It was our Broadway weekend! We were in the city to see Phantom of the Opera, last year's Christmas present. We had Saturday night tickets instead of matinee because we wanted to see Sierra Boggess as Christine, having watched her on the Royal Albert Hall 25th anniversary Phantom performance. We also waited til summer so we could see Norm Lewis, the first African-American Phantom on Broadway. And was it worth the wait! We loved the show. Lewis was phenomenal--rich, warm voice that could also handle the high bits and his interpretation of both the needy and angry aspects of the Phantom was spot on. I think I might have liked him better than the others I've seen (I saw Phantom in 1990 in London! It is one of my very favorite shows.) Bud, who can play some of the songs on the piano, was mesmerized by the music and the stagecraft, staring wide-eyed through the whole show. Sis liked it, too, though she was sitting further from me so I couldn't watch her reactions. Afterwards, we "stage-doored," which involves waiting, Sharpie marker and programs in hand, for autographs and pictures. Sierra Boggess actually came out quite quickly and signed the kids' programs and stood for a picture with us and others before getting in her car. Norm Lewis was later, after we talked to "Carlotta" and "Monsieur Fermin," but he graciously talked, signed, and stood for pictures with everyone. Bud gushed, "You were awesome!" and Lewis fist-bumped him. So cute. Sis is quieter but he stooped to talk to her. Such a thrill! It's great to be able to take the kids to Broadway shows and other activities in the city. I love the city; Mama, a native, does too. It also reminds me of how Gommie took me to dozens of shows on tour in Houston, to museums, to historic sites, to festivals--it was such a gift of art, history, and culture, involvement in a broader sphere beyond suburbia; we try to do the same. Thanks, Gommie! Maybe next time you come to the northeast, you can take the kids to a show--they've mentioned Matilda!
We did some of our other favorite things: we ate at Sapporo's off Times Square--Japanese ramen shop (Bud likes the seafood Tokyo Ramen, I like the vegetable ramen, Sis gets the katsu and gyoza. Mama got some spicy noodles. And we love their egg and potato salad with this great dressing.); we went to the M&M store (so many new flavors--raspberry, coconut, I wish they had orange chocolate); and Juniors for cheesecake, egg creams, and breakfast the next morning.
And we stayed in our favorite place, with an incredible view of Times Square; I could even see my old street. Hard to believe I moved to NYC 21 years ago, to 44th Street exactly 19 years ago. Mercy, how the area has changed. Mama and I talked about the old stores and restaurants--Phantom of Broadway (which was where Toys R Us is now; there's actually still a Phantom of Broadway down 43rd), the Virgin Megastore, the Sam Bok Korean grocery on 43rd, Fresco Tortilla, the Thai restaurant, the Greek diner--and people, like the man who danced salsa with a doll in the subway station, the Sons of Israel or something like that who would wear robes like the Three Wise Men in a play and spouted identity politics and religion on the corner, the old couple who ran my local pizza place. There were the Coca-Cola sign with the straw that went up and down, the steaming Lipton cup of soup, the huge Cats billboard with just the eyes at Winter Garden. I love my old stomping grounds, even though they are quite changed.
We'll actually go back in a few weeks to see another show. And we'll hang out in Times Square again.