Day 4: At The Theatre

I had a terribly difficult time waking up today, even worse than usual and that’s saying something pretty dramatic, reader. I didn’t come halfway across North America to sleep in, so, much as it pained me, I got up, put my shortie robe back on and prepped for the day. In the shower area, I met the same woman that had annoyed me the other night. I have no reason to have taken offense from her aside from the fact that she has a resting bitch face and I didn’t approve of it. It must be awful to have your face stuck into such a terribly unpleasant attitude — when I’m elected governor, and I have absolutely every intention of running, I will make it part of my campaign that the more unattractive members of society get discounted face work done. It’s for the good of humanity, reader! Vote for me!

I had so little time in New York, and I really should have booked an additional day, but I had to make do with what I had, so I decided to take the train as little as possible. I love walking and I’m not going to get much sense of the city when I’m underground. Instead, I walked the length of the Highline Park heading uptown.

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It was absolutely wonderful and I’m just sure that it’s terribly popular and crowded in the spring and summer. This park is a genius piece of community property. Instead of tearing down some old elevated train tracks, the line itself was converted into a walking space that winds about where the train used to. I was completely in love with it — and the views were incredible. You know what happens whenever I see old brick buildings, right? I swoon dramatically. It was absolutely divine and as I was admiring the Diane Von Furstenberg building, I think Diane Von Furstenberg bumped into me. I swear to Beyoncé that it was her.

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I continued down to 26th Street, turned to my left, and then began to openly weep. There, standing gloriously, the sunlight glinting resplendently off of the thousands of panes of glass, was the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which houses the Martha Stewart offices.

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It is here that so many of my absolutely ridiculous daydreams have taken place. It’s here where I dream of befriending Martha and the adorable man in charge of her kitchens, Thomas Joseph:

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Martha Stewart Thomas Joseph[We’re perfect for each other.]

It’s here that I dream of attending their annual rooftop Fourth of July party. Martha and I would sip champagne as we watched the fireworks explode over the Hudson, then she’d turn to me and say, “You must come to Skylands for a long weekend.” I’ll consent immediately and we’d have a delightful time yachting with her dogs, Francesca, Sharkey, and GK. I’d beg her to bring along Princess Peony — one of her cats that I’m obsessed with. We’d sail all around the harbor. Maybe we’d take a hike or go horseback riding in Acadia National Park. We’d go shopping in the village and sip cappuccinos and then have a nice dinner cooked by her favorite chef Pierre Schaedelin. Alexis and the children would be there, I’m sure, and we’d all hit it off immediately, and we’d be friends forever. And then I would die happily.

So, that was all playing through my mind as I went down the stairs to the street level and looked at every single person there — were any of them Thomas or Lucinda or Sarah or even Martha? But no, it seemed to be a crowd of construction workers. I wasn’t disappointed, though, it was rather like visiting church for me. This was my Saint Peter’s Basilica. This was my Mecca. Oh, reader, it’s ridiculous how misty eyed I became looking at that building as the crowds passed me by. I’m just so fond of Martha and I admire her so much. People with tireless ambition fascinate me because I don’t seem to have those same qualities, even though I want them. I have more delusions of grandeur than ambition — which is a shame.

I had a play to get to, so I didn’t stand there weeping for long. Martha wouldn’t approve of that kind of behavior anyway, she’d expect me to stick to a schedule and accomplish things. So, off I went. Farther down 26th Street are the Chelsea Studios where many talk shows are taped. Martha’s magnificent show was taped there, so I had to go and visit. I remember the day I fell in love with her like it were yesterday. I was still in high school, I think, or maybe I had just started subbing? That’s not important, what is important is that I was home and ill and on the kitchen floor for some reason. The television was on and then a voice came on announcing the premiere of Martha’s talk show. I thought this was rather extraordinary, as before then I didn’t think of her as anything more than a criminal and perhaps a bit cruel. But then I sat up and watched David Spade disguised as Martha jump off a balcony and then the real Martha smashed a sugar bottle of his head and then she discussed recipes she cooked in the prison microwave. I was done, then, there was no hope for me. I had fallen in love. I never missed an episode. I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living the very same day and my life has never been the same. Because of Martha I changed quite a lot about myself. Couldn’t be happier. She’s a national treasure and I love her.

[This is the only clip I can find from that episode, which is a travesty.]

The Wendy Williams Show also tapes at the Chelsea Studios, and you know how much I adore her, so I enviously eyed the assembled audience there to go to a taping.

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There was a standby line and I had found a ticket on the ground! All the stars were aligning and I wanted so desperately to attend, but I had a play to get to, so off I went, but not before something wonderful happened. I don’t know why I did it because I’m really not that loud of a person, but as I walked by, I said, “How you doin?” to the assembled masses. To my absolute delight the entire mass of people loudly responded, “HOW YOU DOIN?” We all laughed joyously and I continued up Broadway.

