Cynthia Nixon has had a love affair with the Upper West Side since her childhood. A product of NYC public schools, this Tony- and Emmy-award winning actress is living with her children in the neighborhood where she, too, was raised.
Nixon, who shares child-rearing duties of 10-year-old Samantha and 4-year-old Charlie with the children’s father, extends her love to Symphony Space, with whom she has had a long relationship. The Upper West Side institution has a wide variety of programming, including ‘Just Kidding’ weekend performances for children, and various music, dance and film series. Nixon first became involved in their annual James Joyce celebration, Bloomsday on Broadway, and the reading series, Selected Shorts. “I love reading aloud and love being read aloud to,” she says.
Now Nixon is reading at Symphony Space on Sunday, January 21, as part of a new series, Kids’ Book Club. There are two components, Girls Read and Guys Read; Nixon will appear with author Gail Carson Levine to read from Levine’s newest book, Fairest. And, Nixon notes, “My daughter will be coming, too.” Samantha fits right into the suggested 9-12 age range for this new book club. Nixon will also read at subsequent Girls Read events, including Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park on February 11, and The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett, March 11
For the debut of the Guys Read series, Jon Scieszka will lead a discussion on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, with illustrator Brett Helquist, on February 7
Nixon’s elementary school was only one block from Symphony Space and she says she always appreciated the way it provided “a really nice meeting space” for the neighborhood and beyond. She always felt a strong connection to the Upper West Side, although when her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Yorkville. She admits that the East Side “had its good points,” but adds, “As soon as I could, moved back.”
Nixon’s mother was an actress and Nixon has fond childhood memories of Rockefeller Center. She is still drawn to the building, and loves visiting the tree with her children. She recommends taking kids to the new observation deck, Top of the Rock.
Nixon characterizes herself as “so overbooked, like every other New York City parent”, but says she and her kids take advantage of Broadway shows and museums. True to her roots, she travels by subway, and describes Metrocards as “the most amazing thing ever — you can just pay a monthly fee and ride as many buses and subways as you want.”
But often as not, Nixon is happy to stay in her neighborhood, connected to her beloved neighborhood space.
Tickets to Kids’ Book Club are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Symphony Space is at 95th and Broadway; for tickets, call (212) 864-5400, or go to www.symphonyspace.org.
Photo: Steven Sebring