Monthly Archives: November 2011

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays

by William, New York Guest Concierge

A surprising treat of romance and comedy, for those with a penchant for a real New York City theater experience, the staged reading of Standing on Ceremony is the show for you.  A collaboration of some of today’s most daring playwrights, Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) Neil LaBute (The Shape of Things, Fat Pig, Some Girls) Wendy MacLeod (The House of Yes) José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Boleros for the Disenchanted, On the Road) and Paul Rudnick (I Hate Hamlet, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, I Shudder) , it tackled the ever-sensitive issue of gay marriage with a cynical and pointed sense of humor.  Each of the short plays were strung together in a thoughtful procession boasting stellar performances by some of today’s greatest up and coming actors (Mark Consuelos, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Richard Thomas, Craig Berko, and Beth Leavel.)  The cast charmed, delighted, surprised, and shared profoundly simple points sending the audience into a spiral of insightful reflection audibly noticed by fellow patrons of the performance.

The evening started off with “The Revision” which followed the conversation of 2 gay men revising the traditional wedding vows to fit their relationship.  The quirky back and forth brought into light the silliness of the outdated words many recite without thinking about what they are truly promising one another.

“This Flight Tonight” opens upon 2 females in an increasingly more common situation; waiting at the airport to catch a flight to a state where gay marriage is legal.  In this situation the Los Angeles native pokes fun at her partner’s home state of Iowa.  She rants on the differences between how she always imagined her wedding day, and her fears of what will be the reality of her marriage in “the cornfields of Iowa.”

Harriet Harris commands the stage in “The Gay Agenda,” where she plays an extremely conservative heterosexual white republican mother, pretending to be “liberal”,” accepting of different peoples”, and “a hip mommy”.  In this monologue, she totally loses her cool and warns us about “The Gay Agenda” intent on taking over the world.  She had the house roaring with laughter; my belly felt like I’d done 1,000 crunches!

They say there is humor in truth.  Nothing proves so more than “On Facebook,” which took a trail of Facebook conversations disputing gay marriage word for word, changing only the names of those involved.  What started as an innocent comment snowballed into a full on Facebook war!  Complete with “Smiley Face” and all the bold statements that are easy to make from behind the safety of your computer desk, it was a wildly funny and accurate portrayal of modern communication.

“Strange Fruit” drew an interesting comparison between heterosexual and homosexual marriage, showing that they are precisely the same.  Hearing the two men reminisce on their wedding day, the actors’ demeanors showed that, in sooth, all marriage is the same.

“London Mosquitoes” was a fantastic showcase for the seemingly endless range of Richard Thomas’s talents.  He portrayed a man giving the eulogy at his husband’s funeral; telling the story of the man whom he loved for over 40 years.  They had experienced so much together, and had done so during times of great social and political upheaval.  Richard always admired his husband’s unabashed and brazen personality, which often provides the source of his fondest memories.

Harriet Harris returns in “My Husband” as a crazed mother involved in a war of woe with her best friend whose son is “more gay” than her son.  She’s in a frenzy after finding out her friend’s son is getting married to a handsome and successful man, at the most prestigious venue in the country.  Unbeknownst to her son, Harriet puts an engagement announcement in the New York Times with a photoshopped picture showing her son and soon to be more handsome and more successful husband, and announces they are to be wed in the most prestigious venue in the world.  This hysterical and cute scene shows that the fierce competition of straight marriage translates into the gay community.

Gay or not, this play is easy to identify with.  It’s loaded with the purest of human experiences and characters that we all know, love, and for better or for worse, compose our lives.  The only time I wasn’t laughing is when I was smiling.  Standing on Ceremony honestly exhibited the repertoire of the homosexual reaction to the current and ever changing status of their plight for equal rights; anger, bliss, frustration, passiveness, cynicism, chagrin, loathing, hope, desire, and peace; all things uniquely and unequivocally human.

Standing on Ceremony is playing at the Minetta Lane Theater until 12/18/2011. Contact us at info@newyorkguest.com to arrange for tickets!

