With a 24-hour layover in New York on my way to Icleand, I made the most of my short time in the city that never sleeps by taking in two shows, a meal and walking an impressive portion of the island. My flight was delayed, which precluded my Friday evening dinner reservation at Sardi’s, but I made up for it with a pre-theatre lunch on Saturday.
In the heart of New York’s Theater District, Sardi’s has been the toast of Broadway for 90 years. Located at 234 West 44th Street the restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Late supper is served from Tuesday through Saturday. I enjoy both the food and the vibe here, as well as the celebrity caricatures. My personal favorite is of the late comedienne extraordinaire, Joan Rivers, with her tiny Yorkie, Spike, after whom my dog is named.
Planning months in advance, I scored a ticket to see the one-and-only Bette Midler headline in “Hello, Dolly!” during the show’s previews. I was in the front row of the mezzanine taking in the electric atmosphere, and the New York crowd was raucous, applauding practically every line and nuance Bette delivered. Indeed, the Divine Miss M brought the house down without so much as even uttering a single note–making her entrance by lowering a newspaper she was holding to conceal her face while riding on a horse-drawn stage coach.
Midler stormed back to Broadway, returning for the first time since her sold-out run as superagent Sue Mengers in “I’ll Eat You Last,” back in 2013. This time she has a bit more company, heading up the fourth revival of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s “Hello, Dolly!” (following the original, which ran from January 1964 through December, 1970). This is Midler’s first turn at headlining a Broadway musical, having made her debut in a supporting role of the original cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1964.
The Jerry Zaks-helmed show, co-starring David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame, opened with a record $40 million in advance ticket sales, and posted sales of $1.4 million for five previews at the Shubert Theatre last week. The show opens April 20.
I joined the eager crowd of theatre patrons in Shubert Alley waiting for the singer-songwriter-actress-comedian to appear post-performance. Prior to the diva’s exit from the stage door to her chauffeured sedan, the show’s company, including Hyde-Pierce and Kate Baldwin (who plays Irene Molloy), stopped to sign Playbills while Midler’s husband, artist Martin von Haselberg, opened the car door for his 71-years-young wife before they were whisked away into the night, making their way to their luxurious mansion-apartment overlooking Central Park.
On Saturday morning, I walked from 10th Avenue to 5th Avenue, stopping at the mother-ship–the Cartier Mansion to ooh and ahh. I made my way past Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral as well as the famed Plaza Hotel. I strolled through Central Park while snowflakes started to fall, eventually making my way back to the theatre district to catch a strictly limited engagement of “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close.
Close returns to Broadway in the tour de force performance that earned her the Tony Award back in 1995 for Best Actress – and a place in Broadway history. Featuring a 40-piece orchestra, the largest in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning masterwork of dreams and desire in the land called Hollywood reigns at the Palace Theatre for 16 weeks only following a sold out run in London’s West End. The show ends June 25.
While I wished I had more time, I will gladly take Manhattan and make the most of any amount of time in the city that is the center of the universe. I have loved this metropolis since my first visit at the age of seven. Everything’s as if we never said goodbye.