“Can we go to New York to see a Broadway musical? Please!” – Me to Neil in August 2016.
As a theater nerd, I had been stalking a particular musical for months. All signs (and my impeccable intuition) led it to become my pick to win the Tony this season. I simply HAD to see it before it went the way of Hamilton and was sold out for all eternity. Neil and I have both been to New York City before, but never together. So being the lovely husband and budding theater fan he is, he agreed to go and make it our Christmas gift to each other. Fast forward to December and what began as a desperate plea turned into a lovely weekend jaunt to NYC. They say it’s the city that never sleeps – and we barely did. We had lots we wanted to do and only 1.5 days to do it all. Enjoy the jam-packed timeline of our fabulous adventure:
We arrived in NYC at 11PM EST, took a taxi to our Airbnb in Queens, and went to sleep. Note: there’s some seriously DRAMA going on between Airbnb and NYC. Have no fear, our accommodations were official, legal, and perfectly safe.
We woke up, got dressed, and walked a few blocks to the nearest train stain where we grabbed some Dunkin’s and our METRO cards. Our lodgings were only a few stops from Manhattan, which was mega convenient. We were able to hit Times Square by 9AM before all the crazy tourists got there. Note: I HATE looking like a tourist.
It was fun exploring a place together that we had previously only explored separately. We roamed around a bit then high-tailed it out of there – Times Square is a sight to behold for only a short amount of time. Then we walked south, popping in stores here and there and eventually made it to Harold Square and into Macy’s to see the holiday stuff. We had lots to do, so we kept walking to Mamoun’s for an early falafel lunch.
I was introduced to Mamoun’s by a friend and Neil had been unable to eat there on his last trip (the lines get long!) so it was another fun experience to share together. And it was delicious, obviously. After lunch, we caught a train to Trinity Church Cemetary to see the graves of some people you’ve probably never heard of before…
After paying our respects (or disrespects depending on which early American political party you align closest with), we caught another train to the Tenement Museum where we had a 12:45PM appointment for the Irish Outsiders tour and exhibit. The Tenement Museum is amazing. Its mission is to tell the stories of the immigrants who lived in the tenement building in which the museum resides. Honestly, if you’re into history, make sure to stop by this place. My Nana took me once before and it is always a great experience. It’s humbling to reflect back on the hard lives that many immigrants lived and still live today. We picked the Irish Outsiders tour because Neil’s ancestors immigrated from Ireland once upon a time, albeit through Boston. Everyone comes from immigrants somewhere down our family tree (mine came on the Mayflower) and for all of them I am grateful.
Our brief brush with history over, we took the train to our midday snack location: Beard Papa’s. You might remember this lovely franchise from our Boston adventure earlier this year. Well, we’re obsessed. Fresh filled cream puffs? Yes, please. Oh, and we got bubble tea. Because, duh.
Bubble teas in tow, we checked our watches and did some quick calculations to discover that yes, we did, in fact, have time to change clothes before our show. So we quickly popped by The Music Box Theater to pick up our tickets from Will Call and then took the train back to Queens to get our theater clothes on. NOTE: These days, there is no dress code for theaters anywhere in the country outside maybe a fancy opera hall. NYC will let you wear whatever the heck you want to a show so long as you pay for a ticket. But Neil and I are traditionalists and like getting spruced up before we see actors act their hearts out for us. I consider it a small way to say, “thanks for crying/spitting/laughing/dancing/dying on stage in front of me.” But to each his own.
Back at our room, we took 30-minutes to lay down and rest our feet, then changed into our “fancy clothes” and headed back to the train station. We grabbed some pizza from a shop across from The Richard Rogers Theater (home of Hamilton: An American Musical) and then arrived back at The Music Box ready to see the show. Saturday was technically the last day of “previews”, so we got to see the show the day before opening night. It was exciting to know that the actors we excited too, because many of them were one night away from officially being in their first “Broadway show”.
The show we saw is called Dear Evan Hansen. It is an original musical about a boy with severe social anxiety who, after writing a letter to himself as part of a therapy assignment, gets involved in the lives of the family of a classmate who killed himself when they find Evan’s letter in their son’s room and mistake it for a suicide note. It was directed by the guy who directed my favorite musical, Next to Normal, and it stars Ben Platt from Pitch Perfect (the magician) whose voice is that of an angel. The show itself is sweet and somber as it presents a poignant look at loneliness, isolation, and the idea that everyone truly matters. It exceeded my expectations and cemented my prediction that Ben Platt is going to win a Tony Award for his performance:
Not only was the show phenomenal, but it was really fun to experience a new musical for the first time with Neil. Usually, we’ve heard the music before or seen the recording, but this time we got to dive into an original story together. After the show, Neil got us some water bottles while I waited outside the stage door to get the cast to sign my Playbill (I collect them). I ended up standing next to the parents of one of the actors and spent the wait talking to them about how excited they were to see their son on Broadway. Signatures obtained, I found Neil and we made our way back to our room and passed out.
We let ourselves sleep in a bit Sunday morning. Eventually, we forced ourselves awake, got dressed, packed our suitcases and checked out of the Airbnb. We didn’t have to be at the airport until 2PM, so we headed to Short Term Stow where we stored our luggage. It was hidden away in the Garment District on the third floor of a building, which meant we had to drag our luggage up three flights of stairs. They put supportive messaging on the steps to keep us going, which I thought was hilarious.
Hands-free, we made our way to Central Park, stopping to look at the holiday market at Bryant Park and see the Christmas Tree at Rockafella Plaza. We had to squeeze past Trump Tower to get to the park, which was an utter nightmare. They literally shut down the sidewalks and there were blockades everywhere. Not cool. Finally, we made it to Central Park where we strolled for a bit before heading to lunch at indikitch. Alas, the time had come to say goodbye. We grabbed another bubble tea before heading back to our luggage. Then made our way by train and, eventually, by bus to the airport.
All in all, it was a wonderful whirlwind of a trip. After eight weeks of traveling almost every weekend, it was the perfect way to end our travel season and kick off the holiday season. And it was just plain fun.