Day 5 – Sunday – There’s no business like show business.
Another day and it started with a quick snack breakfast. We went to Pret A Manger for a tea and a croissant. I’ve spent much longer this holiday in chain-coffee shops than I imagined, but not for want of trying! The reason for the quick brekkie was that we were meeting a friend at 10am at Grand Central Terminus and didn’t want to be late.
While enjoying the tea and free WiFi we got a text telling us that our friend got a later train and will be arriving roughly an hour later. This gave us a very relaxing walk to the station. Being based in Mid-Town has been a blessing and being on West 36th has meant we’ve been close to loads of stuff. Grand Central Terminus is probably 10 minutes walk but with how cold it was, I’d expect it to be 15 minutes. We were still 40 minutes early so went to Starbucks to grab more tea and, more importantly, abuse the free warmth of the shop!
Our friend arrived and we spent a good couple of hours just catching up before trying to work out what we wanted to do. As we’d not yet been to a Broadway show I suggested queuing up at the TKTS booth on Times Square. They were showing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory tickets at 50% off. I knew that this was the last week of the show so thought it would be a good one to get a matinee performance.
The queue seemed to go on for ever! As we walked to the back of it we were unsure whether’d we’ve even make the show that started at 2pm. It was 1.30pm so we had half an hour to queue, buy the tickets and get to the theatre. Luckily the theatre was next to Times Square so we had 25 minutes of queuing/purchasing time before we had to give up. We joined the back of the queue and crossed our fingers.
The queue was moving, but slowly. We asked one of the staff manning the queue and they thought we were in with a chance of getting to the counter in time to buy tickets for the show. Also surrounding the queue were people handing out fliers for shows for people to watch. One of them was for Chicago and had a lady in ‘Chicago-esque’ clothes smiling while handling out the fliers. She must have been freezing, especially as we were all wrapped up and we were STILL cold!
There was much chat in the queue about shows people wanted to see and where hoping to get tickets. As we got closer to the front you could start to see the people leaving the counters with tickets. I couldn’t hear what they were buying or what they cost, but at least there were tickets available. No idea what tickets they had purchased – but they were all for matinee shows. At the time I didn’t realise that each purchase in front of me was actually REDUCING my chance of getting tickets we wanted!
The person 2 infront of me was at the counter. It was at this time he decided to go look at the board of what shows were on! The queue was not happy with this and, for some very british reasons I’m sure, a lot of tutting occurred! He then pushed his was back into the queue at the front and to the counter to buy his tickets. This is not how this should have been done. When he left we all agreed he should have gone to the back of the queue when he left it!
Our turn at the front and we asked for 3 tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was starting in 5 minutes. The lady behind the counter checked her computer and – would you believe it – they didn’t have 3 seats together. We had not prepared for not getting tickets and there was no way we were leaving the queue to check out the board of what was available so we asked the lady what was available.
“3 tickets for the ‘Marvellous Wonderettes’ at 3pm, was what we were offered. Just over $150 for the 3 tickets. We had nothing planned so we accepted these. Its a great business model, if you have queued up for half an hour to buy tickets to something, you aren’t going to leave without buying SOMETHING! So we left with our tickets and knew we could enjoy a leisurely journey to the theatre instead of the mad rush we would have trying to get to the show in 3 minutes time!
With it being so cold we jumped in a cab to the theatre. It was certainly an ‘off-broadway’ production! The theatre was tucked down a street that was quite a distance from Times Square. It had the feeling more of a community theatre rather than a ‘Broadway’ production, except when I purchased a bottle of water, a cup of coke, and some popcorn and it cost me $18!
The doors to the auditorium opened and we took to our seats. A quick count of the seats suggested there were 15 rows of 8/9 seats so less than 200 in total. This is not going to be the same as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! The lights went down and the show started.
What a show! I was very worried that it would be rubbish and was pleasantly surprised what it wasn’t! The 3 characters all had great voices and it had a glitzy 1950’s charm to it and they blasted through hit after hit – sometimes as solos but also as duets and as a trio. They didn’t just sing, they also danced along with the tunes.
We were also introduced to an audience member who played Mr. Lee – one of the girl’s teachers. I don’t think he was a plant and based on the number of times the production manager had to tell Mr. Lee’s friend to stop taking photos, he wasn’t . It added a great element to the show and had everyone in stitches!
There was a short interval while the story jumped a decade to the 1960s. We learn how their lives have changed – or not changed. One of the Wonderettes had married Mr. Lee, so he got to get back on stage again! We also learned how often they enjoyed Pizza. Well I’m not sure they were talking about Pizza, more like ‘Pizza’! 😀
When the show ended we chatted about how much we’d all enjoyed it and had no idea what actually to expect. Everyone else coming out of the theatre was saying the same thing. I did wonder whether $50 a ticket was really 40% off the actual ticket price so with a bit of googling I saw that tickets were advertised for $92 each! I’m not sure I’d be happy paying nearly £70 a ticket for it – I’ve had a seat in a private box for West End Theatre shows in London for less than that!
Our friend had to head back to their suburb at a reasonable time so we decided to head to get some chinese food. Our friend suggested a place and we jumped in a cab there. We made our way to the Suchzwan King in Downtown. I wasn’t really sure what it would be like – I’d done some googling of chinese restaurants and most of them were very ‘traditional’ rather than ‘western’ so lots of chicken gizzards, pigs innards, and the like – so I was a little concerned.
There was no need to be concerned as we managed to find some excellent dishes. Including something I’d not had before called General Tso’s Chicken that was very similar to a battered kung po chicken but with a little less chilli/heat. The portion sizes were massive and although we ordered 3 main courses plus rice and a side of spinach, it could have fed 6 people and still had left overs. We asked them box up the left over food and it felt like there was more boxes than food we’d ordered! Got to love/hate American portions. Total cost for the meal was about $50. One of the cheapest meals out and it was for 3!
We shared a taxi back to our hotel and our friend continued on back to Grand Central Terminus. It was actually quite early but we still headed to our hotel room and we relaxed using the lounge to watch some TV before we headed to bed.