Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Springtime in Gotham

Back from New York. I was there all of spring – Sunday through Wednesday.

Can’t say enough about JetBlue. You’ve got to love an airline that announces “we’re now turning off the cabin lights so the flight attendants will appear more attractive.”

Arrived at JFK and drove into the city. That was an adventure. Even the Mapquest instructions said: “Don’t do it! Are you nuts? Didn’t you see BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES? You’re still better off with the cab driver with the turban.”

My purpose for the visit was to attend a table reading of the new musical I co-wrote with Janet Brenner called THE 60’s PROJECT. It’s a sweeping look at the events of the decade featuring the hit music of the era and embarrassing fashions. We open at the Goodspeed Theater in Connecticut in August (good tickets still available). Happy (and relieved) to report the reading went very well. It’s a little long so I think we’re going to cut 1966.

Unlike a TV sitcom table reading, only one actor kept us all waiting 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, the biggest laugh came not from one of our jokes but during Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” A cast member said, “When the men on the cheeseboard get up and tell you when to go.” We left it in.

The Mets have one of the best records in baseball and yet all you see are Yankee caps. Meanwhile, the Amazins are finally getting a new stadium to be erected in the parking lot of current eyesore Shea Stadium. Construction has begun, but since that area is always dug up, fans don’t realize it and are still parking there.

When the time comes they won’t have to demolish Shea Stadium, someone will just have to slam a door hard.

Julia Roberts play is closing this weekend. She wasn’t nominated for a Tony. You’ll never see her on Broadway again.

The big new trend is turning Hollywood movies into Broadway musicals. Up next are MARY POPPINS (after its insulin inducing run in London), LEGALLY BLOND, ELF, and (this is not a joke) GLADIATOR. What will the big show stopping number be? “Gonna kill me an emperor”?

Jogged around the Central Park reservoir (okay, I walked). Picking up little snippets of conversation between the tony Upper East side spandex challenged collagen moms I learned that the most powerful person in New York is not the mayor, it’s the Dalton Lower School Admissions Director.

Tuesday night my collaborator, Ms. Brenner, and I went to see HISTORY BOYS, which just won the Tony for Best Play. We hopped in a cab at 90th & Park Ave. at 6:10 to begin the fifteen minute ride downtown. Cutting through the park we discovered that due to a stabbing all traffic was diverted uptown. The first chance to escape the park was at110th on the Westside (in the Columbia or HARLEM district depending on your nationality).

The streets were gridlocked. Spring in New York is not heralded by the first robin but the first construction crew patching up post winter pot holes. So there are construction crews and reduced lanes EVERYWHERE.

Ms. Brenner said “There’s a subway.” I said, “You want a sandwich NOW?” I had forgotten there was a secondary use of the term subway – an underground transportation system. So we scrambled out of the cab ($25 to take us in the wrong direction) and hopped the C train at 110th, not realizing that the stabbing had occurred on the C train at 110th. We were hardly surprised though. Looking around our car, we were trapped with the cast of PRISON BREAK.

Finally got to Times Square (which is now the entire Vegas strip jammed into one block) at 7:30, just in time to wade through the population of Lincoln, Nebraska and Toledo, Ohio who were gawking at the ESPN-Zone, and make our curtain.

Alan Bennett’s HISTORY BOYS was extraordinary! It had it all – funny, compelling, lyrical, pedophilia. Julia Roberts should have been in THAT. Celebrity sightings included Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg (at the theatre, not in the subway), recent Tony winner Cynthia Nixon (which reminds me, I saw a great name for a restaurant: MEX IN THE CITY), Blythe Danner, O.C.’s Peter Gallagher, and the one that blew me away – singer/national treasure, Barbara Cook.

I’m sure I’ll see them all again at the opening of GLADIATOR. And at intermission they’ll all be humming “Take it to the Maximus”.

Post theatre we blew into Edie’s Starlight Diner, a 50’s style eatery with (gulp) aspiring Broadway stars as servers. I knew we were in big trouble when this very flamboyant little ferret in a car hop uniform grabbed the mike and said in the swishiest Jewish accent imaginable: “We didn’t have many singing waiters in Anatevka.” He then proceeded to sing “If I Were a Rich Man” setting Judaism and gay rights back two centuries.

No one in Manhattan has a dog. They all have these miniature little puff balls. I’m sure the stabber would be scared off by any one of ‘em. (“Stop that yipping! Anything but that yipping!”)

All in all a very productive trip. And someday I hope to return to see the Broadway opening of the 60’s PROJECT. And maybe coaxing Barbara Cook to sing “the Shoop Shoop Song” at the party.


Anonymous said...

I sympathize with you about the JetBlue flight attendant. I occasionally fly on something called Spirit Airlines from New Jersey to Concord, New Hampshire. It’s an older turbo-prop and I always seem to be placed right at the window seat next to this prop.

The hot flight-attendant was a dead ringer for Bea Arthur but he was shorter with a higher voice. When I saw the kid in the pilot’s uniform I thought Career Day at a local high school later realizing oh shit, he’s our pilot.

The Lowell Mather type pacing the aisles with the tool belt and plunger mumbling “This could be the day she wrecks” didn’t help either.

Vince said...

We Met fans are out here, and in force. We just don't feel the need to flaunt our loyalty to everyone. What's the point in rooting for the Yankees? That's like rooting for the sun to come up.

That said, I don't think any Met fan will mourn the passing of Shea Stadium.

Jen said...

Personally, I wouldn't mind being trapped with the cast from Prison Break. :)

Anonymous said...

Movies that should never be made into musicals-
Schindlers List
A Clockwork Orange
The Exorcist
Unless there are songs that Elton john can come up with for demon possession

Anonymous said...

Ken, what a joyride. I thought the first robin had something to do with the first stabbin'. Hope your play travels west.