Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back from NYC

Central Park in February

Growing up in NYC, I vacationed in the country, but now that I live in Maine, I crave urban vacations. I actually sleep better in my old bedroom, lulled by the hum of traffic. My homecomings are jamb-packed with old friends, family, dining out, shopping and culture fixes. This trip I also had a fun lunch in Soho with Elizabeth who blogs at About New York and The World Examining Works. My husband and I like to plan our visits around theater, and this time we saw two gems.

Last year in England, we’d heard fabulous things about Kevin Spacey in Shakespeare’s Richard III. The production hopped over the pond to BAM and is well worth a trip to Brooklyn just to see it (playing through March 3rd). Nearly unedited, this historical tragedy ran 3 ¼ hours, which felt a bit long but never dull. Kevin Spacey has a wonderful stage presence, and he mines evil Richard, oddly enough, for comedy. Spacey’s Richard came second only to Sir Ian McKellen’s Richard back in 1992, another British export. There is a movie adaptation of Richard III with Sir Ian too.

We also saw Alan Rickman, playing a curmudgeonly writing teacher/author, in The Seminar on Broadway. Rickman (ie Snape from Harry Potter and a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company) commanded the stage with beautiful diction and charisma to spare. The four actors playing his students were pitch perfect. We’d seen Lily Rabe as Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and she showed her versatility in this contemporary role. Theresa Rebeck's hilarious new comedy examines/parodies the challenges of breaking into the literary profession. The Seminar is a must see for writers and readers of all ages (playing through April 1st.)  

My parents and teenaged kids loved both performances. My daughter was especially thrilled to spot actress Emma Stone in the audience. She was brave enough to get her autograph. Emma was beautiful, humble and really nice.  What a fun trip for a 14-year-old girl who wants to be an actress herself one day!

A trip to NYC with my kids makes me reflect on my childhood. Often the media highlights the problems facing teens these days, so I was pleased to read some reassuring stats in the NYT Magazine: The Kids Are More than All Right. What do you think: are teens better off now or back in your day?

Bookstore Watch: Happy Birthday to Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick! The owners will be celebrating their 33rd year of business this weekend (Feb 24-25) with 30% discounts on all books. This independent bookstore outlasted Borders and is still going strong.


tina said...

What a beautiful picture of Central Park. It looks almost European!

Les said...

Thanks for posting that link about the kids being all right. I would tend to agree, at least with the crowd my son hangs out with. With him entering high school next year, I can only hope that he does not get into half the trouble I did. I think the bad behavior of my generation, which was rampant, is perhaps seen by some of today's kids as something to avoid, just because it is what the parents did.

Carolflowerhillfarm said...

Sarah, This is such a wonderful post! I feel like I had a free jolt from the city. Fabulous shot from Central Park and I so enjoyed the theatre clips! Richard III looks fantastic, though I might prefer the lighter Seminar. Your NY posts always remind me how much I love and miss visiting. Well, it is interesting to hear about how teens are doing these days. It does seem that each generation since the baby boomers is a bit more conservative in some ways. I would guess better off or not depends on the family you ask . . . many factors to consider.

elizabeth said...

Such fun seeing you.
Good to hear that you enjoyed the plays.
So I must, must get to Seminar.
You made every minute count.
Your top photo especially amazing.

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Hello Sarah

Love the picture of Central Park. I hope one day to make it to NYC!

Tracy :)

troutbirder said...

Great post,Sarah. I envy your trips to NYC and London for Shakespeare. We occasionally are able to take in The Guthrie in Mpls and then there are our small town "locals" including The Jon Hassler, He is our very own local famous author. Still...... I do have fond memories of my one time at The Barbicon in London though.

A Cuban In London said...

I popped by the other day and thought it strange that you hadn't posted your regular column. And now you tell us! You were in your old stomping grounds. And in the process, making us (me) very, very jealous. Kevin Spacey and alan Rickman! Two of my favourite actors. You're very, very lucky indeed.

Greetings from London.

cynthia newberry martin said...

I would LOVE to see Kevin Spacey in Richard III. Wow. I watched the trailer twice. Thanks for posting.

Amanda Summer said...

i'm hoping to visit my daughter who lives in nyc in may - will put these 2 on our list of to see plays (that is, if we can get tickets!)

the foto of central park is unlike any i've ever seen - what a fantastic perspective. thanks, too, for mentioning the tara parker pope article - i had not heard these statistics, but how lovely to read an article about kids with a positive outlook for once.

Sarah Laurence said...

Tina and Tracy, that is Belvedere Castle off the Great Lawn. It’s close to the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a Victorian folly and you’re right about it looking European.

Les, now that’s an interesting theory of parenting: kids will be good if their parents were wild.

Carol, The Seminar was more fun but I’m glad I saw them both. Interesting to think of baby boomers being less conservative than the youth today.

Elizabeth, you’d love the Seminar. Get thee to tickets.

Troutbirder, theater is even better in London. We are lucky to have parents in NYC and outside of London.

ACIL, I was traveling to NYC that Wednesday. I do often pick my plays by the actors and those 2 were wonderful.

Cynthia, thanks for mentioning the clip. I had a really hard time getting that video to embed properly. It’s a glitch with the new blogger template.

Amanda, Richard III will be over by May but check out what else BAM has to offer. Pinter’s The Caretaker with Jonathan Price opens in May and it should be fabulous. The Seminar will still be showing in May but with Jeff Goldblum taking over Rickman’s role. Since the supporting cast is really strong, it should still be good.

Donna said...

I was just talking with a friend of mine today who is from northern NJ and we were saying how much we miss New York City. I really miss living near there (we lived 40 minutes south of the city for the first four years of our marriage).

Alan Rickman has long been one of my favorite actors! That's neat that you got to see him in that play. And also that's so cool about Emma Stone! It sounds like it was a great trip.

☆sapphire said...

Thank you so much for this lovely post, Sarah! The photo of the Central Park makes me want to go there again!! I found the clip fantastic. I have not seen the movie yet.

I always think that kids are more than all right today. As I'm a very optimistic person, I don't think that kids in recent years have more problems than those in the past. Kids are kids....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link about youth. Of course, I'm never so concerned about youth, themselves--they're just kids trying to grow up--as I am concerned about the larger social conditions in which they must grow up and, hopefully succeed.
I think it is true that there are fewer opportunities for youth and young adults these days compared to the prospects available to young adults in the 1960s for employment, affordable higher education, and now, apparently, even health care for women. Yikes!