New York, Day 1, part 2 (Day 240/365)

Our further adventures

Having gained LaGuardia without any further incidents, we snagged our driver and headed into town. Marc and Mary Frances met us at the front desk, we checked in, headed up to the 18th floor, and unpacked.

The room is small, of course; it’s an older NY hotel, and we look out onto the other wing. There is daylight, and if we crane our necks we can see Sardi’s on 8th Avenue. The wall opposite the bed is totally mirrored. Perhaps this is the honeymoon… cubicle?

First concern is the lack of outlets by the bed. The room is small, but not so small that the power cord of my C-PAP will reach across the room. I call the front desk (this is at 5:15ish), and they promise to put engineering right on it. Great, I say, we’ll stop by the front desk when we get back in tonight.

Within 30 minutes we were down in Garvey’s, the bar attached to the hotel. Life-sustaining drinks were in order, along with large amounts of appetizers. (They’re open till 4:00 a.m., but only serve food up till 8:00. After that, it’s little bags of potato chips.)

And before you know it, it’s 6:30 and time to leave. We’re catching the closing night of the tour of Edward Scissorhands, choreographed by Matthew Bourne (he of the all-male Swan Lake) and set to music based on themes from Danny Elfman’s score for the movie. This is very exciting, because it’s the first time I’ve been to Brooklyn. Neither has anyone else, of course. And everyone relies on me to get them where they’re going.

This is not a problem. I explain to everyone exactly how to read the map, how to follow the signs, what the different versions of the A train mean and when that’s important. Tra-la-la, they say, we’re following you.

BAM is a gorgeous building, built in a fit of Civic Pride almost exactly 100 years ago, and it has always home to a great deal of the exciting, forward-looking musical events in the city. We have second-row seats in the loge, stunning seats and I thought I was lucky to get them, since we didn’t order tickets until the day the show started advertising in the Times.

Edward Scissorhands is a treat. Beautifully designed, witty and pretty costumes, and imaginative sets that come closer to Broadway than to NYCB (a fact about which dance critics grumble, usually saying that “others grumble”). Dancing is great, and the choreography is terrifically interesting. Bourne clearly has a ballet background, but he’s willing to throw in anything that works, and it does.

One of the problems he had to solve was Edward, encumbered as he is with those huge blades on his fingers. The final pas de deux between Edward and Kim was lovely, a combination of ballet and contact improvisation.

The storytelling was flawless. I had not seen the movie, but that was not a hindrance in the least. I had just read a scathing review of Ralph Bakshi’s old Lord of the Rings abomination, and a major issue with that movie (besides criminal direction, animation, and editing) was that if you hadn’t read the books, you would have had no clue about what was going on .

This was not the case. Of course, as I look at the program, I don’t really know which characters were named what, has any ballet had so many people with first and last names?, but during the event, that didn’t matter. No ballet has had so many distinct and recognizable characters, either.

Both Marc and I found ourselves enjoying the show and admiring it and at the same time filtering our experience through the William Blake’s Inn workshop experience. We both could imagine the process behind the results onstage. The creative process that leads us to the Inn, the Sunflowers, the Milky Way, is clearly the same that led to the Topiary sequence or the Suburbia sequence in Edward Scissorhands. My question now is whether we have what it takes to push beyond our own boundaries, both in terms of our own creative freedom and of financial support, to produce something that is equivalent on the stage of the Performing and Visual Arts Centre. I think we, the William Blake team, are quite capable. Is Newnan capable of rising to the challenge? That’s where my doubt lies.

Back to Manhattan, where we walk around Times Square and admire the over-the-top gaudiness of it all. I spot the theatres of the shows we’ll be seeing, and we all just generally play tourist. We walk over to Radio City and down to Rockefeller Center, but they have the rink and the Promenade blocked off for some reason.

St. Patrick’s looks gorgeous at night, all lit up. We stroll back down Fifth Ave. and head back to the hotel. So many shows, so little time!

The plan had been to have a quick drink or two in the bar before heading up, but in our absence the place has turned into a very loud twenty-something hangout. All these pretty young things appear to be having a reunion of some kind, so the Honeas go on up. Ginny, Carol Lee and I tough it out for one drink, but then flee.

I stop by the desk to see if they have my extension cord, but of course they don’t. They’ll get the manager on it. After a while, I call back down (it’s after midnight at this point) and they’ve got engineering on it. I ask if there’s some place nearby that I could buy one; there is, of course, a Duane Reade pharmacy two blocks down, open 24 hours. We’re heading down the hall when the engineer shows up. Not supposed to do this, he grouses, fire codes. Blah blah blah.

And so to bed.