Blog

Smorgasburg

I am a very proud member of the class of Twenty-ATEteen. My entire BFA class usually bonds over food. So naturally, if there is a food festival you can be a few of us would attend. Therefore, the infamous trio of Ben, Grace and I set out to explore this food extravaganza. Smorgasburg is an annual food flea market. It features almost one hundred vendors from Brooklyn, all together selling a wide variety of food. It takes place at Williamsburg’s East River Park (another park I ended up going to-but only for the food of course). I ended up buying Gumbo from the Cajun stand and it was everything I could’ve hoped for. This festival was only a two-day event so credit to Grace for telling us about it. It was a nice chill day to hang out with friends and eat food before heading back to school. Now given that I’m pretty picky when it comes to spending money, I’ve found that I only ever spend money on food. So this was a valid event to spend money on in my opinion.

            The festival was on a beautiful day, set up right on the Harlem River in Williamsburg. There were plenty of people sitting on the grass sleeping, eating, makin’ some memories with each other. It felt like the first day of Summer for me. There were tents all around with different styles of food from Cajun to Asian Cuisine. There was a tent with the title “Bread & Monkey”. Grace goes crazy for Monkey-Bread so that was a highlight. And I can’t agree more with Grace and her saying, credit of Oprah “I love bread. I love bread.” And while I didn’t buy anything from this tent, there was a company with the name “Lobsterdamus”. This restaurant is native to California and they grill and serve whole lobsters and serve them with noodles. If they weren’t so expensive I would’ve bought twenty. That was thing, everything there was pretty pricey. But I’m always down to have some good gumbo and a lemonade so I enjoyed it all immensely. I’m very grateful I could make it to that festival as it was only two days. Also grateful I witnessed the wonder of that festival with two hardcore food-lovers like me.

Doughnut Expedition

As a student from Otterbein University, I am very much used to taking weekly Friday night/morning trips to Schneider’s Bakery. My friend/roommate/lover Ben Folts and our bud Grace Hoover did that all the time. We set out on an epic quest to find the best doughnut place in NYC. While we still have some ways to go, we have tasted the succulent dough from many different doughnutteries. For Ben’s birthday, the employees at his internship bought him a box of doughnuts from a bakery simply called “Dough”. Those doughnuts were massive and we almost didn’t finish them. But we were on a mission. So those doughnuts are no more. We also made a few trips to the Doughnut Pub. That stop is probably the easiest to get to so we’ve been there multiple times. The quest didn’t end there though. While the Doughnut Pug could have easily become our place to go should we crave a doughnut fix, we figured “The city is far and wide, we should sample all of the doughnut hubs.” So that’s exactly what we did. In fact, we are still on this quest. We’ve tried many doughnut shops, including even stopping at a Dunkin Donuts near our apartment, although there are Dunkin Donuts’ EVERYWHERE in New York. It’s actually pretty shocking how many there are, that and Baskin Robbin’s. There is always a Baskin Robbin’s connected to a Dunkin Donuts here. It quite dangerous. But worth it. Now I haven’t explored every Doughnut Shop here so my next stop will either be the “Donut Project” or the “Doughnuttery” in the Underground Market. The quest continues. Final review of every Donut Shop in New York pending….

Parks

During Internship, I found I needed an outlet to sort of get me off a slump. Going to work and coming back, eating dinner and basically going to sleep became a routine I was not a particular fan of. So I started walking. In New York, everyone keeps to themselves pretty much and the more I observed, almost everyone either had a book or earbuds in to shut everyone else out. It’s a cold environment but one I got used to pretty quickly. I was perfectly happy riding the subway and reading a good book or listening to music on my commute to Queens for Internship. So one Saturday, I took the train to Central Park. It was still winter but it was one of the warmer days of the month. It was a perfect opportunity to take time for myself and enjoy walking outside. I walked around the north side of Central Park and listened to music. When I felt like I was done walking I went across the street to Starbucks and read for a while. I consider that the first truly peaceful day I’d had in New York. Walking around Central Park is wonderful. If you look at a picture of the island of New York from a bird’s eye view you get the full scope of the city, plus in the dead center is this giant patch of green. I appreciate that the city acknowledges how important it is to have green surroundings, to have parks, places people can go to walk their pets or take their kids or just lay out in the sun when it gets warm out. That’s something that I look forward to still as the months get warmer and warmer.

            Another park that I explored was the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park. That park travels along the Hudson River. Up the cliff is the Cloisters which is a replica of a medieval monastery. I know from visiting there a couple of times that the building is actually made up of cloisters from five medieval European monasteries. I am aware that it houses a large collection of medieval art but I would have had to pay to get in to observe. Needless to say that didn’t happen. But it was still such a beautiful building and with it on the cliff overlooking the river was a very peaceful sight.

            And last but not least was the Highline. This location may be my favorite place to go in New York City. This park is an elevated greenway and former railroad. The rundown railroad was redesigned and it now a beautiful place to take walks. Underneath the Highline is a market area with bookstores and great eateries. If I was closer to it, I’d be there every day. The architecture of the park itself as well as all of the buildings around make it one of the most visually pleasing things I’ve seen in New York. I appreciate how the buildings aren’t just standard skyscrapers that you see downtown. While each building is designed by meticulous architects, the buildings at the Highline are really artistic. I remember taking pictures of my surroundings when I first went when I was still in school. It’s such a peaceful park that sits a bit closer to the sun. I definitely look forward to taking walks on the Highline during a summer in New York.

