Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#22 A few things at the tail end of November (one sad)

It is unseasonably warm here. Records are being broken, 70 degrees 2 days ago (normal 45). I have been bike riding in the orange and rust colored Central Park. Well, it's not my bike, I borrow it from my friend Susan, but biking around the paths and parks is heavenly. I get to do that when most people are at work, so it's just the tourists and me, and they rent, so I'm out all day. I have almost circumnavigated the island, just the upper East side to do next. Most of the outer rind of this city is accessible and flat (perhaps I should have said skin, as The Big Apple has no rind). Yes, I wear an ugly green helmet, because the hard part is getting to the rim. The streets of NYC are really ugly to traverse on 2 wheels. Double parking is a natural pastime here and that means the bike lanes are ridiculously blocked. Then again, the real hazard of "death by driver door" is also on all of the approximately 8 blocks to the East or the West from my apartment. Fear factor is a part of every venture out on the ancient black Schwinn, but I figure it heightens my senses, and I need to do that in order to stay sharp in the theater. Oh, I forgot to say that the hilliest and hardest ride for my no longer 20 year old muscles is the aforementioned rectangular park. I will not admit in this cyber public forum to having to get off the bike and walk up some of the steep slopes. No, I won't do that.
Photo taken by Teal's BF Tom 
Now, to the subject of the theater: The sad closing of The Blue Flower happened 3 days ago. The BFBunch gathered and paid respect to this groundbreaking production. The group initially went because I told them it was an outstanding show, but mostly because they are true TWickies, and the Teal Wicks love, from her stint at The Gershwin, flying on her broom in WICKED, convinced them to take on this musical. We all went multiple times. Bless them (some are students) for helping me with $18 tickets. They brought their friends, and I brought some, and in the end we were powerful. We greeted Teal at the last StageDoor, and it was good. Great pictures were taken. Smiles were mixed with feelings of loss, but the authors said they were taking it to other venues, probably London. (note to self: check passport and save money), so we took heart. The remarkable affability of the cast, musicians and creative staff really made The Blue Flower a wonderful run for the fans. I know the actors loved the show. Unfortunately, as I have said before, some were not ready to "get" this work. It's time will come. I'll be there.
One other marvelous thing happened in the last 3 days. I was in the audience of Seth Rudetsky's live radio show at the SIRIUS studios. Not only did he have Neil Sedaka as his first guest, Judy Gold as his second, but Judy Collins was stalking up and down the glass walls of the room waving at Sedaka. Why she didn't come in and say hi, instead of waving, I don't know, but I was having a heart attack. What Seth could have done with all 3 of those geniuses in one room. It was live, so I guess he couldn't ask her in. What a moment! Judy Collins five feet away, wanting to get in! Priceless!
Gotta go clean ThePowderBluePalace. Cali peeps are coming for a Shopping/Dining Spree. The next 5 days will be delightful. TTFN and LLAP

Monday, November 21, 2011

#21 Off Off Off Broadway, and the magic to be found there

Not all the great things happen just on "Broadway". I love to go to off, even off off, and sometimes just clinging by a fingernail, Broadway shows. They are intimate, cheap and usually easy to get tickets to see.
There are 2 off Broadway shows which have been my passions for the last 2 months and sadly, both are closing soon. I initially came to these shows because I follow the Divas who are appearing there, but have returned multiple times because of the acting and music that support them.
First, The Blue Flower: It's not easy to do a musical about lost love, war, death, driven artists, DaDa and German Expressionism, with a touch of Kurt Weill and Country Music.  I won't do a review(see my post of 12/13/10, re: the Cambridge production, it's good), but this is one of the most compelling and riveting pieces of theater I have ever seen. Sadly, the taste for dark musicals is limited, and the people who pay big bucks for a seat in a theater want to smile and be happy, so it is ending too soon. Teal Wicks is the Diva responsible for luring me to this innovative show. Lucky for me that she has good taste in material. Lucky me for being close enough to see both that show and the evolved production that hit 43rd Street in October. It changed in the 4 hour journey to NYC, but Teal's songs and humor remain pivotal. I have brought my NY friends to see the show, 98% are repeat viewers like myself. They have become TheBlueFlowerBunch. They are devoted. I am proud to have introduced them to the show. I wish it would run forever.
Next, Queen of the Mist: It's also not easy to write a show about Anna Edson Taylor, a sad, impoverished but strong woman, who, at 63, decided to make her name by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She sings "There is greatness in me" for her opening number...chutzpah, perhaps (although she is an Episcopalian), but greatness eluded her, and she did not have a hero's finale. What we do have here is a bravura performance for Mary Testa, the woman in in the flotation device and my longtime favorite Diva, Julia Murney, as comic and vocal support. I have driven 27 gazillion miles to see Julia all over California and taken buses up and down this East Coast. She is worth the effort. How nice of her to do a show that is 10 minutes walking distance from my apartment. This show is literally in a gym's basketball court. Bleachers hold the audience, yet it is a spellbinding work. The music is soaring and the comic genius of La Murney is pure crackalicious (what she does with a typewriter,"Damn Damn, stick a...."). At the matinee performance I saw last Saturday, I witnessed one of the most touching moments I have ever seen in a show. Mary Testa has sung her powerhouse final song, and she is in tears and is exhausted. The audience rises to it's feet when she comes to the floor for her curtain call. Then, at the center of the first row, an older man who has not been able to rise in ovation, puts his arms out in a reaching gesture to her, imploring her to come to him and give him a hug. This is so unusual! Then I look at Julia. She is streaming tears and smiling like a fool. This is Mary Testa's father! The pride on his face and the 3 other members of her family just was almost too much to witness. I feel I am seeing a private moment. I'd love to know the journey of that family to reach that joy. Of course, I went down and spoke with them. They were thrilled that someone would come multiple times to see her triumphant role. (Well, no one really understands my calling, but they are polite and grateful I get keep coming)
The magic wasn't over that afternoon. After saying thank you to all the cast and Hi to Julia and Mary, I left my friends to go their way to the Subway, and I walked towards Washington Square on my way home. More magic! It was about 4:45. The light was dimming to grey. It was crisp cold, but in the square there was a magician doing a show, beautiful people taking wedding shots in gorgeous clothes, french bull dogs, basset hounds, a man playing Chopin on a Grand Piano, British filmmakers shooting children playing in the waterless fountain, 2 women doing romantic poetry out loud, a homeless man singing "Sesame Street"in a powerful voice, laughing children and a group of parents from a day care center selling yummy baked goods for a dollar. All that within a 2 block area. It was overwhelming in it's wonderfulness. I went home...had some hot chocolate...pondered my good luck and fell sound asleep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#20 Time flies when you are having fun: The 1 year post

