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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 2020

Off-Broadway

Amas Musical Theatre presented a rehearsal of Romeo & Bernadette, by Mark Saltzman, director/choreographer Justin Ross Cohen, which will open at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd St, on January 23. A talented ten member cast headed by Nikita Burshteyn (Romeo) and Anna Kostakis (Bernadette) performed two of the songs from the show. They were quite entertaining, and I promised to attend opening night. I did attend the opening night of Romeo & Bernadette, book and lyrics by Mark Saltzman, with music adapted from classic Italian melodies, at the Mezzanine Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres. It was one of the most delightful musicals that I have seen this season. A multitalented ten member cast was directed and choreographed by Justin Ross CohenWilliam Shakespeare would have enjoyed this show about Romeo returning five hundred years later to woo a Juliet look-alike, a Brooklyn mobster's daughter.  The singing was first class. Every singer had a wonderful voice. The choreography was excellent. The plot was clever, and each actor was perfect in their roles. I congratulated the cast and creative team at the opening night party in the lovely space at the theatre. Among the guests were two beautiful Rockettes, Liz Peterson, whose boyfriend is Nikita Burshteyn (Romeo) and Sophia Anthony. I photographed them, and Bebe Neuwirth with the Associate Choreographer Kathryn Ann Wright. I left the party very happy. Nights like this are rare in today's theatre!

The York Theatre Company presented Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, written and created by Gerard Alessandrini, at Saint Peter's Church at CityCorp. The five member cast, accompanied by Fred Barton at the piano, make fun of the current Broadway shows. It is quite amusing. At the opening night party, I photographed Gerard Alessandrini, and one of the cast members, Aline Mayagoitia, who was born in Mexico City, where I met and married my first dear wife in 1956. Also, at the party, was Angie Schworer, whom I met in 1991 when she appeared in Will Rogers Follies on Broadway, and her husband Richard Bird. As Cole Porter liked to say, it was a swell party.

The York Theatre Company presented A York Legacy Concert Celebration, book and lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt. The eight member cast, led by Fred Applegate and Nick Wyman, who both appeared in the original production on Broadway 47 years ago, were directed by David Glenn Armstrong. At the curtain call, 92-years-old Tom Jones rose from his seat to join the cast in their curtain call, to well deserved applause. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

Film

Columbus Library presented The Winning Team, by Lewis Seller, 1952, starring Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander, the famous baseball pitcher of the early twentieth century. Doris Day was his wife Aimee. It is a pleasant film for lovers of baseball, and Reagan does a splendid job imitating a pitcher, and Day never looked lovelier.

MoMA is presenting Modern Matinees: Jack Lemmon, Jan 1-Feb 28Days of Wine and Roses, by Blake Edwards, 1962, stars Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, as a married couple, whose lives are destroyed by alcohol.  As alcoholics, they lose their jobs, and their ability to perform like decent human beings. It is a grim picture of drinking to excess. The two stars give a realistic and strong performance in a depressing film.

Columbus Library presented The Professor, by Wayne Roberts, 2018, starring Johnny Depp as a college lecturer, who learns he has six months to live. He turns into a crazy human animal to the delight of his few students, who remain in his class. The plot and the acting are absurd, Depp is dull, and so is the film.

Dance

Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre presented a Winter Dance Rehearsal at the Ailey Studios, 405 West 55th St. Artistic/Executive Director Amanda Selwyn addressed the audience, which was admitted free to the event, which included wine and nuts before the program and wine and cheese afterwards. The program consisted of selections from the dance company's repertoire, performed by twelve talented dancers, three men and nine women, to taped music. It was an interesting performance celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the company, which will perform the World Premiere of Hindsight on March 5-7 at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 25th St between Third and Lexington Avenues.

