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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben April 1, 2017

 

 

Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!

April 1, 2017

India was the Jewel in the Crown for Great Britain in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Well, the Metropolitan Opera Company is the Jewel in the Crown for the United States. Fidelio, by Ludwig van Beethoven, received a magnificent performance by a stellar cast. The orchestra began the opera with a brilliant rendition of the overture, conducted by Sebastian Weigle. Adrianne Pieczonka was outstanding in the title role. Her powerful voice was strong in all registers, reaching her high notes with ease. Her acting was equally good. Together with Klaus Florian Vogt as Florestan they made the perfect faithful husband and wife. Together they sang beautifully, and alone they were superb. For her Abscheulicher in the first act, and for him his opening aria in the second, both arias were rendered magnificently. Hanna-Elisabeth Muller is making her debut this season, and is a wonderful addition to the company. Her lovely soprano soared in the first act. David Portillo (Jaquino), Falk Struckmann (Rocco), Greer Grimsley (Don Pizarro) and Gunther Groissbock (Don Fernando) contributed to the success of the evening, and were marvelous with sonorous voices. The chorus, under Donald Palumbo, were, as always, a pleasure to hear. The audience was impressed. The performance was, for me, one of the highlights of this memorable season. I repeat the Metropolitan Opera Company is the Jewel in our Crown!


 

On Broadway, Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, at Studio 54, is a play that takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania, where a group of factory workers spend most of their leisure time in 2000 in a neighborhood bar drinking, using vulgar language and engaging in aimless behavior. When layoffs at work begins, the friends become violent. What ever happened to brilliant dialogue in plays? I am tired of being bombarded in the theatre with the f... word, and seeing violence, no matter how realistically it is portrayed. In this case, a bar owner in the second act is struck in the stomach with a baseball bat, and in the next scene, we see the result, as he is permanently disabled. If it is important in the play, let us hear about it. We do not have to see it. That said, the acting by the nine member cast is, as always on Broadway, fine, and, of course, realistic. The production is directed by Kate Whoriskey.  I read three items in the newspaper on the front page on Friday, March 24, that tells us "All the News That's Fit to Print". One was the terrorist attack, that killed four people in London. Two was the white man from Baltimore, who came to New York and killed a black man. Three was the teenager arrested in Israel for using  his computer to send bomb threats to Jewish centers, schools and museums in the United States. Every day the world is full of vicious happenings. We do not have to see it on a Broadway stage.


 

The Transport Group Theatre Company is one of Off-Broadway's most esteemed companies. Certainly one of the highlights of this theatre season was their production of two plays by William Inge. Picnic & Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repopened together at The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street. Both plays were directed expertly by Jack Cummings III. Both casts gave outstanding performances. Every member deserves a standing ovation. In Picnic, Michele Pawk as a worried mother and Emily Skinner as a frustrated, unmarried teacher gave memorable performances, and in Sheba, Heather Mac Rae as a lonely, married woman, with a husband (Joseph Kolinski) who sinks into alcoholism, gave one of the finest performances of the season. It was a splendid theatrical experience, and we congratulated the superb cast and director at the opening night party at Denino's Pizzeria & Tavern, 93 MacDougal Street. The owner, Joseph Castellano, told me  it is one of the oldest pizzerias in New York, and, of course, the pizzas were delicious..


 

If you like watching simulated sexual orgies and seeing the back of a naked actress, then see How to transcend a happy marriage, by Sarah Ruhl, at Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse. It is a play about two couples who get involved with a threesome (a strange young lady and her two male live in friends).  The eight member cast, starring Marisa Tomei, act well in this disappointing play, directed by Rebecca Taichman.


 

I returned to see The Imbible: A Spited History of Drinking, book and lyrics by Anthony Caporale, at the Bar at New World Stages, which is a delightful show, in which one receives a thorough education about drinking intoxicating drinks, and in which three drinks are served to members of the audience with popcorn. They are a Shandy, which is beer with ginger ale, a cocktail of American rye whisky with orange bitters, and a gin and tonic.

