12 Days In New York City

I love New York, but boy was I ready to come home after 12 days in it. Had the last 7 of those days not been so stressful it might be another story. But the fact was that I barely had enough money to get me through the 6 intended days, so the additional 7 weren’t overly enjoyable as I tried not to use much public transit or eat out or really do anything that involved spending any money…

But, despite all that, it was still a lovely and much needed holiday!

I arrived in the city on a Wednesday at which time I wandered to Vi’s and collapsed on her couch. On Thursday made my way to Brooklyn to go see the Botanic Gardens. I’d seen someone post about it somewhere, and thought it might be worth a visit. The weather was great, the colours gorgeous, and it turns out there’s not admission cost on Thursdays.

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That evening I headed to Times Square to meet up with Vi. We were hoping to the lottery for a show, but missed it for both The Last Ship and Hedwig. Instead we got omlettes and watched Netflix.

10176029_935531322294_6771413734324505336_nTimes Square

On Friday I headed down to Union Square where I spent a couple hours getting lost in the racks at The Strand. Paul Giamatti was there. We stood in the ‘Banned Books’ section together. It was pretty cool.

15911_935531347244_5967592703995276388_nStrand Bookstore

I then went and wandered around the West Village and people-watched in Washington Square Park. It was chilly, but sunny, so I was happy.

10676367_935525339284_7555660138133744980_nWashington Square Park

That night I headed back to Times Square to meet Vi. We lost the lottery for Idina Menzel’s show If/Then, but were able to grab ‘Lottery Loser’ tickers for only $5 more. I guess the show isn’t doing so well… I thought it was okay. I’m glad I saw it, but really it’s only selling points are Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp.

Speaking off, we did stage door, of course! I’ve seen them both before, but it’s always fun!

10422083_935529480984_5726191222963934932_nIdina Menzel

10613008_935529241464_6093073703670348153_nAnthony Rapp

On Saturday I met up with Carly, Sara, and Annie for an excellent 4 hour lunch. We’d never all gotten together as a group, so it was a lot of fun. Eventually Carly had to head to work and Annie to a housewarming party, so Sara and I met up Vi and went to dinner.

Vi and I saw ‘On The Town’. I liked it well enough. It’s a classic, so, you know. The dance numbers seemed a little drawn out, but the music was great.

On Sunday Vi and I went on a roadtrip to Baltimore. She rented a car and got tickets to see Next To Normal, I tagged along. Oh, and I can now say I’ve been to Delaware. Woo!

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On Monday it down-poured so we went to the movies to see ‘The Theory of Everything’. I also dragged Vi from shop to shop in search of a single magazine, as, you know, I do that. The weather cleared up later in the day though, so I went for a nice stroll around mid-town.

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On Tuesday I headed out at some ridiculously early hour only to reach the far end of West-nowhere (aka the Megabus stop) and learn that there were no buses. No one seemed to know why. So, my enormous backpack, suitcase and I hiked it over to Penn Station to see about a train. I got a ticket, all looked well, until it’s announced that all Toronto bound rail service will be suspended in Syracuse. Again, no one could say why. So I got a refund and started frantically texting everyone I knew for a place to stay. Annie was kind enough to offer her couch right away, so I made my way 160 blocks or so uptown to Washington Heights.

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I eventually came to learn about the horrendous storms in Buffalo and every 12 hours or so would get an update that train and bus service remained suspended. That week is a bit of a blur with regards to what happened when, and in what order. Again, I stayed in a lot. I mean I managed to watch the whole first season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, so…

I did go for several nice walks around Washington Heights and Fort Tryon. One day I took the subway down to the Upper West Side to go to Barnes and Noble, and then took a very long city bus journey back to the George Washington Bridge (if you catch a bus within 2 hours (maybe 3 hours?) of catching the train they don’t charge you again- HEY OH!). Washington Heights was pretty cool though, I’m glad I had some time to explore it.

10339759_935648637194_174245830662665114_nView of Hudson Heights and the Bronx from Fort Tryon Park

10406411_935648617234_5416060134614959295_nHudson River, Fort Tryon Park

10421163_936189343614_8391701833344519889_nUpper West Side

And then of course Saturday was the insane Into The Woods evening. I’m still not over that one! Earlier that day though I met up with the wonderful Jennifer Eolin for tea and trading of horror life stories, and a couple hours later went for hot chocolate with another online friend. All that made for a very nice day. Adding in Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, and an early Into The Woods screening were just icing on the cake!

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I didn’t sleep Saturday night, and had to leave for my bus around 4:30am. Thankfully though when I arrived there was no one advising of a cancellation, and I even managed two seats to myself for the entire journey home.

