Tom, Greg and Ken: NYC 2015

Tue April 14, 2015:

Greg, Ken and Tom took off this morning on the 8:50AM American Airlines flight 164 from San Francisco to JFK. The flights was bumpy in places but arrived ahead of schedule. We found a gypsy Suburban driver to take us and our steamer trunks first to the office on 27th Street to get keys. Next we were dropped off at our apartment on 45th Street between 8th and 9th.

Our apartment had enormous photos on the Internet but the tiniest space in person ... great location, so no complaints!

Ken and Tom in the Kitchen/Dining Room/Living Room/Foyer of our NYC Apartment.

Greg ready for breakfast.

Wed April 15, 2015:

Spent the morning going from one theater ticket booth to the next—never the nearest, of course, always the furthest. Ultimately we filled our calendar with 8 shows—6 musicals and 2 plays. It seems this season is quite strong in musicals. Highest on our list were: On the Town, and An American in Paris. So, we got them both for the same day.

First off “On the Town”,  music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Comden and Green. 3 guys (sailors) hitting the town with 24 hours to do everything—a bit like Tom, Ken and Greg buying theater tickets on the first day. This show was one of my first “cast albums” (Greg) from the late 50’s: “New York, New York! A hellofa town!”

The show first appeared in 1944, but this one was the 2015 pumped up version with the largest orchestra on Broadway, large cast, powerful voices, perfect dancing bodies and as silly and fun as you would expect for a 1944 musical! It’s the perfect way to start a week in New York, NY. The actors had as much fun as the audience even though they get to do it every day. Brassy Broadway at its finest.

We saw this musical with Dillon, Randy's nephew.

In the evening we saw “An American in Paris” which just officially opened a few days ago. The movie, in brilliant Technicolor, was never a stage play before now. This was a new interpretation “inspired by the film” and darker than the movie--still set in Paris with the Nazi’s being ousted, and the city in monochromatic ruin. The story follows the movie, but this time there is a spillover of the “Resistance” and a little of the Vichy (“Vichisoise”) government.

Plot aside, the very large cast consists of superb ballet dancers. Taking the place of Gene Kelly is a principal dancer from NYC Ballet who is not only as strong as Gene Kelly, but also can belt out a Gershwin tune with a voice that Gene Kelly could only aspire to. Leslie Caron’s character, played by a principal dancer from London’s Royal Ballet can also sing. Such amazing talents.  Rather than going on and on, suffice it to say that this show visually matched the perfection of Gershwin’s music. Broadway has never seen a ballet like this, and it was received with full standing enthusiasm. Beautiful!

We saw this with Fred and Mary's daughter Jennifer and another NYC friend Dorene.

Time Square: the back of the heads of Greg, Ken and Jen who joined us for dinner and to see An American in Paris.


Thu April 16, 2015:

The highlight today was our visit to the Neue Galeriea a museum of early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design located at 86th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was also our first use of Uber. We used our promo code so the trip was essentially free!

The line out front of the Neue Galerie was daunting ... around the corner going down towards the Metropolitan Museum. It moved quickly .. taking about 40 minutes ... worth the wait.

The exhibit opened 4/2/2015 and the star was the Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). A well conceived show of his painting and drawings. The story behind the Woman in Gold is the subject of the current movie with Helen Mirin who plays the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer the subject of the painting. Artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was a young protégé of Klimt and many of his portraits and drawings were also on display.

I (Greg) was looking forward to seeing “Finding Neverland.” which had opened April 15th. There has been much talk about this production, as it has been in rehearsal for quite a time. The movie was charming and sad, but gave much insight as to why James M Barrie wrote “Peter Pan” (whether it was true or not.)


The “Peter Pan” version with Mary Martin had such beautiful music which took one back to one’s childhood with dreams of flying, not growing up and, of course “fairies.”

This musical version is staring Matthew Morrison of “Glee”, and Kelsey Grammer. With all of the money and backers in the world they couldn’t get a decent score and a book. Realizing that it was weak they went with the idea that if it was loud it would be better—if the dancers jerked a lot, the choreography would be noticed for good reasons. Not so. Poor Matthew and Kelsey! Try as they did, it never flew. The “fairies” never got off the ground.

I’m sorry to say that “Peter is getting Panned.”

Fri April 17, 2015:

Uber took us back up on the East Side ... this time to the Frick Collection. I had forgotten how many spectacular, rich paintings, ornate furniture pieces and decorative arts were to be found there.

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) started out as a shop assistant in the late 1800's. He saw an opportunity to deal in coke (used in the Pittsburgh steel mills) and soon was a millionaire. He partnered with Andrew Carnegie and was financed by Andrew Mellon. Unfortunately his reputation was tarnished by the Homestead Strike and the Johnstown flood and he ended his partnership with Carnegie and left Pittsburgh for New York City.

