On Broadway, Hugh Jackman is a superstar. Fans flock to see him perform in film and on stage. Apparently, just looking at him in person will suffice. In The River, by Jez Butterworth, at the Circle in the Square Theatre, he plays a fisherman in an isolated cabin, directed by Ian Rickson. He is with a young woman (Cush Jumbo), whom he wants to take trout fishing at night. She disappears, and another woman (Laura Donnelly) replaces her. The two women go back and forth replacing one another in this eighty five minute puzzling play. When the last scene takes place, a third woman appears. She is not even listed in the program. The three women repeat the same pretentious dialogue ad nauseam. When the audience leaves the theatre, no one knows what the play was about. I guess just to see Jackman in a small theatre up close was worth the price of the ticket for them. As far as I am concerned, the play is all wet.
A revival of a newly revised Side Show, book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Henry Krieger, additional book material and direction by Bill Condon, at the St. James Theatre, is a vast improvement over the original, which opened and closed rapidly in 1997. It is based on the true story of the Siamese Twins, Daisy (Emily Padgett) and Violet Hilton (Erin Davie) conjoined at the hip, who began appearing in freak shows, and became stars in vaudeville. The two actresses sing and act beautifully, and give, what should be an award winning performance. The rest of the cast is equally fine, and the special make-up effects design of the freaks by Dave Elsey and Lou Elsey is astonishing. To bring back a failed musical, and turn it into a successful musical is a remarkable achievement, and the creative team deserve a well deserved ovation. The opening night party took place at Tao, 92 Ninth Avenue, and lots of guests came to celebrate, includingPhylicia and Condola Rashad, Jefferson Mays, Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas and Christine Ebersole.
Off-Broadway, a revival of Allegro, music by Richard Rodgers, book & lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, directed & designed by John Doyle, at the Classic Stage Company, is a sentimental musical, that was not successful originally on Broadway. It is the story of the son of a small town doctor, who grows up to be a doctor, but goes to a big city, Chicago, where he loses his integrity and idealism, due to his ambitious wife. The tale is trite, but the music is glorious, like all Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. Doyle employs actors, who also play musical instruments. They are skillful, but on a bare stage the performance has a minimal look.
Punk Rock, by Simon Stephens, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is about a group of teenagers preparing to take an exam in a private high school in Stockport, a town close to Manchester (my hometown). They clown around in the library. They are a motley crew, and behave badly, leading to violence. I attended a private high school, founded in 1688, and we were better behaved. Obviously times have changed. The actors are all very, very good.
I attended a dress rehearsal of Class Concert, one of three ballets that the the Mikhailovsky Ballet Company from Russia is presenting as Three Centuries of Russian Ballet. It is charming ballet, which shows young children beginning their classical ballet instruction practicing at the barre. It continues as they grow older, finishing the first part with mature dancers at the barre. The second part is spectacular, where all the dancers, young and old, perform every classical step, with amazing turns and lifts. It is a splendid company, and it is a privilege to watch them rehearse
I also attended a dress rehearsal of the Prologue and Act I of Don Quixote, music by Ludwig Minkus The two leading stars of the company, Natalia Osipova as Kitri and Ivan Vasiliev as Basilio performed, and they were a joy to watch. I returned to see the revised full production staged by Mikhail Messerer, with Angelina Vorontsova (Kitri) and Victor Lebedev (Basilio). Both danced well, especially their Pas de Deux in Act III. However, Ekaterina Borchenko (The Queen of the Dryads) and Veronika Ignateva (Cupid) stole the show in the dream sequence in the third scene of the second act. They were superb.
The New York Stage and Film Winter Gala 2014 honored Michael Mayer and Rick Miramontez at the Plaza Hotel. It was a glorious event. I enjoyed every minute of it. My dinner companions were two of my favorite actors, Josh Radnorand Frank Wood. They were pleasant company. But all around the the crowded room were marvelous celebrities like Tommy Tune, Joel Grey, Mark Linn-Baker and Reg Rogers.
The T. J. Martell Foundation hosted the 11th-Annual World Tour of Wine at Capitale, 130 Bowery. The honorees were Doug Shafer, Owner of Shafer Vineyards and Alex Liveson of RUSH. Among the guests were Andy Karl, Orfeh, Montego Glover and Hall of Fame MLB Player Eddie Murray. It was a splendid event, and I had the pleasure of being seated at Patrick Mata's table, who was honored last year for his superb OLE wines from Spain. We tasted a variety of his current selections, and each one was delicious.
Adult Film Star Legend Tabitha Stevens hosted a fascinating fashion show Diablo's Vixens by clothing designer/adult film star Britney Shannon at the elegant Gentlemen's Club Vivid, 67 West 37th St. The models, who are all Vivid cabaret girls, were very beautiful and sexy. This clothing line should become very popular, and I enjoyed every moment I spent in the club.
I was not able to see the film documentary Finding Vivian Maier, by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel, but was able to attend a reception for a photographic exhibition Vivian Maier: In Her Own Hands, at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, 41 East 57th St, which will run from October 30-December 6. It is an interesting group of forty unusual photographs. taken by a reclusive, eccentric lady, who worked as a nanny for forty years in Chicago and New York, but found her enjoyment photographing people and landscapes. It is well worth a visit.
Film Society at Lincoln Center presented press screenings for Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema, December 4-8. Viktoria, by Maya Vitkova, Bulgaria/Romania, 2014, is an overlong, grim, depressing film, about an unhappy wife, who does not want to have a child. When she gives birth to a daughter, she neglects her and treats her badly. The story is told with newsreel footage of political events taking place around the world from 1979 to the present, which add nothing to the film. There are many graphic scenes of childbirth and the wife appears topless in many of the scenes. These scenes are not particularly pleasant to watch.
Where Are You Bucharest?/Bucuresti, unde esti?, by Vlad Petri, Romania, 2014, is an annoying documentary. The filmmaker shows a protest demonstration against the government in the main square of the capital city, and allows irritating young men to yell and talk endlessly repeating the same thoughtless sentences, and elderly people singing badly the same verses over and over again. I'm sure there are problems in Romania that need to be resolved. But a film like this can only give a viewer a headache.
The Journey/Morometii, by Stere Gulea, Romania, 1987, is based on a novel, covering the years leading up to World War II in a country village, where life is changing. We see their daily activities, their boredom and their poverty. Not much happens in this overlong film, which can bore viewers watching uninteresting characters.