A Second Date With New York
Trip Start Dec 26, 2012
56Trip End Jan 15, 2013
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The following morning, I was up early to catch my 9.50am international flight to the US. Julie arrived soon after 7am to drop me off at the airport on her way to work, which was so kind of her, thanks again Julie! It was a lot earlier than she'd normally have had to leave. We hugged goodbye, and I was on my way.
We flew over a snowy Montreal, and I had a great view of the partly frozen over St Lawrence seaway, a cargo ship breaking a path through the icy waters. I had a few hours to kill at Montreal airport, I was only due to arrive in New York at 6pm that night
The lights of Manhattan were soon underneath me, and I felt the thrill I do each time I fly in, it never gets old! I love picking out the landmark buildings and bridges, and with its unique shape, it all looked like some giant Christmas tree. I'd never flown into La Guardia before, only Kennedy and Newark. I'd chosen this one mostly because it was closest to Manhattan. Arriving in the early evening, I found out which bus connection I needed to catch to get the subway line into Times Square. I could have just caught a taxi, or shuttle bus, but the number of tourists pouring into the city prior to New Years Eve meant that the wait for this was over 90 minutes long. It was actually quicker to take public transport, even if the down side was having to lug the suitcase up a couple flights of stairs. I bought a week unlimited pass, for $30, which meant I could travel on any buses, ferries or subway connections as many times as I wanted.
New York, New York
My Metro Apartments accommodation was on West 41st street between 9th and 10th avenues, which puts it only a short walk away from the famous razzle dazzle of Times Square. Not quite so fortunately, it also happens to be right next to a massive structure known as the Lincoln Tunnel. This feeds out from the Port Authority Bus Terminal just down 42nd street. Hundreds of buses roar through this day and night, and if your room happens to be on that side of the hotel, well, you get the picture. This aside, I was very happy to arrive in my room on the 5th floor, and find it clean, decently decorated, nice big TV, desk, office chair, kitchenette with all the basics and a comfy queen sized bed. Since it was close to 10pm by this time I headed out for a short walk, found a local supermarket on the next street over, and bought some basic breakfast supplies
After allowing myself a bit of a sleep in the next day, it was off to rediscover the city. I caught one of the subway lines that travel towards Central Park, found a cool local bakery on 6th avenue and fortified myself with coffee and a croissant before heading in. The sun was shining and the local kids were out in force enjoying the skating rink and playgrounds with their families. It was time to sit on one of the huge natural rocky outcrops and soak it all in. It looked so different to how it had in Summer and of course Autumn, and it was to completely transform once again when it snowed the next week. I headed up towards The Ramble and outdoor theatre, and saw some ice had begun to form at the edge of several ponds. After several hours exploring the park I worked my way over to the west side
The next thing to explore was the Museum of Natural History, dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, and of course the setting for the first "Night At The Museum" movie. Just a travellers tip, for those who don't already know. The entrance fee is "suggested" as $25, but you can pay whatever you can afford, so if you only have a few hours, then there's no way you're going to have time to see everything. Why pay the full amount if so? You need a day to explore it, and I'd only allowed myself a few hours. The foyer was so crowded you couldn't even see the floor, there must have been hundreds of people crammed in there!
I found the hall of animal displays the most fascinating, but had the chance to experience a unique event which I hadn't even been aware was happening. A young African American film maker by the name of M.K Asante had won a number of awards for his film "The Black Candle", on the history of "Kwanzaa" which is a celebration for people of African descent that is recognized around the world. The genesis of the festival was during the Black Power civil rights movement during the mid 1960's. It was recognized that while many cultures had a celebration that unifies them, such as Christmas, or Hanukah, Chinese New Year, etc, those of African descent did not. The film explores how Kwanzaa is recognized by African communities, and the fact that many young African Americans are not aware of it
After this it was almost time for the museum to close, so I raced around to try and see as much as I could, including the most amazing Christmas tree that must have been at least 5 metres tall, covered with beautiful origami of any design you could imagine. I made sure I photographed a close up of the dinosaurs for my nephew!
