Breaking news: The cast of The Play That Goes Wrong has just learned that there’s way more to do in Coney Island than eat Nathan’s and ride the Wonder Wheel.
What Should We Do?! introduced a trio of British actors behind the new Monty Python–esque murder mystery on Broadway—that The New York Times calls a “gut-busting hit”—to the thrills and chills of Coney Island. I had the pleasure of exploring the iconic NYC beach and boardwalk with actors Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell, and Nancy Zamit, none of whom had been to Coney before. Armed with a perfect off-the-beaten-path itinerary, planned by our WSWD experience advisers, we were ready for sun and fun!
First stop: the historic Coney Island Cyclone, of course. The old-timer roller coaster had just celebrated its 90th year the day before—it took its first official joy ride on June 26, 1927—and we couldn’t resist wishing the ’clone a happy birthday. After we shook, rocked, and rumbled through a dozen drops—including an 85-foot plunge—on the wooden-tracked ride, we made our way to conquer the rest of Luna Park. We slithered and spun on the Tickler and flew on our bellies through loops and dips on the Soarin’ Eagle.
Next, we strolled down the boardwalk toward the Coney Island Walls, an outdoor art gallery, where we had a mini photo shoot in front of one of the dozens of murals. (No surprise here, but the cast are pros at sashaying, jumping, and making duck faces for the camera.) If you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for your next social media profile pic, head here.
A trip to Coney wouldn’t be complete without a freak or two, so we made our way to the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. There, sword swallowers, fire-breathers, and snake charmers shocked us with their trade. Zamit had never seen a sideshow before and said it was her favorite part of the day. While they’re not who most folks think of when they think of the theater, these performers are truly talented show people. The Broadway cast was duly impressed with the cast of this waaay-off-Broadway act.
The same building is home to the Coney Island Museum, where we discovered the historic side of the urban beach spot. We browsed prized memorabilia in its permanent collection and learned everything we needed to know about Coney Island’s history in the museum’s current exhibition, “Five Cents to Dreamland: A Trip to Coney Island.” Fun fact: The area was once an actual island; it became a peninsula when the creek that separated Brooklyn from Coney Island was filled in in the 1920s and ’30s.
Once we were finished touring the museum, we walked west on Surf Avenue toward the Coney Island Brewery for a tour. Hearn really enjoyed the tour and loved sipping his hard root beer; it’s something that’s hard to come by in England. There’s no better place to have a brew in Coney Island (and there are lots of places to have a beer in Coney!) than at this small brewery; my favorites were the Mermaid Pilsner and Coney Island Lager, but I’m definitely trying the orange cream ales the next time I drop by.
After happy hour at the brewery’s shaded picnic tables, we headed to Kitchen 21 for dinner. This recently opened, industrial-chic spot on the boardwalk occupies the landmarked space that used to house the iconic Childs Restaurant and still retains the building’s stunningly expansive windows and circular chandeliers. It is essentially five restaurants in one: the Community Clam Bar, the Cafe, the Boardwalk & Vine rooftop lounge, the Parachute Bar, and the Test Kitchen. We ate at the Test Kitchen and all ordered steak frites (by coincidence), which hit the spot, and I have to give a shout-out to the breathtakingly good Parmesan-truffle fries.
We ended our day with a grand slam at MCU Park. Russell hadn’t gone to a baseball game since being in the States and was superexcited to buy herself a foam finger. There’s not a bad seat in the house when you’re at a Brooklyn Cyclones game, so don’t worry about missing out on mascots Sandy the Seagull and Pee-Wee. I’m also glad I saved some room in my stomach, because I was able to nosh on delicious Buffalo balls stuffed with spicy chicken and Gorgonzala cheese from Arancini Bros. during the seventh-inning stretch.
I’d say it was a day that went right with the cast of The Play That Goes Wrong. It can go right for you, too, when you let us take care of everything.