Spears Travel Takes Bite Out Of The Big Apple
By DAVID LLOYD JONES
Chuck and Charlene Spears have their bags packed.
For the 30th time or so (no one seems to know the exact figure), the owners of Spears Travel will be forced to travel to New York City, watch Broadway’s finest shows and shop in its trendiest boutiques. Then, exhausted by their labors, they will be forced to cram the city’s finest viands down their throats–all in the name of stern duty.
In short, from November 16-20, they will be heading another theater weekend trip to the Big Apple.
The itinerary has been set. Leaving Tulsa and changing planes in Chicago will bring the Tulsans to LaGuardia Airport in the fairly early afternoon hours. Then a quick bus ride to the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square (chosen because it’s close to the theater district) and a well coordinated check-in process and the Tulsans will find themselves comfortably ensconced in their hotel rooms.
“We’ll be seeing three shows in four nights,” says Chuck. “We’ve left the first night open because people will be getting up early that morning and they might be a little tired so we give them the option of having that first night at leisure.”
For the adventurous there ARE things to do on your own on that opening take-it-at-your-own-pace night. It being November, the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association or the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League just might be playing at Madison Square Garden. Otherwise, there are plays to be seen that aren’t on the official agenda, exotic restaurants to be sought out and stores that are open late. The New York scene, in the late evening hours, is rumored to be a little livelier than Tulsa’s.
The cost of being outrageously pampered and amused for four days is $2,495 per person, double occupancy. What does that princely ransom get you?
First are the travel arrangements, which, after 30 years in the trenches, Chuck and Charlene have learned to handle with aplomb. Then come the plays, which will be seen on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon and which (to make sure tickets are available) have already been chosen in advance.
The titles for the November theatrical spree are: “The Drowsy Chaperone,” winner of enough Tony Awards to stuff a shelf; “The Color Purple,” a musical based on the Alice Walker novel that Steven Spielberg turned into a memorable movie some years ago and “Spamalot,” based on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Of course if you’d like to spend your Sunday afternoon watching the New York Jets or the New York Giants in National Football League action the choice, and the extra cost, is yours.
“We’ll try to help you get tickets to anything else you want to see,” says Charlene, “but the extra charges come out of your pocket books.”
In three decades of watching the best professional theater in America, does any one show come to mind?
“I guess the one I remember most,” says Chuck, “is ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ It’s been around for so long that I’ve seen it nine times, but it continues to be popular so we continue to book it every so often.
“We’ve seen ‘Les Miserables’ at least twice. I love that show. I also liked ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ before Reba McIntire took over the role of Annie from Bernadette Peters. Bernadette was good, though.”
“We’ve also done some serious drama; I remember seeing an excellent performance of ‘Death of a Salesman’ a few years ago, but basically our clients like lighter shows so that’s what we book.”
Of course theater is not the only thing offered on the trip. Already mentioned is the trio of gourmet dinners awaiting the travelers and some reservations have been made.
“We are going to Tavern on the Green,” says Chuck, “and we have reservations for The Four Seasons. We are currently looking for a third restaurant.”
Presumably McDonalds and Burger King haven’t made the cut.
One restaurant that will not be included brings the only note of sadness to the memories of the trips Chuck and Charlene have taken: Windows on the World, which once crowned the top floor of the World Trade Center and, recalls Chuck, had not only a marvelous view but wonderful food, crashed in the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
“The next year we made a pilgrimage to Ground Zero,” says Chuck. “We can only wonder how many of the friends we had made during our trips there were killed in the terrorists attack.”
With the upcoming festivities all such thoughts are banished. Ahead lies a glorious four days of marvelous live entertainment and feasting at famous sites most of us will never visit.
It’s a tough job but, as Chuck and Charlene will readily admit, it beats cleaning latrines.
Tickets for the upcoming New York trip are still available but reservations have to be made quickly. For more information call 1-800-688-6301.