While there are a few bargains at Whole Foods (rotisserie chicken is reasonable, as is some of the produce), I almost keeled over when the cashier rang up a 12oz. bag of diet macaroons - $11.99! I should have put it back, but was still in shock. But hey, I saved 10 cents by bringing my own bag. Research on the manufacturer's web site shows the same package offered for $8.99, still expensive. I have now tried these and while they're OK, they're not THAT great. Never again.
I also got caught having pricey pizza in the theater district, at a place on 8th Ave. in the 40s (UPDATE: It's "A Slice of New York"; I passed by there on Saturday). After getting a white and white/spinach slice warmed up, I was chagrined to see the $10.80 total. Oops, I should have noticed that specialty slices are $4.99 each. The slices were large and delicious but that's a lot for pizza. I tried to eat with plastic utensils but the heat of the food melted them into ineffectiveness. After 3 replacements of knives and forks, I gave up and picked it up, hoping I'd be able to wash my hands. I heard some women say the bathroom was disgusting (stuff on the floor, yuck; good thing I'd already finished eating), so waited until I got to the theater - where the bathroom was modern, spacious, clean, and had no pre-performance line.
That theater was the Samuel J. Friedman, where "The Royal Family" was playing. This is a revival of a 1927 Kaufman/Ferber play about a theatrical family (reportedly based on the Barrymores) that starred Rosemary Harris in a previous run in the '70s. Harris was back, now playing the matriarch. The ushers were busy so I found my seat myself, whereupon an usher came over and asked if that was my usual seat. Huh? No, I just read the seat number (and why would I have a usual seat anyway, and if I did, why would I choose the leftmost seat in the second row?). I later realized this Manhattan Theatre Club production had regular subscribers who might have regular seats. My neighbors spotted Julia Stiles but I didn't see her. The play was longish (3 acts, 2 intermissions) but engaging. I misread the program's description of the East 50s setting as being the 1950s and wondered why '50s women dressed like flappers.
My other Broadway seats last week were all mezzanine. For "Burn the Floor" I was in the last row (J) but that was fine for a dance show, giving a June Taylor-like effect from above. I know nothing about ballroom dancing, haven't watched the dance reality TV shows, and wasn't sure I'd like this when I saw the descriptions of traditional dances (waltz, rumba, etc.) in the program. I had visions of the Harvest Moon Ball, which I'd attended with my parents as a little kid (so little it was in the old Madison Square Garden), with dancers in poufy dresses gliding around. But the staging here was ultra-modern and dynamic. No plot, just dancing. Breathtaking to watch.
The following night it was back to the balcony for the first preview performance of "Superior Donuts" by Tracy Letts who wrote "August: Osage County" (which I didn't see). Michael McKean played a world-weary child of the '60s wondering if he should give up his family's Chicago donut shop, and the brash employee who has other ideas. Worth seeing.
Before the play, I stopped by the Alan Klotz Gallery in Chelsea where former Great Neck-ite Carolyn Marks Blackwood was exhibiting Hudson River photos. She also produced the movie "The Duchess."
I also saw the opening preview of "After Miss Julie" with Sienna Miller and Jonny Lee Miller. I kept thinking, "That's Angelina Jolie's first husband!" but he's also a good British actor. The original Strindberg play was about a Scandinavian count, and this version takes place in 1945 England and highlights class-consciousness, romance, and power.
Yet another opening night preview was Charlayne Woodard's "The Night Watcher" tonight in the big theater at 59E59. One-woman shows can be hit or miss, and this was very much hit. With no scenery other than a chair and some images projected on a screen, the actress immediately brings you into her world, acting out stories (focusing on being an "auntie") and characters with skill and aplomb.
I was also at 59E59 for a weekend matinee of "The Pride of Parnell Street" in Theater B. This has gotten several good reviews and is a powerful set of alternating monologues of an estranged Dublin couple recounting their somewhat rough lives.
I didn't care for "Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven," about the cross-cultural clashes of an Iranian student, her brother, a kind American, and his clueless mother. The play was very talky and I'm not clear on everything in the plot. I might have benefited from a post-show discussion with the cast and a Yeshiva U. professor, but left in order to get home before 11 so I could order both dinner and the next day's Fresh Direct (barely made it in time).
I also saw "The September Issue," the documentary about Vogue magazine. Famous fashionista editor Anna Wintour gets lots of screen time but her longtime associate, creative director Grace Coddington, steals the movie. This former model now in her 60s has long, frizzy red hair and a style all her own. A fun look at a strange industry.