How do you measure a year in the life? 
In long walks, in diners, in cups of cocoa. 
In sweet shows, in bad shows, in journeys 'cross town.
My friends who love RENT will get the reference. The rest, just understand, this has been a good thing I have done.
One more year to purge this demon. Who wants to put money on whether that can be accomplished?  I wouldn't bet on it. I've been afflicted since childhood. 
I have seen wonderful performances, met wonderful people, had some wonderful meals, gone to wonderful concerts, had wonderful walks and bike rides, taken wonderful photographs and experienced wonderful adventures. Well, some of those things were not so wonderful, but hindsight has turned them into enriching experiences, so it's all good. 
I only had one near death experience. I was able to yell and curse out the asshole who almost ran me over, in the best New York tradition, so I figure that was cathartic and good for my chakras.
I love this city. I'm a pretty positive person, and have been happy in 99% of the places I have lived. Still, the energy and creative pulse of this place are heaven to me. I do like a week or so in the mountains or in a lovely tropical island, but this is it for me. (There is the contradiction with how I feel about Africa, but that is for another conversation.) I feel as though I am in the center of the Universe and I do believe I am right. 
Let us hope that the next year will be good for New York City. The Theater will thrive. The economy will not tank a third time and my legs will stay strong enough to negotiate the stairs in the Subway.
One more year, please! Then I will return and tell good stories and plan more adventures.
I will leave you with a photo from the 64th floor of 7 World Trade Center, looking North towards Broadway:
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes....and I loved every minute. TTFN

Monday, October 17, 2011

#19 September is a great month...Oh, it's October!

I do love September. My birthday, to be sure, is the best day, but then there are a ton of my friends who also share September with me, and you know how much I value my friends. Well, if you don't know the answer to that question, get off this blog! I also had fun in September attempting to sing Happy Birthday to the talented Teal Wicks, but luckily for all involved, that never happened.
The City in September is just glorious. Central Park was crisp and stunning with the last remaining green still in control. The tourists are still here, but not the ones with children, so things seem calmer.....and the best thing about September ....... The Theater Season is beginning.
New shows have started. The NY Musicals Festival is held. Wonderful new productions are just around the corner...more about them later. The first new show I have seen is FOLLIES, huge extraordinary cast bursting with Diva talent...but later about that, too.
So, I apologize for writing about a month long gone, but I love it so, and it's my blog, so I had to say something.
Now, for the first great thing about October:
I won a writing contest. Yes, I'm bragging! I'm damn happy about it, as the judge graduated from Yale and was properly educated on such things as good prose. Do click the link and go read my piece. Every word is true, and I hope the funny bits really make you smile:

I welcome comments via AOLe-mail, as I never go to gmail. Be kind. I am developing an ego. TTFN

