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Posts tagged ‘subways’

Wondrous, Joyful, Surprising “On the Town” on Bway

On the Town 1Imagine my surprise! To be thoroughly delighted, enraptured even, by a musical I always had a “meh” attitude towards previously. I had seen “On the Town” over and over in its’ many iterations and on film, too, and it had never turned my buttons. But THIS revival of “On the Town” pressed all of them, surprisingly and with joyous delight. Quelle Surprise! And why is this “On the Town” different from all the others?

The main answer I have to deduce is to give all the credit to its’ talented Tony  nominated director John Rando. He, of “Urinetown”, has really gone over the moon and captured it with his buoyant, light-as-air, but just-right re-interpretation. Rando and choreographer Joshua Bergasse have put the sauce (as in saucy) and the sex(see above picture^) back into “On the Town” making it as fresh and redolent as a Spring daisy.

I do think that that is what has been missing from all the other “On the Towns” I’ve ever had to sit through and go “What’s the fuss?” Well, the fuss started in 1944, right smack dab in the middle of WWII, when its’ three one-day-only shore-leave sailors burst off their battleship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and onto the streets and subways of New York singing “New York, New York! It’s a helluva town! The Bronx is Up and the Battery’s down! The people ride in a hole in the ground!”

And in 1944, there also burst on to the Broadway scene, one of the most talented quartets the Great White Way was ever going to see, composer Leonard Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and lyricist/librettists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. And what an explosion of talent that must’ve seemed to war-weary New Yorkers, who were seeing their city celebrated in the most joyful way imaginable.

And Comden and Green were IN it, too! As the loopy anthropologist  Claire de Loone(oy) and her mug of a tar.Ozzie, here essayed marvelously by Drama Desk Nominee Elizabeth Stanley and Clyde Alves. Stanley gets to show her considerable comic vocal chops in Act I’s “Carried Away” and her dramatic vocal ease in Act II’s “Some Other Time.” This is the part Betty Comden played originally. While her counterpart cohort, goofball Ozzie, was originally Adolph Green himself.

What a show that must’ve been! In 1944. But this “On the Town” seems to be just a good if not better. And did I mention they have an UNCOVERED 28 piece orchestra? One of the biggest I’ve ever heard on Broadway and they played Berntein’s classical score magnificently, dreamily. I never wanted them to stop!

Hunky Tony Yazbeck, nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, works himself (and the audience) into a sweat with “New York, New York”,”Gabey’s Coming”, “I’m So Lucky To Be Me” as well as dancing all the  pas de deux ballet breaks (and there are many), then breaking your heart with “Lonely Town.” A star is truly born here. Gene Kelly played the part in the movie and Yazbeck obliterates his memory

His(Gaby)’s story drives the plot as he searches for his subway poster dream girl “Miss Turnstiles.” He finds his mythical  Ivy Smith, here embodied by real life Ballerina turned Broadway star Megan Fairchild  in a singing class led by the redoubtable (and hilarious).Jackie Hoffman, who is a comic drunk for the ages.

Completing the trio of star tars is the thumpingly innocent farm boy Chip, (Jay Armstrong Johnson) who with his 10-year-old, out-of-date New York visitors guide falls into the clutches of lady cab driver from Mars Hildy Esterhazy. And the hefty Hildy (Alysha Umphress) literally kid-naps (or in this case cab-naps) the virginal Chip into one of the most hysterical New York taxi-rides ever seen, aided and abetted by Beowulf Boritt’s masterful back-projections. Chip doesn’t stand a chance.as Hildy exults “Come Up to My Place” adding “I Can Cook Too” to great comic effect.

So, as a Native New Yorker myself, I was blown away and elated by this rainbow-of-a-valentine to My Fair City. SEE IT! New York, New York Is a Helluva Town!

Out in the Blizzard~ Neon Doesn’t Change in the Snow

more snowsnow

Well, the snow is over. But it’s sooo cold….I don’t know which is worse…Snow can be fun. The single digit cold isn’t.