It all kind of worked out. Sort of. Maybe.

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Two Midnights Gone: ‘Into The Woods’ Review & Event Recap (With Photos)

Though the show cautions to be ‘careful the wish you make’, I’m here to attest that every so often a wish can indeed come true.

This past Saturday evening a strange and inexplicable happenstance of events took place (that’s another story), resulting in me attending a screening of Into The Woods at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in New York. It was followed by a Q&A with director Rob Marshall, writer James Lapine, and the films incredible cast.

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The Film

Minor spoilers ahead…

I was both excited and scared (ha) for the release of the film since I first heard it was happening about 2 years ago. After all, movie adaptations of stage shows can be hit or miss. I was hopeful that with Rob Marshall at the helm this film could do it, especially since I hold ‘Chicago’ (which Marshall also directed) as the gold standard for modern transition.

Now, I won’t go so far as to say that Marshall repeated the perfection of ‘Chicago’, but he did come pretty darn close on this one. He stayed true to the book, where possible, and brought the sights and sounds of the show to incredible new heights. I wasn’t as visually blown away as I was by ‘Chicago’, but I think that was the point. ‘Into The Woods’ is a very dark, character driven story. It has no need for the glitz and¬†accoutrements, so comparing the two in that respect feels a bit like apples and oranges. (But don’t get me wrong- ‘Into The Woods’ is visually stunning.)

The first half of the film followed the book very closely, and the strays that came after were understandable. ‘Ever After’, ‘So Happy’, and ‘Agony’ (reprise only) were removed, as was the character of the Mysterious Man. This allowed them to toss/alter a few smaller plot points, while keeping the story moving. (Though I will forever be saddened by not hearing Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen sing about ‘their things’ with dwarfs and blood.)

I found the flashbacks inconsistent, and mostly unnecessary. For instance, when Little Red Ridinghood is recounting her tale¬†to The Baker in ‘I Know Things Now’ there’s a flashback. However when Jack recounts his own adventure to The Baker in ‘Giants In The Sky’ there is no flashback. And the latter worked much better for me.

I was thrilled to see that the characters of Little Red Ridinghood, Jack, and The Baker were given so much screen time (I’d say the most, aside from The Witch and Wife). I was worried that given the cast, the roles played by lesser known screen actors would be cut down. But, as I mentioned above, the film followed very closely to the book. No extra time was given to The Wolf or Cinderella’s Prince simply because they were played by A-listers (albeit both parts were brilliant – Chris Pine stole every scene he was in). This was a truly an ensemble piece, and a remarkably well cast one at that.

Meryl Streep as the The Witch, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince (or “The Prince” in the film), plus Billy Magnussen, Lilla Crawford, Johnny Depp, Tracy Ullman, Christine Baranski, and more. Honestly, every role in this film was perfectly cast. And every last one of them can sing! (As is not the case in some… *cough* Phantom… movie musicals.)

My big concern going into the film was that it would by Disney-fied, as they say, and I am happy to report that that was not the case. There is just as much death, destruction, removal of toes and heels, and general dark humour in the film as is in the original show.

Though this fact does leave me wondering who their intended market is. While the film will certainly appeal to fans of the stage show, who else are they gearing it towards? The theatrical trailer gave no indication to an unknowing audience that it’s a musical, or that it’s meant for an older audience. I have a feeling that despite the cast and aggressive advertising, this release will not be a great one. I’m sure it’ll do well enough, but I don’t think that it’s going to be the box office and awards blitz that Disney is hoping for.

But, I hope that I’m very wrong on that count, as I personally loved the film and will definitely be seeing it again (and likely again) in theatres after it’s released on December 25th. I am extremely excited about the soundtrack, which contains 50 tracks (!!!) and will be released on December 14th.

The Q&A

I still can’t believe my luck on this one. Not only did I find myself in a screening, but then a massive portion of the cast shows up, sits 10 ft in front of me, and chats about the film for an hour.

blog1Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Tracy Ullman, Rob Marshall, James Lapine, Anna Kendrick.

blog2Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, James Corden, moderator.

The Q&A was a nice mix of moderator, audience (both NYC and LA), and social media questions. Everyone got a chance to talk for a bit, lots of insight was provided, and some great stories were told.

Yahoo has the entire 50 minute event online, should anyone be interested in watching:

https://screen.yahoo.com/woods-live-q-event-200000218.html?format=embed

As you can watch it yourself, I don’t need to say much on it. So, instead, I’ll share some photos:

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It was a very fun night, an excellent film, beautiful people, and I still can’t believe I was there.