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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 – June 2018

 

The 2018 Tony Nominations were announced at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts by Leslie Odom, Jr and Katharine McPhee. There were very few surprises. The awards will take place at Radio City Music Hall on June 10th. We then photographed many of the Nominees the following day at InterContinental Times Square Hotel, 300 West 44th St. Among those who appeared were Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington, Glenda Jackson and Condola Rashad. It was a pleasant morning.

 

The 2018 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards were presented at Feinstein's/54 Below. Special Awards were given to Park Avenue Armory, Transport Group and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Off-Broadway, Mary Jane won Best Play and Hangmen Best Foreign Play. No Broadway musical was given an award. Among the presenters were Michael Urie, Carrie Coon and Noma Dumezweni.. As always, it was a lovely event.


The 84th Annual Drama League Awards
 was held at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. It is always a marvelous event with numerous celebrities from the theatre. This year winners were Glenda Jackson, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Band Visit, My Fair Lady and Angels in America, and special awards to Idina Menzel and Casey Nicholaw.

 

The 63rd Annual Obie Awards took place at Terminal 5, 610 West 56th St. It is always an informal affair, that I have enjoyed when I worked with Jerry Tallmer at the New York Post. He founded the event when working at the Village Voice. Among the many winners was one of my favorite actresses Kathleen Chalfant who received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other winners included Billy Crudup, Robert Sean Leonard, Jessica Hecht, Amy Herzog, the York Theatre Company and the Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre, and many more too numerous to mention. We ate, drank and toasted the wonderful artists. John Leguizamo was the host for this magnificent event.


The 68th Outer Critics Circle Awards Dinner
 took place at Sardi's. Among the winners, who may also go on to win Tony Awards on June 10, were Tina Fey, Andrew Garfield, Glenda Jackson, Lauren Ambrose, Ethan Slater, Nathan Lane, Laurie Metcalf, Norbert Leo Butz, and Lindsay Mendez. I have been a proud member of the Executive/Nominating Committee of OCC for almost 40 years.

 

The 18th Annual Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards took place at 48 Lounge, 1221 Avenue of the Americas. Amon the winners were Tina Fey, Uma Thurman, Andrew Garfield, Ethan Slater and Taylor Louderman. It was a very enjoyable reception.

 

Off-Broadway

 

A revival of Summer and Smoke, by Tennessee Williams, at Classic Stage Company, is a co-production of CSC and Transport Group. The splendid cast, headed by the remarkable Marin Ireland, was directed by Jack Cumming III. It is a story that takes place in a small town in Mississippi at the turn of the century through 1916. A lonely preacher's daughter is obsessed with her neighbor's son in this gothic drama, which concludes with an unhappy ending. It leaves an indelible impression on the audience.

 

Unexpected Joy, book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Janet Hood, is a production of the York Theatre Company, at Saint Peter's.  It is a musical about a singer, her daughter, and granddaughter, plus her lesbian lover. The four sing very well, and we congratulated the four member cast, directed by Amy Anders Corcoran, at the opening night party at Lexicon, 226 East 54th St.

 

The Gentleman Caller, by Philip Dawkins, is a production of The Abingdon Theatre Company at the Cherry Lane Theatre. The two character play is directed by Tony Speciale. The two actors are excellent. Juan Francisco Villa as Tennessee Williams is outstanding and Daniel K. Isaac, as William Inge, interviews Williams in the first act in 1944 and then meets him in Chicago the same year, after having his first success with The Glass Menagerie. It is a fascinating play.

 

New York City Center Encores! at 25 presented Me and My Girl, book and lyrics, L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, music by Noel Gay. It is a bubbly, entertaining, silly musical, brilliantly directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. The cast was excellent, singing and dancing happily, as they closed the first act with The Lambeth Walk, with some of them dancing in the aisles. The second act opened with a lovely The Sun Has Got His Hat On, and towards the finale a memorable Leaning on a Lamp-Post, which was one of the most popular songs on the wireless (radio to Americans) during World War II in England, where I was born and bred in Manchester. I sang it all through the war, adding a last line Match in a Gas Tank, Boom, Boom. It was a joyous production with an energetic Christian Borle in the lead as a Cockney from London suddenly becoming a posh duke. Three ladies deserve special mention, Laura Michelle Kelly, Lisa O'Hare, both marvelous singers and dancers, and a very funny Harriet Harris. I always enjoy Encores!, but this production was extra special.