Thursday, September 22, 2011

#18 Fall is coming and Summer is falling fast

Technically, this title is one day late, as Fall begins on September 21st, and I am probably going to get this finished on the 22nd. Well, I've been a little slow these past few months, so at least I'm being consistent. Wouldn't want to shock people by being reliable and keep to a schedule. This is a walk-about, a traipse through the mean streets and filthy alleys of the most complicated city in the world, by a person with a frazzled brain. Too much to think about. Too much to do. Too much to report, and not enough time to do it all in a punctual manner. So take it when you can and enjoy. This is the best I can do. Life interferes with life. You get my drift.
So Fall is in the air. Today the people are wearing long sleeves. Jackets are not in evidence yet, but perhaps soon. Walking and biking are a great pleasure. The subways are no longer heat pits of torture, and I love this city. The Farmer's Market in Union Square is filled with stunning fruits and veggies, none of which I purchase, because I am not home to cook. I am on a mission: Do things and experience the world at my doorstep.
Lots on the calendar and here are some of the highlights from the past 2 weeks:
1. BIRTHDAYS: 2 Theater BDays (Tom Flynn (sweet/charming, Dr Dillamond) and Teal Wicks (my Diva, Elphaba) and Mine! You know I celebrated 3 days, thanks to Linda & Neal B and my Bdwy friends (even got plotzed one night), but September 11th came along, and put an end to the silliness.
2. 9/11 was really intense. I must have DVR'd 20 shows, to learn as much as possible about how New Yorkers experienced the events of that day. I went down to Ground Zero with Nanette and Steve a week  before, and the area was already staged for the huge number of people expected there on that Sunday's memorial. The City was ready for anything. I saw at least 3 police check points from Central Park to the Broadway area, and there were video towers all over. The thing that remains in my mind is the reading of the names. That Sunday was filled with tears, for me as well.
3. Jacqueline came in from CA to participate in TealWicksWickedWeek, the ending of her run as the GreenGirl. 99% of the theater these 2 weeks is going to be devoted to those last shows, but she and I did get in one other show called Sleep No More, a performance piece, done in a 5 story abandoned hotel. The audience wears masks, roams the building following the actors and can even participate in the action. Oh, the play that is loosely performed is Macbeth. It is so rich and full of action, that I never got to the rooms where the witches were double bubbling, toil and troubling. Me, missing witches! It was a huge blunder on my part! It lasted 4 hours, and I didn't want to leave. Special evening.
Another special evening was the world premiere of "8", a new work about the Prop 8 case in the courts right now, that was presented as a reading with a star-filled cast for one night only. The tickets started at $2K down to $500. Not in my price range. I was not happy. Here are some of the actors:Matt Bomer,Anthony Edwards,Morgan Freeman,Cheyenne Jackson,Larry Kramer,Christine Lahti,John Lithgow,Rob Reiner,Yeardley Smith,Ellen Barkin,Bradley Whitford, to name the ones you might know. There were others as well. I really wanted to go. Then on Saturday, there was a tiny notice in BroadwayWorld, that there would be a few RUSH tickets offered at 10 o'clock Monday, the day of the reading. I put out an e-mail to my theater buddies and the plotting began. What time to get to the theater to get in line? It was decided that 6 would be good. Sunday night, my friend Elisa called at 11 to tell me that there were ALL READY people on line. I got up at 2:30am and got to the theater at 3:11. I was 12th. Much fun was had by all in line. Some played cards, some slept, and the rest of us gossiped about theater. I love RUSH lines, but this was the first one I have done before the garbage men get up. Got the tix and went home at 10:15 to sleep those lost hours. The show was historic, not only for the content and the acting, but for the star quality of the audience. Every Gay Advocate in NYC was there, as well as actors, because it was on a Monday night. I learned that the photo shoot in front of the theater that you see the next day in the papers is called "the step and shoot", the press was in heaven and so was I. I went up to all sorts of "names" and talked. I was making the best of that evening. The only problem is that I am too fraking short. I get lost in the crowd and am engulfed. I need 8 inch heals.

On that somber note of despair at the state of the nation, I will stop. Thanks for reading. I'm having a wonderful time. I hope to spread the joy by blogging to you.  Don't think I don't miss you ...I do, but I'm too busy to think about it. TTFN

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#17 Summer's Over...Please Come Back!

Labor Day, to me at least, is the end of Summer. Yes, I know, the actual end of Summer is September 21st, but my mother told me I can't wear white after Labor Day and so that's my cut off point. The kidlets are going back to school. The "La Dee Da's" are coming back to the city from The Hamptons and the lobby of my building is filled with golf clubs and luggage. Don't those people know that NYC in the Summer is just fabulous?
True, I don't have a tan. True also, it was a bitch in the Subway when the temperature was over 90, but there was so much to do...and most of it was FREE. (free is my favorite word!)
I had never visited The City in Summer. There is plenty of action in Cali in the Summer and who wanted to mingle with the tourists and sweaty homeless people. WRONG. NYC vibrates with energy and beauty in the summer. It also smells bad when you are walking by the piles of garbage at the curb, but I have learned how to never breathe through my nose except when in a good restaurant or while walking in Central Park.
Speaking of Central Park, here is my best encounter of the summer (even better than meeting Yeardly Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) twice and having a nice talk each time). Some time in early July I was walking East to West through the park, probably going from one of the museums near the Guggie and heading to meet someone in the Theater District. (I don't remember. It doesn't matter.) The time was around 8:50. Dusk. The weather was sultry and the park was quiet. I walked around a grove of trees and came upon one of the small ponds that rings the lake where people rent the row boats, but this pond is too small and there are only turtles. The light was beautifully soft and there were no people around talking. I walked over to the dirt path that leads to the edge of the water and then I saw them! Fireflies! Bazillion Fireflies! I haven't seen a single firefly in California, ever! They just don't exist west of the Rockies. Don't ask me why. Obviously it has to do with climate and water, but so what, my kids never had the opportunity to experience the joy of watching and capturing them into Mason jars (we were not ecologically sensitive in my youth). The last time I saw them was the day OJ had his madness in the white Jeep on the LA highway, and I was in Chicago on a visit. All the people were at the TV watching that murderer, and I was transfixed on the fireflies in the back yard.
So, when I saw the flickering bugs in the park I was in total heaven. I stayed there for an hour, at least, just watching. Of course, as it got darker the display got better and it was just magical. I tried, but none of my attempts to capture the moment visually on my cel camera worked at all. The magic is in my memory. Bless Mayor Bloomberg for keeping The City safe, because it was really dark and late when I finally left the area. If it had been a few years ago I'd probably have been mentioned in the morning papers.
So, I mark the end of summer by remembering that special encounter and to add a few more observations:
Skinny girls look great in short shorts, the rest of us not so much.
People have LOTS of tattoos these days and most are just terrible.
Never put just one more blast of air in a bike tire because you will blow it up and it pops.
Always walk through the Farmer's Market at lunch time and sample everything!
Oh, just one more thing. I will wear white...whenever I want to!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

