New York City Archives

August 28, 2004

Police State?

I took a train from New Haven to New York City today to attend the U. S. Tennis Association's coaches conference in conjunction with the U. S. Open. From the time I arrived in Union Station in New Haven, I was struck by the presence of so much law enforcement--no doubt in light of the upcoming political convention in New York. There were local police, state troopers, and soldiers with machine guns patrolling the station and the train ride as well. And Grand Central Station had a similar presence. The streets of New York didn't have the military presence but there were a LOT of boys in blue on display.

August 29, 2004

It's A Helluva Town

There's a buzz in the air in the Big Apple. The GOP National Convention is descending on the city just as U.S. Open tennis is getting underway.

I walked through Times Square tonight. Protestors were out in force all over the place, as were New York's finest. (I haven't seen so many police in Times Square since I last spent New Year's Eve there.)

August 16, 2006

Fifth Avenue Apple Temple


I am writing this on my first visit to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The entrance to the underground retail floor is a striking glass cube in the middle of a plaza just off Central Park. One enters either down the spiral stairs or via the cylindrical elevator in the middle of the stairway. A pretty cool place!

August 27, 2006

Tennis Nostalgia


Just checked into my New York City hotel. On the eve of the U.S. Open, there are lots of tennis folks around town. (I am here for the USTA's conference for coaches.) As the Open will be Andre Agassi's last event before his retirement, ESPN Classic is now replaying the final of the 1995 Australian Open final between him and Pete Sampras. I have warm memories of this particular tournament, which Agassi won. It was the first appearance of the "pirate look" for Andre; he had finally cut his dyed long hair before playing in Melbourne, radically changing his image. It was also the year when Sampras experienced a semi-breakdown during his quarterfinal match against Jim Courier, in light of the medical difficulties Pete's coach Tim Gullikson (who later died of brain cancer) was going through at the time. At the time, the two players were ranked #1 and #2. Arguably each was at his peak (or, in Agassi's case, one of his peaks!). The final was of remarkably high quality and it was called by the all-star ESPN commentary squad of Cliff Drysdale, Fred Stolle, and Mary Carillo. It's a treat to watch it again.

The Center Of The Universe


Just got back from Times Square, where I saw the flick The Illusionist. (It was reasonably entertaining, if awfully predictable.) You really feel the place is the axis mundi--there's such an energetic vibe to the place. It's like Piccadilly Circus on steroids.

August 28, 2006

1996 Tony Award Winner


Just saw the Broadway production of Rent. Yeah, I know I'm ten years behind its debut, but I figured it was about time.

Night Play At The U.S. Open


Upon returning from the theater, I caught Andre Agassi's rebound in the third set of his first round match from a 0-4 deficit to a tiebreak win. The fourth set will start past midnight.

August 29, 2006

Agassi Wins One


After a tight start, Agassi pulled out his first round match against a game Andrei Pavel.

June 27, 2007

Inherit The Wind


I just finished watching a matinee performance of Inherit The Wind on Broadway, starring Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy. It brought back a lot of memories, as I played Henry Drummond (the Plummer role) in my senior year of high school. Some of the lines were dredged up from deep memories as I watched the performance.

August 9, 2007

What I Forgot

Sitting in the airport, waiting to board my flight, I realized what I forgot to pack: a belt (no real problem there); my portable iPod speakers (I can live without those, too); in the absence of the speakers, a USB cord to re-charge my iPod (I just bought a replacement cord here in Kennedy Airport for $18). But I've got my passport and my wallet, and I am traveling light, so hopefully there will be no snags.

December 5, 2007

Spectacular View


After the Choate holiday alumni party I am spending the night in the apartment of an alum in Long Island City, across the East River from Manhattan. On the 24th floor of the building, this place has a wall of windows featuring a panoramic view of the river below and the city in all of its illuminated glory. The visual sweep ranges from the Brooklyn Bridge to the left to the Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge and Randalls Island to the right. And Manhattan sure does look pretty from this vantage point.

I have two meetings in the city in the morning before heading home to Wallingford.

December 6, 2007

Song Of The Day #340

An incredibly atmospheric song: "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins.