I had bought half price tickets at the tickex booth in Times Square to see the musical "Matilda" that evening at 8pm, so it was time to start moving back that way, find something to eat, and hang out in the Square before the show
It had been a big day, lots of walking and exploring, so I decided to cap it off with a quick visit a few streets uptown again to see the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree on 50th street. Get ready to see lots of photos of this, because I revisited several times to marvel at its beauty, especially after it had snowed, because that changes the look once again, it truly looks Christmasy then! It was after midnight by the time I had walked back, contemplating what I'd explore the next day, and switched out the lights in my "apartment".
The next day was Sunday the 29th, and I decided to be quite lazy and enjoy sleeping in again, after all, I was on holidays after working 16 straight weeks without a break! Today was the day I jumped on the subway again, as it was raining steadily and overcast and miserable. I planned to spend the afternoon exploring my favourite New York museum, The Metropolitan
That evening I hung out in the busiest square in the world (not to mention the craziest, and probably one of the dirtiest at times!) before getting a half price ticket to see another Broadway musical. This time it was Cinderella, one I'd been considering going to see last time I was in town, but had opted to see First Date instead. It was wonderful and had a nice twist to some of the humour which tip toed along the edge of making fun of itself
Day three in New York was the Monday, and the setting up for the News Years Eve celebrations in Times Square the following night was full steam ahead now
I decided to head downtown to visit the 911 Memorial sight, not to do the actual buy the ticket and walk through bit, but more to see the building again close up and see what progress they'd made since summer. The place was absolutely crawling with tourists, and even if I'd wanted to buy a ticket, they had completely sold out for the day, and most of those had been purchased on line. I bought a new pair of the survivor tree earrings, as I'd lost one in the snow in Winnipeg, and they are my favourites. At least I have a spare now!
Jumping back on the subway, I headed up to 33rd street to do something a bit iconic that I'd promised myself I wouldn't miss this trip, visit the Empire State Building
We then went into what looked like a small theatre, but with tightly packed seats. Once we were jammed into them, a thick metal bar, such as you might have on a crazy ride at a theme park, was brought down across our waists. That should have been my first hint that something weird was about to happen. Actually, no, the warnings posted outside about women who were pregnant, those with bad backs and people with heart or other potentially serious medical conditions not participating should have been the first! When I spoke with the British tourists next to me, we were all confused as to what was about to happen
We had all stopped grinning by the time we'd stood there for an hour, not moving anywhere, as hordes of tourists from the line outside streamed past us. You know, the ones who hadn't paid twice as much for an express pass. We expected to be let in, even if in increments, but no dice. We continued to wait, another hour passed, and we knew for sure now that we'd been taken for a ride, both literally and figuratively. People at the front were getting really annoyed with the staff, who were trying to reassure us that we'd be let in "soon." Yeah, whatever
This was one that I'd actually pre-purchased tickets for a few weeks ago, as it was closing that weekend, and I knew it'd probably be impossible to get them once in New York. Billy Crystal was reviving his "700 Sundays" autobiographical one man production, which he'd first performed back in 2004, and taken on the road in 2009, for a strictly limited run
He entertained us effortlessly for two and a half hours, and one moment had us roaring with laughter, the next trying not to tear up as he shared with us the stories of his all too brief time with the man who is a big hero in his life, his father. That's where the shows title comes from, Billy's dad died when he was only 15 years old, and he calculated that's how many Sundays he got to spend with him. Sunday was the only day in the week when his dad didn't have to work, and could relax and spend time with his family. Billy's dad helped run the Commodore music store which then existed in Times Square, when Jazz was king, and names such as BB King, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday were not just incredibly talented musicians, but family friends. Jack Crystal produced regular concerts for many of these musicians, helping to showcase their talents.
