Bowery Mural

New York - Friday night lights

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Being the planner that I am, my plan for New York was this...

Friday: after check in and freshening up I'd head to Times Square and explore for a while. I'd then head to Fifth Avenue and find some shops. Have a quick look around. Scope the area, then head back to the hotel.

Saturday: SHOPPING DAY! Fifth Avenue and around the area and then later on Soho.

Sunday: Top of the Rock, Highline, Greenwich Village for lunch, 9/11 memorial, Wall Street area, then walk across Brooklyn Bridge.

Monday: breakfast, check out, a little more exploring and maybe some shopping.

What actually happened was this...


Before leaving I was reading on the web about a new play that had opened on the Tuesday night for preview shows. Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men was on a short run in the Longacre Theatre. And here's the best part EVER!! The main characters were being played by none other than Chris O'Dowd and JAMES FRANCO! I mean WHHAAAAAT!! No I am not apologising for my over use of capitals and exclamation marks. This line up deserve it. AND if you don't know who either of those people are then you're basically dead to me (just kidding, a little) ;D

So yes, Of Mice and Men was something I'd heard of but didn't actually know the story. I'm glad I spent most of my Wednesday Googling for tickets instead of reading up on the story. It would have spoilt my magical experience. I somehow managed to land a ticket for the supposedly sold out Friday night show. It cost a pretty penny and I was really hoping it wasn't some dodgy ticket touting website I'd used. You never know.

Wait, back to the hotel. I'd just landed-check. Checked in-check. Then I went for a wander. I'll head for Times Square and then go to collect my ticket at the Longacre box office I thought to myself. By this time it was about 4pm in New York. The streets were busy with both traffic and pedestrians but surprisingly to me it was nothing too bad. I was looking all around, looking up, taking pictures as I wandered. Always look up, eh @DanRubin. One block from my hotel I turned right onto Broadway and I saw what I knew to be the edge of Times Square - wow so close. Ten slow walking minutes later I was there. THERE.

Words can't really describe it. It's busy. There's people everywhere. There's billboards flashing at you from above, below, front and back. Camera's and phones are abundant with people taking every opportunity to save some memories for the future. It was so busy I nearly got clothes lined by an Elmo! haha. I soaked it all up for a little while. Wandering from side to side then to the red steps where everyone takes pictures. Really great. This is the life I mused.

Then i spied a Sephora. Now Sephora, for those not in the know, is like a beauty junkie's dream shop. It's got most things and was the first shopping list I wrote on my phone. I couldn't help myself. I went in. There was too much choice, too much. All kinds of brands and all kinds of colours.  But i did it. I made my first Sephora purchase. Presents for my little cousin and a few bits for me. Before I realised it it had been an hour in there and I still hadn't been to the box office to collect my ticket. That would be my next stop.

Walking up Broadway I couldn't help but take more pictures of the street sign. You gotta get them while you can (without being knocked down by a yellow cab!). A short while later, at the Hershey's shop, i turned left onto West 48th Street and arrived at the Longacre. The box office was open and sure enough my ticket was there waiting for me. Woop! I hadn't been duped by a tout website. Amazing.

I headed back to the hotel to have a shower and change of clothes but not before stopping at a CVS to pick up water and some crisps.

The show was at 8pm but I wanted to get there in time to be seated by 7.45pm so i left the hotel just after 7. I timed it. 4 minutes later I was in Times Square. 4 actual minutes! My hotel was in the perfect location. This close to the main attractions but far enough away that you're not getting all the pedestrian footfall right past it. I entered the theatre and went to take my seat. It was a small theatre with a high ceiling adorned with two lovely ceiling roses and chandeliers. Although we were being told not to take pictures inside plenty of people were, so i quickly took a couple of snaps. My seat was great. 5 rows from the stage and slightly to the left. Argh, JAMES actual FRANCO will be right there in 20 minutes, Argh.

looking up, Longacre theatre

The venue was filling up nicely and soon it was time. The lights dimmed, a net curtain type material rose up and there they were. George and Lennie. James and Chris. OMG. I grinned and i didn't stop til near the end. As I mentioned before, I did not know the story and oh man I'm so glad I never. It was both funny and heartbreaking. A story of loneliness, friendship, bonds, family who aren't your family, life on the road, everything. Chris O'Dowd was absolutely perfect and made to play Lennie (a large, strong but simple-minded man). And I mean that in a good way. He was much more imposing in real life, I didn't realise how tall he was. His normally floppy curled main had been shaved, he'd grown a thick wiry beard and he wore a blue denim all in one. Not a onesie though. It's never a onesie. You can tell the relationship between Lennie and George is a special one. George looks out for Lennie, but heck, Lennie would die for George.

Ah George, lovely James Franco. Safe to say my interest levels have spiked to an all time high 10 since seeing this play. Shorter than I expected, and stalkier too. But man, much more handsome and dreamy in real life. Absolutely nothing like all those pin up looks you see in magazines. But they're all airbrushed anyway. Nah, me, I prefer the real life than the airbrushed version of anyone. His George was fabulous too. You could tell that there was a great real life rapport there between those two actors notwithstanding their on-stage relationship. I think it only added to it. George was a sharp short tempered guy who just wanted the good life. He'd looked out for Lennie for a while and they'd dreamt and planned this whole other life together. Things happen along the way and story takes turns I'd not expected. When the end came I was crying like a baby. After the final scene the lights went out and in one unanimous wave everyone rose and clapped and whooped and cheered. It was quite a special moment. In fact I'm welling up as I type. It was emotional. I couldn't take it all in. I was standing there in New York having just watched this amazing cast in a brilliant play and there was a standing ovation. The cast all came out to take their bows and were grinning too. At the end I saw Franco grab O'Dowd and give him a chest slap as if to say 'great show'. They both had the widest grins. And boy does James Franco have a great smile...

I tried to wipe my eyes before the house lights came up but it was no use. My glasses had to be removed to wipe them. These were happy tears though.

Outside there seemed to be a blockage on the pavement then (duh!) I realised it was because people were waiting at the stage door. I didn't think they'd come out so quickly but after about 10 minutes, there they were. Chris first. He stopped to take pictures and sign autographs for people. I was at the back of the second black SUV I thought they would have come that way. Nope. I'm sure he went away wandering down Broadway. 5 minutes after James came out with a couple of others. He too signed programmes and took pictures. Again I ever got one. I did get him in the car though - honest!

Chris O'Dowd, what do you mean you can't see him! ;)
Still smiling I headed back into Times Square for night time pictures. Luckily for me there's always someone willing to take a picture for you for one in return. By this time it was after 11pm and I'd been up and awake for nearly 24 hours. It was time for some shut eye back at the hotel.

A short walk down Broadway and left onto West 38th Street I was back in the comfort of my cosy room in 10 minutes.

What a first day... James Franco... *dreams*

Angela xx

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