Week of November 14-20, 2011



Thanksgiving had to be an Anti Climax—in spite of the fabled Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade of Giant Balloons & dancing Platoons of Bandsmen & Glittering Demi Rockettes—because the great Christmas Show windows at Bergdorf's, Saks, & Lord & Taylor were already Unveiled!

Tiffany's had turned its Fifth Avenue Windows into Carousels, jutting out streetward!

The Park Avenue Christmas Trees were now in place, but, as yet, sans Xmas Lights.

Unfortunately, in New York Theatre, the Turkeys weren't only on the Dining Table

Not even a Holiday Presidential Pardon could save some fowl/foul plays.



•No Performer Mikes on stage at Town Hall: Scott Siegel's Broadway Unplugged 2011!

•Into Space & Beyond Planet Earth at Museum of Natural History: Just Press the Button!

•No Cantonese, If You Please: Try To Learn Ch'inglish—But It Loses In Translation…

•Why Are There No Skinny Boteros? Acres of Latin American Art at Christie's!

•Cowardian Comedy of Manners Elegant But Mannered: Kim Cattrall in Private Lives.

•The Usual Suspects in MoMA's Contemporary Galleries: From 1980 to NOW…

•New Maxwell Davies Opera: Students Under Oppression: From Hitler to Mao to Ole' Miss.

•Gender Bending American Art at Brooklyn Museum: HIDE/SEEK—Who's Gay or Not?

Look Where It Comes Again! Not Hamlet's Ghost, but the Specter of GODSPELL!

•Who Would Believe John Malkovich as a Viennese Serial Killer? With an Orchestra?

•Lusty Dancing for Lughnasa, But Tragic Lives for Brian Friel's Ballybeg Mundys…

•Musical Sunday Downhill From Riverside Church: Opera Scenes & Eschenbach.

•Don't Take It Straight! Milk Like Sugar at Playwrights' Horizons!


End of Week Rambles Summary:

Grown Up Broadway Babies Strut Their Singing Stuff at Town Hall: From Coward to Sondheim!

The inimitable Scott Siegel has Done It Again!

Another wonderful Stroll Up Broadway Over the Years, in Broadway Unplugged 2011.

Not only is it a real treat to hear & see Talents like Terri White & Patrick Page bring new life & meaning to such songs as Mrs. Worthington & I Am Changing, but it's also almost unbelievable that they perform at Town Hall without Mikes!

That's the way they used to sing on Broadway, before Electronics

Noël Coward's Sail Away almost capsized as a Musical, but the title song was worth it all, as sung by Barbara Walsh.

Operetta came unplugged on Broadway a long time ago, alas, but Nancy Anderson recalled Naughty Marietta with the Italian Street Song.

The great cast joined, in closure, singing You'll Never Walk Alone, that gem from Carousel!


Into Space, BEYOND PLANET EARTH Will Take Off with You, Hands On, at the Controls!

If you are worried that Our Universe is constantly expanding, or that there may be Other Universes out there, don't waste that Nervous Energy!

Even if there are many, many Solar Systems, we will have all we can deal with, trying to create a Research Station on the Moon

Or how about becoming a Colonist on Mars?

The amazing new digitally interactive show at the American Museum of Natural History metaphorically takes you into Space to explore the Possibilities of Travel & Living Beyond Planet Earth.

You will enter this energy charged exhibition confronted by Sputnik!

Models, small & large, let you be close up to the Mars Rover, the International Space Station, a Lunar Elevator, even a Liquid Mirror Telescope.

You can find out how we may Deflect Asteroids!

[In the new Lars von Trier film, Melancholia, Earth is hit…]

[If you were hoping that NASA will soon discover where Heaven is actually sited in—or Outside—Our Universe, we have enough to worry about with such questions as: How Can We Breathe on Mars?]


Lost in Translation: Doing Business with Canny Chinese in a Difficult Language…

Yes, your Louis Vuitton bag was Made in China.

Where they now make all the things Americans have forgotten how to fabricate. We used to be able to do knock offs of Vuitton, but not as cheaply as the Chinese.

