Saturday, February 27, 2010

Last week Owen and I went to the Vaudeville to see Megan Mullally with her band Supreme Music Program. At the height of WILL AND GRACE mania I bought her second cd and, while struck by her eclectic choice of songs, I found her voice a trifle too... um... individual to listen to a whole album.

My favorite tracks were the solitary theatre one - Brecht & Weil's BARBARA SONG - ones that sounded like they were theatre songs - Randy Newman's LONELY AT THE TOP and Edna St. Vincent Millay's LAMENT set to music - and the pop/country tracks of Bobbie Gentry FANCY and ODE TO BILLIE JOE.

We saw Alan Cumming last year at the Vaudeville in his cabaret turn so it is obviously the auditorium of choice for the actor who wants to be considered a chanteuse. The difference was that Cumming presented a cogent set where he related the songs to an experience in his life, the show feeling like a unified whole. Mullally didn't.
Despite the clamorous reception from the Karen fans in the audience, she seemed to keep her personality on neutral - it was as if she was was deliberately playing it on the down-low to distance herself from her known work. But it was this reticence - or inability - to invest her set with any obvious interpretation that so disappointed. With a setlist compiled from other people's songs, it ultimately felt that she had just put her iPod on shuffle and wrote down the first 22 songs that came up.

What struck me most was that although she attempted to hit the rock chick vibe with covers of P.J. Harvey, Ryan Adams, the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and Chuck Berry, the only song that actually seemed suited to her - and that actually gave her room to breathe! - was Stephen Sondheim's I REMEMBER from the television musical "Evening Primrose". Oh and Megan... it wasn't a tv series and the song isn't sung by a showroom mannequin. Do your research.

In introducing the song she said that the band always 86'd any show songs that she tried to infiltrate into the set-list. Megan should put her foot down... as I said, of all the songs she did this was the most natural fit for her voice.Actually the band sounded very good and provided some interesting arrangements of known songs, to be honest more often than not I was listening to them rather than Mullally.

I wish I could have warmed to her more as she did seem to have a charming personality - it just didn't seem to seep into her song choices. There was no flow, the show seemed to start again every time she introduced the next song.

All in all, a bit of a disappointment.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy birthday tomorrow to Elizabeth Taylor who has somehow survived her many illnesses, several bad movies and the odd broken heart to become 78! Here she is catching some rays on the set of GIANT in 1955.
On Sunday it's a Happy Birthday too for the ever-lovely Bernadette Peters... amazingly she's 62 this year and here she is a few weeks ago at the Drama League Celebration of Angela Lansbury in NY. Lookin' good girl...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our final show on Broadway was by far the best production - inverse to our last visit when our last show was the worst... yes YOU "Cry-Baby", you big fat flop. But this time we peaked with Bartlett Sher's excellent revival of SOUTH PACIFIC at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.

By careful planning it seems I have avoided seeing this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical at all. Nope never seen either of the two London revivals since the 80s and I have never seen the Josh Logan film.

I think this has come about by an acquired disinterest in the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein. The only show of theirs I have seen on stage was the National Theatre's CAROUSEL which I found dreary as all get out and although I have had exposure to the films of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I and OKLAHOMA!, still the team's work has never been something I have ever actively sought out.

I guess my baptism in stage musicals coincided with discovering Stephen Sondheim so I have kept their perceived excessive sentimentality at bay. Indeed any liking I have for them has been due to their songs recorded by Barbara Cook, Nancy LaMott or Bernadette Peters.

But the double-whammy of not that many shows on that I wanted to see and the idea of seeing this quintessential Broadway musical where it should ideally be seen finally made me book - and I'm glad I did.I vaguely knew the show's plot of nurse Nellie Forbush's love affair with plantation owner Emile de Becque in the South Pacific during WWII which is strained by her shock at his earlier marriage to a Polynesian woman and his taking on a dangerous mission for the US Navy with a young sailor who is himself wracked with indecision by his feelings for a young Tonkinese girl. I of course knew about three-quarters on the score - but the joy was finally seeing how they fitted into the show's plot! Like... who knew COCK-EYED OPTIMIST came so soon in the show?