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What are you doing for New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?

by Louise, Community Manager

We’re only about a month away from the biggest and last night of the whole year and that means we’re spending a lot of our time talking about what is good to do in New York on New Year’s Eve. With literally hundreds of options, figuring out what to do is definitely a daunting task, but there’s an event for everyone! Here are a few we recommend:

1. New Year’s Eve at St. Andrew’s: We’re partial to this event because we’re hosting it, but also it is going to be awesome! St. Andrew’s is conveniently located right around the corner from Times Square, just a few blocks from where the ball drops. The downstairs space at St. Andrew’s will be a casual party with a buffet dinner (including carving stations), 5 hours of open bar and a dance floor for just $165 per person.

I am personally a big fan of the upstairs section at St. Andrew’s. While it’s a very large space, it is divided into several smaller rooms, which gives it a great intimate feeling, perfect for a romantic New Year’s Eve. Private tables for two with a three course meal and five hours of open bar are $295 per person, or share a table with another couple for $265 per person.

You can buy tickets to our St. Andrew’s New Year’s party by following this link, e-mail info@newyorkguest.com or calling us at 212-302-4019. Availability is limited and we’re almost sold out so book soon!

2. Times Square All Access Pass So you want to do the Times Square New Year’s thing but you’re not up for standing out in the cold for 12 straight hours with no food or bathroom? Have we got the solution for you! Open bar for 8 hours, admission to several venues in the area, free appetizers at most venues, and best of all, special access to the center of Times Square to watch the ball drop LIVE. Starting at just $275 per person, this is the way to check that item off your bucket list without having to worry about freezing. The price will go up as the event gets closer, so book now for the best pricing!

3. Family Gala aboard the Jewel Yacht Looking for a family-friendly New Year’s event? Look no further! The Jewel Yacht is going to throw a fantastic party complete with open bar, a fantastic DJ, a champagne toast at midnight, dinner buffet and of course FIREWORKS! Who wouldn’t love to ring in the New Year while sipping champagne and watching fireworks in the New York Harbor? And starting at around $150 per person this is an economical option as well. The voyage WILL sell out, so make sure you secure your seat early.

4. VIP New Year’s at 1 Oak Celebrities are always being spotted at this Chelsea hotspot, and Jay-Z and Beyonce celebrated the start of 2011 there, so don’t be surprised if you spot some familiar faces in the crowd at 1 Oak, and if you decide to spring for an unforgettable night with one of their $1500 VIP options, you might even be toasting with them at midnight!

These are just a few suggestions – there are so many more! If none of these catches your fancy, please feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com or call 212-302-4019 and I’ll be happy to help you find the perfect way to ring in 2011! And don’t forget that if you need a hotel for New Year’s weekend, New York Guest is your best resource, with two night packages in Manhattan starting at under $1,000!

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Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

by Louise, Community Manager

At New York Guest, we love small businesses – after all, we are one! When you buy from a small business you’re supporting the economy and our country’s entrepreneurs.

Leading up to Thanksgiving we’re tormented by the ads promising “Door-buster Deals” starting at midnight on Thanksgiving, the huge corporations trying to tear us away from our family celebrations early with the promise of absurdly low prices. But there’s a new tradition, that just started last year, designating the day after Black Friday as Small Business Saturday, when everyone is encouraged to show their support for the entrepreneurs of the USA by shopping at at least one small business!

While any trip booked with New York Guest supports a small business (ours), we can also book you an all-around Small Business Package for your trip to New York! Stay at an independent hotel like the Nu Hotel, the Gotham, the Mave, the Park South or the Strand, go on a tour with Urban Oyster or Shop Gotham, make a reservation at one of our awesome local restaurants like Jack’s, St. Andrews, or Benjamin Steakhouse and shop at one of the independently owned shops that make NYC great!

As a special gift for folks who request a trip quote between now and Saturday, November 27th we will include a $50 gift card to one of our favorite NYC Small Businesses with every package booked. Just ask for the Small Business Saturday Special when you make your quote request! You can do so on our website or by e-mailing info@newyorkguest.com

Remember – shopping small helps us all! Find out more and pledge to Shop Small this Saturday at http://www.smallbusinesssaturday.com/

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Party of Five: Traveling with a big family

by Beth, New York Guest Travel Planner

My love of travelling has developed from an early age thanks to my parents. They wanted to show me and my 2 siblings what was beyond Long Island and the New York City limits. My mom and dad are both teachers and they took advantage of having summers off to travel and see the country. I can luckily say that I have visited 40 out of the 50 states (plus Australia, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands). Most of these states were visited in the two times that we hopped into a mini van and drove cross country. Yes, you read correctly… 5 people in a mini van driving for a month straight to California and back! I have some of the best memories from these trips with my family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.