But, if you are an American Businessman, dying to do business with China, you do need a functional knowledge of Spoken Mandarin. Or Cantonese, if you please…

The Problem is that these versions of Chinese are spoken on differing pitch levels, so the same word—as transcribed in English—can sound like something quite different.

That's the fundament of David Henry Hwang's new comedy, Ch'ing.lish.

The most hilarious moments come when English Translations of what is being said by either the Lone American [Gary Wilmes] or his Chinese Hosts are flashed on the set walls.

Also amusing: when the Chinese try to speak English, getting the Idioms so very wrong.

Hwang had a Big Success with M Butterfly—which also dealt with East West Misunderstandings—but this odd drama is complicated by several plot lines which do not coalesce.

Dan Cavanaugh, the American, has engaged Peter Timms [Stephen Pucci], who he believes will be a Facilitator for his proposals.

Timms has issues of his own, as do the Chinese with whom Cavanaugh must deal.

There may be two or three plays here…


Obese Boteros Among Other Outstanding Latin American Artworks at Christie's!

Is there such a Person as a Thin Botero?

Fernando Botero, that prolific Colombian painter/sculptor—was a Major Presence among the many well known Latin American Artists, whose works were recently auctioned at Christie's, in the heart of Rock Center.

In fact, an immense Botero bronze of two balloon inflated Lovers was standing in the Plaza at Christie's!

Other works on view before the sale were by Matta, Wifredo Lam, Pedro Friedeberg, Francisco Zúñiga, Rufino Tamayo, Leonora Carrington, Juan O'Gorman, Miguel Covarrubias, & Diego Rivera. Of course, Diego


The Duke of Westminster's Yacht, Seen Afar, in Noël Coward's Private Lives

My interest in Private Lives is always piqued when Elliot & Amanda, seeing a splendid yacht in the Harbor at Deauville—where they have gone for their Separate Honeymoons, with New Spouses—speculate that the yacht must belong to the Duke of Westminster.

This is because my Grandmother's First Cousin, Constance Cornwallis West, married the Duke of Westminster—who once owned most of London's Real Estate

Noël Coward was perhaps the most successful modern writer of what used to be called the Comedy of Manners.

As we hardly know what Manners are any more—even with Advice from Miss Manners—no one writes in this Genre now. Nor is it easy to play Elegant Brits in High Style, spouting sparkling, glittering Ironic Repartée

Nonetheless, the lovely Kim Cattrall & the handsome Paul Gross do their best as Amanda & Elliott.

But there are moments when the Bickering Duo sound like two bitches in heat…

What's difficult to understand—visually, at least—is why either of them would have fled from their Till Death Do Us Part Marriage into the arms of such Odd New Mates as Victor [Simon Paisley Day] & Sybil [Anna Madeley].

Oh, I know: Don't quibble, Sybil & all that…

The Politesse & Perky Quips soon give way to Raucous Farce, with a break away set of Amanda's Paris Apartment that soon looks like a Tsunami has rushed up the Seine.

Awards Nominations to Rob Howell, set & costume designer!

This elegant production, staged by the admirable Richard Eyre, comes to Broadway from the Theatre Royal Bath, itself an elegant & historic theatre…

Let's hope the show's Multiple Producers don't take a bath with this Import!


Wide Range of Contemporary Art Now On View at MoMA: Usual Suspects & Newcomers

The great thing about MoMA's Contemporary Galleries is that they are constantly In Flux.

Ageing Wunderkinder & Novice Aspirants are always producing more & more Art Works. Can we ever get enough of the often unsettling Visions of Louise Bourgeois?

Seemingly abandoned by a wall is Robert Gober's Cat Litter. It looks like the Real Thing, but it's actually made of Plaster, painted with a Kitty Head & texts.

Not quite an Elective Affinity is Cats in Bag Bag in River, enamel on aluminum, by Christopher Wool, who, after so much work to create this artwork, has chosen to title it: Untitled

So much for artworks for Cat Lovers & Haters.

More fun is Untitled (Free/Still) created & recreated by Rirkrit Tiravanij. This requires construction of a warren of 2x4s, some with Plaster Board already nailed in place, plus a Refrigerator, Tables, & Chairs, with the Live Service of Thai Curry!

To the Public, no less!

