Monday, March 4, 2013


I've never thought of myself as a city person. Richmond, Chicago, Atlanta, Arlington, Boston, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Denver - even San Antonio and D.C….all places I've been to and enjoyed my visit, but would never ever desire to live there. I thought NYC would be the same way - nice to visit, not to live.

Let me tell you, NOTHING about ANY of those cities I just mentioned prepared me for New York City. I am in love with this place, and am willing to do just about anything to get back there. And if somehow, Lord willing, I got the opportunity to live for a time in this crazy, high-strung, city, I would.

I am not a photographer. Neither is my mother. Or my father. Or anyone in our family, for that matter. Also, it pretty much rained the whole time we were there, so for fear of destroying the precious camera (which was already not really working in the first place), we used it sparingly and I resorted to my iPod. And we were only there for 24 hours. So I apologize for the lack of pictures, and for the…interesting quality of the ones I do have, but they are all special to me in their own way, because they capture the frantic rush and surreal adventure of my trip. *gotta love it*

We arrived in New Jersey about four-ish in the afternoon after driving all morning, and spent a lovely hour meeting/catching up with my parents' friends from college and their children. After some confusion with schedules, we ended up missing the train into New York City, so we drove in instead, and made excellent (actually *beating* the train we would've been on). Garth is a wonderful navigator and tour guide (he oughta be - he's been working in the city for nine years). 

my first view of New York City…wow….right? Ha.

We got in in time for him to get to his evening show, and for us  to get to our hotel in time to change quickly and head off to Phantom.

Right as we got the hotel {Marriot Marquis on Times Square *eeeeekkkk*}, Garth called out to my mom "be right back" and whisked me across the street, between two gift shops, and then PRESTO. Times Square. And from that moment, I knew that this was a special city. 

 For the the rest of the trip, I was not myself. I was Someone Else living in Another World. Not me. 'Cause little Liza from Charlottesville couldn't possibly be standing in Times Square with a real-life Broadway actor looking out at thousands of people moving in masse to wherever they're going, taxis and cars careening around and honking at everything that moves, crazy pedestrians weaving between vehicles, music playing in every shop, billboards flashing from every corner, and the constant noise and buzz of the city. Not me.

Welp, I hadn't seen nuthin' yet. Our hotel room view was this:

And I only had thirty minutes to admire it, since we had to be at the theatre for the 7pm show…and it was 6:10. I only had thirty minutes to let Times Square sink in, and get my mind in the right place to see Phantom. And not just any Phantom of the Opera performance. The original Broadway production - with sets and costumes and choreography pretty much the same as it was back in 1988. And not just any cast either. Still can't *really* wrap my mind around the fact that I saw Sierra Boggess as Christine. But I've got a picture and an autograph to prove it, so it must be true, right?

Before it started, Mama tapped my shoulder and said, "I have tissues in my purse if you need them." I love her. But I didn't think I would actually want them until later.

When the prologue ended ("Sold! Your number, sir? Thank you.") and the notes of the overture exploded into every corner of the gorgeous Majestic Theatre, and the blazing chandelier began its ascent to the ceiling, I lost it. I frantically dug around for the tissues so I wouldn't smudge my makeup. I sat there, watching that chandelier, watching the drapes being ripped off the set, watching everything, with tears spilling over so fast I did end up with streaks on my face anyway.

The Phantom's chandelier at the Majestic Theater
phantom's chandelier via pinterest

It's hard to explain what Phantom means to me. It's hard to explain why seeing it at Majestic was so important. It was the fulfillment, culmination, of six years of dreaming. Six years of wishing and hoping. Six years of listening to that Overture and thinking "someday." It's hard to explain that even though other shows are more fun, more interesting, and more exciting to me, Phantom will ALWAYS be MY musical.
.Kyle Barisich and Sierra Boggess
25th anniversary Broadway pics via pinterest // sierra and kyle

Of course Sierra was stunning. Our Phantom was the young understudy (u/s), Paul Schaefer, who's usual role is the Marksman in Act 2 ("Not now, you idiot!"). He's been with the show for five years, but it was his first time "Phantom-ing" with Sierra…so he was kinda tense in the first act. But by Act 2, he was INCREDIBLE and I'm really glad we got to see him. And Kyle Barisich played a great Raoul - different in many ways from Hadley Fraser's (which I love) but still wonderful.