#16 The Week of Mother Nature Drama

Well, my friends, I had planned to do my blog once a week, but it seems I was out of touch for a good chunk of time. I have my reasons. I will not go into them now, perhaps if you come visit, we can discuss them over a Cosmo and dinner, but for now, I say greetings and what a week of Hell I have observed in NYC!
Now, you notice that I didn't say "experienced a week of Hell", because, by my normal standards, these past days have been interesting, not life threatening or really stressful. Let's start with the earthquake. Now, as things go, a 5.08 quake is perky, noticeable and usually forgettable. Something about being on bedrock makes such an event in NYC feel more powerful. I was happily typing away answering e-mails, Tuesday around 2pm, when I said to myself, "Self, there seems to be a REALLY large truck rumbling by on 3rd Avenue. Now that would have to be a super tanker for me to notice, as I am on the 20th floor, but it took all of 10 seconds for me to realize that there was no truck and another 20 seconds to fully appreciate the deep vibrations that rumbled through the Earth and made it all the way up to my apartment. Quite a feat if you think about it and much longer that the real quakes I have lived through in Cali. I instantly remembered that there was an earthquake in NYC perhaps 4 years ago and recalled that I was sitting at my desk at the Park Street Business Association wishing I was in NYC. Here I was, reliving an oddity of East Coast Nature, and I was delighted. Well, delighted after I assessed the level of danger and saw it as nil.
Within 3 nanoseconds The internet was abuzz with earthquake news and jokes. I love the internet! There are some funny people out there and they make me laugh. I will have you know that I fully participated in the banter and a good time was had by all.
Now, on to the hurricane. Bitch Irene, as we fondly have named her, was hyped big time. Wednesday, right after the press about the quake had died down, the articles and chatter about Irene started. I was even looking forward to the hullabaloo, because I was hopeful no one would show up on Broadway in the rain. I could maybe win the WICKED lottery, which I have lost often lately, but no, that was not to happen. On Friday Mayor Mike decided to shut down the Subways at Noon on Saturday, thereby assuring the entire city would close including all the theaters. Now, he was expecting the storm to hit around midnight, but he needed to err on the side of caution, so he did. How are people going to get home to the far reaches of the city if there are no Subways? He was correct. I was not happy, but I am not the mayor and I am a selfish brat.
I spent Saturday morning out walking taking observations of preIrene. Times Square was empty of most people, except the poor tourists who had no place to go because all stores and restaurants (even Starbucks and McDonalds) were closed. The T-shirt shops were open, to be sure.
I was compelled to leave by about 1, well after the trains had stopped, but I was distracted by the large number of tourists on 5th avenue and the high end jewelry stores that were open. That was interesting. I walked home in a gentle rain and by the time I got there it was getting dark.
Nothing much but rain until about midnight when the wind got going. The building creaked a bit around 3am, but really, it was so uneventful that I fell asleep a few times waiting for the roaring. Now I say that from real experience, as I did spend a rather unpleasant night under a dining room table in St Thomas while a real hurricane was making mischief some time in the 70's. It was terrifying, I must admit.
While Bitch Irene was wet, she was not as wild as I had expected her to be. We were lucky not to lose electrical power, that would have been nasty, there was water damage and flooding around the edges of the city. This morning, on my walk about to check things out, I found that lots of branches and leaves had been tossed around, but no broken glass storefronts. Around 9 in the morning, well after the storm had passed through, a large tree fell on 17th Street, half a block away. It took out 2 cars and was of much interest to the neighbors, who were happy to be able to get out of their apartments and talk about Irene. The NYPD proved valiant and took chain saws out of their trunks and cut that tree up into fire wood. It went down because of a shallow rootball and soaked ground.
That's all to report on NYC this week. Oh, one more thing. I met Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) last week. She was charming and told good stories.
I will report on my adventures in a more regular fashion from now on. I promise. TTFN

Saturday, April 9, 2011

#14 - I See Green!

Now, what green do you think I am referring to? I would not want to be too predictable, but then again, I am a dyed in the wool witch woman watcher....or is that woman witch watcher? So what, I was just teasing. I mean to glory in the resurgence of the color green to the urban landscape. SPRING HAS SPRUNG.
My father used to drive me nuts every year by reciting a little ditty:
Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where
The flowers iz?
It used to make me crazy. Of course, I now wish, to all that's all powerful in the Universe, that I could hear him say those words to me and then chuckle at my reaction, but alas he would be something close to 106.
So, it is left for me to convey to my electronic friends, the glory of green after 5 months of grey.
If you ask me if I miss California, I would have not even a nanosecond of hesitation in answering no. I am having a wonderful time on this sabbatical. I do miss my family, my friends and my pups, but not much else. The one blatant lie in that statement is that I miss green. California never dies. There is color and life even in the bleakest corner of the State all year long. I do miss that.
As I walk about the city, I see signs. Robins returning to the trees. Trees are beginning to sprout buds. Tree wells are dotted with stalks of green stems and daffodils are blooming. Macys has guided tours of the Flower Show, in the store and out on Harold Square. Times Square has been transformed into a forest of evergreen trees, for one of the cosmetic companies. The Orchid Show is at the Botanical Garden. Oh, and the CEOs of the top 3 banks have given themselves huge bonuses (that's green backs in their pockets, right?) Green everywhere. It's thrilling, except the CEO thing.
Green is my favorite color. Stop sometime and really pay attention to how many different shades of green you see in a park or forest. I sit in Central Park and do that. There is a pond just at the bottom of the park, near The Plaza. It's called South Pond, I think. I have taken some shots of it in 3 seasons so far:
   I really haven't spent enough time in Central Park to write about it
well. I was there today, on my way from the Theater District to the Upper West Side to do some chores, and got waylaid by the sun, the people, the dogs and the life wandering by. I will be going more often. It will be fun to compare CP with GGP (don't tell me you don't know what I mean, sillies).
The addition of sun and warmth to the equation of life is exhilarating. Today, I actually had on a short sleeved shirt and exposed my bare skin to the elements. Shocking I know, but I'm a grown woman and can handle almost anything life throws at me. New York, get ready for skin! Perhaps the memory of icy winds and slush will fade. I am certain that I will be trying to conjure up feelings of cold when I am pushed into lethargy from the sweltering heat of Summer. That's when you can say, "I told you so!"
I leave you a photo of the only flower to grow on Park Avenue this Winter. It was 6 feet tall and made of fiberglass. It made The City smile:
There were lots of shows this week, but I've got one more huge event tomorrow, so I will save that for next time. Thanks for reading and TTFN or LLAP (that's from Leonard Nimoy)

