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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben -December 12, 2015

 

 

 

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
December 12, 2015
 

Alex Brightman as Dewey, gives an amazing, and what could be, a Tony winning performance, as an impoverished, wannabe Rock Star, falsely posing as a substitute teacher in a private school in School of Rock, book by Julian Fellowes, lyrics by Glenn Slater, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, at the Winter Garden Theatre. Sierra Boggess is the uptight principal of the school, with  a magnificent voice, especially when she sings a Mozart aria, full of dazzling high notes. But, outstanding are thirteen wonderful 10-11-year-old young boys and girls, who play the students in Dewey's class. They are simply brilliant. They are, without doubt, the most talented young actors to be seen on Broadway this season. Everyone of them is a star. The cast has been directed expertly byLaurence Conner. The music is melodious and the Rock songs are pleasant to the ear, the dialogue is funny and intelligent, the choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter is superb, and the entire musical is a pure delight. The set design by Anna Louizos (she also did the costumes) is a joy to behold, changing rapidly from one scene to another. I enjoyed every minute of the finest musical  I have seen this season. The audience rises at the conclusion of the show to give the cast a well deserved standing ovation. You leave the show smiling and happy. There were two pre-opening night parties. One was at The Palm, 250 West 50th St,  by the producers for the cast from the film. The second was given by Julian Fellowes for the cast of Downton Abbey at O'Lunney's, 210 West 50th St. Among those present were his charming wife Emma, and Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. The opening night party was held, appropriately, at Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway. Among the opening night guests were Sting, happy because his home team Newcastle United beat Liverpool 2-0 that day, Helen Mirren, Joan Collins and Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts with their two beautiful children.

 
Cynthia Erivo arrived from London to play the starring role of Celie. She won the Olivier Award. In New York, she just might win a Tony Award. A revival of The Color Purple, book by Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Eillis, Stephen Bray, based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the film, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is a revised version of the original. A minimal set design with only chairs as furniture makes you focus on the actors, and splendid actors they are. The tale takes place over 40 years in Georgia from 1909 to 1949. Celie is 14-years-old, and has just given birth to her second child. Both are taken from her by her brutal father, for whom she is a virtual slave. She is given as a wife to another brute, who carries a whip. Her life is miserable. Under the direction of John Doyle, the actresses shine, and they include Joaquina Kulukango as her sister, Danielle Brooks as the wife of the only kind male on stage and Jennifer Hudson in her stage debut as a sexy lady. All four leading actresses have strong voices, that fill the large theater easily. The music is mainly gospel, the lyrics are apt for semi educated women, and the story is engrossing. It is mainly, however, a grim and depressing story, with an uplifting ending.

 
Off-Broadway, A Child's Christmas in Wales, by Dylan Thomas, adapted & directed by Charlotte Moore, at the DR2 Theatre, is the perfect show for the holiday season. John Cullum, and four others in the cast, plus a pianist, recite the remembrances of the great Welsh poet and sing songs of the season, two of them in Welsh. This delightful production by the Irish Repertory Company lasts 70 minutes without an intermission. We celebrated the opening night party in the basement lounge of the theatre with delicious food and an open bar, with guests Tony Walton, his wife Gen LeRoy and John McEnroe the father of the two famous tennis sons.
 
Lazarus, by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, inspired by the novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis, is a second play this season directed by Ivo van Hove, who in his vision likes his actors barefoot, crawling on the stage with liquid covering their clothes, with a minimal set.

 




This incomprehensible production lasts two hours without an intermission. Eleven actors sing the monotonous songs by David Bowie, while one of them stabs some of them with a knife, 
and staining their clothes with their red blood filling up an enormous television screen. Everyone on the stage acts like a severe mental case. 

 
Plaid Tidings, A Special Holiday Edition of Forever Plaid, by Stuart Ross, at the York Theatre, is a pleasant way to enjoy the holiday season. Four talented singers render their amusing versions of typical songs associated with this time of the year to the delight of the audience. You are guaranteed a fun evening.

 

The Holiday season has definitely arrived when the New York City Ballet presents its beloved version of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, music of Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. It is a splendid production enjoyed by adults and children alike. The three principal dancers, Megan Fairchild (The Sugarplum Fairy), Adrian Danchig-Waring (Her Cavalier) and Sterling Hyltin (Dewdrop), in the second act, were superb, as was Savannah Lowery as Coffee, and Daniel Ulbricht leading his Candy Canes. Avery Linas Marie and Emil Jose Kelso as Herr  Drosselmeier's nephew were charming, but all the children in the first act, as Mice and Soldiers, and in Act II as Angels, Candy Canes, and Polchinelles were adorable. The entire ballet is magical, and a tribute to the genius of the brilliant choreographer.

 
The 27 Annual Gypsy of the Year is one of the highlights of the Broadway season. Beginning with a delightful Opening Number, directed and choreographed by ,, many of the shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway presented entertaining performances, and, in some cases, a brilliant one such as Unplug & Connect, by The Lion King. It was a magnificent selection which won second prize. Many presenters starring on Broadway included George Takei, Michael Cerveris, Julie Wilson and Judith Light. Incidentally, not in the program was Andrea Burns, who stole the show when she performed her Googie Gomez Broadway Medley from The Ritz. It was a pleasant afternoon, which raises enormous amounts of money for a worthy cause, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

 
The 48th Gala Concert of the George Frideric Handel Messiah Sing-In by the National Chorale, at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, was a delightful event. The four soloists and the organist were terrific. The 17 guest conductors for individual sections were very, very funny. The audience enjoyed the performance and had the great pleasure singing the chorus selections. A good time was had by everyone. Artistic Director, Dr. Everett McCorvey of the National Chorale deserves a special ovation for his entertaining evening.

 
Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting Imitations of Life: The Films of Douglas Sirk December 23-January 6. I attended two press screenings. La Habanera, Germany, 1937, is tale about a young, naive Swedish tourist (Zarah Leander), who falls in love with Puerto Rico, after seeing flamenco dancing, listening to Spanish tropical music, watching a bull fight and enjoying nature on the island. Instead of returning home, she marries a wealthy man, a tyrant, and suffers for the next 10 years. A former sweetheart  arrives from Sweden to study why a deadly fever is ravishing the island, and rescues her. It is a silly melodrama, but it is entertaining.

 
Hitler's Madman, USA, 1943, is a World War II propaganda film, showing how rotten the Nazis are. John Carradine portrays the ruthless Reinhard Heydrich known as the Butcher of Prague, and we see scene after scene of German brutality in Czechoslovakia. Growing up in England during World War II, I have vivid memories of the fight to destroy Hitler. This brought back many angry emotions of six years of bombings and hardships suffered by my countrymen. Thank goodness, we survived the nightmare.
 

12-12-15 Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern "Downton Abbey" at the pre-opening party  given by Julian Fellowes for "School of Rock" at O'Lunney's Irish Pub. 210 West 50th. St. Sunday night. 12-06-15.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

12-07-15 Two young cast members Brandon Niederauer (L) and Jared Parker at the opening night party for "School of Rock" at Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway. Sunday night. 12-06-15.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

12-12-15 Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern "Downton Abbey" at the pre-opening party given by Julian Fellowes for "School of Rock" at O'Lunney's Irish Pub. 210 West 50th. St. Sunday night. 12-06-15

12-07-15 Two young cast members Brandon Niederauer (L) and Jared Parker at the opening night party for "School of Rock" at Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway.
Sunday night. 12-06-15

 

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

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