Monthly Archives: May 2014

Manhattanhenge: The Beauty of the Grid and Sun

Manhattanehnge3New York City was one of the first modern cities to embrace the grid plan. The streets are divided into parallel axes from north to south and then east to west – making it easy to trek across the city using cardinal directions. The lower portion of Manhattan does not follow this grid system (which is why it’s the most common area in which to get lost – even if you live here!)

While the Manhattan grid makes getting around the city considerably easier, the grid also allows for a natural phenomenon twice a year – Manhattanhenge (so dubbed in 2002). Twice a year the full sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan grid at sunset creating a beautiful sight that attracts more and more viewers and photographers each year. The phenomenon can be viewed by facing west from any street in midtown Manhattan. 42nd street tends to be the most popular, with some folks viewing from as far east as possible to get the full spectrum, and some choosing to go further to the west for a close-up view.

Manhattanhenge1This year Manhattanhenge will happen on May 28th, 29th and 30th around 8:18 PM and July 11th, 12th and 13th at 8:24 PM. The middle dates will always have the most impressive display, with the full sun positioned exactly between two buildings. The surrounding dates will afford you a view of half the sun – still spectacular, but not quite as majestic.

Happy viewing!

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Filed under New York InSight, New York Sightseeing, NYC, Out on the Town

Broadway’s Hottest Ticket (in more ways than one)

by Louise, Director of Operations

hedwig1I bought my tickets for Hedwig and the Angry Inch back in January to be safe, knowing the combination of the 2001 film’s cult following and Neil Patrick Harris’s rabid and widespread fanbase would make it the toughest ticket of the spring, and the anticipation proceeded to kill me until I finally got to attend last night. I’ll confess I’ve never seen the Hedwig film (something I will fix soon) so everything was new to me. It was rather delightful to not really know what was coming. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is, in essence, a concert that tells a story. The band is The Angry Inch, and its leading lady Hedwig is a transsexual from East Germany who has landed a “one-night-only” gig at the Belasco Theater hedwig3after the untimely closing of Hurt Locker: The Musical (this and many other timely jokes have been added to the Broadway production). Through the 100 minute performance, she tells the story of her early childhood interest in music, how she escaped East Berlin, her botched sex change operation, her life in America, and her history with acclaimed rock star Tommy Gnosis, who happens to be performing a “redemption concert” immediately outside the theater.

hedwig4While very funny (mostly full of jokes I wouldn’t dare to reiterate here), Hedwig is also incredibly poignant and moving. She initially appears as sort of a caricature, but the more you learn about her the more you see her for her fragility and humanity. The character’s costumes reflect this exposure – she makes her entrance in a costume and wig combination that covers everything but her face, and by the end of the show she is nearly naked. I laughed more than I have laughed at a show in recent memory, but I was also deeply moved and a lihedwig5ttle teary at times. The emotional breadth is what pushes the show from great fun to amazing theater – it would be easy just to watch a talented actor perform in drag and make crass jokes for an hour and a half, but of course it would not be easy to be young transgender woman with a botched sex change from East Germany trying to make it in America. To really get to know Hedwig as a person is the honor of watching this show.

Ohedwig2f course, it’s also very very funny, and Neil Patrick Harris is predictably incredible. He walks in heels about 100 times better than I do, and moves like a man half his age. He looks and sounds amazing and every move, glance and gesture is spot on. This is the performance of a lifetime for him. Watching him do this, I couldn’t help but think that it was only about eight years ago that Neil Patrick Harris revealed his homosexuality, and how remarkable it is that in under a decade he could go from being closeted to being a gay icon and playing a trans icon on Broadway. And it was merely two years before that that he filmed an episode of Law & Order: CI in the chocolate factory where I was working at the time, and I got to hang out with him a little bit and I had absolutely no inkling of how cool that was. He was still Doogie Howser to me back then. It’s been quite a decade to be Neil Patrick Harris, and such an honor to watch his star so rightly rise.

Hanging with NPH back in '04

Hanging with NPH back in ’04

That tangent aside (though I’ve included a picture from when I hung out with him, because of course I did) GO SEE THIS SHOW. You’ll want to buy your tickets before June 8th. After the Tonys they will be impossible to get. I mean it. Seriously. Feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com with questions or for custom packages including tickets to Hedwig and the Angry Inch!

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Filed under Broadway Review, Out on the Town

An Immersive and Intoxicating Evening at Queen of the Night

by Louise, Director of Operations

I remember when going to the theater meant getting dressed up and feeling fancy all evening. Lately it seems like everyone just shows up to the theater in whatever they were wearing that day. If, like me, you long for the days when it was more of an “event” to go to the theater, than I have the show for you, and it is Queen of the Night, the new immersive theater experience from the creators of Sleep No More.

The queen-of-the-nightNYG staff went to Queen of the Night as a group, and it was a fantastic staff outing but would also be wonderful for a group of friends or a date night (the show is not for children though, so leave the kids at home). The fun started well before we even left our office as we changed out of our dreary business clothes and into evening finery. There’s nothing like an excuse to get dressed up on a Wednesday night!

qotn1Once we got to the Paramount Hotel, host of Queen of the Night, we enjoyed delicious cocktails and appetizers in the lobby bar before heading down to the venue space, named the Diamond Horseshoe. The actors and hosts for the evening will draw you into the fun whether or not you’ve already had a cocktail, but if you’ve chosen to abstain thus far, never fear – you are offered a welcome cocktail or glass of champagne upon your arrival. I chose the delectable signature cocktail named The Queen’s Bush – vodka, lemon juice, anqotn5d toasted rosemary. It was the perfect aperitif to sip while entering the crowded ballroom where the main event takes place. We joined the throng of people watching the fascinating dancing, including a mysterious figure on the central platform who we took to be the Queen herself, until all of a sudden the performers began tossing each other the chairs that were stacked in an unruly-looking pile at the front of the room. In almost no time, the ballroom transformed into a banquet hall before our eyes, and we all took off to choose our seats.

qotn8Throughout the evening we witnessed incredible acrobatics, juggling, dancing, magic, and romance – often times action occurs just a foot or two in front of you. I’m told you may be selected by a cast member to enter a secret room, though alas I was not chosen – all the more incentive to return for a second round. The story of the evening is loosely based on Mozart’s Magic Flute, but I urge you not to worry too much about following a plot and rather just relax and let the evening wash over you.

qotn6It’s not just about watching the performance, of course. Throughout the evening we were served generous decanters of wine, bowls of salad, and baguettes and each table in the hall was brought either a rack of short ribs, a basket of lobsters, or an entire suckling pig. Attendees are urged to barter with other tables to get a little of everything. There is also a full bar available should you require more cocktails.

Uponqotn3 the conclusion of the evening, the entire audience was invited to get up and join in a final dance, which nearly everyone in the room did. Those who remained seated were drawn up by members of the cast until the whole room was filled with twirling revelry. In our increasingly isolated world, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

qotn3If you are interested in Queen of the Night packages including a stay at the Paramount Hotel, please feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com. We can’t wait to send you on your own adventure!

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