Phil Collins - Face Value - In the Air Tonight

March 5, 2008

The Seafarer


I caught a matinee of The Seafarer on Broadway this afternoon. I was in the second row of the orchestra section--within spitting distance of the stage. Conor McPherson's play is wonderfully written--in turns funny, poignant, suspenseful, and poetic--and it features an absolutely spectacular cast. The action takes place entirely in a run-down house in a town north of Dublin and there's not a boring moment in the piece.

April 24, 2008

A Masterful Macbeth


The production of Macbeth finished just a few minutes before 11:00 and I made it across Manhattan on foot to Grand Central Terminal with time to spare before my 11:22 train to New Haven.

The show itself was cleverly staged, with technological elements that added to a chaotic assault on the senses designed to accompany the violent aspects of the story itself. The three witches--the "weird sisters"--were thoughtfully redeployed throughout the play as nurses, servants, kitchen helpers to dramatic effect. And the strong cast, led by a superb Patrick Stewart in the title role, made it a most effective presentation.

June 14, 2008



Laurence Fishburne was most impressive in the one-man show Thurgood, based on the life of civil rights attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. I saw the matinee today from a third row aisle seat--a terrific vantage point from which to see Fishburne work at close range. The play--which seemed to draw far more African-Americans to the audience than most Broadway fare, not surprisingly--was accessible, witty, and moving.


I got absolutely drenched by three successive waves of downpours as thunderstorms blanketed the city tonight. I was caught out on the street, and consequently my clothes are soaked through as I am about to head into a three-and-a-half hour show this evening. My clothes wouldn't be much wetter had I jumped into a pool. Not comfortable!

An Exquisite Ensemble Piece


I saw the evening performance of August: Osage County, which is favored to win the "Best Play" honors at tomorrow night's Tony ceremonies. The first-rate ensemble cast of 13--dominated by a handful of vibrantly portrayed female characters--brought to life a piece that was, in turns, hilariously funny, starkly shocking, and emotionally wrenching. The family secrets thrown into the mix included marital infidelity, suicide, incest, recreational drug use, and a middle-aged man's sexual attraction to a 14-year-old girl. The play is long, clocking in at over three-and-a-half hours, but well worth the time.

July 27, 2008

You Gotta Have Heart


Just saw the final performance of City Center's three-week summer run of Damn Yankees starring Sean Hayes, Jane Krakowski, and Cheyenne Jackson. This was a show I had never seen before, though I was somewhat familiar with a couple of its songs. As these things go, this was clearly light entertainment. It was hardly the best show I've seen on Broadway, but certainly sufficient for a summer night's entertainment.

August 21, 2008

Some Enchanted Evening


I trekked into Manhattan tonight to see this season's hit revival of South Pacific. There's not a bad seat in the Vivien Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center--a venue where I had seen Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and Kevin Kline in Henry IV in years past. I was not familiar with this particular Rodgers & Hammerstein show, but left impressed by both the work and the performance. I worried that the 1940s setting would make the piece seem dated, but it has held up quite well over sixty years later. Kelli O'Hara was terrific as Nellie Forbush and Brazilian opera singer Paulo Szot, who won a Tony for this role, was equally formidable as the male lead. The entire company was well cast, for that matter. The production values were strong, with effective sets and lighting, and a 30-piece orchestra did justice to a compelling score.

August 26, 2008

The Open


Spent most of today at the U.S. Open, primarily prowling around the outer courts, taking in bits of matches here and there. I've been going to the tournament since it was played at Forest Hills, and I'm convinced the first few days of the best time to attend, since you can see lots of main draw action around the grounds and get a feel for the entire event. On the other hand, it's far better to see the big showdowns in the quarters, semis, and finals on television, which enables you to be more intimately connected to the drama unfolding.

October 3, 2008

Sweet Airs That Give Delight


I just finished watching the second half of Shakespeare's final play. The Tempest. I drove to New York City after practice this afternoon, hitting Manhattan in plenty of time for the 8 p.m. curtain downtown. Unfortunately the West Side Drive was snarled in standstill traffic. Moving through the streets of the city wasn't exactly quick either. The upshot was I didn't arrive at the theater until 8:45. What I watched was very enjoyable. So I may have to head back down to see this play again--hopefully in its entirety--before its limited run ends later this month.

