Monthly Archives: April 2013

My Corner of the Sky

by Eileen, Travel Consultant

pippin2 One of the strongest memories I have from my childhood is when my mother would pull out a bright pink vinyl to play on the old record player in our living room.  As the opening chords began, she would pick me up and sing to me, “join us, leave your field to flower”.  We’d dance around as the Lead Player and his troupe sang to us about their  “magic to do, just for you”.

pippinFor a three year old who lived in world of imagination and make believe, this was the perfect soundtrack.  This was the opening song of Pippin the Musical, which opened and closed in the early 1970s.  I would open the record booklet and see the pictures of players dressed in odd costumes, looking like they were having fun just being silly.  I begged my parents to take me a performance, but the musical had fallen out of popularity and for years there wasn’t a professional production near us.  When I heard that a revival of Pippin would be making its way to Broadway this year, I knew I had to go.

Pippin is loosely based on Charlemagne’s court in the late 700s.  Charlemagne is historically recognized as the First Emperor of Western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s.  Pippin was Charlemagne’s heir to the throne, and is often portrayed with a hunchback.  After leading an unsuccessful rebellion against his father, Pippin fell out of favor and was exiled for the rest of his life.  Now I’m not going to lie, but even I (a history major) find this story bland.

Pippin1The musical sets up the story of Pippin using an acting troupe of players.  The musical breaks the fourth wall several times and encourages audience participation.  In the musical theatre version, Pippin is still in favor and is desperately searching for a purpose to his life.  The Leading Player directs the troupe throughout the various scenes of Pippin’s journey to self discovery.  The Leading Player serves as encouragement, foil, and antagonist to Pippin.

To say I had high expectations is a severe understatement.  This was the soundtrack of my childhood, and remains my mother’s favorite musical.  The revival takes on a circus element with acrobats and illusions, which could go either way.  The revival also chose to cast a female actor as the Leading Player as opposed the traditional male actor.  Ben Vereen, who originated the role and won a Tony for his performance, was enigmatic and mysterious as the leader of this wandering troupe and left big shoes to fill.

pippin4Patina Miller, formerly of Sister Act, embodies the new Leading Player in this revival wholeheartedly and offers a fresh perspective to the role.  She glides with ease through the classic Bob Fosse choreography, takes on the added acrobatics with complete confidence, and entices the audience into this magical world of illusion and self discovery.  At one point she even sings just about an entire song while spinning a hula-hoop off of various body parts!  Opposite her is Matthew James Thomas starring as Pippin.  He was thoroughly convincing of a young man who desperately wants to find something that would give him purpose and fulfill him.  As he sang the musical classic “Corner of the Sky”, you could feel the sincerity radiating from the stage.

The entire productionpippin3 was nonstop action from the opening silhouette of the Leading Player welcoming into this world of illusion to the final act— the troupe promise you’ll never forget.  In a season packed with well done productions, this one stood out the most for me.  I really can’t recommend this production enough and I hope everyone will give in to the magic.

Ready to plan your trip to see Pippin? E-mail info@newyorkguest.com to get started. Better hurry, this is proving to be one hot ticket!

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Get ready, ’cause here I come: MOTOWN takes Broadway

by David, Concierge

Motown1MOTOWN is the high-octane and thoroughly joyous new Broadway offering chronicling the creation and rise of the famous, hit-making enterprise. Berry Gordy, the legendary producer and founder of the classic record label, adapted his book Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown for the stage to tell this remarkable story.

The music is drawn from The (aptly named) Legendary Motown Catalog and features songs like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”, “My Guy”, “Tears of a Clown”, “Dancing in the Streets”, and  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” among it’s literally dozens of classic rock and roll hits. Most of songs are performed in a medley-style and not in their entirety; this is much in keeping with incredibly fast-paced story-telling which spans a thirty-five year period. In fact, if each song were sung to completion, the show would run hours longer. Not that that would be an entirely bad thing!

