What does a 15-year-old girl have to say about the United States Constitution? More than I could possibly have imagined, before attending the brilliant one-act play “What the Constitution Means to Me” tonight at the New York Theatre Workshop. It’s written and performed by Heidi Schreck, a woman in her 40s. The setting is an American Legion meeting, where, as a teenage girl, she debated about the document before a gathering of cigar-smoking old men.
In telling her story, told from an unapologetically feminist perspective, the playwright channels her younger self, while at the same time reflecting upon two and a half decades of subsequent life experience and wisdom. She talks frankly about her own body and tells stories of her mother and grandmother. Toward the end of the presentation, Schreck is joined onstage by a genuine New York City high school student, with whom she engages in a live debate. That’s the portion of the evening featuring audience participation, when everyone receives a copy of the Constitution itself (my copy is pictured).
The play also features Mike Iveson of “Orange Is the New Black,” who offers a personal “reveal” of his own. Audio recordings of actual oral arguments from the Supreme Court bench are played, in which the voices of Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and others are heard.
I was genuinely moved by this thought-provoking and educational piece. In my view, if those 11 while male Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were to see this, they might think twice before voting yes on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. If you happen to live in New York City or if you are going to be visiting this fall, this is not to be missed. It’s playing until Oct. 21.
Today I visited the General Grant National Memorial, also known as “Grant’s Tomb.” It’s a grand mausoleum, where Grant and his wife are laid to rest. It’s located on the Upper West Side between Riverside Church and Riverside Park, at 122nd street. It’s operated by the National Park Service. Although it’s right on the bicycle route I took dozens of times over the years, today was only the second time I visited.
Coincidentally, my visit today corresponded with the 102nd birthday of the National Park Service, and in honor of the occasion there were bagpipers and an outdoor performance of Civil War tunes by Linda Russell. There’s a visitors center across the street and down the stairs, with exhibits, an excellent 20-minute film, a gift shop and restrooms. The park rangers are friendly and knowledgeable.
I was especially moved by my visit today, having recently completed a biography of Grant.
Here are some pictures from my visit — click to make them bigger:
This was just fantastic. Renee Fleming of opera fame is in it. Joshua Henry was spectacular as Billy. So was Lindsay Mendez as Carrie. My favorite was Amar Ramasar as Jigger. (He was oh-my-god hot!) This was really well done. Great singing, great dancing. My favorite number was Blow High Blow Low a Whaling We Will Go.
The reason I live in NYC is to experience evenings like this.
The first Broadway show I ever saw was “The Will Rogers Follies.” To this day the show remains one of my favorites, and I still play the original cast recording from time to time. It starred Keith Carradine in the title role. It also featured Cady Huffman, who would later go on to star as Ulla in “The Producers,” and the late great Dick Latessa, as Clement P. Rogers. The music was by Cy Coleman and the lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. This big, fun show also had cowboys and Indians, a bunch of cute dogs — and it featured the “special participation” of Gregory Peck as the legendary showman Florenz Zeigfeld, which was akin to the “voice of God.”
This would have been the fall of 1991, if I remember correctly. I was working as an editor at the Hudson Valley News in Newburgh, N.Y., at the time, and I had just completed a big project and my boss wanted to reward me by a trip to the big city to see a Broadway show. I stayed at the Milford Plaza, and I almost got mugged. A year later I had moved to my apartment in Manhattan, I had a new job working at National Jeweler, with offices in Times Square, right across the street from the Palace Theater. When my dad came to visit we went to see “Will Rogers Follies” together. It was still running, with Mac Davis in the lead role.
Thanks to the Seat Geek app, I got an orchestra seat to see Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber in “Hello Dolly!” tonight! She was amazing. So was everyone else in the show. Last May, I saw this same production with Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce. And in the 1990s I saw Carole Channing in a special 25th anniversary production. This is one of the best shows ever, and I am so very glad to have been able to see it so many times with such great talent.
I went to the Rolling Stones “Exhibitionism” on opening day (Nov. 12) and again today (Feb 19) with my friend Steve. This is awesome. There are replicas of the lads’ messy apartment in London from the early 60s, a “backstage area” and even a reproduction of a recording studio. There’s a section on album artwork, another with scale models of their elaborate stage sets from the Steel Wheels, Bridges to Babylon and Voodoo Lounge tours. A whole room of Andy Warhol artwork, another featuring stage costumes spanning their entire career. Lots of video and audio displays and a 3-D movie at the end of “Satisfaction.” You can also see their guitars, a drum kit and notebooks with Mick’s hand-written lyrics to “Miss You,” “Lies,” “Some Girls” and many other songs. My favorite part was a mixing board where you can put on headphones and turn each band member’s instrument playing track up or down on about 10 different audio tracks, including “Start Me Up,” “Angie,” “Rocks Off” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”