October 19, 2008

New MacBooks


I'm in the Apple Store in lower Manhattan putting the new MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops through their paces. The displays are indeed "gorgeous"--as Steve Jobs is prone to say--and the multi-touch glass touchpads work brilliantly.

Seen On 13th Street, Greenwich Village


The Tempest Redux


Just finished seeing The Tempest at the Classical Stage Company in New York. This time around--unlike two weeks ago--I saw the part before the intermission, as well! Determined to see the play in its entirety, I took the train into Manhattan with two Choate students for the afternoon. This was the final performance of the limited run and there were a couple of well-known actors in the audience: John Glover and Sam Waterston (whose daughter Elizabeth was playing Miranda). The show was quite good, with innovative set and lighting design. The acting was solid throughout, as well.

November 9, 2008

Chip Kidd and Neil Gaiman


Just spent most of the evening in Manhattan at the 92nd Street Y for an event in which designer Chip Kidd interviewed author Neil Gaiman. I've been a fan of the work of both gentlemen, so this was a treat. The pair signed books--Kidd's Bat-Manga and Gaiman's The Graveyard Book--for me afterwards and I had a pleasant chat with each, as well.

November 22, 2008



Just saw the Tony-winning Boeing-Boeing this afternoon. It's a very funny play, with a strong cast headlined by Christine Baranski and Mark Rylance (who won the Best Actor Tony for the part). I was in the third row center, a great vantage point from which to enjoy the antics. I'd recommend this to anyone, particularly while Rylance is in it. He reprised his role from the West End run of the play last year.

Instructions For Life

I was just looking at the emergency instructions graphic on the Times Square Shuttle here in New York and reminded of the riff on it that I posted here in June of 2007:

This is the source.

November 26, 2008

A Faustian Bargain


I've just gotten home from the city, having seen Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust at the Met. For some reason it started late (9 p.m.) and I had to take a taxi to Grand Central in order to make the 12:22 back to New Haven. The production itself has been garnering rave reviews for its stunning visuals, and I can understand why, as the wall of video screens and the software that facilitated interactivity between the singers and the projected images made for quite the spectacle.

November 30, 2008

Sitting Pretty In The Garden

I am at Madison Square Garden right now with Christophe Lirola, watching the Rangers play from pretty sweet seats in the second row right behind the goal. Here is the iPhone view from this vantage point:

The Seagull


Just caught the critically lauded production of The Seagull on Broadway this afternoon. The show stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Peter Sarsgaard, and Mackenzie Crook in the Chekov classic. This play is serious stuff--far from the much lighter farcical fare like Boeing-Boeing I saw here the weekend before. The star-studded cast pulled it off admirably.

December 2, 2008

Another Spring Awakening


I saw the musical Spring Awakening on Broadway for the second time this evening, but this time had the unusual vantage point of seats on stage. The production is in its final six weeks, and the theater was at best two-thirds full tonight. Sitting on the side of the stage offered a fascinating perspective on the show. While the sound system and blocking are designed for those sitting out in the audience, I got to see the onstage action at close range and appreciate the acting more than I would have 10 or 12 rows back. It was a fun evening.

January 2, 2009

Bad Advice

Since I am heading into the city for a couple of days, the easiest way to get to Manhattan without the hassle and expense associated with parking is to take MetroNorth from Connecticut. I usually catch the train in New Haven--a quick twenty-minute jaunt from home. But several of my colleagues in the Development Office at Choate have suggested South Norwalk station as a better place to park. So I tried it today. I don't see any advantage: it's nearly three times the drive from campus, you only save a few bucks per day to park there, and there's not much savings on the train ticket either. Next time, I'll leave from New Haven.

