Monday, April 16, 2012

Sweet 16: Look at me! I'm the King of New York!

Sixteen years ago I went to New York City for the first time (that I remember).  I was a junior in high school, and I really didn't want to go.  (At the time, I was not too fond of big cities.)  My cousin Vanessa always wanted to go to NYC so she talked my grandma into planning a girls trip to the Big Apple.  Every girl in the family over the age of sixteen was invited to go to NYC.  The only takers were grandma, my aunt Caren, my cousin Va and her mom, and me and my mom.  We set out and conquered the Big Apple in a week (so we thought at the time).  And so the love affair began....  (Actually, if we want to start at the VERY beginning of my love affair with the Big Apple, we would have to rewind the clock 34 years, and the story would begin with, "I went to the Big Apple and I had to stay in the womb the whole time...")  Now you know where it truly began.  Let's fast forward 34 years to April 2012.

Mom and I flew to New York City.  Our plane actually left on time and arrived on time!  Surprising!  My aunt Caren picked us up from the airport and drove us to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Times Square.  Mom and I put our stuff in our room and went to TKTS.  We bought half price tickets to the play The Best Man.  Mom and I grabbed a slice of pizza from Patzeria's Pizza and ate it in the Marriott Marquis alley on our way to the theatre.  Delicious!  I really enjoyed The Best Man.  It had a lot of great actors: James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, and Kerry Butler.  When we got back to our room, we realized it was a corner room so we could see to the east to the East River and the north to Central Park.  We were on the 40th floor of 42 floors.  Let's just say we had an awesome view! 

We began the next day at TKTS to buy Mom a ticket to War Horse, but it wasn’t listed on the board so we went back to the hotel room and she bought a ticket over the phone.

Mom and I rode the subway to 66th St and Columbus Ave.  I met up with my friend Jason in a plaza in front of the Manhattan temple.  Mom, Jason, and I talked for a few hours.  I hadn't seen Jason for over a year (which is the longest it's been since I met him seven years ago)!  It was so good to visit with him.
Me and Jason
Mom and I shared a Philly steak sandwich off a cart in front of Lincoln Center.  It was the first time we had eaten food off of a cart in the street and we lived to tell about it!  I was grateful we didn’t get food poisoning!  I’d say it was a success.

Mom and I walked to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.  We saw the play War Horse.  I sat on the first row!  Mom was about ten rows behind me.  The horses were amazing!  It was a great story.  (I highly recommend it!)  My friend Leah was the puppeteer for the main horse, Joey's, head.  She was so good that I forgot she was there!  (It takes three people to make each of the main horses move-one in the hind legs, one in the front legs, and one for the head.)  After the show, Mom and I went backstage and visited with Leah.  Leah showed us around backstage.  It was so good to see her!
Me and Mom in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre
Me and Leah backstage at War Horse
Lincoln Center
Our evening show was the musical Newsies.  I feel that it was the complete musical-great music, great dancing, great acting!  The dancing was truly amazing!  The tricks the guys could do were awesome!  I loved it!  Mom and I got autographs and pictures with the performers at the stage door afterwards.  They were all very nice.
Me and Thayne Jasperson-the Utah kids
Me and Jeremy Jordan
Mom and I started the day by waiting for the box office to open for Million Dollar Quartet so we could buy rush tickets to that evening's performance.  Then we rode the subway downtown.  We walked from the subway to the Doughnut Plant.  Mom bought a black-out donut while I bought a tres leches doughnut.  We ate the doughnuts while we rode the subway to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  The tres leches doughnut has been cataloged as one of the best things I have ever eaten!

We took a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  We got our own private tour because the other 23 people that had signed up for the tour didn't show up on time.  (Ha ha!)  We learned about the role of the Federal Reserve and got to go in the vault where the gold is stored.  The vault was located five stories underground.  (For reference, the subway is only two stories underground.)  The vault only held gold that belonged to other countries.  Each gold bar was worth half a million dollars.  There were A LOT of gold bars!  I enjoyed the tour.
In front of the Federal Reserve Bank
I love to watch the progress of the new World Trade Towers
Mom and I rode the subway back to Times Square.  We ate dinner at Lime Jungle.  The food tasted delicious and was actually reasonably priced.  Great recommendation, Leah!

Mom and I saw Million Dollar Quartet.  Our seats were on the far left side behind the piano so we couldn't see everything going on onstage, but it was fun watching the piano player.  He was very entertaining!  I really enjoyed the music!  Since there wasn't an intermission, the musical got over relatively early.

