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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben - April 30, 2016

 

Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
April 30, 2016

 

Vanessa Williams and Matthew Morrison announced the 2016 The Drama Desk Nominations at Feinstein's/54 Below. Like the OCC Nominations, She Loves Me (9) and American Psycho (8) garnered the most nominations. It is an interesting list, and on Sunday, June 5 at Town Hall, we will know the winners. I am a member of Drama Desk and a voter and I will be there.


 

 A one man show belongs Off-Broadway. At the high prices charged for a Broadway show, the audience deserves more than a one man cast and more than a 90-minute show. That said, Fully Committed, by Becky Mode, at the Lyceum Theatre, directed by Jason Moore, and starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson, is a mildly amusing show about taking reservations at a fancy restaurant. This was previously presented Off-Broadway, where it belongs. Ferguson works hard to portray many unimportant customers, who feel it is important to dine at a restaurant, where a table is difficult to get for, at least, three months in advance. Ferguson is a likable actor, and to memorize this 90-minutes of nonsense deserves credit, but it comes at a cost. Do you really want to listen to phones ringing constantly for all that time? Also, his repeated impressions of fatuous women becomes tiresome. 
 


 

Sara Bareilles is popular singer/songwriter, nominated for five Grammy Awards. She has now written the music and lyrics for her first Broadway show, Waitress, book by Jessie Nelson, based on a film by Adrienne Shelly with the same title, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The music is pleasant, not memorable, and the lyrics are banal. It is story about an unhappy, pregnant waitress (Jessie Mueller), with a talent for baking pies, working in a diner in a small town. Keala Settle and Kimiko Glenn work with her, and the three sing well. Her husband (Nick Cordero) is fired from his job and verbally abuses her. He also smashes her guitar. However, the story turns sick, when she begins having sex with her doctor in his office. The excellent Christopher Fitzgerald steals the show as the lover of one of the other waitresses. The rest of the cast are dull and boring, and for a musical, it has minimal choreography. Diane Paulus directed the show.


 

Tuck Everlasting, book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle, music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, based on the novel with the same title by Natalie Babbitt, is fairy tale musical that will delight family audiences. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, it has a wonderful cast of actors, singers and dancers, including a superb Carolee Carmello, a humorous Terrence Mann, and, introducing a very talented 11-year-old Sarah Charles Lewis. Like all fairy tales, it has a silly plot about drinking water to become immortal, but it is entertaining, and a family audience will leave the theater happy. At the opening night party at Tavern on the Green, the guests included Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, Ron Howard, Michael Urie and many more too numerous to name.


 

A revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night, by Eugene O'Neill, at the American Airlines Theatre, features Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon and John Gallagher, Jr. Jonathan Kent directed the five member cast. It is an almost four hour semi-autobiographical play, that takes place in a summer home over one day. The mother is addicted to drugs. The father is a miser. The older son is an alcoholic and the younger son (supposedly O'Neill) needs to be treated for his weak lungs. Unfortunately, it is not a happy family, and they bicker endlessly throughout the play. However, the acting is first rate, and even though one has to suffer the endless repetitions (O'Neill never knew when to cut some of his dialogue), it is worth while to watch four fine actors at their best, especially Gabriel Byrne, who gives an outstanding performance.


 

The final show of the season is Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, music & lyrics by Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake, original book by F.E. Miller & Aubrey Lyles, book by George C. Wolfe, at the Music Box. It features five of the brightest stars on Broadway; Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry.

 

I was eagerly anticipating its arrival. Unfortunately, it is a disappointing musical. Directed by a pedantic pedagogue George C. Wolfe, it proceeds to give the audience a lecture on the history of black musicals on Broadway. The highlight is the closing number I'm Just Wild About Harry, choreographed by Savion Glover, which closes the first act. At almost three hours, the show needs judicious editing.