A Weekend With Scholars


I am attending my first Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association here in New York this weekend. I've been a member of this group--which once claimed Teddy Roosevelt as its president--on and off over the years. Since this gathering was in New York and scheduled at a time when I had no other trips nor obligations planned, I decided to give it a whirl. And as a bonus, the special hotel rate makes a weekend in the city eminently affordable. While the conference is dominated by college professors, there are a fair number of high school teachers, public historians, and independent scholars here as well. I already attended one session and found myself sitting next to a Choate grad who now teaches at the university level.

Coming Up Roses


Since I am staying right in Times Square, in the heart of the theater district, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to see a show or two. Tonight was Gypsy, which I was scheduled to see a month or so ago but it turned out Patti LuPone's understudy was on that night, and I decided to wait to see the star herself. LuPone is the closest thing we have today to an Ethel Merman or a Mary Martin--a genuine Broadway star. The show was much better than I remembered it and it was easy to see why LuPone bagged a Tony for her tour de force performance.

January 3, 2009

A New Look For Rafa


Guess who is wearing sleeves now? And those Capri pants appear to be a thing of the past, too. These photos are from the exhibition being played in Abu Dhabi this week. (Nadal advanced to the final, where he'll face Andy Murray, who knocked off Roger Federer 7-6 in the third in the other semi.)

Medius Mundi Locus


As many times as I've stayed in New York City, I think I've never wound up sleeping near Times Square. I usually wind up somewhere on the West Side of Manhattan. I am reminded a bit of my old central London lodging of choice: the Regent Palace off Piccadilly Circus. You could walk out of the hotel and feel like you're in the center of the world. But Times Square is Piccadilly Circus on steroids: everything is bigger, brighter, and louder.

Another Apple Toy


I ordered the Apple TV unit from Amazon for my soon-to-be-acquired new HD television. Ordering it from Amazon was the smart move, in that it was 3% off the retail price (which is what you pay at an Apple online or bricks-and-mortar store) plus I get two-day free shipping as an Amazon Prime member, plus--and this was the kicker--no tax. Ordering from Apple, I'd have to pay Connecticut sales tax, as the company has physical stores in the state.

A Cherry Orchard Across The River


I traveled to Brooklyn tonight to see the new production of The Cherry Orchard in its second night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This fine Sam Mendes-directed show is the inaugural effort of The Bridge Project, which seeks to unite American and English theater actors, directors, and producers with performances scheduled on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as on far-flung stages in New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, and Greece). Tom Stoppard's new version of the Chekhov classic lent itself to a first-rate production, with excellent production values--the set design and lighting in particular were phenomenal--and a solid cast.

January 4, 2009

Time For Work

Playtime is over. This was enjoyable vacation, if not a particularly productive one, but I needed some down time to read, reflect, and relax. I am about to leave New York City on a train to Connecticut and will be back at school early this afternoon, ready for the pitter-patter of little feet all around me once more.

January 6, 2009

La Vie Bohème


It's the second intermission at La Bohème here at The Met. An enjoyable show--albeit it's surprising that one of the most popular entries in the world opera repertory doesn't really contain any recognizable melodies--and the real star is Franco Zeffirelli's staging; the sets are spectacular.

March 15, 2009

Note To Self: Avoid LGA

I got a pretty good fare on Delta to Tampa, flying out of LaGuardia Aiport in Queens. When I fly out of New York, it's almost always out of JFK, and occasionally out of Newark. I can remember flying out of LaGuardia perhaps twice: once to the Bahamas in 1989 and once to South Bend, Indiana maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Of the three New York airports, this is the easiest to get to from Connecticut. But my experience here has not been good:

  • the parking rate in the long-term economy lot is steep: it's $15/day, just like at JFK, but the first two days are double that assessment

  • I had to pay $15 to check one bag! I suppose this is more a problem with Delta than with LGA, but it's the first time I've ever had to do this

  • after checking in at the computer kiosk, I had to wait on some brutal lines to check my bag and then clear security

Even if the flights are more expensive, the convenience of Bradley Airport is looking more and more compelling all the time for domestic travel.

March 22, 2009

One More Strike Against LGA

I am here in the baggage claim of the Delta terminal at LaGuardia Airport, some 10-15 minutes after most of the passengers on my flight have retrieved their luggage and left, and I am still waiting for my checked bag to make its appearance on the carousel. Arrgghhh!

