Take Five: Moonbeams, misty rains and 'Anything Goes'

”Anything goes” says it all when speaking and writing about New York City. It is indeed a special place. If Chicago is the city of big shoulders, then New York City is the city of big — everything imaginable.

My wife, Marilyn, her mother and I ventured forth from La Cañada last month for an eight-day sojourn to this town with the big muscles.

Frank Sinatra gets it right every time he sings, “New York, New York, I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps.” Of course it’s not La Cañada or even Los Angeles. It’s not supposed to be anything other than crazy, alive, loud, smoky, misty at times, and in our case, rainy. We managed.

And then there is that big, bright, orange moon staring down from the dark sky, shedding moonbeams — or is that aura just the bright neon lights of New York City?

We took a Jet Blue 7 a.m. flight from Burbank. No need to struggle with LAX at dawn. Just 15 minutes down the road from La Cañada.

And there was New York. Make sure you look out at that magnificent the skyline as you land.

Off to the musicals: “Anything Goes” is a delightful Cole Porter musical brought back from its 1934 hit parade opening. Great tunes, husky over-the-top dancing, corny jokes and mixed identities. The show takes place essentially on a cruise ship. Yes, the show is dated, but what a welcome change from Occupy Wall Street. It’s alive and vibrant and there is that glorious music.

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is campy, fantasy-imbued, silly and a heck of a lot of fun. It’s a family photo album of how Daniel Radcliffe, of “Harry Potter” fame, rockets from the mail room at World Wide Widget Company to the presidency. He manages all this sleight of hand (with a lot of singing and dancing) in about two and a half hours.

But the real showstopper for my family was the “Million Dollar Quartet.” This super-loud bash depicts one afternoon in Memphis in 1956. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis are together in a radio studio for the first and only time in their legendary careers, each outdoing the other in a noisy, colorful, rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza.

We also saw a mystical musical called “The Follies.” If you’re a Stephen Sondheim fan, you will enjoy it. If you’re not, which is my excuse, you’ll be checking your watch for almost three hours. I admit the costumes are breathtaking, but....

As my mind wandered, I couldn’t help thinking that somewhere in one or more of La Cañada’s schools are tomorrow’s star musicians, dancers and singers (or any other theatrical calling) who may have a dream of the stage. My advice to them is, go for it.

There’s not enough space left for a review of restaurants, the Chelsea art scene, the museums, the construction at the World Trade Center and even the eight miles of books at the Strand — and, someday, a special discussion of the taxi drivers. The mass of traffic made me long for the peace and quiet of Foothill Boulevard on weekday afternoons when the schools let out.

Just in case this column might entice you to think about visiting New York this coming holiday season, the universally-acclaimed Radio City Rockettes will be in full force and the Christmas displays in Rockefeller Center will be worth your entire trip. Watch out for the moonbeams.

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World