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To get to the Walter Kerr Theatre, I had to pass through Times Square, which is absolutely awful — it’s so loud and hectic and busy and full of tourists, which I never like to think of myself as. I was happy to see the giant Olive Garden that stood in the center of Times Square, though. I went here with my family back in 1999. That is the year that I often look back on as inspiring my love of travel. We went to Arizona and the Grand Canyon and Florida and New York and Canada — I have no idea why we were going so many places or how we afforded it or how my father got the time off. All I know is that we went and I was convinced that the world was going to end at the Wynonna Judd concert my mother had taken me and my sister to. It didn’t, thankfully. Anyway, we went to that Olive Garden, and I thought it the absolute height of gastronomy. And quite thrilling as our waiter tripped and our pastas flew across the dining room. My tastes have clearly evolved since then, but I will never ever diss the Olive Garden — when you’re there, you’re family.

So, I smiled as I passed by and hurried to the theater. I already had a ticket, but it was in the balcony, which didn’t really please me. In addition to being spoiled by travel, I have long been spoiled by the theater. My mother seems to have taken great pleasure in seeing shows, which I’ve never understood, since she usually falls asleep in the middle of them. Because I’m so accustomed to having good seats, I was rather disturbed by the thought of sitting in the balcony and not being able to see the faces’ of the actors. I was delighted to discover that this theater fills in their seats that haven’t sold with rush tickets for people under thirty for $35. Even though I already had a ticket, I couldn’t argue with this price and found myself in a section with $200 tickets for $35. #WINNING. I mean, I hadn’t crossed the continent, arrived an hour early, and memorized the soundtrack to just sit in the back like a peasant, you know? I will never be a peasant.

I probably arrived far too early at the theater, but I was so terribly excited. I’d read about A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder months and months ago in my beloved magazine, Entertainment Weekly, you know that one that has published me twice? We’re very close. They raved about the play on multiple occasions and I knew that I would have to see it — it’s a musical comedy about murder in Edwardian England! I mean, it’s one of those things that seemed to have burst out of my mind into fruition. I often think that my ideas are stolen from me, but in this case, I’m terribly glad that somebody got ahold of it and turned it into this triumph. But, of course, I didn’t know it was a triumph, yet, I was still waiting in the lobby watching the crowd assemble — mainly old people and a few pimply youths. I was the only resplendent adult, but that suits me right down to the ground.

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It wasn’t too long until the doors opened and I was escorted to my truly excellent seat, just a few rows from the stage. The theater is absolutely gorgeous and looks as if it hasn’t been touched since it was built in 1921. It was gilded and there was so much velvet and the seats were tiny and unmanageable for men and women of modern dimensions. I’m not fat, but I’m six foot tall — it was not exactly a comfortable squeeze, but I managed. I didn’t care for my neighbors to the right, they were eating yogurt covered pretzels they smuggled in, but I adored the woman on my right. She was so chatty and introduced herself by saying this to me in a glorious New York accent: “Are you in the theater?” I shook my head, no. “You should be. You have the look.”

This was immensely flattering. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the sentiment, either. I heard it from a guy in Hollywood who works in film and also by Nathan Lane, of all people, after I saw him in The Producers years and years ago. It’s a terribly thought provoking thing to say to a person — I don’t think I’m much of an actor, but I’ve never really done it, so who knows? I’ve always, and this is true, I’ve always had a desire to be a stand up comic, but I haven’t the foggiest notion of what I’d talk about. It’s just one of those silly dreams that might come true someday.

We went on to discuss the other shows that were currently playing. She highly recommended that I see Outside Mullingar, which is starring Debra Messing, a woman we both absolutely adore. We laughed about Will & Grace for a while, and then she said that she had actually sat behind her a few weeks ago and was absolutely charming. Isn’t that nice? I think she seems like a really kindly individual.

Soon, the play began, and I was over my head in love with it from the minute the cast came out in their Edwardian mourning attire and began to sing. It was glorious and I don’t want to tell you too much about it because I have every suspicion that this show is going to take off like wildfire and tour — and you have to see it. You are required to as one of my readers. Here is a general synopsis though: Montague (Monty) Navarro, the poor son of a disinherited aristocratic lady who lived her life in poverty, discovers he is in the line to become the Earl of D’Ysquith. (The familial name sounds like “dies quick” which is hilarious in the show.) Ahead of him are eight other terrible D’Ysquiths — comedically terrible, of course — which he begins to do off with in fun and clever ways. Soon Monty is doing very well in life and — I won’t say anymore. Just know that it is hysterical and well acted. The music is absolute perfection. The star of the show, though, is not the wonderful gentleman who plays Monty or his upward climbing love interest, Sybil, but rather Jefferson Mays, who plays every single one of the D’Ysquiths. The absolute highlight of the show was a number called “Lady Hyacinth Abroad.” In this one, Jefferson plays Lady Hyacinth in drag, a woman determined to get attention for her great social work. She’s a horrible racist and it is divine. And, I’m thoroughly convinced she was inspired by my beloved Hyacinth Bucket — there are too many similarities to be coincidental. Here’s the song.

