When I left the US, early in 2012 at the end of an amazing one year exchange visa program, I spent my last night in NYC. It was actually one of the first times I’d stayed in the city itself since a cramped Air BnB experience in 2009. I didn’t want to. By that point I loathed NYC. I’d fallen in love with Chicago, and the Big Bad City I’d once loved and longed for was now my ex. And I hated her.
See NYC hurt me. When I lived there I was too far out, and rent was still too expensive. I only *just* got a job, and that took me about 3 months to get, all the doors I thought would open weren’t. Maybe I wasn’t ready for NYC.
On my last night on that trip, staying with my dear friend Monica, I begged to not go anywhere ‘New Yorky’. The closest I got to Times Square was to collect a suitcase that the [title of show] gang had been looking after for me (I had intended to return to NYC, not stay in Chicago), they were rehearsing Now.Here.This at the time for it’s second run at the Vineyard. I did end up managing to avoid ‘New York’ that night.
Then I left. Vowing never to return. I mean it’s hard when your dreams get crushed.
Then, when I decided to make my return to Australia to run Imprint Theatricals my business partner Nathanael convinced me that we needed to stop in NYC on the way home. It sounded like a decent idea. We could set up meetings and perhaps get a leg up on our competition back home in Aus. I agreed. A bit reluctantly I’m sure. My condition was to not stay in midtown.
We stayed in midown. Buckle up Sean. Here we go again.
After landing and settling in to our hotel, we jumped a cab and headed out to Brooklyn for some of the best pizza NYC has to offer. Now it’s important to note that Nathanael had never been to NYC, so there were some things we definitely had to do. We met with composer Jeff Bowen and chatted about old times and future projects over the amazing pizza before admiring the Manhattan skyline, and how quiet Brooklyn Heights was.
We took the opportunity to be tourists the next morning, walking through Times Square and heading up to the Top Of The Rock to admire the view, especially so Nathanael could get a grasp on the scope of the city we were currently standing on top of. When we got to the bottom we decided to do one more cliche thing. Something that had actually been on my To Do List since my very first NYC trip in ’08, but that we’d never got round to completing at the time. Ice skating at Rockefeller Centre.
With feet aching from skates we walked up Fifth Avenue, and then into Central Park where we saw a crazy man boxing in the middle of the streets. And squirrels. The squirrels of Central Park always get me. I love them. I know they’re vermin, but it’s just something so different to what we have in Australia.
As we walked back towards Times Square we were asked if we wanted to join the audience for David Letterman- it was something Nathanael really wanted to do, so we joined in. Then we checked to see what shows were on that night at TKTS- Avenue Q was. Perfect. We went.
Our next day in NYC was full of meetings with some really important Broadway producers. We suited up and headed out. The enormity of the days events weighing in on us as we nervously waited outside office towers as to not be too early. Our minds were blown by offices full of awards, and also some incredible kindness. We made some important connections, and we felt like real producers. Subsequently there was only one way to celebrate, as they say in The Producers “Lunch at Sardi’s every day!” I got a club sandwich and Nathanael got a salad, and both of us were shocked at American portions. I should have remembered better.
That evening we caught a performance of the Tony Award winning Pippin. I wasn’t too fussed going into the production, but was a bit more excited as we sat in our balcony seats and could see the great circus set design. The boxes were brilliant. And in the boxes was an Australian stage legend. What did this mean? Nathanael and I decided to do some sleuthing. It might have just been coincidence though.
Or was it…
On our third full day in NYC we caught a matinee of the Tony Winner-To-Be, “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder”. It was a hilarious romp, perfectly farcical with a fantastic design. Considering it was a matinee and the show had opened some months before (not to mention was a new, original, musical) I was pleasantly surprised to see just how busy it was. I thought it boded well. We had decided it was our pick for Best Musical of the season. And we were right.
In one of our big meetings it had been suggested to us to see Buyer and Cellar starring Michael Urie, Off-Broadway down in the West Village. We took up the offer, and boy are we glad we did. What an incredible performance, and such a funny show. We hadn’t laughed that hard in a theatre for a very long time.
No trip to NYC is complete without Junior’s Cheesecake. I took Nathanael to eat some. I probably shouldn’t have. All I hear now is him begging to go back for more.
The following day we took more time to explore, this time heading down town. I’ve never spent a lot of time down town, so it was a good trek to new places for me as well. We explored a number of quirky East Village boutiques, doing a fair bit of gift shopping as we went, then crossed town through SOHO to head over to the West Village, where we hoped to get some Magnolia’s Bakery cupcakes, however they had no seating. Which was annoying. We settled for tea elsewhere.
That evening we had a meeting set up with Mark Campbell, writer of the show Songs From An Unmade Bed. Mark was such a delightful gentleman, taking us to one of his favourite local haunts Buvette. The little French kitchen was delightful.
That evening we had one last show to see, the immersive ‘Natasha Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812’, a take on War And Peace that took place inside a fully decked out tent. Unfortunately our experience was a little ruined by people sitting around us, but we did get egg shakers, and enjoyed the show a lot.
We also got cheesecake again.
Our last morning was spent packing, and then in another interview, this time with the Rodgers and Hammerstein organisation. Yet again we were reminded about all the benefits for our company in coming to NYC. These meetings were all incredible. We learned so much, and were now known in person by a number of majorly influential Broadway people.
Imprint had temporarily set up office in a Potbelly Sandwich Shop, one of my favourite chains from back in Chicago, along 7th Avenue, which was now looking significantly more cleaned up than when I first had visited.
In fact all of New York was starting to feel that way. The 80s neon signs and dirty stores seemed to be disappearing. Everything was starting to look more modern. Like people cared. There were interesting cafes and restaurants. There was a great vibe. And my new discoveries in the villages made me happier too.
I liked NYC again.
The dream was starting to grow again. I wanted to be in NYC. I wanted to be doing things there again. I wanted to be associated with Broadway.
Yes. The hatred was over.
Now I can’t wait to go back.