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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 – August 2018

 

 

Broadway

 

Straight White Men, by Young Jean Lee, at the Helen Hayes Theater, is a strange play with a six member cast, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Four of the actors appear in a living room on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There are two actresses named Person in Charge 1 and 2 who introduce the play. The father and three sons play childish games. They clown around throughout most of the play, which seems like a television sitcom. It is hard to understand the point of the play.

 

Head over Heels, songs by The Go-Go's, based on The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney, conceived and original book by Jeff Whitty, adapted by James Magruder, is a highly amplified production at the Hudson Theatre. The cast is directed by Michael Mayer, and choreographed by Spencer Liff. Fans of the Go-Go's may enjoy this silly show. The cast works energetically and some of singers have good voices. I left the theater unimpressed.

 

Off-Broadway

 

Vitaly: An evening of Wonders, created and starring Vitaly Beckman, at the Westside Theatre, is a delightful program of magic tricks, performed by a charming, pleasant young man, who makes objects move, sketches on a large pad and makes his drawings move, does card tricks and is fun company. After the performance, he poses for photos with the happy children that attend his show. We met him at his opening night party at The Palm, 250 West 50th St. His proud parents came from Israel to congratulate him. We had a lovely time.

 

Mary Page Marlowe, by Tracy Letts, at 2ndstage, is a 90-minute intermission-less play, about the woman named in the title. In a series of brief scenes, six actresses play the woman at various stages in her life. It is a convoluted story switching back and forth in time. Her life is a mess. She is an alcoholic, a sex maniac, a jailbird, marries frequently, and her two children are unhappy. The acting by a large company by Off-Broadway standards, directed by Lila Neugebauer, is quite good. The play is not.

 

Get the Boat, written and starring Eavan Brennan and Sioban Donnellan at Soho Playhouse, is about two young women, who meet on a boat from Ireland to England, where they will get an abortion. In those days, it was illegal in Ireland. The two fine actresses, directed by Ruth Smith, tell each other their tragic stories. In a talk-back afterwards, they explain why they wrote the play and why they became activists for women's rights in Ireland, which recently passed a referendum allowing abortion. The second short play is Innit, written, starring and directed by Colette Forde, about a young high school girl in Manchester, England, (my home town). In a thick accent, which borders on unintelligible, she relates her miserable life, while wanting to grow up to be a pop singer. She is uneducated, vulgar and cannot utter one sentence without using profanity. She is an unpleasant character.

 

The Saintliness of Margery Kempe, by John Wulp, at The Duke on 42nd Street, is about the life of the of the 14th century English mystic. The nine member cast, headed by a remarkable Andrus Nichols as the title character, is directed expertly by Austin Pendleton. The story reveals that Kempe left her husband (Jason O'Connell) and six children to live her own life. It is a fascinating story, and in this production it is very funny. At the opening night party at Sardis, we congratulated the playwright, director and the splendid actors.

 

A revival of Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller, words and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, at Stage 42, has a nine member cast directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. All are wonderful singers and dancers. Among the many highlights of this intermission-less 90-minutes show are songs made popular by Elvis Presley, and Emma Degerstedt performing Teach Me How to Shimmy. The original revue on Broadway received seven Tony Nominations. They were well deserved.

 

This Ain't No Disco: A Rock Opera, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask and Peter Yanowitz, book by Trask, Yanowitz and Rick Elice, at the Linda Gross Theater, is a highly amplified production in a small theater. A large cast directed by Darko Tresnjak, with choreography by Camille A. Brown, sing and dance energetically. They recall a New York City in 1979/1980 with some performers recreating live characters like Steve Rubell who owned the discotheque Studio 54 and Steve Mass who owned Mudd Club. It is an unpleasant theatrical experience.

 

My Life on a Diet, by Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna, at the Theatre at St. Clement's, is an amusing one woman show, in which Renee relates her life. She tells us how she tried various diets and about her professional life on stage, Hollywood and television. Film clips and photographs are projected on a screen. It is a delightful, entertaining evening. Before the show, we photographed the arrivals while being served with wine, and afterwards at the lovely opening night party at Sardi's, we congratulated Renee. Among her friends at the show were Marlo Thomas, Lee Grant, Elaine May and Joy Behar.

 

A revival of Fiddler on the Roof, book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, is acted and sung in Yiddish, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is located.  Supertitles are projected in English. The large cast and musicians perform excellently, under the direction of Joel GreySteven Skybell as Tevye is outstanding and gives a memorable performance. The Broadway musical was one of the finest seen on stage, and this production is no exception.

 

Ballet

 

Whipped Cream, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, music and libretto by Richard Strauss, a production of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Metropolitan Opera House is a present for children of all ages. The set and costume design by Mark Ryden is a joy for all fans who love fairy tales. It is about a Boy (Jeffrey Cirio) who, at a confectioner's shop, overdoses on whipped cream and becomes ill. He is placed in a hospital, and escapes with the help of Princess Praline (Misty Copland). It is a colorful ballet with brilliant dancing by the entire cast. The two leads along with Hee Seo as Princess Tea Flower and Cory Stearns as Prince Coffee are outstanding, The orchestra, under the baton of Charles Barker, played the score wonderfully. It closed the eight week season on a triumphal note.

