Coming back from New York for the fourth time has felt just as sad as the first time. I feel like I went into this trip with a different mindset than the others, yes I was going to have fun and eat a lot of different foods, but I think I took away a lot more knowledge and experience than I did in prior trips. I have been so blessed to have been able to go four times to New York and see at least 13 different shows in total within each time I’ve gone up there. But there’s nothing that compares to the feeling that I had while I was up there that made me appreciate the city and how diverse it is; the never ending rush and new experiences has made me want to go to school in New York even more.
The airport is always exciting, seeing everyone so elated to be with each other and to finally be going on a trip that my dad and Derek from Seawind Travel have been planning. Going through security and sitting at the airport with my Starbucks has always been my favorite part of traveling. After going on about a five hour flight to San Francisco, we thought we would miss our flight as our flight from Honolulu was delayed. But we made it on just before last call, but our bags didn’t. So when we got to Newark, we waited about an hour for our bags to come. And before we knew it, we were on our way to the city! The first night was amazing! Our hotel was super nice and we got the honor of eating at Fogo De Chao, a brazillian steakhouse. Those cheese breads are to die for!
On Thursday, we had a nice start to our trip with our first college tour to Juilliard. Our tour guide, Jvon was super friendly and gave us some advice about the performing arts and Juilliard. One of my main takeaways from the tour was to find something that you’re passionate about and really work on it — focus on something that you truly care about and that’ll help fuel you in your career. After that we went to Lincoln Center to go on a tour there, and it was magnificent! The theaters had a lot of rich history on the architecture and design. We also got to see American Ballet Theatre rehearse their show of Sleeping Beauty. This night we went to see Mean Girls! It was so funny and fetch! We also got the honor of meeting Erika Henningsen who played Cady Heron — she was so kind and gracious towards us. I felt so happy that I got to meet her, she was so down to earth and welcomed us with open arms. I also got to take a picture with Grey Henson who plays Damian Hubbard.
The next day was the day I was looking forward to the most, NYU!! However, due to some of our tour members having a late start we were unable to go on the tour. Although, I did get to go last time we went, being that I’m going to be a senior, I really wanted to experience the campus again, but it’s okay. This day we ate lots of Italian food — having lunch at Olive Garden and dinner at John’s Pizza. Also, we did lots of shopping! I got a lot of Broadway merch that I’m ready to showcase when I go back to school!
Saturday was another day I looked forward to, it was the night of Ain’t Too Proud! I have to say, Ain’t Too Proud was my favorite show that we saw, next to Dear Evan Hansen. The energy and stamina that the cast had both vocal and dance wise, was amazing! We got the pleasure of meeting Saint Aubyn, Jarvis B Manning, and Jawan Jackson after the show. They gave us the greatest advice about following your passion and never giving up. Also on this day, we went to Shake Shack! This was my favorite thing that I ate on the trip. Along with this we also went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and it still takes my breath away.
On Sunday we went to the NBC Studio tour where we had such great tour guides who gave us the inside scoop of the studios. I also learned about becoming an NBC Page — they give tours, work as production assistants, and also work on projects with different networks. I think I may want to become one of these if I go to school in California or New York as they have two locations. We also went to Top of the Rock where we got stellar pictures of the city. Then we headed back to the hotel to rest as we had Dear Evan Hansen later in the afternoon! I really appreciated Dear Evan Hansen as it wasn’t as flashy as the other shows, it focused a lot on the acting and singing which I appreciated. And I also got an autograph from the Andrew Barth Feldman who played Evan Hansen.
Monday was by far my favorite day of the trip. We went to the Natural History Museum and we walked through Central Park. This was my first time ever walking through Central Park, even though I’ve been there three times prior. It was a nice change in pace as we got to relax and unwind a bit. We had lunch at Black Tap Beers and Burgers — the milkshakes were so good! They had enormous toppings, but the shake itself wasn’t too sweet. That night we went on a skyline tour where we got to take pictures of the New York City skyline from different views and we got to go to Carlo’s Bakery from Cake Boss.
Tuesday, our last full day in New York we got to meet up with my birthday buddy Susan!! I’ve known Susan since I was little so to see her again was so refreshing. I loved talking story with her and listening to her advice since she lives in New York now. It gave a different perspective than just a tourist, as she talked about the sacrifices she had to make and what she’s doing now. She then took us to the Starbucks Roastery, Chelsea Market, and The Highline. It was nice to reunite and spend time with her again. That night we went to see Be More Chill! It was really funny and the music was very catchy. We also had the honor of meeting THE Jason Tam and George Salazar! Jason gave us great advice on how to make the show our own as we are doing Be More Chill next year.
I can’t remember a time that I went to New York that I had this much fun. Although some of the stuff I already did, it still felt fresh and new. This trip made me realize how much I love New York and how much performing arts has been apart of my life. Even though I’m not onstage as much any more, I still feel this sense of connection and longing to work somewhere in the theater industry. Since I want to go into communications/public relations, I’m hoping that eventually I’ll work in New York for a theater or company as their communications person.
Overall, as I’m writing this a week later after coming back from this trip, it wouldn’t have been possible without the following people: Derek Hiyane from Seawind Travel who set this whole thing up. Our mentor, Loretta Ables Sayre, Daniel May, and Johnny Pastor for setting up our meet and greets with the cast of shows we saw. PVT Land for their generous donation. And last but not least, my dad, Robin Kitsu — he spent hours of his day researching and making sure each and every one of us got to experience at least three things we wanted to on our lists. So thank you very much to all of you for giving us the experience of a lifetime.