June 19, 2018

The Flatiron District – Manhattan

Dateline: New York, New York-

I slept in this morning, which was unusual. Most nights since Tommy died, I’ve been up late and woken up early and have been getting a lot less sleep than is normal for me. Maybe I’m starting to relax and my circadian rhythms are returning to normal or maybe it was an aberration. Time will tell.

Got up and had a leisurely walk though the flatiron district, and then headed up to the theater district for some lunch. Then took the subway back to Gramercy Park and put my feet up for a couple hours before heading out to dinner and a show. I had dinner at a restaurant called Pasta Lovers on 49th. It was Steve and my traditional pre-show dinner stop as we knew we could get in and out quick enough for an early curtain. It’s been majorly remodeled since those days but the carbonara is still good.

Tonight’s show was the revival of Carousel with Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller and Renee Fleming. It’s never been a favorite show of mine (although I did love the 90s revival because of its brilliant staging). This one, a bit of a mixed bag. The show works; I know because I was in full mode ugly cry during the last scene and tearful most of the second act. Some of that is personal situation. When Billy dies leaving Julie a widow alone and Nettie sings ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, it hit a bit too close to home and the events of the last couple of months. On the other hand, the older I get, the more I appreciate what Hammerstein was actually doing in his books with archetypes, and descriptions of the human condition once you scrape away all the cornpone.

The dancing is phenomenal, much more balletic than one usually sees on Broadway with fabulous principal dancers and ensemble. The Carousel waltz and Louise’s second act ballet are highlights. The best dancer in the show is the guy who plays Jigger, an Indian American ABT danseur who is so good he walks off with the show and Blow High Blow Low, usually a bit of a throw away, is the best number in the piece. The three leads are all competent and each has their moments (Soliloquy in particular) but Jigger is still who you remember.

I’ve been thinking of New York stories. This one is about my first trip, which happened in the fall of 1987 when I was in my last year of medical school. I had longed to come to NYC all through high school, college and earlier in med school but I couldn’t afford that sort of travel. I finally had an excuse when I did my residency interviews and applied to some New York programs including Cornell and NYU and was invited for interviews. I flew into Newark and took the bus into Manhattan and will never forget my first view of the skyline across the Hudson. I checked into the Edison Hotel (it was cheap) and that first night went to the original production of Into The Woods at the Martin Beck which had just opened a couple of weeks earlier together with my old friend Bob Kummer who was living here at the time. I did my interviews and then took the train to New Haven to interview at Yale and Providence to interview at Brown and then it was back to New York.

When I got back, I found I had a free evening prior to my flight out so I went to the Broadway theater and stood in the cancellation line for Les Miserables which was the huge hit at the time and had been running for about a year. The guy next to me was involved in the theater scene. Three hours later, I had two tickets for second row center. I gave him one, and he got me backstage at Into the Woods to meet Bernadette Peters which I thought was a fair trade. I left thinking of NYC as a magical place and I still get a little frisson every time I first emerge from Grand Central or Penn Station into the city.

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