It's a night on Broadway for first couple

May 30, 2009 8:34:20 PM PDT
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama enjoyed date night in New York City. The visit marks the first time the president has traveled to New York since taking office.

With nothing on his weekend schedule, Obama spent the day playing daddy and hubby.

The President and First Lady watched their daughter Malia's soccer game in the morning.

Then, dressed to the nines in a black cocktail dress and dark suit, the first couple made their way to the Big Apple.

The president and first lady jetted for a date in New York late Saturday afternoon, aides and media in tow.

"I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished," the president said in a statement an aide read to the press.

After dining a little more than two hours at Blue Hill, a West Village restaurant touted by New York magazine as a "seminal Greenmarket haven" that features food grown by chef and owner Dan Barber on his upstate farm, the president and first lady headed to the Belasco Theater to make curtain call for "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

As the motorcade left the West Village and drove up Sixth Avenue to the theater, crowds of people, at times about eight deep, gathered on the sidewalks of the blockaded streets to wave as the Obamas passed. Some cheered. Cab drivers opened their doors and stood on the frames of their taxis to glimpse the president and first lady.

President Obama tried to have a regular day as a father and husband, but that regular day meant snipers perched on rooftops, thousands of people lined along streets, and a motorcade many cars deep.

Dick Freuenglass says Impossible. Everything is blocked off and you can't go east or west," Dick Freuenglass said.

"I think it's great that they're here. I think it sucks for them to have this kind of a date night. This is a lot of commotion just to go out and do something," Wendy Pomprantz said.

Some people got last minute tickets Saturday afternoon hoping to get a glimpse of the President and First Lady. Others had no idea they were even in audience.

Celina Reynolds snagged a ticket to the show once she heard rumors swirl about the presidential visit.

"I thought no way am I going to get a ticket," she said.

The show is set in a Pittsburgh boarding house in 1911 and examines African-Americans' search for their cultural identity following the repression of American slavery.

The Obamas have said before they enjoy date nights. That's something Stacey and George Stroud said they were doing in New York City too.

"Anytime we have the time to get away from the kids we do to enjoy our marriage. I'm glad they are too," George Stroud said.

But the trip also drew fire from critics.

The Republican National Committee issued a news release that chastised Obama for saying he understands American's troubles, but then hopping up to New York for "a night on the town."

Noting that General Motors is expected to file for Chapter 11 protection on Monday, the news release said: "Putting on a show: Obamas wing into the city for an evening out while another iconic American company prepares for bankruptcy."

The White House declined to say how much the trip was costing Taxpayers.

Michelle Obama made a trip to the city earlier this month, visiting the U.S. mission to the United Nations and appearing on "Sesame Street."

While on that trip, she was reminded about the couple's first date.

"You know, after 20-some-odd years of knowing a guy, you forget that your first date was at a museum," she said. "But it was, and it was obviously wonderful. It worked."