Woman and Scarecrow
, by Marina Carr, is a production of the Irish Repertory Theatre. Four splendid actors are directed expertly by Ciaran O'Reilly. The play takes place in the bedroom of a dying married lady (a remarkable Stephanie Roth Haberle), mother of twelve children and a unfaithful husband. We see her unhappiness and frustration in her life. It is a serious meditation on life and death. I photographed Marina and Stephanie at the opening night party in the Gallery of the theater at a wonderful party.

 

The New Group presented Peace for Mary Frances, by Lily Thorne, at the Pershing Square Signature Center, starring my all time favorite actress Lois Smith as a ninety-year-old dying lady with three generations of siblings fighting for their inheritance. The entire cast is superb, under the direction of Lila Neugebauer. With children like these in the play, one can understand the need for birth control! The opening night party took place at Social Drink & Food Rooftop at Yotel.

 

Devil of Choice, by Maggie Diaz Bofill, at the Cherry Lane Theatre, is a production of LAByrinth Theater Company. Three actors are directed by Shira-Lee Shalit. A violinist introduces a series of short scenes. A smug married English professor gets involved with a colleague. He teaches Goethe's Faust, and we in the audience are subjected to portions of his lectures sprinkled with profanity. I studied Faust in my World Lit class at Indiana University in the spring term of 1949, with a brilliant teacher, and Faust, by Gounod, is one of my favorite operas. I enjoyed them more.

 

Tchaikovsky: None But The Lonely Heart, by Eve Wolf, is a production of Ensemble for the Romantic Century at Pershing Square Signature Center. Two actors, a tenor,  a ballet dancer and three musicians are directed by Donald T. SandersJoey Slotnick as the composer reads letters he wrote his benefactor Nadezhda von Meck (Shorey Walker), who admires him. They never meet, but she replies for a number of years and sends him money. They have a strange friendship. It is an interesting production with talented actors and musicians. The opening night party took place at West Bank Cafe.

 

Ballet

 

The New York City Ballet presented Robins 100, a tribute to the grand choreographer. I attended an All Bernstein/Robbins program. It began with Fancy Free, It is one of the finest ballets that Jerome Robbins created. The dancing by the three sailors Daniel Ulbricht, Joseph Gordon and Sean Suozzi was magnificent. The program ended with another classic, West Side Story Suite, All the lead dancers were terrific. Chase Finlay, Andrew Veyette, Justin Peck, Georgina Pazcoquin, Mimi Staker and Indiana Wooodward were a joy to watch. Leonard Bernstein never wrote better music. Dybbuk was the middle ballet, danced beautifully by the entire ensemble, but outstanding were Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. Andrew Litton conducted the orchestra. They played excellently, and the composer would have been proud.

 

Robbins 100 continued with another fine program. The Four Seasons, music by Giuseppe Verdi, featured many of the leading dancers in the company. like Sara Means, Tyler Angle, Teresa Reichlen, Tiler Peck and the always brilliant Daniel UlbrichtCircus Polka, music by Igor Stravinsky, has the adorable children from the School of American Ballet. They were delightful. A Suite of Dances, music by Johann Sebastian Bach, was a solo by another always brilliant Joaquin De Luz. A new ballet Easy, music by Leonard Bernstein, choreography by Justin Peck, was a disappointment. Something to Dance About, direction and musical staging by Warren Carlyle, was another new ballet celebrating Jerome Robbins' work on Broadway. It featured a singer, Jessica Volk, and all the major principal dancers performed selections from many shows like The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof. It was a wonderful way to conclude the program. Again, Andrew Litton conducted the orchestra.

 

Another program of Robbins 100 began with Interplay. In the Night, music of Frederic Chopin, followed. See the Music, in which Associate Conductor Andrews Sill explained the score of The Cage, by Igor Stravinsky, which followed with a wonderful performance by Sterling Hyltin as the Novice. Other Dances, again music of Chopin, with the superb Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. The program concluded with a delightful Fanfare, music by Benjamin Britten. Jerome Robbins deserved these fine programs, revealing his genius as one of the finest choreographers of the twentieth century.