I also knew of the odd conditions that the original star Mary Martin placed on Rodgers and Hammerstein. She was so scared of singing with Ezo Pinza, her co-star from the opera world, that she requested they have no duets together. However this oddity for a musical actually reaps rewards with Hammerstein and Joshua Logan's hard-nosed book, it gives a strange edgy quality to the show which reflects the character's wary approach to their feelings for each other. Bartlett Sher has approached his production with a care that acknowledges the show's classic status - amazingly this is it's first appearance on Broadway for 54 years - but also with a directness for the show's underlying themes of casual racism and the unsettling atmosphere of being in exotic surroundings while at war. Sher has recognized that the show is definitely one for our times and this unifying vision makes for one of the best musical revivals I have seen.

The delight starts even before the action get going with the overture being played by the 30+ orchestra under conductor Fred Lassen. Suzanne had made a point of how glorious the orchestra sounded and in the Olivier-like auditorium of the Vivian Beaumont they did indeed sound wondrous. The 8-man orchestra in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC from the night before immediately sounded retroactively puny! The orchestra was then cleverly disguised with a sliding stage!The performances were also uniformly excellent. The lead role of Nellie, the Arkansas nurse who is confronted by her own casual racism, was played by Laura Osnes who unbelievably came to prominence when voted the winner of the US television competition to find a 'Sandy' for the recent revival of GREASE! She gave a wonderfully nuanced performance with no attempt to gloss over the character's more questionable side - oh that any of our graduates from the tv talent school shows should make such an impact.

She was partnered by the opera world's David Pittsinger as Emile the French plantation owner trying to escape his past with a new life in the South Seas. He gave a nice performance but it was his rich baritone singing voice that had the audience in the palm of his hand and he quite stopped the show with a great rendition of THIS NEARLY WAS MINE.

Their are still two members of the original 2008 cast playing two important supporting roles for which they were both nominated for Tony awards. Danny Burstein played the comedic role of Luther Billis, always there if a scam or money-making opportunity is to be had, with a sly humour and he belted out a fine rendition of the crowd-pleasing THERE AIN'T NOTHING LIKE A DAME although even he couldn't quite convince us of the character's sudden conversion into being a man of action.Loretta Ables Sayre was a scene-stealing Bloody Mary, the Tonkinese counterpoint to Billis, always on hand to sell you a grass skirt or shrunken head. She created a memorable comic character but also knew exactly how to shift the emphasis for her two musical numbers - alluringly mysterious for BALI HA'I and more surprisingly injected a real threatening air to the otherwise perky HAPPY TALK. As she sang the latter, you never lost sight that the whole reason for her singing it was in trying to pair off her daughter Liat (Li Jun Li) on Lt. Joe Cable with increasing anxiety. She also played the small scene where she hears of cable's fate with just the right touch of haunted sorrow.
The role of Lt. Joe Cable, swayed from his secret mission against the Japanese by the alluring charms of both Bali Ha'i and Liat was played well by Andrew Samonsky. His two solos - the swooningly romantic YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME and the bitter and biting YOU'VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT - were both sung with equal passion and conviction.The leading actors were ably supported by the whole company who all gave vivid and energetic performances - all deserving the ovations they received at their curtain calls.

Sher's vision for the show has been helped immeasurably by Michael Yeargan's expansive set design which smoothly changed from plantation to beach to Naval headquarters, by Catherine Zuber's vivid costume design and Donald Holder' subtle lighting - all of whom won deserved Tony Awards.
I heard this week that when the show finishes it's New York run in August (making it the longest running Broadway revival of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show) there is a chance it will transfer to London.

If it does I would whole-heartedly recommend it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How wonderful it was that Vanessa Redgrave received the BAFTA Fellowship, honouring as it did her 52 years of film-making. The compilation of clips was well chosen - and included the two moments from MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS that I would have chosen!

Of course you never let Vanessa speak at an award ceremony and sure enough, she wandered off in her speech all over the shop. The sight of her giving Prince William a deep curtsy - then needing his assistance to get up! - was a sight I can honestly say I never expected to see.

But then the one thing you can expect from Vanessa is the unexpected.

Friday, February 19, 2010

In retrospect, our theatregoing in NY can be split into distinct pairings. HAIR and FELA! can both be grouped as celebratory 'experiences' and our fourth and fifth shows, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and SOUTH PACIFIC are definitely 'classic' Broadway book musicals. NEXT TO NORMAL stands out as just being naff.

Another pairing that sprung to mind was that we were again seeing a Sondheim production in New York that we had originally seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory back in London - during our last trip we saw SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at Studio 54.