One of the greats used to call Billy "face" because of his talent for mimicry and being able to make the most amazing faces doing so. It was to be a talent that made a career for him, especially with his Saturday Night Live characters many years later. He told us one memory he had of Billie Holiday taking him to the movies and him sitting on her lap, he was no more than 6 years old at the time
His show was peppered with such amazing tales, but most of what he shared was concerning his early life, his large and colourful Jewish family, and most importantly, his own immediate one, in which he was the youngest of three brothers. His maternal grandfather's optimism was described as a..."the glass is half full....with something that'll kill you.." kind of guy! He used to regale Billy with tales of how he'd arrived in America at the age of 9, made his way up from nothing, arriving with enough money to buy a piece of material, which he tore in half, then sold to make a profit, and bought more which he then sold and so on, and he had Billy believing that he owned half a street worth of stores before he was a teenager!
Billy himself is a master of storytelling, and held his audience spell bound the entire time
Billy has one of the longest lasting relationships in showbiz, and has been married to only one woman, Janice, since 1970. After the show a group gathered outside the stage door, and after quite a while, and other people emerging, several of whom we thought may have been his daughters, Billy himself bounced out, spoke quickly with a few people, signed a few programs, and then jumped into a large black four wheel drive. The weather was pretty horrible, so I'm not surprised he didn't stay long, but I did manage to snap a quick photo. Time to walk home once again, and try to remember as much as I could of how fun and entertaining the night had been as I knew I probably wouldn't be getting to the blog for a while
Tuesday dawned, with slightly less cold weather, and I wasn't in a rush to get up and out, because I knew I wouldn't be getting to bed early with New Years Eve to experience that evening. When I did go, I decided to explore Times Square shops and stock up on future birthday gifts for my niece and nephew. I thought it'd be funny to get some pictures of Ben enjoying it too, and that since it was Times Square, no one would think it too weird to see someone whipping out a puppet to take random photos. After all, there's a cowboy walking round in nothing but his underwear, and adults dressed as everyone from Woody in Toy Story to Elmo! I did manage to make a couple of people do a double take and tell me that they thought I was carrying a real kid around when they saw me from a certain angle!
After I'd visited M and M's World, Hershey's, and Disney in Times Square, I decided to go and watch a movie I'd been wanting see ever since it came out, Saving Mr Banks. Instead of standing around in Times Square freezing my butt off, or worse still, sitting on a damp piece of cardboard to avoid the filthy street, as some were already doing from soon after midday, this seemed a much better option. It was fantastic, and had a surprise Australian connection I was not even aware of. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were fabulous, as was the rest of the cast, and it gave a rare insight into the effort Disney went to, to be able to bring the story of Mary Poppins to the screen
This killed a couple of hours, so it was dark by the time I emerged from the cinema. It was about then that I realized I wasn't getting back into Times Square so easily. The police were beginning to barricade off all the streets leading up to it, and many local businesses were closing early. I decided to start walking up towards Central Park when I heard a police officer telling people that they'd have to walk up a few streets if they wanted to get in....by the time I reached 53rd street, I realized that I wouldn't be getting anywhere near the place from this side. I decided to make the most of it and turn it into a Christmas lights tour, walking all the way up to 59th street to Columbus Circle and the western corner of Central Park. From here I walked over to 6th Avenue, and began to go down that way back towards the square. People were forming long queues to be security screened by police, and once you went in to the area, you wouldn't be allowed back in again if you left. I didn't want to be stuck in there, and planned to go and find the nice British couple I'd met up on top of the Empire State Building the other day, which was way down at their hotel on 41st street. I took lots of photos along the way, and filmed a wonderful sound and light show at the Sax's Fifth Avenue store. Then I took more photos at Rockefeller Centre. After several hours of doing this, I finally arrived at the hotel, only to find that they weren't letting any outsiders into the bar, so there went that plan.
It was close to 9pm now, so I decided to join a queue heading into the nearest area to the square on 40th street
I was just glad to make my way back to the hotel as quickly as I could and climb into my nice warm bed. Welcome 2014, I better make sure I watch the YouTube clips to see what I missed!