 

Robbins 100 continued with three ballets. It began with Opus 19/The Dreamer, music by Sergei Prokofiev, with two fine performances by the leading couple, Sterling Hyltin and Taylor Stanley. It continued with Dances at a Gathering, music by Frederic Chopin, with ten of the finest members of the company, and concluded with Glass Pieces, music by Philip Glass, with the terrific Maria Kowroski and Russell Janzen in the second part Facades. The music is hypnotic. Andrews Sill conducted the orchestra. The four programs that I attended are a tribute to a magnificent choreographer.

 

The New York City Ballet presented Coppelia, music by Leo Delibes, choreography by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova. It is, without doubt, one of the loveliest ballets ever produced, dating from 1870. The two leads, Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz, were superb, and it was a joy to watch their spectacular dancing. And one must congratulate the adorable children, students of The School of the American Ballet, who appeared in the third act. They were so disciplined and prepared, that they almost stole the show. Ballet has never been so more enjoyable than this charming production.

 

Parsons Dance at the Joyce Theater was a special occasion, with Stephen Schwartz being honored. His song Stranger in the Rain was performed by two dancers, and sung by Shosahana Bean, with choreography by David Parsons and with Stephen accompanying them at the piano. The other four dance pieces were Microburst, music by Avirodh Sharma playing a tabla with four dancers, Reflections danced by Abby Silva Gavezzoli, a magnificent Caught, danced by Zoey Anderson, and concluded with Ma Maison, choreography by Trey McIntyre, music by Preservation Jazz Band, with eight dancers of the company. The Parsons Dance's Annual Gala followed the performance at La Sirena at the Maritime Hotel with all the performers and the honoree Stephen, and guests MichaelWilson, Alan Cumming, Phil Chan and Georgina Pazcoguin. It was a lovely event.

 

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) presented Giselle, music by Adolphe Adam, perhaps one of the most famous ballets, first performed in Paris in 1841. The melodious music was a delight for one's ears, and the orchestra played it beautifully, under the baton of David LaMarche. The dancing was superb by the leading soloists and the ensemble. Highlights of the performance were the marvelous dancing of Stella Abrera in the title role, Cory Stearns as Count Albrecht, the Peasant Pas de Deux by Cassandra Trenary and Joseph Gorak, and the impressive debut in the second act of Katherine Williams as Myrta, the queen of the wilis. It was another one of the memorable nights at the ballet.

 

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) presented two ballets with music by Igor Stravinsky. The first was a modernized version of Firebird, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, with a brilliant Devon Teuscher in the title role. Alexandre Hammoudi as Ivan and Alexei Agoudine as Kaschei offered fine support. The orchestra was conducted by David LaMarche. The second was AfteRite, choreography by Wayne McGregor. It is based on The Rite of Spring, which debuted in Paris in 1913. This is a very modern version, perhaps ultra-modern. I loved the original ballet, which caused a riot when first produced. This production is inexplicable and difficult to understand. The dancing is always on a high level, with marvelous dancers headed by the magnificent Alessandra Ferri. Ormsby Wilkins conducted the orchestra.

 

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) presented La Bayadere, choreography by Natalia Makarova, music by Ludwig Minkus. It is one of the most beautiful ballets in the repertoire of the company. I saw the first production in 1980 and I was overwhelmed, especially the Kingdom of the Shades scene in the second act. The dancing could not have been better, and the audience granted the two leads, Sarah Lane (Nikiya) and Herman Cornejo (Solor), a tumultuous, well deserved ovation after their solos and pas de deux. Skylar Brandt as (Gamzatti) and Joseph Gorak as The Bronze Idol in the last act also deserved well-merited applause. David LaMarche conducted the orchestra, which played the score splendidly to close a memorable night.

 

Concert

 

The 2017 winner of Virtuosos, a classical music talent show, Hungarian soprano Reka Kristof made her debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, with baritone Aneas Humm and Gergely Boganyi at the piano. They performed a selection of songs by many composers, most solos, and occasionally duets, and two solos at the piano, named Boganyi, one of the most innovative grand piano retrofits in the last 150 years. It was impressive performance. Both singers have fine voices, and Don Giovanni Paraphrase, by Franz Liszt was the highlight of the evening by Gergely. He is a very talented pianist. The audience granted the three artists a thunderous ovation.

