Bucket List: Seeing Bette on Broadway

IMG_3747_LUCiDI couldn’t believe it when I saw that Bette Midler had taken on the role of Dolly in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!

I don’t remember how I came across the news or why I found out about it so late, but by the time I did, she was finishing up and turning things over to Bernadette Peters to close out an incredibly successful run before the show headed out on tour.

I was a bit devastated. Can you imagine seeing Bette as Dolly? On Broadway? Across from David Hyde Pierce? What an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

When I heard the news that Bette decided to return for a final six-week run to close out the show, I immediately texted my mom and Brian completely freaking out and ready to hop on a plane from Seattle to New York.

And, instead of just wishing I could experience this bucket list item, I did something about it. I bought a ticket, I booked a flight and hotel, and I set off for a whirlwind, solo 36-hours in NYC.

Given my short stay and the fact that I have been to NYC several times before, I decided to make this trip as low-stress as possible. I didn’t over-orchestrate my time and decided to catch up on reading, sleep and homework, making the show the only thing I “had” to do while I was there.

I flew into JFK and took the metro into downtown. It was an easy system to navigate and only required one transfer before I was spit out in the middle of Manhattan. A few blocks from the station was my hotel, Row NYC, which was amazing in terms of location, price, and amenities.

I was upgraded to a small room with a view and after dropping my things off, I headed to the City Kitchen, a small, busting food court on the main floor of the hotel for a delicious lobster roll before heading out for a walk before dark.

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My hotel was right in the heart of the Times Square and Broadway districts, both of which I have visited before, so I fought the crowds to make my way over to Radio City Music Hall for a straight shot to my destination–Central Park.

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There were tons of people coming and going from Central Park, some jogging/running, some pushing kids in strollers, some walking as couples or groups, and others on bicycles and in horse-drawn carriages.

The sun was already heading for the horizon so I didn’t want to venture too far into the park. Instead I made a loop around Victoria Gardens Amusement Park to Gapstow Bridge and back to the park entry.

It really is amazing how you lose some of the noise and chaos of the city after only going a short way into the park. I walked along the road and trails, catching views of the skyline and amusement park, and pausing to enjoy the bridge and lagoon before heading back to my hotel and calling it a night.

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The next morning I slept in and then headed to the New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, which was only a few blocks from my hotel.

The building is beautiful both inside and out. There were already lots of people arriving and leaving, some to actually use the library resources and others–like me–simply interested in visiting.

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After a quick bag check I was able to walk around the several floors, taking in the art and architecture of the main rooms and also enjoying a special exhibit called You Say You Want A Revolution: Remembering the 60s that was very interesting.

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After visiting the library I walked around to the other side of the building to explore Bryant Park. It was lovely out– partially sunny, a light breeze, and a relatively quiet morning.

After walking the perimeter and taking in the various statutes, vendor booths, kids amusement rides, and eateries, I bought a latte and delicious order of avocado toast and followed the sound of live music.

There were several performers putting on a kids show so I sat nearby, enjoying their music, people watching, and just relaxing and enjoying my coffee and the day.

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I headed back to the hotel to get ready for my matinée show and then walked a block over to the Shubert Theatre to line up for entry.

Broadway was absolutely nuts with people lining up to see shows at all of the theaters. I got in line and slowly shuffled into the theater with the rest of the excited crowd, grabbing a program and quickly finding my seat.

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The show was absolutely amazing. I was sitting next to another woman who was there on her own and who had basically had the same experience as me, missing Bette the first time around and deciding she would do whatever was necessary to attend one of her encore performances.

I laughed. I cried. Bette was phenomenal and it was truly everything I hoped it would be. Her ad libs and ridiculous attempts to make her fellow actors and actresses break character had the audience absolutely rolling– it makes me smile just thinking about it. I’m so grateful to have had the experience.

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I joined the crowd outside after to see if anyone would come out to sign autographs and take pictures. White Bette and David didn’t make an appearance, several other did, including the actor who played Barnaby. He was incredible–one of my favorite characters in this production.

I grabbed some New York-style pizza for dinner and turned in relatively early so I would be well rested for my flight back home the next morning.

The 36 hours flew by, and it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing Bette on Broadway. I won’t forget it.

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