Most people think that travelling with 5 people is difficult (in a room with 2 beds with 2 people in each bed, where does the other person sleep?), but it’s very easy. There are hotels all over the country that will accommodate a family of 5. All over New York City hotels are accommodating the growing family with more options. I have been dubbed the Family of 5 Guru so email me at blenowicz@newyorkguest.com and I can get your family started on a package that will include memories to last a lifetime!

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Benjamin’s Steakhouse – the perfect steak

by Cari & Megan, New York Guest Concierges

Welcome back, readers!  Here is part two of Megan and Cari’s adventures of restaurant hopping!  Two concierges, one newer, one wiser, Megan and I are foodies and love to try new places.  Last night, we were fortunate enough to dine at Benjamin’s Steakhouse.  We met the man himself, a lovely kind gentleman who came over to welcome us to his beautiful restaurant.  I would suggest Benjamin’s for any occasion but specifically for anyone going on a date, celebrating an anniversary, anybody conducting business meetings, reunions, or even parties!  There seemed to be an abundance of men there last night and who can blame them?  The anticipation of the amazing meal was enough to have us excited and ready to go.

As concierges, we google restaurants, information, and addresses for our guests constantly, pointing them in the direction of deliciousness and fun sites to see.  So it was fair to say we had perused Benjamin’s menu with care.  Megan was able to advise me in the direction of perfection.  We ordered the Benjamin’s salad to start: mixed greens with tomatoes, red onions, apples, light vinaigrette and the softest crab meat you will ever taste.  It was divine and if this dish was available at any other establishment, we would have eaten just this for dinner!  But how can you go to a steakhouse and not try the specialty?  Next they brought out the big guns: Steak for Two, German Potatoes and Creamed Spinach.  I swore we would never finish the steak but we came pretty close!  It was cooked perfectly to medium; one side of the plate was perfectly perched up by another plate leaving us with the finest drippings for sauce although it didn’t even need it.  The potatoes were excellent, crispy and with onions!  The creamed spinach was perfect, obviously blended and creamy but without being overwhelmed with cream.  To top off this amazing meal, we shared the chocolate mousse cake with fresh homemade whipped cream.  To say it was to die for would be an understatement.  We were so full but just couldn’t resist polishing off this perfect ending.

So did we enjoy Benjamin’s?  What do you think?  Benjamin’s was a delicious, elegant, and wonderful treat for two concierges who love the all American feel that steak provides.  Benjamin’s is the perfect place for a large celebratory meal when you are hungry for something decadent.

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The Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

 by Kelly, Guest Services Manager

With Thanksgiving one week away, it’s about that time – the time to get into the Holiday spirit.  I started early this year with a trip to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is one of the most-watched live shows in the United States, with over two million people attending every year.  The show features the Radio City Rockettes, who have been high-kicking their way into America’s hearts since their first performance at Radio City Music Hall in 1932.  Known for their precision dancing and the perfect uniformity of their stunning kicklines, the Radio City Rockettes are a New York City staple.

Now, I confess…I’ve always harbored a secret desire to be a Rockette.  Sparkly costumes, perky smiles, tap dancing…I’m all about it.  However, I’ve resigned myself to watching from afar, considering I’m just too short (did you know that each Rockette must be between 5’6” and 5’ 10 ½” tall?)…and I haven’t been able to kick that high since high school cheerleading camp…and goodness knows that was a long time ago.  Even though I will never be able to join their kickline, I get a thrill every time I see the Rockettes perform.