 

Museum

 

Of all the museums in New York, none is finer and more charming than the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street. Every press event is a delight. I attended a press preview of Canova's George Washington. Unfortunately, the original statue was destroyed in a fire in the State Capital in North Carolina, but a full size modello is on display alone in the Oval Room, and in the adjoining room an exhibition of drawings, pieces of the original statue and a painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, and one of Canova by Thomas Lawrence. Canova (1757-1822) was considered the finest sculptor of his era. Do not miss this fascinating exhibition!

 

Film


The Columbus Library, 742 10th Avenue, presented The Lady Vanishes, by Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1938, starring Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood. It is one of my favorite films, because I am English, and Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne appear as travelers, who are returning to England to watch cricket in Manchester, my home town. They are very funny, in a serious mystery story.

 

Columbus Library presented High Society, by Charles Walters, USA, 1956. With music by Cole Porter, and stars like Grace Kelly (her last film), Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm and Louis Armstrong, it is a delightful, entertaining film. I miss listening to pleasant music, seeing lovely ladies like Grace and Celeste and hearing singing voices like the immortal Bing and Frank. Those were the good old days.

 

Film Lovers rejoice! The 2018 New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) began for 6 days (May 7 -12) at Village East Cinemas, 181-189 2nd Avenue. 78 shorts, documentaries and feature films were screened. I attended a press conference at the Indian Consulate, 3 East 64th St, where we were welcomed by the Consul General Sandeep Chakraborty, and Aroon Shivdasani, Executive Director & Artistic Director of IAAC spoke about the festival We saw screen trailers of all the films, and Aseem Chhabra, NYIFF Director spoke about the films. Among them was a retrospective of Merchant-Ivory films. Many filmmakers were present and introduced themselves from the platform. A splendid reception was held afterwards, where we were able to chat with the filmmakers. It was a wonderful event


53rd Street Library presented To Sir, With Love, by James Clavell, UK, 1967. It is a sweet, sentimental film about an inspirational teacher, the wonderful Sidney Poitier, teaching a class of troubled teenagers in a London high school. It is a far-fetched story, and the title, which is also the song that became a big hit says, it all. For 30 years I was a teacher; for 10 years, a teacher of Spanish, and for 20 years an assistant principal in the New York City Public School System. For 4 years, I was in charge of the college bound program at Haaren H. S. considered the Blackboard Jungle in Manhattan; in fact, Up the Down Staircase was filmed there. I am proud that many of my disadvantaged students went on to college. A dedicated educator can have a tremendous influence on his students..

 

Events

 

Sheldon Harnick was honored with the first Albert Bergeret Living Legacy of Gilbert&Sullivan Award at the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players 2018 Spring Gala at the Players, 16 Gramercy Park. A dinner was followed by a performance by members of the company of G&S songs and selections from Sheldon Harnick's various Broadway shows. It was a lovely occasion,

 

I went to the Angelo David Salon, 420 Madison Avenue to see a demonstration of The Flex Brush, the ultimate detangling brush for wet and dry hair. I met the charming owner of the salon, Angelo David Pisacreta, the famous hair stylist and founder of his elegant salon, and Jacob Guttman, CEO of Creative Pro Hair Tools, who introduced the brush to the guests. We were served delicious hors d'oeuvres and fine wines. It was a delightful event.


I attended Take Wing And Soar, Spirit of Excellence Awards for Excellence in the Classical Tradition, which celebrated its fifteenth anniversary. It took place in the Event Hall at Columbia University, Broadway at 115th St. Among the honorees were my good friends Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey of Front Row Productions, Inc., who both received the Take Wing and Soar Spirit of Excellence Leadership Award. I sat at their table with Alia's husband and her charming parents. Another honoree was John Douglas Thompson, who received his award first, because he had to perform the matinee of Carousel on Broadway. He received the Earl Hyman Award for Excellence in Classical Acting. I have seen every role he has performed in New York, and he is a brilliant actor. Condola Phylea Rashad received the Jane White Excellence Theatre Award, but was not present, because she is starring on Broadway in Saint Joan and had to perform that demanding role in the matinee. A delicious brunch was served with cocktails. It was a delightful event. 