 

Film

 

No Date, No Signature, by Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, is an interesting film about a doctor, who has an accident, when his car smashes against a motorcycle driven by a man carrying a wife and two children. The 8-year old boy later that night arrives dead at a hospital. We see the problems the doctor has when he feels responsible. It is a powerful film with splendid acting. It has already received many international film awards. It opens at Film Forum from August 1-14.

 

Rendez-vous in July, by Jacques Becker, France, 1949, is a film about aimless young middle class men in Paris who hang around together and visit jazz clubs and dance to the music. Their relationships with their parents are bad as they wish to pursue their own lives. There are many scenes of two young ladies who want to be actresses on stage in auditions, rehearsal and performance. The cast is headed by Daniel Gelin, who wants to be an explorer in Africa. One leaves the film, which has an enormous cast, with a good idea of what Paris was like shortly after World War II. Many of the films of Becker will be shown at Film Forum from August 1-16.

 

MoMA is presenting A View from the Vaults: Recent Film Acquisitions July 18-August 8. La regle du jeu (The Rules of the Game), by Jean Renoir, France, 1939, is a wonderful film about high society enjoying a weekend, when a wealthy French aristocrat and his Viennese wife invite their guest to a hunt and a party at their chateau. It is clear that all of the guests and servants break all the civilized rules of the game. It is also a nod to Mozart and his Marriage of Figaro. I enjoyed every minute of one of the classics of prewar French cinema.

 

Events

 

Cause Celebre: Musical Brunch Series is a program created by Susan Charlotte at Chez Josephine, 414 West 42nd St. It is always a delightful afternoon with wonderful food, lovely drinks and fine performances. Sketches and Songs were performed by Larry Pine and Carole Shelley, with Michael Citriniti, and performed at the piano by Eric Yves Garcia and Jon Weber. Susan invited some of her guests to her penthouse after the brunch to enjoy a spectacular view of the city from her terrace.

 

Steven Minichiello presented a magnificent memorial for Liliane Montevecchi at Gotham Hall. The coffin was surrounded by glorious bouquets of flowers and exquisite candles. Six musicians played various selections. Four ballet dancers performed and two tango dancers appeared in three dances. Two beautiful models appeared in Follies Bergere outfits a la Liliane. Film clips of Liliane performing were screened and photos of her were displayed throughout the large hall. Steven introduced many of her dearest friends, who told humorous anecdotes about the talented actress. Among them were Arlene Dahl, Marc Rosen, David Staller, Maury Yeston, Donna McKechnie, who also sang, and Tommy Tune who directed Liliane in her Tony Winning performance in Nine in 1982. He also directed her in her Tony Nominated performance in Grand Hotel. The final speaker was Claudio Soprani, her companion in her last 30 years. It was a wonderful memorial, closing with a champagne reception, where I chatted with Karen Akers, Lee Roy Reams and Jamie de Roy among many others. Steven is to be congratulated for a marvelous afternoon that Liliane would have enjoyed.


Resident Magazine
 held a reception for Ryan Serhant, who is featured on the July cover. It took place in an elegant townhouse, 253 West 18th Street, with delicious hors d'oeuvres served from La Pulperia with fine Spanish Rioja wines. It was a most enjoyable evening.

 

The 20th Annual Broadway Barks Animal Adoption Event took place at the Bernard B, Jacobs Theatre and in Shubert Alley. Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber were the co-hosts. Among the many actors who took part, I photographed Ariana DeBose, Storm Lever, Bebe Neuwirth, Katrina Lenk and Melissa Benoist, and chatted with Renee Fleming, Marilu Henner and Aaron De Jesus. It is always a lovely event.

 

I attended a photo op for the play Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties by Jen Silverman at Signature Theatre Center. The five member cast, directed by Mike Donahue, is headed by Dana Delany and Lea DeLaria. It opens on September 12 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

 

Actress Kim Coles was honored at a dinner at Tuscany Steakhouse, 117 West 58th St, for her one woman show. It was a lovely event and the food was delicious with various appetizers, a choice of entree. My wife had lamb chops and I sea bass, followed by a tray of scrumptious desserts. With fine wine, it was a glorious dinner.

 

I attended a photo op and watched two scenes from Fern Hill, by Michael Tucker at Theater Row Studios. The six member cast directed by Nadia Tass will open at the New Jersey Repertory Company on August 9 to September 9. Unfortunately, I cannot attend the opening, because I only review productions if I can walk there.

 

Four original cast members of Avenue Q came to New World Stages for the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the show. They were Rick Lyon, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Jennifer Barnhart and John Tartaglia. They participated in a talk-back after the performance. It was delightful to see and photograph the talented artists.