The hills are alive…

I set up my blog for my own personal experiences in and around New York, but I wanted to use it today to address this past week’s newest rendition of “The Sound of Music”.  I’ve been seeing and hearing such awful posts about the live movie production, and I was skeptical at best, but also curious.  So I sat down and watched it, fully going in with low expectations, but also with an open mind (something I’m not so sure many people did).  I’m not ashamed to say that I loved it.  Here’s the thing, if you’re still reading after that, if you compare it to the blockbuster 1965 movie with Julie Andrews, then yeah, you’ll be hugely disappointed.  There is no comparison to that!  In my opinion, that was the greatest movie musical of all time, and one of my favorite movies.  Julie Andrews was my hero when I was a little girl, because of that movie.  First thing to remember about that movie, it took them over a year to film.  Here’s another thing, it wasn’t live.  Those actors had numerous takes to get the perfect shot.  Julie Andrews kept face planting in the mud on the side of the mountain every time the helicopter got that opening shot.  Their voices were looped in so that they could run and sing and dance, but also sound phenomenal, and a fact many of you didn’t know, the Captain had a voice double.  That’s right, leave it to Hollywood to not let us hear Christopher Plummer actually sing “Edelweiss”.  And finally, they were on location in Salzburg!  I’ve been there, and it’s like the most beautiful place on Earth.  That alone could make a crappy movie tolerable.

Now, with all of that said about the Academy Award winning movie, let’s talk about musical theatre.  After all, that’s what this originally was, but we’ve all pretty much forgotten that.  It was the 1959 Tony winner for best new musical, and Mary Martin (a little ole’ country girl from Texas) won the Tony for best actress, as Maria.  Did she sound like Julie Andrews?  No.  And neither have the hundreds of other Maria’s across the globe that have portrayed her in revivals and other productions since.  That’s like saying no one can sing “Tosca” except for Maria Callas.  So what, are we supposed to just let one of opera’s greatest works lay dead because one singer who was so amazing that we’re too closed minded to accept anyone else in the role?  Let’s look at this TV movie as what it was.  A special live performance of a legendary piece of musical theatre history, by one of the genre’s greatest teams.  Kind of like one of those “Live from Lincoln Center” specials, if you will.  I thought the casting was very well-done.  They had a large ensemble of notables from Broadway, and everyone had a unique and well developed sound that didn’t sound like the mass produced sound that most theatre programs are cranking out these days.  I mean come on guys.  Look at it like this, if there was any other show for one night only with that kind of cast, it would be a sold-out event.  I would love to see a program at Carnegie that had Audra MacDonald, Christiane Noll, and Laura Benanti!

Another thing to remember.  Some of the greatest Broadway renditions of songs and most memorable people in a character often come from revivals, and no one even knows what the first person who sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” sounds like.  Give people a chance to develop their own takes own these well-loved characters, because one day, it may just be your turn to do the same thing!

Cinderella!

As a singer, with a Bachelor’s degree in music and a trained ear, when I go to a music performance of any kind my first instinct is to critique.  To listen to all the technical aspects or the voices or the orchestra and try to find what may be wrong.  Last night I began the performance of “Cinderella” on Broadway, the same way, however, I could only last in this mindset for a few minutes.  The best way to describe my experience is to say that I became hypnotized by the magic of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and saw the story through the eyes of a child.  This show was the epitome of what musical theater should always strive to be, an escape from the reality of the day-to-day complete with the happily ever after ending.  Of course, being Rodgers and Hammerstein there is always just a little bit of a social-awareness message in between all the sugary sweetness.  In this case, it was class equality and making sure that everyone, no matter of status has a voice and is heard.  The cast was full of well-known faces with Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes as the Prince and Cinderella, but the best casting, in my opinion was Rebecca Luker as the fairy godmother.  Although it was a disappointment to not see Victoria Clark in the role she originated, Luker was a stellar replacement and was, in my opinion, perfectly cast, and by no means is she an unknown in the Broadway community.  Overall, this was truly one of the best theater experiences I have had in a very long time, and I highly recommend it to people of all ages.

Grand Central Oyster Bar, need I say more?

Okay, well since this is a blog, I will actually say more, but seriously that place is legendary and practically speaks for itself!  The Oyster Bar is easily one of my absolute favorite places to eat in New York.  Of course, why wouldn’t it be when I’m a total shellfish junkie?  I started with the assorted oyster plate, which is 8 mixed raw oysters.  Now I’m sure everyone knows the rules for eating raw oysters, just let it slide down your throat and you don’t even taste them.  However, you are truly missing out if that’s how you eat them at the oyster bar.  All of these assorted oysters were meaty and fresh, and had an amazing taste to them, only enhanced by the Dirty Goose martinis that my cousin and I were drinking.  Vodka absolutely brings out the natural flavors in the oysters better than anything else.  For my main course, I had a sea scallop pan-roast, which had huge scallops in a rich, thick broth.  While soup and oysters don’t really sound like they would be that filling of a dinner, the richness of the food makes them both just enough, without feeling like you’re walking away stuffed to the brim.  Also, for a seafood restaurant in New York, the price point really is reasonable, you can easily have a great meal for just around $50.  

Lobster rolls…and ice cream?

Growing up very southern, I became thoroughly familiar with what is known as “Old Wives Tales”.  One of my mom’s personal favorites was don’t mix ice cream and seafood, it will make you sick.  Maybe Mom just wanted to keep me out of the ice cream, or make sure I didn’t have a sugar rush before bedtime, or maybe she honestly believed it, I’ll never know, but I gotta say, all these years and I could have been eating two of my favorite foods together.

Last night’s adventure is something that is a must for all New Yorkers.  I went to my absolute favorite place to get a lobster roll, Luke’s Lobster, and followed it with my latest addiction, 16 Handles.  I have had lobster rolls at upscale restaurants, seafood joints, and even a booth at the US Open, however, Luke’s is the best I’ve ever had.  I think the key to their success is definitely “less is more”.  Not less lobster meat by any means, I mean less ingredients and flavoring.  They trust the natural flavor of the Maine lobster they use, and don’t try to disguise it, they merely enhance it.  Last night I had “the taste of Maine”, which is 1/2 a lobster roll, 1/2 a crab roll, and 1/2 a shrimp roll.  They’re served on a toasted roll, with the lightest swipe of mayo (which you can barely taste!), and brushed with a seasoned garlic butter.  Along with my meal, I had a cup of lobster bisque, which is also a must there.  Unlike most places’ version of lobster bisque, Luke’s has a large amount of big chunks of lobster meat in the soup.  It could actually be a meal in itself.  The price is also very reasonable, if you go to the Grand Central Oyster Bar, you’ll spend $28 for a lobster roll and chips.  At Luke’s the combo I had is $22, and that includes a drink and chips, for only a couple dollars more you can upgrade it and get a beer.  If you only want one kind of roll and you make it a combo, you can easily come out of Luke’s for less than $20.

After Luke’s was a stop across the street, at 16 Handles for some fro yo.  Half the fun of Handles is mixing and matching flavors and making your own ice cream Sunday.  There are, as the name suggests, sixteen flavors to choose from, and a countless number of toppings to make your own unique creation.  It was overall, a simple evening, but proof that in New York City, you don’t have to go to a fancy, upscale restaurant, (although I do love the excuse to go to one!), to have amazing food!