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

A few original songs written by Berry Gordy and Michael Lovesmith are added to propel certain parts of the story. “Hey, Joe (Black Like Me)” is an account of boxer Joe Lewis’ victory over Germany’s Max Smelling. The event was a defining one for Gordy as well as the African American community and the country as a whole; it also thwarted Nazi claims of Aryan superiority. The ballad “Can I Close the Door” finds our lead character trying to let go as his stars find greener pastures with more lucrative contacts at the giant record labels.

Motown: The Musical Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

The music highlights the competitive atmosphere that characterized the Hitsville House studio. Greats like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Mary Wells and the Jackson Five collaborate and vie for fame and hits while defining the distinctive Motown sound: soul music flavored with strong pop influences. The show reminds views of the largely segregated American culture that existed at the time, and celebrates the major influence the music had on bridging that divide.  Songs like “Got a Job”, “War” and “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” mirror the concerns and issues that defined a generation.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Choreographers Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams make impressive Broadway debuts. They authentically recreate the “microphone-style” choreography of groups like the Miracles, The Temptations and the Spinners to name a few. The cast is to be acclaimed for their high energy and precise execution.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Leading cast members commendably portray the larger than life performers who were key members of the Motown family. Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson and Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye add a depth to their portrayals that is otherwise lacking in the book. A particular standout is the lovely Valisia LeKae who transforms from the young, eager Diane into superstar Diana Ross. Another audience favorite is Jibreel Mawry in a triumvirate of roles; Young Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and an electrifying Michael Jackson.

Whether the one grew up listening to this music or is hearing it for the first time, this show is a treat for audience members of all ages. MOTOWN is the history of not just a quintessential American record label and the stars who comprised it. It is a history of a generation and the cultural touchstones that defined it. It’s also a great theatrical experience.

Looking for a trip to NYC including tickets to see Motown? E-mail us at info@newyorkguest.com to get started!

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This is a tragic situation I’ve wandered into…

by Louise, Director of Operations

Most people seem to say two things when you mention the new production of Orphans on Broadway:

1)      Isn’t Alec Baldwin in that?

2)      Isn’t that the show Shia LaBeouf quit/was fired from?

orphans1The answer to both these questions is yes, but after you see the show you will realize how inconsequential both these things are. And see the show you should.

I’ll admit, I barely knew what Orphans was about other than a very basic plot synopsis prior to my arrival at the Schoenfeld last night. I’ll even admit that I bought my ticket primarily because of my love for 30 Rock. I almost hesitate to tell you what the show is about, because seeing it without knowing what to expect was such a powerful experience. But I will do my best to give you an overview without spoiling the surprises.

OrphansGerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

Treat (Ben Foster) and Phillip (Tom Sturridge) are brothers living in a dilapidated row house in northern Philadelphia. Though they are quite young, it seems they’ve been on their own for a long time – they were abandoned by their father and their mother has been dead since they were children. Treat, the older brother, holds the role of caretaker in a vice grip, picking pockets to put food (mostly Starkist tuna and Hellman’s mayonnaise) on the table. Treat’s volatile temper and need to be in control have relegated Phillip to an eternal childhood – he never even leaves the house.

In an attempt to step up his game from petty crimes to something grander, Treat brings home a drunken older gentleman named Harold (Alec Baldwin) with a plan to hold him for ransom. After he passes out, Treat and Phillip tie Harold to a chair and investigate his briefcase of stocks and bonds, excited for the treasure Treat feels sure is coming their way. However, the power begins to shift the moment Harold regains consciousness. And, as I really want you to go and see this show for yourself – that’s all I’ll say.

OrphansGerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill.com

As I’ve already confessed, Alec Baldwin was my impetus to see this show and he did not disappoint me. His command of the stage is as enticing as his command of the screen, and every syllable he speaks is perfectly delivered. While this play has nothing in common with Baldwin’s most well-known project of late, 30 Rock, there are even some moments where his character’s approach to his situation will make Jack Donaghy fans smile. Ben Foster is an admirable Treat and gives real content to the character’s anger issues – even while much of what he says and does seem like senseless violence and aggression, you never doubt that there is much more to it.

