A trip to NYC for Steinbeck classic on stage

The first time I saw a Broadway show led to an interest in seeing more great stage performances around New York City. As an undergraduate at Cabrini College, I went on bus tours to take in several shows. This was an overnight stay of my own plans, as was the trip last October.  You can read more about it on this Photo Journey post. For my recent stay, the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan was the hotel of choice due to its being so close to the Longacre Theatre.

Longacre Theatre

Getting to the city was a bit stressful; speed limits had dropped down to 35mph along various stretches of the chosen highway route. My mom and I couldn’t believe the traffic back-up and such long-lasting slower speed zones. I was worried that we’d miss the start of the show. Luckily, we made it with a half hour to spare, hotel check-in was done and we were standing in line for the 2 p.m. performance.

“Of Mice and Men” was an amazing show, with its cast including James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton. Everyone in the production did such great jobs with their roles. I loved getting to hear the dialect of the story’s characters in John Steinbeck’s classic work, as well as seeing their emotions and personalities. The details of the set were also impressive, depicting wooded scenes and the working ranch.

Of Mice and Men Ticket

It slipped my mind to get a souvenir t-shirt or other item before the show and later, didn’t want to leave my seat during intermission. From previous experiences doing so at one show, I missed the scene that followed. Upon exiting the theatre afterward, it didn’t look like I’d have time to get both a souvenir and any autographs. So, I joined the crowd of fans who hoped to see the stars and get their Playbills signed.

At first, I was far back from the barricade along the sidewalk in front of the Longacre. Then sirens rang out from an approaching fire truck and with the crowd and city traffic in the streets, people began to squeeze in closer. A police officer yelled out for everyone to get back on the sidewalk. Of course, we couldn’t because of the barricade. Several fans left their spots ahead of me, maybe hoping to find better spots for getting autographs. So I moved up and between that and the crowd squeezing forward as much as they could, I ended up surprisingly close to the barricade. Just one row of people were in front of me, leaning upon it.

I had only been in that spot for a moment when I saw O’Dowd coming from the left and signing his autograph on fans’ Playbills. As he reached the person in front of me, I reached over her shoulder toward him, but just didn’t do so quite far enough. There was definitely a buzz in the crowd about his amazing performance as Lennie. I hadn’t seen O’Dowd in any major roles before; after the play, I became a new fan of this very talented actor.

Next, everyone awaited Franco’s exit from the theater. Several random people left the Longacre through the same door from which he’d be leaving. It became rather humorous as the crowd would be in mid-cheer and then, “it’s not him.” From that, a guy standing nearby chanted, “We want James, we want James,” a few times. Shortly afterward, a guard on the sidewalk began telling fans that he’d be out in 10 minutes or so. Also, to get our phones turned around and ready to pose for selfies with him. The multi-talented actor walked outside a few moments later, crossing in front of my section of the crowd and began signing Playbills. During the show’s intermission, someone sitting near me said it was Franco’s birthday. Outside as fans got his autograph and snapped selfies with him, everyone started singing “Happy Birthday” to him. When he came close enough, I was still reaching over the shoulder of the girl in front of me and he took my Playbill to sign it. I didn’t try to take a selfie with him because of where I stood and being too jam-packed to move.  But getting his autograph was a pretty cool moment, especially since I wasn’t so sure I would when I first joined the crowd outside after the show. Also, as a big movie fan, I love that Broadway gives people a chance to see favorite actors and actresses in person.

Signed Playbill

Afterward, it was time to find a place to have dinner.We crossed Broadway near the Sbarro on 49th Street and “Desire” by U2 was playing as we continued toward The Playwright Tavern. It reminded me of city and street scenes in some of the band’s videos. I was so glad we ended up eating there because I’d been wanting to try it ever since that first Broadway show trip a few years ago.

The staff was friendly and welcoming, overall service was excellent. Our stemmed glasses of water were refilled regularly. Deciding what to order was difficult only because everything sounded wonderful as we read the menu. Following with the literary theme of the trip, I chose the James Joyce Burger, which was delicious! We both opted for sorbet from the desserts offered, raspberry and mango. I was expecting the sorbet to be in small bowls like I’ve seen at many restaurants. These were a nice surprise!


In my mind, I already wanted to dine at The Playwright again on a future visit to NYC. Getting a taste of Ireland definitely has me looking forward to an upcoming opportunity (but that’s another blog post).

Before heading back to the hotel, we looked around in a souvenir store called I Heart (a red heart shape) NY Gifts. I bought a travel mug decorated in a collage of full-color NYC photos, as well as a small Empire State Building Statue. A little King Kong likeness draped an arm around the mini iconic skyscraper.

Several times overnight, I glanced out of the 15th story window, down at the taxis and over at Times Square. The Empire State Building was lit up in pastels for Easter. I couldn’t get a good shot of it at night, but this was the daytime view.

Empire St Bldg

With morning came plans to grab something quick for breakfast, check out and head for southern New Jersey. We ate at the McDonald’s near the Red Stairs of Times Square. I stopped in that particular McD’s during one of the previous college trips to NYC and little did I know then what I missed. An awesome miniature of the city and its famous sites were displayed in a case on the second floor!

NYC USS Intrepid Mini

The real U.S.S. Intrepid is still on my must-see list around town.

The miniature NYC wasn’t the last of what I saw for the first time there. Wandering the not yet very crowded Times Square, I spotted this map of Broadway theater names.

Broadway Theatre Map

After a quick climb up the Red Stairs and a stop at M&Ms World, it was time to say goodbye once more to the city. Not without one more surprise.

Cruise Ship

That’s the closest I’ve been, so far, to a modern-day cruise ship. I would’ve loved to be standing near where it was docked, but it was still an amazing vessel to catch a glimpse of so unexpectedly. I took the photo of it just in time before trees and other objects began to obstruct the view. Check out more of my NYC photos on Flickr.

In the time since I saw “Of Mice and Men,” various award nominations were announced for shows and performances. They were all very much well-deserved, both by cast and for production elements.

Not only have these trips inspired my interest in catching Broadway shows, they also do the same for seeing more of the city. For my next visit, I hope to stay overnight again and go on some sightseeing tours. I could definitely use a New York City Pass, because there is so much I want to check out. I’ll also have to bring a tablet next time so I can work on some writing about exploring the city once I’m back in a hotel room for the night.


About caroldwyer

A freelance photographer and blogger, I'm also a non-traditional graduate of Cabrini College with a B.A. in communication, minor in English and concentration in film studies. As a student, I was a staff writer, photographer and copy editor for the Loquitur. In my final semester, I assisted in promoting campus literary events for Woodcrest Literary Magazine. I love travel, historic places, nature, wildlife and the arts. I hope to be involved in some way with one of those areas throughout my media career. Currently, I'm pursuing my M.F.A. in creative writing and publishing. Read my film blog at http://cdwyerfilminspired.wordpress.com - and my literary blog at http://cdwyerbookishgrad.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Broadway, Dining, Flickr, Literary, New York City, Photography, Theatre, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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