"Lobby Hero"

I was able to see this Broadway play courtesy of Morgan Wood. Telsey gave her tickets and I was lucky enough to be invited! It was such a fun experience. We sat in the second row, saw all four actors up close, and this was a great play to witness in close proximity. The four actors on stage were amazing. I knew Captain America-Chris Evans and Michael Cera from the movie “Juno”. Their characters butted heads the entire play and it was hilarious and unfortunate all at the same time. The other two actors brought their A-games as well. Bel Powley and Brian Tyree Henry were both incredible as well. Each actor was so specific in how their character was portrayed. With those specificities came the dynamic relationships they formed with each other. Each conversation was so dynamic and with that came the ups and downs of the plot and the circumstances the characters found themselves in. The play covered an array of social topics from feminism to racism to police officers’ rights, what they can and cannot do. This was a production that I wish everyone in this country had the chance to see right now. The writing, the text was what obviously brought these four very different characters to life. The text informed their demeanor and their intentions, the unreal amount of tension. Each pause held so much weight, whether because they were talking about a sensitive subject or they simply were doing their jobs specifically William and Jeff the security guards, in silence. Throughout the play those pauses held more and more weight. With an play or musical I see, I always figure that one of their goals is (or at least should be) that the characters at the end are not the same as they were at the beginning. While this play doesn’t turn all of their worlds upside down, by the end of the play, they are all definitely a bit different. I feel like they are all more resolved in what they want to do in life and how to get what they want. For Jeff (Michael Cera) that’s a huge step forward. This play was a great example of an ending that was very satisfying. While they all didn’t exactly have anything to fulfill by the end of the play, they all knew how to move forward in their lives because of the events in the play.

            This play was a textbook example of drama that I enjoy. It is about sensitive topics, but here and there, humor cushions those topics. While I do believe that there is a place for the theatre that portrays harsh realities to throw in the audiences’ faces, plays like this are more fascinating to watch for me. There were so many lines in this play that got a collective sigh or vocal reaction from the audience, as we all knew what they meant or agreed with what they said, or disagreed with what the characters said. It was a play that everyone was 100% tuned into. Personally, I didn’t totally know what I was getting myself into but that’s what made it so much fun to watch. I always enjoy watching something I know nothing about. It gave me a fresh perspective and made me want to dig for more plays like this to read and to watch. Plays like this one are definitely what we need right now.

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I remember seeing that musical for the first time. It was horrifying and beautiful. That was one of my first introductions to Stephen Sondheim’s work and while I’ve dabbled in Sondheim here (“Into the Woods” and “Assassins”) I’ve never had the pleasure of being in Sweeney Todd. But I did have the immense pleasure of winning the lottery to this production of Sweeney Todd at Barrow Street Theatre. Needless to say I was excited. Now this was a completely immersive experience. From the beginning, the cast walked around and talked to the audience and plenty of the blocking took place on the tables that that audience sat at. It was incredible. It was done with the bare minimum. All of the principles doubled as the ensemble and you watched each quick change, each transformation into a different character from scene to scene. All except Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovette. The actress who played Mrs. Lovette was gold. She was hysterical. She played the humor to the nth degree and it worked very well. It is just a wonderful balance to Sweeney’s macabre demeanor. That’s what’s wonderful about this musical; while it is obviously very dark and violent, the musical is extremely funny. The love story between Antony and Joanna was the funniest and most awkward portrayal I’ve seen yet. Given that they barely know each other and it is mostly love at first sight, it worked perfectly; it made sense.

I made many new discoveries with this musical this time around. The relationships formed in this production were formed very clearly. Of course, every scene, every beat was probably rehearsed to death given the close proximity to the audience. The intentions had to be so clear with every beat, every line. Of course, that’s how all productions should be but this production was special. Half of the stage was the ground and the other half was the tables that we all sat at. Antony’s beautiful rendition of “Joanna” was all sung on a table right where I was sitting. It was beautiful. The beggar woman came up to me begging for money. Mind you the actress who played the beggar woman also played the male, Italian barber Pirelli. The main characters all played their part, and then some. The one actor who surprised me was the man who played the Beadle, Judge Turpin’s henchman. The actor played the Beadle flamboyant and it was extremely amusing. I never thought much of that character of the Beadle and once again, this production surprised me. It gave the character a perspective, an opinion that I cared about. I cared about every character in this production. Well, all except the Judge who was written to be an evil, despicable character, which definitely translated. What I enjoyed was that they didn’t try to change the musical too much. They didn’t change the text. They merely placed it somewhere that audiences are not used to. But it made perfect sense to be staged in a pie shop. It was very simple, the whole production stripped down and it worked out well, which is why this production has remained so popular. It’s an experience unlike anything else in this city in my opinion. This production has extended its run multiple times. I’m just grateful they’ve stayed open long enough for me to witness it.