This year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular features a little of the old and a little of the new.  Audience members can expect to see their favorite tried-and-true numbers, such as the Rockettes’ version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a live recreation of the first Christmas in “The Living Nativity,” and the amazing “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.”  The wooden soldier number is really amazing to behold – the discipline and skill that it takes to create the visual effects of this number, especially the slow-motion trust fall where each Rockette falls back into the arms of the dancer behind her, keeping the line upright and intact until the last soldier falls to the ground, are truly remarkable.  One of my favorite numbers that I’ve seen in years past is “New York at Christmas,” which features the entire cast of singers and dancers as the Rockettes tour Manhattan aboard a Gray Line double decker sightseeing bus.  As the Rockettes board the double decker bus and the action continues onstage, the sights of Manhattan whiz by behind the stage on the world’s largest flying LED screen, making you feel like you’re taking the Gray Line tour with the Rockettes!

This year’s revamped Christmas Spectacular features a few new numbers in addition to the favorites of years past.  A new storyline featuring a harried mother and her young child frantically shopping for a special Christmas present at the mall encounter Santa, who gives them a present of his own – a trip to the North Pole to play “Santa’s Video Game.”  In the game, the Humbugs have struck and have kidnapped all of the toys from Santa’s workshop.  The mother and daughter team must defeat the Humbugs to save Christmas.  As the mother and daughter battle the Humbugs, the Rockettes join in as the players being controlled in the game…all in front of the giant LED screen featuring brand new 3D graphics that have to be seen to be believed!  Ultimately, the mother and daughter team triumph, and they realize that the greatest Christmas gift of all is time spent together.  I’m not usually a huge fan of 3D, but even I’ll admit that I thought this number was fun and inventive, and I really enjoyed it.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a blast of Holiday cheer, and the perfect way to celebrate the season.  For me, no Holiday season would be complete without a trip to see the Rockettes, Santa, and Gus the camel (who makes a cameo in “The Living Nativity”) in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  Performances run through January 2nd with 4 shows daily.  Visit our website at http://travel.newyorkguest.com/Product/Details?product=product&productID=4854a21e-197a-4291-986d-3a5dac72b35b for tickets, give us a call at 212-302-4019, or you can email me personally at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com for tickets to join in the Holiday cheer.  Have a safe and happy Holiday season, and as the Rockettes sing – “Let Christmas Shine!”

 

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Be a kid again at The Lion King

by Louise, Community Manager

Last night, three of us NYG-ers took a trip to the Minskoff theater to see The Lion King. The lights went down and the famous refrain “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba” (“here comes a lion”) rang out through the theater, vocalized by the talented Tshidi Manye, who is currently playing Rafiki in the production. The company responded “Sithi uhm ingonyama” (“oh yes, it’s a lion”) and instantly I was 14 years old again, sitting next to my father in an aisle seat on the left side of the orchestra (yes, I remember my seat location – that’s how big an impression this show made), not sure what to expect. My dad took me to see The Lion King shortly after it opened in 1997. I had just started high school and obviously thought I was far too old for a Disney show, but my father is a huge Julie Taymor fan and told me that is was definitely going to be an amazing experience.

How right he was. Here it is, half my life ago and I had a crystal clear memory of watching the actors come down the aisle and my sheer amazement with the beauty of the costumes, a beauty that will strike you whether you’ve seen pictures of them or are seeing them for the first time. This memory was of course mixed with awe and joy anew as I watched the beautiful giraffes (always my favorite) begin their walk across the stage as the utterly remarkable elephant ascended up the aisle of the theater. All the animals meet on the stage in a colorful and moving tableau as the song ends and 1600 people are covered in goose bumps and blinking back tears 8 times a week. Honestly, this opening number is worth the price of admission.

My mom loves to tell this story: after I saw The Lion King for the first time with my dad, I couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful sets and amazing costumes and my mother asked about the story. I responded, with a characteristic teenage eye-roll “Well Mom, it’s The Lion King.” My point is, despite the fact that I felt too old for the story, I loved every moment of the show. The costumes, puppetry, and sets are mind-blowing, and the songs you know and love from the film like Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata, and Can You Fee the Love Tonight are joined by more traditional African melodies like One by One, Shadowland, and my absolute favorite, He Lives in You.

Take your kids to see this show! As a now-adult who saw this show as a kid, I can promise you that it is an experience they will carry with them for a long, long time. And if you don’t have kids, or your kids are already adults, go see it anyway and it will wake up your inner child. January is a great time to get good seats to The Lion King – contact me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com to plan your trip!

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