Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sleep No More: A Mind-blowing Night of Immersive Theater

by Eileen, Travel Planner

For a year or so I’ve heard about Sleep No More.  Every so often a friend or colleague would express interest in going to see this show and I’d nod my head and say “Yeah, me too.”  I had heard very little about the content of the show itself, if you can even call it a show.  I knew three things though: it was based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, you were bound to get lost in the maze of sets, and always be alert because an actor might just run over you.  Sleep No More is more than just a show; it’s a unique experience to everyone who ventures to the McKittrick Hotel.

Sleep No More opened over a year ago and its popularity has skyrocketed with visitors and native New Yorkers.  The performance takes place at a large warehouse between 10th and 11th Avenues in the Chelsea District.  The warehouse was converted specifically for this performance into the abandoned McKittrick Hotel.  You are given a playing card and are then split into groups according to your card number.  I was not too thrilled to be split from my friends, but I had been warned that this would happen.  Into the elevator you go, and you are instructed to put on a white mask.  You cannot take your mask off and you cannot talk to anyone.  Anonymity is key to this experience.  The actors are the only ones allowed to speak (they rarely do) and have their faces shown.

I had gotten into the elevator last, which meant I’d be the first to exit.  The operator said “Everyone out,” so I moved forward.  The hallway was dark, and the only light sources were the candles lit in corners of the room that opened into the hallway.  Scared out of my wits, I turned around to find no one behind me.  I was alone on the floor and the elevator seamlessly blended into the wall.  I am not ashamed to admit that I had a mini freak out.  I do not like haunted houses and I am somewhat afraid of the dark— this was my worst nightmare.  I truly considered turning back, but I talked myself into moving forward and exploring.

The floor was an abandoned hospital wing.  The attention to detail in the logs, the discarded beds, the medicine cabinets, the handwritten letters was stunning.  I treaded on passed the hospital wing and was suddenly in a graveyard with smoke and angelic statues.  I carried on and was in a room with Lady Macbeth and Macbeth.  I followed the crowd and made it to the ballroom with the cast performing a ragtime dance.

Once the cast finished they broke off, I picked one cast member to follow.  I still haven’t quite figured out who the actor was supposed to be, but I followed him into a small room that resembled a confessional and watched as he did a ballet routine.  At one point I ventured on past the actor and made my way upstairs.  I found a floor that resembled an early turn of the century street with brick roads and shops of every kind.  Of course, I found the candy shop and stuffed my pockets full of butterscotch for the train ride home.  When I came back out, two actors were engaged in a physical duel.  They ran into a small room off the main hallway and I followed.  As soon as I entered, the door was shut behind me and they continued their fight.  At one point an actor was thrown and landed on top of me.  The actor didn’t say a word, helped me steady myself, and continued on with the scene.

There are about five different floors to the warehouse— a bedroom, a graveyard, a hospital, a mental institution, a rave, and a ballroom.  The only way to travel is to climb the small stair cases up and down.  There is next to no light and a lot of produced smoke.  You will bump into people and stumble over people.  The actors move through out the entire production, so I suggest keeping on the move.  Various scenes take place twice so if the group is too big and you can’t see, move along.

I can go on and on about the various scenes I experienced, but I can’t even guarantee you’ll see the same thing I did.  The main idea of Sleep No More is that it can be anything you make it out to be.  If you disregard your fears, you can have an amazing time running after actors to catch a glimpse of a plot.  It took me a full hour and half to really warm up to the set and the whole idea of the performance.  I’m proud of myself because I lasted a lot longer than I had anticipated.  Fourteen hours later and I’m still not really sure of what I experienced, but I do know that I would like to attend again.   It was a true New York experience that I can’t recommend enough.

If you have questions about Sleep No More or you’d like to book a package including tickets, feel free to e-mail me at efitzgerald@newyorkguest.com for more information!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Stories, Out on the Town

The Top 10 Photos of NYC Statues

They may not move, but they sure can be moving! This month’s selection of photos of statues from throughout the city were really enjoyed by everyone here in the office as well as on Facebook. Check out the top 10, then cast your vote below. Voting will be open until Monday, August 27th!