To be honest the only thing on my mind as I took my seat was that FINALLY I was about to see Angela Lansbury in a musical! I had seen her with Bea Arthur at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1990 singing "Bosom Buddies" from MAME at an AIDS fundraiser but finally here I was seeing her in a real show... and where better than on Broadway where she has won five Tony Awards - tying with Julie Harris for the most won for performing.

I was mindful that we had yet to see a cast without an understudy on so I was getting nervous - but the only announcement before the lights went down was from Angela herself in a typically amusing warning to turn off our mobile phones and not to unwrap sweets... needless to say 20 minutes into the show, someone's mobile went off.

Trevor Nunn has broadened out his production to fill the Walter Kerr stage - no other additions apart from that - so yes, the lighting is still as murky in places as it was at the Menier.

When I say that he had broadened it, I don't just mean the set - there was a slightly annoying habit by some of the cast to play up the double-entendres in Hugh Wheeler's book - at times it was worryingly like watching CARRY ON NIGHT MUSIC. I can only assume this was down to Nunn but I don't remember it being so marked in London. Needless to say this being a Trevor Nunn show it of course ran for his regulation three hours. A little more pace would not have gone amiss.This show would have been the best of the trip but for a couple of performances which were akin to being elbowed in the eye. The roles of Ann and Henrik are notoriously difficult to pull off - juvenile roles with a fair amount of stage time that have to be played with respectively just the right amount of girlish enthusiasm and pompous rectitude otherwise they become tiresome. Ramona Mallory and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka - both making their Broadway debuts - became VERY tiresome.

Indeed Mallory so overdid the hysterical squealing and jabbering that one wondered why Fredrik had not had her sectioned. Why Nunn never reined them in during the rehearsal and previews is totally beyond me. What made her performance even more outlandish was that the young Katherine McNamara who played Desiree's young daughter Fredrika was a model of restraint and charm! What really annoyed me about Mallory and Herdlicka was that without them it would have been an exemplary supporting cast. Ok, Aaron Lazar as the egotistical Carl-Magnus had the grating habit of singing "wimmin" rather than "women" - which is a worry when his big solo was "In Praise Of Women" - but other than that he was fine and he was perfectly partnered by Erin Davie as his bitter and cynical wife Charlotte - her duet with Mallory on "Every Day A Little Death" was beautifully sung and actually drew the only true moment from her co-star.

A special mention must go to Leigh Ann Larkin as the only realist in the show, Ann's maid Petra. She stole every scene she was in - not difficult as she shared most of them with my two least favorite actors - and her rendition of "The Miller's Son" fully deserved the huge ovation she received. On our last trip we had seen her as the mutinous June in GYPSY so it was good to see her coming on!

But again, there was an irksome trick during her solo which I can only lay at Nunn's door. Larkin and Herdlicka play their roles with American accents while all the others use varying degrees of Received Pronunciation and towards the end of her song, while holding the note on "Meanwhiiiiile..." she suddenly verged into a Bronx accent singing "Meanwhiiiiyell..." that got a cheap laugh but ruined it for me. If it was some attempt to show that Petra was lower-class, it was unnecessary as she had done it through her performance!
Luckily Alexander Hanson has come over with the production to reprise his role as Fredrik and his witty, understated performance was good to see again. I suspect it was this unshowy aspect to his performance that won him the role against his formidable leading ladies.

As Owen suggested there was probably an interesting generational divide in who in the audience had come to see who and of course quite a few would have been there to see Catherine Zeta-Jones as Desiree.

Well she has come a long way since I used to see her clattering about backstage at 42ND STREET at Drury Lane with the show baseball cap welded to her head. As I was there to see my friend Carol Ball who played 'Anytime Annie', I have a good memory of who was in the cast - Catherine, your biog is wrong in the programme - you were chorus, love, not lead.
I'm not a big fan of her as I find her difficult to warm to. She was interesting to watch but again I never really forgot she was Giving A Performance. She gave a very luxurious, almost voluptuous reading of the part and as such, seemed to have her own rhythm against the other actors on stage, she always seemed somehow off the beat, which made her comedy scenes a trifle strained.

However in the odd moment, when she dropped her guard and allowed herself to be vulnerable on stage she showed a warmth that had been missing before. She was at her best in scenes with Hanson and their easy relationship together made it very easy to believe that they had once been intimate.

One such scene of course included her singing "Send In The Clowns" - not as heartbreaking as Judi Dench or Dorothy Tutin, not as emotional as Hannah Waddingham at the Menier, but all the more effective for her doing it quietly and ruefully. I happily joined in the large ovation she received for it.Which of course brings us to Angela Lansbury.

