• Amanda Sohan

Our Magic Carpet Ride - Dinner @ Vandal, Aladdin on B'Way,and Potions at Mingles

It was dangerously close to 4pm but I had just applied the last drop of glue and was holding my nail down. I painted the chic, raptor like claws in a dark brown color. I was feeling part 007 BBG (Bad Bond Girl) and part Merci Beaucoup if you know what I mean.

My cousins, Charms and Sheri gathered their things, my sister Row slipped into her slingbacks, the sailor turned off Grand Theft Auto and I stopped fanning my nails; we were off to the races! The Uber was thankfully a mid-size SUV which held us all invariably well. We chatted amiably right through the Queens traffic and into the downtown scene. Thank God for Uber! I can hardly remember a time without it. Talk about a luxury service provided to the masses! Safety and security - itty bitty living space! Well not exactly - but we all can drank since no one has to drive - and on some occasions - that is of the utmost importance.

We sauntered out of the Uber and through an unassuming entrance (that promised all good and mysterious things) into what appeared to be a zen flower shop. Yeah, it's like that, like you were entering a party that required a proverbial catch phrase, surreptitious hand shake and a ubiquitous token. Feelings of exclusivity and a hair's breath of danger weighted the air that sat on my shoulders. What's behind door number two I wondered, sashaying past into a dimly lit reception area. A waist high cabinet lie directly ahead, balancing two beauties on either side posing and pausing for the magic words to drop from my lips before they scan a small screen leaving me to ponder if I've indeed found Shangrila at last.

Since it's not yet 5 and we were still waiting for our entire party of ten, she gently tossed her curls to the right, entreating us to the end of the hall where the pink bunny stood guard to the potions that would undoubtedly put us in motion.

And of course, no photo op is lost on our darling custodian of keepsake, my sis Row, who gently positions us, putting our best foot forward before taking a few snaps!

And since telling you that the watering hole turned out to be anything but would be wholly inadequate - allow me to show you instead.

Want a closer look? I know I did. (The view from across the bar.)

The depiction above bar was sharply brought to life as our own stems strutted in absolute delight over to the spirits. The staggered pendants dancing on the ceiling, the symmetry of alcohol pyramids, the vibrant hues, Oh but I have gone through the looking glass, Alice.

Adjacent to this eye and throat candy, a plush bench beckoned our bottoms and round drink tables begged for adornment. Beyond the bench, geisha smiled coyly, displaying their gifts, inviting our eyes to ogle further; the succulent surroundings continuously unraveling before us. Vandal fashioned posh criminals of us all. We were coated in cool.

Quite the feast considering we were only quenching our thirst in Vandal's holding cell. At about 5:10 with all parties in tow, we went back to the beginning, awaiting sentence. - Hey Sin Bad - take me on a voyage. -T.N.O.

You can deal with this:

Or you can deal with that:

We chose to deal with this - cause this was kinda phat.

Each room possesses a variation of enticements. The decor is rich, the food, mouth watering and the ambience is sexy! Vandal has been described as the new Beauty and Essex but don't believe a word of it. Both restaurants have a unique and flawless flavor. Why restrict yourself to only one? Beauty is incredibly cosmopolitan and urbane while Vandal brings an element of sensual appeal with a dalliance of masquerade in the shadows. If you think that's over the top, remember the pink bunny. Think Catherine Tramell and Roxy - ice pick anyone?

Is it expensive? Yes - it's a bit on the topside of my budget but you can retain more $$$ in your pocket if you keep to a two drink minimum and choose a reasonable appetizer and meal. Every morsel that fed our ravenous appetites was absolutely delectable. The BOA Buns were to die for! The jerked spice salmon may seem like a small portion but don't be fooled, it's more than adequate. For desserts (which we barely had time for as the show was at 8pm) were too decadent to pass up. I scarfed down the s'mores like it was my last meal.

There was 10 of us and the bill with tax and tip, about $800 smackers. Break that down and it's less than $100 per person. Some might consider that pennies on the dollar but for us it was a bit of a splurge, one that I had no issues justifying.

I hurriedly dealt out my Walkers shortbread 2 cookie pack favors like it was the straight flush winning hand of poker, received kisses and hugs from everyone like a two dollar hooker and hightailed it out of the spot like the check was being passed around and I was sans deneiro.

By now it was 10 to 8 and the four of us who were headed to the show, had no magic carpet to get us there in a hurry. Truthfully, we had such a good time that there wasn't a cross face among us. Mouths tired from laughing, bellies full of great food, the influence of Vandal stalked us - we even tried to get the Uber driver to break a few laws on the journey. He wasn't game but we managed to get there 20 minutes into the show. Thank God it wasn't like the Opera, or they would have parked us in a room with a flat-screen until intermission. Instead we waited for the actors to finish singing an original number and were seated directly after.

Now let me just say that I loved the musical. There were original scores that I enjoyed and classic pieces that I sang along to with such gusto, you would have thought I was getting three wishes!

As a stand alone, this musical is fabulous - it's charming, magical, musical and the genie makes you wanna sing, shuffle, shebop and schoop that oop, all at the same time.

The issue my sailor and I had is that we saw the Disney's Aladdin just a few days prior (it's his favorite anime.) Disney's characters, Aladdin, Abu, Jasmine, Jafar, Robin Williams as the Genie, well they resonate with you on levels you didn't even know you had. To translate this type of magic seamlessly onto the stage, is, I imagine, exceptionally difficult. For Example: The scene entailing Aladdin conveying to the Genie - "Genie, I want you to make me a prince!" - well in the anime, that line is said with a hopeful emphasis that the actor didn't mimic. In fact, with the exception of Jafar (who was spot on) and to some extent the Genie (who was incredible even in his originality), the actors interpreted their roles as they saw fit, which is an actor's right and obligation. To thine own self be true and all o' that, ya dig? However, I must admit I felt a bit of a void during a few scenes and longed for the anime version. Another example of the performance that left me wanting was during Prince Ali Ababwa's introduction to Agrabah; it was a lot less extravagant than I had hoped - too much stage, too little pageantry. I was left with the feeling that the production boasted a small cast and what they presented was their best given their limitations. In the end, it was something old, something new, something borrowed and definitely something blue. I did still love it, clapped like mad at a scene I wasn't sure they'd be able to pull off and sang with abandon. So was it worth it? I'd have to say yes, every penny!

And as per usual - after the show, we capped off our night at Mingles. These days the club and me, is like oil and water - we don't really mix. I'd rather be at home, curled up on my sofa, watching a good movie. But we were celebrating my Prince Ali Abooboo's Birthday and so I made the effort. We arrived at Mingles just before midnight. We had a few drinks, great conversation, danced a few songs and smoked not one but two hookah (which I really missed as I quit smoking completely awhile ago.)

That night, when we arrived home after 3am, I was ecstatic. The night had been a harmonious success and we celebrated my sailor's birthday with people we loved and loved us in return. Whatever could be better?

Thank you Meliss, Carolina, Row, Sheri, Dev, Matt, Steve, and Trace for coming out. God Bless and Good Night.

#Aladdin #musical #broadway #BeautyEssex #Vandal #Mingles

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