Yesterday traveling through mid-town Manhattan on a bus took ten times the time it usually takes to go from here to there….Of course, it WAS scenic…The Snow turning even the grittiest urban eyesore into something beautiful to look at…Piles of junked cars became artful sculpture in the white.

But I did notice one thing. Neon doesn’t change in the snow. As my bus went SLOOOOOWLY through the Times Square area, the bright Neon signs were as garish as they’ve ever been and just as visible, just as readable. A mad, blinding blizzard in New York doesn’t stop the advertising from being read quite clearly. Skyscrapers, too, looked the same, although the swirling snow was visibly engulfing them, making their tops disappear into the white. So they seemed surprisingly shorter,in the mad swirl, but the Neon signs, no. The Times Square area continued its’ blazing, blaring,non-stop Broadway ballyhoo-ing. 

When it’s snowing it isn’t THAT cold out.It was around 30 degrees, or a bit less. The snow changes everything in such a mechanical city as New York. It slows down into the slowest of motions and interferes with everything, except of course, the subways.

As we approached Second Avenue, I heard on the bus’ intercom that a Select Bus, one of the new, super-long buses they’ve been introducing with a huge, accordion bend (or two) in the middle had “jack-knifed on Second Avenue.” I asked the bus-driver if the other buses were running on Second Avenue and he said he didn’t know. And I wondered if I should get out where we were Third Avenue, which I thought also went downtown.(It doesn’t.) And he said “I can’t tell you what to do. It’s up to you. You can take the risk.” Which left me completely confused. Thanks a lot. 

But I could see the traffic running, racing even on Second Avenue, so I thought “Well, the traffic certainly hasn’t slowed down. So the buses must be running.” They weren’t. I waited and waited on Second Avenue with dozens and dozens of other people. Bundled up they all looked like Russian peasants. The tired, the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shores, trying to get downtown.

I ducked into the warm, friendly lobby of the WPIX building. I must’ve been there for over a quarter of an hour, then I finally decided to walk back from whence I came. To Third Avenue, where the buses also went downtown. Or so I thought. No. The traffic was all going uptown. And at that point I was seriously considering giving up and going home. But no. As I trudged into the driving white mess, I saw a colorful subway sign.My heart leapt! Civilization! So that’s what I did. I went down into the subway. I had never seen this entrance before, AND it had an escalator going down, so that’s what I did. And I eventually got where I was going.

Moral of the story, when it’s a blizzard in New York City, take the subways. They NEVER stop.

I should’ve taken the subway in the first place.

It’s Snowing in NYC

I love snow. I love to LOOK at snow. Going out it in is another thing entirely, but today I must. I could’ve cancelled everything as many in the city do on a day like this. But I’m going out in it. And tonight I’ve got “Machinal” on Broadway. I’m seeing it with one of my theater-going friends who also just confirmed, so I AM going. And the press agent just sent me an email, confirming my presence again. So I’m doubly committed.

I do have a new winter coat now, but the secret, I think, really, is layering. Which I am doing as we speak.

Subway or bus? I’m leaving super-early because the buses may be running slowly, of course. But the subway steps are treacherous in this weather. So I guess I’m opting for the bus.

Looking outside my window this morning was a total shock! Snow everywhere! Was this predicted? Too busy reading and writing my blog last night to notice the weather reports and catching up with Downton Abbey, natch.

More on that soon. HUGE event happened in Episode 2, but I’m STILL staying away from spoilers at the moment, but BOY is Mrs. Hughes having one challenging season!

Not All Subways Back, My Library Didn’t Have Heat, but the Oscar Race does!

After a week of recovery that is starting to remind me of The Reconstruction half of “Gone With The Wind”, I’m happy to report that the some of the subways are working just fine. But some are not running at all. And nobody seems to know which trains are on and which are off.

Unless you go down there yourself and find out the hard way. Which I did.

The “L” was not running this afternoon, and I had to take a cross-town bus, which was running fine and not crowded to get across 14th from West to East.  The 3rd Avenue bus just zipped uptown, again, not crowded, though it was the Hour of Rush(not Limbaugh). And the N train was running just fine, but still only going to 34th Street.

And the R train is not running at all. Yet.

