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Paulanne Simmons

Learn and Laugh with “How to Be a New Yorker”

"How to Be a New Yorker"
Directed by Robert Ross Parker
Sofia’s Downstairs
221 West 46 Street
From Aug. 22, 2012
Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm
Tickets: $45 (includes lunch) 866-811-4111
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Oct. 26, 2012

"How to Be a New Yorker," written and performed by Margaret Copeland (left) and Kevin James Doyle (right).

Tourists (and natives) can now learn everything they ever wanted to know about the Big Apple, while enjoying a New York lunch at Sofia’s Downstairs. The show, directed by Robert Ross Parker, is written and performed by Margaret Copeland and Kevin James Doyle, two individuals well-versed in New York City facts, factoids and history.

The backbone of the show is the 3-part history of New York City which traces the Dutch taking the land from the Lenape, the English taking the land from the Dutch and the colonists taking the land from the British.

Once the land grabs are settled, the couple gets into the peculiarities of each borough. Brooklyn, if it had remained a city, would be the fourth largest in the country. Queens is the most diverse borough. The Bronx contains Pelham Park, which is three times larger than Central Park. Staten Island is the borough reached by ferry, but once you get arrive, there’s not much to see. And Manhattan is... well, Manhattan.

The audience is invited to play a game, Is It Safe? and participate in the dilemma of choosing take-out in a city that offers every kind of food imaginable. There’s a typical homeless person’s subway spiel and hapless mugger who just can’t get it right.

Copeland and Doyle, return to history two more times, recounting the merging of the five boroughs, the building of the first skyscrapers, the Roaring Twenties, the 1929 stock market crash, Robert Moses’s battle with Jane Jacobs over urban design, the Hippie era and the first attack on the World Trade Center.

This show is great for tourists who want to experience a bit more than Times Square, Ground Zero and a Broadway show. For residents, it’s a welcome reminder of why they came to live here in the first place. “How to Be a New Yorker” has the youthful enthusiasm of a college skit. It also has about as much sophistication. But when you’re taking a bite out of a juicy red apple, who needs polish?

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