Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Spamalot, oh Spamalot, you critically acclaimed musical you... Last night, Paul and I celebrated three years together with our final Broadway show (for... at least a while). Ever since this show debuted starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, and Hank Azaria, and launching Sara Ramirez to her current celebrity, he's been itching to see it. So we seized this last opportunity (well, now it's spawns are in London, Vegas, and touring nationally, but you get what I mean), and were frankly a bit disappointed.

The first act was fantastic. The musical numbers were relevant and a ton of fun to watch, while still paying homage to the film which it is based off of. The introduction to the Knights of the Roundtable was delightful, as was the encounter with the Knights Who Say Ni. The best line of the play came improvised from the leader of the Knights Who Say Ni. According to the linked article, they reintroduce themselves as the "Knights Who Say (long improvised name, which this time included) I am the Father of Anna Nicole Smith's Baby". HILARIOUS. After we finally stopped laughing, the Knight turned to us and asked "Too soon?". Oh my!

The Act One finale was my favorite part of the show, when the Knights of the Roundtable encounter the French knights guarding their castle. Lines like "I fart in your general direction" followed by a musical number using creatively placed horns to... fart in their general direction... Well, that's the key to my heart. Additionally, the main French guard did this incredible, must-see thing with his head between the blocks of the castle which I can only compare to Pong. And yes, that's a great thing.

Unfortunately, the second act seemed to lose it. It just dropped the
original Grail-quest storyline, and decided to spoof Broadway instead. Sure, the first act innuendoed a poke at "Phantom of the Opera", but when Act Two's first major musical number "You'll Never Succeed on Broadway" (let me end this for you: "Without a Jew"), complete with a bottle, er, grail dance straight from "Fiddler on the Roof", I couldn't help but groan. Isn't this Forbidden Broadway's schtick, with better Production Design? (Don't get me wrong, I love "Forbidden Broadway", but I can get tickets for $30.00 from the TKTS booth). And when the Lady of the Lake character came out mid-act to sing her "Diva's Lament"... I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

Additionally, I am still trying to figure out if it was cast's lackluster performances. Just seeing two casts of mostly twenty-somethings own their respective roles, exhibiting absolute pride and enthusiasm with every word and nuance, I was comparatively disappointed. Yes, Spamalot contains stodgy, British humor - but the jokes from the film held up! I tried to envision the original cast - perhaps a flamenco bit featuring Hank Azaria would've been better - but the bizarre plot turn in Act Two just didn't do it for me. And while this is worth seeing simply for its reknown, it is probably just as good on the national tour as it is on Broadway.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spring Awakening

Last night I was blown away by Broadway's newest sensation, Spring Awakening. Critics are referring to it as "the next Rent", due to its combining a cast of young people with an incredible rock score by Duncan Sheik (recall "I am barely breathing.. and I can't find the air.. Don't know who I'm kidding...imagining you're-") Ok, you remember who he is now.

Apparently, "Spring Awakening" has been around forever. It was written well over a century ago in Germany, and was often censored due to it's scandalous stagings. FYI: The term Spring Awakening refers to the period of emotional and sexual arousal that occurs in teenagers, and the young cast certainly held nothing back in their performances. The big difference from "Rent", though, is that this play still took place in historical Germany. It stuck to the original dialogue and costuming, but used the music and staging to relate it to the present.

And of course, I have my favorite. Probably because he is already a rock musician, John Gallagher, Jr. commanded the stage as Moritz, a sort of wired, off-balance misfit. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what was so watchable about his performance: he was nervous and awkward, and yet highly confident in everything he did.

"Spring Awakening" is 100% absolutely a must-see play. It is not "good for a laugh" or "had a good score". It's a brilliant combination of old and new, young and old, with every element thought out to perfection. The cast is insanely talented and deserves your audience! It's currently playing at "Sweeney Todd's" old haunt, The Eugene O'Neill Theater on 49th between Broadway and 8th Ave, so... watch it!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Chip Shop

Down off the F-line in Park Slope, Brooklyn (where I currently live) lurks a fantastic little English restaurant called The Chip Shop. When Paul arrived here back in August 2005, he searched Menupages for a place to get his Bangers & Mash on, and voila, a few blocks away was the real deal.

Chip Shop is a restaurant we frequent a lot: at least once every two weeks. Because this is the case, we usually mix up our menu choices, but since last night may very well be our last English meal (for a while) we went for our faves. This first pic is of a slice of fried pizza... Yes, frightening. Yes, you should probably avoid if you are on a diet. But yes, amazingly good.

And to the right are our staples. Paul got Fish & Chips, and I got "Vegetable Mac" which is a Shepherd's Pie, except instead of the beef, there's squash, zucchini, and mushrooms, and instead of potatoes, there's mac and cheese. It may sound complicated, but it is my favorite thing on the menu. The pizza slice seemed extra large, so Paul sadly decided to skip dessert (he usually gets a fried Mars Bar or a Fried Banana in Chocolate Sauce).

Yesterday, the Chip Shop also had a surprise for us. Half the restaurant was missing! Somehow they managed to close off the entire bar side, put up a new wall, and you'd never know the difference. Our waitress confessed it "was only busy on the weekends" - when we usually go - but oh well, the food is still "chuffing lovely".

