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Aubrey's Corner

Aubrey Reuben is a former member of the Tony Nominating Committee 2000-2003, former Acting President of Outer Critics Circle 2005 and former Entertainment Editor of Temas Magazine 1981-2004. He is on the Executive and Nominating Committee of Outer Critics Circle and a member of Drama Desk. He is the Theatre Critic for 15minutesmagazine.com. Reuben is a celebrity photographer for the New York Post, his agency is London Features International. Reuben's column Aubrey's Broadway appears in the Hampton Sheet. He is one of the eighteen profiles in the recently published book, On Broadway Men Still Wear Hats by Robert Simonson.

Aubrey’s Corner – March 2019

Off-Broadway

New York City Center Encores! presented Call Me Madam, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It was a success when it opened in 1950, with Ethel Merman in the leading role, and today it is still an enjoyable musical. The songs are melodious, and the duet that was performed by Merman and Russell Nype, my dear friend, You're Just In Love, is memorable. You will be singing it when you leave the theater. Otherwise, the plot is silly, but the choreography by Denis Jones is fine, especially The OcarinaBrad Davis steals the show with his wonderful baritone voice, and Lauren Worsham and Jason Gotay are cute as the young lovers. It is nice to remember that past musicals were entertaining. 

The Day Before Spring, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, is a production of the York Theatre Company as a Musical in Mufti at the Theatre at Saint Peter's Church. It is a pleasant tale of a married woman (Madison Claire Parks), who meets a former lover at a college reunion, and is tempted to run away with him. The music, like all Lerner and Loewe musicals, is pleasant, but, in this case, not memorable. The cast is young and energetic, directed by Marc Acito. We congratulated the cast at the opening night party in the Music Room.


Lolita, My Love, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by John Barry, is a production of the York Theatre Company as a Musical in Mufti at the Theatre at Saint Peter's Church. It is based on the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which was considered controversial when it appeared in the 1950s. The musical based on the novel closed in Boston in 1971 before its opening in New York. It is about a pedophile and murderer (Robert Sella), who has a passion for his stepdaughter (Caitlin Cohn), a nymphet, a pubescent girl who is sexually precocious. The thirteen member cast, directed by Emily Maltby, is quite good, especially the two leading actors mentioned above. The topic, however, is rather unpleasant, and again without Loewe as Lerner's partner, the music does not reach the heights of a My Fair Lady or a Gigi. We congratulated the cast at the opening night party in he Living Room at Saint Peter's Church.

I attended The Shadow of a Gunman, by Sean O'Casey, at the Irish Repertory Theatre, on Patrons' Night, also according to the program Opening Night. My best friend is a p

atron. Kenneth Lonergan and Matthew Broderick were there also. The party was held in the lobby and the second floor gallery, where Jameson Irish Whiskey was served and bite size Shepherd Pies.

The Price of Thomas Scott, by Elizabeth Baker, is a production of the Mint Theater Company. This company revives forgotten plays, that deserve to be remembered. This female playwright is one of them. It was first presented in Manchester, England, my hometown, in 1913. The plot concerns a businessman, who owns a hat shop, and receives an offer to sell it to be converted to a dance hall, which he considers immoral. The excellent eleven member cast, is directed expertly by Jonathan Bank. One cast member, Josh Goulding is actually from Manchester. It is a lovely play, and we congratulated the cast at the opening night party at the West Bank Cafe.

Ballet

The New York City Ballet presented The Sleeping Beauty, music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, choreography by Peter Martins. It is one of the most sumptuous ballets ever presented by the company. Balanchine had only created the Garland Dance, which was included in the program. The composer wrote three ballets, all with glorious music. The company rose to the occasion with a magnificent performance. Every dancer was marvelous. Tiler Peck (Aurora) was, as always, outstanding, as was Tyler Angle (Prince Desire). Their Grand Pas de Deux at the end of Act II was the highlight of the afternoon. Among other dancers, one must mention Ashley Laracey (The Lilac Fairy), Brittany Pollack and Troy Schumacher as Princess Florine and The Bluebird, and the adorable Charlotte Nebres as Little Red Riding Hood. The orchestra was conducted by Daniel Capps. It was a delightful afternoon of ballet for all the members of the audience, which included many children.

Film


I attended a press preview of 1900, by Bernardo Bertolucci, 1976, Italy, France, West Germany, at the Film Forum. It is, without doubt, one of the finest films ever made. The photography is gorgeous. An all star cast, including Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Burt Lancaster, Sterling Hayden, Donald Sutherland and an exquisite Dominique Sanda, give magnificent performances in a five and one half movie, 317 minutes, shown in two parts, that keeps the viewer's attention the entire time. One leave the cinema knowing the way of life in a small village in Italy from 1901 to 1945, and sees the brutality of the fascists and their fight with the communists during that period. It is a wonderful, memorable film. It will be screened at Film Forum from February 22-February 28.

