Theatrical Trip Upstate

Two weeks ago I hopped on the Metro-North for a weekend getaway in Hudson Valley, New York. The hour-long train ride was marked with views of the Hudson River, harbors full of sailboats, and majestic cable-stay bridges. My lovely mother greeted me at the Cold Spring train station, and we ventured down the town’s quaint main street and dropped off our bags at a riverfront bed & breakfast. Cold Spring looks like a postcard. Its Federal-style homes dressed with columns and Palladian windows, and its colorful drag of specialty shops and general stores turn back time. That first night, we picked up sandwiches from a deli and drove to the nearby hamlet of Garrison to visit the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. We followed a parade of theatregoers outfitted with picnic baskets, blankets, and bottles to the festival grounds. The performances take place in a 540-seat tent, which is flanked by a mansion and spectacular views of the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain. We passed through a garden of rows of herbs, a fountain surrounded by roses, and then claimed our spot on the lawn for our picnic dinner. Soon it was showtime, and we made our way to our seats inside the massive tent to see Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Behind the set, peach colored-clouds floated over the West Point castles across the river. The play was fabulous. The audience laughed at the cross-dressing and the hilarity that Hamill brought to life from Austen’s novel. In the morning, we drove north to Newburgh to visit Scenic Arts Studio, a large warehouse where scenic backdrops and sets for theatrical performances are painted. During our visit, Scar’s lair was being crafted for the national tour of The Lion King, and clouds were being painted on a backdrop for the upcoming Broadway production of The Honeymooners. I stood underneath a double-sided backdrop of constellations from the show Cymbelline, which was inflated by a fan. It was beautiful! We spent the day in Beacon visiting the Dia:Beacon museum, giggling at some of the absurd exhibits  and admiring Richard Serra’s towering steel cylinders. That evening, we went to a reading of Hamill’s newest work, Odyssey, at the defunct Garrison train station. Brandon Dirden starred as Odysseus! The station rattled as trains passed by, all while the Cyclops Polyphemus stormed the stage. We returned to our bed & breakfast in the pouring rain, and perused realty sites looking at homes for sale—we really didn’t want to leave. We even snuck into an open house the next morning. On that final day, we joined the throng of Manhattanites in hiking gear for the town’s main attraction—its hiking trails. We traversed the 5-mile Cornish Estate Trail and explored the stone ruins of the Northgate mansion, an estate that was destroyed by fire in the '50s. There were butterflies and wildflowers and croaking frogs along the pathway, and we descended the hill and finished our trip with ice cream cones on the riverfront. I can’t wait to return next summer. Thanks, mom!

Picnicking at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival before the performance.

Picnicking at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival before the performance.