It started with a theatre binge in New York, for which I actually flew up to JFK, which is not as convenient as the train, though the Air Train into the city makes it tolerable. Before the theatre going, I had time for my usual midtown stroll, which involves a number of personal touchstones. I feel reassured whenever I go to New York and my favorite places – the Chrysler Building, the Salmon Building (which I only learned the identity of within the past year), and (most of all) the library with its lions – are still there.
The motivation for the trip was the Encores production of It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman, a musical I love the score of. I love the score even more after seeing this production. Encores does concert versions of forgotten musicals and their interpretation of “concert version” means cutting out a large part of the book, though they leave enough dialogue to make things easy to follow. One of the things I particularly love is the orchestration, which has 3 French horns, 3 violas, and none of those twerpy violins. (I took viola for a couple of years in school, so am biased against those screechy guys who stole the melody while I got to play three notes every 10 measures.) The downside is, of course, the earworms that got set off and I hereby apologize to everyone who had to listen to me humming “You’ve Got Possibilities” and “The Woman for the Man” for the next week. (I also love “The Strongest Man in the World” but it is not quite as sticky. In fact, the only song from this show I don’t much care for is “It’s Supernice.”) Anyway, the staging was clever (using a cardboard figure to do the flying, for example), the cast was right on the mark, and the show was sheer fun. There was a talkback afterwards and a particular thrill is that Charles Strouse and Lee Adams were there. By the way, a fun bit of theatre trivia is that all of the scientists referenced in the song “Revenge” are real, although the dates of the Nobel prizes are changed.
As if that wasn’t enough theatre fun, after getting my New York deli fix (ah, full sour pickles!) I went to the Musicals Tonight! production of Strike Up the Band. Anybody who knows me knows that I believe that the Gershwins were the pinnacle of American music. This was also a concert production in the more conventional sense – actors carrying scripts, a piano instead of a full orchestra – but it was still a lot of fun. The production used the 1927 version with some of the 1930 songs (e.g. “Soon”). I haven’t verified it, but I suspect consistency with the 1990 studio cast recording. At any rate, the show does have a bit of a Gilbert and Sullivan feel to it (which is a good thing) and is very very funny. The performances were, however, a bit uneven.
In the morning, I flew from EWR to BOS, where I met up with ron_newman and nonelvis (who had, somewhat surprisingly, never met before) for brunch in Somerville. After food and lively conversation, I took a long walk, using slightly vague directions, to Mount Auburn Cemetery. The only real issue was figuring out where to get off the path around Fresh Pond and return to the street. It had been years since I had last walked around the cemetery, but it was as pleasant a walk as I remembered it being. Then I walked up to Harvard Square, browsed at (but did not) books at the Coop, and got the T back to the airport for my flight home.
I spent the first Pesach seder with friends. The highlight was a discussion of Chad Gadya which centered on whether or not two zuzim is a good price for a kid. I admit to not knowing the exchange rate for the zuz and I am not up on the price of goats in any currency, but it was still amusing late night conversation. The second night was saner.
Then I did a quick day trip to Louisville, Kentucky. I did the two-state Volksmarch event there. I opted for just the 11 kilometer version because I needed the extra time to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The factory tour is highly recommended. I got to see them making opening day bats for David Wright of the Mets! They were also putting the finish on Ryan ZImmeran’s bats. I’m now more conscious of how customized bats are for major league players. I continued a little beyond where the walking route did and succeeded in finding the plaque that commemorates the writing of “Happy Birthday.” The walk also had a stretch through parks along the Ohio River and crossed a bridge to Indiana (and back).
The trip home featured a flight delay on the first leg from SDF to CLE. Since I was concerned about my connection, I asked about being protected on a flight from CLE to IAD, which was scheduled for an hour after my CLE to DCA leg. Instead, the agent rebooked me on Delta via DTW. The DTW flight got to DCA just a half hour after my original flight and I credit Delta flights to Alaska Air, so that’s okay, but it was weird. (Looking at flightaware after the fact, it looks like I could have easily made my original connection, by the way.) I am still working on getting original routing credit from United.
Finally, my friend Suzanne flew out here and we did a couple of training walks for the One Day Hike. We did 13 miles on Saturday and 8 on Sunday, which is decent. But, of course, walking 31.1 is still going to be challenging. Challenge is good.