I waited outside the stage door at Wicked for my friend Colby to come out.  (He was performing in Wicked.)  I visited with him for a little while after the show.  It was so good to see him!
Me and Colby
I started the day buying some postcards from a souvenir shop as Mom and I walked to the subway.  We rode the subway to the Manhattan Temple.  Since a lot of people had the day off (for Good Friday) the temple was busier than we had ever seen it.
Beautiful Manhattan Temple
We rode the subway to Serendipity 3.  We shared seafood pasta, frozen hot chocolate, and a caramel sundae with cinnamon ice cream.  Yum!  Mom and I walked the mile back to the hotel.  (We had a few calories to burn off!)  Then I laid on the bed to digest.
Serendipity-We love you!
No, we did not trade places.  The picture is taken from the opposite angle.
Mom and I saw the musical Leap of Faith that night.  I really enjoyed it.  It was the third night of previews so there were a few technical difficulties.  Kendra Kassebaum was so good!  It was fun to see her in a different role from Glinda in Wicked.  Mom and I waited at the stage door for the actors to come out afterwards.  It was fun to see Kendra again.  She remembered me from a few years ago after Wicked in San Francisco.
Me and Kendra-Mom thinks we look like sisters
Raul Esparza-Sorry it's blurry
Another day begins at TKTS so Mom could buy a ticket to Ghost the Musical for the matinee.  We checked out of the Times Square Crowne Plaza hotel and hauled our suitcases across Times Square almost to 5th Avenue.  We checked into the Holiday Inn Express near 5th Avenue.  Then we walked to Macy's at Herald Square (sans suitcases).  Mom wanted to see the flowers they had displayed in a tent but the line was too long to get in, and we didn't have enough time to wait.  The first floor of Macy's was under construction.  It was a mess!  We were able to see all the flowers in the display windows outside of Macy’s though.

Mom walked me to the theater where Anything Goes was performing.  I saw the AMAZING Stephanie J. Block in Anything Goes!  She was THE BEST.  I don't have any words to express the joy Stephanie's performances bring into my life.  She has so much talent.  I met up with Mom after it was over, and we waited at the stage door for Stephanie.  When she saw me she gave me a wave. She signed everyone's playbills and took pictures and saved me for last so she had time to talk with me.  She asked me how my family was, how long I was visiting, and the other shows I had seen.  She told me she was going to run errands and then go to physical therapy.  We took a few pictures and off we went in separate directions.
Me and the Amazing Stephanie J. Block
Because I love her, she gets two pictures!
Mom and I ate dinner at Virgil's Barbecue.  We loved that place!  We shared a turkey and pork barbecue sandwich and trainwreck fries.  It tasted delicious!

Our evening performance was the musical Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick and Kellie O’Hara.  The musical was so funny!  Matthew Broderick was onstage the entire show and danced up a storm!  He was amazing!  He was 50 years old!  I loved Kellie O’Hara’s singing.  It was the first time I had seen her perform live.  Jennifer Laura Thompson (who was the first Glinda I had ever seen in Wicked) was also very funny in the show.  It was a great show!  Mom and I went to the stage door after it was over.  While we were waiting for the actors to come out, someone shouted, “That’s Megan Hilty!”  (Megan Hilty was in the NBC show, “Smash”.)  The camera flashes went off like crazy.  Megan was just walking down the street with a few men.  It was fun to see her just walking down the street.  I wasn’t fast enough to get her picture as she was walking quite quickly down the street.  We got autographs and pictures from Matthew Broderick and Kellie O’Hara.  Matthew was very quiet.  He was probably exhausted!  He was very gracious and signed everyone’s playbills and took pictures with everyone who requested them.
Kellie O'Hara
Sorry Matthew, but this is the only picture I could get of you.  It does make me think, "Bueller, Bueller,..."
Mom and I spent Easter morning walking to Rockefeller Center and taking some pictures.  The Easter bunny was skating on the ice rink.  

Happy Easter!
Our traditional Rockefeller Center picture
We rode the subway to Columbus Circle and then walked the rest of the way to church at the Manhattan Temple.  As I was walking to church, my friend Lucy popped into my head.  I thought that was weird.  I found out a few days later that Lucy saw me near Columbus Circle so I must have saw her subconsciously but it didn’t register.  Anyway, I wished I had been able to talk with her.  When Mom and I got to church, we realized it was Stake Conference and we showed up about 45 minutes after it started.  All the seats in the chapel and cultural hall were taken so we got to sit in the “overflow” (aka cry) room.  The kids in the room were out of control!  (They were probably full of sugar from Easter candy!)

Mom and I rode the subway to Columbus Circle.  Then we walked across Central Park and down 5th Avenue.  The Easter Bonnet Parade was on 5th Avenue.  People were wearing very unique hats.  It seemed that Peeps were the popular item to put on the bonnets this year.  It was fun to see all the different hats.

I had another FABULOUS trip to NYC!  I love that place so much!

I know you want some pictures from the two previous trips I talked about at the beginning of the post so here you go.  (Remember these pictures were taken before the digital picture age so what you get is what you get.)

April 1996: The Girls Invade the Big Apple
Arriving in style: Me and Va in the limo to NYC
The girls checking out Ms. Liberty-Grandma, Margo, Caren, Va, and me
Margo, me, and Mom with the 1996 NYC skyline (taken from Ms. Liberty)
April 1978: Remember I had to stay in the womb the whole time
(Me and) Mom at the top of the Empire State Building
(Me and) My parents at Wall Street