Little Girl & the Big Apple


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Recently, at the Theatre

Going to the theatre has long-been my second favorite multiple-hour escape from reality – nothing can beat hard drugs (joke!). I truly believe that live theatre is magic in its truest and purest form. And when executed correctly, it can be beautiful, mood-altering and maybe even life-changing if you let it.

That said, it doesn’t take a lot to entertain me. And that said, it does take a lot to truly wow me (i.e. give me the chills, perhaps force me to show some emotion in front of strangers without the involvement of the aforementioned hard drugs (still kidding! promise!), etc.). The performances I’ve had the opportunity to take in so far this year have all done a great job at all of this. My goal was to see one show per month, not necessarily Broadway, but it just so happened to pan out that way. It was also by happy accident that I’ve averaged two shows per month so far in 2015. You’ll see no complaints here.

Here’s a very brief synopsis on each of these shows, as well as my abridged thoughts on them all. I’m not going to attempt at rating them because they are so wonderfully different. Sucks to be you, Tony Awards Administration Committee.

Jan - March Broadway

Disgraced: The easiest way to summarize Disgraced is to say that it is a play that explores how race and religion affect your relationships and identity. I was heavily persuaded to see this by my friend and I’m so, so glad I got the chance to. Columbus’ own Joshua Radnor (Schmosby!) was in this, but the whole ensemble did a fantastic job. This set was an intricate and beautiful portrayal of an UES apartment; I wanted to move in when the show was over. And fun fact: my friends and I were so impacted and inspired by this play, we went to a really hip and trendy bar (definitely not the Times Square Planet Hollywood) to discuss its themes for about two hours post-show. The last time a play had such a profound effect on me was… well, never.

Constellations: This play takes a look at one relationship and examines the infinite possibilities of each moment that makes it up. It touches on choice, destiny, and how the different thoughts we process, words we speak, and sometimes even the tones we take can vastly change the course of our lives. With just two actors (I have to admit, I came for the Jake Gyllenhaal and stayed for the Ruth Wilson), and at least 8,000 scenes (a scientific approximation), this book must have been a bitch to memorize. And I must say, the acting was truly of another universe.

Favorite quote: “We have all the time we’ve always had”

Tony guess: Ruth Wilson for best leading actress in a play

Cabaret: Set in 1930s Berlin as the Nazis were rising to power, the classic musical Cabaret is about living, loving, and being persecuted for who and how you choose to live and love. But unless you are a two-months-ago-version-of-me, you probably already knew that. I, alas, did not, so my friend and I had to see Cabaret *twice* in less than three weeks. I simply could not get over (and for the record, still haven’t) Alan Cumming’s greatness. We were able to see both Emma Stone and Sienna Miller portray Sally (both fine, in different ways), but Cumming was the main attraction for me.

Killer lyric: “Life is a cabaret, old chum. It’s only a cabaret, old chum. And I love a cabaret.”

Life guess: Alan Cumming for King of the World

Hand to God: This play, set in rural Texas, is about the process of a possessed-by-the-devil hand puppet taking over a child’s life, as he copes with his father’s recent death and his mother’s lack of dealing with it. This was definitely the most wild-card-feeling play I’ve seen yet, and definitely pushed the envelope – probably more than what, in my opinion, was necessary. This play was super original and again, definitely sparked good conversation during intermission and post-performance, but I think this could be too progressive for the masses. Noteworthy: Steven Boyer, who plays both the protagonist (Jason) and the antagonist (puppet, Tyrone) deserves the highest accolades. I couldn’t imagine that switching emotions so quickly and acting as a damn ventriloquist for two hours a night is an easy feat.

Tony guess: Steven Boyer for best leading actor in a play

Fun Home: Simply, this new musical is about seeing your parents through the eyes of an adult. It’s based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir and happens to be the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian. I can’t describe it any better than: “My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I… became a lesbian cartoonist.” And I… just saw this yesterday, and haven’t stopped thinking about how original the music is, how talented the entire creative team is, how superior this ensemble was, and most of all, how natural and honestly they integrated this seemingly tough subject matter into fun songs that carry a lot of weight and thought-provoking material. I’m a really, really, really big fan.

