Travel Fantasy Memory – Bucket List Item: Flying Air France to Paris

It started like this in June, 2014:

You – in this case: AAC, CPA – see a poster on the street alerting you to an upcoming exhibit that’s right up your alley (and, best of all for AAC, is free!). And there it is:

AF is in the Air
Invitation to an exhibit

What a cool thing to do of a summer Saturday afternoon in Chelsea, right? So, after meeting friends for brunch, we head over to the far west side on a street full of interesting art galleries (who knew?) and then into a loft building.

An attractive young woman outfitted in a beautifully tailored Air France uniform greets us. In fact, as we move through the exhibit, there seem to be dozens of Air France uniforms all around us, smiling, helpful and very welcoming.

And what, exactly, is the exhibit? Throughout, you see Air France memorabilia: photographs, videos, samples of their beautiful crystal, china, silverware, etc.

AF Model

AF Cards

AF Concorde Dining

There’s also fun, silly stuff to walk through. Even a kids area where they can play and run around while their folks ogle the exhibit.

2014-06-28 13.55.46
AAC CPA attends an exhibit and has fun

But, mostly, as you work your way through, you can sample the various cabin classes on board, which is the real purpose of the exhibit. Air France wants to put butts in seats.

In fact, if you want to try out the seats, go for it!

We start in economy (meh) – looks like lots of seats pushed together.

AF Economy

Premium economy is next – getting better, as there’s a bit more legroom – 6 inches more pitch.

AF Premium Economy

Business? Now we’re getting warmer, the seats are comfortable but, also, angle-flat, not flatbeds – phooey!!

AF Business
See what I mean about “angle-flat”?

And then it happens, you go through a curtain and, suddenly, you’re in first class (a/k/a La Premiere). And you gasp just a little bit and your heart may skip a beat. It’s magic time.

AF - 1st - New Product
La Premiere – Pretty swank, huh?

Wouldn’t you just know? This is the one cabin of the plane where you can’t sit in the seat!! “Make ‘em beg for more, and then DON’T give it to them!” The creeps!

After seeing the first class cabin, there’s nowhere to go but down. Literally, that is, as it’s the end of the exhibit. But on the way out, those cute AF uniforms give you posters and the best ice cream sandwich ever. And both are yummy. So are the uniforms, come to think of it.

Cross cut: While all this is going on, we’re aware that a Broadway bound production of An American in Paris will be playing its out-of-town tryout at the Théâtre du Châtelet – IN PARIS!!!! So, in his ever-so-sweetly passive-aggressive way, AAC CPA just casually suggests “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could see An American in Paris (in Paris)?”

An American In Paris

Yes, gentle readers, AAC CPA knows how to push-my-buttons.

From there, I’m off and running (actually sitting at my laptop):

First thing: When, exactly, is the show playing in Paris? Easy enough to find out, just go to the Châtelet website and – wait for it – OMG: it’s playing over the holidays. Are seats even available? How about 10th row center on Christmas Eve?? Woo-hoo! Hold that thought.

Next: Take a big breath and head over to the Air France website and find out what’s available for a round-trip to Paris over Christmas week. It’s the holidays, so it’s going to be difficult to get seats, right?

What I see stuns me. Based on what we’ve heard, flying on Air France in first class (excusez moi – La Premiere) has been a bucket list fantasy dream for a long time. But we couldn’t possibly – the fares would be over-the-moon-too-expensive-out-of-our-budget-impossible.

But wait, for some unexplained reason, the fares over the holidays have been discounted by something like 70%. And, on top of all that, we’d get to fly on the new A380. Whaaaaat? Do my eyes deceive me? Apparently not. Now, I’m not going to lie and tell you that it wasn’t beaucoup bucks but, on the other hand, who doesn’t want to take advantage of a great deal, at least once?

AF A380
The new double-decker A380

Reminder to myself: How lucky are we that we could even consider such an indulgence?

So, then I call AAC CPA at work (yes, he was still doing THAT), and said: “OK, buster, you planted this seed – how would you like to go to Paris for Christmas and, oh by the way, fly over and back on Air France (traveling in La Premiere!, no less) and, yes, see An American in Paris on Christmas Eve?”

Yes, I called his bluff and what could he say but: “Well, OK, sure.”

And in a couple of mouse-clicks – I had windows open for both Air France and the Châtelet – we locked in our fantasy holiday trip: We were going to be two Americans in Paris, seeing An American in Paris on Christmas eve– IN PARIS!

Seriously, how lucky ARE we??

Next time: the Air France treatment (or, “Is there any way that you can make this flight LONGER?”)

