New York ‘Newsies’ weekend: The main event


The name alone inspires wonder and, if you’re a theatre nerd like me, a bit of awe. When my sister and I heard “Newsies” was shifting from a 1992 cult film to a prized New York City stage performance, we gobbled up tickets — and made plans to head up for the weekend. We heard about the show after seeing “King Of New York” performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, then finalized our plans in February. And then? Then, I kind of forgot about it. Because life gets crazy. Because I was planning another trip, busy at work and trying to keep all the plates spinning.

Before we knew it, I was tossing some clothes in a suitcase and hopping on a train to Penn Station. Kate and I got to New York at lunchtime Saturday and hit the ground running, getting a sandwich en route to Times Square and scoping out the New York Public Library (more coming soon). For a book nerd like me, the NYPL was the mecca I’d imagined it would be — and posing with the stone lions was a definite highlight. What can I say? I’m a sucker for tourist hotspots. And though I tried not to scream “TOURIST!” for 48 hours, I was a tourist. And it felt good.

After sightseeing, changing for the evening and enjoying a delicious dinner at Haru on 43rd Street (like my NYC street knowledge?), we made it to the Nederlander Theatre and joined the queue to enter “Newsies,” the entire crazy reason we’d poured ourselves up to the city. After we got in line, the queue wrapped easily around the block — and the audience energy was palpable. People everywhere were chatting, talking excitedly and snapping photos with the flashy marquee. Though I didn’t remember much about “Newsies” (beyond my sister’s favorite songs), I was pumped, too. A real Broadway show! Serious actors! Staying up late in Manhattan!

It was everything I would have wanted — and my sister loved it. A lifelong “Newsies” fan, she performed tunes like “King Of New York” and “Seize The Day” in an elementary school talent show — and I can still picture her dancing in her newsboy cap, so proud of her moves and lyrics. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe my 23-year-old sister is . . . well, 23. Being older, I’m perpetually unaware of her growth and change. To me, she’s still my 5-year-old sidekick with the long tresses and easy laugh.

I’m so glad we could share the experience. Jeremy Jordan was wonderful as Jack Kelly, the smokin’ hot and charismatic leader of the newsboy crew. When newspaper heavyweight Joseph Pulitzer raises the cost of papers (or “papes,” if you’re cool with Newsie lingo), the army of homeless and hungry newsboys in New York City’s boroughs rebel against the added financial burden. Kelly becomes their mouthpiece, organizing a newsboy union and striking. Against arguably the most powerful man in media. This was in 1899 — and based on a true story.

The Broadway rendition is probably catchier than the real-life struggle of hundreds of kids more than a century ago, but that’s quite all right. I like my history with a side of adorable dancing men, stuck-in-your-head-forever show tunes and intrepid girl reporters. “Seize The Day” should be my new anthem as I struggle to get up for work — and these aren’t the kinds of songs you’ll soon forget. The audience was completely into it, leaning forward and dancing in their seats. Aside from the audience member in front of me who almost got a swift kick to the head (literally — I fantasized about it) for her obnoxious screaming (really?), I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

And then we got egg creams and cheesecake from a diner near our hotel and I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

If you’re in the NYC area or looking for a fun day trip, “Newsies” is well worth a look. We were told by another show goer that the story enjoys a cult following — and judging by the audience’s pumped-up dance moves and enthusiastic standing ovation, I don’t doubt that for a second.

Book review: ‘Summer At Tiffany’ by Marjorie Hart

I’ll just come right out and admit it: I picked up this book solely — and I mean, solely — based on its cover. I may or may not have gone into my set-to-shutter Borders a few weeks back in order to make one last purchase at my beloved bookstore, and I wanted it to be something memorable. Something I hoped I would cherish.

I’m sort of obsessed with Tiffany and Tiffany blue; it’s so whimsical and exciting. I’ve had the pleasure of opening two Tiffany boxes in my life — one containing the ring I bought myself in Beverly Hills, and another with a necklace from my dear boyfriend — and each occasion made an indelible mark on my feminine heart.

Marjorie Hart’s Summer At Tiffany bears the trademark hue I know so well and immediately caught my eye. It’s a memoir set in 1945, a year that bears the distinction of seeing the end of World War II and a new era of life in America. Marjorie Hart is a young woman from Iowa who arrives in New York City seeking adventure and spends one summer in the city, where she gets a job as one of the first female pages at Tiffany.

Her months in New York are spent learning about the city, eyeing famous Tiffany patrons and searching to discover her true path in life. As new opportunities arise and threaten to take her farther from her close family and dreams in Iowa, Marjorie must decide whether she should follow the carefully-laid path or venture into unknown territory.

Summer At Tiffany, above all else, is a nostalgic feel-good memoir that had me eager to find a sailor to smooch in Times Square. Did it feel a little glossed-over and a tad too perfect? Sure. But we’re getting Marjorie’s story — and that of her best friend, Marty — some 60-odd years after that summer took place. Of course the author will peer at the past through rose-colored glasses. And of course she’s going to have selective memories involving the mostly good moments that encapsulated that time in her life.

So nothing tawdry happened, of course. Marjorie is a fine blond-haired beauty who experienced nothing more controversial than missing a bus back from the beach. After she and Marty dozed off during their first time seeing the ocean, police officers took pity on them and brought them back to their small apartment. And my favorite part was Hart’s descriptions of the post-war enthusiasm that overwhelmed New York City, drawing everyone into a state of euphoria that is unparalleled.