The first of January dawned colder than ever, and it was time to take it easy once again after a massive day before. I didn't stray too far from home base, just explored a few more shops, and enjoyed a long leisurely late lunch at The Olive Garden in Times Square, before heading back for a quick rest in preparation for that evenings show. Yes, I'd booked another one, Pippin, which had intrigued me in the summer, but I hadn't enough time to see it. The show is a musical revival from the 1940s, and has won numerous awards, including a Tony for Best Musical Revival in 2013. It was brilliant, and a bit out of the box, so to speak, in that it has a quirky and funny storyline, which often heads in directions that you don't expect it to
Before the show began, I overheard an amusing conversation taking place behind me about the night before by two older ladies, in a distinct "Neu Yourk" drawl. It went something like this..."...I can't believe it, we've got no room to cook and they're closing the restaurants, it looks like the city that never sleeps decided to take a nap..."
Pippin was an incredible production, and I could see why it had won the awards that it did
Day 7 dawned....and it was snowing! This was exciting, I'd always hoped to experience the city in snowfall, and I was looking forward to getting out and about to capture some great photos. It was fairly light at this stage, and with my Kathmandu coat and Sorel boots I was plenty warm enough to spend the day outside. After posting off a parcel of gifts, (huge lines in the post office meant this took well over an hour), I caught the subway down to Central Park again and got started. Lots of photos and walking later, I stood in Strawberry Fields on the West side, at the John Lennon memorial. I found it hard to get a photo of the famous Imagine mosaic, there were so many tourists who were deciding it would be a great idea to squat down right in the centre of it! Created just across from the Dakota Building where his wife still lives, it remains a moving experience in a beautiful setting, surrounded by fields, now dusted with snow, and rocky outcrops among towering trees. If it wasn't for the never ending stream of tourists, you might almost forget you were in the middle of a crowded, busy city, which is its purpose, I'm sure
I was so glad that I managed to fit it in, because I remember how much I loved playing and building things with Lego when I was a kid. The man who had created this exhibition had originally trained as a lawyer, and built a successful career in the profession. But it did nothing to fulfil his creative side, and he found an outlet, and then a growing interest in what he was doing that allowed him to make a huge career change, from lawyer to artist. He has now exhibited all over the world and finds that his works are a way to get young people, particularly children, to appreciate some of the great works of art and sculpture in history, from the statue of David to Van Gogh. The Lego must also be glued together, since the works are sometimes of a delicate nature, and would break when the exhibition was shifted.
Returning to Metro Apartments I rested up for a bit, then showered and got ready to go and see the show I had most anticipated this trip, First Date, because having seen it last July I already knew it was great fun
My flight was due to leave at 1:20pm, so I knew I needed to get to the airport before 11am. It had stopped snowing by the following morning, so I made the decision to take the subway line and then the bus link to get there. Because of this, I allowed myself plenty of time, but as things were to turn out, that wasn't going to make any difference...when I finally arrived, after rolling through mucky, snowy streets and down stairways, I tried to use the machines to check in and get my boarding passes, because they don't give them out when you check your bags in, you have to go and stand in a separate line for that
Two o'clock came and went, then three. We'd hardly moved, but when we finally rounded the corner, we kind of wished we hadn't. The line stretched on, at least 50 people in front of us, and only two people to deal with the passengers. I got to talking to people around me, one guy, Harold from St John in New Brunswick, had had his early morning flight cancelled, so he'd been there a lot longer than me, trying to see if he could get on a later flight. If you were on your own you didn't want to leave the line, to get anything to eat, drink, even use the washroom
One of the other ladies standing in line using her mobile phone gave me the toll free number for Air Canada
I've decided to include a couple of personal emails I wrote at the time, because a week later, so many things have happened that I forget some of the details, and I guess it gives you some insight into how I was feeling at the time. So just skip the next bit if that's not your idea of fun!
