It was a Russian weekend in New York City, as Andy and I took the train down to see the return of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at the City Center. Hotel rooms are insanely priced these days, and even with the combined bidding wars of Priceline, Expedia, Hotwire, and Kayak, the best I could do was $275 for a night at the Essex House on Central Park South. It actually worked out for the best though, as the hotel was in close proximity to the theater.
The Essex wasn’t bad, and the flowers in the lobby were certainly nothing to sneeze at (unless you’re allergic to that sort of thing).
I wore the tree-of-life pendant that Andy got for me in Ogunquit this past summer. (I don’t know why this merits mention, other than for the photo below that I snapped in the bathroom, and the bartender at the Oak Room who complimented me on it.)
In keeping with the Russian theme, we had dinner reservations at the Russian Tea Room. I had eaten there many years ago with my parents, and the chicken kiev had been something to behold. They then shut down for a while, but re-opened, so we decided to try it (plus the online cocktail menu looked like heaven).
We probably should have stopped at the cocktails, because while dinner was passable, the prices were a bit on the ridiculous side. Also, after asking the wait-person for their smoothest Russian vodka (she recommended the Jewel Of Russia), I had a martini that was rather rocky going down.
The chicken kiev did still burst with butter, and the decor is as red-gold-and-green as ever, so we’ll leave it at that.
After dinner we walked around the block and looked in the windows of closed shops and galleries while waiting for show-time to approach.
Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake joins the small pantheon of shows that my husband and I have seen together on Broadway. It began with Wicked (and that original, incomparable pairing of Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel), and continued with Grey Gardens (and the uncanny and amazing Christine Ebersole), and now we have the return of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. On their own, these shows were each great – seeing them with someone I love just made them that much more special and memorable.
I still recall the early November night we saw Wicked when it first opened (yes, I wore green that first time, though I’m a pink girl at heart) as well as the bitter cold of January’s Grey Gardens with a dinner at Gallagher’s steakhouse (that included a warming Manhattan and a seat by the gargantuan wood stove).
Swan Lake itself was spectacular. I knew I would like it; I did not know that I would absolutely fall in love with it. Having seen the DVD of the production a number of years ago, I knew the gist and the gimmick – but to see it in person gives it a life that can never be reproduced on screen.
It’s basically a gay fantasy brought to thrilling, and disturbing, life. I can only imagine what my own life might have been like had I seen this production as a young boy. How different would my journey have been, and what would it have meant? I will never know. That it exists today is a blessing, and an unforgettable night of theater. Seeing two men dance together is just as potent and powerful now as when it first opened over a decade ago – mostly because I just don’t get to see that very often – and partly because the world hasn’t changed all that much. As the curtain came down on the crushing final scene, I did not want it to end.
But there will be other curtains, and other shows, and yes, Suzie, even other swan umbrellas, so have faith.
The next morning we headed out for a brief (Andy would say interminable) shopping excursion, and then it was time to depart (without the $100 hotel robe).