywhere you travel- even in Downtown Toronto. For instance walking along 42nd Street to 8th Avenue later that same evening, we stopped at Timmie’s. (see yesterday’s Blog) There were a couple of questionable gentlemen on the street. They were a little loud for my liking. There appeared to be a Hip Hop club a few doors away. Its best- I think, to be aware of what’s going on around you, yet look like you’re unaware as far as watching them or listening to what is being said.
Do you understand what I mean?
You have to watch and listen, yet go about your own business.

Empire State Building on 34th

Food is everywhere in New York. It’s on every corner, along every street and right on every street courtesy of the plethora of vendors. Back at the New Yorker Hotel we ate at a diner called “The Tick Tock Diner”. Great Food. Fast Service. Clean and bright. We ate there many times. Prices were very reasonable and with the Canadian Dollar soaring against the US Geenback it was a win- win situation.

Oh listen, the Americans have dollar coins now that are about the same colour as our Loonie. I didn’t hear any “pet” names for the round buck and the dollar bill was still there too- in abundance.

More New York next time. Another show, Macy’s and a 4 dollar watch!

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