Monday, March 28, 2011

#13 Part B - The Computer Ate My Homework

Well, there really is a reason that my blog has been off the wonderful world of the worldwide ethernet...I have had a very sick 'puter. I had "curser disease" I cursed that curser and almost went mad (both as in seriously mentally disturbed AND as in so angry I could pop a blood vessel). I found a Lap Doctor named Mike, and he has cured "Bettie'sWickedLittleMacBook" (don't you name your computer, too?) So, here we go again, back to the world of cold, noise, dirt, stench, congestion, rudeness, expense, frenzy and magic that is New York City. While all those adjectives are true, I still love it here.
So, in January, there was a rumor going around Broadway that Theater was dead. Shows were closing faster than you could read the articles about them, even shows that were damn good. A sort of gloom floated over the slush in the street that was ruining my boots and people were not going to 42nd St. Of course, I did. I go to shows multiple times. Luckily I have great sources for discounts and don't mind waiting in line for RUSH tickets for hours in the freezing morning wind. I do, also, like to challenge the Lottery Gods (Caps, because you never want to insult those deities). I have tried the WICKED lottery 8 gazillion times and have only won 3 times and consider myself VERY lucky. Well, the tide has turned, and Broadway is back and damn is it fun to watch the hits and flops. Really, I haven't seen any true flops.
I have had lots of friends visiting, and I have been going with them to the new shows. It is my civic duty to help the economy of this town, right?
Did you know that you can hear a jackhammer 20 floors down,  just as loud as if you were standing right next to it on the street? TRUEFAX  For 47 minutes!
So, what was I saying? Oh, yes, the shows are back:
Here is a truncated version of some things I've seen and done, theater & otherwise:
Other Desert Cities: Palm Springs, with a really messed up, pretending not to be Jewish or Democratic family, with a gay daughter and a deep secret. Stacy Keach, Stockard Channing & Linda Lavin. I know those people in PS. It was sold out and fantastic.
WontheWICKED lottery!!!!  Nuff said.
Idina Menzel NY-Philharmonic: Second row, same concert as SF, but with Marvin Hamlisch. The entire Symphony Hall was sold out. First she was funny and did her stories. At the end she sang a cappella. I cried. The huge house was enraptured and in silent awe.
Camp Wanatachi: Last show. I hope they come back. Loved that music and the actors.
Carrie Manolakos: Solo show in the East Village. Tiny club. Great singing. I am her fangirl. She is a former witch. They must be followed and revered.
Raul Esparza American Songbook: Lincoln Center's Rose Hall. Late night concert. He was full of sass and perhaps some spirits. Started with Begin the Beguine by Cole Porter and then veired off to his Cuban roots. Magical evening. I was at a front table with wine. His Momma was in the house and there were childhood stories. I didn't want it to end. The room had a glass wall overlooking the lights of Columbus Circle and the Park. He is a riveting entertainer. We were all a little bit in love with him.
The New York Idea: Donna S. came in from Oakland, and we went to this Off Off Bdwy show in the Village. Victorian drawing room, bit Noel Cowardlike, marriage, divorce and stuffy attitudes of the time and a woman who was needing to break loose. Very much a Philadelphia Story wanna be from 1906. We also went to a kickass German restaurant called HeartBreak. Fun evening.
Celisse Henderson: Best Buy, Flatiron District, singing her album and making the loyal fans who came very happy.
Crystal Chapell: Book signing at Rock Center. To see her walk down the staircase and own the entire room was worth the waiting and the crowds. The woman is a Goddess.
Organ Recital St. Patrick's Cathedral: Fifth Ave, sunny Sunday, beautiful Bach, 90% Spanish congregation, stunning architecture. I love a free concert.
Double Treat Monday: Teal at The Canal Room & Carrie M. at Le Poisson Rouge: Teal sang Firefly, Drew Gasparini's song, at an evening of new composers. There was some Schwartzhate in the room. I didn't like that. Allison Case, Morgan Karr, Rachel Potter, Anthony Rapp also sang. Teal was outstanding! Then we taxi'd over to watch Carrie in a theaterpiece called Things to Ruin. She was VERY funny. This work could be a real show. Hope it comes to that.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: DanRad has moved on from Harry Potter. He sang and danced his little heart out. I think this show will be a huge hit.
Katie Thompson: Triad Club Upper EastSide. I have been waiting to see this woman for 3 or 4 years. She writes the most poignant songs and plays the piano as she sings them. She was accompanied by 2 women cellists. What an interesting sound. The evening was to present her new CD. Magical.
Kendra was a no show at Joe's Pub: I don't want to talk about it!
Arts & Crafts: Sandra Bernhard's musical in progress at Joe's Pub. Funny. Good music. Needs good singers in order to go to the legit stage. I love this woman. She cracks me up and is a good person.
Lombardi: I only went to see Judith Light, who I think is a phenominal actress. She was lovely afterwards and talked to me for a long while. The play is good, as well, but she knocks me out. I'll go see her read the phone book.
LosttheWICKEDlotteryAGAIN: Joe was in from SF. He got a "noshow" ticket, and I hung around to go to SD and make sure he got back to his GMa's apt on the Upper EastSide (her neighbor is LIZA with a Z). It was pouring rain. I didn't get home until 2...soaked and cold, but it was still fun.
The Desert of Forbidden Art: Documentary film about the abstract artists of Stalinist Russia who's works have been saved in a remote part of Uzbekistan. Went with Susan. I am ArtsyFartsy, you know.
Kicked out of the apartment for 5 days.   Arghhhhh
Anything Goes: What can you say about a classic? It has Joel Grey, Sutton Foster and Jessica Walter. Sumptuous music, goofy slapstick and an ArtDeco cruise ship. What's not to like? and the tixs were $10.
The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller: Off Bdwy, in a church basement on 73rd Street. Funny Funny Sexy, did I say Funny? show. The Asmat cannibals were more interesting than the art collector who does not return home to NYC. His disappearance was a tragedy. This is an interesting/political take on that.
More Carrie Manolokos: Rockwood Hall. Lower EastSide(Alpahbet City) She did a very long set, with a great band. Went with a group of her fans. It was crowded and nutso, but total fun. She is so good. The girl needs to do an album.
Storm Large: Yes, that's her name! She is a singer who can draw the drama out of ANY song and boy did she ever. Almost 2 hours of high intensity and emotions at Joe's Pub. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Thanks to Elisa for making me go. I am now a fan. Even got the CD. Stunning performer. Beauty to go along with the beautiful voice & she was nice afterwards and talked with us. Great night.
Arcadia: Tom Stoppard at his best. Raul Esparza as a Brit...what fun! Must go back. It's very cerebral.
WontheWICKED lottery!!!! First called!!!!....but Teal was out....Chris was most unhappy. Next time!
Catch Me If You Can: Norbert Leo Butz, Aaron Tveit, Tom Wopat & Kerry Butler...this will be a hit. We were flying! Great music and story. Super dance numbers. There is going to be some fighting at the Tony's in June. I have still got lots of great shows to see. This was the first blockbuster on the list.
WontheWICKED lottery!!!! Well, Chris did. Told her so. Front and center. I got a Teal fingerwave at curtain call. Is she a sweetheart or what? That made my month! (well, it's not over yet)
Mary Poppins: We went to Philly to see Nicolas Dromard. The one and only Neeeecolas. It was so worth the early departure and 2 hour bus ride on a bus with no heat. So what, it was wonderful. The show is all you would expect. Great music and dancing and special effects, but made perfect by his dynamic performance as Bert. The man is just perfect. I told him he was perfect, and I think he agrees with me. He has a great sense of humor, but is really appreciative of the support his followers from SF give him. We are going to see him at the Tonys some day. Mark my words. All he needs is the show. We talked at SD and met his Mary, Steffanie Leigh. Lovely voice. Lots of laughs and good hugs. I collect hugs. I don't do autographs. They just sit in a drawer. Hugs bring happiness.
Oh I forgot, one more...
Where's Charlie: So, I was sitting at the bar at Junior's waiting for Elisa, and was talking to this dude who is a theater-nut, no duh, I find them all. At the end of the conversation, he says, "You obviously love a good show. I have a free ticket to the Encores presentation of Where's Charlie" (a musical version of Charlie's Aunt from 1948) He gives me the ticket and says good by...WOW It was very dated, but had great singers and there is one famous number in it that Ray Bolger (think know the Wizard of Oz...WICKED 6 degrees of separation, folks) sings called Once in love with Amy. The entire audience sang along in nostalga...they were all in their 80's and were going up the balcony aisles in their walkers, really. It was fun, but I prefer to see young people in the audiences. That way. I think Theater will have new recruits and will thrive forever.
Thhhhhhat's all folks. Thanks for reading. It was long, but I had fun writing it, and I am a selfish bitch.
(no pictures, I'm tired)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

