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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our new discovery this trip was Le Rivage, located at 340 W. 46th St., on what is called “Restaurant Row.”
I had stuffed mussels, which were just so-so. But I loved my entree.
Another little French place we like a lot and try to visit when we are in New York is Marseille.
Another nice little surprise we discovered was located right inside our hotel.
Of course, we have to have a drink at Sardi’s.
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!
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.