There was a Time when Picasso was also Contemporary, but he never thought to provide Galley Goers with hot Brioches or Empañadas


Students Singing Under Stress: James Meredith, the White Roses, & Misguided Maoists!

What did the Scholls, James Meredith, & two Red Guards have in common?

They have all found themselves in an OperaKommilitonen!—composed by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, written & directed by David Pountney, who is the retiring Artistic Director of the Bregenz Festival on Lake Constance.

Conducted by Anne Manson, this was a remarkably spare—no real Sets—but physically complicated production, with platoons of performers in motion.

Maxwell Davies' Modernist Score proved equally adept at emotionally charging James Meredith's experience as the First Black Student at the racially hostile Ole' Miss as with the Tragic Deaths of Sophie & Hans Scholl, opposing the Nazis at the University of Munich, with their Underground White Rose group.

In Mao's China, the students Wu & Li have to denounce their parents in order to survive…

This work was created by Maxwell Davies & Pountney for both the Royal Academy of Music in London & the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

In its production values & in its performance by the youthful cast, it was superb.

But it had only three performances at the Juilliard, the customary limit for the student operas.

When & where will it be seen again?


Gay Art & Artists Celebrated at the Brooklyn Museum: Flip Side of Youth & Beauty

A complementary counterpart to Youth & Beauty: Art of the American Twenties is Hide/Seek: Difference & Desire in American Portraiture, now running concurrently at the Brooklyn Museum.

Actually, not all of the artists whose works are on display were or are Gay, but their interest in Male & Female Bodies, Faces, & Lifestyles have often had strong appeal to viewers of Other Oriented Sexualities.

In Oscar Wilde's time, it was The Love that dare not speak its name

This did not change for much of the 20th Century, so Gay, Bi, & Lesbian Artists often coded their works.

But, for those in the know, the canvases of Paul Cadmus almost shouted his interest in Sexy Male Bodies.

There was a time when Physique Photos from Western Photography Guild, Lon, Plato, Vulcan, or Athletic Model Guild might be hidden under the Mattress, used only for the guilty pleasures of Wanking Off.

But, thanks to Benedikt Taschen & other serious publishers, such Photo Studies are now considered Artworks…

Many of the paintings & photos in this fascinating exhibition are not at all Erotic. But they are either the Works of or the Portraits of Artists who were interested in the Other.

Robert Mapplethorpe's Self Portrait photo is engaging, but hardly erectile.

Peter Hujar's photo of Susan Sontag reclining won't get your Blood Pressure zooming upward…

Among the Celebrated American Artists on view in this unusual show are Marsden Hartley, photographed by the elegant lens of George Platt Lynes, but also represented by his Memorial to Hart Crane, a Doomed Poet, who jumped overboard to a Watery Death.

Hart had an unhealthy interest in Bus Station Mens' Rooms, but, at the end, he was involved with his friend Malcolm Cowley's wife, Peggy

Here are some of the Famous Names on show: Minor White, Carl Van Vechten, Georgia O'Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Jess Collins, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Nan Goldin, Andrew Wyeth, Lucas Samaras, Glenn Ligon, & Keith Haring. Of course…

Youth & Beauty closes 29 January 2012, but Hide/Seek runs until 12 February 2012.

The Catalogues for both these shows are well worth acquiring for your bookshelves. Unless all your books are now Digital?

Also On View, is the latest edition of Raw/Cooked—a year long series of Under the Radar Brooklyn based Artists—now featuring the odd but clever creations of Bushwick's Lan Tuazon.


GODSPELL Returns, Re Cycled, Re Tooled, Re Thought, Re Novated: Re Tarded?

What Is Hell Like, you ask? It's Endless Repetitions of the current production of Godspell, 24/7


From the Land of Smiles & Operettas: Vienna Celebrates Serial Killer John Malkovich!

How about John Malkovich as a Serial Killer?

An Austrian Serial Killer, at that?

Over at BAM, he was featured in a Musikkonzept production, written& directed by Michael Sturmiger, with Musikdirektion und Konzept by Martin Haselböck.