But what I really want to talk about is Tom Sturridge. Sturridge’s character, Phillip, a shut-in since childhood with no education or interaction with the outside world, leaps about the set like a wild animal – to get across the room, he climbs on to the back of the couch, bursting through the air, and lands neatly and squarely on the windowsill. When he speaks he flawlessly combines the innocence of a child with the longing of an adult who knows there is more to the world. His performance was devastating and will haunt me for weeks. I hope he gets a Tony nod for it because he absolutely deserves to.

Be forewarned, this play is NOT for children. I would say anyone under 16 would have trouble with much of the content (though, of course, it depends on the child). I am pretty sure everyone in the theater was crying by the end, and the three actors looked absolutely emotionally spent during curtain call. Even though I wasn’t on stage, I felt like I knew how they were feeling. If you want to see a show that is a powerful, emotional journey that will leave an impression on you, Orphans is a fantastic choice.

Have questions or looking to plan a trip to NYC to see Orphans? Feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com!

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Vote for the Winner of our April Photography Contest!

Our theme this month brought in so many beautiful photos. Who doesn’t love a good sunrise/sunset? Feast your eyes on the top 10 for this month, then help us choose the worthy winner!

#1 by Linda Brown

#1 by Linda Brown

Carol Garner

#2 by Carol Garner

#3 by Choi Sledsens

#3 by Choi Sledsens

#4 by Connor Morse

#4 by Connor Morse

#5 by Jennifer Berger

#5 by Jennifer Berger

#6 by Kristina Werner

#6 by Kristina Werner

#7 by Lauren Salvatore

#7 by Lauren Salvatore

#8 by Linda Brown

#8 by Linda Brown

#9 by Linda Golkidis

#9 by Linda Golkidis

#10 by Mia Magillicutty

#10 by Mia Magillicutty

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A Yankee Stadium Primer

by Louise, Director of Operations

Opening day was this week at both Yankee Stadium and Citifield, and now we’re in the midst of what we hope will be a very long and exciting baseball season!

While Citifield is always a more economical alternative for baseball games during your visit to NYC, most requests we get are to see the 27-time World Champions. I can’t say I blame you – I LOVE the Yankees! Based on the numerous conversations I’ve had when helping fans book Yankees packages, I thought I’d offer some of my best tips:

Have an idea of where you want to sit

Yankees1Before you go, you need tickets, right? It’s always a good idea to know where you want to sit, although we’ll be happy to offer you options. Here are some quick tips:

–          400 Level is “Grandstand”: The highest up seats, furthest from the action, and also usually the best prices (of course). There’s no bad view, so if you’re just looking for the experience Grandstand is a great option. But don’t think you can buy 400 level tickets and sneak into the field level seats – there are security guards!
–          300 Level is “Terrace”: Technically the same level as Grandstand, but the terrace level includes the seats closer to the field.
–          200 level is “Loge” or “Main Level”: Quite a bit closer to the field, with higher prices to match!
–          100 level is “Field Level”: The closest you can get to the action without being a very wealthy person who can get their hands on “legends suite” seating. But be wary – if you’re looking at sections labeled 129 or higher or 111 or lower you’ll be in the outfield, and not much closer to the action than the less expensive bleachers or 200 level seats.

If you love a specific player, you may want to choose a seat that gives you a good view:

Yankees14–          Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez both play on the third base side (I would hope you’d know that if you’re a fan!). Any section that ends in 24-27 is a good option. If Jeter’s your man and you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, right by section 117 is usually where he hangs out when he’s on deck (instead of the on deck circle), and it’s also right next to the Yankees Dugout.
–          Mariano Rivera is retiring after this season (sniff) and of course spends most of the game around the Bullpen. Section 136 is field level and still next to the Yankees Bullpen, though far from the rest of the game. Bleachers 237 and 238 are pretty economical choices that will also put you right behind the Bullpen, though you could end up being fairly far back.

