NYC adventures – facing fears, dream chasing & meeting Josh Groban

I was in NYC this weekend for a much needed vacay and the theme that kept presenting itself was being fearless and embracing who you really are – your messy, beautiful self. Also, accepting the gifts of opportunity that present themselves along with the importance of believing in yourself and chasing your dreams.

Before seeing shows on Friday, my friend Karen and I went down to see One World Trade Center and took in the views of NYC from the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Gorgeous! It was such a bird’s eye view of a city that I have come to love. After that, we walked down to see the fearless girl statue by the raging bull – it was so inspiring seeing the young girls stand next to it, smiling proudly. It made me think of some of the hard choices I’ve made in my life and it made me proud to be a strong female, someone who encourages young women to stick up for who they are, love themselves, and embrace everything life throws at them. It was a touching moment.

Friday night we started seeing shows and Pete joined us from Maryland. When traveling to NYC, I try to fit in as many shows as I can because it helps me process my own emotions, laugh, cry and learn more about myself. Theatre is life! Our selections over the weekend certainly did not disappoint.

Friday, we all saw the show Bandstand, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Choreography. It was a ‘sure, that looks good’ kinda choice at the TKTS booth…. Little did we know how much the story would take us on an emotional ride, kicking us in the heart with stories of fighting in the war, love, loss, grief, artistry and putting your heart and soul into a band, for the love of music and friendship between those who have served. It was smart, funny, and incredibly touching, a rollercoaster of emotion – sadness followed by funny lines that made you laugh amid the tears. It was real, raw emotion, shown through the eyes of relatable characters. Afterwards I felt drained from releasing many, many tears. Enter delicious sushi, sake and a good night’s sleep to help us recover from the emotional ride. 

Saturday, we saw a show called Puffs, a take on the untold story of the kids from Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter book series. It was hilarious. Witty, funny and filled with music from the 90s. It was nice to laugh so much, but also emotionally taxing. Enter burgers and wine. Thank goodness for wonderful friends to share these experiences with and Pete hugs – priceless let me tell you. 🙂 

Saturday night, Pete headed back to Maryland while Karen & I decided to keep the ‘show weekend’ going. We saw Waitress; like the other shows, it was such a great performance and incredibly touching. Before the show started, I ran into Jill, a musical friend of mine from Annapolis, sitting directly behind me… What are the odds? 🙂 Talk about the universe putting people on your path for a reason. 

The show itself was a beautiful story of love, standing up for what you believe in, human kindness and following your dreams – in this case, pie making. It was beautiful, and at one point the main character sings:

“She’s imperfect but she tries 

She is good but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

She is all of this mixed up

And baked in a beautiful pie 

She is gone but she used to be mine”

I sobbed throughout this; it was like she spoke straight from my soul. I am a good person and try to be my best self everyday. I sometimes lie to myself, saying internally that I’m ok even when I know I’m not to save face or be professional. I’m certainly messy, hard on myself and imperfect. I am beautiful in my own way. The old me is gone and a new version of myself is here today, rebuilt and stronger than before. Somehow there’s a comfort in admitting your life is messy, and learning to accept the choices you’ve made and the lessons that have helped defined you on your path. More tears. Growth, through love, friendship, choices. Another beautiful story that helped me see parts of myself in a new way. 

Karen and I were a hot mess after the show, and on our way out of the theatre we saw the poster in the picture below. More tears streamed down my face, in public, just as they are now while I write this. It’s true, I am a giant creme puff of emotion somedays… Yay theatre!!

I don’t know where my dream of singing and teaching will take me, but I sure as hell have not given that up just yet. Enter Sunday.

Sunday was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time. We started off the day with coffee and lobster tail pastries from Carlos Bakery, then wandered our way to the Pride Parade…. What a fantastic experience! So many people uniting together in love, standing for what they believe in. 

Karen and I were bursting with happiness, and didn’t want to leave, but after being tossed t-shirts, beads and witnessing one of the most amazing displays of unity and love, ever, we had to hoof it to midtown to see Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Through ticket karma and Pete being amazing, we managed to snag on stage tickets for Karen & I. 

Wow. Omg, what a fantastic experience. Seeing the performers up close, watching Josh Groban play the piano, seeing the conductor lead the band with passion from all areas of the theatre and taking part in a crazy Russian party with egg shakers, letters, and Moscow mules to drink. We left the show on even more of a high and waited outside to meet the cast with hundreds of other fans. We had some great chats with the performers and Josh Groban came out at the end. He was sincere and totally sweet, giving up much of his time to sign autographs and take pictures. 🙂

After the amazing highs of the Pride Parade, seeing Great Comet and meeting Josh Groban, we went to one of my favorite bars in town, the Russian Vodka Room to eat delicious food and have one of my favorite martinis, complete with blue cheese stuffed olives. Yum! 

We were sitting there, eating dumplings, potatoes and shrimp with sauteed veggies when someone starts playing the piano. He was amazing! We thought ‘what a perfect ending to an incredible day’. Then, an amazing tenor voice started singing opera arias…. Say what??!? 🙂 The good times weren’t over yet! We spoke with the tenor, and he just happened to be friends with my friend Tai, another fantastic tenor that I spent last summer with in Sicily. Turns out, it’s opera open mic night at RVR! After a bit of convincing from Karen and discussions with the pianist, I decided to sing an aria. Keep in mind, I haven’t been singing much over the past 9 months, and I was in NYC, 2 drinks in, full of potatoes… I was more than a little terrified.  But, facing this fear, why not?! The audience was warm and appreciative, Karen was super thrilled and I just sang from my heart…. It was SO fun!! People clapped and it wasn’t a disaster. After, I sang a duet with my new tenor friend Omar, and then Tai showed up and sang a piece as well. Goodness I miss Tai’s high notes! The owner even asked us to come back in 2 weeks time to sing again and graciously gave us drinks on the house. 

Lesson learned, always have digital copies of your rep with you – you never know when you might end up in a bar on opera karaoke night, with a bunch of tenors. 😀

What a weekend. It was an incredible reminder of what I love about the arts, filled with synchronicities and moments that I’ll never forget. While I’m proud of the strides I’ve made over the past few years in overcoming my self doubt (mostly), facing my fears, learning to love myself, and rebuilding my new life in Ottawa, this trip was a wake up call that I need to make more time for singing and art. Time to harness this inspiration and continue following my dreams. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! ❤️

About Melanie Anderson

Singer, basketball player, scotch enthusiast, Canadian.
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