life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lincoln Center evening

So one evening last week we headed up to Lincoln Center, the cultural heart of New York City.  Hone of the Metropolitan Opera House, the Julliard  School, Avery Fisher Hall, the Vivian Beaumont Theater, the New York City Ballet, and even a branch of the New York Public Library.

"Lincoln Center Twilight" by Nils Olander from Panoramio - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

Our purpose was to see the current production of The King and I.

Most people are familiar with The King and I, either from the 1956 movie and/or from the many Broadway revivals and touring companies over the years.  The musical was written specifically for then-Broadway star Gertrude Lawrence, and became the vehicle that launched Yul Brenner into stardom.  (I saw the 1996 revival, with Lou Diamond Phillips as the King and Marie Osmond as Anna.) 

The current production stars Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe.  She is absolutely amazing, she plays Anna as both tough and romantic.  He is a terrific actor, but I found his accent a bit difficult to understand at times.  The costumes were amazing, I really loved the ball gown.  The sets were impressive -- we were sitting in the first row of the mezzanine, and when the curtain rose and the ship literally sailed across the felt like the ship was coming straight at us.

I should say something about race relations, colonialism and slavery -- themes that are woven into the story, in a way that the 21st century audience might not view as "politically correct", but ...

Well, I agree with Ben Brantley's review:

Besides, what makes “The King and I” a five-handkerchief masterpiece isn’t its quaint portrait of mores at odds, but its portrayal of the varied forms and content of love, an abiding theme of Rodgers and Hammerstein. This score, given the full velvet touch by a sublime orchestra, contains some of their lushest ballads.

Yes, I cried for the doomed romance of Tuptim and Lun Tha.

The production has been nominated for 9 Tonys, and I will be very eager to see how it does during the awards ceremony  next month. 

Afterwards we had dinner at P. J. Clarke's, our "go-to" place in that neighborhood.    I successfully resisted the call of their macaroni and cheese -- an interesting and very rich concoction that includes peas and bacon and a billion calories.  Instead, we both ordered the skirt steak, which is served with a side of steak fries and a choice of sauce:  Béarnaise, Classique, Roquefort, or Neat.  My request to substitute mashed potatoes was gladly accommodated.  The steaks were very tender, the Béarnaise rich and  tasty.  My mashed potatoes were very creamy, and were topped with sour cream, which gave them an interesting tang.  Drew really liked the onion strings -- lightly breaded and fried, and not the least bit greasy.  The steak fries were crisp, but unfortunately the house ketchup tastes more like tomato paste.   

P.J. Clarke's on Urbanspoon

And afterwards, we were treated to a street musician's unique saxophone performance of Pagliacci.   The opera had been presented earlier that evening at the Met, and I suppose the young man playing the sax wanted to capitalize on that. 

 Only in New York.

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