Still confusion reigns and you have to leave an hour or at least 30 additional minutes to get where you’re going, just in case, you run into one of these inevitable SNAFUS.

14th Street as the bus sailed Crosstown looked absolutely normal, I’m happy to report. If 14th EVER looks normal. Lots of young people literally bopping and bouncing about their business in a jaunty step that said “Wheeee! I’m Freee! I can get out of the house and also,  get back, too!”

And it’s gotten COLDER. The temperature’s now in the 30s! In hasn’t been this cold in New York since two years previous. Last year there was no winter at all. And I missed it. Now that it’s THIS cold, I just want it to go away!

And there’s supposed to be another storm coming on Wednesday!!!

Meanwhile, Anne Thompson is “digging into Anthony Breznican’s EW Oscar Predictions” at www.indiewire.com

I guess St. Anne got a copy of the not-on-the-stands-yet Entertainment Weekly Holiday Edition. And I agree with Anne almost completely I have to say. Breznican, who replaced Oscar God Dave Karger, who was well-nigh infallilble has moved on to Fandango (to do what? Write? I didn’t know Fandango was a magazine or site. I thought they just sold tickets.)

Anne is right, I think, in saying that he, Breznican, the newbie, is going “too indie” and she’s right. In this year, with the Academy facing more and much, much better studios movies than they’ve had in DECADES, the indies are going to get all but shunted to the side.

That means YOU “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Jeffrey Wells in HIS weekly podcast was witness to a roomful of Academy types NOT in love with Joaquim Phoenix AT ALL in a screening/party he went to in the Hollywood Hills. Sounds glamorous. But Jeff in his podcast this week, DID dig deep into the Supporting Actress category and fortunately mentioned the great Ann Dowd of “Compliance”(though she’s the lead) and also, surprisingly Breznican had her, too. In Entertainment Weekly, which everyone reads, esp. their Oscar Nomination prediction issue(Everything is SOOOOO early this year.) so that was important for Dowd’s chances. She COULD be the Demian Bichir of this year. The Academy just has to keep being REMINDED, since it seems IFC the distributor is not spending a dime on this one.

I knew Linda Hunt, who WON Best Supporting Actress back in the ’70s for playing an Asian MAN in a movie that I can’t remember the name of. And SHE, Ms. Hunt Didn’t do ANYTHING in terms of campaigning or ads, but in those days you didn’t have to.

And there’s two camps on upcoming “Hitchcock”. Love it. Or hate it. Variety didn’t love it and I think Jeff didn’t either. Ditto Sasha Stone AND Anne Thompson. Oscar Goddess Stone was facing a dilemma about whether she was going to write about it or not. “The Two Faces of Alfred” I’m sure a genius like Hitchcock MORE than just two faces. That’s not the name of Sasha’s article. That’s a metaphor.

Et voila!

I SUDDENLY I get invited to see it here in NYC tomorrow! So it’s a double-header! “Silver Linings Playbook” and then “Hitchcock.” I hope I can stand it. But fortunately they are both short movies. So things are picking up.

I think Joaquim Phoenix is just OUT of the jammed Actor category, which is what Jeffrey Wells saw displayed before him in Hollywood last night. There’s two or three too many Best Actor performances. And SOMEbody’s gonna get left out.

And I think it’s JP.

So I see Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson’s performances TOMORROW! Talk About an Old Time Double Featurel!

Some Lights Go Back on, but the subways STILL are not all back.

Life in NYC post-Sandy is symbolized to me by that dangling, dislodged crane over W.57th St. It seems like everything here is dangling by a thread now. Nothing is certain anymore. You keep waiting for the next shoe, or crane, to drop. And there’s another storm coming this week!

The buses and subways are now back to charging fares. They are no longer free. I found that out the hard way when I went to return some items to the library today. Ouch! They should keep it free until ALLLLL of the subways are back! And a lot are not.

I would say it’s like 3/5s there. Lower Manhattan is still a frightening dead zone, though lights have come back on. But not the subways. Buses go down there at night, I understand, but I wouldn’t venture there. New York like this is scary enough in the daytime, nevermind at night.

