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TRAVELOGUE

What To Do In The City That Never Sleeps

New York City Has Much To Offer: Museums, Shows, and a Real Baseball Team

By Scott Lee

Living in the ivory tower of Cambridge for so long, we often become curious to see what the world outside of Boston has to offer. Specifically, the city down the I-95 -- with the baseball team that seems to defeat the Red Sox every year in the pennant race -- tends to pique our interest every now and then. New York has more arts and entertainment concentrated on its 15 square miles than any other city on Earth. The Tech has scoured the city to find the most interesting and worthy venues for your time.

Here are, in reverse order, our top New York City excursions.

Museum Mile

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney, the Guggenheim, Museo del Barrio, Museum of New York are all located along 5th Avenue on the Upper East Side. All of these have outstanding exhibitions, with a few exceptions. Skip the Goddess exhibit at the Met. With long lines, it is a small showing of how modern couture relates to that of the Greeks. It makes a weak link at best, and is not worth your time. The French taste for Spanish painting is far better, and is an eclectic collection of Manets and Velaquezes and their symbolic interplay. The Guggenheim is worth a visit only for the interior architecture and to go running in the indoor loop. Besides, no one has any clue, including the curators, what the modern art is supposed to mean. This modern art is not even modern or post-modern -- it is supra-modern, beyond any comprehension of anyone.

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia is the ultimate in cheese: not Cheddar, but Stilton. It is a perennial crowd pleaser, with hundreds of 40-year-olds -- audience, not cast members -- dancing to Abba music in the aisles, and brightly and ornately dressed characters prancing around on stage.

The musical interludes are hilarious, not as intentional comedy, but as a morose scene is when juxtaposed with the somber character suddenly breaking out in joyous song. This pattern repeats itself over and over, yet the audience imbibes every moment of the unadulterated fermented cow’s milk.

Central Park Summerstage

These free acts are presented all summer long. Some of the events, such as Wilco and Sonic Youth, are benefit concerts which require an entrance fee. Most, such as de la Soul and various blues and jazz concerts, are all free (first come, first served) on most Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the summer. A full listing can be found at http://summerstage.org.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie was thoroughly enjoyable. Based on the 1960s movie of the same name, Thoroughly Modern Millie incorporated a score of 15 songs, interweaving a standard plot: girl comes to New York from Kansas, looks to get married, etc. The music is the strength of this musical, as all the razzle-dazzle singing in a 1920s art deco backdrop is far more appealing than the all-too-familiar plot progression. TMM won 6 Tonys last year including Best Musical, Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Sutton Foster), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Harriet Harris), Best Choreography, and Best Costume Design.

With all these bests, Thoroughly Modern Millie can’t be all that bad.

The Brooklyn Bridge

The architecture of this bridge is amazing. Constructed in the early 1900s, it is a mass of wood planks, stone and steel cable wires. Walk across the bridge any sunny day, and you will get the best view of Manhattan for free. In the middle, admire the construction, as the multitude of cars whiz by directly under your feet.

Urinetown

As unappealing as the name sounds, Urinetown was one of the best musicals this year. The musical is set in the public urinals of a shady part of town. It therefore epitomizes cost-efficiency, as the set is as minimalist as one can get: a few toilets, dingy walkways, and some random props (compares a multi-million dollar set such as La Boheme). When the plot revolves around the insurrection of the proletariat demanding their right to pee freely, one can only take the the characters so seriously. Therein lies the humor and the joy of this musical.

Urinetown’s music flows smoothly and is extremely well integrated with the plot, unlike a few nameless musicals where the characters sing for no reason out of the blue. Another thumbs up!

Cirque Du Soleil -- Varekai

This was the best entertainment seen in New York this year. With incredible set design and a multitude of glowing neon costumes, the feast for the eyes was spectacular. The acts of twirling dancers performing incredible feats that defy any written explanation have to been seen in person. No other show in New York has such a diverse array of cast members, from little children juggling boomerang bells to French elderly comedians transcending language to bring smiles to an equally diverse crowd. This show is all fun and games until you realize that $95 a ticket is a little bit more than a small dent in your wallet. Nonetheless, this show is worth it.

New York is only four hours and $10 away (Chinatown to Chinatown, that is, or $20 one-way for a Greyhound ride). With all this and more to see, it would be quite unsettling not to take a break from the academic environment of Cambridge.