Welcome to My First FringeNYC Adventure Part 8! A week ago, I began re-posting blogs from my first trip to the New York International Fringe Festival in 2010. Well, now we’re at Day 8 of our 10 day trip. Only one entry left after this! It’s so nice going back down this memory lane, especially as some friends and I start preparations for our third FringeNYC venture in 2018!

October 8th, 2010

Long time no see! I said I’d be posting updates once a day, not once a month. Sorry. Since getting back home, life pretty much jumped right back into high gear and hasn’t really let up. The good news is, I’m planning on finishing the chronicle of our spectacular New York adventure this week. Furthermore, the Thank You gifts for all of our generous donors will go out by the end of the month!

It’s pouring rain today in Los Angeles. It reminds me of the first half of our trip. I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since we were there. It simultaneously feels like we were there just yesterday, yet this was a lifetime ago. Does that make sense to anyone besides me? Bueller?

I forgot to give a shout-out in my last entry to Mr. Bob Stremme, the father of one of my former housemates and dear friend, Kate. I’d only met Mr. and Mrs. Stremme about two weeks before we left LA for the festival when they were out visiting Kate. They were generous enough to take the four of us (Kate, Erin, Jenn and me) to dinner one night during their trip. We got to talking about the show and they promised they’d come and see it in New York. I didn’t expect them to come, but Mr. Stremme drove up all the way from Philadelphia to see the Friday night performance and even e-mailed Erin afterward to tell her how much he enjoyed the show. I was swamped with pre- and post-show responsibilities so I didn’t get to give him more than a quick “hello”, but I was deeply touched that he made the effort to come and see the show.

Honestly, there were lots of reunions that I really enjoyed during this trip, from all walks of my life – Kyra from Avalon, Kristin & Becky from PVI, Andy, Alena & Ilana from Emerson, my parents, my in-laws Sal & Ruth, my brother-in-law Andy, Uncle Tim & Aunt Denise, Uncle Kevin & Glen, M.L., Erin’s family, Mr. Stremme, Booth Daniels & Michael Seel (both of whom I met through the Hollywood Fringe Festival)… The list goes on. If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. It was a whirlwind.

Speaking of whirlwinds… Saturday. Closing Night (Day?). After eight and a half months of planning, countless hours of work and thousands of dollars raised, it was all coming to an end. To say it was bittersweet would be the understatement of the century. I think Erin and I both spent most of the day promising each other we wouldn’t break down and cry until after the show was over. The three of us got up and headed into the city. We were meeting my parents and my in-laws in Times Square for lunch before the show. Once we were all met, we headed for John’s Pizzeria, across the street from the Majestic Theater on 44th. John’s Pizzeria used to be a church and is a place that has special significance for my wife Jenn and I. When we first started dating, we met up in New York City the day after Christmas in 2006. We were both on the East Coast visiting our families (hers in Massachusetts and mine in Virginia), and had joked about needing a break. Well, joking lead to talking, which lead to planning, which lead to us meeting up at the Port Authority Bus Station on that cold December day and kick-started a fantastic whirlwind trip (see a recurring theme here?) that took our relationship from casual dating to something more serious. John’s is where we went to dinner that night, after seeing The Little Dog Laughed on Broadway, and we’ve made it a point to go to John’s every time we visited New York since then. So, there was something very fitting about taking our family there to celebrate our closing.

Sated, we still had about two hours to kill, so we walked up to the north end of Times Square and got coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Erin headed off early to pick up the consumables and the rest of us just sat around and chatted for a while. As call time approached, we jumped on the subway and headed for the West Village. Walking down to the theatre, we ran into a bunch of my extended family. Quick greetings were exchanged and I ran into the house to supervise the show prep.

I couldn’t have asked for a better closing run. Everyone brought their “A” game and really hit every moment. From beginning to end, they took us on that emotional roller coaster one last time, and boy was it a ride. Honestly, there aren’t words that can convey just how incredible this particular performance was for us. Three years writing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing the script, fourteen months of rehearsals, thirty-one runs over four productions… and my time at the helm of this show had finally come to an end. As soon as the opening strains of the Smashing Pumpkins‘ Today hit for curtain call, I could feel my eyes welling with tears. Hands beat red from clapping as hard as I could, I headed to the door to thank our audience as they left. What followed was almost an impromptu receiving line as friends, family and even complete strangers (who must have figured out that I was the playwright from what others were saying) stopped for a moment to congratulate us. The house slowly emptied. The cast packed out their costumes and props. We struck everything in less than fifteen minutes. When we walked out of The Cherry Pit that last time, it was like we’d never been there.

We hung out with our friends and family for a while outside the theatre. We took pictures, told stories and laughed. Hugs and congratulations were exchanged. The boffer weapons were disposed of in a nearby trashcan. Erin and I took a quiet, tearful moment to ourselves to just absorb the fact that the journey was coming to an end. The adrenaline rush that I’d been riding since getting accepted into the festival on May 5th finally subsided. The run was over, and the time for celebration had begun.

My family headed over to The White Horse Tavern and we took over most of the Dylan Thomas Room (apropos, no?). We had a wonderful dinner full of toasts, laughter, and celebration. We got the entire bar to sing Happy Birthday to my Uncle Kevin (and yes, it actually was his birthday). In breaking with my teetotaler ways for just a moment, I even had a beer (well, a hard cider) in honor of the occasion. I can honestly say that this was perhaps one of the most fun reunions I can remember. Hours passed and finally, the family gathering broke up, with everyone heading off in their own direction. As for Erin, Jenn and I, we headed to the Upper East Side to meet with some of the cast at Serindipity 3.

Serendipity 3 is a restaurant that features, among other things, a positively exotic selection of $15 Ice Cream Sundaes. The three of us had a Pulp Fiction-esque moment; we had to know what a $15 Ice Cream Sundae tasted like. So, we each picked a different one, and shared with one another upon their arrival. To quote Vincent Vega, “That’s a pretty fucking good milkshake. I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars but it’s pretty fucking good.” You can see that inflation has had a big effect on the frozen food industry since 1994, but the basic premise still held true for us. Dessert was nice. Matt Grondin, his brother and Sarah came and joined us. Everyone else was already done for the night (it was about 11:30 when we got seated and it had been a long day). We hung out for an hour or so, shooting the breeze about what the experience had been like for each of us, what the future held, and what the merits and flaws were of each of our individual $15 sundaes. Even better, Jenn, Erin and I got to hear about the other trio’s adventures sneaking in to the Waldorf Spa that evening. Finally, we jumped on the train, went home and crawled in to bed. A great way to cap off an incredible day.