Thursday, December 26, 2013

NYC Day One

So, with the illustrious examples of greats such as Clin Eaton and Josh Long to guide me, I figured I'd better chronicle my adventures during my trip to New York City, which I'm taking with my brother as a somewhat unplanned vacation. 
It all started because I'm directing a production of Macbeth at my school this coming spring, and Macbeth also happens to be playing on Broadway currently. Around Thanksgiving time, I casually checked out the cost of flying in for a day, seeing the show, and flying back. The answer: too much. However, flights during Christmas Break were much cheaper...especially if I stayed longer than a day. Well, one thing led to another, my brother got wrangled into the mix (quite willingly, I might add), and our New York trip had wings.
And now, here we are! Day One.
By all usual standards, our flight was fairly run-of-the-mill. I sat in a window seat on an exit row next to a very nice flight attendant who was secretly having a showdown with her boyfriend via text message. She grumbled enough detail to tell me that somebody had misplaced a Christmas card (?) and now their relationship is doomed. The holiday spirit can be so fleeting.... The only bad part about the flight, really, was that the emergency exit I was seated against was not insulated, so my poor feet were VERY cold the whole time. Once we landed (and waited for about half an hour on the Tarmac - our punishment for arriving early), my toes began to thaw, and we set about trying to interpret the subway system and get to our "hotel."
Eventually we found the AirTrain, figured out how to get to Jamaica Station, and managed to purchase a 7-Day Unlimited MTA Card. We hopped onto the E line, and eventually got off at 53rd street and 5th avenue. A few blocks later we made it to our "hotel."
I have to use quotes, because it isn't actually a hotel, it's an apartment. An apartment room. One of five. For two of us, at $110 a night, it's quite nice, but the Ritz this ain't. It is, in fact, one floor above the Happy Valley Spa and Massage Parlor, owned by our landlady, Cindy. We did not inquire about their services.
One we'd had a chance to put our luggage down (FINALLY) and take a breather, we decided to grab some dinner before heading uptown to the Lincoln Center for the nights performance of the Scottish Play. So we strolled down the street to TGI Friday's and gaped at the prices. Luckily we were only buying one meal today. No substitutions, and no Coke products. Mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers were the winners.
Then another subway adventure from Times Square up to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, along with a detour to the Performing Arts Library, which had an awesome exhibit on Al Hirschfeld and his drawings - I discovered a secret about Nina!
At 7:30 we swung back into the Lincoln Center and went down to our front-row seats. The set was stark, but interesting - based on medieval pentacles and heptagons. The play was unabridged, and it showed. The three witches were men, including Malcolm Gets and John Glover (who played Lionel Luthor in the TV show Smallville); they were a highlight of the show. So was Brian D'Arcy James's Banquo - confident, powerful, and measured onstage, he never floundered with the text, or threw it away. 
But apparently Broadway actors have some of the same struggles that my high school students do: projection was a major issue! I couldn't figure it out - despite having microphones on and floor mics everywhere, I couldn't hear much of the time. It was frustrating. Macduff was played by Daniel Sunjata, who had a slightly English "Shakespe-ahhh" voice. I wanted to yell at him to pronounce his Rs. Lady Macbeth was played by a very pale British woman who was pretty good... she made out a lot with her husband, anyway. Ethan Hawke played the title character, and was...meh. He was either yelling or whispering most of the time, but occasionally there were some nice moments of honesty and emotion. His journey from honor to raging ambition to madness was disjointed and unclear though, and was more like a game of hopscotch than a developed character arc. The blocking was very nice: creative and natural, some great pictures up there on that black thrust stage. If only I could've heard them all when their backs were to me...there, on the front row.
All in all, however, a lovely, if absolutely exhausting, day. More tomorrow!

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