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Boston theatre district questions--Blue Man Group or alternative? Restaurants? The great movie theatres of the 1950's?

Boston theatre district questions--Blue Man Group or alternative? Restaurants? The great movie theatres of the 1950's?

Old Apr 10th, 2004, 01:25 PM
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Boston theatre district questions--Blue Man Group or alternative? Restaurants? The great movie theatres of the 1950's?

I'll be staying at the Radisson in the theatre district in mid-May. I'm considering a performance of Blue Man Group. Any comments on their Boston show? Are there other shows in the vicinity which you think I should consider instead, or in addition? I'm in my fifties, but yes, I have a high tolerance for volume, percussion and the offbeat. I've seen them on Leno and been intrigued, but that's it. But it's possible it could be too adolescent for me. What do you think?

Are there any good non-chain restaurants with a distinctively Boston feel in the vicinity? (I'm aware that the McCormick and Schmick's, Legal Seafoods, Maggiano's, California Pizza Kitchen, and Bennigan's chains, all of which I'm familiar with, are represented nearby.) Other attractions in the immediate neighborhood I should take in?

Also, does anyone remember or know where the prime first run movie theatre district of Boston was in the mid-1950's? Particularly, which theatre was the Cinerama theatre then? And does anyone remember a theatre where you walked down a long mirrored passageway to get from the street to the auditorium--maybe even to the ticket office? What were some of the other top movie palaces of that era, where were they, and are they still standing? I lived in Waltham as a very young boy, and my parents took me to my first movies in the big movie houses of downtown Boston--but I've rarely been back to Boston since, and could never find them now. I'd like to locate them or their sites and reminisce a little.
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Old Apr 10th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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The Cinerama theater was on Washington Street near Essex and Boylston. I believe it's now inside the building at 600 Washington Street with state welfare (excuse me, social services) offices and jewelers.

I remember the theater with the long mirrored hall from the late 60s, I think it was farther down Washington St. towards Govt Center.

Legal Sea Foods is indeed now a 26-restaurant chain, but it's based in Boston and still a Boston institution with excellent standards.
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Old Apr 10th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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johncharles -- maybe this site will help you as "walk down memory lane." An old school friend of mine used it to research historic NY theatres and found it very useful.

http://cinematreasures.org/search/qu...ity&sort=photo
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Old Apr 10th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Absolutely go to Blue Man Group! Fantastic show, slightly off beat, very entertaining, a guaranteed good time.
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Old Apr 10th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Try Skipjacks on Claredon Street...for great seafoods and decent prices..it;s opposite the church.. Also behind the Sheraton and Hilton is Jasper Whites Summer Shack.. BTW Blue Man group is great and I'm older than you..
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Old Apr 11th, 2004, 04:04 AM
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Blue Man Group is definitely an experience. I thought Las Vegas tickets at $95 were too expensive but if Boston is still around $40 that would be okay. The Boston theater is small which contributes to the experience. I was sitting in the last row and was not immune to some of the antics with the audience.
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Old Apr 11th, 2004, 04:18 AM
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Restaurants: Less than a block from the Radisson, on Charles St South (heading away from the Boston Common), there's a very pleasant bistro whose name completely escapes me now. Used to be a Greek restaurant, now is contemporary American.

A little further away, on Washington St. across from Beach, is the Penang, a fantastic Malaysian/SE Asian restaurant. The food is terrific, the setting informal but nicely-appointed, and the prices extremely reasonable.

If you've got a sweet tooth, try Finale, an (almost-) all-dessert restaurant a short block from the Radisson, at the opposite end of the block in which you'd find the Park Plaza hotel.

The prime 1st-run movies were in the area where you'll be staying. The Astor was on Tremont near Boylston (I recall staring at it for hours on end from my orthodontist's chair in the Little Building), and the Gary and Saxon theatres were in Stuart Street-Tremont Street areas. IIRC. the Gary (roughly where the Transportation bldg is now) is where school group after school group went to see West Side Story in its 1st run.
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Old Apr 12th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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I live just behind the Radisson. The restaurant Rizzutto was referring to is called Pigalle, it is a wonderful French restaurant a half-block from your hotel. Pricey but very good.

Personally, I avoid Legal Seafoods, agree that Skipjacks is good. Also for a quick bite and a beer, try Rock Bottom Brew Pub, on Stuart Street. For all restaurants in the vicinity of your hotel, beware that they are flooded with people going to the theaters and are very busy up until 7:45, when they empty out for the shows.