April 23, 2009

No Checked Baggage


I've been aspiring to do this for some time: limit my luggage to just one piece of carry-on for trips less than a week long. I have done this for my winter long weekend getways to Florida to visit my folks, but this is the first international trip I've been able to pull it off. The trick is to depend on the hotel to provide shampoo and conditioner, take just one razor cartridge, which can always be replaced cheaply if confiscated, buy toothpaste locally, and minimize changes of clothes. I still am taking more than I should: two books, instead of one; two seasons worth of DVDs, instead of one; and more magazines than I will be able to digest in three days. And I can't seem to part with my MacBook and the portable DVD player. But everything fits into one backpack and this is progress!

May 24, 2009

Let The Sun Shine In


Saw the revival of Hair on Broadway this afternoon. The show has gotten good reviews, but I found it a little disappointing. There's a big push for audience participation, but it seemed like the production was trying a little too hard on this front. There are a few memorable songs--my parents must have seen this at some point, for I grew up hearing the cast recording--but a lot more disposable ones.

June 24, 2009

Shakespeare Under The Stars


Well, under the clouds anyway. The star-studded production of Twelfth Night was entertaining indeed, and I didn't even get wet on a night when thunderstorms were forecast.

There were no takers back in Wallingford for the other free ticket I won, so I tweeted the opportunity, which in turn updated my Facebook status message, and within a few minutes I made a connection with a face from the past: a student from my first year of teaching at Andover who is now an architect in New York. We hadn't seen each other in over 15 years, so this was a great chance to reconnect.

The show itself was a rock-solid production. Music--"the food of love" as the first line of the play reminds us--was well employed throughout the show. The cast was excellent, headlined by Anne Hathaway in the Viola/Cesario role and the always-great Audra McDonald as Olivia. This is the perfect Shakespeare comedy to be staged outdoors in the summer. Not surprisingly, the Public Theater has done so repeatedly over the years. My very first Shakespeare In The Park was in 1989, when I saw a Twelfth Night with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum among others.

This was a treat, and the price (free!) certainly was right!

July 31, 2009

In Which Our Hero Meets Some Adversity

Things got complicated this afternoon. As I was packing, a fierce electrical storm ended up cutting all power in Memorial House. I had clothes in the dryer (that I planned to take on my trip) and I had to fumble around in near-darkness for the final stages of packing. Not fun. And it forced me to leave for the airport about 30 minutes later than I had planned.

Felled trees, steady rain, and congested Friday traffic combined to make the trip from Wallingford to Kennedy Airport pretty brutal. So brutal, in fact, that I arrived in the terminal about 20 minutes before my flight was due to take off. I knew as I was stuck in traffic that missing my flight was a growing possibility, but I hoped departures would be delayed due to the weather. No such luck in my case. So I have a seat on the 11:30 flight (I was due to fly out on the 9:15) but American Airlines charged me $250 for the change! Outrageous, but I think it's because I booked this with mileage points, if memory serves, so it's in a weird class of tickets. But at least I will get to London early tomorrow!

October 4, 2009

One Day University


Just finished a slate of lectures as part of the One Day University program. This meant getting up in time to take the 5:45 a.m. train from New Haven so I could be at the New York Hilton before 9:00 for the first lecture on Moby-Dick. Subsequent presentations were on the psychology of art appreciation, Shakespeare, the philosophy of the ancients, and connections between Beethoven and The Beatles. Pretty interesting day overall. Now back to Grand Central for the train to Connecticut.

October 15, 2009

An Intriguing Poster

SpiderManTurnOffThe Dark.jpg

Ran across this poster on my way to the theater tonight. Coming to Broadway at the end of the winter: a Spider-Man musical, directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) with music by Bono and The Edge. Pretty safe bet I'll be checking this out!

October 28, 2009

Acela To Philly


I am traveling to Philadelphia on the Acela this afternoon, though it arrived in New Haven 40 minutes late and was further delayed coming into New York City. This is such a comfortable train! The play I am seeing tonight is at the Annenberg Center, on the Penn campus, just a few blocks from 30th Street Station in the City Of Brotherly Love.