Killer lyric: “I don’t know who I am; I’ve become someone new. Nothing I just did is anything I would do.”

Tony guesses: I just want this to sweep. All of the actors & actresses are noteworthy, and I also dig the set, music, book, production, etc., so nothing would surprise me here

Have you been to the theatre lately? What should I see next month?


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It was really #Junobigdeal

As you’ve likely either heard or experienced firsthand, the crippling, dangerous, worst blizzard of all time that was supposedly going to slam into NYC hard on Monday night (according to the hyped up media outlets) insanely under-delivered. It produced, what us Midwesterners commonly refer to as “some snow.” Regardless, the city pitched a fit, and most of us spent Tuesday working from home. I’ve been lazy with bringing my camera out to document anything lately, but here are some photos I snapped while taking a lunch break walk around my neighborhood of Washington Heights.

I hope your snow day was filled with warm beverages, cold adventures, and spent beside good friends.

Snowday 1

Snow Day pic 5

Snow day 6

Snowday 3


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2015.

It’s 2015. Allegedly, it’s been so for 8 days.

I wasn’t going to do a 2014 recap because I didn’t seize that window of opportunity like I had planned on, and everyone’s over those by now. But real talk, everyone was over those way before they started. Plus, I’m HBIC here and I want an evergreen way to summarize my year, so pardon my insistence.

Matt Nathanson 2

My highlights of 2014 consisted of:

  • A lot of traveling home to the Midwest (OH, IL, MI) and thus, seeing many of my favorite people, multiple times throughout the year
  • Switching up my career by accepting a wonderful job in an industry I’m passionate about
  • Performing improv for the first time ever on the UCB stage
  • Seeing Billy Joel perform at a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
  • Countless brunches with friends, celebrating both the big moments and nothing at all
  • Watching live interviews with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader
  • Meeting Fred Armisen and making him laugh
  • Cheering on the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, as they made it to the Elite 8
  • Visitors in NYC! My weekends with Alex, Jenna, Robinson, Mike, and my parents were all wonderful and special in so many ways
  • And generally, anytime I ordered a Dominos pizza (light cheese, jalapeños & mushrooms), because I’m low maintenance and proud of it

In 2014, I lost some friends, gained some friends, was heartbroken to miss a dear college roommate’s wedding, moved back in to an apartment I had lived in twice prior, dyed my hair a handful of times, completed jury duty, bought a really wonderful jacket for $40 and fell in love with One Direction. It was a mixed bag.

Sinatra

For 2015, my mantra is adventure. If I was a millionaire, this would be the year I backpack around the globe, but I work in media so I’m settling for local day trips. Here’s my three-pronged approach at cracking this one open:

1) Read more. 52 books in 52 weeks round deux. Last year, this was a miserable failure – BUT I did purchase a subscription to the Times as a 25th birthday present to myself (how ah-dult of me) which I now read regularly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2) Play more. Go on more physical excursions. Photograph places and people. Experience more fun. There’s only so many weekends in my twenties I’m willing to give up to takeout and Netflix. No matter how inciting that sounds every single time.

3) Take more risks. Say yes more often. Live a little outside my comfort zone. If history serves, the best adventures typically result from these instances.

Jack Kerouac

So, what are your goals for 2015? Better question – how are you yielding one week in?


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Entertaining in the Empire City: Jess’ go-to Guide

Happy Friday! It’s the last day of the workweek and my the last post for the Entertaining in the Empire City series. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22 excited about both!

Today’s recommendations come from my best friend and roommate, Jess. Background info: I met Jess over a decade ago – participating in a variety show for our hometown theater. I became true friends with Jess when we were hired by Retail-Giant-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to deep clean their store with steel wool and a variety of semi-toxic cleaning products. I stayed friends with her for too many reasons to list. Top of my mind reasons include: Jess can hold a conversation with anyone, she’s never afraid to ask for what she wants, and her Instagram is a carefully curated work of art. She has the voice of Beyoncé, the face of Taylor Swift ;) and she always knows what she wants for dinner. The fact that she selflessly offers sound advice and unconditional support when you need it is just added bonus. (I really just keep her around for her Instagramming abilities).

