Plays, food and jazz make perfect trip: our tips

Sunset Boulevard, playing on Broadway until June 25, is a must see.

“Sunset Boulevard,” playing on Broadway until June 25, is a must see. Here’s Alan in front of a poster for it.

Thanks to Scripps Networks Interactive for the awesome long weekend in New York City. Alan and I purchased at a charity auction a while back a trip package donated by the Knoxville-based company, and we just redeemed it.

We bought it at a benefit at Historic Middlebrook called Southern Summer’s Night, a fundraiser for The Hope Center, part of Covenant Health. The Hope Center provides, at no charge, caring support and assistance to all individuals and families living with HIV.

During three days in the Big Apple, we packed in three plays, a visit to a noted jazz club and meals at new (to us) places as well as at old favorites.

The biggest takeaway is this: If at all possible, go see “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close. The musical, with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a 40-piece orchestra, is stunning, and Close is mesmerizing in it. Close won a Tony Award in 1995 for her performance in this play (based on the 1950 film noir classic starring Gloria Swanson) and has returned to Broadway for a limited engagement. The show, at the Palace Theatre, closes June 25. So, get up there!

You aren't allowed to take photos of Broadway performances, but here's the curtain at "Sunset Boulevard."

You aren’t allowed to take photos of Broadway performances, but here’s the curtain at “Sunset Boulevard.”

My all-time favorite play, “The Glass Menagerie,” also is playing on Broadway right now. Starring Sally Field as Amanda Wingfield and Joe Mantello as Tom, it also is a wonderful, moving production that we recommend. Field and Mantello really knocked it out of the park with their haunting performances, which made up for a weak portrayal of Laura, in my opinion.

"The Glass Menagerie" is playing at the Belasco Theatre.

“The Glass Menagerie” is playing at the Belasco Theatre.

Poster for "The Glass Menagerie."

Poster for “The Glass Menagerie.”

Our third play of the trip was “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” A musical staring Josh Groban, it was much more fun than you’d expect from 19th century Russia! Based on a portion of “War and Peace,” it’s nonstop singing from every musical genre you have ever heard of on a set that literally pulls the audience into the action.

Alan surveys the scene before the start of "The Great Comet."

Alan surveys the scene before the start of “The Great Comet.”

The set was fantastic, with all kinds of seating at tables and banquettes available. We were on an aisle beside an elevated runway. An usher warned Alan before the show started not to put his elbow out too far for fear of tripping the actors.

The set was fantastic, with all kinds of seating at tables and banquettes available. We were on an aisle beside an elevated runway. An usher warned Alan before the show started not to put his elbow out too far for fear of tripping the actors.

This is a fun romp of a play and we appreciate our friend, Bart Weaver who recommended it to  us. If you want to catch Groban in it, you need to go before July 2. After that, he will be replaced by “Hamilton” star Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan.

"The Great Comet" is playing at the Imperial Theatre.

“The Great Comet” is playing at the Imperial Theatre.

We are starting to include a visit to the classic jazz club called Birdland in our New York City trips. It is located right in the Theater District, which is where we always stay. We bought tickets when we noticed a familiar name was performing there: John Pizzarelli, who performed with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra not too long ago.

Birdland, 315 W 44th St., is right across the street from our hotel, The InterContinental Times Square.

Birdland, 315 W. 44th St., is right across the street from our hotel, The InterContinental Times Square.

John Pizzarelli was fabulous -- especially from our front row seats.

John Pizzarelli was fabulous — especially from our front row table.

As part of our Scripps Networks package, we got a gift card and reservations at Bar Americain, the American brasserie of Food Network celebrity chef Bobby Flay. We had been there once before and knew we were in for a treat.

Bar Americain has a unique interior design.

Bar Americain has a unique interior design.

I don't know why Alan doesn't order a martini of his own! He'd rather drink mine!

I don’t know why Alan doesn’t order a martini of his own! He’d rather drink mine!

Alan had shrimp and grits at Bar Americain.

Alan had a great appetizer of shrimp and grits at Bar Americain.

And black sea bass with blood orange, capers and haricots vert (green beans).

And a delicious entree of black sea bass with blood orange, capers and haricots vert (green beans).

I adored my order: Fulton Fish Market Cioppino with sourdough toast.

I adored my order: Fulton Fish Market Cioppino with sourdough toast.

Of course, Alan was in heaven with his dessert choice: banana cream pie with hazelnut crunch crust.

Of course, Alan was in heaven with his dessert choice: banana cream pie with hazelnut crunch crust.

Here's the exterior, so you will recognize it when you go!

Here’s the exterior, so you will recognize it when you go! Which you absolutely must do.

Our new discovery this trip was Le Rivage, located at 340 W. 46th St., on what is called “Restaurant Row.”

Run by third generation French restaurateurs, Le Rivage is what I would imagine simple home cooking would be like in France.

Run by third generation French restaurateurs, Le Rivage offers what I would imagine simple home cooking would be like in France.