#1 by Anthony Laterra

#2 by Gabriela Danesi

#3 by Ilse Neugebauer

#4 by Kathie Patterson

#5 by Lenny Emery

#6 by Linda Brown

#7 by Linda Brown

#8 by Luca Martignoni

#9 by Luca Martignoni

#10 by Lucia Kammerath

1 Comment

Filed under Monthly Photography Contest

Dreams Come True at 54 Below

by Louise, Community Manager

In the spring of 2012, I got an e-mail announcing the opening of 54 Below, which bills itself as “Broadway’s Nightclub.” The club promised to provide an unforgettable nightlife experience, featuring cabaret performances from top notch Broadway stars in an intimate setting, delicious cocktails, and delectable food. After reading about the club, I scanned the initial list of booked acts and one name jumped out at me: Victor Garber.

Garber and Neuwirth in Damn Yankees, 1994

One of the very first Broadway shows I remember becoming absolutely obsessed with was the 1994 revival of Damn Yankees, which I still think is one of the greatest musicals ever written. Victor Garber and Bebe Neuwirth starred in the production, and I immediately fell in love with both of them, and that love lives on to this day. Victor Garber is probably best known for his roles as Jack Bristow in Alias and as Thomas Andrews in Titanic, but he has an impressive history on Broadway as well. Seeing him live again for the first time since the late 1990’s was such an exciting idea that I purchased tickets right then, nearly four months in advance. So on August 13th, my sister and I ventured to the new space right next to Studio 54 for Victor Garber’s first ever cabaret performance.

I could tell right away that the space was going to live up to its promise – 54 Below is intimate and elegant, with the tables and stage perfectly placed to give all the attendees a good view. We caught the spirit of the old world feel of the place immediately, prompting me to order a dirty martini and my sister to order a Manhattan. The menu is bursting with delicious-sounding options, far above the standard for a typical bar/nightclub setting, including wild mushroom risotto, a selection of farmstead cheeses, and a lobster roll. My sister and I opted to share a couple of small plates – a fresh mozzarella salad with heirloom tomatoes that was absolutely perfect in every way, roasted shishito peppers with sesame aioli that I could have eaten approximately one gallon of, and crostini with smoked ricotta, olive tapenade, and tomato confit, perfectly portioned and delectable.

Garber, giving an unforgettable cabaret premiere!

About 15 minutes before showtime, the waitress came by to take our dessert orders and we opted to share the olive oil cake – a delightfully dense and lightly sweet cake served with popcorn ice cream and a few pieces of kettle corn, which we enjoyed as Victor Garber came out to sing his first number. As an 18 year veteran of loving Victor Garber, I spent most of the show with my hands delightedly clasped in front of my heart. There is nothing like seeing a person you so admire in such a personal setting. This was an opportunity I never knew I’d have – especially when it came to seeing him sing songs from shows that he did before I knew who he was (in some cases, before I was born). He treated us to Joanna from Sweeney Todd, The Ballad of Booth from Assassins (both of which I’ve listened to on original Broadway cast recordings hundreds of times), All For the Best and Beautiful City from Godspell (in which he originated the role of Jesus, and played the part in the film version), and The Good Old Days from Damn Yankees, which of course made me feel 11 years old again. He also sang songs he never sang on Broadway – including And So It Goes by Billy Joel and, unexpectedly, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 by John Mayer. In between songs he treated us to anecdotes about his life and stories of getting cast in Godspell and Sweeney Todd, and pointed out fellow Godspell alums Debra Monk and Eugene Levy, who were in the audience. Jennifer Garner, colleague from his Alias days, was also there – though he did not point her out from the stage (probably she gets enough attention without being pointed out).

