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Black Tie International:
On The Town With Aubrey Reuben February 4, 2017



Aubrey Reuben

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

February 4 2017


Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi, at the Metropolitan Opera, is an updated, modern version, which takes place in Las Vegas in 1960.  I saw the opera at the old Metropoltan Opera House in 1948 with Leonard Warren in the title role. I have seen perhaps forty performances of the opera over seventy years attending the Metropolitan Opera, and I have to admit I prefer old fashioned sets and costumes. .Zelijko Lucic in the title sang extremely well with a powerful, sonorous voice, only equaled by Andrea Mastroni as Sparafucile. Both dominated the performance. Olga Peretyatko has impressive credentials, and sang well, especially in the high notes. Her caro nome in the first act was well received. Stephen Costello as the Duke also projected well, and his signature aria la donna e mobile was granted a well deserved applause. Oksana Volkova was sexy, and displayed her bare legs well, but was inaudible. The orchestra, under the baton of Pier Giorgio Morandi, played the music excellently, and the male chorus, under Donald Palumbo, contributed to the success of the performance. The production by Michael Mayer itself is another matter. I see no point in seeing six chorus girls with fans, and a dancer dressed as an Egyptian stepping out of a sarcophagus (which was used later to abduct Gilda) in the first act. Also, a topless pole dancer at a sleazy cabaret opens of the third act, which must have delighted voyeurs. It contributes nothing to the opera One can only describe the set design as garish, and unpleasant to one's eyesight. Finally, having Monterone (Nelson Martinez) appear as an arab tycoon dressed as a sheik is probably not wise in our troubled times. But, fortunately, nothing can destroy Verdi's glorious opera, probably one of the most popular in the world.


Paramour, directed and conceived by Philippe Decoufle, at the Lyric Theatre, is a dazzling entertainment by Cirque du Soleil. We were invited back to see it again for the third time. It is a story of a Hollywood director (Jeremy Kushnier), who discovers a new artist (Ruby Lewis), and is determined to make her a film star and a future wife. She has a jealous boyfriend, and complications ensue. The story is a cliche, but the amazing circus acts are fabulous. Every performer seems to do the impossible, and we watch with astonishment as they float through the air and perform incredible acrobatics. It is a sight not to be missed!


Artistic Director Susan Charlotte presented Cause Celebre Musical Brunch Series The Charles Strouse Show at Chez Josephine, 414 West 42nd St. It is always a lovely event. A delicious brunch is served with a choice from many drinks, followed by a terrific show. Billy Goldenberg introduced Charles Strouse, the composer of wonderful Broadway musicals like Annie, Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, among many others, who performed at the piano, sang and told wonderful stories, joined by Carole Shelley and Eric Ives Garcia. Among the guests who enjoyed the presentation were Louise Lasser, book writer of The Wiz William F.  Brown, his wife photographer Tina Tippit Brown, lawyer Harvey Stricklon, his wife Linda and the wife of Charles Strouse, dancer/choreographer Barbara Siman. It was a delightful luncheon. Afterwards, some of us were invited to Susan Charlotte's penthouse for wine and hors d'oeuvres to complete a marvelous afternoon.


The York Theatre Company presented Milk and Honey,  book by Don Appell, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, one of their Musicals in Mufti! The cast was excellent, directed expertly by Michael Unger, with Jeffrey Saver playing the score magnificently at the piano. The plot, about American widows visiting Israel in 1961 and two of them finding love, is delightful, funny, and the music is lovely. Mark Delavan was outstanding in the leading role, singing beautifully. Anne Runolfsson, as his new found love, sang equally well, and Alix Korey was hilarious as the second widow. She is a scene stealer! We congratulated the marvelous cast at the opening night party in the music room. 


Yen, by Anna Jordan, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is a play about two teenage brothers (Lucas Hedges and Justice Smith), abandoned by their drug addicted mother (Ari Graynor), who live unsupervised in a drab flat in a housing project in London. They spend their time watching porn on television and playing video games. A teenage neighbor (Stefania LaVie Owen) enters their lives, and attempts to civilize them. The four actors act terrifically, under the expert direction of Trip Cullman. We congratulated the cast and their proud families at the opening night party at Sushi Samba, 87 7th Ave. South.


