April in New York highlights, Part 1

April in New York is a special time. Winter is over, the sun is out, the cherry trees are in bloom and the city is alive with activity. That’s not unique to April, but the longer and warmer days make it much more appealing to be outside of a tiny apartment – or an even tinier hotel room.

Whenever anyone asks me about going to New York, I always say something along the lines of: “I waited too long to go the first time and I’ll never stop going back.” No two trips have ever been close to the same and I always discover something about the city that makes me fall in love with it a little more.

Brooklyn New York Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

Highest of highlights: Book of Mormon

This trip began back in December, when my friend Melany and I scored terrific Book of Mormon tickets for April. The show continues to be one of the toughest tickets to get on Broadway, and worth every penny. And we paid many pennies for our tickets. I did a little post-show research and was surprised to discover the show has sold out almost every performance since opening, averaging 102% sales per week. This includes standing room and partial view seats sold for every performance, and a limited number of $32 tickets available through a now-famous ticket lottery held two hours before curtain. With the average ticket price for 2013 being $189.92, to get tickets, if they’re available, you’ll need to be prepared to pay top-dollar for them, or take your chances with the lottery.

It’s been a week since I was at the performance, and I keep reliving it over and over again in my head. The Eugene O’Neill Theatre on W 49th St was rocking with the deliriously profane musical numbers and an audience that was laughing and crying for more.

New York Broadway Book of Mormon

I wouldn’t hesitate to see it again and I would have paid twice as much for the experience. (Don’t tell them that!)

Doorway Book of Mormon Broadway New York

The performance we saw was during the six-week fundraising drive for Broadway Cares – Equity Fights AIDS, and in Book of Mormon’s quest to beat the witches of Wicked, cast members were stationed by the door to collect donations from theatregoers. We were lucky enough to run into recent cast addition Daxton Bloomquist, who was happy to pose with Melany after we dropped some money in his bucket. (If we guessed the wrong name, my apologies, wonderful Book of Mormon cast member!)

Mel-Mormon

Tom Hanks, Broadway’s Lucky Guy

Once our travel dates were set, we started looking around for other activities to fill in our time. When it was announced that Nora Ephron’s last play, Lucky Guy, would feature Tom Hanks in the lead role (and his Broadway debut!) and a stellar supporting cast including Maura Tierney, Christopher MacDonald, Peter Scolari and Courtney B. Vance, it was an easy decision for us to go.

New York Broadway Lucky Guy Tom Hanks

The play covers an exciting time in New York (tabloid) journalism and really shines a light on a time in which newspapers and newspapermen were a force in effecting social and political change, something I’ve thought about a lot in light of social media’s impact on recent events in Boston and elsewhere.

The cast was simply stellar and after the final bows, Christopher MacDonald took over as MC for Lucky Guy’s pitch for fundraising support for Broadway Cares – Equity Fights AIDS. Lucky Guy was a smaller theatre than a lot of other Broadway shows, but they brought out the big guns. There was autographed merchandise for sale, but the real prize was the auction for a backstage tour by  Tom Hanks. Bidding started at $250 and quickly got out of hand, with several people jumping to pay $2,500 for a shot at the tour. In the end, Tom Hanks shut down bidding and graciously offered a tour to anyone willing to pay $2,000 or more.

The Scream at MoMA

I live in eastern Canada, and while we have lots of beautiful things and interesting art, but it’s pretty rare to see something extraordinarily famous. When I travel, I try to take advantage of opportunities to see amazing, well-known art, and the Museum of Modern Art is among the better spots to do this. It was our good luck that our trip to New York coincided with the waning days of a six-month exhibition of one of Edvard Munch’s four versions of The Scream. 

New York Museum of Modern Art Scream Munch

The simple pastel on board panel was larger than I imagined it – given the disappointment of other famous canvasses like the Mona Lisa. What struck me most about the experience, and I continue to dwell on it to anyone who will listen, is the short attention span of many of The Scream‘s visitors when I was there. I stood in front of the panel for some time, taking in as much detail as I could retain, while marvelling as person after person walked up, snapped a photo with their smartphone or iPad, and walked away, barely looking at it.

