After 3.5 years of burying our heads in textbooks, over-caffeinating to study for finals, making Dean’s lists, and working multiple jobs at a time, my housemate Jessica and I both graduated early from the University of California, Davis. To celebrate our hard work and success, we headed 2,830 miles to New York City! We booked a week-long trip to the big apple and had no idea what amazing events would transpire once we arrived.
We arrived at SFO early in the afternoon, and immediately I saw one of my favorite choreographers, Matt Stefanina, casually walking through the airport! The trip was already off to a good start. We arrived at JFK airport late Tuesday night, my eyes scanned the empty streets, lit up by massive buildings flashing with multicolored lights. There was a massive sense of energy even with nobody out on the streets. We were dropped off at our hotel in Times Square and tiredly stumbled into our room, plopped down all of our items, and headed to bed.
After a semi-satisfying night of rest, we embarked on our exploration of New York. We loaded up our subway passes and headed to the Staten Island Ferry to get a good view of everything (including our main lady, the Statue of Liberty). We lucked out and got a beautiful, sunny view with crisp air across the water.
After the Ferry, we explored Battery Park and then headed to Chelsea Market— an indoor urban market with food and clothing. Filled with an array of people and shopping choices, we searched up and down for a good place to grab a bite.
Once we were fueled up, we made our way back to our hotel to get ready to see our first Broadway show! That night we went to the Imperial Theatre to see Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations, written by the 2018 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant winner, Dominique Morisseau. The show, a beautiful narration of the creation and the downfall of the Mowtown supergroup, The Temptations. The musical beautifully intertwined their classic hits and dance moves, with a heart-filled narrative of each and every member.
After many tears and a rollicking standing ovation, we headed outside of the theatre to the stage door where we met some of the cast. Now for those close to me, they know I have two celebrity crushes (both reside in NY), one of whom is in the cast— Jeremy Pope. My heart raced as I saw each actor flood out, and at the very end he came out and I was almost lost for words. We chatted for a bit, he signed my playbill, and we took a photo (OH MY GOD)!
Jess and I were so excited as we walked through Times Square that the man walking behind us (he played Smokey Robinson in the show) asked us if we were okay. We responded with “yes, we just love the show so much). Needless to say, we went to bed very happy.
Decorated in colorful tulips for the Easter holiday, Bryant Park (a quick 2-minute walk from our hotel) was first on our list. Then we headed to the New York Public Library and then we scurried on over to Grand Central Station, followed by the Rockefeller Plaza where all of the Late Night studios are, as well as NBC. We were lucky enough to catch Savanah Guthrie finishing her segment. We also went inside of Saint Patrick's Cathedral which was absolutely stunning.
Filled with excitement and ambition, we made our way over to Central Park. It was a long and exciting day, a 12 miles worth of walking day!
Later that night we also met up with some friends for drinks! Thanks Vu and Eleni for a good time.
On Friday we checked out the Empire State building, and yes it is HUGE!!!!
We made our way back to Broadway to see our second show, Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. What a glorious production that lives up to all of its expectations. From mechanical dragons to flying witches, the show is SPECTACULAR.
Impromptu, we went over to the Walter Kerr Theatre, where the new Broadway show Hadestown performs. We lucked out and swooped two center orchestra tickets for that night. We quickly shoveled dinner into our mouths and went back to the theatre for a crazy turn of events. Two seats over from me sat actress Marisa Tomei— who was incredibly kind and chatted with us a little about how we were enjoying the show. And THEN, across the aisle sat Sarah Jessica Parker...like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City! Adorned with a high ponytail, large black glasses, and a green top, SJP watched the show in equal delight as we did. We were too afraid and a little too far to say hello, but she definitely saw Jess snap a sneaky video of her.
On Saturday we saw our final show at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre — Waitress. Now, this show has been a part of my life since the song composer and lyricist) Sara Bareilles ( she’s from my hometown) released music for the show in 2015. With special guest Jeremy Jordan, the show was packed. Based off of a 2007 movie, the show details the life of Jenna, a waitress at a local diner who makes pies who gets pregnant and then has an affair with her gynecologist (I know, how scandalous). The show brought me to tears several times, and once again at the stage door where we greeted Jeremy Jordan ( Dr. Pomatter) and Shoshana Bean (Jenna)!
The day kept on rollin’ as we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In line, a very sweet New York man (who was Serbian just like Jess) helped get us a discounted ticket. Pro tip: NY residents get in for free and their guests only cost $1.00.
After chatting for a bit, we explored the museum until closing. My favorite exhibit was the “Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll,” where tons of historic musical instruments, outfits, and posters are displayed. We got to see everything from Prince and Jimi Hendrix’s guitars, to Lady Gaga’ s ARTPOP piano.
Happy Easter! Sunday was Brooklyn day. We rode the subway (there was a very interesting man hopping cars that morning) and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Once we were across, we grabbed some food and coffee. In the coffee shop, Jess spotted Alexandra Breckenridge who plays Sophie on This is Us. Honestly, I have no idea how Jess does it, I never would have picked up it was her because she was so casual and cute. She exited the shop before we could say hi, but it was still cool just seeing her.
The Bushwick Collective, an area with amazing street graffiti art proceeded after lunch.
We trekked through Prospect Park afterward, ending on a park bench next to the water where we ended up singing with a man playing guitar. His voice was like butter, it is crazy how much talent and beauty you see from everyday people in New York.
The day ended with a delicious dinner from My Moon restaurant.
Our last full day in New York was one for the books. We made our way toward the NYU campus and Washington Square Park, which was small and full of beauty.
What followed was a dream come true for me. We headed to 52nd Street and 11th Ave. where The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is filmed. I was lucky enough to snag a FREE ticket online on the day we arrived in NY, but Jess was too late when she had checked just moments later. The night before the show, as we waited in Prospect Park after days of rigorously checking, Jess also got a ticket. We lined up for the 7 pm show around 3:30 pm. We made friends with a lovely couple from Glasgow and their son and daughter in law who recently moved and married in the city. Finally, we headed into the studios (we got amazing seats) and were directed on how the show would be running and how we would react (there are no laugh tracks used, only genuine audience reactions).
And then the love of my life, Trevor Noah, came out in a grey suit and adorable smile. My heart sank to my stomach as reality set in that I was actually seeing my ultimate celebrity crush in person. He blew the audience away with jokes about Trump, the new Democratic nominees for the 2020 Presidential election, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The recurring guest comedian, Ronny Chieng, poked fun at the world’s lack of care for mother nature on “Earth Day,” and Trevor followed that with a powerful interview with Amanda Nguyen, the Nobel-nominated founder and CEO of Rise.
We left the show elated and awakened. After a quick break at our hotel, we walked up to the street to Bryant Park to grab a quick drink with Jess’ cousin, Max, who was in the city for work.
A 7 am Soul Cycle class concluded our stay in New York. We joined a dark room of fit city folks for 45 minutes of an intense bike riding, jam pumping session.
From there we packed up, headed to JFK, and took a 5-hour flight back to SFO (the flight was a nightmare but that is another story) where Jess’ mother picked us up.
This trip was a true treat. Not only were all of my musical theatre kid dreams completely fulfilled, but I was so happy just spending time with my best friend. The city is truly an inspiring place and I am sure I will be back soon. I would love to end up there at some point in my life. I would like to give a special thanks to the Adair family. I am eternally grateful for this experience and I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity.
To anybody thinking about planning a trip to New York soon, do it. Peace, love, and positivity— and thank you for reading.