Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Want To Be A Producer or, Subway Lullaby

A day in pictures. (Click all pictures for a larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The rumble of a subway train,
the rattle of the taxis."
~ Al Dubin (1891-1945), U.S. songwriter. "Lullaby of Broadway"
Today was our first venture out on our own on the subway system of New York. Yes, we've been on them before, but with my brother who has the presence and the confidence from past experience here. It was a big day with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (more on that later as we may go back), then lunch on the way to the matinee showing of The Producers, and a trip to the Lower East Side to Katz Deli for supper. (Katz Deli was where the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally; you know, the one that ended with another customer saying, "I'll have what she's having!")
(Click "read more" below as there are more pictures and details to share.)

I do believe we rode most of the subway lines today. We started in Brooklyn on the "2", transferred to the "B" and got off at West 81st Street, Uptown Manhattan next to the Natural History Museum. We took the M79 bus "crosstown", really just through Central Park to East 80th and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This place is just too extensive for the four hours we had this morning, and I didn't realize you could take non-flash pictures until late in our visit. So more about that later.

We took a taxi from the Museum to West 44th street and grabbed a slice of New York Pizza to tide us over until after the show. The St. James theatre, home to The Producers was our destination. Across the street from the Majestic, with The Phantom of the Opera still playing and now billed as the longest running Broadway show in history. I thought Cats was, but perhaps since it closed a few years ago. (Side note to my brother who sometimes reads this: They are STILL lining up for tickets to Phantom. Sorry, I know hearing "Music of the Night" still makes you a little nauseous. The billboards say, "Can you remember your first time?")

It was cool in the theatre (and at the museum of art), a big plus today. I really don't know how to judge which seats are the best. Ours were first row orchestra, so we had to look up during the performance, but from this vantage we could see the little things often missed further back. Also, unlike Phantom there isn't any action going on in a large overhang that protrudes out over the audience, nor is there any falling chandelier. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick no longer play the leads, but the two today looked a lot like them and had many of the same mannerisms and facial expressions. While I was sitting there it occurred to me that the majority of Broadway musicals I had seen were dramas rather than comedy. Les Miserables, Sunset Boulevard, Phantom, Cats, and Showboat would be classified as dramas. Perhaps Beauty & The Beast or Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would be considered comedy, but not the completely over the top comedy of Mel Brooks. So this was different fare; a bit strange, a bit bawdy at times, slapstick and laugh out loud at others. The music was catchy, probably will be annoyingly so if I can't get "Springtime for Hitler" out of my head. All in all a good time.

After the show, time for more subways. We went underground at 44th and 8th Avenue and walked to the station at 42nd street. It is like an underground city there with barber shops, gift shops, craft stores, clothes stores and newspaper stands. At 42nd we took the "C" line to Washington Square and transferred to the "F" line out to Houston Street and Katz Deli. It was only a couple of blocks from the subway but a markedly different feeling there than in Brooklyn; more graffiti on the buildings, none of the intricate and colorful architecture to the apartment buildings, but the food was good. The cute little Jewish waiter asked if I had an ID card when I ordered Root Beer. Nyssa thought it was funny, so they chuckled together.

Finally, back to the subway. Did you know there were more than one level to the system? We took the "F" line back Uptown to Broadway-Lafayette, transferred to the "D" line and headed back downtown and across the river to Brooklyn; finally transferring to the local "2" line back to Grand Army Plaza.

As I drug my tired puppies up that last flight of stairs at the subway station, I told Nyssa, "See, how did I do? Didn't get lost or get on the wrong train or bus all day!" She told me I did a great job; but if I hadn't planned with that Hop Stop site and had the directions written down on a little piece of paper, I would have been lost with just the map. I think maybe we will stay around here tomorrow... the Botanical Gardens beckons me to "come, come, and bring camera...."

(end of day)

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