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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben - October 8, 2016

 

Aubrey Reuben

On the Town With Aubrey Reuben
Where All the Stars Shine Brightly!
October 8, 2016

 

The Metropolitan Opera presented L'Italiana in Algeri, by Gioachino Rossini, one of his earliest comic operas. After a bubbling overture, conducted by Music Director Emeritus James Levine, the opera featured a group of soloists, who engaged in the silly shenanigans with great abandon. The plot about a Bey Mustafa (Ildar Abdrazakov), who wants to marry his wife Elvira (Ying Fang) to his Italian prisoner Lindoro (Rene Barbera), and orders Haly (Dwayne Croft), his pirate captain, to find him an Italian lady for his wife. A shipwrecked Isabella (Marianna Pizzolato) conveniently appears, and complications follow. Ildar Abdrazakov stole the show in his bath on stage, revealing his muscular body to the delight of the audience. His powerful voice was a pleasure to hear. Rene Barbera was a sweet voiced Lindoro, strong in all registers, and his arias in the first and second acts received a well deserved ovation. Ying Fang sang excellently, as did Rihab Chaieb as Zulma, her confidante. Only Marianna Pizzolato was a disappointment. Her voice was weak for a large house like the Met, and her lower register was almost inaudible. Dwayne Croft and Taddeo (Nicola Alaimo) sang well, and were fine support, especially, in the brilliant ensembles. The seven member ensemble which closes the first act was the highlight of the evening. When James Levine returned to conduct the second act, he received a thunderous applause. He is a cherished conductor,  who will never be forgotten for his memorable contributions to making the Met the most esteemed opera house in the world today.


 

On Broadway, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, at Studio 54, is an updated version of the successful film, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Great film musicals are rarely successful when transferred to the stage. This one is a good example. The cast, directed by Gordon Greenberg, cannot compare with those from the film, although Corbin Bleu is fine as the dancing lead. Only the songs of Irving Berlin are always a pleasure to listen to. The story of a retired singer, who buys a farm in Connecticut, and turns it into a theater on public holidays, can only be brought to life with outstanding performers. The cast works hard, and the show night please nostalgic audiences when touring across the country. But sophisticated Broadway audiences demand more.


 

Off-Broadway, Afterplay, by Brian Friel, at the Irish Repertory Theatre, is a sentimental play, in which two characters, Andrey and Sonya from two of Chekhov's plays, meet in a cafe in Moscow twenty years later. It features two splendid actors, Dermot Crowley and Dearbhla Molloy (photo below), directed expertly by Joe Dowling. It is a lovely evening of superb theatre. A delicious opening night party was held in the gallery of the newly renovated theatre.


 

That Golden Girls Show!, created & directed by Jonathan Rockefeller, at the DR2 Theatre, is a puppet parody of the long running television show. A five member cast with four of them handling the puppets of the four warmly remembered stars of the show, created & directed by Joel Gennari, will bring back nostalgic memories for their fans. An onstage reception was held opening night with champagne and cheesecake.


 

 




The Roads to Home, by Horton Foote. at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a production of Primary Stages. A six member cast (photo below), directed by Michael Wilson, captures small town life in Texas wonderfully, with outstanding performances by the three actresses, Hallie Foote, Harriet Harriet and Rebecca Brooksher. The opening night party was held at El Toro Blanco, 267 6th Avenue, with guests Lois Smith, Edward Hibbert and Elizabeth Ashley, where lots of Mexican wine, beer, and tacos, empanadas, flautas, pizza and more was served to the happy crowd. 


The New York City Ballet presented a wonderful program of three ballets by three different choreographers, It began with Glass Pieces, music by Philip Glass, choreography by Jerome Robbins. The music is hypnotic, and the ballet is imaginative and inventive. The dancers were terrific. Thou Swell, music by Richard Rodgers, choreography by Peter Martins is pleasant with enjoyable songs, danced by four excellent couples. The third ballet was Stars and Stripes, with music by John Philip Sousa, choreography by George Balanchine. It is a crowd pleaser, and it delighted the audience. Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette won a tremendous ovation in the Fourth Campaign with their dazzling performance. 


 

I attended a Meet & Greet for This Day Forward, by Nicky Silver, which opens at the Vineyard Theatre on November 21. I look forward eagerly to the opening night. I photographed the six member cast, the playwright and the director Mark Brokaw.


 

Another Meet & Greet was for the MCC Theater Ride the Cyclone, book, music and lyrics by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell, which opens on December 1. I photographed the creative team and cast, and I look forward to opening night.



Aquarius,
 by Kleber Mendonca Filho, Brazil, 2016, stars Sonia Braga as a 65-year-old widow, who lives in an old apartment building in Recife. All the other apartments are empty. The construction company wants her to move, and employs various horrendous means to force her out. She is a feisty lady, who fights back. Braga gives a brilliant performance, and appears in virtually every scene. Some of the scenes are almost pornographic, such as an orgy which occurs in the empty apartment above her. It shows how an individual must fight the greed and ruthlessness of powerful, corrupt governments. It is an important film, which I enjoyed immensely.


 

The Love Witch, by Anna Biller, USA, 2016, is a colorful film, an imitation of the Hollywood technicolor films of the past. The plot, about a beautiful witch, who wants a perfect love, and meets and destroys many men in the process, is silly, but is remarkably entertaining. The love witch is a lovely Samantha Robinson, with a perfect figure, which she displays throughout the film. There is a great deal of simulated sex, and complete nudity. Voyeurs will be delighted.

 


 

Film Forum presented Tampopo, by Juzo Itami, Japan, 1987, a new 4K restoration. It is a wonderful film about food and sex. A truck driver stops at a ramen restaurant, where the owner Tampopo cooks ramen noodles badly. He decides to help her. There are a number of hilarious scenes, which digress from the main plot, but all are entertaining. Lovers of food will delight in learning how to make a perfect ramen, and lovers of sex on the screen will enjoy some remarkable scenes. Do not miss this unusual film!


 

The Metropolitan Museum presented two marvelous  exhibitions. Fragonard: Drawing-Triumphant-Works from New York Collections, October 6- January 8,2017 and Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio, October 7-January 16, 2017. Both are superb French artists, influenced strongly by their studies in Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fragonard captured the lovely Villa d'Este on his visit to Tivoli, a favorite of mine, and Valentin painted live models, shockingly at that time. His card sharps, musicians and fortune tellers are a joy to behold. I recommend these two exhibitions for all art lovers.

 
 



 

 

 

 

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

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