Sunday, June 21, 2009

Waiting For Godot

When my wife asked me what I wanted for Father's Day I didn't hesitate: "I want to go to see 'Waiting For Godot' in New York". It's playing at the Roundabout Theater on West 54th Street through 12-July and stars Nathan Lane, John Goodman, Bill Irwin, and John Glover. It hasn't been performed on Broadway in my lifetime, so I didn't want to miss this opportunity. We bought four tickets for yesterday's matinee performance at 2 PM.

My oldest daughter just left us to move to NYC in search of a start to her career, so we met her in Grand Central Station by The Clock at noon. Thank you, Jackie Onassis, for saving this gem of a station. It would have been knocked down if it weren't for her tireless intercession.

I always underestimate how long it takes to walk in New York. We hoofed it to the theater, pushing through the crowded sidewalks and checking traffic at each and every walkway. Tourists and out-of-towners are oblivious to others around them. It always amazes me to see how large groups can simply stop dead and impede all progress.

The Roundabout Theater is the site of the infamous Studio 54. I was of age when it was in its heyday, but I wouldn't have been famous enough, wealthy enough, or fabulous enough to get in had the idea even occurred to me. When I walked in I couldn't help but wonder what it would have looked like back in the day.

We made it to the box office around 1 PM and picked up the tickets. That gave us time to duck into a Starbucks - not hard to find, since there's one on every corner - and grab a snack. My daughters had wonderful photos of themselves, taken by a friend with a wonderful eye, framed for Father's Day. There's no better gift than that.

We were sitting in our mezzanine seats when the curtain went up at 2:05 PM. I went out and bought a copy of "Waiting for Godot" right after placing our ticket order. I had never read the play, so I thought a little preparation would do me good. I finished reading it last Thursday. I must confess that I was a little worried when the performance began. I told the girls that there it was likely that all four of us would come out of the theater shaking our heads and wondering what the last two hours were all about.

My fears were unfounded. Like music, theater is a performance art that's best appreciated first hand, seeing skilled artists bring a work to life right before your eyes. The stars of this show did that in spades. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would after reading the book on my own.

I learned something: it's pronounced "GOD-oh". I've been pronouncing it as "gah-DOUGH" all my life. Now I'll say it properly, with the additional wisdom of having seen the play to inform my opinions about it.

We ducked into a lovely Italian restaurant named Cafe Cielo around the corner on 8th Avenue for dinner. They opened the doors that looked out onto the sidewalk. Our table was as close as you can come to outdoor seating. The food and service were both wonderful.

The rain started falling as we paid our bill. I went out into the street, put up my hand, and a cab magically appeared to take us back to Grand Central. We made the 6:07 train back to Cos Cob with five minutes to spare. The drive home was quiet - everyone in the car was lulled to sleep by the rain that poured down. The wipers did double time as I drove up Interstates 95 and 91 back towards Hartford. It was a fine trip and a terrific Fathers Day gift.

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