Hart’s writing is simple but not simplistic. I appreciated her clear anecdotes, interesting descriptions and way of immediately putting me into a scene. And did I salivate over the Tiffany descriptions? Absolutely. It was such fun to read stories about Tiffany’s famous customers, especially Judy Garland, and all the diamond talk had me hankerin’ for a new jewel or two.

Though Hart’s ohmygeegollygosh! talk could get a bit repetitive, I still enjoyed this fun remembrance of an important time in American history — and Marjorie’s life. It’s a fast and fun read that fans of World War II-era books and memoirs will appreciate.

3.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0061189537 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Preparing to be challenged at the Book Blogger Convention

I’m packing up my suitcase, finalizing my outline and getting ready for a rockin’ weekend in New York — it’s time again for the Book Blogger Convention! I had such an awesome time last year, meeting friends I’d previously known only by avatar and eating as much as I could in three days.

Though Spencer and I will be arriving in the city this Thursday — too late to attend Book Expo America, sadly — I’m really looking forward to Friday and my panel at the BBC: Practical Challenges of Blogging, which is happening from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (lunch!). I should emphasize that we won’t be just talking about challenges, of course; I hope that, after a few hours, we’ve offered some solutions, too. 

My only hope is that I won’t embarrass myself in front of all of you, my lovely contemporaries, as well as my esteemed co-panelists Lenore, Jenn, Raych and Kristen. Sometimes when I get nervous, my voice gets high-pitched and I start talking really, really fast.

I guess this is when that college communicatons class comes in handy. Those days crafting persuasive speeches weren’t for nothing!

My plan is to wear red, my power color, since I wore the Power Dress last year — and I’m not sure if the dress’s power maintains its strength from year to year. Plus, you know — I can’t be seen in the same dress at the same event two years in a row. I’m no fashionista, but I certainly know that much.

Will I see you in New York?

Book review: ‘Morning Glory’ by Diana Peterfreund

After losing her job as producer of a New Jersey morning show, Becky Fuller is having a bit of a crisis. Job applications have gone out in droves; connections and favors have all been called in. Having dedicated her entire professional life to Channel 9 in Jersey, Becky is now left with the floundering scraps of a career at which she thought she was excelling — and no empty promises of “landing on her feet” will make her feel better about getting laid off.

A total news junkie, Becky spends her days devouring world events, lamenting the shards of her tattered love life and wallowing in unemployment pity before she finally gets The Call from New York City. Making good on his offer to give her a stellar recommendation, her former boss has gotten her an interview with IBS, a major network, for an open executive producer position at “Daybreak,” their floundering morning talk show.

Becky gleefully accepts the job — but is quickly swallowed up in office politics and general disarray at the station. Between dealing with a primping former beauty queen of a co-anchor and a hardened newsman who wants to be anywhere but at their joke of a program, Becky must prove to everyone — and herself — that she can be successful in a Man’s World.

Diana Peterfreund’s Morning Glory is the novelization of the movie of the same name, written for the big screen by Aline Brosh McKenna. It’s obvious from the start that Peterfreund, a successful novelist, is working within someone else’s parameters — and that’s what makes this one so tough to review. As Erin at Lit Snit so articulately asked, “Where does one person’s creation end and another’s begin?” Basically, this wasn’t originally Peterfreund’s story or characters — so can we really evaluate her?

The premise of Morning Glory appealed to me on one serious level: my sister, a video journalist, worked as a production assistant for a major news network in Washington, D.C., this summer. For several glorious (and painful) months, Katie regaled my family with tales from behind the scenes — and we came to both laugh and shake our heads at the whole “production” of news. My dad is a longtime reporter and sportswriter; I’m an editor and columnist. The media is the family business, if you will. And since Kate and I have been dying to see the film since first getting a glimpse of the preview, I figured I should check out the book.

Summing up my feelings on this one as succinctly as possible, I’ll say this: it was entertaining and quick, but lacked any real depth — emotional or otherwise. As much as I knew I should be in Becky’s corner, rooting her on against the big wigs at IBS, I never connected with her enough to stand in her cheering section. She didn’t feel like a friend — or even  a coworker. She felt like a distant acquaintance of my sister’s at Channel 9, someone about whom I’ve heard funny anecdotes but never actually met.

It wasn’t hard to believe her only recent dates had ended in complete disaster — after all, the woman lives on her BlackBerry. As addicted as I am to checking my smartphone, who interrupts a man on their first date so she can take a series of phone calls? Answer: a very busy, addicted woman. I loved Becky’s dedication to her job and admired her tenacity, but it was pretty clear that girlfriend had some serious issues with just letting go and cutting loose now and then. Her work was literally her life. After getting up at 1:30 a.m. for a decade, she didn’t know any other way. And I wanted Adam, her love interest, to show her that way .  .  . but she didn’t want to let him. It was a hot mess.

Still, this wasn’t a terrible read — and the message was pretty clear: don’t let work become overwhelm you and become your everything. Because at the end of the day? You’re not going to be growing old with your boss, health insurance plan or vacation days. (And if you are? Well, that’s another issue entirely.) Is that something we’ve heard and read before? Sure. Was it told in a unique way here? Not really. But even with that being the case, I enjoyed Morning Glory and can’t wait to see the film. It’s in theatres Nov. 10 — check out the trailer! (Rachel McAdams is awesome!)

3 out of 5!

ISBN: 0345523938 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg after reading Lit Snit’s review