Garber with Eugene Levy and Jennifer Garner after the show

You may not love Victor Garber specifically as much as I do, but if you have a Broadway actor to whom you are particularly attached, you should definitely subscribe to the 54 Below newsletter. Already they have attracted an impressive array of stars, and the upcoming schedule includes Linda Lavin, Patti Lupone, Leslie Uggams, Adam Pascal, Megan Hilty and many others. There are also weekly events such as a Sunday Jazz Brunch, and “Backstage” on Sunday evening, a casual event mostly attended by members of the theater community.

If you have questions or would like to build a trip to New York around an event at 54 Below, feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com – I am happy to help!

Leave a comment

Filed under Broadway News

No, Seriously….Bring it On!

by Kelly, Manager of Group Sales and Services

Musicals based on movies are not exactly a new trend – in fact, scan the marquees in Midtown and you’ll see the majority of current Broadway shows are in fact using movies as source material (Once, Newsies, Spiderman, Sister Act, Ghost…the list goes on and on.)  Some stage versions have been wildly successful, while others have fallen flat…yet the trend continues.

Bring it On: The Musical hits right in the heart of this trend – the popular movie franchise seems like the perfect source material to lift from the screen and transplant to the stage.  This show is put in the best possible care – with a mind-boggling mix of musical theatre talent at the helm – music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green (High Fidelity – the upcoming Hands on a Hard Body), book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), and directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights, 9 to 5).  So…does this dream team deliver?

My answer: a resounding YES.  Bring it On: The Musical hits all the right notes with a fun, young, energetic show full of heart and, of course…spirit.  The plot follows loosely the path set by the third Bring it On movie (yes…I have seen them all – don’t judge!) with popular Campbell winning the head cheerleader spot at the affluent and traditional Truman High, where the status quo is the way to go.  Campbell has dreamed of this moment for all of her young life and is ecstatic to lead her team to victory at Nationals – until a city-wide redistricting dumps her and unpopular wannabe Bridget at the neighboring Jackson High – where the unconventional student body encourages everyone to do their own thing, leaving Campbell lost as Bridget embraces the new atmosphere.  The worst news for Campbell?  Jackson doesn’t even have a cheerleading squad!  Instead, hip-hop dance group “The Crew” is the place to be – if their leader Danielle would just give Campbell a chance.

As Campbell begins to find her way at Jackson and eventually wins over “The Crew,” back at Truman a failing grade in home ec and a bout of mono have left Campbell’s old squad in the hands of sophomore Eva (Campbell’s next door neighbor who has mysteriously avoided the redistricting.)  Campbell’s uneasiness and jealousy over Eva’s succession lead her to convince Danielle and her new friends to turn “The Crew” into a cheerleading squad and attempt to beat Truman at Nationals.  Along the path to Nationals, the squads of both Truman and Jackson learn the meaning of true friendship and that all you need is to be yourself to make your dreams come true.

The high-flying cheerleading stunts mixed with witty dialogue, catchy tunes and charming characters are what makes Bring it On: The Musical really soar.  Professional cheerleaders are mixed in with the cast to perform the dazzling stunts and give the squads some realism.  The most memorable songs are “It’s All Happening,” where Campbell and Danielle convince the Jackson “Crew” to form a squad, “Ain’t No Thing,” where Jackson students Nautica and La Cienega help Bridget realize that she should embrace the way she is and that she doesn’t need to change a thing, and “Enjoy the Trip,” where the charming Randall helps Campbell put things into perspective.  The cast is full of fresh and fantastic new talent – great things can be said about the entire cast, though special attention should be given to Taylor Louderman, who leads the cast with her wonderful vocals and contagious charm as Campbell, Elle McLemore’s deliciously two-faced Eva, Ariana DeBose and Gregory Haney as the duo of wise-cracking “sisters from another mother” Nautica and La Cienega, and of course…Nicolas Womack and the exceptional Ryann Redmond as the scene-stealing Twig and Bridget.

