New York, and much of the East Coast, is under the grasp of an intense heat wave but it doesn’t mean the dog days of summer should keep all of us indoors. Early morning and nighttime hours can provide some relief from the high temperatures, and offer the best activities, like the New York Pops concert tomorrow (Thursday) at Forest Hills Stadium with stars Matthew Morrison (“Finding Neverland,” FOX’s “Glee”) and Megan Hilty (“Noises Off,” NBC’s “SMASH”).
Below, Morrison provides insight on the outdoor concert, which will feature a selection of Broadway and modern classics, and some of his favorite activities in New York City during the summer months. Sure, not all are ideal for morning or night, but by Sunday the worst of the heat wave is scheduled to pass. In a flash, so will the concert (and Summer for that matter), so head out with care and enjoy!
“It’s a lot of fun for me in many respects because I mostly do just my solo show. It’s 75 minutes of me kind of having to hold back a little bit to pace myself though the show,” Morrison shared. “These shows [with co-stars] are my favorite because I get to do three songs and just go all out [singing], and then I get a little break and get to stand off stage and watch a friend perform. It’s a win-win for me.”
“I’m really excited about it and obviously getting to perform with the New York Pops, and specifically Steven Reineke, conducting (who also conducts Morrison’s solo show)… it’s going to be a great time.”
“I’m getting more pumped just talking about it.”
As part of the Pops’ summer residency at Forest Hills Stadium, which began in 2015, the concert also extends the organization’s “Kids in the Balcony Program” outside the walls of Carnegie Hall, along with bringing music to Queens. Through this program the New York Pops offers 1,000 children an opportunity to attend and learn about live music for free.
“I love that they are so active in the community… They’re all about the not-for-profit and really getting the next generation involved in orchestral shows,” Morrison shared. “If you don’t grow up going to the orchestra, I feel like it’s something that you just kind of miss out on in life. I did not grow up myself going to orchestras, but now that I’ve been exposed to that world it’s just feel like it’s changed my life. I’m so happy young kids can experience that.” Head to www.nypops.org for more information and tickets.
From Forest Hills to Flushing:
In addition to being a stage and TV star, Morrison is a sports- and fitness-enthusiast. He says he loves taking in a Mets game (at Citi Field), and at the end of Summer, heading to the U.S. Open (at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park) to enjoy out some of the world’s best tennis.
In his own exercise routine, Morrison says, “I love running along the West Side Highway,” and another hot spot but with a caveat: “You have to get up early to run the High Line because it gets so crowded there in the summers. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the Summers on the High Line.”
Cocktail to Cool Off, Anyone?
Morrison says enthusiastically, “I love Gallow Green,” the rooftop lounge at The McKittrick Hotel, which also houses the popular restaurant, The Heath, and immersive theater phenomenon, “Sleep No More.”
“It’s so great, so close to home and it’s just a really cool vibe. This summer I’m looking for more places like that,” Morrison says. “I’m sure there is, I’m sure there’s plenty popping up all over the place.”
Music Feeds the Soul:
Morrison says that one of the many benefits of outdoor restaurants and bars he enjoys is live music—something he looks for, there and elsewhere, around the city.
“I love getting out and hearing live music, especially at an outdoor venue. Festivals are great… but if you’re not one of those who’s into spending a whole weekend listening to music, and you just want to [enjoy] a great concert, I think there’s so many available in the summer.”
For instance, Morrison says that for a few years in a row he enjoyed a more traditional style of orchestral music: the New York Philharmonic at Central Park, which, “was really a highlight for me.” “I remember one year it started pouring and everyone just stuck with it, and it was so much fun. You never know, these things kind of happen and they go on… That’s an exciting part of it as well.”
Elsewhere in the Outer Boroughs?
More people have begun to head from Manhattan to explore the shopping and restaurants in, and around, Forest Hills since Forest Hills Stadium reopened in 2013. Summer can be a great time to do the same in Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Red Hook), the Bronx (Arthur Avenue, New York Botanical Gardens) and elsewhere in Queens, too (Astoria, Long Island City).
“I like Park Slope,” Morrison said. “I think they have some really great restaurants there; really good barbecue joints,” he added. “The funny thing is, I just got a car this year. It’s something I’ve never had in New York City. It’s really opened my horizons to getting out.”
“I’ve heard so much over the years about Williamsburg… and still have not been there.” Maybe Morrison’s new ride will help, but that shouldn’t deter fellow New Yorkers who can just as easily jump on the subway or in an Uber or Lyft.
For anyone looking to explore a little further and escape the scorching concrete jungle, there’s plenty of places easily accessible by the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North (www.mta.info offers some ideas, or just Google for suggestions). Zipcar or traditional car rentals are always an option, too.
“There’s so much that New York, the tri-state area in general, has to offer. Just having the ability to have a car, I’m like, I’ve been so confined to the city for 16 years. I just never opened my eyes to life outside of it.”