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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben February 3, 2018

 

 

Aubrey Reuben

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

February 3, 2018


 

The Frick Museum, 1 East 70th St, presented a press preview of Zurbaran's Jacob and His Twelve Sons: Painting from Auckland Castle, January 31-April 22, 2018. It is, without doubt, one of the finest exhibitions shown at this magnificent museum. Twelve of the paintings hang at Auckland Castle, England, bought by the Bishop of Durham, Richard Trevor in 1756. The 13th painting of Benjamin, Jacob's youngest son, is at Grimsthorpe Castle, England. All were reunited for this exhibition. Zurbaran, one of Spain's outstanding painters, produced this series of Baroque paintings between 1640 and 1645. They have been carefully examined for authenticity. Each painting of the father Jacob, and his twelve sons are painted in exotic costumes, and are one of the most marvelous collections ever produced by a painter, based on Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible. One learns the most fascinating history of this remarkable family. Every viewer will be delighted, and enriched by visiting this exhibition.

 

The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, presented a wonderful exhibition that theatre lovers will enjoy. Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing: February 2-May 13, 2018. We see his original drafts, diaries, letters, paintings and photographs from his first produced play Battle of Angels to his successful The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Rose Tattoo, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Orpheus Descending. If you love theatre, do not miss this exhibition! We also visited three other exhibitions. Two were marvelous. Power and Grace: Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens: January 19-April 29, 2018 and Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time: January 26-April 29, 2018. The third one was disappointing. Peter Hujar: Speed of Life: January 26-May 20, 2018, is a series of photographs by Hujar, (1934-1987), when he died of AIDS. Unfortunately, many are distasteful

 

Party Face, by Isobel Mahon, directed by Amanda Bearse, at the New York City Center Stage II, takes place in a kitchen of a house in a suburb of Dublin Ireland. It is a play about an overbearing mother and her two daughters with marital problems. One daughter, the owner of the house, has mental problems. Two other weird characters are a woman who was in a psychiatric hospital with the daughter, and the other is a supercilious neighbor with many problems of her own. It is a convoluted story with unpleasant characters.

 

The Homecoming Queen, by Ngozi Anyanwu, is a production of the Atlantic Theater Company at Atlantic Stage 2. It tell the story of a writer, who returns home to visit her native village in Nigeria after living 15 years in the United States. Her father is dying. Unfortunately, she has a very unpleasant personality. She is rude, angry, insults everyone, vulgar, and violent. Fortunately, the other seven members of the cast are likable, directed by Awoye Timpo. It has an unbelievable happy ending. It is one hour and forty five minutes without an intermission, and is insufferable.


 

The Thing With Feathers, by Scott Organ, is a production of the Barrow Group. A superb four member cast is directed by Seth Barrish.  It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl (a remarkable Alexa Shae Niziak) (photo below), whose mother (DeAnna Lenhart) is unaware that she is on the internet with a peculiar young stranger. When he shows up at her door, strange things occur. It is a well acted, intelligent play, which reveals the horrors which can take place on surfing the internet, without knowing with whom you are becoming involved with. We toasted the cast at the opening night party with champagne at the theater.

 


 

 
Fire and Air, by Terrence McNally, directed and designed by John Doyle, is a production of the Classic Stage Company. It is the story of Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (Douglas Hodge). who for 20 years, 1909-1929, founded and ran the Ballet Russe. He had a tremendous influence on modern Ballet, creating works by the composers like Stravinsky, set design by artists like Picasso, choreographers like Balanchine and dancers like Vaslav Nijinsky, his lover, (James Cusati-Moyer), who spent his later years in psychiatric institutions. His influence exists to this day, and many of his ballets are performed by leading dance companies around the world. The six member cast is fine. That said, the play itself is more a dull documentary lecture than  a dramatic play. McNally has written many fine plays, but this is not one of them.

 

 

I always read the Who's Who in the cast in the Playbill program before the show begins. In 40 years as an OCC Nominator, 39 years as a Drama Desk voter and 3 years on the Tony Nominating Committee, I have never read a more peculiar bio of a playwright than the one I read about Greg Pierce, whose play Cardinal, at 2ndStage, I had to review. It begins with he grew up in Shelburne, Vermont. And I quote, its main attraction is the Shelburne Museum, a phenomenal collection of Americana housed in 25 historic, relocated buildings, plus one of two original side-paddle- wheel steamboats, the Ticonderoga. Now, if I want to visit Shelburne, I will read the travel section in the newspapers. In a bio, I only want to know what plays he has written. This play tells the story of a young woman, (Anna Chlumsky) who returns to the small town, where she was born in upstate New York, to propose that to resurrect the dying town, the walls in the center should be painted red. What follows is a ridiculous plot that includes the young mayor, who has never recovered emotionally from being dumped by the woman's older sister. The other members of the six member cast, directed by Kate Whoriskey, include a pastry shop owner (the wonderful Becky Ann Baker) and her weird son, and two Chinese business men, a father and son. At 90 minutes, it will probably rank as one of the worst plays of the season, and its use of a derogatory word that is never used in polite company to refer to Chinese people is offensive and insulting.


 

The York Theatre Company presented Musicals in MuftiHallelujah, Baby!, book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Julie Styne. A nine member cast was directed by Gerry McIntyre, with David Hancock Turner at the piano and Richie Goods on bass. The musical won the Tony Award in 1968, and made the leading lady, Leslie Uggams, a star. In this revised version from 2004, Stephanie Umoh is outstanding and deserved the magnificent ovation she received. The opening night party took place in the Music Room with special guests, Amanda Green, who contributed additional lyrics, her mother Phyllis Newman, and Margaret Styne, Julie Styne's widow.

 

Jimmy Titanic, by Bernard McMullan, is a one man-show, staring Colin Hamell (photo below), directed by Carmel O'Reilly, at the Irish Repertory Theatre. He plays a member of the crew, who dies in the tragedy, and finds himself in heaven with God and the angels. In the 75-minute show, he plays an assortment of characters from passengers on the ship to people who died many years ago. He is a very talented performer, who is quite funny. We congratulated him and the playwright at the opening night party in the gallery with guests Tony and Gen Walton and David Staller. Artistic Director Charlotte Moore and Producing Director Ciaran O'Reilly always give the most enjoyable parties.

 

I attended the launch of the fifth 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival at the invitation of Nora Armani, Founder Artistic Director, at Doux Supper Club. The festival will take place at Cinema Village from March 16-22 with 70 films from 22 countries They include feature films, documentaries and shorts.

 
       


 
 

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

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