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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben October 28, 2017

 

 

Aubrey Reuben

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

October 7, 2017

M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang, at the Cort Theatre, is new version of the play. Director Julie Taymor pulls out a new bag of tricks with taped music from Madama Butterfly, a scene from the Peking Opera, a Chinese revolutionary ballet, a torture scene and rehabilitation of a Chinese spy, and a totally nude actor parading his versatility in the final scene. It begins with a  French married diplomat, Rene Gallimard, (Clive Owen) sitting in his prison cell in Paris in 1986. He recalls seeing the Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly as a child, and becoming obsessed with the idea of falling in love with a submissive Asian woman. Fantasy becomes reality when he is posted to China, where he meets Song Liling (Jin Ha), an artist with the Peking opera. She is a he and a Chinese spy. The tale ends tragically. Elliot Goldenthal is responsible for the original music and Ma Chong for the choreography. The four dancers are the highlight of the show. The scenic design by Paul Steinberg is also very good. With all the additions to the original play, the end result is overlong and dull.
 
This One's For The Girls, by Dorothy Marcic, directed by Tamara Kangas Erickson, at St. Lukes Theatre, has a cast of four females, Traci Blair, Aneesa Folds, Jana Robbins and Haley Swindalsinging popular songs of the period, for 100 minutes, about changes in American women's lives from the turn of the twentieth century until today. From wives and mothers, they change to liberated, independent women. It's an enjoyable production.
 
It is not necessary to go to Flushing to watch tennis. Instead see The Last Match, by Anna Ziegler, a production of the Roundabout Theatre Company, a play about a tennis match at the U.S. Open between an American tennis champion (Wilson Bethel) and his Russian challenger (Alex Mickiewicz). The two actors are quite good. As the game proceeds, the scenes go back and forth to show us their lives. The American is married, and his wife wants a baby. The Russian has a strong willed Russian fiancee, who wants him to become a champion. The 90 minutes play is interesting, the plot is inventive and the dialogue is realistic.
 
A new West Side Comedy Club at Playa Betty's, 320 Amsterdam Avenue, is a lovely large room in the basement of the wonderful California style restaurant. Nina Ashe is the charming owner/manager of the wonderful space. I was invited to a delicious lunch to hear three marvelous female comedians perform Laughercise. The host was Felicia Madison, founder of Laughing Affairs, who performed last, after presenting Liz Miele and Carmen Lynch. The three were hilarious, and a packed house roared with laughter. I was the only man present. The next time that I attend, I will bring a bodyguard to protect me. You know how I choose my bodyguards. They are all beautiful ladies with great bodies!
 
MoMA is presenting Strange Illusions: Poverty Row Classics Preserved by UCLA, Oct 19-28. Ruthless, by Edgar G. Ulmer, USA, 1948, features an all star cast. Zachary Scott is the ruthless wall street mogul of the title. Along the way to the top, he deceives his first love (Dana Lynn), betrays his best friend (Louis Haywood) and ruins a Wall street rival (Sydney Greenstreet). He is gets his comeuppance. It is a good old fashioned melodrama with fine acting by the entire cast.
 
Mamba, by Albert S. Rogell, USA, 1930, also at MoMA, is in technicolor, and takes place in German East Africa in 1913.  A brutal, wealthy plantation owner (Jean Hersholt) goes back to Germany to marry a lovely young bride (Eleanor Boardman).
She suffers through the marriage, and falls in love with a German officer (Ralph Forbes). Through war and an uprising by the African natives, her husband is killed, and they survive to live happily ever after. It is a silly tale, but interesting historically to see the development of technicolor, plus a look at the overbearing attitude of Germans and British in their conquered African colonies..


Two more films in the series at  MoMA were False Faces, by Lowell Sherman, USA, 1932, about an unethical doctor (Lowell Sherman), who is fired from a New York hospital and relocates to Chicago to practice as a plastic surgeon, with unpleasant results. It is one of the more interesting films in the series, with serious matters concerning malpractice by unscrupulous surgeons. It also contains humorous, sophisticated dialogue, and the acting by the entire cast is first rate. I enjoyed every minute of this film.


The other film, The Sin of Nora Moran, by Phil Goldstone, USA, 1933, which has a twisted complicated plot about a young girl, who is convicted of murder for a crime she did not commit. It involves a politician, with whom she is having an affair. It is an engrossing film. All four films are worth seeing, and compared to many of the films being made today, a delight for dialogue without vulgar words or profanity..

 

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) presented four ballets at the David H, Koch Theater. Three were very modern, with one classic Symphonic Variations, choreography by Frederick Ashton, music by Cesar Franck. It was one of the two highlights of the evening. All six dancers were superb, as they enjoyed the lovely music, with Barbara Bilach at the piano and David LaMarch conducting the orchestra. The second highlight was a duet by two brilliant soloists, Hee Seo and Roman ZhurbinElegy Pas de Deux, choreography Liam Scarlett, who was also responsible for the costumes, and music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with piano soloist Emily Wong. The program began with Her Notes, choreography by Jessica Lang, who was also responsible for the scenery, and music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, played by piano soloist Emily Wong. The program concluded with Thirteen Diversions, choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, music by Benjamin Britten, with piano soloist Barbara Bilach, and the orchestra conducted by Ormsby Wilkins. It was an interesting combination of modern ballets.


 

Bebe Neuwirth (photo below) was honored at the Abington Theatre Gala 25th Anniversary Gala at  Edison Ballroom, 240 West 47th St. A large group of artists performed, including two of my favorite performers, Cady Huffman, who won a Tony for her role in The Producers, and Angie L. Schworer, who will be in the new musical Prom. And I will be there to give her a standing ovation. It was a lovely event.

 

The Annual Parity Productions Gala took place at The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd St. It was splendid affair, with a reception, followed by a musical performance by Eli Denby Wood and Nandi Kavvy, a theatrical performance of selections from four plays, and the presentation of two awards to Corbin Went and Melissa Annis, by MJ Kaufman and Cusi Cram. Bottles of Prosecco were placed on the tables to toast the occasion. Then dancing took place, during dessert, to music by The Snowy Mountain Sisters. Founder and President of Parity Productions Ludovica Villar-Hauser (photo below) welcomed the guests and introduced the performers. She is to be congratulated for a magnificent event.

 
       

 
 

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

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