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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben - August 6 2016

 

Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
August 6, 2016

 

On Broadway, a revival of Cats, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot, opened at the Neil Simon Theatre. It was a phenomenon on Broadway when it first opened in 1982, and had a major success for the composer, running for 18 years with 7,485 performances. The new version is much like the original, although it is performed an stage rather then in the round. Also, Andy Blankenbuehler replaced the original choreographer. He has done a splendid job; in fact the highlight of the show is the marvelous dancing, movements, precision of the wonderful dancers, who perform cartwheels, spin around endlessly on one leg and do incredible somersaults, that leaves one breathless. Directed by Trevor Nunn, the cast is first rate, butGeorgina Pazcoquin, a soloist with the New York City Ballet, is brilliant as Victoria, a white cat. Among the other dancers and singers in the splendid ensemble, Ricky Ubeda, Quentin Earl Darrington, Tyller Hanes, Eloise Kropp, and a exceptional duet by Jess LeProtto and Shonica Gooden deserve special mention. Of course, the one song that became a major hit is the beautiful Memory, performed by Grizabella (Leona Lewis), a tattered old cat on her way to cat heaven. This song was immortalized in London by Elaine Paige and on Broadway by Betty Buckley. Lewis has a good voice, but, unfortunately, cannot equal the original singers. The musical is based on a book of poems, and really has not much of a story. The cats convene for a ball in garbage dump, a magnificent set design by John Napier and superb lighting design by Natasha Katz. The music is melodious and pleasant, and everyone in the cast has excellent voices. Family audiences will leave contented. The opening night party at Gotham Hall was filed with celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell, Sara Means, Tommy Tune, Dee Hoty, Laura Osnes and Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins.


 

Kinky Boots, book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, was reviewed on opening night in 2013. After many cast changes, I returnred to see how it was holding up. Well, let me tell you, it is superb. Based on a little known film of the same title, it tells the story of a family-owned (for four generations) men's shoe factory in Northampton, England. It faces bankruptcy. When the owner (Ross Lekites substituting for Andy Kelso) meets a drag queen Lola (Alan Mingo, Jr.) in London, he acquires the idea to make kinky boots for drag queens. It has enormous success in a fashion show in Milan, and saves the company. The musical is one of the happiest shows on Broadway. The cast is terrific, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. It won the well deserved Tony Award as Best Musical in 2013, and Cyndi Lauper won the award for Best Score in her first outing as a composer on Broadway. The pop songs are wonderful, infectious, and makes the audience want to join the cast on stage.The two leads are sensational.


 


 


 


They sing, act and dance marvelously Lola is supported by Angels (the six member drag queens), whose dancing and costumes by Gregg Barnes, are simply magnificent. Lauren (Jeanna de Waal), as a love lorn factory worker, almost steals the show in her song The History of Wrong Guys. The closing numbers in both acts Everybody Say Yeah and Raise You Up/Just Be are the liveliest numbers on Broadway. Finally, the set design by David Rockwell, is amazing. When the leads dance on a conveyor belt, it is astonishing.



Mostly Mozart opened its 50th season on July 25. It will continue until August 27. I attended my first concert at David Geffen Hall the following week. Andres Orozco-Etstrada was the scheduled conductor, but was indisposed, and was replaced by Thierry Fischer, who did a splendid job conducting the Mostly Mozart Orchestra. The program began with Symphony No. 59 in A major ("Fire"), by Joseph Haydn. It is an unremarkable symphony, probably used to accompany a play Die Feuersbrunt ("The Conflagration"). The next two works were by Mozart, and were brilliant. Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K.503 was skillfully performed by an exciting young soloist Martin Helmchen. His technique was impeccable, and his rapid playing in the final movement was astonishing. He received a well deserved standing  ovation.  The program concluded with the popular Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K.550, one of the magnificent final three symphonies of the great composer. The orchestra was a joy to hear, and the conductor was greeted with thunderous applause at the end of of a lovely concert.
 

 

The 18th Annual Broadway Barks Animal Adoption Event took place in Shubert Alley, with a multitude of Broadway performers, many of whom brought their own dogs. A special photo op was held at the Broadhurst Theatre with Bernadette Peters and Gloria Estefan holding two adorable little dogs. It is always a worthwhile  event.


 

If you enjoy Mexican food, I advise you to go to Amigos, 288 Broadway (between 112&113th Streets), for delicious, authentic dining. It is a large indoor cafe, with outside tables for summer eating. The menu is extensive, with special options on Monday (Monday Taco Madness, unlimited tacos & sangria $21.95), Tuesday (Crazy Quesadillas, bottomless quesadillas & margaritas $21.95) , and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday special attractions. A full bar serves a variety of cocktails, wine and beer. My wife chose Holiday in Manhattan (Copacabana Anejo Rum, Cointreau, Sweet Vermouth & Orange Bitters). I avoided Colombia Mai Tai, Jack Smash, Smoked Agave and El Diablo, and stuck with Copacabana Anejo Rum with a splash of cola. As an appetizer, I ordered Potato & Cheese Flautas, with tomatillo dipping salsa, and as an entree, Three Cheese Quesadillas with guacamole, poco de gallo & crema nata, served with rice & beans. My wife  ate Yucatan Grilled Salmon, with spinach, mango, onions, tomatillo & mango salsa, served with corn on the cob. Although very satisfied, we could not resist a flan surrounded by creme nata. There were so many selections, it was hard to choose from the appetizers, soups & salads, firehouse wings, Chef Alex Garcia Entree Specials, regular entrees, tacos and burgers/tortas/sandwiches. The wait staff and, Seth, the manager were charming. It is definitely a wonderful dining experience.

 
 

08-06-16 Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins and Andrew Lloyd Webber at the opening night party for "Cats" at Gotham Hall. 1359 Broadway. Sunday night 07-31-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuebn

08-06-16 Bernadette Peters (L) and Gloria Estefan with two cute dogs at the 18th Annual Broadway Barks Adoption Event at the Broadwhurst Theatre. 235 West 44th St. Saturday afternoon. 07-30-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben



08-06-16 Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins and Andrew Lloyd Webber at the opening night party for "Cats" at Gotham Hall. 1359 Broadway. Sunday night 07-31-16

 

08-06-16 Bernadette Peters (L) and Gloria Estefan with two cute dogs at the 18th Annual Broadway Barks Adoption Event at the Broadwhurst Theatre. 235 West 44th St. Saturday afternoon. 07-30-16

 

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

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