Mario Dell'Anno
 held a private party at the Rainbow Room, entitled A Celebration of Life. It was one of the finest parties my wife and I have ever attended. The Rainbow Room is the most spectacular room in New York, and possibly the world. After cocktails in the room looking south to the Empire State Building, we then moved to the bar area facing Queens, where we had our photos taken. We then moved into dinner in the glorious ballroom, where a magnificent band, with wonderful singers, played all the fine songs from the past nonstop throughout the rest of the night, while guests danced between courses. The food was delicious. Actor/singer Dominic Chianese The Sopranos, and 4 films with Al Pacino, accompanying himself with a guitar, sang Italian folk songs, and singer/actor James "L.T." Taylor, the lead singer of Kool & the Gang also performed, including his smash 1979 song Ladies Man. On large screens Mario Dell'Anno's life was shown with photographs of all the many celebrities he has known throughout his 75-years. It was a memorable, unforgettable night.


 

The Actors Fund Annual Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel was another glorious affair, in which Michael Douglas, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Robert Greenblatt, Cynthia Gregory and Casey Nicholaw were honored with The Actors Fund Medal of Honor. Among the performers and presenters were Rosie O'Donnell, Bebe Neuwirth, Megan Hilty, Tina Fey, James Monroe Iglehart, Sutton Foster, Annette Bening plus the On Your Feet! cast. President & CEO of the Actors Fund Joe Benincasa knows how to throw a wonderful, unforgettable party



We attended a cocktail party for the American Cancer Society 11th Annual Taste of Hope with honoree Jean 
Shafiroff at the Romona Keveza Penthose Flagship, One Rockefeller Plaza, where we saw a fashion show of elegant gowns, while sipping champagne and nibbling on macaroons. It was a lovely event. On Wednesday, May 25, the 11th Annual Taste of Hope will take place at the Metropolitan Pavilion.


 

Jonathan Brielle's I Love Broadway at Birdland, 315 West 44th St, was a terrific show, with guest performers from his Off-Broadway musical Himself and Nora, at the Minetta Lane Theatre, for which he wrote the book, music and lyrics, and starring Matt Bogart and Whitney Bashor. Also, performing with him, were Rose Hemingway and Veanne Cox. It was superb evening of music and song.


 

The 30th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition is always a pleasant event. It raises money for a very fine cause Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The performances from the opening number (a tribute to the Will Rogers Follies with Cady Hoffman) to the finale (Help is on the Way sung by Rachel York) is a two hour delight featuring many of the fine talents on the Broadway stage. Among the judges were Robert Creighton, Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. Among the presenters were Cynthia Erivo, Kerry Butler, Alex Brightman and Ben Whishaw. It was a lovely afternoon.


 

Sunset Song, by Terence Davies, UK/Luxembourg, 2015, is a beautiful film, one of the finest of this year. The photography is breathtaking, and the acting of the entire cast is superb. I was enraptured throughout the 135 minutes of this glorious production. The central character is a lovely Agyness Dyen as a young girl growing up in a rural community in Northern Scotland. with a tyrannical father (Peter Mullan). She is bright, spirited and intelligent, but is forced to give up her dream to become a teacher when her mother dies. She is to become a slave to her father dedicating herself to housework and the farm. Romance intrudes. It takes place just before World War I, and we see how that horrible war destroys a peaceful way of life. It is a magnificent film, one of the most poetic, lyrical films that I have enjoyed this year. A viewer will be entranced.

 

 
 

04-30-16 Dominic Chianese (L) and Mario Dell'Anno at Mario Dell'Anno's A Celebration of Life party at the Rainbow Room. 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Sunday night. 04-24-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

04-30-16 President & CEO of Actors Fund Joseph Benincasa (L) and honoree director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw who received the Actors Fund Medal of Honor at the Actors Fund Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. 1535 Broadway. Monday night. 04-25-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

04-30-16 Dominic Chianese (L) and Mario Dell'Anno at Mario Dell'Anno's A Celebration of Life party at the Rainbow Room. 30 Rockefeller Plaza. S
unday night. 04-24-16

04-30-16 President & CEO of Actors Fund Joseph Benincasa (L) and honoree director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw who received the Actors Fund Medal of Honor at the Actors Fund Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. 1535 Broadway. Monday night. 04-25-16

 

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

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