So last but not least, in her words, here is Jess’ list of her favorite New York spots to show to out-of-town visitors.

Housing Works Bookstore, Soho: This place makes you feel like a hipster Belle in a bookstore paradise with spiral staircases and hundreds of rare, new, and used books. Pair that with a non-fat latte and decent record collection for browsing. Who needs a prince anyway?

UCB Cagematch, Chelsea: It goes without saying that Amy Poehler knows what’s up. Basically everything she touches turns to genius so it’s no surprise her underground improv den is sweaty, rowdy, and a whole lot of fun. I took my dad here for a midnight Cagematch show. He came for the PBRs, but stayed for the impressive fart jokes.

Le Cheile, Washington Heights: This one is just me being selfish. This adorable Irish bar is 2 blocks from my apartment. With its local art, subway tile decor, and locally sourced brews this place gives Brooklyn a run for its money. Oh, and the GIANT grilled cheese is kind of out of this world.

Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights: If you want to blow a tourist’s mind take them to this park. It feels like you’ve been dropped inside a mythical fairy land complete with beautiful flower gardens, tangles of tree branches overhead, and castles filled to the brim with medieval art. Oh, and somehow you’re still in Manhattan.

PUNDERDOME 3000, Gowanus, Brooklyn: Alright, I’ll hand it to Brooklyn for this one. PUNDERDOME is a weirdly wonderful evening once a month where pun aficionados convene in a battle royal of wits. Don’t question it, just go. It’s a pun of fun (get it?!).

 

And that’s a wrap on Entertaining in the Empire City, folks! Anything we missed? Anything you’re dying to check out?


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Entertaining in the Empire City: Anela and Mandy’s Favorite Spots

Day three. You know the drill. These two ladies are one-of-a-kind friends, and both have such unique takes on their favorite spots in the city. I met them both at the same former job (at different times), and even both being ladies of fashion, their tastes couldn’t be more different.

Up first, Anela – who was born and raised in Long Island and bleeds Brooklyn to the tee. She’s lived all over the boroughs, recently traveled to Africa, and finds inspiration everywhere she goes and in everything she does. She’s quirky, fun, and endlessly curious. Here’s what she has to say:

Anela prefaces, “These are my all time favorite places to eat. They really have an old school vibe to them, and are very New York. I’ve gotten to know them well, and I have to say they have stolen my heart. ”

As mentioned previously, my friend Mandy is another one of the fashionistas I surround myself with on the reg. Her Cali roots have instilled her with a sense of adventure and a professional drive that never gives up. For someone who I forced to call me “Princess” for the first three weeks we were acquainted (the same name didn’t vibe well with me off the bat), I’m surprised (and delighted!) that we are as close as we are now. But more so than that, I’m grateful, because I can’t imagine my New York life without her honest, rom-com-y, positive outlook on life. Here’s a few of Mandy’s favorite places she likes to show off to visitors.


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Entertaining in the Empire City: According to Mike

Here is part deux of the series I made up introduced yesterday – Entertaining in the Empire City.

The question: “When you have visitors in NYC, what are the five places (restaurants, bars, etc.) you MUST take them?

The answerer: my pal Mike, who currently resides in LA. I had the good fortune of befriending Mike a few years ago in between folding heaps of Joe’s Jeans, color-coding sock walls and opening fitting room doors for cheap men price-conscious shoppers at a former job. Simply put, Mike’s the best. I trust his fashion sense tenfold over my own. His sarcasm and wit are constantly on point, and he’s one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Also, I think that it’s a universally accepted truth that you haven’t lived until Mike’s called you a bitch. He uses that word better than anyone I know and it’s hilarious and honest (and warranted) every single time.