What this entailed was an almost solo performance by Malkovich, but backed by the Orchestra of the Wiener Akademie, with two much abused Sopranos

The Idea is that Serial Killer Jack Unterweger has written a book, which he is presenting, autographed, tonight, also giving us a bit of Background about Raping & Killing some young Viennese Prossies.

The Pages of the Book are blank

Which might also be said of the Konzept

In Austria, they do not have the Death Penalty, so Unterweger was sentenced to a Prison Term & then released, probably for Good Behavior.

But then he started his Escapades all over again…

This work is called The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a serial killer.

It could be construed as a Veiled Plea for the re institution of the Death Penalty?

But if the Konzeptors of this work really wanted to deal with a Major Major Major Austrian Serial Killer, why didn't they choose that young man from Braunu am Inn?

Name of Adolf Hitler


Pagan Passions, Blasted Hopes, Lusty Lughnasa Dancing: 1930s Ireland Limned by Brian Friel.

Before Jesus Christ loomed large on Irish Altars, there was the Great God Lug, who could ensure Rich Harvests

Even after the Triumph of Christianity, a whiff of the Pagan survived, especially in Brian Friel's Balleybeg.

In the Mundy Family, times are Bad & going to get much Worse, but the Mundy Girls do love to stomp about in their boots, even though it would be unseemly for these Ageing Spinsters to join the local teens, dancing in the Season of Lughnasa.

The entire cast deserves an Ensemble Award, wonderfully staged by Charlotte Moore.

The Producer of Dancing at Lughnasa is Ciarán O'Reilly, who also plays the Adult Michael—a bastard boy born to one of the Mundy sisters—who narrates the Mundy Drama over its long years of heartbreak & disappointment.


Sunday at the Manhattan School of Music: Opera Scenes Of Love & Loss + Christoph Eschenbach

The instructive Master Class that Christoph Eschenbach recently conducted up at Broadway & 122th Street was more restrained, in terms of Body Language, than that of Alfred Brendel at the Juilliard, but no less revelatory of how young pianists may interpret scores from such markings as Allegro or Adagio.

Also, how to improve their fingering with difficult passages on the keys…

Consider Robert Schumann's instructions for his Fantasie, op. 17: I. Durchaus phantastich und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen…

OK, Bob!

But how do I play Fantastic throughout? I mean, of course, I'd like anything I play to be fantastic, but surely you mean something else here?

Christoph Eschenbach offered some Good Suggestions!

Obviously talented MSM student pianists also offered works by Beethoven, Chopin, & Scriabin.

Chopin's showy performance piece, the Barcarolle, op. 60, certainly posed some problems for the finger work of Raymond Wong, which Maestro Eschenbach helped him resolve.

Frédéric Chopin, like Franz Liszt, was Piano Virtuoso, who knew how to compose to show off his brilliance at the keyboard.

Play his works at your peril, unless you are becoming also a Master…

As for the Opera Scenes Of Love & Loss, the student singer/actors were generally able, but the curious stage direction of Richard Gammon, made some scenes seem silly or strange…

Long awaiting the return of her errant husband, Ulisse, the faithful Penelope was seated at a dinner table, complete with candles, silver, crystal, & porcelain.

Was this designed to make Monteverdi modern?

Scenes also from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, Britten's Albert Herring, & Gluck's Armide: Well sung but often odd to look at…


Milk Like Sugar? How's That for a Title About Black Girls Who Want To Have Babies To Play With

Three smart dressing Black Teenagers make a Pact: each is to get herself Pregnant so they can all have Babies to caress & care for.

This may fill a Hole in their fatherless, careless, somewhat empty, Hopeless Lives.

But one of them is going to Chicken Out. There has to be more to Life than what's going on in the Ghetto.

Kirsten Greenidge's new play, at Playwrights Horizons, focuses on an important Social Problem among the more poverty stricken of African Americans.

Not as a presentation of Unmarried Mother Statistics, but as a really touching—sometimes funny—Human Drama!

An excellent Cast, sparely staged by Rebecca Taichman



This Week's Rational Ratings—

David Henry Hwang's CH'ING.LISH [★★]

Noël Coward's PRIVATE LIVES [


Tebelak & Schwartz's GODSPELL

[not rated]




Kirsten Greenidge's MILK LIKE SUGAR [★★★]


Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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