The Internet does so many things to make travel easier. I knew before leaving home what the weather was going to be like — most days overcast if not rainy until Sunday when it would be sunny with a temperature in the eighties. So by Saturday I had done everything that didn’t require sunshine, reserving my pass for the visit to the 9/11 Museum & Memorial, the cruise to the Statue of Liberty, and the Twilight City Cruise for sunny Sunday and my tickets for the Empire State Building for an opportunity for a clear if not sunny view.
Saturday dawned very gray and I set off to do a spot of shopping. I had already been to Macy’s where they have a great advertising campaign for visitors: they have a special booth where visitors go to receive a Visitor’s Savings Pass for 10% off thousands of items in the store. Alas, they had nothing I wanted. I was lucky, however, in that Sunday was Mothers’ Day so there were sales everywhere on ladies apparel and accessories. I browsed many of the shops at the Greeley Square metro station and then went downstairs to J.C. Penny. They had a complete section of Petite clothing and I was able to find a pair of steel blue capris 40% off that fit me to a “T” and matched several tops and a scarf I bought at Loft Outlet. I was on my way to the local Loft when the sun came out and I made a dash for the Empire State Bldg. Hardly a line-up at all when I arrived and already had my tickets (printed from the Internet) so I was up in no time at all. First stop the 82nd floor. Because it was completely enclosed, I had no difficulty with my acrophobia. I got lots of great pictures. There was still some haze over the south Hudson River so you couldn’t quite make out the Statue of Liberty but I got some lovely shots none-the-less. Up to the 102nd floor and, again, had no trouble. Great mural on the wall up there, as well. Really didn’t look much like the picture in Sleepless in Seattle except for the huge binoculars like they have at Niagara Falls, Ont. Here are some of my best pictures.
Had lunch at Starbucks where I was able to use their free Wi-Fi and upload some of my photos and email the family. Went through the local Loft and H & M (never did find out what the initials stand for) and a few other stores but found nothing else worth spending my money on. I went back to the hotel to rest a bit before heading up to Lincoln Center. I had read online that there would be an Ellington Competition at 2 p.m. I was more tired than I thought and, having participated in competitions years ago and thinking that jazz pieces were often lengthy, I thought the competition would be at least a couple of hours and that one needn’t be there right at 2 p.m. However, I arrived at Lincoln Center to find that the competitions wasn’t actually there but at the Time-Warner Bldg. several blocks to the south, at Columbus Circle. Off I went on foot, enjoying the unexpected sunshine and the afternoon bustle. When I arrived at the Jazz Center, there were no billboards or posters about it. I asked someone at the elevators and was told it had just finished. Oh well!! Back outside I got lots of pictures as I headed back toward the hotel. I passed Carnegie Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (shrouded in scaffolding as they work on restoration), saw some great art deco on buildings and even around the base of trees, went into Barnes & Noble for more reading material, past the public library and into Wendy’s to get supper. That’s when the deluge hit! Water rushing through the gutters and pelting down. Fortunately, many of the sidewalks in the area are covered and I dashed off. After a bit of a rest and change of clothes, I headed off for my final theatre experience: Audra McDonald as Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill!
Circle in the Square Theatre is much more modern than the Ambassador Theatre where I saw Chicago 2 nights earlier. The setting was nothing short of spectacular! A huge disco ball flashed lights from the center ceiling of the main floor. The stage was at one end of the horseshoe where there would normally be seats and the rest of the stage area had small round tables with 4 chairs around each and people paid a lot of money to be seated there, where they became part of the set of Emerson’s Bar & Grill. The bar was behind them at the stage entrance and the trio started playing jazz before 8 pm until about 8:10, when “Lady Day” (Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday) came out. (We weren’t allowed to take pictures but I found these online.)
There was no intermission; just a brief period when Lady Day left the stage, returning carrying her little Chihuahua, Pepi (played by Roxie). The play was richly written and full of impassioned stories, the music, pure Billie Holiday, and the performance so well-practiced that within minutes you were convinced that you were watching Billie Holiday. In the program notes, the playwright, Lanie Robertson, explained that back in 1959, a boyfriend of hers had actually been to Emerson’s Bar in New Jersey and seen Billie Holiday perform for an audience of 7, singing 10 of the 12 scheduled songs before stumbling drunkenly off the stage. Four months later, she was dead. Lanie couldn’t get the image of “the world’s greatest jazz singer being so undervalued at the end of her life and career.” Writing this play was an attempt to exorcise that image. Amazing performance by Audra and the Shelton Becton Trio! Stopped at Applebee’s Restaurant on the way home for decadent dessert and tea! One more day in NYC, then the trip home.