For some reason, many of my blogs are about food, particularly baked goods. In a recent trip to New York City, my wife and I took a walking food tour of the West Village. We walked from place to place, and were given samples of the food. It’s an interesting tour even without the food, considering that Greenwich Village is rich in history. Many of its buildings date from the early 1800’s.
But there were a few highlights to the food featured by the tour. One was at Fiacco’s Italian Specialties, where we were given excellent sausage and calzones. At Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, my wife and I ate tasty Margherita pizza slices. I am critical of much of the pizza provided in this country. Many people in the States do not know how to make good pizza. But at Artichoke’s the pizza was, even in my opinion, excellent.
A final highlight was the cannolis provided us at Pasticceria Bruno. It was easy for us to see how Biago Settepani, the bakery’s propietor, was able to beat Bobby Flay in a cannoli making contest. It should be also said that the food given at each place was small in quantity, so we did not finish the tour feeling stuffed.
And speaking of food, my wife and I also made a repeat visit to the midtown Magnolia, located in Rockefeller Center. The cupcakes provided by the midtown Magnolia are even better than the ones featured at the more famous Village Magnolia. They are as rich and tasty as their frosting, and I’ve never found them to be dry.
Of course, another main feature of NYC is its theatre, and in this last trip we saw Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, presented off-Broadway at Second Stage. It’s sad that much of the best work in current musical theatre is relegated to off-Broadway while Broadway is increasingly dominated by jukebox musicals. Even Stephen Sondheim has had to have his work done off-Broadway.
The Last Five Years, the story of a doomed marriage, is one of the most acclaimed of modern musicals. It’s soon to be made into a film featuring Anna Kendrick. I expected the hilarious lyrics and sophisticated music I heard, but I was pleasantly surprised by the clear storyline of the play. The show had spoken monologues and much exposition in its songs, which contributed to the narrative clarity.
This musical features only two actors. Adam Kantor was effective as a hotshot rising novelist, and Betsey Wolfe provided warmth to her role as the struggling actress who marries him.
This show works on the conceit that the wife’s scenes move backward chronologically, from the end of the relationship back to the first date, while the husband moves forward. Only on their wedding day do they meet in time. It’s an odd conceit, but an appropriate one for two people moving in different directions.