It’s been a crazy few weeks moving up to the Berkshires and settling into life at my new internship. But, this past weekend I took a quick birthday Broadway getaway with my lovely mother and we saw three shows (Anastasia, Bandstand, and Dear Evan Hansen), ate our weight in good food, and met up with some dear friends of mine.
Our first stop upon arriving in Manhattan was to grab lunch at a cozy midtown spot, Lexington Brass, for some brunch (because of course). We shared our meal with my friend Zack, with whom I interned at the American Repertory Theater this spring! He always has the best, most insane stories from seeing shows. I ordered some cinnamon roll pancakes (which were probably the best thing I ate the whole weekend) and a glass of milk (#ConnorFinishedTheMilk).
It rained on and off all day, so we made it to the Broadhurst Theatre for our matinee of Anastasia pretty soaked, despite our umbrellas. For those of you not familiar with the 90s film of the same name, Anastasia follows a fictionalized spin on the story of Anastasia Romanov, whose family was killed in an attack on their palace. Anya (Christy Altomare) is the only survivor, but suffers amnesia, gets lost and forgets her past–but her aunt, the Dowager Empress (Mary Beth Peil) never gives up hope that she will be found and even offers a reward for her safe return. Then, Anya meets Dmitry (Derek Klena) and Vlad (John Bolton) who think she’ll be the perfect imposter to con the Empress and get them reward money. Little do any of them know Anya’s true identity. At its core, Anastasia is a story of reconnecting with your past and learning who you are.
The production itself was so visually stunning I had to catch my breath at times. The costumes were period specific (France and Russia in the 1900s-20s) and absolutely beautiful. Vibrantly colored and covered in jewels, each outfit was a masterpiece. The set made use of gorgeous projections that take you from the crowded streets of Stalingrad to the majesty of the Eiffel Tour in seconds. The ensemble was lavish and the dancing was lovely–with two stand-out dance pieces in each act. Anastasia was the perfect start to my mom and I’s three-show weekend!
Between shows, we grabbed a slice of pizza downtown. Because the MTA was being weird, as per usual, our initial plans got changed but we still had a tasty and satisfying dinner. Then, we made it back up to midtown to see the evening show of Bandstand (Lin-Manuel Miranda was at the matinee, we just missed him!).
Bandstand takes place in the American aftermath of World War II and follows war vet Donny Novitski (Corey Cott), a musician past his prime looking for work, and war widow Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes) who is mourning the loss of her husband, who is also Donny’s best friend. The pair meet after Donny learns about a radio contest to find a band with the best original song that honors the troops. Donny starts gathering local veteran musicians and discovers Julia’s gorgeous voice. While the plot’s main focus is on the band their musical journey, it also uncovers the struggles faced by both veterans after entering back into life after battle and lovers learning to live with their grief.
The movement is electric–the choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler both lights the stage on fire and gives you chills down to your bone. Another show with era-perfect costumes, Bandstand envelopes you in a 40s-flavored hug. The band that Donny puts together is filled with actors who play their own instruments live on stage (reminiscent of Once, which was also in the Jacobs Theatre). The fiercely talented, powerhouse cast brings humor and heart to the story and brought tears to my eyes.
On day two, we started off with more brunch, but this time, on a rooftop. At Hotel Chantelle, I tucked into some frosted-flake crusted brioche French toast stuffed with ricotta and maple-infused mascarpone cream. De-li-cious! There’s nothin’ like dining al fresco.
I spent some time with my friend Liam who happened to be visiting the city as well before going to see Dear Evan Hansen (…for the eighth time). I’ve already reviewed the show on the blog before, so I won’t go into too much more detail, but I will say this: each time, I notice something new about the show–in more ways than one. As I change as person, how I view the show and how it affects me evolves. It constantly teaches me new things about myself and my relationships with others. But also, I first saw the show in D.C. at its second ever preview, meaning I’ve seen countless incarnations of the show before it reached its final product on Broadway. Even then, the actors have grown with their roles and each time there are new complexities to unravel. Plus, seeing it with my mom was very special and I’m glad I got to share it with her.
At intermission of Dear Evan Hansen, I spotted David Korins, the set designer, and got to speak with him for a bit! The entire creative team of Dear Evan Hansen is truly incredible.
After the show, I met up with my friend Kayla (who’s been on the vlog before) and we grabbed some Schmackary’s together! We actually met at Schmackary’s so it was nice to go back to where it all started!
For all the good (and all the bad that doesn’t make it on to the blog), I had a really amazing weekend. Good friends, good food, good theatre–what more could you ask for?
What’s been your favorite Broadway getaway? Let me know in the comments below!
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