Thursday, November 27, 2008

New York, New….something…I forget the rest.

Day 1 in New York was pretty quiet. I arrived later in the evening but got to have a good walk around Times Square. Ca-razy place. Seriously. All the movies I watch with New York are mostly set before the 60’s, so I was pretty shocked to see so many people. You hear about all the cars and buses, but there’s really nothing like standing in the middle of it (the hustle and bustle, that is, not the road – you don’t wanna do that). I called it a night pretty early as I was buggered from the flying and lugging luggage.

I hit the road pretty early the next day and did some more walking. Then I made my way to the TKTS (discount ticket booth) to check it out and see what the deal was with getting passes to shows. Then I saw that Avenue Q was available, so I lined up to grab tickets. I had no idea what the time was, and then the guy said the show started at 2 p.m. and told me how to get to the theatre. I moseyed over and realised that everyone was lining up, so I asked when the show started – “Now”, was the grouchy and urgent answer. Pretty good timing I guess.

The show absolutely rocked my world. Avenue Q is one of my favourite musicals, although I had never seen it performed live. I know the soundtrack and score inside out and obviously know what goes on in between. I am very used to the Original Broadway Cast performance, and for that reason I had to do a quick adjustment and accept that the show I was seeing was NOT the show I knew so well. Some of the characters were performed in a similar way to the original recording, but mostly the actors had a great new slant on the voice and style. This I liked, once I got into the swing of the show.

Now, after spending some time in New York City, it becomes kind of weird to see pigeons actually flying in the air. It’s that breed of town. There is so much trash (I hope it’s just trash) on the ground in Times Square, and of course the flying rats just flock to that area.


The next day in Noo Yawk was a whole heap of fun. I started the day by walking around Central Park and visiting the United Nations headquarters. I caught up with 3 friends from New York - all fellow voice actors. First I met Lucien, who I know through the internets. We chatted for a bit and then Rachel joined us. I had met Rachel at the VOICE conference in Los Angeles, but she lives and works in NY. We all had a great meal at a restaurant with all organic meals and then cruised out back to Bryant Park. We caught up with Crystal, who is a roomie of Lucien (and of course, a VA).

We had planned to watch the original Superman movie in Bryant Park (they do free screenings there in summer). Unfortunately, although we arrived about 4 hours before the movie started, the whole park was absolutely packed. We stood for a while, but after a little while, our legs grew weary and Rachel and I decided to head off to Downtown Manhattan. We checked out a busy little comic book store and then moseyed over to a restaurant called Max Bremmers. Ok, so this restaurant’s gig is chocolate. Big time. And they do it with style. When there is an abundance of food, and you can’t decide between all the tasty dishes, the best thing to get is a platter. So we did.

Oh man, the decadence, the flavour and the pure, chocolatey goodness was just too much. Rachel and I ploughed our way through a banana split, Italian hot chocolate, chocolate slice and marshmallows, banana and strawberries with a fondue. It was brilliant and I’d recommend this place to any chocolate lovers or closet chocolate lovers.

Having eaten enough sugar to power a plasma TV for 3 hours, we called it a night.


The next day, Rachel and I hung out again. We first met at the NY Natural History Museum. It was really fun. I met Rachel’s buddy Armistead, and he showed us around some of the exhibits. We saw this very impressive movie about the universe and all the cosmic changes that have been happening and will happen. It was narrated by Robert Redford and the movie screen was the roof of this dome building! We also saw this sea monsters film, which was really cool. We also checked out the lizards exhibit and it was fun to see some reptiles from back home (frill necked and blue tongue lizard). It never matches up to the seeing them in your own backyard, but it was a nice bit of nostalgia!

After a classic New York pizza and some more looking around the museum, we headed back to Times Square to try to get tickets to Wicked. We spent some time enjoying the interior decorating in the Gershwin Theatre (waiting in line) to try to score us some reserve tickets. After about 2 (?) hours, Rachel and I managed to get superb seats. Orchestra, to the left. Elated, we left to get a meal at the ‘Musical’ restaurant nearby. Oh, the place was great fun. Waiting staff dancing on tables and root beer and ice cream – you can’t get much better than that.

Then we made our way back to the theatre during which time I was goin’ supernova. Like Avenue Q, I’ve wanted to see this musical for about 4 years. I could have actually seen it in Melbourne before I came to the USA (Wicked just started an Australian tour), but I thought that as I’ve waited this long, I can wait a few more months. Plus the cast looked a bit unimpressive (except for a few cast members, namely the late Rob Guest – I wish I had seen him in his last show)

Anyway, back to the action. I felt like I’d taken a trip back to childhood, walking up the steps to the theatre doors. When we finally got inside, I found myself lookin’ up at an amazing set – I had never seen anything so impressive in all the shows I’d been to. Obviously it’s Broadway, baby, so they have a huuuuuge budget, but it was still mind boggling.

The musical was pretty much all I hoped it to be and more. I was slightly let down by the acting of the gal who played Elpheba. She actually performed in the West End debut and was clearly British, trying to do an American accent. Unfortunately that was a barrier for her and resulted in a lot of ‘forced acting’. Her vocal performance was outstanding though. I also liked the performance of the actress who played Glinda – she had a fun slant on the character. A little more serious and subdued…

I am so glad I went to see the show. I sat through the whole thing, thinking ‘hell yeah’….it was a bloody beudy!


Last day. I caught a train to Astoria, which is Rachel’s neighbourhood. We hung out for a while, I did some laundry, and we went to a brilliant little Greek restaurant. Seeing as I had eaten so much meat so far on my trip, I thought it would be the responsible thing to do, to get a salad. It was freakin’ massive! We had some dip and bread before that, so the salad destroyed me. Some of you may shake your head in disbelief, considering my usual appetite, but this thing could have catered for a couple of big Greek weddings. After that it was just about time to dash off to La Guardia. Having been lucky enough to spend a whole heap of time with my mate, Rachel, it was a bit sad to say bye! New York won’t keep me away for long, though….

The city was amazing, and as I said, I know I’ll be back there again soon. Next up, I’ll be writing about my very first European adventure ever. Watch this broken jpeg!

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