Ballet

I attended a press preview of the Shanghai Ballet's Grand Swan Lake at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, which presented four performances January 17-19. I photographed the leading dancers Qi Bingxue and Wu Husheng. I congratulated Artistic Director Derek Deane on his superb ballet company, which rivals all the best companies in the world. The following night I attended the complete performance. In one word, it was spectacular. Derek Deane is a brilliant choreographer. His ability to fill a large stage with well disciplined, wonderful dancers. is a joy for ballet lovers. In the intermission, I saw him on the promenade, and was able to express my appreciation for one of my best nights at the ballet. The orchestra of the New York City Ballet, conducted by Charles Barker, played the glorious music of P.I. Tchaikovsky, and has never sounded better. The two leading dancers, mentioned above, were splendid, but the ensemble of swans were the highlight of the evening. Everyone looked alike as if they had been cloned, and their precision as they danced in unison was amazing. It was an enchanted evening.

The New York City Ballet presented an All Balanchine program of three ballets of the wonderful choreographer. It began with the delightful Allegro Brillante, music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, with Tyler Peck and Tyler Angle, with piano solo by Susan Walters. The two leads, and their supportive eight member ensemble, performed, as in the title, brilliantly. La Source, music by Leo Delibes, followed, with a fine Erica Pereira and Harrison Ball, plus soloist Rachel Hutsell and an eight member ensemble. Ball, in his solos, performed magnificently. The program concluded with a stunning version of Firebird, music by Igor Stravinsky, scenery and costumes designed by Marc Chagall, starring the incomparable Sara Mearns. It was a perfect conclusion to a splendid tribute to George BalanchineAndrew Litton conducted the superb orchestra, which played the composers' music beautifully.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake: The Legend Returns, directed and Choreographed by Matthew Bourne, music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, at City Center, will surprise the audience, that only knew the traditional version. In first place all the swans are danced by men, Matthew Ball dances Odette/Odile as The Swan/Stranger. The story now takes place in the present. The Prince (James Lovell) is asleep in his bedroom, and dreams of the Swan. The Queen (Nicole Kabrera) takes him to the Opera House, where he is accompanied by a young girl he met at the Palace (Katrina Lyndon). This is a very funny scene. Lyndon is hilarious. They remind me of the current Prince Harry and Megan. At a City Park, he sees the Swan of his dreams, and becomes obsessed with it. At the Palace Ball, the Swan as a Stranger seduces the Queen, and the Prince goes crazy. After therapy, he is returned to his bedroom, where the Swan appears, and both die. The dancing is magnificent, and the concept is brilliant. As you can see, this is not a typical Swan Lake, but it is original and spectacular. The set & costume design by Lez Brotherson are wonderful, a pleasure to see. The music is taped, but it is glorious. It was one of the most delightful evenings that I have spent at the ballet.

Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, presented two exhibitions at a press preview. The first was Alfred Jarry: The Carnival of Being January 24-May 10, and the second was Jean-Jaques Lequeu: Visionary Architect, Drawing from the Biblioteque nationale de France, January 31-May 10.  Alfred Jarry (1873-1907, in his short life, was a major influence on Dada, Surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd. His play Ubu Roi (1896) made him famous. He was an artist, book designer, puppeteer, novelist and a bicycle fanatic. For the last one, he should be alive today in New York! It is a fascinating exhibition. Jean-Jaques Lequieu (1757-1826) was an architect and draftsman. There are sixty of his works on display, and some, a nun in her habit revealing her right breast, and a lady lying on her back totally nude, are quite daring. It is another fascinating exhibition. I urge all lovers of art, who want to learn about talented artists who are not generally well known to visit the Morgan, one of the finest museums in New York City.

Events

Jonathan Hadary received the Actors' Equity Foundation Award from Tyne Daly, and John Keating received the Joe A Callaway Award from Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O'Reilly at Actors' Equity at 165 W 46th St.

Jackie Sibblies Drury and Lauren Yee received the 2019 Steinberg Playwright Awards at Lincoln Center Theater. Montego Glover, Oscar Eustis, Neil Pepe were among the many guests. It was a lovely event, and selections from the works by the two talented playwrights were presented in the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

The Encompass New Opera Theatre Gala honored actress Estelle Parsons and composer Maury Yeston at the National Arts Club. After a reception and dinner A Musical Salute followed, concluding with champagne and dessert. Among the performers were Karen Ziemba, Melanie Long and KT SullivanSheldon Harnick presented the awards to the honorees, and I photographed Estelle and Sheldon and his wife Margery at the conclusion of the evening It was a wonderful event.