Bring it On: The Musical is appropriate for all ages (though watch out for a swear word or two and a few innuendos tossed in…come on, they’re teenagers!), though I will admit that a younger audience will appreciate the effervescent show more than others.  What the plot lacks in depth is made up for with energy and heart.  Most of all…it’s undeniable fun.  You’ll leave with a giant smile and a heart full of spirit.  Need a pick-me-up or just a fun night out?  Well…Bring it On!

Bring it On: The Musical is playing a limited engagement at the St. James Theater until October. Click here to buy tickets online, email me at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com, or give us a call at 212-302-4019.

Leave a comment

Filed under Broadway Review

World Yacht: A Perfect Evening on New York Harbor

by Louise, Community Manager

My two best friends and I are fairly spread out across the tri-state area, and between distance and schedules we only get a chance to all be together a few times a year. This last Sunday was one of those happy times, and we decided to spend the end of our day on a World Yacht Dining Cruise.

The view from our table as we pulled away from the dock

Dining cruises are absolutely a perfect romantic activity – in fact, the couple seated directly next to us had just gotten married! – but they are also a great outing for friends. We had a perfect table right by the window and watched the Circle Line cruises depart while we waited for our own departure time, sipping drinks brought to us by our waiter, Clayton.

The Freedom Tower

Appetizers were served before we even left the dock, which I wasn’t expecting but was awesome – no need to waste optimal cruising time eating! We all three ordered the irresistible grilled watermelon salad – juicy watermelon combined with crunchy butter lettuce, salty crumbles of feta, and aged balsamic – and it was the perfect way to start the meal. I didn’t lick my plate, but I thought about it!

The live band was awesome and played great standards like Stand by Me, The Way You Look Tonight, and of course New York, New York. The pianist and singer had an amazing soothing voice, the perfect accompaniment for dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed their performance as we tucked into our entrees – mahi mahi with fresh pineapple salsa for me and skirt steak with purple potatoes for my friends.

When we finished our entrees the band had taken a break and we decided to go check out the outdoor lounge on the upper deck of the ship. It was completely gorgeous upstairs, especially with the beautiful weather and the striking sunset that was taking place. The deck has plentiful chairs and loveseats for those who wish to make themselves comfortable with a glass of champagne or a cocktail. We spend quite a while up there watching as we sailed past the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and headed for Lady Liberty herself.

Even though I’ve lived in New York City my entire life, I am still struck by the beauty of the Statue of Liberty whenever I get close enough to really see her. She was particularly beautiful against the backdrop of the stunning sunset, and nobody on the ship could stop taking pictures.

After giving our cameras a workout, we headed back downstairs for dessert and coffee. We ordered all three desserts – the fruit tart, a cheesecake, and a warm chocolate ganache cake. All three were delicious. The band struck up again and drew all the couples on board on to the dance floor with a few romantic tunes as we headed back to the city.

Being able to spend quality time with my favorite ladies is a priceless thing that I wish I got to do more often, and World Yacht was the perfect venue for us to spend an evening together. Whether you’re in town with a significant other or with friends, I absolutely recommend it! You can contact me directly for help with your booking at lgeller@newyorkguest.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Restaurants, New York Sightseeing

How to Attend TV Show Tapings in NYC – Part 3 of 3

by Megan, New York Guest Concierge

Welcome to the final edition of Megan’s TV show taping ticket tips! Today’s topic: The ever-delicious cooking shows.

Rachael Ray Show Tickets
In Advance: Fill out the on-line form at http://web1-dev.xen1.rachaelrayshow.com/show-info/audience-tickets/ Shows tape Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with two tapings per day (one at 11:30am, the other at 4pm.) The studio is located at 222 E. 44th St., between 2nd & 3rd Ave. – if you’re going to the noon taping, you must arrive by 10:15am, arrival time for the 4pm taping is 2:15pm. All audience members must be at least 16 years old. You can request up to 4 tickets at a time – only one request per household (submitting any more cancels both requests.)
Last Minute: The arrival time to receive a standby voucher is 10:15 a.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. taping) and 2:15 p.m. (for the 4:00 p.m. taping). A standby voucher does not guarantee a ticket to the show. Standby is first come/first served – earlier arrival will give you a better chance at getting in.