Don’t miss VERITAS – presented by The Representatives

For those of you in New York who have time between now and Saturday, November 7th, you have 4 chances remaining to see The Representatives’ production of Veritas, by Stan Richardson, co-directed and co-produced by Richardson and Matt Steiner (who is also a member of the cast). I cannot recommend this production highly enough.

Veritas Cast
Cast of Veritas

Veritas deals with a shameful witch-hunt that occurred at Harvard University almost 100 years ago and destroyed the lives of a dozen students. The play was originally performed at the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival, where it had the distinction of being the first Fringe production to sell out before it even opened.

The incident came to light only in 2002, when a researcher from the university’s undergraduate newspaper, The Crimson, discovered a box of files labeled “Secret Court”. The paper’s staff subsequently had to battle the university’s administration to make public the over 500 documents relating to the Court’s proceeding. Finally, on November 21, 2002 the Crimson published an article entitled Fifteen Minutes, which made public this shameful piece of history.

Attending a Representatives production is a unique event in itself. When we arrived at the Omsted Salon (a series of rooms at Calvary/St. George’s Church near Union Square), instead of tickets we were handed something akin to a baseball card with a photograph of one of the actors with his character’s name on it. We were told that he would eventually seat us in the first of two performance spaces in which the play would unfold. We were then invited to lubricate ourselves with our choice of complimentary wine or water.

Our entry card into the performance

As we approached the beginning of the performance, “Edward Say” arrived to escort us to our seats. Along the way, he explained the mise en scene and told us a little bit about his character. And then he refilled our wine glasses! Thanks, Mr. Say.

The space for the first act was a long narrow room seating probably no more than 100 spectators, and probably a bit fewer. The staging took place in and all around us. You felt as if you were in the middle of the action.

At the conclusion of the first act, a 10-minute intermission was called and we were asked to move back into the space where we had started for more wine. It was there that the play resumed. Midway through the second act, we were directed back into the other room, which had been reconfigured and where we saw the remainder of the play.

Following the performance, we were invited to attend the “after-party”, so that we could hang out and mingle both with the audience and with the cast.

Since 2012, The Representatives has presented over a dozen new works, in site specific settings, many of which take place in apartments (yes, friends of the company “host” productions in their apartments!) to the Olmsted Salon, where we attended last night’s performance.

In their own words, “The Representatives’ dedication to presenting work as soon as it’s written – in people’s homes and other unconventional spaces – has created an underground following committed to hyper-intimate theatrical experiences. Committed to creating a community as much as making art, every performance of ours’ is followed by a party, creating a unique space for our increasingly diverse community to engage in enjoyable (if sometimes uncomfortable) conversations they might not find in their day-to-day lives.”

Tickets are priced at $20 and wine and the after-party is included. Get there if you can – you won’t regret it.

Buy Tickets to Veritas

NY Times Review


From the uRbaN Dictionary:


“1. Any woman who has a deep fascination with the wonderful, beautiful, talented English stage and on-screen actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
“2. A reference given to people who admire the beautiful features of Benedict Cumberbatch. Ex- his green eyes, beautiful cheekbones, sexy tousled hair.
“3. Can be proper ladies, or “dirty ladies” and everyone in between.”

Well, I guess that just about says it all, huh?

I mention Cumberbitches today, because they will be out in force tonight for the National Theatre Live’s international broadcast of the Bard’s Hamlet from the stage of the Barbicon in London, starring you-know-who in the title role. When this production was announced in 2014, tickets sold so quickly that, if you blinked, you missed out. This is what’s known as “an event”, probably with a capital “E”. We all know about them – celebrity actor comes to town to star in a play for a limited amount of time. General huzzahs and, perhaps, some grumpy comments abound, but still the show sells out in record time and a lot of money is made for a lot of people.

Check out the official website for the production:

Hamlet at the Barbicon

Does Mr. Cumberbatch have the goods to deliver a performance for the ages? Or are we placing unreasonable expectations on him that cannot possibly be met?

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

What did the critics have to say about him (and the production) that officially opened in August? And were you aware that some pervy press critics – you know who you are: The Times and Daily Mail reviewers!!! – showed up at the first public performance to have their say? Not fair, I protest!

Naughty Critics Review 1st Preview

But what about the critics who attended the “first night”? Here’s a quick compendium of reviews:

Smattering of 1st Night Reviews

If you want to make up your own mind and attend the broadcast, check out the ticket situation and let us know what you think.

See It For Yourself!

AAC CPA and I will be at a theatre in New York City tonight to see it and “him” for ourselves. And, yes, we bought our tickets months ago.

Uh-oh: Does that make us Cumberbitches?