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Tag Archives: new york

Cabaret Review: Annie Ross

This lady is a legend in jazz for her vital part in developing the bop-influenced art called vocalese, which Wikipedia describes as “a style or musical genre of jazz singing wherein words are sung to melodies that were originally part of an all-instrumental composition or improvisation.” There’s not a lot of vocalese in her act these days, but she’s still a sharp, smart interpreter of standards, as well as bebop specialty material on subjects like marijuana and meatballs. Ross still possesses a smoldering charisma and confidence, as well as an unfailingly swinging sense of rhythm. Plus, she’s a fine musical storyteller; her rendition of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” covers many more shades of emotions than most versions, passing from...

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Opera Review: “Candide”

I’m biased here: I am a complete Leonard Bernstein nut. I’ve been very excited ever since I first heard about the New York City Opera revival of Candide. It’s not the unimpeachable masterpiece that Lenny’s West Side Story is – the book is famously problematic – but it is still enough of a joy that as long as you nail that sublime Bernstein score, it’ll be a grand night out. Nail it this company does, and the results are glorious. Based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella of the same name, Candide follows the naïve titular character as he strives to maintain his optimism in the face of brutal experience. The sprightly, brilliant score is one of the best things Bernstein ever wrote, and starts with...

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Simply Barbra Holiday Show: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Matzo…

Steven Brinberg is the premier Barbra Streisand impressionist, who has taken his act, “Simply Barbra”, to international acclaim both on stage and television (performing on several occasions with none other than Streisand buddy Marvin Hamlisch) paying homage to all that is Streisand. Steven does not lip-sync but does a stunningly accurate singing impressionism of Streisand. Steven will be doing Simply Barbra Holiday Show: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Matzo… at Feinstein’s / 54 Below this Sunday, December 18. It’s an evening of holiday tunes, Streisand classics and glimpses of other divas from Cher to Bea Arthur. All performed live, no lip synching. Look for a special guest star to join Barbra to help ring in the holidays – and sing some famous Christmas songs written by...

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Opera Review: “Jenůfa”

For me, the luminous sound of the score is the main appeal of Jenůfa, the watershed 1904 Czech opera by Leoš Janáček. In the current revival at the Met, Conductor David Robertson delivers a gorgeously polished account of the piece, making singers and orchestra feel almost like a single virtuoso instrument. Finnish soprano Karita Mattila is the established star here, playing the title character’s stepmother, the Kostelnička, the moral guardian of the small village in which they live. She delivers on her reputation, singing with great clarity and passion, but it’s a credit to the quality of this production that she doesn’t particularly stand out. Oksana Dyka is equally marvelous as Jenůfa, a victim of the village’s hypocrisy – a role which helped Mattila...

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Theatre Review: “Heisenberg”

When looking for someone to adapt his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon specifically sought out playwright Simon Stephens because of his “heart of flint.” That captures Stephens’s cool and clear-eyed observation of people with all their flaws, but it misses the underlying optimism in his writing that creates such an exciting tension with his flinty surfaces. His specific brand of guarded optimism was indeed exactly what was needed for Curious Incident, and is once again on surprisingly heartening display in his own play Heisenberg. In a London train station, Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker) spots Alex (Denis Arndt), a man several decades her senior, and plants a kiss on his neck. Nothing is quite as it seems...

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News: Lypsinka sings! Out of drag at Joe’s Pub today and Wednesday

In an evening that encompasses a personal and rarified experience of moving to and living in New York City, John Epperson – the real person behind Lypsinka – will take the stage in John Epperson: The Artist Principally Known as Lypsinka for four nights only at Joe’s Pub at The Public. With a nod to the urbane cabaret style of Bobby Short, Epperson’s evening embraces classic entertainment filled with stories, tunes, and a few surprises. The entertainer, aka The Goddess of Showbiz Lypsinka, commands the piano and stage with a musical journey that weaves together Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Kay Thompson, Kander & Ebb, Comden & Green, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and transgender icon Christine Jorgenson. Jay Rogers directs the limited engagement show which takes place...

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Theatre Review: “Shuffle Along”

The first act of Shuffle Along is like 42nd Street on steroids – smaller chorus, perhaps, but even more aggressive tap dancing. Then the second act is like an Art Deco version of Dreamgirls‘s second act. Shuffle Along has both the advantage and disadvantage over those shows, in that it is the kind of real story that they both imitate. Because, you see, this is in no way a revival of the groundbreaking 1921 musical Shuffle Along, it’s more like a “making of” coupled with “whatever happened to.” The original 1921 Shuffle Along was the first Broadway musical to combine a jazz-heavy score with an entirely black creative team. The choreographer of that production, one Lawrence Deas, doesn’t appear as a character in this...

