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Leonard Bernstein

Cool! The 60th Anniversary and Reunion Event: West Side Story

October 7, 2017

Each was asked about their first audition. Marilyn D’Honau couldn’t remember, although she clearly made an impression on Robbins who subsequently used her in "Gypsy." Tony Mordente, just an acting hopeful, was working in a Times Square Howard Johnson’s when he heard that WSS was being assembled and he showed up with no professional experience and managed to impress the powers-that-be. Some flew in from the Coast or Las Vegas or were known by Robbins before hand, like Ronnie Lee who was in "Peter Pan." All were reminded by Robbins before the opening night that they were “handpicked.” [more]

Candide (New York City Opera)

January 10, 2017

Linda Lavin, padded and badly bewigged, comes across more like a Jewish yenta than the victim of the vagaries of Eastern European warfare. She has only one song, “Easily Assimilated,” a silly attempt at seduction, which is a shame. This character had several numbers in the original, including one that actually referred to why she is “missing the half of my backside.” Lavin is a star, but is ill-used here. [more]

Maestro

September 16, 2016

Felder’s play begins with a video of the actual Leonard Bernstein delivering a colorful, yet entertaining, illustrated lecture on music. When Felder sashays down the aisle, a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, the lack of resemblance is, at first, bothersome. But, somehow, sitting at a piano—which he plays impeccably—his monologue pulls you into Bernstein’s tumultuous life story. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa …. for July 5th, 2016

July 5, 2016

I’ve always liked Andrew Keenan-Bolger's work. He was a memorable child actor, playing leads on Broadway in shows like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Seussical," when he was around 13 or 14 years old.  I admired  his sunny, open-hearted work then.  And he's even more successful today (at age 31)  as an adult--not every child actor can make such a transition. He conveys the same sort of buoyant spirit on stage now as he did when I first saw him in those  shows he did so well as a youth.. (His whole family is talented.  He and his sisters, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, are all making their contributions to the arts.) [more]

Chita Rivera at the Café Carlyle

May 22, 2016

She ran down the list of her Broadway co-stars: Ricardo Montalban, Donald O’Connor (the disastrous Bring Back Birdie), Antonio Banderas (upon whose shoulder she placed a shapely leg in Nine) and, her admitted favorite, Dick Van Dyke, with whom she co-starred in "Bye Bye Birdie" from which she sang “A Lot of Livin’ To Do” giving it a sassy, winking interpretation making it impossible to deny that the title is very on the mark. It wouldn’t be a Chita Rivera show without a mention of her iconic Anita in "West Side Story." A meeting with Leonard Bernstein to go over her songs just after she had been cast was nerve-wracking as she never had considered herself a singer. History has proved that her singing almost equals her dancing. “A Boy Like That” and “America,” complete with some mini-choreography were nothing short of electrifying. [more]

Wonderful Town

April 8, 2016

"Wonderful Town" is one of those musical comedies which seem to get better as they age due in this case to the classic quality of the Bernstein/ Comden & Green score and the witty book by Fields and Chodorov. Director Evan Pappas has given the Musicals Tonight! revival a bright, breezy, high-spirited production that is certain to put a smile on your face, while for a change you can go out humming the songs. Much more should be seen of Elizabeth Broadhurst who sparkles as would-be writer Ruth Sherwood. [more]

“On the Town” Revisited with Misty Copeland

August 29, 2015

Then, there’s the new cast member, Misty Copeland, the newly minted American Ballet Theater principal ballerina, who has taken over the role of Ivy Smith, the catalyst for the daffy, warm-hearted plot of the show. Formerly inhabited with sweetness and steely technique by another ballet star, Megan Fairchild, the role of Ivy Smith fits Ms. Copeland perfectly. She makes it her own the moment she’s murmurs “Who, me?” in “Presentation of Miss Turnstiles,” the witty send-up of beauty competitions. [more]

The Royal Ballet 2015: Program B

July 3, 2015

he Royal Ballet’s second program of its ridiculously short season at the David H. Koch Theater was disappointing as much for what was on it as for what wasn’t. What wasn’t there were any classical works. Among divertissement-type short works making up the second part of the show, there was not one classical Pas de Deux. Instead, the program opened with an abstruse modern ballet and ended with an equally abstruse new version of an old one with six very short works of varying quality and appropriateness sandwiched in between. [more]

New York Pops: “By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra”

November 17, 2014

The New York Pops are the perfect antidote for those who suspect orchestral music to be dull or tedious. Proving again that celebrity performers are not needed to fill performance venues, Steven Reineke and his orchestra brought Carnegie Hall to life with their second installment in what is shaping into a rather exciting season. With adoring regard By Special Request: An Evening with the Orchestra truly had two stars, the orchestra itself and the music of seven time-honored composers. [more]

On the Town

November 13, 2014

This On the Town, with 29 musicians and 31 actors, begins with a huge American flag and the singing of the national anthem, just as would have happened every night of the original run back in the 1940's during World War II. The show begins and ends at 6 A.M. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Three sailors, Gabey (played by Tony Yazbeck for the third time), Ozzie and Chip have 24 hours shore leave to see all of the Big Apple before shipping out to Europe. Each wants to see the sights, both cultural and female. [more]