Another excellent choice is Mantra, on Temple Place, off Tremont Street, fusion Indian/French and very cool interior.

As a student of Boston history, I can tell you that virtually all of the old movie theaters are gone, either torn down or converted to other uses. I suggest a good Boston book, such as the AIA guide to Boston, which lists the buildings and their former uses in walking tour format.

Regarding theater, have not seen Blue Man, but there are a lot of touring shows in town, check Boston.com for current listings. Also, Emerson College has a lot of good programs going at their Majestic Theater.

Have fun!
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Old Apr 12th, 2004, 03:11 PM
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Troquet on Boylston Street is near the theaters across from the commons.
Great food!
Treatro On Charles I have not tried.
I remember a theater you describe on Washington Street but not sure which one it is. Also on Tremont, there was one that as a tot, my father took me to a Vaudville show that featured the star Danny Kaye.
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Old Apr 12th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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I would suggest seeing what is at the Steppanwolf Theatre. They always put on a great show and you can get 1/2 price theatre tickets (for this show and others) at the visitor's center across from the John Hancock Tower.
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Old Apr 12th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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Sorry, disregard my above message. I was thinking about Chicago, not Boston.
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Old Apr 12th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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That's OK , enjoy, I read the book and loved it....hesse!
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Old Apr 17th, 2004, 11:36 PM
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Thanks very much to those who have responded. I have found your suggestions very, very helpful so far, and would be glad to receive more.

I am definitely leaning towards Blue Man Group at this time, with the endorsements I received above from sherryb,ParrotMom, and dfrostnh, and will see them unless others come forward and convince me it's too sophomoric (as I have read from some who have seen them in other cities), or suggest even more interesting shows in the neighborhood.

Anonymous: Thank you for pinpointing the location of the Cinerama theatre for me, and in addition for confirming my memory (as Cigalechanta did also) of the theatre with the long mirrored passageway. I now think I know which one it was--see my response to jv827 below. Thanks also, Anonymous, for reminding me on another thread, "Defunct Parks", about Norumbega Park. I remember the great old "Caterpillar" there, with its many wooden hills and the canvas top which used to open and close during the ride.

jv827--thank you extremely for turning me on to the CinemaTreasures site! It has just the sort of information I was looking for, and more. I was especially delighted to find that posters can enter their own recollections and info, and to find there a number of others reminiscing about going to specific Boston theatres in the 50's, some of them even citing where they saw some of the same specific movies I remember.

The site does confirm that the Cinerama theatre was the RKO Boston and that it still exists with the 600 Washington Street office building, just as Anonymous said. The posters also mention that several theaters had passageways so that they could have entrances on both Washington and Tremont, and I'm sure the mirrored corridor I remember was one of these.

Both the name and the picture of the RKO Keith Memorial jump out at me as one place I was often taken, and I was interested to see that it is still standing and soon to be reopened for stage productions. It is also said to have had a corridor to an entrance on Tremont which no longer exists, but due to Anonymous' memory that the mirrored passageway was further down Washington, I'll bet it was one of the two which no longer exist of the three entrances which CinemaTreasures says the Orpheum had at that time.

Its name rings a bell from that period too, as do (thanks foe reminding me of them, rizzuto) the Saxon, which was the name then, according to CinemaTreasures, of what is now the Majestic, and the long ago demolished Astor.

Posters at CinemaTreasures remember being taken to Disney movies at the Metropolitan, now the Wang Center, and I seem to remember my early Disneys as being at a particularly grand palace, which sounds like it was that theatre from its descriptions in CinemaTreasures. Disney "True Life Adventures" like "The Living Desert" were possibly the first movies I ever saw, and I probably saw them there.

Cigalechanta--Hesse's "Steppenwolf" was great, wasn't it? It's also interesting that one of your earliest memories is seeing Danny Kaye in a vaudeville show in one of these theatres. Possibly the first grown-up (non-Disney) feature my parents took me to in Boston was "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starring--Danny Kaye.

For restaurants, I'm especially interested in Pigalle, recommended by Rizzuto and bostonpaul9; Mantra also recommended by bostonpaul9 (Indian-French fusion sounds really intriguing); and Troquet, recommended by Cigalechanta. Could anyone tell me more about these? Especially, I've come up with these questions from other sources:

Does anyone have experience with Pigalle's Sunday night prix fixe regional tastings with wine pairing? If I go there, it will probably be on a Sunday night.