Mme. Armfeldt is the perfect role for her now - a delightful gem of a part that due to it's relatively small stage time makes you treasure each moment she's on stage. You simply couldn't take your eyes off her.

She gave a performance of true star quality - every one of her laugh lines knocked out of the park with a deceptive ease, every look and piece of business timed to perfection.She indeed has the timing of death - she gave a performance that almost revelled in the artificiality of high comedy but that turned on a coin to be breathtakingly poignant. Her scene toward the end with her grand-daughter (all her scenes with Katherine McNamara were charming) where she wistfully remembers a long lost lover who she turned down because he was not wealthy broke your heart simply by the way she timed the line "He could have been the love of my life".

Her solo number "Liaisons" was an object lesson in singing Sondheim. Perfectly sung, you could hear a pin drop as she quietly made the show her own.
Her final moments on stage were quite unforgettable. Slowly playing cards in her wheelchair as her grand-daughter watches for the night to smile, Mme. Armfeldt fell back in her chair with the cards scattering out of her hand as the audience reacted in shock.By God, she was worth the wait.
Here's the cover of Alphabeat's HOLE IN MY HEART which is out next week.

It's the new single from the re-titled new abum THE BEAT IS...
which is out on March 1st.

Stine and Anders SB never looked more adorable!
Our third show on Broadway was FELA! based on the life of Nigerian singer and political activist Fela Kuti.

Now my knowledge of Kuti was minimal - I knew he was a singer, I knew he died of AIDS and I remember Richard playing him sometimes at the old shop when I was slow at getting to the cd player! I was intrigued by the show as it had received huge critical acclaim and seemed such an odd fit among the other shows currently playing.

The show is the brainchild of choreographer Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel and is obviously a labour of love, opening off-Broadway and achieving a transfer to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre due to it's great reviews and the goodwill of many. It's certainly an engaging experience but there are certain nagging doubts about the show.

The show takes place in the Shrine club in Lagos, Nigeria. The Shrine was the club that Fela Kuti made his own as it was across from the compound he shared with his followers and his political activist mother Funmilayo. It's the summer of 1978 and Fela is about to play his last show there as he is quitting his Afrobeat music and Nigeria to try and raise an uprising against the tyrannical political system.

In between his songs, Fela tells us of his life - how he became politicised during visits to the UK and USA while a student and how he used western musical influences to infuse his music. He tells of his constant battles with the government of General Obasanjo - riddled with corruption due to the oil-rich coffers of Nigeria. He also is haunted by visions of his mother who we later find out had been murdered six months earlier by government troops who stormed his compound. And that's about it for plot. This loose frame is there to showcase the fantastic Afrobeat music and vibrant, in-your-face choreography of Bill T. Jones. Sadly the momentum that the exciting musical numbers generate tends to get dissipated by the need to get back to the flimsy plotline of Fela's reminiscences. It would have been better if Jones and Lewis had just made the show a musical celebration without the need to "tell a story". Despite the book, you come away with no real idea of the man or what his agenda would have been had he managed to overthrow the government.

The whole idea behind the book is that on this night in 1978 something momentous happened - but a caption flashed up on the back of the set rather deflates what has gone before by simply telling us that he died in 1997 and never left Nigeria. Oh... so he did nothing else for 19 years? It leaves you feeling oddly becalmed after such a wild evening. Also I found that despite a late attempt to give the women onstage a voice and a political context, up until then they were only used to bump and grind to the music - kinda having your cake and eating it too. Fela's decision to marry 27 of the women in his compound is also presented less to protect them from sexual harassment than because they are hot babes.However as I said, it's the music numbers and performances that made for a memorable show.