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Cabaret Review: Steven Page

Steven Page chooses his words carefully. I mean this in a couple of ways: the former Barenaked Ladies frontman is a real craftsman as a songwriter – his lyrics surprise and conjure evocative images. But he also doesn’t say much in between songs; maybe a few pithy comments about the next song, nothing that you could really call “patter.” So his current show at the Café Carlyle is not your typical cabaret show. It more closely resembles a concert of laconically funny folk rock. And that’s fine, because this is sophisticated folk rock of a high caliber. The show leans heavily on Page’s new album Heal Thyself, Pt. 1: Instinct, which deals with themes of love, loss and healing, with a rich vein of...

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Theatre Review: “Fully Committed”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has always balanced sweet likability with just a dash of acidic bite, and both qualities serve him well in Fully Committed. He brings a lot of warmth when he plays the central character Sam, a reservationist at one of New York’s trendiest restaurants. He also plays all of the people calling the restaurant – more than 40 in all – and has plenty of opportunity to display that comedic acidity playing the more venomous callers. That sweetness and acidity come together deliciously when Sam slyly gets back at some of his oppressors. Ferguson isn’t afraid to go over the top when the character calls for it, and throws himself into the whole affair with great energy and elan, but every moment stays rooted...

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Theatre Review: “The Father”

Frank Langella delivers a tour de force performance. Of course he does, it’s what he always does, and he’s done it again! In The Father, Langella plays 80 year old Frenchman André, whose mind, whether he likes it or not, is starting to go. One of the more remarkable things about Florian Zeller’s play is the way it puts you on the inside of dementia, lets you really feel the confusion from André’s point of view. The fact that Langella is still physically imposing and effortlessly charismatic makes André’s descent all the more poignant. It’s also good casting on another level: André is a fiercely intelligent and independent man, after Langella’s own stripe. The downside of The Father is that it...

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Theatre Review: “The Color Purple”

Jennifer Hudson may be the big name, but Cynthia Erivo is the event! More on that in a moment. On the off chance you haven’t read Alice Walker’s novel, seen the 1986 Steven Spielberg movie, or seen the original Broadway production of this musical here’s the gist: The Color Purple follows a poor African American woman in Georgia named Celie from her male-oppressed childhood in the 1900s through many tribulations to a kind of hopeful self-knowledge sometime in the 1930s – a great rip-roaring story, full of despair, joy and, finally, redemption. The central role, Celie, is profoundly juicy – Whoopi Goldberg won a Golden Globe for portraying her in the movie, LaChanze a Tony for the original Broadway showing, and if...

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Theatre Review: “School of Rock”

The tradition of breaking with tradition – that’s what is at the heart of the light-hearted and playful romp School of Rock. I like this better than anything composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has written since he split with lyricist Tim Rice in the late 1970s, partly because Webber is clearly having a blast returning to his rock roots, and partly because it celebrates rock’s spirit of adolescent rebellion and individualism. I’m told that the Julian Fellowes book for School of Rock follows the film very closely (haven’t seen the film). It focuses on Dewey Finn, a rock and roll true believer, who fakes his way into a job as a substitute teacher to pay the rent. The only subject he knows well...

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Opera Review: “La Bohème”

Director Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème, is, to me, the very height of traditional opera. He captures both the details and spirit of 1830s Paris, the exact time in which the opera is set. There’s a gesture in the direction of realism – we see real places from unusual and oblique angles. But there’s also a nod in the direction of Romanticism – these places are rendered with a misty painterly touch. Gorgeous. And I’m not just talking about the scenery either. Amidst a realistic crowd scene showing the bustle of Paris, a soprano begins a beautiful aria, and suddenly all of the hurrying crowd stops moving. Zeffirelli is a master of stage effect and his use of it here is every...

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Theatre Review: “The Gin Game”

It’s a vehicle, nothing more, nothing less. The Gin Game is a light-weight comedy with just enough emotional fuel in it to ignite when you get two great actors in it. James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are undeniably great actors, and this Gin Game does indeed ignite, even if it doesn’t quite satisfy. But that lack of satisfaction is no fault of the actors – this play doesn’t so much wrap up as simply stop. Plus,while playwright D. L. Coburn does dig deep enough to find his character’s darker sides, he really doesn’t have anything meaningful to show us about those parts of their personalities. Weller Martin (Jones) and Fonsia Dorsey (Tyson) meet on the porch of their dilapidated...