Mike’s answers: I should note that he mentioned, “I had a hard time sticking to 5 places.” Here’s what made the cut:

  • The Room, Soho: Chillest bar ever.
  • The Heights Bar & Grill,  Morningside Heights: Cannot miss the happy hour on their rooftop.
  • The Sixth Ward, Lower East Side: $20 for brunch with unlimited mimosas.
  • Raines Law Room, Union Square: Really cool speakeasy. Visitors die over this place because they feel like they’re part of some exclusive New York lifestyle. *eye roll*
  • Veselka, East Village: Pierogi all day every day. OMG AND MINDY KALING LOVES IT TOO.*
  • Koronet Pizza, Morningside Heights: I don’t care what anyone says; this is the best NYC pizza place.
  • Spice (Multiple Locations): Delicious Thai food, and they’re all over Manhattan.
  • Obviously Shake Shack (Multiple locations): I love taking west coasters here.  They’ll never admit it’s better than In-N-Out, but they’ll know it’s true. Just like they won’t admit Disney World is better than Disneyland. “You just can’t compare the two,” they say.  YEAH, BECAUSE DISNEY WORLD IS THAT MUCH BETTER.

*see Mindy Kaling’s Instagram for further information.


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Entertaining in the Empire City: a la Allison

Do you live in a big city and find yourself desperate and unsure of what to do when you have to get to entertain visitors? I suppose you really don’t have to live in a big city to warrant that problem. But alas, a problem it is for many, if the random sampling I took of my friends holds true to the population at large.

Truth is, although I’ve been neglecting to update my audience here, I do tend to find myself occupied most weeknights and many weekends of the year — like you too, I am sure. But whenever I have guests coming that ask me to plan a fun weekend, my mind draws blank. My weekends in distant memory are suddenly painted in cherry red Netflix, my favorite coffee shop morphs into a Starbucks and the only activities that come to mind are Time Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. Like most city-dwellers, none of that generally occupies my daily life. Point is — I always struggle to come up with cute, quaint, and not mega tourist-heavy spots for my house-guests.

I wanted to curate a no-fail list of amazing restaurants, activities et al to entertain weekend visitors, if you too happen to live in the city and face this problem. However – what do I know? A lot of my weekends DO consist of Netflix. So I did what any other girl would have done – I got by with a little help from my friends. And since I have many wonderful people in my life who volunteered to help a girl out, I decided to make this into a series.

Each of these fine New York loving pals took their own unique twist on answering my question, and their picks highlighted their own experience in the city and personality to a fault. So without further ado, I begin the first entry in my Entertaining in the Empire City series.

I’ve known Allison literally since the day I moved to New York. Unbeknownst to us both at that time, we later lived with each other for about a year, and even now we still remain close since her exciting relocation to Chicago a few months back. To paint you a little picture, Allison is what you’d get if you blended Carrie Bradshaw and Elizabeth Warren in a mixer, heated in the oven for 40 minutes at 375 degrees, and then iced that to look like Jackie O. She’s powerful, classy, and unapologetically herself 24/7. It’s no surprise that her favorite New York haunts are riddled with those vibes as well. In her words, here’s her favorite locales to entertain guests:

Dive Bar: Fourfaced LiarWest Village: Best place to meet the real New Yorkers who have lived in Greenwich Village for over 30 + years, who might have a drinking problem — but that only adds to its charm.  Ironically has the best bloody mary in Manhattan (made by John the bartender).

Mob-vibe Italian: VolareGreenwich Village: If you are under 35 you will be easily the youngest person there.  Even if you don’t eat here, go in and have a Negroni to experience the place.  In a city where restaurants open and close all the time, Volare has been a West Village staple for ages and you feel like you’ve entered a time warp when you walk in.

Wasted Happy Hour: Pazza NotteMidtown West: Best bang for your buck happy hour.  2 for 1 Martinis all night, 7 days a week.  Pizza, Risotto, and truffle fries (they LOVE their truffle oil here) are amazing and are the perfect foods to keep your hangover at bay.

Best ViewPer SeHell’s Kitchen: I literally take friends and family who are visiting here because I do not want to wait in line or be part of the Empire Hotel rooftop scene. Outstanding ambiance and you can always get a seat and enjoy a martini which are great here.  They usually have a DJ so you can dance if you want.

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