The onstage band of ten musicians under the musical direction of Aaron Johnson were fantastic, filling the theatre with pulsing rhythms that it was impossible to stay still to and the 19 ensemble dancers were astonishing - constantly moving, throwing shapes with the wildest-looking abandon which of course is due to the strongest discipline.The lead role is shared by two actors on alternate nights so our Fela, as it were, was the perfectly named Kevin Mambo who gave a performance of unrelenting passion - if you look up the phrase 'full on' in your reference book you will see Brother Mambo looking out at you. It was a surprise looking at his biog in the interval to find he is actually American as his Nigerian accent is right on the Naira. His committed performance made you wish the book had given him stronger material to work with when he wasn't singing or showing us how to do the Clock with our hips.
For the third night running we were missing a major cast member, sadly here it was Lilias White who i was hoping to see as I had liked her on the cast recording of THE LIFE. Her role as the Fela's beloved mother Funmilayo was played by Abena Koomson who had played the role off-Broadway. She sang her two songs well but her big song in the second act was rather bland, probably reflecting the fact that it was the only one actually written for the show.
The other main female role of Sandra Isadore, the American feminist who raised Fela's political consciousness was well sung by Saycon Sengbloh (who is coming to London as part of the HAIR company soon) although again she wasn't really given much to do.A considerable amount of the show's success is also attributable to the vivid set and costume design of Marina Draghici. The whole auditorium is included in the design with stings of lightbulbs stretched everywhere and colourful political slogans, flags and posters of Fela on all the auditorium's walls giving a real sensurround experience of colour - it certainly made for a great experience walking in off the Snowmageddon streets of NY!

There must also be special mention of Robert Wierzel's lighting design as well as the important contribution of Cookie Jordan's wig, hair and make-up designs.
Another thing - all the shows we saw were also available at the TKTS half-price booth but FELA!'s auditorium was the one with the most empty seats - indeed in the interval the house manager invited us to move down to the second row of the circle from where we were further back. Now this is probably attributable to the snowy weather on the night but later in the week I was also aware of hawkers on Times Square offering big discounts on tickets to the show.

Michael Riedel, the theatre gossip columnist of the New York Post might be a bit of an irritating bugger - just ask Boy George, Bernadette Peters or David Leveaux who actually threw a punch at him for bitchy things he said in his column - but he might be onto something about this show.

In FELA!'s move from off-Broadway to the Eugene O'Neill it attracted Jay-Z and Will Smith & Jada Pinkett to come on board as co-producers - indeed their names are as big in the credits as the director and writer.

Riedel has constantly upbraided them for their less-than-noticeable promotion of the show citing celebrity producers such as Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell who, for good or not, tirelessly promote the shows they have invested in. I think he might have a point - FELA! for all it's book faults deserves as wide an audience as possible.

So today brings news that the unstoppable Menier Chocolate Factory are transferring their recent sell-out production of SWEET CHARITY to the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Hmm... transferring from a 180 seater to an 888 seater...

I hope the usually unlucky Charity Hope Valentine survives in her new dancehall.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The second NY trip to the theatre was to see the revival of HAIR at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

This was the one that Owen had been most looking forward to so I had my fingers crossed it would be good. Luckily it was an excellent production!

I had only seen the show once before in Peter Bogdanov's rather prosaic production that appeared at the Old Vic in 1993.

My only memory of the show to be honest was Sinitta spiralling down from the flies hanging by one hand from a rope singing AQUARIUS - oh and sitting in bleachers on the stage with my fellow First Call co-workers watching said event only to be informed by my neighbour that one of our party had started a nosebleed - just as Paul J. Medford popped up behind our row to sing the next verse, his spotlight showing up a bloodied Nigel looking like a Viet Nam casualty!

Luckily Diane Paulus has taken a more vigorous approach to the material and although there are still moments in the show that look quaint and toe-curlingly dated, the sheer brio and verve of the company made it a great success.
Unlike a recent revival at London's Gate Theatre which wrenched the piece into the 21st Century to reference Dubya and Iraq, Paulus has kept the show in 1967 and the show is peppered with the contemporary references that would have so delighted the audiences.

For a show that always gives the impression of just being cobbled together and a scattergun hippie (had to use the word eventually!) vaudeville it actually has quite a consistent plot threaded through it. 'The Tribe' of anti-war, pro-love drop-outs have among their number the volatile, tripping Berger (Will Swenson) and the more contemplative Claude (Gavin Creel) who tells people he comes from Manchester but in truth is from Queens.
They are surrounded by their acolytes: Woof (Bryce Ryness) a sweet-natured soul who would like to bed Mick Jagger, Dionne (Jeannette Bayardelle) a sassy soulful sista, Crissy (Vanessa Ray) is a plaintive younger girl who pines for a long-lost boyfriend, Jeanie (Kacie Sheik) is pregnant but not by her beloved Claude and Hud (Darius Nichols) is a black power activist. A satellite to the group is Sheila (Caissie Levy) who is a NYU student and political activist who is constantly disappointed by Berger's flippant behaviour to her.

