Older Ted: New York is famous for its theater, but there are different levels. There's Broadway; off-Broadway; off-off-Broadway; homeless people screaming in the park; and below that, the play your Aunt Lily was in.
—How I Met Your Mother, "Stuff" (2/19/07)
Daughter (who you may have heard has been accepted to Towson University and SUNY New Paltz) has been spending some time with the big kids of late.
In January, she did an internship with a small group of theater majors from Queens College who call themselves the Benefit of the Doubt Theatre Company. At that time she ran the sound board for a show called The Actor's Nightmare
. I didn't know a lot about this particular venture, although she did ask my advice about talking to her boss about getting the time off. The show ran over at the college (I think).
This month I learned that she was working with the same group again, doing the play Don Juan in Chicago
. (The link goes to a Times review of the play from 1995; either this company decided to cut some material or the 1995 company added stuff.) This time around she'd be running the lighting board. We learned the dates that the show was running and determined that we could attend on the show's closing night. Pack up a bag, honey, we're going to Off-Off-Broadway!
So pack we did, deciding to come in on Friday night and spend the day wandering the streets of Manhattan. Somehow we didn't get on the road in earnest until about 7:30, but in the long run there wasn't a rush. GF, thinking about other times we'd been on the Belt Parkway, figured that we wouldn't see the hotel before 1:00 AM. I told her we'd be there before midnight.
As it happened, I was right in that respect: we arrived at the hotel at 11:30. I pulled into the carport area, gave them my name and I was checked in within about thirty seconds.
Here's where it got ugly, however.
Being a reasonably clever person from time to time, I noticed that there were no fewer than three hotels in the immediate area, including the one I'd booked. When I say "in the immediate area", I mean literally a stone's throw apart. The last thing I wanted was to get my car towed because I'd parked in the wrong place, so I asked the desk clerk where I could park. "On the street out front, in the lot to the side or to the back," he said. It was at this point that I noticed the sign that said I needed a parking pass, so I asked about it. He said, "Oh, yeah, you definitely need that" and printed one out for me to put on my dashboard.
We cruised the area for at least twenty minutes, looking for a space, before GF went inside and asked where we were expected to park. The guy, who was in his third week on the job, had no idea. Just drive around, was the best advice he had. Fortunately, the guy who drove the airport shuttle had a solution and he helped me get parked for the night. Unfortunately, by then it was nearly 1:00. We got our stuff into the hotel and went to our room, where I discovered that the key didn't work. I had to go back to the lobby and get the guy to re-set the key.
So you see, GF and I were both right: I got us to the hotel before midnight, we didn't see the inside of the room before one o'clock.
On Saturday, I let GF sleep in while I surfed the news websites and read email. She'd taken a fall about two weeks ago, and her hip was still bugging her, and I knew it was stiff from being in the car all night, so I figured let her get the rest. Later, I drove us out to a Long Island Rail Road station so we could take a train into Manhattan. (From the hotel, the subway would be well over an hour, vs. 20 minutes for the LIRR.) We worked our way downtown from Penn Station over to the Strand bookstore
, home of 18 miles of books. Strand is a great way to divert yourself for awhile, and GF and I spent the entire time in different parts of the store. We didn't see each other until I finally called her cell and told her it was about time to go. That's how convoluted this place is.
At this point, she was starting to feel the discomfort in her hip, so we decided to find a place to eat. As it happened the famous Cozy Soup & Burger
was nearby, so we popped in there. GF had the Reuben, which was made with some wonderful corned beef, based on the piece I swiped, and I had a bacon cheeseburger.
I realize I make it sound like I dropped in at McDonald's or some such, so let me clarify: this is a big honkin' cheeseburger, which started out at nine ounces. This is a Binford sandwich, which takes two hands even after you've cut it in half, assuming that you cut it in half, ya big pussy wimp. For being in a diner, we ate very well.
Daughter's show was at the Kraine Theatre, which actually has several different events going on at any time, some of them in the bar on the floor above. This theater is on Fourth Street, between Second and Third Avenues, so it's about as off-off-Broadway as one is likely to get. The theater has 99 seats, I'm told. I didn't count, despite my compulsiveness with that sort of thing.
When we first got there, there were several lovely young ladies in the lobby and on the stairs leading up to the bar. Apparently they were models who were just wrapping up a shoot and helping to pack up the equipment. We had to wait for them to get finished before we were allowed into the theater itself. As a result, the start of the play was delayed a little bit. But that's OK; GF took the time to snap a couple of pics of the stage and such, which I'll share in another day or two. She wasn't so much preserving the memory as she was looking for fodder for a scrapbooking project. Can I complain? I'm using it as blog fodder.
So anyway, the play was a bunch of fun and not at all like the crankypants at the Times made it sound. For a bunch of college kids, they did a really nice job and they clearly took some pride in their work. Given their probably limited budget, they offered up a sparely-dressed set that nonetheless conveyed exactly what it needed to. (There's a story about the company's fundraising efforts that I'm going to save for the next post, the one with the pictures in it.)
And, of course, I can't say enough good things about the lighting. Because, you know, whenever the lights went on or off, I was able to say, "Did you see that? My kid did that."