Since last September, only one thing in New York City has really changed – the skyline.
The city, with its relentless energy, its unbelievable culture and its array of creative outlets, has been a mecca for tourists, curious Americans and stimulation seekers. New York City will always be a place for theater, film and art: three of my favorite things.
I returned to the city last month for the first time in two years, ready to take it by storm. All I knew was that I wanted to do everything, and I only had four days in which to do it in.
As always, my family and I stayed at the Marriott Marquis, a beautiful icon in Times Square that is literally in the heart of the theater district; and in the middle of all the action. The most famous shows are within a three-block radius of the hotel, and the lights of Broadway illuminate the streets at all hours of the day, casting an ambient glow over the people who hurry by.
For this trip, there were two important things I had to do: see the new, multi-Tony award winning show, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh, and go shopping. I mean, this is New York.
We arrived in the city on Thursday, Aug. 15 around 11 a.m. with most of the day ahead of us. And the city was jumping. People hustled by, groups of tourists and families with children permeated the sidewalks, taking in the new Toys ‘R’ Us superstore and marveling at the marquis for Disney’s Aida and Beauty and the Beast.
In that first few minutes, I knew, Sept. 11 or not, the city was the city. People may like to think things have changed, but they haven’t, and in reality, they can’t. Life goes on, and no people know how to do that better than New Yorkers.
While many would consider our trip the “tourists'” view of New York, the museums, shows, restaurants and stores are the most famous and interesting sites. We made our way to Bloomingdale’s, perhaps the quintessential department store, and marveled at the upper-class snobbishness with which everyone shopped, although we didn’t leave empty-handed. Around the corner is Serendipity 3, a proverbial hole-in-the-wall that always has a line, serves its now famous Frozen Hot Chocolate and is a hot spot for movie sets. Last year’s Serendipity, and 1996’s One Fine Day both featured the eclectic restaurant, and it is now a favorite of my mother’s and mine. Who wouldn’t like to eat a hot fudge sundae with more fudge than ice cream?
Exploring the Arts
That night we treated ourselves to perhaps the hottest ticket on Broadway. Although original stars Matthew Broderick and Tony award-winning Nathan Lane have bowed out, The Producers, an irreverent musical comedy by the irreverent Mel Brooks, is still packing the theater. Now starring Brad Oscar and Wings’ star Steven Weber, the show is still hilarious and takes no prisoners. Weber was quite convincing in his role as fidgety Leo Bloom. Who knew he could sing?
Culture is as synonymous with New York as the Yankees, and nothing speaks to that culture like the varied museums in the city. We explored a new museum, the Museum of the City of New York, which houses archives of every show ever performed on Broadway as well as an incredible collection of toys from famous New Yorkers. The exhibit on dollhouses was especially breathtaking. And of course, no trip would be complete without a stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With its extensive permanent collection and high-quality touring exhibits, there is always something for everyone. We explored a touring impressionist exhibit featuring Gaugin, Degas and Sisley. Anyone who thought impressionism was just Monet and his water lilies is mistaken.
Finally on Friday night, I got to see the show I had been waiting for since the June 2 telecast of the Tonys. Thoroughly Modern Millie, the winner of six Tony awards, including best new musical, plays at the Marriott Marquis with an extraordinary cast of veterans and an all-star newcomer. Sutton Foster, a 27-year-old Broadway debutante and Tony winner for her performance, plays Millie with the presence of a pro and stops the show every night with her signature song, “Gimme, Gimme.” To see Foster is to see the next Barbara Streisand, and I’m glad to say I did.
Foster’s performance is only outclassed by her personality. At the stage door after the show, she is as unassuming and genuine as one could possibly imagine. When I told her I loved her Tony speech, she looked up from signing my program, and gave me a great smile. “Thank you, thank you very much.”
Anyone who fears the city is different since last September shouldn’t worry. Yes, there is a gaping hole in the bottom of the island, but New Yorkers understand they have to keep going. Broadway still goes on, the museums open and close, the New York Times prints every day and tourists from all over come to support and honor one of the greatest cities in the world.
To me, New York is New York. As an upstater, I can proudly say, I’m a New Yorker. And for the city and all its inhabitants, that’s all that needs to be said.
Contact Megan Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org