And yes, I did meet Sierra at the stage door. She did sign my playbill. She did sign Catherine's 25th Ann. CD case. We did take a picture. She did give me a hug. I'm not a fan of fangirling - I like to think of actors and celebs as normal people with special gifts who can be respected and appreciated but shouldn't be idolized - but it was pretty darn COOL to meet her.

Needless to say, I was in no mood to go to bed, so back to the hotel we went, changed into warmer clothes, and went out to eat and explored Times Square a little. After all, it was only 11:30pm in the City That Never Sleeps. Things was just getting stahted *grin*

this is called the Freezing Cold Picture *grin*

awkward photo - but I was thinking of you, +Brianna Wachter <3

I finally did fall asleep…around 2am. After all, we had a big morning ahead of us, and I wanted to stay awake through Newsies.

The next morning, Dad had an all-day conference, and Mama and I went out to explore. It was raining still, but we made good time, and hit Macy's, Forever 21, Loft, and various other shops. Darting from awning to awning, walking under scaffolding, stepping into random souvenir stores - all to escape the rain and cold. New York from the *inside*.

in front of Madame Toussauds….you couldn't PAY me to go in there. Waxworks are NOT my thing.

We met up with Garth about halfway through the morning, and met a friend of his, the LOVELY Elizabeth Welch (@ewelchtweets), who is Christine's u/s, the Princess, the Triangle Girl, and the Mirror Bride in Phantom of the Opera. She *really* wanted to give us a backstage POTO tour, but there wasn't time. But she and I decided we'll be getting together again - soon - and with Catherine too :D Anyway, she was sooooo sweet and she's very talented and I'm so glad I got to meet her!
Garth, Elizabeth, and Yours Truly

Cool Fact: Garth was in the Original Broadway Cast of The Drowsy Chaperone in 2006, starring Sutton Foster. He's currently in an Off-Broadway show. And he's got a great sense of humor, and the trip wouldn't have been the same without him. Yup, he's cool. Thanks, Garth!

Mama and I were running on a bowl of fruit and a coffee - but neither of us were hungry. So we said goodbye to Garth and Elizabeth, both of them had matinees to get to, and headed off in the direction of the Nederlander.


What to say.

I have a weakness for musicals. I have a weakness for newsboy caps. I have a weakness for dancing. I have a weakness for romance. I have a weakness for witty characters. I have a weakness for Disney. I have a weakness for big band scores. I have a weakness for New York City.

When they're all thrown together in ONE SHOW - it's called….ummm….Newsies.

Remember what I said about fangirling? I don't do it. But let's just say that I GREATLY appreciate the incredible TALENT of this absolutely WONDERFUL cast and the BRILLIANCE of this AMAZING show.

yes, I got to see all three Newsie swings! Missed the other boys, of course, but I was still excited :D

This musical has a new favorite of mine since my Pandora station played Seize the Day last summer, and the boys are great at interacting with their fan base, so between the dozen or so hilarious twitter accounts they write, Andrew Keenan-Bolger ("Crutchie"…but only for one more week *sniffle*)'s YouTube channel, I felt like I'd already seen the show somehow….boy was I wrong! There's a HUGE difference between knowing the soundtrack like the back of your hand, knowing the actors' names better than their characters' names, and watching all the behind-the-scenes videos and ACTUALLY seeing it IN PERSON. It's incredible.

I'm going to try to show you what I mean. See this video? It's from Newsies's early days on Broadway back last March with all of the original cast. It's probably my favorite of all their videos. Anyway, starting at 0:41, there's a funny little thread that runs through approx 1:30 that has Ben Fankhauser ("Davey") warming up with one of his more challenging lines from the show. I first saw this video in August…and last week, I got to see him actually sing that line for real. Which is just the COOLEST thing. I don't know why, but it is.

Anyway. I'll spare you anymore of that craziness. *grin*

One thing I was bummed about was one of the original cast members, Ryan Steele, famous for his dancing abilities and his unique portrayal of "Specs", left the show to join the new Broadway production of Matilda last month. I mean, when it came down to it, it wasn't terribly disappointing, I just would've liked to see him, since he was such an iconic member of the cast for so long.