January 10, 2010

The Two Noble Kinsmen


Just saw a production of The Two Noble Kinsmen, which scholarly consensus now attributes to William Shakespeare and John Fletcher--both resident playwrights for The King's Men acting company. The show featured nine actors from the Guerrilla Shakespeare Company [I am not sure why "guerrilla" is spelled with two r's.] This play was likely first staged at the Blackfriars indoor theater. Clearly this is not among the best of The Bard's works, of course, but it moves me just a bit closer to my quest to complete the canon, which it looks like I will be able to do before the end of this school year.

January 19, 2010

New York City By Night


Following this afternoon's squash practice, I drove down to Brooklyn via the Triborough Bridge and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and caught spectacular views of Manhattan along the elevated sections of the highway. I am here to catch a Shakespeare production, which is just about to start.

February 16, 2010

Our Revels Now Have Ended


The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and I battled through the snowstorm in Connecticut to get down to Brooklyn to see it tonight (New York City has virtually no snow on the streets, while there is over a foot on the ground back home). I've now seen all four productions by The Bridge Project, an Anglo-American collaboration that stages two plays in repertory and takes them around the world for the better part of a year. Last year in the inaugural season for this company, The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale were paired; I saw the former in New York in the winter and the latter in London in August. The cast of tonight's play was the same one I saw perform As You Like It a few weeks back.

I liked this version of The Tempest. British actor Stephen Dillane was a marvelous Prospero in particular. The sets and lighting were inventive, with the rear of the stage filled with a couple inches of water. The play was staged without intermission, running a bit more than two hours, but it was engaging throughout.

February 20, 2010

God Of Carnage


Broadway's God Of Carnage is a fairly biting comedy of manners, a black comedy for sure. The four-person cast (Christine Lahti, Jimmy Smits, Annie Potts, and Ken Stott) was excellent in this witty send-up of modern bourgeois values.

March 5, 2010

The Ghost Writer


I caught a late afternoon showing of The Ghost Writer down here in the city. Pretty good political thriller, even if I saw the key plot twist coming a mile away. I like Ewen McGregor in just about anything he's in, and this movie made the best use of Pierce Brosnan since The Thomas Crown Affair remake.

Equivocation Redux


I saw a second production of Equivocation in New York tonight; I liked the play a great deal when I saw its premiere outing in Oregon last summer and wanted to see if this version was any better. It wasn't, I think, but this still was an enjoyable show. I know a bit more about the background--the Gunpowder Plot, the King's Men (Shakespeare's theatrical company), and the Catholic vs. Protestant angle in late 1500s and early 1600s England--now than I did the first time I saw this play, and so was more attuned to some of the details in the work. Pretty provocative stuff.

March 8, 2010


Back at Kennedy Airport once more. Had a flawless drive down and left the Explorer in Long-Term Parking and then took the AirTrain to arrive at Terminal 4 with plenty of time to spare (still reliving my nightmare at the end of summer school last year, when I missed my flight to London!). Next stop: Heathrow Airport.

March 13, 2010

White Knuckle Landing

The winds in New York are gusting very heavily today and that made landing a jet airliner a tricky proposition in Kennedy Airport. My Virgin Atlantic flight actually abandoned the first approach due to the winds and the second time around it felt like we were riding a roller coaster as the ground drew nearer. Hard not to feel a pit in the stomach at a time like this. Feeling a tremendous sense of relief once we touched down, the passengers burst into a spontaneous round of applause.

April 24, 2010

When Will We See iPhone Tethering?


When version 3.0 of the iPhone OS arrived last summer, AT&T and Apple suggested the ability to tether a laptop to the iPhone's Internet connection would be just a few months away. Carriers in other countries began to offer this feature last July, and yet there's still no word when American iPhone users will get to join this party. Maybe in 2010?

Traveling on Amtrak from Connecticut to Philadelphia today, I certainly would have found tethering useful to allow my MacBook Air to access e-mail and the Web. (Of course, in a few days I'll have my iPad with 3G connectivity, so my desire for tethering will be far less pressing.)

