Four days in New York City and four Broadway shows kept us busy last weekend. We traveled in a group of 34 as part the Bloomington Arts Experience for a second year of theater. The event is so well-organized that all of us felt comfortable in New York. We stayed at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square as we had last May. Except for a welcome gathering the first night, lunch at Sardi’s on Saturday before a matinee, and a Sunday brunch at the Glass House Tavern prior to our flight home, we were on our own for meals. Theaters were within easy walking distance, and two presentations by arts people were held at our hotel.

Our first show was called After Midnight, set in the 1920s Cotton Club in Harlem. The host was Dule Hill who sang and danced as part of a wonderful cast that included Vanessa Williams as a featured performer. The orchestra, billed as Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, was outstanding. The music was familiar, the dancing spectacular, the production altogether entertaining.

The second show, on Friday evening, was Cabaret, performed in a cabaret setting with 2 couples at a table. It had an exceptional performance by Alan Cumming as Kit Kat Klub’s host. The story’s dark theme was contrasted by the frenzied, erotic dance sequences. I was not moved by the love stories as I should have been. In past performances of this play I have been caught up in the tragedy of the older couple’s fated relationship. I didn’t feel it in this portrayal. The set was interesting, and the orchestra, whose members were also part of the dance troup was good.

On Saturday, after lunch at Sardi’s, we attended a matinee performance of Bullets Over Broadway, based on a book by Woody Allen. It told a story of a mob boss in New York whose blond, no-talent girlfriend wanted to be a star on Broadway. The mobster bought the rights to a new play and agreed to produce it if the girlfriend would be given a key role. The show has 6 Tony nominations in categories that seem appropriate. Nick Cordero, as one of the gangsters, was nominated for a supporting role. He is worthy of that honor. I’d like to think I’m less enthusiastic about the show because of the show, not because I’m not a fan of Woody Allen. The music was all taken from the period, not written for this production.

Saturday night, at the urging of granddaughters, we got tickets for Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. It was the best event of the weekend. I loved the story line, and I’ll never see “the other play about Oz” again without thinking about this prequel. It was spectacular with so many memorable performances. It lasted 3 hours that passed very quickly.

We look forward to another adventure next May with the Bloomington Arts Experience group.