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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben -April 19, 2014

 



Aubrey Reuben




On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
April 19, 2014



 

04-14-14 Will Swenson and cast member Audra McDonald at the opening night party for "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" at The Redeye Grill. 890 Seventh Ave. Sunday night. 04-13-14.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

04-14-14 Will Swenson and cast member Audra McDonald at the opening night party for "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" at The Redeye Grill. 890 Seventh Ave. Sunday night. 04-13-14
 

 
On Broadway, one of the great artists on the Broadway stage is Audra McDonald, who stars as Billie Holiday, in a revival of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, by Lanie Robertson. Audra is not only a magnificent singer, but also a brilliant actress, as winning five Tony Awards have confirmed. Her 90 minute performance as the troubled singer in a dingy night club in Philadelphia at the end of her short career is depicted realistically. Her alcoholism and drug abuse are evident, as she sings the songs she made famous, and adds anecdotes about her difficult life. Lonny Price has directed her expertly, and the three musicians, led by Shelton Becton, accompany her perfectly. For lovers of McDonald and Holiday, this is a marvelous theatrical experience.

 
A revival of  Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, features movie stars, James Franco and Chris O'Dowd, who are the main attraction for theatrgoers to see this sombre and depressing story about migrant workers on a ranch in the Salinas Valley in California. The novel was a classic, and the production is well acted by the entire cast, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. The two drifters are a common sense Franco and a retarded, gentle giant O'Dowd. They give superb, believable performances, leading to a sad ending. Jim Norton contributes a strong performance as a one armed handyman with hopes for a better future when he befriends the two main characters. It is a fine revival of a play rarely seen on Broadway.

 
Act One, written and directed by James Lapine, is a very long play (almost three hours), based on the autobiography of the successful playwright and director Moss Hart. The play is narrated by two actors, Santino Fontana (as a young Hart) and Tony Shaloub (as an older Hart). We see him growing up poor in the Bronx, his obsession with the theater, his efforts to become a playwright, and finally his success when collaborating with the distinguished playwright, George S. Kaufman. The play lacks drama, and the second act, where we witness the attempt to rewrite his finally successful Broadway play, is repetitious and excruciating to watch.. Hart's memoir, however, is a delight to read.

 
Violet, music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, at the American Airlines Theatre opens on April 20. My comments will appear in the next column.

 
A revival of Cabaret, book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, at Studio 54, opens on April 24. My comments will appear in the next column.

 
The Cripple of Inishmaan, by Martin McDonagh, at the Cort Theatre, opens on April 20. My comments will appear in the next column.

 
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, book by John Cameron Mitchell, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, at the Belasco Theatre, opens on April 22. My comments will appear in the next column.

 

 
 

 
 

 

 
 

 


 


 


 


 

 
 

 


 


 
 

 

 
 
 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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I attended a wonderful book party at Chez Josephine for Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe, by Matthew Pratt Guterl. I received a copy of the book, and I am eagerly awaiting to read it. While eating scrumptious hors d'oeuvres and sipping delicious wines, I chatted with various guests, including Liliane Montevecchi, Margo Jefferson and Pia Catton.

 
Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting press screenings for the 2014 New York African Film Festival May 7-13. Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, byRoy Agyemang, UK/Zimbabwe, 2012, is a fascinating documentary about a man who has been in power since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, and has just won another five year term. The fact that he has survived so long, in spite of the attacks on him by former Western colonial powers, is remarkable. The filmmaker had access to Mugabe over a three year period, and it is obvious that Mugabe has the support of his people. He has been accused of seizing farms of white farmers, and human rights violations, but he is still powerful, and the future will be interesting to see.

 
Confusion Na Wa, by Kenneth Nyang, Nigeria, 2013, is a film about two worthless young men, who find a cell phone, and decide to extort money from the owner. A number of other characters appear in this rambling, colorful film, who have really nothing to do with the main plot, which ends with tragic consequences.

 
Of Good Report, by Jahmil X. T. Qubeka, South Africa, 2013, is about a teacher, with severe mental problems, in a small village, who has an affair with one of his students. It is a sickening tale. The many graphic, disgusting scenes make it painful to watch. It seems as if the filmmaker wants to make sure we see all the horror that a man can afflict on a young woman, especially after she rejects him, and begins a friendship with a boy of her own age. If the idea is to shock the audience, he succeeds, but I would not recommend this film to any normal person.

 
Bastards, by Deborah Perkin, Morocco?UK, 2013, is a wonderful documentary, which follows a fight for justice in the courts. A 14-year-old girl is wed to an abusive husband, who abandons her when she becomes pregnant. Since the tribal wedding was not considered legal, her daughter is treated as a bastard with no legal rights. Her fight to make the child legitimate is inspiring, with the help of feminist charitable organizations, that provide lawyers to defend her. The treatment of women in Muslim countries is shocking.

 
MoMA is presenting Vienna Unveiled: A City in Cinema until April 20. The Smiling Lieutenant, by Ernst Lubitsch, USA, 1931, is a charming film about a Viennese officer (Maurice Chevalier), in love with a violinist (Claudette Colbert), who conducts an all women orchestra. He accidentally gets involved with a visiting princess (Miriam Hopkins). The dialog is superb, the music delightful and the story is funny and romantic. The three stars are excellent.

 
MoMA presented The Aesthetics of Shadow, Part 2: Europe and America April 1-17. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Ford, USA, 1940, is one of the finest films ever made. Based on John Steinbeck's novel, it tells the story of a farming family, who lose their land during the depression, and head to California as migrant wokers. The hardships they endure are heartbreaking, but their unbreakable spirit is inspiring. The cast is splendid, especially Henry Fonda in the leading role.



 




04-14-14 Liliane Montevecchi and Jean-Claude Baker at the book party for "Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe" at Chez Josephine. 414 West 42nd St. Sunday afternoon. 04-13-14.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

04-14-14 Liliane Montevecchi and Jean-Claude Baker at the book party for "Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe" at Chez Josephine. 414 West 42nd St. Sunday afternoon. 04-13-14
 


 




 




 



 

 

joyce brooks, gerard mckeon.  photo by:  rose billings

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