I attended a press screening of The Hours and Times, by Christopher Munch, United States, 1991, at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th St. It is a black and white film about a four day holiday that John Lennon (Ian Hart) and his manager Brian Epstein (David Angus) took to Barcelona, Spain, in 1963. The two actors do a terrific job imitating the two famous people, but as the film describes it, it is a fictitious account. Epstein is gay, and Lennon likes to explore his sexuality. It is an interesting film that holds one's attention. Lennon constantly smokes, drinks Scotch with Coca Cola, plays the harmonica and is generally unpleasant, revealing his nasty personality. Epstein is a gentleman, but with psychological problems. The dialogue is vulgar and crude at times. However, one sees that celebrities, or so-called famous people, have problems like all human animals.

Room at the Top, by Jack Clayton, United Kingdom, 1959, at the Film Forum, will be screened March 8-March 14. Do not miss it! It is one of the first, and finest, kitchen sink drama films that England produced. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and won two Oscars, one for Simone Signoret as Best Actress, and one for Neil Paterson for Adapted Screenplay, from the novel by John Braine. The story is about an ambitious young working class man (Laurence Harvey), who meets the daughter (Heather Sears) of the wealthiest man in this grimy industrial town in Yorkshire, and pursues her in order to rise to the top. Unfortunately, he becomes involved with an unhappily married woman, a mature older lady (Simone Signoret), and discovers the power of true love. The acting by every member of the large cast is superb, and the screenplay is so realistic that you feel you know all the members of the town intimately. I enjoyed every minute of this magnificent film.

Museum

I attended a delicious breakfast at The Morgan Library & Museum, followed by a Media Preview for the coming year, and a viewing of two of their current exhibitions. Colin B. Bailey, Director welcomed the press and announced the restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan's Library and the enhancement of surrounding grounds. Various curators spoke, while slides were projected showing their upcoming exhibitions of photographs, drawings, books, portraits and designs for opera and ballet. It promises to be an exciting year at one of my favorite libraries and museums.

A press preview Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture, February 21-June 2, 2019 at the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street is a magnificent exhibition. Giovanni Battista Moroni captures each person naturally. This is the first exhibition in the United States of his paintings. There are nearly two dozen portraits plus Renaissance jewelry, textiles, arms and armor and other luxury items on display. It is a superb exhibition that all art lovers will enjoy in another one of my favorite buildings. We are so fortunate to have the Morgan Library and Museum and the Frick Collection in New York City.

Concerts

I was invited to the home of Margarita Anthoine to hear a piano recital by Juana Zayas. The all F-minor program featured works by Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin. The pianist gave an outstanding performance. It was joy to listen to her. Her proud husband was present, as well as her friend, who prepared a delicious flan for the occasion. Both ladies were born in Cuba. The hostess offered food and fine wines after the recital. It was a delightful afternoon.

I went to the home of Penry Jackson and his wife to hear a recital by his 15-year-old son Adam Jackson. He played works by five composers, Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev and Chopin. I was amazed at his skill and dexterity. He certainly has the makings of an outstanding classical pianist. The guests were invited to taste delicious food and fine wine as we toasted the talented young man.

Events

The 9th Annual Clive Barnes Awards took place at the Walter Reade Theater. Michael Riedel, as always, was the witty Master of Ceremonies, telling the audience wonderful anecdotes of working with Clive at the New York Post. Clive's widow, Valerie Taylor-Barnes greeted the audience, and she does a splendid job keeping Clive's memory and reputation alive as a marvelous, and, more important, honest theatre and dance critic. I miss him. Edmund Donovan won the 2018 Theatre Award presented by Beth Leavel, and Zoey Anderson won the 2018 Dance Award ($5,000 each) presented by Michael Novak. Two last year's winners, Evan Ruggiero and Gemma Bond spoke about their activities during the year since winning, A reception followed in the Gallery, where we were able to congratulate the four finalists in each category.

I went to Gavin Brown's enterprise, 439 West 127th St, for an interesting evening, Vissi D'Amore, a benefit for children from Harlem, the South Bronx and East Flatbush. Three opera singers performed a concert, honoring a musician from the New York Philharmonic, Anthony McGill, who is also a board member of Time in Advance. A caviar reception with fine wines, plus a silent auction, preceded the concert, and a dessert reception followed the concert. We met many of the supporters of the program at the reception. They were all quite charming. It was a lovely event.