Got out and about by 10am, and headed down to the Intrepid museum area. The main exhibit is the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier converted into a museum of sea, air and space. The exhibits it contains are interesting enough, but I was fascinated by the vessel itself, and explored every bit that I thought I would be allowed in. I learned a few things as well – as a flag ship, the Intrepid actually had two bridges, one above the other. The upper bridge – the Captain’s Bridge – was for the control of the Intrepid itself; while the lower bridge – the Admiral’s Bridge was for strategic command of the fleet it commanded.
Having obtained several recommendations for places to eat in New York, I let you all down by having lunch in the mess room of the Intrepid, due to hunger, and a desire not to cut the visit short. However, I did have the good grace not to go for the MacDonalds on offer there, and instead had a quite tasty turkey, ham and cheese salad sandwich (UK readers – a sandwich is *not* a slice of meat between two slices of bread, it is a whopping great roll, with about half a pound of sliced cooked meat in it.).
In the end I decided not to go on board the Growler – the submarine moored there. This was a little disappointment, but in the entrance lobby, there was an example of the size of hatch you would have to maneuver through – I would have fitted ok, but I would have been perpetually ducking – as it is, I nearly brained myself climbing down ladders and through hatches on the Intrepid. Does the US Navy have a maximium height restriction, I wonder?
I did go on the “tour” of the BA Concorde they had there, which wasn’t much too see, as anyone who has seen a Concorde would agree – I found the 747 I travelled over here on more impressive. Also it is rather irritating to be walking single file behind a tourist with a video camera glued to his eye, and paying no attention to what is directly in front of him (i.e. steps).
After the Intrepid, I was going to take a harbour tour, and my timing was perfect, until I discovered that even though I had a ticket (in my CityPass book), I had to still queue and exchange it for a conventional ticket. As this would have made me miss the boat I was aiming for, and have to wait an hour for the next, I decided to postpone this for another day.
I walked back from the Intrepid to Times Square, along W 42nd Street, up Ninth Avenue until 52th Street, then back down 7th Street. In doing so, I passed the Virginia Theatre, where “Little Shop of Horrors” is playing. I knew none of the cast, but had already read some good reviews.
Having already paid full price for one show (“Fiddler on the Roof”, tomorrow), I thought I would walk down to the TCKTS stand, to see if I could get a bargain. Before I got there, I was leafleted by someone from the theatre itself, offering half-price tickets for that night’s performance. So I went back and booked my ticket, paying $50 for a front row seat.
I had a couple of hours, and was tired, so I headed back to the hotel, picking up some muffins and stuff for later, and some pizza (very nice pizza!) for dinner. I ate it in my room, with my feet up, watching cable TV comedies. When doing a trip like this, I find taking the odd break like this is important, no matter how much you want to get “out there” and see stuff.
“Little Shop of Horrors”was absolutely fantastic, and justified my stay in New York on its own. The casting (Joey Fatone as Seymour, Jessica-Snow Wilson as Audrey and Rob Bartlett as Mushnik) was spot on, and “the girls” (DeQuina Moore as Chiffon, Trisha Jeffrey as Crystal and Carla J. Hargrove as Ronnette) were brilliant. Robert Evan played multiple roles as Orin the dentist, and all of Seymour’s various benefactors (including the female ones). And Audrey II was voiced by Martin P. Robinson, who got a standing ovation at the end.
Having seen (and loved) the film version of this show, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find myself drawing comparisons – this cast made the production their own. Also it was good to see the original “Don’t Feed The Plants” ending, which was replaced in the film by a more upbeat scene. What was astonishing was to see the man-eating plant, Audrey II, which had grown progressivly through the performance, finally reach out across the audience – 5-10 feet above our heads, and reach over us back to about the 12th row. While being one of the idiots in the front row, I got grabbed by a root (very clever merging of puppetry and costume).
The show started at 7pm, so I was out at about 9pm, which left me plenty of time to visit the Empire State Building. I had thought about whether to make this trip during daylight or evening, and had plumped for evening, mainly due to time constraints (none of the museums are open at 9pm). However, it was a good choice – the view was terrific, and although there was a lot of people there, the staff managed to keep people both amused and moving.
On the way back from the Empire State to my hotel, I passed by 42nd Street again, so I popped into the Internet Cafe again to write this up.