#13 Part A - Miss me?

6 weeks. I have gotten worried e-mails. Could it mean there are peeps out there who read my words? Probably, just friends wondering if I have been stymied by the weather and shut in the Powder Blue Palace, too afraid to venture out into the grey gloomy icy streets. Not so.
The primer event of the month was as you may have heard me mention before, was Teal Wick's debut on Broadway. I've lost track of how many people came in from San Francisco to witness this event, but Australia was represented as well, and my apartment was TWickie Central. It was a bit like college, with a whole lot of musical dialogue. We were constantly quoting lines from one particular Ozian opus. Laughter was rampant. The Tuesday night of her opening show, I was treated to a REAL seat in the audience, as a gift, and we had the extraordinary good fortune to be sitting next to Teal's parents and 1 seat away from her best friend. It was just too much fun to be able to lean over and kvell with her mother, who was as ecstatic, as you might expect. Then there was the added challenge of not acting like an ass. The one note gushing fangirl was so not what I wanted to be that night. I do think I pulled it off. We were all there to witness the next, albeit huge, step in Teal's theatrical journey. Don't think she will be just a showgirl...too much talent to be contained by one medium...just wait.
So, need I say that the evening was a monumental success? DUH? All the happy and love in the entire world was centered in front of the StageDoor that night. The entire area glowed with it.
(it is very hard to type when the curser acts on it's own volition and skips all over the page...ARGHHH)
The visiting CaliGirls were game to to go to shows and concerts I had targeted, so we were all over Manhattan; highlights of which were Camp Wanatachi, sumer camp for girls (oh, how I loved camp) & Carrie Manaolakis (former witch who is moving on).
(it has taken me 45 minutes to type 2 sentences.....this is a seriously sick sweet laptop. Must stop before I go mad)  More, if I can find a LapDoctor. SORRY