Email to Jennifer Cobb on Friday 3rd Jan 2014..."Hi Jen, you have no idea how wonderful it is to hear from you
I'd worked out early on that it was going to cost me $5 an hour, or I could sign up for less than $8 for a month, to use Internet at La Guardia. If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have been able to re book to stay at the Metro Apartments for another two nights so easily. I was able to book on line, (they only had a couple of rooms left), without having to leave the line. Also keeping my friend Jen informed, since she was supposed to be picking me up at the airport that evening, was vital
After I'd finally gotten to the customer service counter at La Guardia I stood there for over half an hour while they tried to sort out an earlier flight time for me on the Monday. This they did, a flight leaving at 6:25am on the same day, 13 hours earlier, via Montreal. This would get me to Winnipeg in reasonable time for Jen to meet me at the airport with my other bags. I raced around to the public phones again to call West Jet and Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver to change my dates. It cost $200 to change the date of my flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver, which was fine, I'd been expecting to pay the entire air fee again, as it was non refundable and I hadn't bought insurance with it, when I'd booked it weeks ago. While waiting in the phone queue, I sent the following email to Jen in Winnipeg..
Jennifer Cobb, around 7:30 PM that evening...."Thanks Jen, you really are a total gem! I stood in line for 8 hours, and all I managed to change was the flight to a much more reasonable arrival time in Winnipeg of just before 5pm, instead of 12:37 am! It's better than nothing....so, I'm on the phone on hold (naturally) to West Jet to see if I can rebook my flight to Vancouver, I'll try for Monday night if I can, but after this experience, I might opt for the 7th so I don't have the nightmare of missing connections again. I was supposed to stay in Vancouver for 7 nights, from tomorrow night until the 10th, my flight home is on the 11th, so hopefully I won't miss all my time there
Email to Jen after calling and changing the flight, hotel in Vancouver and re booking accommodation for the next two nights in New York
"Ok, yes, it's me yet again, 8:26pm here now, I've been able to rebook my flight to Vancouver, on the 6th, I didn't want to inconvenience you when you're working by staying overnight, besides, we wouldn't be able to have that Chuckathon, which is already disappointing, gaaah! What I will have time to do is say goodbye to someone who has become such a special friend to me while in Winnipeg, which is much more important. Besides, we can skype and chat via email or phone about news anyway. I'm so sorry, and bloody annoyed it's worked out this way, yes, it is the snow here, an amount that wouldn't even cause Winnipeg to clear its throat, and almost the entire city gets shut down, so much for the city that never sleeps, I guess it does come almost to a standstill with a relatively mild snowstorm! Maybe I'll just have to go and see another Broadway show to make up for all this craziness....the rebooked flight to Vancouver, which I'm still on the phone awaiting confirmation for, is at 8:45pm on Monday Jan 6th, and I fly via Calgary, arriving in Vancouver at 11:30pm. What a day that'll be, but I think I'll just wanna get it over and done with by then. Anyway, I hope that makes your life a little easier, that way you can let me know what time it's best for you to arrive at the airport, by the time I get through customs and get my bag, it'll be after 6-6:30pm I bet, so how about I give you a call when I'm done? As long as I'm booking into my Vancouver flight by no later than about 7-7:30, that should work. Heavens knows what I'll look like (or smell like!) by then, but I'll be so glad to see your friendly face no matter what I look, feel or smell like! Ok. Gonna call the Fairmont now, then find something to eat and get the chuck out of here, if I could be forgiven for using his name in such a manner (I think he would forgive me, considering what I've been though the last 9-1/2 hours!) Signing off for now, I'll try emailing you again if I need to at the hotel, I guess New York wasn't ready to let me go just yet...and I did manage to book two more nights at the Metro Apartments, in case I didn't tell you earlier, thank goodness, wouldn't wanna be homeless in this city tonight..." Cheers, Tania xx
So, after waiting since 11am that morning, I'd missed a flight, stood in line or waited on the phone for over 8 hours, hadn't eaten anything besides tic tacs and barely had a drink, and I wasn't going anywhere
I finally arrived at Metro Apartments at about 10 PM. They booked me into a room that was bigger than my previous one, on the quieter side of the building too. I was costing me less to stay the next two nights than it would have to stay at the Fairmont in Vancouver anyway, so another positive. To say I slept well would be an understatement. I was so exhausted I slept until 8am, then decided I could do with a bit longer and only woke up at 12pm! I wasn't ready to go anywhere until after 1pm on the 4th. When I finally did emerge, the day was clear, the sun was shining, and I decided I might as well go and experience the Rockefeller Observation Deck again, as I had on my first trip to New York in 2008