April 25, 2010

One Day University Redux


In New York City today for a second helping of One Day University, a program of lectures by college professors in various disciplines. I spent a Sunday in October at one of these gatherings, as well. Today I am attending sessions in international relations, psychology, philosophy, and music.

June 12, 2010

Seamless Start To My Trip

When I flew to London at the end of summer school in 2009, it started disastrously. I had to rush to finish reports and other chores before leaving and left packing until the last minute. Normally not a problem, but thunderstorms shut down the electricity, which slowed me down considerably and got me off to a late start. Road and traffic conditions were abysmal in light of the weather and I ended up getting to JFK fifteen minutes before my plane was scheduled to leave. I had to pay through the nose for a later flight.

This time around, I was packed early, left campus early, enjoyed smooth sailing on the drive down, checked in and cleared security quickly, and everything is peachy!

June 26, 2010

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson


Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is in the last weekend of its run at The Public Theater downtown. The play came highly recommended and l saw the first of two shows tonight and am happy to report it lived up to its billing. Ostensibly the story of Andrew Jackson's life and political career, it is a biting (and musical) look at populism in America.

June 29, 2010

Exit, Pursued By A Bear


I was in Central Park tonight for the Public Theater's 2010 Shakespeare In The Park series. The Winter's Tale is in repertory with The Merchant Of Venice (I am scheduled to see the latter next Tuesday)

The Winter's Tale is one of my favorite plays by the Bard. It's a late play, a romance--not quite fitting into the usual breakdown of comedy, tragedy, or history. The cast was quite strong and the production generally solid. I saw two stagings of this play in England last August: the one at The Old Vic was The Bridge Project's presentation, which played around the world, and the other was the RSC's in Stratford. The Public's version tonight held up well next to those two excellent renditions.

And who wouldn't enjoy a night of al fresco drama at the Delacorte Theater, with the beautiful Turtle Pond visible behind the stage and a moonlit sky overhead on a clear summer's night?

July 6, 2010

A Pound Of Flesh


On a hot and humid evening in New York City, I watched the flip side of The Public Theater's summer Shakespeare In The Park repertory offerings: The Merchant Of Venice. Al Pacino's Shylock was the big name here, but the cast--most of whom appeared in The Winter's Tale that I caught last week--was very capable indeed. This was a gripping take on the play, and Pacino made Shylock generally sympathetic without undermining the character's complexity. The "comedy" aspects of the play--principally the relationship between Portia and Bassanio--worked quite well to balance the drama onstage.

October 3, 2010

Six Lectures In A Row


Since we have an informal long weekend break with no classes scheduled tomorrow, I am escaping into Manhattan for the day. I am in the middle of a One Day University program, sitting through a half-dozen presentations by college professors (and former New York governor Mario Cuomo) on such diverse topics as the U.S. Supreme Court, psychology, creative writing, and Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Next To Normal

Next to Normal poster.jpg

I saw the rock musical Next To Normal this evening. The show is about an American family dealing with a mother's bipolar disorder. Somehow this rather heavy topic works pretty well as a musical.

May 12, 2011

Sir Derek Jacobi's Lear


The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted the Donmar Warehouse's recent production of King Lear, and this was probably the strongest staging of Shakespeare's masterpiece I've yet seen. Derek Jacobi was a formidable Lear and the actresses portraying Goneril and Regan were especially strong too, bringing out colors in these roles I had not seen before. The scene in which Gloucester has his eyes plucked out was never more violent than in this performance, though it worked well in context. The set was appropriately spare and all the production values seemed to click. A terrific night at the theater (and I was able to bring two students from "Shakespeare And The Death Of Kings," the senior English elective I am currently teaching).

April 28, 2011



I would pay to see Mark Rylance read the Manhattan phone book aloud on stage, so I was thrilled that the Jez Butterworth play Jerusalem was a fitting showcase for his ample acting talents. As "Rooster" Byron, a ne'er-do-well Falstaffian lord of misrule in rural England, Rylance delivered an incredible performance, a tour de force! And the play is pretty terrific all around. Don't miss this if you are able to get to Broadway during its run.

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