With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I would share a couple of fun New York things to do. While it’s traditional to send flowers with hearts, and take one’s love out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, my interests tend more to the macabre, as you well know. So, here are two fun, slightly scary things to do this weekend.
The McKittrick Hotel is an event space like no other, located on West 27th Street on the far west side of Chelsea. It is the host of the immersive, "Sleep No More," an interactive take primarily on Shakespeare's Macbeth, and has a bar, a rooftop space, and they run special events. Recently a production company from London has set up shop for the play, "The Woman in Black." This old-fashioned ghost story first produced on Drury Lane in London’s West End in 1989 has spurred multiple interpretations including a movie, but the play, as they say, is the real thing. It is set in the McKittrick’s Club Car, which is a bar, and upon arrival you are offered a shot of Jameson. You will need it. The two-act play takes place on a stage and in and around the audience with mist surrounding all. There are some hair-raising moments that will produce a scream or two, and you will not be disappointed. You know a good ghost story when you remember it at night, peeking out above your covers to see if that shadow in the corner of your room is really just a shadow. Trust me, it’s not always a shadow!
And for our Rockaway born and bred, the bar is open both before and during intermission. There is nothing like a little marination to add to a good ghost story. The show runs through April and is a limited engagement. In addition, it is not priced like Hamilton and is very affordable, and pretty scary! And since a good scare is probably (maybe) good for your heart, there is the Valentine’s tie-in!
The second recommendation is a candle-lit tour of the crypts of old St. Patrick’s between Mulberry and Mott Streets. If you have never visited old St. Pat’s, I highly recommend it for several reasons. First, it has historical significance to New York. Built in 1805, the Basilica was the center of Catholic life for the early faithful, mostly from Ireland. Since there was such hatred for immigrants, Catholics and the Irish, the Church was under constant attack in those days by a group known as the Know-Nothings. Funny how history repeats itself! Do you remember the Gangs of New York from Five Points slightly south of this North of Little Italy (Nolita) location? Well, those fun-loving second- and third-generation Americans from the days of the Revolution decided to burn the church down. Luckily, Bishop John Hughes constructed a wall around the church and got the faithful to defend it.
The church also was the location where the baptismal scene in the film, "The Godfather," was shot. In addition, future film-maker Martin Scorsese lived around the corner, went to school there and this was his parish. The Crypt tour takes you down under the church to visit the famous graves of priests, bishops and parishioners who are buried there. I won’t spoil the surprises by letting you know who, but it’s very interesting. The tour also takes you through the church, the second floor, and the cemetery. A very good value for the money. And once you are finished, you are within steps of some great restaurants. This one is not as frightening as the play above, but it does give you a chill or two!
So, there you have it! Happy Valentine’s Day, guaranteed to keep that blood pumping through your heart, one way or another!!
By Lou Pastina