On Broadway, I attended a revival of You Can't Take It With You. by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, at the Longacre Theatre, a second time. The play had two excellent replacements to the splendid cast, Richard Thomas and Anna Chlumsky. The play was written almost 80 years ago, and is just as charming and funny as it was when it first appeared on Broadway in 1936. It is definitely one of the highlights of the current Broadway season.
I also attended a revival of It's Only a Play, by Terrence McNally, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, a second time. The play has three splendid replacements in the seven member cast, Martin Short, Katie Finneran and Maulik Pancholy. It is a very funny play, and an all star audience for its re-opening night included Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Martin and Diane Sawyer. It is another highlight of the current Broadway season.
Off-Broadway, I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard, by Halley Feiffer, features two fine actors as a father/playwright (Reed Birney) and daughter/actress (Betty Gilpin), directed by Trip Cullman. They both give splendid performances. In the first scene in the father's kitchen, over lots of wine and drugs, their relationship deteriorates. A short scene five years later in a small theatre, the daughter achieves success as an actress/playwright. The father arrives with flowers to congratulate her. He has suffered a stroke, and is brutally treated by the daughter. It is a grim, depressing play, which I hope is not autobiographical.
A revival of Into the Woods, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, at the Laura Pels Theatre, is a Fiasco Theater production, which features a young ten member cast, plus a piano accompaniment. This version of one of Sondheim's lesser musicals about fairy tale characters has an energetic cast, with loud voices. While, at times, entertaining, it does little to enhance Sondheim's reputation.
A revival of Da, by Hugh Leonard, directed by Charlotte Moore, is a superb production by the Irish Repertory Company. It is a memory play about a man (Ciaran O'Reilly) haunted by ghosts of his family, with scenes from his life from childhood to middle age. It is well acted by the eight member cast. I congratulated them at the opening night party at The Watering Hole..
Tuesday January 20 was a day that will live in my memory. I did four photo ops and attended the New York City Ballet. Occasionally, I have slow days like that. It began photographing the cast and director of The Heidi Chronicles, byWendy Wasserstein, starring Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs and Bryce Pinkham. It opens at The Music Box on March 19. I am eagerly awaiting the opening. My second photo op was for John & Jen, music by Andrew Lippa, lyrics byTom Greenwald, which opens on February 26 at the Harold Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row. The two member cast, Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan performed two of the songs. I also eagerly await opening night. Sting received a well deserved caricature at a reception at Sardi's. His proud wife Trudie Styler was present as well as the cast of The Last Ship. A caricature signing is always a happy occasion.
The Museum of the Moving Image 29th Black-Tie Salute to Julianne Moore at 583 Park was a wonderful event, full of fine actors like Ethan Hawke, Billy Crudup and Steve Buscemi among many others. Moore looked beautiful and she may finally win the Academy Award as Best Actress this year after being nominated five times previously. She certainly deserves it. I managed to get to the New York City Ballet
Symphony in C.just in time to catch my favorite Balanchine ballet Symphony in C.
In 1952, I attended a dress rehearsal of the ballet at City Center with a friend from the Arts Student League. It was my first time to see the company. I fell in love with ballet that afternoon, and my nights at the New York City Ballet have been, since then, one of the great pleasures of my professional life. The cast danced splendidly on January 20, with two of their finest ballerinas, Ashley Bouder in the first movement and Sara Means in the second, displaying their brilliant technique. The entire company was at their best. It was the perfect conclusion to a wonderful day, where I had the pleasure of talking, photographing, seeing and enjoying the company of magnificent actors, singers and dancers. A day like this is the reason why there is no place in the world like New York.
The Casting Society of America (CSA) presented the 30th Annual Artios Awards at 42WEST. It was a glorious event filled with wonderful celebrities. As I had to attend an Off-Broadway opening, I was only able to photograph just a few of them. Michael Urie was the host, and opera star Renee Fleming was one of the presenters. I hope next year I will not have a conflict!
Film Society Lincoln Center is presenting In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Ostlund January 14-22. Force Majeure, Sweden, Denmark, France, Norway, 2014, is a superb film, with magnificent photography. A family, on vacation in the Alpes, is having lunch in a restaurant, when an avalanche appears to almost hit them, causing panic among the guests. The father grabs his cellphone and flees, abandoning his wife and two young children. When he returns and all are safe, his relationship with his wife unravels. It is a mature, intelligent, realistic film, which is beautifully acted by the entire cast, including the children. It is certainly one of the finest films of the year, and Ruben Ostlund is a remarkable director.
Involuntary, Sweden, 2008, alternates five stories scene by scene. in which modern Swedish society is dissected. There is an upper middle class birthday party in which someone is injured. Another story follows two pre-teenage girls getting drunk and misbehaving. A third is about a middle school teacher witnessing a student being physically attacked by a teacher. The fourth has six married men on a retreat from their wives, getting drunk and misbehaving. Finally, a bus ride full of passengers is stopped by the bus driver when the toilet on the bus is damaged. It is an incisive view of societal behavior. It is a fascinating film.
Having seen three subsequent films, I decided to see his first feature film. The Guitar Mongoloid, Sweden, 2004. The title refers to an undisciplined youngster, who plays the guitar badly, has a filthy mouth, and is generally annoying. Unfortunately, we see a lot of him in the film. There are also a multitude of unpleasant, unattractive characters in the film, who all appear neurotic, or violent, or stupid, or drunk. One extended scene is of three men playing Russian roulette with a revolver, which adds nothing to the film. I was disappointed with this film, but I recognize the early budding talent of Ruben Ostlund.
MoMA is presenting Acteurism: Joan Bennett to January 30. The House across the Bay, by Archie Mayo, USA, 1940, is a an unbelievable story, but it is a delight to see five movie stars at their best. Lovely Joan Bennett as a brunette, with a change of fashionable clothes in every scene, is a pleasure to watch, as is George Raft being tough, and as is Walter Pigeon as charming as ever, and as is Lloyd Nolan as devious as ever, and as is Gladys George as a wise cracking friend of Bennett. The snappy dialogue is a joy to hear, and there is one hilarious scene in which Bennett sings a latin number with a chihuahua.