Brighter Than The Sun, et al.

The Museum of Broadway

The Off-Broadway play Brighter Than The Sun was why my daughter and I took the 10:05 a.m. Amtrak train down to New York City on Wednesday, January 10.

The 10:05 to NYC was delayed. So was the 8:25. Though no one told us why, I had a sneaking suspicion about it, confirmed by some folks on Facebook. The tracks run very close to the Hudson River, and the torrent of rain south of Albany made running the trains in either direction impossible. This meant the trains running to Montreal and Toronto, probably from NYC via Albany, were likewise suspended.

Then, just before 11 a.m., they called the 8:25 folks to board.  A lot of them had left the terminal, with some deciding to take the bus or to drive, though I heard there were some difficulties with the driving in the Mid-Hudson as well. (Flying was no better.)

Then the 10:05 people got to board (yay!) but we didn’t take off for nearly an hour (oh, well). But we finally left only two hours late. There were park benches near the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie that were half covered by the river.
We walked to our timeshare, Club Wyndham on 45th Street near 3rd Avenue, where my sister Leslie and I stayed in June 2022.   Soon, we headed to a casual restaurant where we met Alexa, the general manager/assistant director/co-producer/chief bottle washer of Brighter Than The Sun, and not incidentally, one of my daughter’s cousins. She was there with her twin sister, her mother and father (one my wife’s brothers), who also came from out of town.  
After dinner, we headed to the Chain Theatre / 36th Street Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, a 99-seat theater which is a requirement of an Off-Broadway production. The show is “an autobiographical, anecdotal musical that analyzes the relationship between a young man and his grandmother, as it takes a collective glance at both of their upbringings in South Georgia. The narrative is a simple, yet incredibly evocative tale of broken dreams, familial ties and the concurrent cycles of birth and death that compose everyone’s story.” 
The performers were amazing. A standout was Amber Mawande-Spytek, a great singer. It turns out that I had seen her before, in Godspell at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in August 2023.  There are some good songs, and while the dialogue could be trimmed, the playwright shows promise. It’s playing through January 21. 
The next morning, we went to the Amish Market. From the website, it would seem it was sold prepared foods. In fact, it was fairly well stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and the usual grocery fare. 
The Museum of Broadway
After we made breakfast, my daughter and I went to the Museum Of Broadway, which is, to use the technical term, really cool. After one watches a four-minute video of NYC theater – it moved uptown from the Wall Street area because the land was cheaper – we went up to the third floor. 
The top two floors contained items from various shows, plus videos. They included Showboat, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, Hair, Company, West Side Story (you are in the corner store), Rent (pick up the pay phone receiver and hear about Jonathan Larson from those who knew him), Phantom of the Opera (that’s the Red Death costume below), Hamilton, Wicked, and the special exhibit for Six. 
It was great, but someone wanting to go into theater should spend ample time on the first floor. “Go behind the curtain into the making of Broadway show with a special exhibit honoring the community of brilliantly talented professionals – both onstage and off – who bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night.” Everything from costumes to choreography, makeup to marketing, is addressed in the videos by people who have done so. 
I spent a lot of time watching the video about the swings, the unsung heroes of theater.  Later that day, my daughter and I would see Alexa and her family again, and I recommended that Alexa go to the Museum if she had time. 
On our way back to the Wyndham, we walked through Bryant Park, which had several vendors and many ice skaters. And we saw the trees near Grand Central Station, as pictured above.
The last day
Our checkout was 10 a.m., so I ran the dishwasher and we packed. We could leave our luggage at the Wyndham while we ate breakfast across the street.
We went a couple of blocks to the United Nations and attempted to identify the members’ flags, which, fortunately, were arranged alphabetically. It wasn’t very windy, so it was difficult to see them fully.  It’s good that it’s Cote d´Ivoire and not Ivory Coast because that flag and Ireland’s are a LOT alike. I had forgotten that some countries had changed their names: Swaziland to Eswatini, e.g.
We returned to the hotel, retrieved our luggage, then ordered an Uber that arrived in less than a minute. The 1:20 train left on time. We took the 114 CDTA bus home. 
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