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Theatre Review: “Spring Awakening”

In many ways this is better than the original production, something that’s always good to hear about a revival. Above all, director Michael Arden and his team have made sure this tale of teenagers discovering their sexuality in hyper-repressed 1891 Germany is much more clearly told and played than before. In the original, the creative team favored highly poetic ambiguity, certainly not a bad choice for this symbol-laden work. However, by focusing more concretely on the moment-to-moment psychological nuances of the story, Arden has amped up its emotional pull considerably. Arden finds his own way into the musical’s innate sensuality, with incense actually being burnt at an appropriate point in the show. He has also given designer Dane Laffery free reign to...

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Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Manhattan Penthouse, New York City, New York

Periodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding. Welcome to the Manhattan Penthouse, where we offer the best 360 degree views in Manhattan. Manhattan Penthouse is on Fifth Avenue, occupying the top floor of a tall historic building in lower midtown. We offer a beautiful, unique wedding space – a large, glamorous loft with high ceilings, wide oak floors and huge arched windows with panoramic views of New York City. Our spectacular views are filled with skyscrapers, church spires, terraces, parks, bridges and historic facades, from Wall Street to Times Square, and from river to river. At night, the Empire State Building is lit up all around. See the Manhattan...

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Opera Review: “Lucia di Lammermoor”

I actually liked this! My first bel canto dramma tragico – that is, early-19th Century Italian tragic opera – and I enjoyed it very much! I say that with surprise since my previous experiences with bel canto were comic operas, which left me unimpressed. Just way too lightweight for me, even though I generally prefer comedy to tragedy. Lucia di Lammermoor, though, is a full meal, packed with strong emotions and suitably soaring music. Especially that famous “mad scene,” which I recognize from the fragment sung in the film The Fifth Element. Here, Albina Shagimuratova plays the unwilling, unhinged Scottish bride Lucia, and she delivers the mad scene’s high coloratura fireworks with ease and great expressiveness. Director Mary Zimmerman’s production sets the action...

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Theatre Review: “The Heidi Chronicles”

Wendy Wasserstein’s feminist drama has aged surprisingly well. Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss plays Heidi Holland, an art historian who has, broadly speaking, been more successful in her career than her life. From the perspective of 1989, she looks back on bright promises of her generation, the “baby boomers”, with mixed feelings. The feminism Wasserstein expresses in The Heidi Chronicles isn’t particularly radical – Heidi makes a point several times throughout the show that she never burned a bra. Rather, the play examines the hopes and dreams made possible by the “consciousness raising” and political protest of the ’60s and ’70s. Moss is ideally cast as Heidi, who’s sort of a more intellectual younger cousin to Peggy Olsen, Moss’s Mad Men character...

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Theatre Review: “Hand to God”

To my mind, this raucous comedy is the best new American play in many a moon (the only one this decade I liked more is Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance). Playwright Robert Askins shows us what happens when a teenage boy’s puppet at a Texas Christian Puppet Ministry starts revealing his darkest urges. What comes across most profoundly is the price one pays for repressing one’s feelings – especially the way they inevitably return in other, even darker, forms. In Hand to God that form is the foul-mouthed puppet Tyrone. While he may be nothing more or less than the way the unconscious mind of teen Jason (Steven Boyer) expresses its hungers for sex and revenge, it’s clear that Jason experiences Tyrone...

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Theatre Review: “Big Fish”

Director/choreographer Susan Stroman just keeps getting better! Her work on Big Fish means that this new musical is very rarely less than thoroughly engaging, and is often maginifcently entertaining. Big Fish centers on Edward Bloom (another tour de force performance from Norbert Leo Butz)

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Alec Baldwin Hurls Ugly Anti-Gay Slur at Photographer on NYC Street

Actor and MSNBC host Alec Baldwin who came under fire in June for calling a reporter a "toxic little queen" on Twitter, has been caught on camera threatening the paparazzi and using anti-gay slurs while doing so. TMZ, where you can watch the clip: The ...

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Theatre Review: “Marry Me A Little”

This is my first exposure to Marry Me a Little, the Sondheim revue conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene in 1980. So, I have no clue about its original form, which seems to be much much loved in certain corners. I like this version just fine

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Theatre Review: “Ten Chimneys”

I don’t know how “the Lunts” – the most revered married stars of the Broadway stage ever, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne – would feel about my reaction to Ten Chimneys, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s mostly enjoyable comedy set at their Wisconsin estate of the same name. I liked it better when it was closer to

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In New York: Appeals Court finds DOMA Unconstitutional

Great news!Federal appeals court in New York found DOMA unconstitutional!The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-to-1 ruling only weeks after hearing arguments on a lower court judge's findings that the 1996 law was unconstitutional.The majority opinion written by Judge Dennis Jacobs rejected a section of the law that says "marriage"...

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