Phyllis Donovan: Her Family Continues NYC Visits

“We’re going to a matinee of “The Music Man” on Broadway in early February,” my son Brian told me on a recent visit.

I’d been reading that Hugh Jackman was starring in the show which has been one of my favorite musicals over the years. I’d always loved its hometown Americana setting and Meredith Wilson’s clever fast-paced dialogue and lyrics, not to mention the wonderful ensemble song and dance numbers.

Singing him a snippet of “Marian the Librarian,” I was immediately caught up in memories of the show and its “76 Trombones” magic.

It makes me happy that my son and his wife still get enjoyment from the musicals we loved and promoted when my husband and I had a program, “Donovan on Broadway'' on then radio station WBMI many years ago. At that time, the Oakdale Theatre was bringing in book musicals weekly each summer and we were interviewing the headliners of those shows for our program.

Brian and his wife Nanette live outside of Boston but they go to NYC often to visit their son who is studying at Fordham Law School there. My daughter-in-law, determined to explore the city, does her research and picks out restaurants for them to try, places to visit, and things to do while they are there.

Since parking is so expensive in the city, they usually take the train in from New Haven and stay near the law school close to Columbus Circle. From there they take taxis or Ubers around the city.

One of the restaurants they visited recently was Joanne Trattoria owned by Lady Gaga’s parents on West 68th Street not far from Lincoln Center. They liked it because it was more intimate than so many of the restaurants there.

I remember when our friend, the late Meriden entertainment icon Dick Fontanella, enjoyed going into the city regularly. He often gave my husband and me business cards from restaurants down there where he’d had particularly pleasant meals and encouraged us to try them.

In those days, when I was a theater critic for this newspaper, we too went to New York City on a regular basis. In addition to all the shows we saw both on and off Broadway, we also tried out our share of restaurants.

Restaurants come and go, especially, I’m sure, with the pandemic closing many of them. But on a recent “Blue Bloods” television show, NYC Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) mentions to his Bishop friend and frequent adversary (Stacy Keach) that they should sometime get a steak together at Gallagher’s.

I remember many times we had eaten great steaks at a popular NYC steakhouse named Gallagher’s. I’m pretty sure it’s the same establishment which had, back then, exhibited great slabs of beef in a refrigerated meat locker in its front window and employed male waiters in white butcher’s aprons to serve the steaks in its large dining room.

For me now, an actual trip to New York City would be nearly impossible, even without the Covid threat to senior citizens. But the memories stirred up by a new generation of my family visiting the city for dinner and a show are priceless.

We’re just so glad they share their plans for these junkets with us beforehand and memories of the experience after the fact so we can enjoy them ourselves, even though it’s just vicariously.


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