As proof that I’m a ridiculous person (more than everyone else is far too serious for their own good), I took the only opportunity I’m probably ever going to have to do this:

New York MoMA Krista Spurr Scream Munch

Beautiful Brooklyn

I’ve made modest forays into Brooklyn during previous trips, but this time, I got to spend most of a day there, and I’m hooked. Much larger and quieter than Manhattan, Brooklyn has streets upon streets of interesting things to see and do. I was delighted to see the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and to expand my knowledge of Brooklyn beyond the Brooklyn Bridge.

The saddest dog in New York

While getting back on track after a wrong turn, we were briefly distracted by the window of a doggy daycare near Union Square. All of the little critters were gaily bouncing around, playing and play-fighting with each other, except for one French bulldog.  He bore the weight of the world on his little shoulders, and we christened him, “The Saddest Dog in New York.”

Sad French bulldog New York

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12 comments

  1. Great post, Krista!

    While Trevor and I were in NYC for my first trip (his 5th or 6th trip) the same weekend as you two were, we did more of the usual ‘first timer’ experiences – Times Square at night, Central Park, 5th Avenue, etc. We had planned to take a show on Broadway and the Yankees game Saturday afternoon but the 3 days got away from us completely.

    This was the perfect time of year to visit NYC – the weather was warm (got my first kiss of colour from the sun), the cherry blossoms and magnolias were in bloom throughout the city, and the grass was green (I cannot even tell you how much this did for my spirit!). I still have to go through all of our photos but there are plenty of flower photos in the mix!

    Highlights beyond Central Park (where we spent about 5-6 hours exploring everything on foot from Strawberry Fields to the castle to a busker event at an amphitheatre) on Saturday) for me:

    – FAO Schwarz store where you can build an honest to goodness muppet (T-dog, Trevor’s ‘mini-me’ came out of this experience). Don’t miss the giant piano that was made famous in the movie ‘Big’. Toys R’ Us was also pretty neat with its life-sized ferris wheel running IN the store! The M&M store was also a fav store (pssst… Canada needs raspberry chocolate M&Ms!).
    – Top of the Rock – amazing views on a super-clear Saturday morning! We bought our tickets Friday evening to beat the rush Saturday morning. Trevor enjoyed the experience far more than the 2-3 hour wait time at the Empire State Building and said the view was better.
    – Staten Island Ferry – it’s free, it takes you past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and gives you a great view of Manhattan from the water. Special bonus – you get escorted to and from the ferry terminals by machine gun armed Coast Guard zodiacs.
    – 9/11 Memorial – our hotel overlooked the 9/11 Memorial and it was important for us to get there while in the city. The tickets are free (donations accepted) and you can purchase items in the store before heading to the entrance to the site a few blocks away. It was a powerful experience.
    – Shopping – While shopping wasn’t top priority on my NYC to-do list (gasp – I know!) I did venture into a few shops and did a little window shopping. Joe Fresh has a store in Times Square and I bought a jacket there, thanks to the rain storm we arrived in. Best stop (and we stopped there 3 times) was at Century 21 in Battery Park, also overlooking the 9/11 Memorial. Think the Winners store of all Winners stores – 6 floors of deeply discounted designer duds and household items. Trevor tried on a $4,000 Versace sport coat that was on sale for $700. I bought a Nine West purse (reg. $90, paid $30) and a BCBG watch (reg. $89, paid $35). It was probably a blessing that high end clothing designers don’t design for woman above a size 12.

    We did so much in such a short period of time that I really need my photos to help me remember everything we did! One of the biggest regrets – not wearing a pedometer. I broke in a new pair of Asics sneakers before the trip and I quite honestly think (and feel) I wore them out! We walked for 12 hours straight on Saturday, rested for a couple of hours before venturing back out for supper… where we walked for another 2 hours.

    Note for next time – nothing is open in the evenings on weekends in the Financial District… but it is a great time to see the Charging Bull on Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange (and to view the security measures around it).

    Lots on the to-do list already for the next trip to NYC! We will make it to a Broadway performance and a Yankees game yet!

    • Thanks! NYC is a great destination for pretty much any interest you can identify: music, food, outdoor activity, museums, shopping, you name it!

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