Frick bought a huge space on a block on 5th Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets and built his mansion there facing Central Park. He collected old masters. He donated his mansion and the contents as a museum for the public and it opened in 1935 after the death of his wife in 1931.

Johannes Vermeer (1632 - 1675) Mistress and Maid.

The Frick Collection has a fabulous virtual tour of the museum. When you go to this link you can choose a room/gallery and an image of the actual room will pan in front of your eyes. You can click on paintings and objects and even listen to the audio tour!

It Shoulda Been You!

With all of the revival musicals that are in town at the moment, we found it necessary to see something new. We struck out the night before last, (“more’s the pity”) with “Finding Neverland.” There is this new musical which opened on 14 April. “It Shoulda been you.” We didn’t know the story line, but the pedigree of the people involved sold the show: directed by David Hyde Pierce, written by his husband, Brian Hargrove, staring Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris (you’d recognize her), Chip Zien, David Burtka (Neil Patrick Harris’ husband) and many more.

Even if the story was nil, the people involved would be terrific. Well, it was great fun!

The story line we have seen before—Jewish/Catholic wedding with mishaps, but the story could only be told now. Of course there is a twist which will not be divulged here. However it was funny, fast, tuneful, colorful and filled with old Jewish timing. In the end, you don’t go out humming any tunes, but you feel you got your money’s worth watching old pros do what they do best.

Harriet Harris

Sat April 18, 2015 A two play day!

Sometimes it’s fun to be reintroduced or reminded of something that you’ve known before—like an old friend or a revival of a play. But the real fun and excitement of live theater is to be taken to a place you’ve never been before—where from seemingly and instantly nothing, a whole new world is created. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is such a place. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, at The  Ethel Barrymore Theater

From a big black ‘graph-paper’ box of a stage is created the state of mind of a young man who is only able to function in unemotional mathematical equations. Christopher, age 15, is “somewhere on the autistic scale” and the very emotional story is told through his observations devoid of the ability to prioritize. The stage technically becomes alive as a character which hurls threats and shouts confusion to us so that we are forced to experience his edge.


The New York Times said: “..One of the most fully immersive works to ever wallop Broadway.” The play was imported from England and won all the “Olivier” awards. The property has been purchased by Brad Pitt for a future film. Alex Sharp, a 25 year old recent graduate of Julliard, performs the role of a lifetime to exhausting perfection. Without going into the plot, suffice it to say that it is live theater at its most powerful. It takes you somewhere you’ve never been before.

Living on Love at the Longacre Theater

On the other hand, “Living on Love”, a comedy vehicle for Renée Fleming’s Broadway debut, is not much of voyage to a different place. Here we see a “Diva” who is married to a “Maestro” and all of the old chestnuts come off the tree. The two young “ghost writers”, Jerry O’Connell and Anna Chlumsky are trying to record their autobiographies.

It’s expected that we will hear Diva coloratura licks in between wisecracking lines. The plot advances from A to almost B, and we all leave smiling.

Renee Fleming, Douglas Sills, Anna Chlunsky, Jerry O;Connell in "Living on Love"

Sun April 19, 2015

Our apartment (on 45th between 8th and 9th) is next to Restaurant Row (46th) and 1/2 block from Hells Kitchen restaurants on 9th. We've eaten Italian and Indonesian and last night Balkan at a restaurant called "Balkanika".

Here, Greg ordered a Shopska Salad and Cevapcici (grilled, ground beef mini-kebabs), Ken had the Beef Gjuvec (beef stew with vegetables) with a Greek Salad. I ate zuchinni pancakes also with a Greek Salad. The salad and mains were good, but the bread and baklava were burnt.

This morning (Sunday) we met Jon's niece Jennifer for brunch at the Blue Fin Restaurant in the W hotel on Time Square. Great location, good value for the dishes (generous portion). A bloody mary, screwdriver, etc. was included. (Note: The "blue laws" in NY are muddy but at this restaurant, liquor can not served on Sunday before 12 moon. We were seated at 11:30AM but drinks did not come noon.) We sat for a long time eating and visiting and getting caught up on Jennifer's job in Manhattan. She has very interesting and forward-thinking ideas regarding ournalism in the digital age.

Tom Jennifer (Jon's niece), Ken and Greg and Blue Fin, Time Square W Hotel.

Sunday night we ate for the second time at Don Antonio's. This is an award winning, small, pizza restaurant. Our choices were red pizzas, white pizzas, fried pizzas, gluten-free pizzas, stuffed pizzas, calzones, and many other doughy delights. Tom had Ortolana (Margherita with homemade mozzarella, etc. Greg had Margherita with cooked Italian ham and Ken had Margherita with Prosciutto and Mushrooms. (prices ranging from $16 to $19).