So in general: a section ending in 24-27 is on the third base side, 12-16 is the first base side. 17-23 are behind home plate. Anything under 12 or over 27 is the outfield. Put a 1 in front, that’s the most expensive (At least $175, usually more). Put a 4 in front, that’s the least expensive (as low as $25 for some games).

Take the subway

Yankees2Yes, Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx. I highly encourage you to freely use the subway on your visit to New York, but I know it can be a little scary if you’re not familiar. Here are my reasons why it is extra not scary to take the subway to Yankee Stadium:

–          The 4 on the east side and D on the west side go directly there with no transfers. You can transfer from most other lines to the 4 or the D without even leaving the platform
–          The stop is called Yankee Stadium. And what’s more, basically everyone on the entire train is going to get off there. You won’t miss the stop!
–          You can see the stadium from the moment you get out of the subway. All you need to do to get there is cross the street. You can’t miss it!

So in conclusion, traveling to Yankee Stadium on the subway is easy, fast, and much cheaper than taking a taxi or booking a car in advance! However, this is an important subway tip: Make sure you have money on your Metrocard for your return trip before you go to the game. You do NOT want to be waiting in line to refill your Metrocard after the game!

Get there early, but not TOO early

Yankees3The gates don’t open until 2 hours prior to the scheduled start of the game, so there’s no reason to be any earlier than that! Guests are permitted to go right up to the front of the field level to watch batting practice for the first 45 minutes after the gate open, and after that you won’t be allowed in that section unless your tickets are there. So it’s a great opportunity to get up close to the team and the players, even if your ticketed seats are in the Grandstand!

Once batting practice is over, there’s still plenty to do before the game! Monument Park, a tribute to Yankees Legends, is open until 45 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, but go early because the line will often be closed an hour or more beforehand so they have time to empty the park before the game.

If you still have time, the Yankees Museum near Gate 6 is open prior to the game and does not close until the 8th inning, so make it your last stop.

Be Water Wary

Yankees4You’re going to see a lot of people outside the stadium selling bottles of water for $1. It’s a great deal, in theory, because water bottles once you get inside are going to be $5. So go for it, but this is important: DO NOT OPEN THE WATER BOTTLE OUTSIDE THE STADIUM. Stadium policy is that you can bring in factory-sealed water bottles (up to 1 liter), but once it’s opened, it’s not allowed, and you just wasted $1 instead of saving $4.

Get some Grub

An average game is 3 hours long – you’re going to get hungry. If hot dogs and cracker jacks with a side of bud light are your jam, I say go for it – you’ll see them at every turn! If you’re looking for something a little different, there are more food options than you might think. Take a walk around the field level to see the widest array of culinary delights. Here are some of my favorites in the stadium:

–          ParYankees5m You’re in New York City, have an authentic NYC meal, why dontcha? Parm, an amazing sandwich shop with its flagship location in Soho, is in the Great Hall between gates 4 and 6 and they serve up a delicious fresh turkey sandwich or a meatball sub. It’s the place to go.
–          Garlic Fries What more do I need to say? They are fries. With garlic. Like, a LOT of garlic. You can find them in three locations: By section 108, by section 205, or by section 331.
–          The Food Court If you’re with a large group and everyone wants something different, the food court on the field level is your best bet for diversity in one spot. It’s located near the third base line on the field level, adjacent to section 127. You’ll find all the basics there, plus stuff like sushi, noodle bowls, fried dough, and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Nearby at Gate 4 there’s even a little farmstand that sells fresh fruit, if you are 100% set against a traditional calorie-rific baseball experience.
Yankees6          Real Cocktails & Good Beer I don’t know about you, but by the time I was 21 I was already too old for giant sugar-laden slushies with a shot of vodka. When I’m at the stadium and I want a cocktail, I usually head for the Malibu Rooftop Deck near section 310. There’s a scenic(?) view of the South Bronx and it’s not usually jam-packed. The signature Malibu Rum cocktails are not a great value at $16-18 each, but regular mixed drinks are more like $10-12 and they have a full bar. They also have a couple of microbrews on tap.

Got more questions or looking for a Yankees package? I’m always happy to talk Yankees! E-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com.

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