Day: August 9th, 2006

Mother Meryl

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 | All Things, Arts, Eats

SK treated me to a farewell lunch of sorts at newly opened Trinity Place. I’d been wanting to check out this intriguing subterranean bar restaurant since it opened across the street a couple of months ago, so was happy for the opportunity, and the Asian chicken salad – my second in three days – did not disappoint (though I can’t help but always approach the idea of an “Asian salad” with some bemusement.) SK’s Kobe beef burger first arrived at the table with cheddar instead of the blue cheese he ordered, but when the server comped him a second glass of wine, all was forgiven.

Trinity Place occupies the space which was formerly the bank vault of the United States Realty Company at 115 Broadway. The limestone facings of this building and the adjacent Trinity Building at 111 Broadway were designed with Gothic detail to harmonize with neighboring Trinity Church. The construction of “New York’s original twin towers” between 1905 and 1907 was a major undertaking, entailing the relocation of Thames Street and the construction of retaining wall foundations drilled 80 feet into the marshy subsoil beneath.

The owners spent $1.5 million converting the swanky new space. The vault is flanked by two identical round 35-ton steel doors, nearly three feet thick, one door leading into the bar and the other into the restaurant area, which was formally a secret meeting room for U.S. Realty’s directors, which included financiers Charles Schwab and Cornelius Vanderbilt. An old caged elevator has been re-purposed as a wine cellar.

According to the website, the vault in which the bar and restaurant are located was built in upstate New York and floated down the Hudson River by barge, and transported to its current location on railroad tracks.

Trinity Place Vault

We continued the festivities there after work with a couple more people in tow. Apparently more than a few Wall Street-types have discovered this new happy hour spot; the place seemed pretty lively for a Wednesday evening. This night, though, I had to leave the party after just an hour to join SYB uptown at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater for Shakespeare in the Park at 8:00PM.

For his efforts of waiting in line through the night, missing a day’s work and a night’s sleep, SYB managed to score us a pair of seats in the second row, dead center.  And his dozen-year streak of attending every Shakespeare in the Park production remains intact.  Awesome!

SITP Stage

This production of Bertolt Brecht‘s war-themed drama, Mother Courage and Her Children, features the incomparable Meryl Streep in the title role.  Fellow Academy Award winner Kevin Kline also stars.  It was adapted from the original German by Tony- and Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Tony Kushner (of Angels in America  fame.) It is SITP’s second production this summer season; I missed Macbeth (with Liev Schreiber), which ran June 13 to July 7.

This 20th-century piece is set during 17th-century Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618-48).  Anna Fierling, known as Mother Courage, runs a canteen wagon and makes her living off the Swedish army troops she follows through Eastern Europe — relying on the war for survival and profit, while cursing its costly toll on her three children.  The themes of war as a business advanced under the guise of a moral crusade seemed to resonate with the audience that night; during a couple of the more political speeches, several people broke out into spontaneous cheering and applause.

Streep was riveting in the tragi-comic role, holding the stage for almost the full three and a half hours, displaying impressive physicality and singing chops.  Not for nothing is she the most-nominated actor in Academy Awards history.  I truly felt I was witness to something special.

The Hayden Planterium on the walk home:

Hayden Planetarium

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