Antonio Starita (co-owner) has served pizza to popes (photo with John Paul II on the wall as proof).

Greg, Tom and Ken at Don Antonio's Pizza. Yum Yum and that's no Thai. (There are many Yum Yum Thai restaurants near us.)

Sun April 19, 2015

After Sunday brunch, why don’t we take in a matinée?

The Roundabout Theatre Company, which is a relatively recent non-profit theater group producing shows in NYC competing with the huge Nederlander and Shubert Organizations has taken over 5 theatres in the City: The American Airlines Theater (for classic Broadway plays); Studio 54 (for Broadway musicals and special events); the Stephen Sondheim , a new acquisition, and two off Broadway theaters. The Board of Directors has actors like: Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Frank Langella, Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, etc. etc. They have received great recognition for their revivals and new productions.

We're in our seats. Curtains Up!

This year the Roundabout Theatre Company brought back a show which is not revived every other year. “On the 20th Century” hasn’t been fully produced since it opened originally in the 70’s starring Madeline Kahn. This time we have Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher who were born to play these roles. Egos collide in the old Hollywood way, and the scenery is “choo-choo” chewed up! The sets are more beautiful Art-Deco design than ever existed during that period.

Peter Gallagher and Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenowith on top of Andy Karl.

Kristin doesn’t have to prove that she can sing—we know that she can turn a phrase into a 3 octave aria, but she is also a genuine physical comedic actor. At her size, she can not only throw herself around the stage, but also be thrown. The show was fun and fast paced in the old Broadway, tap dancing, mugging, singing, colorful well costumed way.

One of the waiters is Richard Yoder from St. Louis.


Mon April 20, 2015: Our day off!

Up early today to go down to Ground Zero. Ken made reservations to tour the 9/11 Museum. We got out our third Promo Code to use Uber (in the pouring rain!). What we found out is the availability of Uber cars dries up in the rain. On our phone app, a message appeared "In order to get more Uber drivers out, there is premium of 1.4 times the regular price".

As it rained harder, the premium became 1.5 times. And the cars that were available were the more premium Ubers. The normal fare for this delayed ride would have been $30.28 but with the premium (called the "Surge") became $45.42. (Our $20 promo code made it $25.42 for us.)

The rain was so hard and the wind so wicked that Greg's umbrella turned inside out right outside of the Uber before we could find shelter!

While Ken was in the museum, Greg and I went to a discount department store nearby called Century 21. It was 5 or 6 floors of clothes and other things like jewlery, sunglasses, luggage, home furnishings. I bought a shirt that looks just like the one I have at home!

Wall at the beginning of the 9/11 Museum

On of the fire trucks destroyed in the collapse of the World Trade Center

Distressed steel beams are suspended from the top of the museum to the entrance at least 6 stories below.

Remains of an interior beam .. personalized with messages from survivors. With an American Flag attached to the top, the last column to be removed from the disaster site. It is decorated by fire departments, unions, volunteers, police and medical personnel associated with the rescue.

This is going to be a transportation hub and shopping center. The Freedom Tower is in the clouds in the back.

Colombian artist Fernando Botero statue of "Adam" in the lobby Time Warner building - The Shops at Columbus Circle. Adam is ready for his routine "Patina Replacement".

Greg, Dorene, Tom and Ken at 5 Napkin Burgers (about 100 feet from our apartment.) Named for the number napkins needed to eat their juicy hamburgers.

Tue April 21, 2015: Our last day

In the morning (barely) we set foot for the Morgan Library, located at 37th St at Madison Avenue.  This is the beautiful, classical structure to hold the library of financier Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913).  It was built next to his residence from 1902-06 and housed his collection which he started in the 1890's.  In 1924, his son J. P. Morgan gave it to the public.

The actual library

Greg and Ken listening to the audio tour in the entrance rotunda

Small ivory seal. Its carving when rolled across clay form the rectangular panels shown here. The library has over 1,000 of these dating to 5,000 BC.

Greg getting out of the taxi at our apartment.

Later that afternoon, we met Jen and her boyfriend Alfred at Becco Restaurant a block from our apartment.  This is Lidia Bastianich's restaurant.
Lidia Bastianich

We each chose the Sinfonia di Paste, unlimited servings of the three daily pasta preparations. 

Jen and Alfred

Jen and Greg

Tom and Ken

Our last play was The Audience with Helen Mirren.  This was made up of imagined dialogs with Her Majesties her 12 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill - in office before she was coronated.  He was PM to 6 monarchs.

A plot device was young Elizabeth appearing in conversation with adult Elizabeth.


Queen Elizabeth in an audience with John Major.

Helen Mirren signing autographs before getting into her Escalade.