Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Pocket Full of Dreams....New York (June 23-July 5) Part 1

'Even if it ain’t all it seems

I got a pocketful of dreams

Baby, I’m from

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of

There’s nothing you can’t do

Now you’re in New York

These streets will make you feel brand new

Big lights will inspire you

Hear it for New York, New York, New York'

We couldn’t help but sing these lyrics out loud as we were walking the streets of New York City. Ok, so we can admit this is just a little bit corny and we did have a good laugh in between our singing, but this city literally does make you feel like you can be whoever you want to be and no dream is too big. There’s a sense of freedom, of creativity and an indescribable buzz that causes you to feel so alive! Such an eclectic, outrageous mix of endless activities are going on here, some of which have a purpose in mind and others that are simply just for fun…like a massive bubble blowing battle in Times Square where you turn up with your bubble blowing instrument, decide what side you’re on and go for it! It happens once a year and last year over 1500 people gathered to get involved. I can’t actually remember what distracted us from being there this year having been in the city at the time, but a pretty cool idea nonetheless. Although we had 12 days in New York, we quickly became slightly overwhelmed albeit excited about the possibilities of how we could spend those days.

We arrived in New York late in the evening from Los Angeles and navigated the subway system to our b&b in Astoria, Queens. How nice it was to be watching the rats graze on the tracks while waiting for the train! Ewww! As if that wasn’t enough, a friendly little…or should I say fat rodent decided to greet me and scurried towards me as I was coming up the subway stairs to the streets the following day! Hmmm, at that point I was wondering if dodging rats would be one of our main activities in New York!

Although we were still running on LA time (3 hours behind NYC) and not getting out of our apartment until at least midday most days, we managed to cram so much into the 12 days that we were there. I am going to be here forever if I try and write about every detail of those days (and you’ll probably get bored too) so I’ll opt for covering our main highlights…which may just have to be broken into several posts.

We really wanted to see a Broadway show but really had no idea what….until we started researching on our last day in LA and discovered a play called ‘Fences’ starring Denzel Washington in the lead role. OMG!! The reviews were outstanding, had won all the Broadway awards for the year and was only running until July 11! We had to get tickets!! Disappointment struck when we discovered that the cheapest tickets we could get were US$335 each!! Ouch!! We just couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on a show as good as Denzel is and as good as the reviews were. Boo hoo!! So we put that one on the shelf and by the time we got to New York, we still didn’t really know what we wanted to see or even what type of show…musical? play? comedy? dance? Then when we started looking online at the myriad of options we were more confused. We had that nagging thought in the back of our minds that nothing would come close to seeing ‘Fences’.

Our first day in New York surprised us….we decided to check out some of the box offices on Broadway, specifically West Side Story and we just happened to stumble across Times Square. Although the magnitude of this famous cross road is not really something that sneaks up on you, it actually did! I guess we had no idea where we were and then suddenly Tim said ‘shit, we’re in Times Square’…what a laugh that was! Times Square blew our much better than the lights in Vegas! To top it off, while we were waiting in line at the West Side Story box office, we saw some people crowding around a guy out the front of the building. We very quickly discovered people were entering a lottery to get cheap front row tickets for the show to kick off in 2 hours. Brilliant! What did we have to lose!? We both put our names in for 2 tickets and had another laugh about the possibility of scoring them…..I had a good feeling, but Tim was doubtful and thought my excitement was a little bit silly. We came back half an hour later to hear my name be called first out of the draw!! LOL!! We had no time to go back to our apartment and get dressed for the theatre, so 2 hours later we were seated front row, centre stage in our shorts and t-shirts to see West Side Story, all for US$26.50 each!! Despite feeling a little bit conspicuous in our attire, it was an entertaining and visually stimulating show!

Times Square

After the show

During the week, I didn’t really want to give up on getting cheap Fences tickets so I continued to research online. My persistence paid off and I discovered that if you wait in line at the box office before it opens at 10am and you’re really lucky, you can get standing only tickets for US$36.50! Sweet! So the next morning we got up at 6am and were at the box office by 8 to find about 20 people already in the line and a 2 hour wait ahead of us! We had made the effort to get up early so we thought ‘what have we go to lose?’. We waited in line for 2 hours to be let down with 10 people still in front of us! Doh! We were shocked to find out that the first person in the line that day had been waiting since 4am!! That’s 6 hours until the box office opens!! Yes, we were really desperate for tickets and although we were not committed to get there at 4am, we did get out of bed at 4 and were there by 5am! We even went out and bought a stool from the 99c store for the occasion. Second time lucky, we managed to get 2 tickets! Yeeeeeew!! We were stoked!

Written by August Wilson, ‘Fences’ was beyond outstanding!! Set in the 1950’s, it explored the African-American family experience and all the struggles of race relations. The story gripped us from start to finish and we couldn’t believe how in one scene the writer and the actors were able to trigger in the audience the breadth and depth of every human emotion that exists! As we watched this play, the whole world seemed to completely fade away and we were literally gripped right to the very end. The performances by Denzel, Viola Davis and the whole cast were incredible and we knew we were so privileged to see probably the best current show on Broadway. To top it off, Denzel came out to say hi after the show and we got to shake his hand! Brilliant!



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