I forgot to mention that before this I'd visited the tickets booth in Times Square, but they only had discounts for shows I'd seen or didn't want to. I decided to visit the box offices of two and buy direct from there instead. I knew that tomorrow would be the last ever show of First Date, and the chances of getting a ticket were pretty minimal, but I was going to try. Again?! I hear you say. Well, why on earth not? After all I'd been through, I needed a guaranteed laugh, and once I'd experienced what was yet to come, I was so glad I took the chance to check. Not only did I get a ticket, but the best ticket I'd bought so far, in row C, can you believe it! These kind of seats, I was to later discover, are the ones they often save for important people such as producers. Meant to be, I say! The second one from the end as well, which was right in front of where Zac and Krysta spent at least half of the play. This was Sunday afternoon and evening taken care of, but tonight was still free, so I walked two streets up to 50th and the Gershwin Theatre
I visited the NBC Shop in the Rockefeller Centre after this, and found that they had heaps of merchandise on current and highly popular past shows, such as Friends. From here I walked down to Gershwin Theatre, stopping briefly in at the Magnolia bakery, pretty much just so I could say I'd been to one of the New York stores. It wasn't nearly as classy, nor clean, as the one in Chicago had been.
Wicked has a huge foyer, and escalators to ferry people up to the theatre on the second floor. It is massive inside, nearly twice as big as most on Broadway, and probably more than 3 times the size of the Longacre where I was going tomorrow. A huge dragon was poised above the stage, and as you can hopefully see from the photo I was able to sneak in, I knew I was in for something special before I even sat down. The singing was superb, the two leads were the ones with the most challenging singing roles, and it turned many of the theories from the 1939 movie on their head, and certainly made you look at the two witches in a whole new light. The story was really clever, and lots of questions, about Dorothy, the Wizard, the Lion, Tin Man and the Scarecrow in particular were explained
The 5th of January dawned, and it was very cold once again. I didn't have to check out until 11am, so I made the most of sleeping in and taking my time to get ready. I'd be really glad later on that I did. Once I'd booked out, for what I fervently hoped would be the last time, I got Metro to store my suitcase, letting them know I wouldn't be back until late that night to collect it. I then headed downtown on the subway to 14th street, to see a bit of the area around Greenwich village where I stayed with my friend Carolyn for 2 weeks five years ago. The streets were very icy and treacherous to walk on, and even my sturdy Sorels were slipping. I took a few photos, but it was wet, cold and dirty everywhere, discarded Christmas trees and garbage bags lining the already yucky footpaths, there was no good reason to spend time here, so I headed back uptown. I decided hanging out at Bubba Gumps in Times Square was the best option. I had a yummy late lunch here, ordering a dish called "Lieutenant Dan's Drunken Shrimp", laced with bourbon whiskey sauce
When I took my seat, an elegantly dressed older lady, with one of her arms in a sling, took hers beside me. She was friendly, I just talk to anyone, you know me, it was about 15 minutes before it was due to begin. She was a New Yorker, I only had to hear the first few words out of her mouth to know that. She said she just loved going to Broadway shows, and got to most of them, but couldn't believe it had taken her so long to come to this one. She sounded a bit unsure as to if it was her cup of tea, but I assured her it was funny, great singing, the chemistry between the two leads was amazing, get ready to enjoy yourself etc. She then revealed, once we'd been talking a while and she knew I was a teacher, that she was a Broadway producer, and had been for over 20 years! She and her company were currently mounting a show called "All The Way", the story of Lyndon B Johnson's presidency after the death of Kennedy. It has none other than Bryan Cranston in the lead, which if you've heard of the hit TV show, Breaking Bad, you'll know who I'm talking about. I'd seen a big billboard in Times Square advertising it just the other day. Once the show began, she was chuckling along at regular intervals, and I could tell that Zachary Levi had won her over with his charm and talent long before it ended