They and the rest of The Tribe are surprised by Claude's reticence to burn his draft card, not realising how conflicted Claude is by his real direction in life.The production has transferred from Central Park and it now seems to have taken over the Hirschfeld with ease as the cast move freely about the auditorium - it's a brave person who sits in the front-row! - and it does mean that the audience always feels part of the show - even if a little trepiditiously! Even though we were in the 2nd row of the circle they still found us to throw flowers at us and distribute leaflets to join a be-in - sadly I was watching a musical at the time.

The ultimate in interaction comes at the end during the famous finale when the audience are invited onstage to dance with the cast - indeed they have just hit upon the whizz idea of filming these finales and making them available on the show's website the next day for audience members to be able to e-mail their friends with!
There are odd anomalies in watching HAIR in the 21st Century - especially the top dollar Broadway price to watch hippies castigate materialism with the extensive merchandise outside in the lobby to boot. The show still betrays it's writing born out of improv - most of it works, certain longueurs don't - but although James Rado and Gerome Ragni's book might be raggedy, the glue that holds the show together are their lyrics and Galt MacDermot's score. Unlike the theatre rock scores that followed - these songs seem organic to the show. to have grown out of genuine experience as opposed to with an eye to the charts.

Paulus' cast are to be applauded that in the digital age they took us back to the joss sticks and patchouli oil of 1967.Although a little too manically bug-eyed, Will Swenson was a charismatic Berger and Gavin Creel - who I have since found out is an out Broadway leading man - was fine as Claude. His character is the only one who should suggest some depth as he struggles with what is to be his destiny and he did this well. His final moments on stage were very moving - an elegy to the soldiers who now as then, make the decision based on duty.The other men who made an impression were Bryce Ryness' Woof, a blissed-out giant going to great lengths to stress he was not gay but was gagging to sleep with Mick Jagger and Darius Nichols also was hugely watchable as the slyly sensuous Hud.

The actresses also made bricks with the straw that Rado and Ragni give them in the book. The standout performance was from Caissie Levy as Sheila who has two of the most obvious 'hit' songs - EASY TO BE HARD and GOOD MORNING STARSHINE - and she sang them with a huge voice and also played the role well. Jeannette Bayardelle was standing in for Sasha Allen and sang AQUARIUS and WHITE BOYS with a sensual soulfulness and Vanessa Ray had an appealing wistfulness as Chrissy, singing my favorite song from the score FRANK MILLS with a sweet poignancy.
Diane Paulus' direction gave the show a unity and power, Scott Pask's bare painted set and Michael McDonald's exuberant costumes contributed much to the show while the 12 piece onstage band under the direction of musical director Nadia Digiallonardo truly rocked da house!

The good news is that the Gielgud Theatre will play host to this production from April and the entire Broadway company are transferring over so you too Constant Reader will be able to see this fine production!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Last Wednesday in NY was Snowmageddon! Since we arrived we had been hearing that Wednesday was going to be an isolated day of pure snow with a projection of 8 - 10 inches of snow. Owen was almost bursting with excitement so I had my fingers crossed that it just might happen.

When we came out of our Tuesday night show to meet our friend Dezur, sure enough the snow was falling! After our dinner at Pigalle - which Owen likes tho' he can only eat one thing on the menu - we walked back to the Algonquin with the snow still falling so things looked promising. This is what I saw when I looked out the hotel window in the morning...

We had an extra big breakfast at Red Flame to build up our strength then set off to walk up to Lincoln Centre - it took us 40 minutes to trudge up through the cold light blizzard, tiny pinpricks of icy snow finding their way home.
The journey was worth it to see the way the city deals with the snow... each block had several guys either shovelling the snow into the gutter at intervals or on their little carts swirling out grit. We also saw rubbish trucks trundling along with snow scoops attached to front.

Compare all this activity with London's response to snow which is just to shut down.

After we came out of our lengthy lunch with Suzanne in the very fine Nicko's we walked down the deathly quiet snowy West 76th Street to take us to Owen's Playground aka Central Park.There's no point describing it to you, I'll let some of these pictures show you what it was like. One thing I will say, there's nothing like a good blanketing of snow to get strangers chatting to each other...As the afternoon slowly turned to evening, the shifting light turned the Park into a landscape worthy of Narnia...The next morning found us down on Battery Park and the snow was still very much in evidence... although once again the locals took it all in their stride.
All in all... it was pretty amazing!