STAYCATION, ALL I EVER WANTED…
So, little tidbit about moi: I am NOT a natural born planner. For most of my life, I was a “fly by the seat of my pants” type who followed the day’s whimsy lead. I relished low-pressure blank space, and never worried that without a well scripted plan, I wouldn’t get from point A to point B, and so on and so forth.
That was eons ago, in a land far, far away -- an ancient time and place I like to call life BC (before children.)
My perspective was jolted by motherhood. Suddenly, planning was everything. If I didn’t endeavor to plan the perfect nap schedule, activities, lessons, meals, playdates, tutors, would my kids amount to anything? As chill as I was in my bones, my kids were NOT the type who relished downtime, and the need to perfectly curate their lives became a rigorous, and at times, exhausting, job.
I’ve often said that, in life, and especially life as a mom, occasions that are supposed to be the most fun, aka birthdays and vacations, are often the most stressful because they are loaded with expectation and demand so much planning.
Case in point: I spent months planning a girls' trip for my family to Paris that was to take place last week and that was, for various reasons, regrettably postponed.
It was disappointing.
But the forced repivot ended up being a space I felt familiar in -- and the biggest blessing in disguise: The gift of one week of blank space with my family in the greatest city in the world. The result was 8 delicious meals out at restaurants comprised of 5 different cuisines, one high tea, three creative ice cream venues, 4 shows, 2 museums, 3 neighborhood strolls, 3 tennis lessons and 1 family boxing class. It was all hastily patched-together, it was fluid, it was a constant work-in-progress, and it was amazing.
And thus, in keeping with the idea, and the reality, that the best things in life can’t be planned for, I present an offshoot of my itsallmaterial blog: itsallmaterial reviews. Another tidbit about me: I spent my professional life BC (before children, stay with me here...) working in the Film and Publishing industries evaluating content; now, as we all know, there is endless content at the world’s disposal. It can be overwhelming. You don’t have to trust me as an arbiter of good material, but I would.
I highly recommend:
1. Anything at Café Carlyle! You know you want to, so just bite the bullet and do it. It’s an expensive night with a mandatory prix fixe dinner not included in the price of admission -- but the talent is so varied and spans so many areas of interest, you can find something you deem well worth it. And Gio at the door is the nicest man alive – he’s sized you up and knows what kind of drink you need from the moment you walk in and warily spy the uber-cramped seating.
2. Leopoldstadt. If you haven't seen it, and you want to see it, you're putting it off. Don't. This tale of a Viennese "blended family" living in the artistic and cultural center of Europe slowly coming to grips with the changing realities of their assimilation, and the World War that will tear them apart, is both harrowing and heartening. Tom Stoppard's most autobiographical play took years to write, and should not be missed. Here, his absorbing story spans 5 and a half decades in 2 hours. Bring your kids –they can spare 2 hours off TikTok.
3. Sweeney Todd. Dark, but filled with moments of the best comedy you’ll find on Broadway. Even if you don't know much about the venomous barber of Fleet Street (I did not...), you will be fully immersed in the thrilling experience of this show. A sweeping in scope, musically memorable production that is just so very, very entertaining. And Josh Groban... need I say more?
4. Moulin Rouge. Can’t say enough good things about this outrageously fun, sexy, boisterous show. If you are lucky enough to see it while Aaron Tveit is still in it (he’s back for 6 weeks only), you may consider leaving your husband. Don't blame me.
5. Asi Wind. Not too many kids in the audience, but I brought mine and they were super into it. Go to Washington Square Park (tell the kids not to breathe in too much or they may get high), grab ice cream from the truck outside the theater where the guy throws sprinkles at your cone, and then see the incredible card show in this subterranean tiny theater where your mind will be read and blown at once.
6. Kimberly Akibo. A cast of only 8, and a set that rivals one being used in any High School production across America, this show feels like an off-Broadway play that snuck onto Broadway. But I LOVED it. Very funny, very weird, very earnest – and very good. A show that makes you think, and the dinner table scene that starts as a civilized meal and ends up an epic family feud is one to which anyone who’s ever, say, had a family, can relate.
7. New York, New York. I can’t say enough good things about this new musical that legitimately stole my heart. The familiar, titular song and namesake sounds like it's inspired and uninspired all at once, but trust me it’s gorgeous, and by all accounts, joyous. NYC has made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons-- let this show remind you why you feel in love with this amazing, magical city; My past week here surely did, and this show was like icing on the cake.
1. Searching for Italy. It’s not just that Stanley Tucci looks so good in chinos and a scarf. This awesome show that has him exploring the culture and cuisine of Italy, through its distinct 20 regions, is just inspiring in every way. This is Eat, Pray, Love in a reality show and so much more. Watch it; you won’t be disappointed!
2. Slow Horses. Gary Oldman and Kristen Scott Thomas headline this completely enthralling show about a bunch of offbeat, dysfunctional M15 agents in an espionage story that is alternately heart-stopping and hilarious.
3. Bad Sisters. Insanely good show set in a suburb of Dublin about 5 sisters who will stop at nothing to protect their own. (fun fact: Sister number 5 is Bono's daughter; she's a bad ass, of course!) High on premise, pratfalls and dead pan humor, this show is ballsy and bingeable like the best of them.
1. Leah Rudick. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at The City Winery two weeks ago, and I promise she’s a name you’ll know soon enough. Her Wealthy Woman satire reels are priceless.