As veteran stage actor and New York native, Michael Potts knows New York City itself can feel like a stage, and all the men and women merely players. “One of my cast mates and I were surprised to find that we live two blocks away from each other in Long Island City,” Potts says. “A lot of actors and theater people live in [the area] for the convenience of getting to midtown in 10 minutes.”
But lately, the city has started to parallel Potts’s stage work in more jarring ways, given the plot of his latest production 1984, in which Big Brother, the ruling political party in a totalitarian society, keeps tabs on citizens through widespread surveillance. “When I’m going down 5th and 57th, and pass [Donald Trump’s] residence, that’s quite Big Brother-ish to me, especially when they have all that security there.”
The stage adaptation of Orwell’s cautionary tale, which originated in London in 2014, couldn’t be better timed for a stateside debut. “It’s really kind of disturbing that so much of it seems to be coming true,” says Potts “There have been intense conversations in the cast about how prescient George Orwell was and the book has become.”
Among the cast is Tom Sturridge, Reed Birney, and, making her first appearance on Broadway, Olivia Wilde. “Olivia is incredibly smart, incredibly involved and engaged,” says Potts. “It’s a great mix of people. And we all happen to be left-leaning liberals [laughs] with varying degrees of cynicism about how we got here.”
While reading dystopian novels is one proven coping strategy for the current political climate, it’s not the only one. Read on for some of Michael Potts’s favorite New York City diversions, from daiquiris at The Lambs Club to retail therapy at Columbus Circle (that is, if you don’t mind the Trump Hotel).
Cup of Joe: Michael’s Café. I’m a lightweight coffee drinker. But I am particular in that my one cup has to be really, really good.
Power Lunch: Hatsuhanna Sushi Restaurant on East 48th Street. Not much on ambience, but the sushi is fresh, inventive, beautiful to look at and, most importantly, delicious.
Retail Therapy: I hate shopping. But, I do enjoy an occasional stroll through the J. Crew Shop at Columbus Circle.
Field Trip: American Museum of Natural History. Currently, they’ve an excellent exhibit of Egyptian and Peruvian mummies. Both awe-inspiring and a little bit creepy.
Date Night: Garfunkel’s down on the Lower East Side. It’s got the whole speakeasy vibe going. There’s a hidden entrance through a nondescript burger joint. If you didn’t know where you were going, you’d miss it. The wait staff is attentive without being intrusive and the cocktails are good and strong. They also do a great afternoon tea service.
Dinner spot: Del Posto. I love everything about this restaurant.
Don’t Miss: The High Line is a nice little getaway on the West Side. You can pretty much start downtown and end up in midtown, which is cool.