Also, I read that Troquet is known for its tastings with wine pairings, but a poster elswhere said that they changed the way they price the glasses of wine, so that doing the pairing has become much more exhorbitantly expensive than it once was there, and that what you had to pay in total was not made clear in advance and came as a rude shock--anyone know anything about that?

I've also heard good things about the Bristol Lounge in the Four Seasons, not only that the food is excellent but that the decor and the views of the Public Garden are great. Does anyone have any comments on it?

Thanks again (and hopefully also in advance) to all!
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Old Apr 18th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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For a beautiful theatre, if you can get inside the Wang just to look around... I remember when I think it Metropolitan..it's been restored.. They are playing (forgive me) shlock copies of Broadway musicals. and I as a "white head".. also enjoyed Blue Man Troupe.. Also, at the Lyric Stage on Claredon Street will be Noises Off. The Lyric is in the old Y and one flight up... opposite the Hard Rock Cafe...and and depending how tolerant you are.. at the Radisson is Menapouse the Musical...with a great cast staring Kathy St. George.. he old "Little Buidling" is now a dorm for Emerson College and it appears that Emerson College will be building more dorms on Boylston Street.. Will check todays Boston Sunday Globe to see what else is around for you.. please write [email protected]
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Old Apr 18th, 2004, 07:59 AM
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Blue Man Group is not "sophomoric"' they are quite entertaining. I think they have different show themes. The one we saw in Texas was called "The Complex" and had lots of rock type music. If you enter Blue Man Group as a topic, you should find many postings on Fodors. I see a question about them at least once a week. How much are the tickets and what else could you see for the same price? We paid $60 (for $40 tickets), because we decided to go at the last minute. That was probably too much. They are $95 in Vegas, which is definitely too much. $30 or $40 would be more like it.
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Old Apr 18th, 2004, 05:43 PM
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johncharles - As far as more info on the restaurants you mention I can't help you with Pigalle, but have opinions on the others.

1) Troquet is very good - a small bistro atmosphere and right near the theater district and your hotel. They have wine suggestions with each menu item, as well as wine flights, 4 2 oz. glasses of different vintner's wines to compare. The prices are right on the menu, so I don't see how someone would be surprised with the cost. It does add up if you get a different wine with each course.

2) Mantra is very highly regarded and also one of the most expensive restaurants in Boston. Unless you are trying to eat at the top ten type places, it doesn't fit your desire to experience the local flavor.

3) The Bristol Lounge is in the Four Seasons Hotel. It has just been redone and reopened. Since it is street level, you don't really get a view of the Boston Garden and it is really like a Four Seasons in any major city -- I also wouldn't put it on the list of places unique to Boston, either. The Boston Garden is pretty and I would just stroll through it to the other side (from Boylston to Beacon)taking in the view and then once you hit Beacon, look for Charles Street and walk down that, including up and down the side streets. There are many beautiful brownstone homes, coblestone sidewalks, and little shops, as well as the tres chic Louisberg Square, where John Kerry resides. This area is uniquely Boston.

4) Another unique area is the North End, our Italian District. Of course, many cities have a little Italy, but Boston's is reported to be one of the best. Almost every restaurant there is good, but one to try is the Daily Catch -- only about ten seats, they serve Italian Seafood, and cook in an exposed kitchen, with many dishes served in the frying pan. Walk accross the street to Mike's for desert -- the lobster tail (a pastry cone with pastry cream inside - no lobster) is a local favorite.
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Old Apr 19th, 2004, 12:17 AM
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the theatre on Washington St next to Essex was originally the RKO Keith.(then turned into the Cinerama)where as a child I saw everybody and anybody in show business, Jimmy Durante, all thr Big Bands including Harry James, Spike Jones, etc. and Danny Kaye... Lewis and Martin were at the Metropolican (Wang) The last time I saw Danny Kaye was just about 50years ago at the Colonial Theatre...Even remember seeing the orignal Camelot at the Shubert, yes, I'm that old. Legal might be considered great, but when there are a zillion of them and the chowder tastes like it's made at their commissaryon the Fish Pier I'd rather pass. Oh...went back to No Name recently..it was awful.
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Old Apr 20th, 2004, 04:37 AM
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Topping, in the hope I can get more responses to my specific restaurant questions in my second post below (Pigalle, Mantra, Troquet or Bristol Lounge?), and also hoping that more of those who responded earlier, especially about theatres, can see my thanks and reply (after I consulted the web site suggested to me)in that same post.
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Old Apr 20th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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A little directionally challenged here--that should, of course, have read, "my second post on the thread ABOVE."
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