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August 2019

From the Mediterranean to Newfoundland via the C Train

Photographs by Michael J. Leahy

It was an evening of dinner and the theater for this summer’s scholars on a rainy day at the end of July. In both, there was more on the table than might be seen at first glance. 

Immediately after work the scholars, joined by two staff members, met for dinner at Shuka, a Mediterranean restaurant a few blocks from the offices of New York Public Radio. There was more than enjoyable food on the menu; one aim of the evening was to help the students be comfortable in social situations that would be routine for many of their college classmates.

Then it was off to the subway and to Times Square’s Schoenfeld Theater, the home of the smash hit musical “Come from Away.” The center-balcony seats gave an excellent view from which to appreciate the intricate choreography with which the cast of 18 each took multiple roles as residents of the town of Gander, Newfoundland, and some of the thousands of airline crew members and passengers forced to land there as all airplanes were ordered from the sky in the wake of 9/11. Backed up by a band of eight musicians playing a score of instruments, the cast used the magic of music and dance for 100 minutes of intermissionless storytelling that brought the emotions and the humanity of that encounter alive on the stage.

For many of the scholars it was their first time on Broadway. For all of us, it was a memorable night in the theater. 

New scholar Chelsea, headed to Mount Holyoke College in the fall, and Emely, a rising sophomore at the School of Visual Arts, flash their smiles and tickets. 

Staff and scholars kicked off the night at Shuka, a Mediterranean restaurant in the West Village, for a cozy meal to discuss the unspoken nuances of eating out.

The feast arrived — including a couple tasty treats compliments of the chef. 

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