Back to the "Great White Way!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

It was back to the “Great White Way” for my fellow classmates and me on September 20th. Our Broadway and Beyond class held another excellent adventure for us consisting of touring the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, walking throughout the famous San Gennaro Festival and finally seeing “Title of Show”. I once again woke up at 5:50 a.m. and eagerly started my journey to the city.
The first stop on our trip was The Lower East Side Tenement Museum! After riding the subway crammed with people, we arrived safely at our destination. Max, our tour guide, briefly introduced himself and took us back to the 1860s when there was a huge rush of immigrants flooding to the United States. The Lower East Side apartments held mostly immigrants from Ireland who had to start a new life and support their family on an extremely low income. After climbing several flights of steps, Max took us to the top level of the housing complex. There, explained to us the dangers of living in those apartments and then took us to listen to Irish folk songs created about living in the United States.
The songs we heard told the story of how swill Milk could cause death and how difficult it was for Irish people to get jobs and keep them. When the depressing songs were through, Max took us to where the Moore family lived. The Moore family consisted of a young mother and father, and their three daughters. The Moore family lived in two rooms, one room held the bed while the other room was the kitchen. Max described the living conditions of the family and also told us that the youngest Moore daughter died from drinking swill Milk. After explaining the tragic death, Max took us into a room where a “keening” was held for the baby. A “keening” is similar to a funeral where people mourned the death of the baby and comforted the mother and father. We were then taken to another area of rooms where an actor, Victoria, recreated life in the 1860s for us. Victoria was a young girl who moved to America with her large family and lived in an apartment that consisted of only three rooms. Victoria was 14 years old and told us how she made aprons and underwear for her father’s business; this was my favorite part of the museum because it was both interactive and entertaining. After the museum, it was time to depart for the infamous San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.
After walking several blocks through China Town we arrived in Little Italy to Italian music, the smell of garlic, and the waving of Italian flags off apartment fire escapes. I started my experience at the San Gennaro festival by eating at a delicious Italian restaurant with some of my classmates. Following a delicious helping of ravioli at a quaint restaurant we decided to do some shopping and walk through the streets of Little Italy. Although we only spent a short amount time at the festival, I enjoyed seeing the various stands that sold cannoli’s and Italian delicacies. Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the Lyceum Theater to see “Title of Show”.
“Title of Show” was my favorite part about this trip to the city. The show was certainly unique and kept me laughing the entire time. I was not sure what to think going into the play and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. The actors were extremely talented and had pleasing voices. My favorite song of the play was entitled, “A Way Back to Then” performed by Heidi. I could relate to Heidi because just like her when I was younger, I wanted to perform on Broadway and be in the spotlight. The show was endearing and not at all what I expected it to be. Even though the set was simple, it did not need to be complex for the plot made the show a hit. When the final number was performed, I was sad I had to complete my journey and endure another long bus ride back to Bethlehem.
Although these three events were very different from one another, they shared one theatrical element; history was the common thread that connected all of these independent trips. The Lower East Side Tenement shared the history of Irish immigrants with us while the San Gennaro festival celebrates the Saint of Naples. While watching “Title of Show” we literally watched history unfold as we saw Hunter and Jeff create a hit musical. To begin a critique for the Comenian, I will examine all the events I have attended in New York and see which one I enjoyed the most and eventually choose one. From there, I will ask what the purpose was of the event and whether the purpose was properly fulfilled throughout the performance. Both trips to the city will help me choose which play or event to critique.
My second trip to New York City was quite enjoyable and I loved every stop we made on the way to “Great White Way” even though it meant getting up extremely early in the morning. This trip was both fun and educational and I cannot wait for our next trip on Thursday.