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

 

 

Aubrey Reuben

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

 

Because of the weekend blizzard, I was forced to cancel a program of the New York City Ballet, a film of The Bolshoi Ballet and an Off-Broadway opening. However, I was able to see the following.

 

I attended the premiere of Maria Stuarda, by Gaetano Donizetti, at the Metropolitan Opera, Friday night, January 29. It was glorious night at the opera. The singers were splendid. Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role as Mary Stuart, Queen of the Scots, excelled with a powerful voice, in all the registers, and dominated the orchestra and chorus in crowd scenes. She reached the dazzling high notes with ease, and was a delight to listen to. Her acting was superb. A standing ovation at the opera's conclusion was well deserved.Elza van den Heever was a marvelous Queen Elizabeth. Her voice was powerful also, a perfect blending with her nemesis in their confrontation in the second scene of the first act. Celso Albelo as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, made an impressive debut, with plangent tones, and lovely, clean high notes. He will be a fine addition to the company. Among the other soloists, Kwanchul Youn, with his deep baritone voice, was outstanding, especially in his duet with Albelo in the first act. The chorus, under Donald Palumbo, contributed to the success of the production, and the music, played exquisitely by the orchestra, under the baton of Riccardo Frizza, a specialist of bel canto, was a delight to the ears. Even with a minimalist scenic design and dark lighting, it was joy to see.

 

Off-Broadway, A Dream of Red Pavilions, by Jeremy Tiang, adapted from the novel by Cao Xueqin, is a gorgeous production by the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, directed by Tisa Chang and Lu Yu. It is a classic tale of a tragic other worldly love between two cousins in 18th century China. The costumes by Hyun Sook Kim are spectacular, and the entire cast is delightful to watch. We congratulated the talented cast at an opening night reception in the second floor lounge at Theatre Row.
 

MoMA is presenting All That Jack (Cole), Jan 20-Feb 4, an eighteen film series, featuring the choreography and staging of Jack Cole, influential on screen during the 1950s. Designing Woman, by Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1957, stars Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall as a mismatched pair of lovers, who marry after meeting for a few days. He is a sportswriter for a newspaper and she is a fashion designer. Although there are many misunderstandings, the fairy tale ends happily ever after. What is interesting is that Jack Cole appears in the film as a Broadway choreographer, and in a couple of scenes he performs energetically. Dolores Gray has a couple of unexceptional song and dance numbers as the star of the Broadway show in which she is performing. Although the plot is ridiculous, I quite enjoyed the film thanks to the talented actors.

ALL THAT JACK was a lecture about the life of Jack Cole and his accomplishments by dance critic and co-curator Debra Levine. Two guests, dancers who worked for Cole in film and television, Carmen de Lavallade and Grover Dale, also spoke on stage. Film clips and photographs were shown. It was an interesting and illuminating program.

 






The I Don't Care Girl
, by Lloyd Bacon, USA, 1953, apparently did not please the producers, and Jack Cole was hired to choreograph and stage three additional song and dance numbers when the film was re-released. Mitzi Gaynor was the star and danced brilliantly as Eva Tanguay, a star of the Ziegfeld Follies. The story was trite, but the singing and dancing was a joy to see and hear. David Wayne and Oscar Levant were her co-stars.

There's No Business Like Show Business, by Walter Lang, USA, 1954, was an all star production with Marilyn Monroe, Ethel Merman, Mitzi Gaynor, Dan Dailey, Donald O'Connor and Johnnie Ray. The music and lyrics were by Irving Berlin, and the film was filled with glorious dance numbers, some for Monroe by Jack Cole. The plot is banal about a family over the years in vaudeville, but the singing and dancing is wonderful, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Meet Me After the Show, by Richard Sale, USA, 1951, stars Betty Grable, and is is just wonderful as a Broadway star. married to the producer of the show. When she sees a beautiful investor kissiing him passionately, she files for divorce. The complications are resolved like all Hollywood films, which have happy endings. Grable has never sung or danced better than she does in this film following the choreography and staging of Jack Cole. His biographer Glenn Loney was interviewed by Debra Levine before the screening, and proved to be a charming, witty and intelligent guest. It was a pleasure to listen to him, and Levine admitted that she relied on his biography for much of her knowledge about Cole.

Three for the Show, by H.C. Potter, USA, 1955, is, probably, one of the best films of the series, starring Betty Grable, Jack Lemmon, Marge and Gower Champion. For once, the plot could happen.The script is witty, the dialogue stimulating and the song and dance numbers are imaginative and delightful. A Broadway star (Grable) finds herself married to two men, when she is advised that her husband (Lemmon) has died in the Korean War, and she remarried (Gower Champion). When Lemmon returns years later (he was stranded on a desert island), she has to resolve the problem. I have enjoyed this series immensely, but this film is one of the highlights.

 
Film Society of Lincoln Center held press screenings for Dance on  Camera. I saw Our Last Tango, by German Kral, Germany/Argentina, 2015, a documentary about the famous Argentine tango dancers, Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes. Now Maria alone at 81-year-old and Juan married with children at 84-year-old recall their past years together as the supreme tango dancers in their native country and touring around the world, including Broadway in the sensational Tango Argentino in 1985. Their devotion to the tango revived a lost art, and has been the determining factor in their lives. It is a fascinating film, in which they tell their history together frankly and honestly, and also sadly.

I attended another soiree at Alice Kandell's elegant penthouse. The charming hostess served hors d'oeuvres and a delicious supper, with exquisite desserts and fine wine. An entertainment of popular music by composer/pianist Jimmy Roberts (with a couple of classical solos added) and baritone Lawrence Craig completed a delightful evening, plus there were interesting guests to converse with. Who could ask for anything more?
 

01-30-16 Conductor Riccardo Frizza after the opening night performance of "Maria Stuarda" at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. Friday night. 01-29-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

01-29-16 Cast members (L-R) Amanda Centeno. E.J. An. Leanne Cabrera. Audrey Wang at the opening night party for "A Dream of Red Pavilions" in the lounge of Theatre Row. 410 West 42nd St. Thursday night. 01-28-16.  Photo by:  Aubrey Reuben

01-30-16 Conductor Riccardo Frizza after the opening night performance of "Maria Stuarda" at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. Friday night. 01-29-16

01-29-16 Cast members (L-R) Amanda Centeno. E.J. An. Leanne Cabrera. Audrey Wang at the opening night party for "A Dream of Red Pavilions" in the lounge of Theatre Row. 410 West 42nd St. Thursday night. 01-28-16

 

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

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