Martha Stewart Show Tickets
In Advance: The ticket-request form can be found at MarthaStewart.com/get-tickets. If the day you want is not available, you will receive a message advising you to check back later. Typically, shows are booked a month in advance. If a date is not posted, it means the audience is full for this show date. You can request up to four tickets – duplicate requests will be deleted.
Last Minute: Standby tickets may not always be available. If they are, they will be available about two hours prior to show time at Chelsea Television Studios, 221 West 26th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues.) The show typically tapes at 10 am and 2 pm, standby tickets are given out when available at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Leave a comment

Filed under NYC News and Information

How to Attend TV Show Tapings in New York – Part 2 of 3

by Megan, New York Guest Concierge

Welcome to the second installment of our tips on attending TV show tapings while you’re in town! Today we’ll tell you about Daytime and Talk shows!

The View Tickets
In Advance: There is generally a 12-24 month wait for tickets to The View. You can request tickets at http://theview.abc.go.com/tickets – you will need to create an ABC user account to put in a request. You may only request tickets for one date – requesting a second date will cancel both requests all together. Tapings are Mon-Thurs from 11am-12pm. If you do get tickets, you must arrive at the audience entrance of the studio (320 W. 66th St.) BY 9:30am. They frequently give out more tickets than the studio will hold, admittance is first come/first served.
Last Minute: Anyone looking for tickets on the day of the show will get a standby number from the View Audience Associate at the studio audience entrance from 8-9am – people will begin lining up for this as early as 5am.

Good Morning America Tickets
In Advance: ABC does not give out tickets to the show in advance – the limited number of people allowed into the studio are first come/first served on the day of the taping.
Last Minute: Good Morning America films Mon-Fri from 7am-9am, people will arrive as early as 5am if they want to be close to the barricades/have a chance to get into the studio. There are no age restrictions for audience members. The taping takes place in Times Square on Broadway at 44th St.

Live with Kelly Tickets
In Advance: Tickets are available on-line one month at a time, approximately one month in advance (ie tickets for May are available the last week of March.) You would fill out the request form at http://www.dadt.com/live/get-tickets.html. Tapings are Mon-Fri at 9am, ticket holders must arrive by 8am (the studio is at the southeast corner of Columbus Ave. & 67th St.) If your desired date is not available on-line, you can mail in a request to:
“LIVE! with Kelly” Tickets
Ansonia Station
P.O. Box 230-777
New York, NY 10023
You can include back up dates in your mailed request in case your first choice is not available. Submissions will be picked randomly from both the on-line and mailed in requests. Audience members must be at least 10 years old, anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Last Minute: Standbys are encouraged to get to the studio as early as 7am (people will usually have arrived even earlier – especially on days with a very popular guest/musical act.) Seating is first come/first served with the standby line once all ticket holders have been seated.

The Today Show Tickets
In Advance: NBC does not give out tickets to the show, as the audience is shot entirely at street level in the plaza.
Last Minute: The Today Show films Mon-Fri from 7am-10am, people will arrive as early as 5am if they want to be close to the barricades. The taping takes place in Rockefeller Plaza on 48th St., between 5th & 6th Ave.

Wendy Williams Tickets
In Advance: Choose the date and time you would like to attend at http://www.wendyshow.com/tickets/get-tickets/ Tapings are Mon-Wed at 10am, Thursdays at 10am & 1:45pm. You can choose up to 5 tickets – all audience members must be at least 18 years old. All guests must arrive by 8am for the 10am taping, and by 11:30am for the Thursday afternoon taping. The studio is located at 433 West 53rd Street, between 9th and 10th Ave.
Last Minute: If you would like to try for standby tickets, you must arrive at the studio no later than 8:30am for the 10am taping, or 11:30am for the Thursday afternoon taping.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Sightseeing, NYC News and Information