The interior is cozy. The eatery seats 100.

The interior is cozy. The eatery seats 100. We were there pretty close to when it opened because we were going to a matinee.

For lunch, only a prix fix menu is available: $27 for three courses. Very reasonable in New York City. Alan's first course was a beet salad that he really liked.

For lunch, only a prix fix menu is available: $27 for three courses. Very reasonable in New York City. Alan’s first course was a beet salad that he really liked.

I had stuffed mussels, which were just so-so. But I loved my entree.

The baked seafood crepe was to die for!

The baked seafood crepe was to die for! It contained bay scallops, shrimp, mushrooms and caramelized onions.

Alan enjoyed his Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Alan enjoyed his Chicken Cordon Bleu.

You can tell Alan was happy with his dessert selection.

You can tell Alan was happy with his dessert selection.

Which was chocolate mousse.

Which was chocolate mousse.

We usually try the bread pudding whenever it's on the menu. This version was fine, but I'm spoiled by the bread puddings I've had in New Orleans.

We usually try the bread pudding whenever it’s on the menu. This version was fine, but I’m spoiled by the bread puddings I’ve had in New Orleans.

I did like the bright paintings in Le Rivage.

I did like the bright paintings in Le Rivage.

Another little French place we like a lot and try to visit when we are in New York is Marseille.

It is located at 630 9th Ave.

It is located at 630 9th Ave.

I love their bouillabaisse.

I love Marseille’s bouillabaisse.

Alan was very pleased with his tuna steak Nicoise.

Alan was very pleased with his tuna steak Nicoise.

Haha. Sign outside a coffee shop.

Haha. Sign outside a coffee shop.

Another nice little surprise we discovered was located right inside our hotel.

The Singer is a lively bar that serves food off the lobby of the InterContinental.

The Stinger is a lively bar that serves food off the lobby of the InterContinental.

We shared some shrimp dumplings one evening and really liked them. Celebrity chef Todd English is the creative mind behind The Stinger.

We shared some shrimp dumplings one evening and really liked them. Celebrity chef Todd English is the creative mind behind The Stinger.

We love Becco and always have a meal there when we visit NYC.

We love Becco and always have a meal there when we visit NYC.

We were seated upstairs for the first time.

It is just a casually elegant eatery with a great menu selection.

Having said that, I always order the same thing: baked shrimp with spicy tomato sauce.

Having said that, I always order the same thing: baked shrimp with spicy tomato sauce.

Becco also has one of the best bread baskets in town.

Becco also has one of the best bread baskets in town.

Alan made an excellent selection, as well. He got zuppa di fagiolo bianco e scarola (white bean & escarole soup with pancetta).

Alan made an excellent selection, as well. He got Pappa al pomodoro — a thick tomato and bread soup.

Of course, we have to have a drink at Sardi’s.

Alan with 44th Street behind him out the upstairs window of Sardi's.

Alan with 44th Street behind him out the upstairs window of Sardi’s.

It never gets old.

It never gets old. (But Alan gets tired of posing.)

We always try to find the cartoon of Knoxville's own John Cullum. They move the drawings around, so it's a little game.

We always try to find the cartoon of Knoxville’s own John Cullum. They move the drawings around, so it’s a little game.

Obligatory picture of Times Square.

Obligatory picture of Times Square.

Alan’s favorite restaurant is Le Bernardin. We are going back to New York next month on a trip being arranged by the Clarence Brown Theatre and were having trouble making a reservation either online or by phone. So we decided to stop by and try to make a reservation in person. Guess what. We got the reservation made — and saw the chef/owner Eric Ripert in the dining room. He agreed to pose for a photo in the kitchen. Happy day!

Alan and Chef Eric Ripert.

Alan and Chef Eric Ripert.

We can’t wait for next month!

Thanks again to Scripps Networks Interactive for the great trip. And especially to Annette Brun and Maria Down for making the arrangements.

 

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6 Responses to Plays, food and jazz make perfect trip: our tips

  1. Gretchen F McKee, on March 17th, 2017 at 2:28 pm said:

    We have tickets for The Great Comet of 1812 the end of May. Loved your review.

  2. Diana Salesky, on March 17th, 2017 at 5:59 pm said:

    In my next life I’m coming back as Cynthia Moxley. I’ll have what you’re having! What a trip!

  3. Cynthia Moxley, on March 17th, 2017 at 10:53 pm said:

    Gretchen: I think you will love it. It is so much fun. (Not like “War and Peace.” Just saying!)

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on March 17th, 2017 at 10:53 pm said:

    Diana: You are so funny! You do as much as I do!

  5. Monique Andrrson, on March 19th, 2017 at 5:17 pm said:

    Yes. I need to be Cynthia in my next life too!!

  6. Susan Bolt, on March 21st, 2017 at 11:39 am said:

    We miss New York so much! We went a lot when the boys were up there! Loved all your recommendations! Thanks Cynthia and Alan!

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