Anthony Caporale gives the history with great humor, with three back-up singers/actors who sing various drinking songs acapella, plus acting out characters mentioned from cavemen to medieval monks, expertly directed by Nicole DiMattei. It is a very entertaining show, and you will not leave the Bar thirsty.

Duets
 is the program that we attended in the Cause Celebre Musical Brunch Series at Chez Josephine, 414 West 42nd St. As always, it is a lovely event. The delicious brunch, consists of a choice of a cocktail or wine, followed by two choices for an appetizer of Maine Lobster Bisque or Smoked Salmon, followed by a choice from three entrees of French Toast, Classic Eggs Benedict or Spaghetti Bolognese, and concludes with a dessert of Profiterole au Chocolat with tea or coffee. The program, created by Founding/Artistic Director Susan Charlotte, combined short plays starring Carole Shelley and Dan Grimaldi, directed by Antony Marsellis, with Cole Porter songs performed by KT Sullivan and Roscoe Boyd II, accompanied by Jon Weber. An added surprise was a poem composed and read by Elizabeth Sullivan, KT's mother, who sang it as a song while accompanying herself at the piano. It was a delightful program. Chez Josephine is the finest restaurant in the theater district serving lunch Daily Noon - 3pm, Dinner Monday - Saturday 4pm - Midnight, Sunday 4pm - 11pm. Live piano nightly and at Sunday Brunch. I recommend it highly.



The National Meningitis Association Kick-Off Cocktail Party
 was held in a spectacular new rooftop space at Lovage, 350 West 40th St. The Gala will take place on May 8 at ESPACE, 635 West 42nd St, and will honor New York Ranger ice hockey legend Rod Gilbert. At the party were his wife Judy Gilbert, Gary Springer, Richard Thomas, Joe Sirola, Gary Swanson and Kim Alexis among many others. It was a lovely event.


 

Having to attend three splendid events in one evening is tough, but someone has to do it! For that reason, I arrived a little late for the second one the Annual WP Women's Achievement Awards Gala at the Edison Ballroom 240 West 47th St honoring Debra Messing. I did get to photograph one of my favorite ladies, Annette Green, who wore a beautiful, colorful jacket from India. After attending my second cocktail party, I rushed to The Palm Restaurant, 250 West 50th St, for the final event of the evening. 


 

The Off-Broadway play Church & State, by Jason Odell Williams, at New World Stages, held the opening night party at The Palm Restaurant. I photographed members of the cast, and guests like Loretta Swit, Stephanie Cozart and Heather Allyn, who is the charming wife of Rob Nagle, who stars in the play. The food was delicious, accompanied by wine and beer, and the party was great fun. 


 

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  presented Modern Matinees: Hollywood and the Great Depression, 1933 through March 31. Golddiggers of 1933, by Mervyn Leroy, USA, 1933, is a delightful film, with snappy dialogue, wonderful choreography byBusby Berkeley, beautiful showgirls, like Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers, pleasant songs and humorous situations. The plot is entertaining, about chorus girls looking to take advantage of wealthy men. The audience leaves happy.


 

Flying Down to Rio, by Thorton Freeland, USA, 1933, is another delightful film about a romance between Dolores del Rio and Gene Raymond, with  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as members of Gene's band. The highlights of the film are two magnificent dance numbers. The Carioca with very sexy dancers, and Flying Down to Rio, with chorus girls strapped to the wings of the planes, are spectacular. In 1933, filmmakers knew how to make inventive, pleasant films, that entertained the public.


 

I photographed Peanut, the baby African elephant puppet, Ringmaster Willy Whipsnade, The Great Gaston, juggler extraordinaire and The Cycling Cyclone for CIRCUS 1903-The Golden Age of Circus at Madison Square Garden. It opens on April 5-16


 

I photographed the cast and the two principal singers, Samarie Alicea and Jose Adan Perez, and watched them rehearse a couple of scenes of Figaro! (90210), directed by Melissa Crespo, at the Duke on 42nd Street, where they will perform on April 7-25.They have fine voices and it should be very successful.

 
       
       


 
 

Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com

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