I know there are English restaurants in Manhattan, but it's a 20-minute subway ride to Park Slope, and the food is eclectic and delicious, and there are also plenty of vegetarian and Indian touches on the menu. Chip Shop also imports plenty of beverages, from soft drinks (Ribena, Lilt) and ales (Monty Python's Holy Ale anyone?), so it is worth the trip. It's just so cozy and lovely, that it is pretty obvious why it is a local favorite.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Luzzo's Pizzeria

Last night, Paul and I ate at our favorite pizzeria in NYC (and possibly the world), Luzzo's Pizzeria.

About a year ago, while I was still living in Manhattan, Paul and I and my roommate, Brooke, were planning on grabbing lunch from Crooked Tree Creperie down on St. Mark's Place, but arrived to find it closed for renovations. We stared at the boarded up creperie as our stomachs growled, when a thunderstorm broke out. Crap! We dashed back up First Avenue towards my 14th Street apartment, but between the sheets of rain we saw a little glimmer of hope between 12th and 13th: was that an Italian place?

Since then, Luzzo's has become a fast favorite. As the staff let us know that first soggy day, they import fresh bufala mozzarella for their pizza from Italy (as well as a wine and beer selection). It is also only one of six coal-oven pizzerias in Manhattan, the other five of which I know nothing beyond their alleged existence.

Luzzo's is a sit-down restaurant, so it is not ideal for grabbing a slice, and they have 12- and 15-inch options depending on how many people want in on your pie. Additionally, it gets packed at dinner-time, so the best time to go is a little early. We were there before 6:00 last night, and had breathing space for the majority of our meal. And if you really hate pizza, they have pasta, salads, and other delicious Italian entrees. While living in Manhattan, they also provided a speedy delivery service, but alas, those days are behind me.

If you are in the Union Square area, Luzzo's is the perfect place to enjoy a wonderful meal.

Check out our dinner from last night:

Mmmm.. roasted peppers, onions, and bufala mozzarella. Paul says the sausage at Luzzo's is "just as good as the pepperoni", which is Paul-Speak for "little morsels of heaven".

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Evil Dead: The Musical

The past few weeks I've been running around town, trying to squeeze in all my last-minute Manhattan to-dos. The other week, I was eating beet salad and a mushroom tart off Butter's Restaurant Week prix fixe, last Saturday I was watching Ennio Morricone's first U.S. concert at Radio City Music Hall, but just this past Sunday, my boyfriend, Paul, and I got the random urge to buy tickets to a show we've been thinking about for months: Evil Dead: The Musical. Also, we just realized it closes (at least, temporarily) in 2 weeks, so we made it in the nick of time.

It is HILARIOUS. I had just watched the first "Evil Dead" and some clips from "Evil Dead 2" on YouTube (I confess), but from this limited exposure, I managed to keep up with the cult-fanatic section of the audience screaming out "It's my Boomstick!" in unison with Ash (Bruce Campbell's character). I also loved how the cast managed to spoof the movies, claiming they were going out into the woods alone, "just as their mother always advised them too" (and more - but I don't want to give everything away).

The score is by far the best and funniest part. They sang about working at S-Mart, demons killing "all the men" in my life, "even platonic gay friends", and my favorite, "Do the Necronomicon". A posse of zombies holds nothing back in this heavily choreographed number, with moves straight from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video while poking fun at their inferiority to The Rocky Horror Picture Show's "Time Warp".

My one small complaint is that two castmembers by far stole the show: Jenna Coker, as Ash's younger sister Cheryl, was dead-on in everything she did. Her over-the-topness was exactly right, and she consistently related to the audience, letting us in on her spoofs. As a kid sis and as a demon, her comic timing was perfect as was her highly demanding physical humor. Additionally, Ryan Ward's Ash, was hilarious. I loved his earnestness, and he is a dead ringer for Bruce Campbell. The hysterical script and score brings the other castmembers up to their level, but the audience had clear favorites. I am extremely glad I got to see this show before I leave New York (or it does).

If you've got a free night by February 17th, and an extra $60.00 (SO cheap for a Broadway show), I would highly recommend getting yourself to the New World Stages Theatre immediately and seeing this show!

Oh, and one more word of caution: Stay away from the "Splatter Zone". "Splatter" is the understatement of the century!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Brand New Blog!

"Those who wander are not lost."

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

My apologies for the bombardment of travel-related quotations, but what better way to start a travel blog?

The back-story:
I am a 25-year-old Philadelphia native who studied Film & Video Production in college, went on to work for over two years in New York City in Television Production, but I've gotten slightly bored sitting at the same old desk doing the same old thing. So, I caved in and applied for a job that will keep me consistently on the move... and got it. I intend to keep everyone informed of my favorite things as I venture from city to city, country to country, wherever the path may lead.

Why I made this decision:
Six months ago, I was invited to celebrate my parents' wedding anniversary in one of the most beautiful countries of the world, Italy. Until this point, I was intensely involved in my work in New York, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Sometime between funicula'ing to the top of Capri
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navigating the Venice canals
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and climbing bell towers in Sienna
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my wanderlust was reignited. When our tour manager asked "Are any of you interested in doing what I do for a job?", it was still difficult to conceive at that time. But, when I returned to America and was rechained to my desk, surfing travel websites, pouring through cruise brochures, I knew I was only biding time until I escaped.

In the fall, I took a few excursions -

I visited a friend in grad school in DC,
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rang in the New Year in Las Vegas,
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and dipped my toes in the San Diego ocean,
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and by this time, I was good and ready to go and never come back. My two weeks notice is in, and I will soon be adventuring (and blogging) all over the world! Don't worry - NYC is phenomenal in its own right and I will be back!