After checking into our hotel--another great room high above Times Square, this time with a few of the Statue of Liberty in the far distance--we walked around my old neighborhood. We even got to go into my old building and up to my old floor, now an expensive hotel (that a friend calls a Euro-trash spot.) There was also the old diner but otherwise not a lot of my hangouts. Gone are Fresco Tortilla Mexican hole-in-the-wall, the Sam Bok Korean grocery, the coffee shop that made great strawberry iced drinks.
The Algonquin Hotel was next. We looked around inside and even met the very stand-offish cat. And we told the kids about our night at the Algonquin, during the blackout of 2003. We even talked to one of the staff, who had been there that night, too.
Our main destination was Bryant Park, which has changed so much in twenty some-odd years. It was always a popular shady spot for lunchtime, but now it's packed with people and activities. Besides the movie screen, there are now permanent kiosks for expensive sandwiches and gelato and such. We played a bit of putt-putt before heading over to Le Carrousel. We all rode once, and then Sis waited a long time to ride the bunny. Bud and I went off and played some board games--checkers, Mancala. There was also a juggling program--and so I juggled both bags and clubs. Fun, fun, fun. It was a beautiful afternoon in the city--gentle breezes, time together.
As usual, late lunch/early dinner at Sapporo for wonderful ramen and Japanese potato salad.
And then it was Wicked. Sis and Bud are becoming quite the little theater-goers. In fact, I think they might be becoming theater geeks. And they loved Wicked!! It was the first new show Mama and I had seen in awhile; we didn't even know all the songs. And it was amazing--very fantastical and theatrical; visually and musically rich in the best Broadway sense. So many talented dancers and singers. Interestingly, we both didn't like the ending so much (Why was Elphaba leaving? Was it really the only solution? After all of her struggles and protests, she just walked away? For love? Seemed out of character. Sis just said, "Mom, what else could she do? She realized everything she was doing wasn't working." Of course, we recognize that they couldn't have Elphaba defeat the Wizard and help Oz, goes against all the original material. But we'll never see the movie the same way again.) And we both thought the story was actually more about Glinda's transformation; she was much more sympathetic in the show than we had gleaned from the soundtrack. We liked that--gave more depth to the story. We loved all the inside Wizard of Oz references, the flying monkeys, Oswald the dragon, costumes, sets. All the gears--very steampunk. The kids said it was their favorite, with Phantom; both are the best shows, apparently. Well, except neither liked the slow love song in Wicked as much as they liked the slow one in Phantom (and I have to say that the staging of the Wicked love song of Elphaba and Fiyero, which name I forget, was much more sexually suggestive, with their bodies separating and coming together rhythmically for the whole song--very distracting to us adults, though unrecognizable to the kids.) They're still singing the songs--"Defying Gravity," "Popular," For Good,"--and finding something new they liked everyday. They NEVER liked the movie this much.
Afterwards, we stage-doored. Goo met us--he was trying to readjust his body clock to work at the hospital overnight the next night--and hung out the rest of the night. The kids met the Wizard, Nessa Rose, Elphaba, and Glinda, or more specifically the actors who portray them. Everyone was so nice to them, especially the two female leads. Bud is an enthusiastic fan, while Sis hangs back and smiles. They always get the autographs and photos.
We had late-night snacks afterwards--trash ribs from Virgil's and cheesecake from Junior's--and stayed up late talking to Goo. The kids lasted an hour or two, but Mama and I were up chatting with Goo til almost 4 a.m.
Which made waking up for breakfast and going to "Wicked: Behind the Emerald Curtain" the behind-the-scenes program a little challenging. But we made it and it was fabulous! Two members of the ensemble talked about the display of costumes, props, and photos in the "pop-up" museum and then led us into the theater where we saw films about the making of the show from conception to curtain. We learned
- some of the costumes cost upwards of $30K;
- in some productions around the world, the wardrobe manager has to don Glinda's bubble dress and wash it by taking a shower in it;
- that one of the quickest costume changes in the show is only 10 seconds long;
- each actor has costumes made specifically for him or her--and if an actor has to be replaced quickly, sometimes it comes down to who fits in the costume;
- there is "wing etiquette" backstage for not running into people or sets with the flying monkey costumes;
- that because of trademarks, Elphaba's hat is really navy blue and the magic slippers are silver--in a red spotlight. I think that also must be why they don't refer to Dorothy by name and call her dog "Dodo." Also, I'm not sure they reference the Yellow Brick Road either;
- all of the gears and clockworks mechanisms are from the book, as is the dragon;
- seeing the dragon puppeteers at the beginning is supposed to alert us to the idea that the world of Oz is being controlled behind the scenes, while the asymmetrical costumes and such are supposed to indicate the world being a fantasy;
- and so many more things I can't recall right now.
We bought some books and t-shirts and headed home, picking up pizza on the way.
As the t-shirt says, "One Fine Day in New York City."
(As I type, the kids are re-creating Wicked with penguins and bunnies downstairs. They've even made green masks and compromised so that both a bunny and a penguin get a shot at the lead!)
Next up, Les Mis and Comic Con.