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#12 - My week in the theater

I have had really wonderful theater luck these past few days. That's why I came here, to soak up as much theater in the center of the universe of acting on stage, so I need to reflect on my good fortune. In just this past week, I have seen comedy, spectacle, a fledgling musical and a memorial for a giant. Not bad. All were memorable and the most they cost was $30 and one was free. I do love a bargain.
Jackie Hoffman, comedy genius, is celebrating her 50th BDay by skewering the people who stood in her way, on her rise to the almost top. She is not a household word to anyone out of Manhattan. She has the role of GrandMa in the Addams Family, but they didn't give her anything to do in the second act. Oh the chutzpah of those writers!...She nails them. She has a crackly voice and is not much to look at, but she cracks every funny bone in the room. Joe's Pub is a wonderful place to see a show, and I got a bunch of fun friends together to laugh for the evening, one from Maine, one from Texas and one from Australia. It was perfect. Of course, I related to Jackie's lamenting about getting old, but my friends are blissfully ignorant of such issues. "Just you wait, Henry Higgins!" That's all I have to say.
Next, on the agenda was Spidey. Well, for a show that won't even open until March 15th and has a terrible habit of hurting it's actors, it is maddeningly sold out every night. The only way to see this train wreck is to get "rush tickets" on the day of the show. They sell $30 seats to fools who get there at 7 am, to fill in the few holes they have in the audience, single seats, anywhere that they need a body...well, I am a fool...a smart fool! Got there at 7:45 because the subway was closed down for a police action, one stop before 42nd Street. I watched the policemen pull people off the train I was on and search them and detain the most normal looking people. No one ran or sassed back. It was quite a show in itself, but I was rushing to a box office, so I was most annoyed I had to hoof it 6 blocks (not the walking, but the time). I didn't want to be at the end of the line. They only give out 10 to 15 tickets. When I finally got there, there was only one person waiting. A very nice girl from the real Oz, who was spooked into getting there at 7, because there was a line around the block the day before. Well, by 10 o'clock, there was no feeling in my toes or fingers, and I was certain nothing would make up for that pain...I was wrong. Spidey has a new second act, and it is GREAT. I saw it with Barbara in December, and it was a snore (except for the flying and the set design). Now it is a whole lot of fun! I'll go back again when it warms up a bit. The music is OK, but the singing is fab, and the action scenes are just spectacular. They are selling tickets through May, and it hasn't even opened yet. Glen Beck said it was better than WICKED. He is an asshole. Wicked is a gazillion times better, but it will bring lots of $$$$ to Broadway, and that is a good thing.
From the huge to the small; next up was a baby show called Camp Wanatachi, the pet project of one of my favorite actresses, Bridget Regan, from Legend of the Seeker. She has been pimping this show for months now, and it finally opened, well the proper word is previewed. The opening is Wednesday, tomorrow, and I had such a great time, I'm going back. It is a show about summer camp and falling in love. I'll say no more than that, but it spoke to lots of things I know and understand. I was a camper and those days were formative. I lived for those months I went to camp. Chicago was a place to get out of during the summer. Not like California,where there is lots to do if you go 10 minutes in any direction. Camp was heaven and this camp is great: great singing and music. The girls in this show seem really young, but if you read the program, there is a great deal of Broadway credit, and they were holding notes as high and long as any in the huge shows. How wonderful to see talent that good in a 50 seat black box theater. Actually, the theater is a story in itself: The La MaMa. A most historic spot. A founding institution in the Off Broadway world, and right across the street from the original home of RENT. This is where shows come to grow and actors learn their craft.  It is a 10 minute walk from my apartment. How lucky am I?
Last, comes a history lesson. Ever hear of Fiorello (NYC politics)? She Loves Me (The Shop Around The Corner/You've Got Mail)? The Rothschilds (Mega rich European Jewish power brokers and wine makers)? The Apple Tree (Eden/Barbarians/Cinderella in Hollywood)? Fiddler on the Roof? Oh, that got your attention! Well, the man responsible for all that beautiful music was Jerry Bock. He was one of the last biggies who wrote wonderful melodies. Musicals today are very much influenced by pop and rock and there is precious little lyrical melody around.
Jerry Bock died in November, but they gathered Broadway's giants to celebrate his life: Hal Prince, the legendary producer, Chita Rivera, a Diva, Tony Walton, Julie Andrew's first husband and set designer, Boyd Gains, great actor, Barbara Cook, another Diva and sort of Kristin Chenoweth's godmother, and last but certainly not least, Harvey Fierstein, a Tevye who wishes to be a rich man, but God is his voice gone. They sang and talked about the history of musical theater in the 50's and 60's. It was wonderful. Fiorello was the first real on Broadway show I ever saw. I was VERY young, but as a Chicagoan, I related to the graft and political chicanery of a song such as "A Little Tin Box". There were always such boxes, with lots of cash, in the newspaper stories when I was growing up. So, I had a history lesson and a concert of classic songs sung by the originators of the roles. I was in heaven, which is where most of the people thought Jerry Bock was as well.
Looks like I wrote a book today and no photos...sorry Richard. They frown on me using my camera in the theater (not that it isn't done). I will leave you with a picture I took at the Farmer's Market recently of a crazyass bunch of cauliflowers. I never saw this before, but it is green, and I am thinking I will never see that color again...I miss green. Oh, that reminds me....Teal Wicks becomes the Green Girl next week. Company is coming from SF to celebrate that event. I have a full house and not enough beds, but so what, Teal takes over Broadway. TWickies, bring it on!