Reader, you have to go to New York simply to see this show. It is worth every second and every penny. To me it seemed as if Oscar Wilde and Stephen Sondheim had joined forces to write the play. If that doesn’t excite you, we aren’t going to be friends.

But, wait! There’s more! At the intermission, I wandered around, looking for an interesting person to observe as is my wont. Instead, I found a wildly circulating rumor — KATHIE LEE AND HODA were somewhere in the audience. Immediately I set off on the hunt. If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s celebrity stalking — I’ve been told by strangers on Tumblr that I need a restraining order. Such flattery! It took me a while, but I found them:

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I didn’t have time to rush them for a photograph, sadly, though, as the orchestra was calling us back to our seats. They sat two rows ahead of me. It added even more fun to the best play I’ve ever seen. Not a joke. It was better than The Producers. The finale of the show was absolutely unexpected, even after listening the soundtrack half a hundred times. It was glorious! GO TO THE THEATRE!

On the way out, the star, Tony award winning actor Jefferson Mays, was standing by the door for some reason. Nobody seemed to recognize him, but I did — like I said, professional stalker. I told him that he was marvelous and that I’ve spend the past few weeks singing the song I posted above. He shook my hand and smiled warmly after stating his appreciation of my devotion to that glorious song. I felt quite happy…then I stepped out into the rain. UGH. I don’t mind rain one bit, but I had things to do.

What would Martha do, I thought? Well, she’d call her driver or get a cab. I didn’t have these luxuries, so I started off down the road to find the Jacques Torres shop, he is one of Martha’s favorite bakers, so I had to go, of course. It was ridiculously difficult to find, and I did find it, but not before stopping in at La Maison du Chocolat — a shop at the Louvre in Paris that I’ve always wanted to try. Why not now? The chocolates were perfection — the passionfruit was triumphant. I think this might be the year of the passionfruit for me. I ADORE THEM. They were having a demonstration on ganache — which I thought was rather peculiar. I mean, who doesn’t know how to make ganache? It’s equal parts cream and chocolate. That’s it. Literally the easiest thing in the world. So, of course I attended the demonstration and watched with subdued giggles as the “chef” went on and on about the complexities of the different ganaches they use to make their truffles. As they made the actual ganache, I wanted to get up and slap several people who were actually taking notes. I couldn’t deal. I took my sample and left, back out into the rain.

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I was at 30 Rock, so that was fun, mainly because I love the show and watched it religiously from the premiere. Jacques says this is the address of his shop, but I didn’t see it anywhere. I saw Bouchon Bakery, though, so I stopped in there for a lemon tart — absolutely excellent. Finally, I discovered that there was an underground shopping center, but I was still lost — no maps! After an unreasonable amount of time exploring, I finally found it and ordered a warm chocolate chip cookie and several chocolates. The cookie was large and delicious — it had a very interesting texture which I will have to try to recreate at home. Sadly, the chocolates were lame. Even his passionfruit one failed to live up to the standards set by La Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé in Paris and even Chocolaterie Stam in Des Moines! Kind of sad, that. Maybe I’m just too much of a snob. Probably, but you wouldn’t want me any other way, I hope.

What to do now, I wondered? It was getting late, so I decided to go down to the Financial District and pay my respects at the site of the World Trade Center. I went to the very top of them on that trip back in 1999 — I don’t really remember much. All I can remember is seeing them and being alarmed at how tall they actually were. Then, years later, I saw the site six years after the attack and it was incredible to see how much of a mess there still was. It was rather distressing to see a big hole in the ground full of twisted metal and rubble. So, I thought it best to see the memorial, but I couldn’t quite find it — which was odd. I followed the map and the signs, but it led me to the other side of Long Island, so I gave up the pursuit; after the sun had set, it was absolutely frigid. And I think that Ashely Tisdale bumped into me, but I can’t be sure, so I decided to head back to the hotel to see what she’s been up to lately. (Nothing.)

Oh, I saw an old cemetery, which is always a pleasure for me:

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Then, when I got out of the train on Eighth Avenue, it was absolutely pissing with rain, which was terribly unpleasant. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I was horrified — my beautiful hair, my poor, poor, oh so glorious mane. I fixed it up and went back to the Café Gitane for more couscous. I shouldn’t, but I always repeat restaurants when I’m on vacation. Like Greens or the Veggie Grill or Iolandas or that lovely pasty shop in London. It was again very nice and I had a charming time.

I was exhausted though, and it was time to sleep!

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