First Date, for the third time. Could it possibly be even better after already seeing it twice in the last 6 months? The answer to this, ladies and gentlemen, is unequivocally, absolutely, YES! There was that extra buzz of excitement in the audience, many of whom had been more times than I had, and some people who had rushed to book their tickets as soon as the closing date had been announced nearly a month ago. I'd never been to a final Broadway or West End performance before, some of them are legendary. I don't know if it's true or not, but I remember hearing about a final show Sir Ian McKellen performed in the West End where he turned up naked on stage! Thankfully no one was going to be doing that in this performance... People know that the cast often do something a little extra, the whole show is heightened because everyone's emotions are. The actors know it's the last time they'll perform it. That was certainly the case with the last First Date. Because I'd seen it so recently, I knew the lines pretty well, and there was a certain amount of ad libbing going on that night, especially from Zac! I could see at times the background cast, who had to pretend to be talking as other customers in the bar while this blind date occurred, were trying not to react to Zac's antics
Every time a song was finished, the audience erupted into loud cheers and clapping. The play actually went quite a bit longer than the 90 minutes it was supposed to because of this. It came to a particularly poignant song duet between Sarah Chase and Zac, where she was playing his mother who'd died when he was a teenager. Between them they sang the letter that her character had written her son before she underwent heart surgery, and the lyrics would make the most cynical heart feel something. Zac certainly did, and we could see him tearing up before he'd gotten halfway through the song. By the time Sarah handed him the letter, his voice was cracking, and tears literally were running down his face and dripping onto the letter
At the end, it was the quickest I'd seen people stand to give an ovation I've seen in all the shows I've seen, ever. The whole cast was overwhelmed and not trying to hide it as they all came on for their final bows. Finally, as everyone began to quiet down a bit, it was obvious Zac wanted to make a thank you speech. It was heartfelt, and included everyone from the orchestra to the ushers to the spotlight operator, but most of all, the audience. I managed to whip out my iPad and film the last minute or so, which I was sure I was going to get told off for doing. No one stopped me, they were probably all too busy listening to Zac! Lots of people ended up taking photos, and with the entire cast, writers, producers, lyricists and choreographer on stage, it was a great opportunity. I've since found out that someone else who was filming it that night for the whole ovation has uploaded it on You Tube. I was just so glad I actually got to witness it live.
It was super cold outside again, but that didn't seem to bother anybody. The music was pumping out, there was a sense of celebration in the air, and all the cast appeared at some stage to sign programs and thank people for coming. I got talking to one lady who'd come to see the show all the way from Florida with her daughter. She told me that her daughter had been through difficult health challenges in the last year, and as she was recovering, she discovered Zac's TV show "Chuck", and this was a real life line and something to cheer her up. She'd created a book for him, with his major roles drawn as cartoon characters, and was planning to give it to him that night. Lots of people were sharing stories like this around me. I don't know exactly how many people were waiting outside the stage door, more than I'd seen yet, that's for sure. Zac stayed, and reassured the crowd once again that he wouldn't be leaving until everyone who wanted an autograph and/or photo had one. A large group of girls with Comic Con Nerd Headquarters t-shirts from last July, when the show was still in previews, asked if they could all pose for a group photo. He was only too happy to oblige! The Nerd Machine is a company Zac founded with a friend who worked with him on Chuck, and they do a lot of fund raising work for the children's charity, Operation Smile, of which Zac is also an ambassador. All I know is it was nearly 7pm by the time I spoke with Zac, and he remembered that I'd been there a few nights ago. "You came back!" he exclaimed. I told him that I wasn't supposed to be there, and that I'd stood in line all day at La Guardia after a missed flight. He was sympathetic, and asked if I'd just managed to buy a ticket the day before, and was amazed that I'd been able to get one. I said he must be exhausted after all those shows, and that I hoped he was going to get a bit of a rest for at least a little while
So, this was an absolute highlight, if it's not already obvious, to my time in New York, and I went back to collect my luggage on a high. Back through snowy Times Square one last time. I'd been to see two more Broadway shows, and managed to save the best until last. Yes, I'd chosen to stay at the airport all night, but I had plenty to do, and a flight to catch early the next morning...onwards and upwards people!