After the show, we definitely stage doored (if that's a word). Garth was there waiting for us, and while we were waiting for the cast to come out, I was looking across the street at the Mary Poppins theatre. And then this guy walked over to the steps and sat down and started looking over at the Nederlander. He looked familiar, and my brain said, "That's Ryan Steele." I felt like a terrible stalker/fangirl *moan* but I was pretty positive that's who it was, and if it really was him, I didn't want to just say, "cool" and move. So I left Mama and Garth to hold my spot on the rail, and, feeling pretty self-conscious, crossed the street.

yes, mama took a "stalker" picture of me. :P just added to the awkward coolness of this moment.

Well, of course it WAS him, and he was really sweet and signed my playbill and we took a picture with my iPod. My one pathetic fangirl moment….and it was actually really cool and was probably one the main highlights of the whole trip. I love it when little things like that happen. And I don't think it's chance. :) Yay for NYC and "homesick" newsies who come to wait for shows to end he can go in and hang out :P
And I did get to meet a handful of the others too. We had to leave earlier than I would've liked, but we had something else cool to do, so it was okay. :D I did meet Corey ("Jack") but didn't get a picture. He was moving pretty fast :P

TL: Ben Fankhauser (Davey) - by far my favorite character
TR: Jack Scott (Race) - Jack's one of the super talented swings :D
BL: Andy Richardson (Romeo - and soon-to-be Crutchie!) I think we look like siblings. 
BR: David Guzman (Sniper)

The cool thing that we got to do (which would've been even cooler if I hadn't been thinking about Newsies the whole time - one thing at a time, peoples!) was go backstage for The Lion King. Garth's friend Tim has been with the show for nine years, and is the standby for Pumbaa and Timon. CRAZY, right? The sets and costumes are….WOW. This show costs a heap of a lot of money to produce, and just one look at the trailer tells you why. All the animal puppets, how they work, how light they are, and all the study and research of African culture that went into EACH character - main, secondary or ensemble - is a little mind-blowing. And all the costumes have to be maintained, since they all sustain quite a bit of wear and tear during the show.

I also met Timon, Pumbaa, and Zazu - all still in full face makeup since it was a double show day. And there lots of lions in makeup and other various creatures around *grin* Downstairs in the "lobby" of the backstage, the young Simba and Nala were entertaining the stage crew. It's a crazily upbeat set…definitely want to see the show when I go back to NYC. Which is soon. Just because I said so.

We had supper out with Garth, and wandered around the theatre district some more. I bought my last few souvenirs, and took my last few pictures.

when i come back, Matilda! I promise.

Then we hit the road, drove to D.C., spent the night. Dad stayed in the capitol for another day, and Mama and I headed for home. We stopped at Fair Oaks in Fairfax - they have the best JCPenney ever - got lunch, then picked up the younger siblings at my grandparents' house.

And so ended my 48 hours New York City Adventure. Now that I've been there, I won't be the same. Hard to believe it's only six hours away, and it's in the same country. Such a different world. 

Oh, New York…

I will be back.


  1. I was waiting on pins and needles for this post :) Loved every word and pictures. So excited for you and glad you had such an incredible trip!

    And now do you understand my deep, abiding love for this city? It captures you heart and soul and won't let go. Never again will any city be adequate. Nothing can compare to New York. The people are the best. Strong, resilient, loyal, and real (along with people from north Jersey...which is to New York what Frederick is to DC). And thus when I first set foot in the city I fell in love. Always at home in NYC and one day I *will* live there.

    AND that picture of you with Jersey Boys totally made my day...thank you for that, dear :)

    Love ya...

  2. You were in my old neighborhood! Sounds (and looks) like an amazing trip. I'm glad you enjoyed the city.

  3. Eeeepppppppppp! It must have been AMAZING.
    Your dress is beautiful.
    The pictures are perfect.
    You met all those awesome people.

    Did I ever think about going to NYC before now? Nope. Do I want to go now? Without a doubt.

  4. OH MY WORD YOU MET SIERRA!!!!! I am so incredibly jealous and honestly, my heart did a little jump when I saw that. I was like...whoa, she met The Phantom and Raoul?! And then it was like...AND SIERRA! Ok, see, I'm excited. =D

    And now I want to go NY more than ever. And the dress you wore is so beautiful.

  5. I can't wait for next spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. TOO. COOL. I'm too speechless ot say much more. :)

    ~ The (very) Ordinary Princess

  7. Oh, yes, your dress was AWESOME!

    ~ The Ordinary Princess