Georgie, My Adventures With George Rose, written and starring Ed Dixon, directed by Eric Schaeffer, at the Loft at the Davenport Theatre, is a wonderful one man show, in which the magnificent Broadway actor is remembered by the actor who was influenced by him. Ed Dixon is a remarkable performer, who imitates George Rose to perfection.


The 90-minute show is full of humor, until the ending, which ends in tragedy. Theatre lovers will love this show. We celebrated at the opening night party at Sardi's with guests Kathie Lee Gifford, Christine Ebersole and Lee Roy Reams.


Drunkle Vanya is an immersive entertainment at the Russian Samovar, 256 West 52nd St, in a private room on the second floor of the restaurant. The audience sits on couches and chairs while six actors. as characters from an adaption of  Uncle Vanya by Chekhov, encourage them to participate in the shenanigans, that take place for almost two hours. The audience is also encouraged to buy alcoholic drinks and plates of Russian food after receiving a complimentary shot of flavored vodka. In Chekhov's plays, vulgarity and profanity never appear, and that is why I prefer them in the old-fashioned way, rather than in this updated modern version.

A wonderful The Blue Jacket Fashion Show to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation was presented at Pier 59 Studios, followed by cocktails and dinner. Among the models were actors like Mario Cantone, TV personalities like Carson Kressley
athletes like CC Sabathia, and NY Post columnist Richard Johnson. It was a lovely affair.


I attended a press preview of the SR Socially Relevant Film Festival New York 2017 at the Serafina Harlem, 1260 Amsterdam Avenue. The Founder and Artistic Director Nora Armani spoke about the festival, which takes place from March 14-18. She described the films, which will screened at Cinepolis Chelsea.

Leaving Serafina Harlem, we encountered my good friend Gary Shapiro. He works in the press office at Columbia University. He invited us to tour the campus. It was delightful. Gary is knowledgeable about the history of one of the oldest universities in the United States.He took us visit many of the splendid building, including the Finesse Exhibition in the Wallach Art Gallery 


For cat lovers, Oscilloscope Laboratories presented a press preview at Metrograph Cinema, 7 Ludow St, of Kedi, by Ceyda Torun,Turkey, 2016, a fascinating documentary, beautifully photographed by Charlie Wuppermann, following street cats, who are welcome in Istanbul. The cats, who are named Sari, Bengu, Aslan Parcasi, Psikopat, Deniz, Gamiz and Duman, have different personalties. They could be almost human. Many inhabitants take care of these cats, giving them food and shelter, and reveal how rewarding it is to have a friendly relationship with them. Restaurant owners, fishermen, factory workers, among others, speak lovingly about their favorite cats. We see mother cats protecting their kittens, frightening mice, being stroked, and it is a delight to see the respect between humans and cats. Every decent person will enjoy this delightful film.

I attended a press preview at Film Forum of Beat the Devil, by John Huston, USA, 1953, a new 4K restoration of the complete, unseen, uncensored original cut, starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley andPeter Lorre. It is a silly, chaotic story about four criminals, who intend to make a fortune stealing uranium in Africa. Meanwhile, they are waiting for their ship in a little town on the the Italian coast. They meet Bogart and his wife Lollobrigida, and Jones and her husband Edward Underdown. The plot, written by Huston and Truman Capote, is too ridiculous to describe, but it is a delight to watch the stars being silly. By the way, there are many marvelous supporting actors, who contribute to making the film watchable. 



The 58th Street Branch Library presented Florence Foster Jenkins, by Stephen Frears, UK/France, 2016, based on true events about the wealthy, eccentric opera lover (Meryl Streep in the title role), who rented Carnegie Hall in 1944, to perform operatic arias, accompanied at the piano by Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg). The fact that she was not a good singer made the event memorable, as celebrities like Cole Porter and Tallulah Bankhead attended, and one thousand members of the armed forces received free tickets. It is a wonderful film, and the acting is superb. Streep has already received an Oscar nomination for her brilliant performance. All the supporting members of the cast are equally fine, especially Hugh Grant as her husband. I enjoyed every minute of this fascinating story.


I attended a press preview Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count TessinFeb 3-May 14 at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue. I was overwhelmed. These magnificent paintings and drawings have never been seen in the United States, and they are superb. The Count was in Paris during the mid-eighteenth century, and bought these works of art. It is a unique exhibition, and a viewer will be impressed. Do not miss it!




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