Friday, January 14, 2011

#11 - 3 Queens (and the sky was on fire)

All Hail the Queens...Hail yes! Royal and dignified and very large!
Last night was an historic evening. Cunard Lines had a gathering of it's 3 famous cruise ships at the base of New York Harbor and threw a fireworks show in front of Lady Liberty, to mark the occasion.
Queen Mary2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth set sail at 6:00pm, January 13th, for world cruises and points South. The largest, QM2 was docked in Brooklyn and the 2 matching other ladies were birthed off 57th street at Piers 90 and 88. I got some pics just before the sun set of Vicky and Liz. Note that they are too large to get in one shot of my fancy camera/phone.
Queen Victoria Pier 90

Queen Elizabeth Pier 88

Queen Elizabeth 2nd half

QLiz Bow

The Intrepid looks sooooo small

So, as you can see, they are impressive and magnificent ships. A camera can't capture the feeling of standing next to them. I have always been a boat person. Living on Lake Michigan does that to a person. I've been a sailor since I was 10. I can't go too long with out checking into whatever body of water I live near. I was always driving out of my way to take the Shoreline Drive in Alameda to look at the Bay. I do it here, as well. It takes exactly 16 minutes to walk from my apartment to the East river. There is a lovely park there. Actually there are lovely parks all over the river fronts on Manhattan.
Anyway, after freezing all my extraneous body parts off taking these shots, I worked my way down to Battery Park, where I was going to perfectly time a trip on the Staten Island Ferry around 6:45, when the special fireworks show was to start, as The Ladies met up near the Green Torchbearer. It didn't exactly happen as I had planned.
While waiting in the modern (and warm) SI Ferry Building, I met a nice couple from England. I talk to people. This is a fact. They, most interestingly, had just disembarked that morning off the QLiz after her maiden voyage from South Hampton. These two spend their retirement traveling all over the world on the Cunard Lines, my good luck to meet them. Liza and Gerald have been on all the ships and are like Super Frequent Sailors or what ever the ultra passenger list is called. They were just so much fun. I learned lots from them, and we had such a great time, that eventually, when the ships did line up to view the fireworks, I didn't even want to get on the Ferry. It was being routed away from the ships, anyway, so I stayed there, and we oohed and aaahed together like little kids. She is 75, and he is 80...they have been married 25 years (and they have a home in Mallorca, Spain)...not a bad situation.
The pics I took of the fireworks were ruined by the glare of the glass, so I give you a very short video I pulled off the Internet. It captures the ships lined up and the fireworks.
It is shot from the opposite side of the harbor on the New Jersey side, and shows the QMary2 leading the other ships out to the Verrazano Bridge and the Atlantic Ocean. Leaving us....I'm still sad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

#10 - What A Year! Oh, Nevermind...

Has it been since last year that I blogged? Guess so. Well, I've been busy, traveling and sick. That's my excuse, but that's lame, so perhaps I should shut up and catch up.
First, there was The Barbara Visit:
We had too much fun. Went to too many shows. Ate at too many restaurants and walked miles and miles every day. I showed her all over this island. We saw Spidey for $20, ate THE BEST street food at the corner of 6th and 53rd, and saw the worst production of Cirque du Soleil (Wintuk, never spend any money on that show). She had a great New Years Eve, and so did I...not together.
So, as a result of all that flouncing around, I got sick. A damn head cold that migrated to my lungs. 2 weeks later, and I am still I don't care about being sick...I'll get over it, but the thought of my illness interfering with my visit to Cambridge last weekend was intolerable. My peeps from SF were in town to see Teal Wicks in The Blue Flower, now that is serious! This was our second trip up on the bus to Cambridge. We do that, drive or fly or trek all over the planet to see Teal. We are TWickies. 
Took the T, a far nicer Subway than the non escalatored NYC version. They call the admission a "Charley Ticket". Kingston Trio memory anyone? Oh, you are all too young, sorry. You don't remember Folk Music. 
Anyway, we saw the 3 final performances and were blissfully happy. It is a wonderful show, as I reported a few posts ago. It will be back. There is talk of taking it to Europe. That may inhibit my attendance. My traveling may be limited for a while to the boundaries of this island.
On that subject click here  and see a wonderful video of NYC (I did not shoot it but I wish I had).
Speaking of the island. Kate and I had a really fun close encounter with a Sopranos kind of guy on a trip out to Staten Island. We had taken the free ferry ride out to see the harbor and sneak a peek at Lady Liberty freezing in her long skirt on that cold waterway and had lunch at one of the local diners. Really local diner, I'm sure we had "tourist" tattooed on our foreheads when we walked in the joint. So, I ordered a Gyros sandwich and the man sitting next to me at the counter (always sit at the counter, you can see how they handle the food) asked how it was that I knew how to pronounce that word properly. We got into a discussion about Chicago Greek Town and his trips to Greece and before you knew it we were all best buds. He is a part time actor, played the bouncer at the BadaBing and has a daughter in Harvard. I didn't ask how he can afford that tuition on a part time actors wages, but it made for a good story, and I think he is "connected". We hung out there 3 hours just shooting the breeze. Too much fun. He gave me his business card. That's something I need to do, have some cards printed up. Bettie Laven, Theater Whore and 2 year explorer, then have my blog http and phone number. Just might do that.
So now my visitors are off to their home towns, I am hunkered down to rid myself of this cough and get healthy for February. They are all coming back February 1st for Teal's opening week as the Green know, that show I have an attachment to....a WICKED addiction.
Tomorrow I will report on the 3 Queens. I'll let you think about that for a while. Hee Hee
PS: There was another blizzard, but it was only 9.2 inches, hardly worth mentioning.