 

I photographed the three member cast headed by Michael O'Keefe, director Kim Weild and the playwright of First Love, by Charles Mee. It opens at the Cherry Lane Theatre on June 14 and I will attend opening night.


Emilio
 and Gloria Estefan were honored at the Ballet Hispanico Gala at the Plaza Hotel. Sergio Trujillo was the presenter on this splendid occasion. 

 

The Caron Recovery Center 24th Annual Gala was held at Cipriani 42nd Street. Among the guests were Katie Couric, Ron Delsener, Clive Davis and David Johansen (Buster Poindexter). It was a lovely event.

 

2018 Drama Desk Nominees received their nomination certificates at a reception at Friedman's, 228 West 47th St. Among those who were present, I congratulated Joe Mantello, Christopher Gattelli, Harry Hadden-Paton, Lindsay Mendez, Denise Gough, Ethan Slater and Jocelyn Bioh. It was an enjoyable party.


Four galas in one night. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it! The first one was The Actors Fund's Annual Gala at the Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, honoring Warren Beatty, Kenny Leon, Chita Rivera and Uma Thurman. Among the many guests were Andrew Garfield and Annette Benning. It is always a wonderful affair.

 

The second was the Vineyard Theatre's 2018 Gala at Edison Ballroom, 240West 47th St, honoring Michael Mayer, who posed with Tony Kushner. Also among the many guests were Kathleen Chalfant and her husband Henry. Another wonderful affair!

 

The third was at The Boathouse in Central Park for the Urban Stages 2018 Gala, honoring Jim Dale, with Simon Jones presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Finally to the Mutual of America, 320 Park Avenue, 35th Floor, for The Origin Theatre Company's Annual Gala, honoring Ed and Brigid Kenney with the Community Leaders Award, and Phil Burke with the Artistic Leader Award. The food served was delicious, and the fine wines and cocktails made a final gala the end of a splendid evening!

 

I attended a rehearsal of Half Time, choreographed and directed by Jerry Mitchell, which opens at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey on June 12th. We saw three selections from the musical, and took a photograph of the cast and creative team. It was quite delightful.

 

The 2nd Annual Chita Rivera Awards were presented at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The three special awards were presented to Carmen de Lavallade, John Kander and Harold Prince. Among the winners were Sergio TrujilloSummer: The Donna Summer Musical for Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show, Tony YazbeckPrince of Broadway for Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show and Ariana DeBoseSummer: The Donna Summer Musical for Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show. Among the guests and presenters were Lee Roy Reams, Norbert Leo Butz and Ben Vereen. The awards were originally the Astaire Awards, and I am happy to write that I have attended everyone of them. It is a lovely event.


I attended a fundraiser for the new documentary Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon, by Dennis Fill, (who was born in England and admired her talent so much that he flew to New York to see her in Damn Yankees four times), Ken Bloom and Chris Johnson, at the Palm restaurant, 250 West 50th St. We saw clips from the documentary, while the filmmakers and Gwen's nephew Paul Verdon spoke about the film. Among the guests at the reception were Broadway stars who worked with the immortal Gwen like Penny Fuller, Helen Gallagher and Lee Roy Reams. It was a marvelous party!

 

My wife and I attended a delicious press Summer Tasting Weekend Brunch at Hooters, 155 West 33rd St. The brunch will debut on June 2 on Saturday and Sunday. Menu entrees range from $6.99 to $13.99, and for $24.99 "all-you-drink" for two hours. Be sure to enjoy yourself at Hooters!

 

Loretta Swit was given a cocktail party and dinner for her book SwitHeart which features her watercolors and her animal activism at Jue Lan Club, 49 West 20th St. Among the guests enjoying the party were Mark Kostabi, Grammy winner Desiree and David Allen.


On the cover of the Beauty Issue of Bella Magazine is Alexa Ray Joel and we celebrated the occasion with her at a cocktail party at La Pulperia, 151 East 57th St.