But you do go stir crazy if you stay in too much. But going out with the weather turning colder than its’ been in a long time in NY,(we barely had a winter last year), if you’re not bundled up like an Eskimo, the chill winds can kill you.

Today the temperature kept dropping, and I had to go out, and go to the library cross town, as I said, then back uptown to the TV station to drop off this week’s “Stephen Holt Show” and that’s a long, cold walk, let me tell you.

And with W.57th STILL a danger zone, buses were being re-routed over to 9th Ave. from Fifth and Sixth and 7th…well, you get the picture.

Then they continue on back on their regular routes once they get past The Dangling Crane.
And who do I meet on the bus going back home, after dark, from the TV station? Well, one of my favorite British character actresses of all time Miriam Margoyles!

She was a particular favorite of mine from the many,many film and TV roles I saw here in when I lived in London in the 70s and now that I live here, I kept following her work.

She’s in town she told me “safe and warm on the Upper West Side” to do a two performance only stint of her one-woman show “Dickens Women” at the Morgan Library. It sounds delicious! And particularly with Madame Margoyles playing Dickens perfect-for-her eccentric characters.

Her voice is so deep and warm and resonant, the chill New York night didn’t seem so cold anymore. She told me she was on her way to see “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain on Broadway. And I told her I was also seeing it later this week.

I also took a wild guess and thought that she and Dame Helen Mirren might be very good friends. Same age. British. Acting royalty. AND THEY ARE!

I told Miriam that Dame Helen had just had great success the night before at the AFI film festival with “Hitchcock” which she didn’t know anything about.

“Oh, I love Helen! Don’t you? She’s a wonderful person!” and I concurred saying that I had interviewed her many times.

“And Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen is playing his wife,” I told her and she continued to enthuse.

“I’ve worked many times with both of them. They are both lovely people!”

I told her that people are thinking that they BOTH could get Oscar nominations.

And I told her is was worried about her play because the Morgan Library is in the “Dark” zone…er, I think…

And she said, “The Lights will be on by then!”

Actors! They keep this city buzzing!

New York After Sandy ~ A City Broken in Two

New York City is broken. Hurricane Sandy broke it in two. There are now two parts to my beloved city, the Light and the Dark. The Light is virtually untouched by the tragedy of the disaster.  The electricity and power are ON. And now even the subways are running.

But south of 30th Street on the West Side and 40th Street on the East is “The Dark.” There is no power at all. No light. No heat and in many high rises no water! The street lights are out. There are patrol men and women in uniforms directing traffic. Oh, and the buses and subways are free.

In the daytime there have been soooo many buses, more than I’ve ever seen in my life, and yesterday the subways started running again but only to midtown. Queens travelers I think are fine. And the Bronx, where I am from, is totally AOK.

I have not been able to replace my lost remote, so my TV remains dark, and the only news I get is from the Internet and most importantly from what my friends tell me. Or people on the buses I ride tell me.

I was always a huge bus-rider and it’s now like 9/11 here AGAIN where people are all turning to total strangers that they are sitting/standing next to and talking about The Conversation, the Catastrophe. Just like 9/11 when the notoriously rude New Yorkers all of a sudden WEREN’T. They became instantly friendly, concerned.

The people downtown, the Village, Lower Manhattan even Chelsea, are all looking like refugees from some war-torn country. Evacuation is the what they all should have done and many have, but many people can’t leave their cold, dark apartments. And in the skyscrapers downtown there is also of course no elevator service.

People are literally trapped as the weather turns ever colder in the high rises.

When I lived in London in the ’70s, I was always surprised when I saw and heard the British and especially the Cockney disdain for living way above the ground. Now it seems wise.

Me? I’ve got heat, light, and water. My internet is working. And so are the elevators. But when I had to venture out to 23rd Street on Wed. it turned into a really harrowing ordeal. Going downtown the bus was as jam-packed as the subway at rush hour and I was checking on my storage room downtown, where all my playwriting and past TV shows are stored, and while my floor was OK, the basement was flooded and everybody who had anything stored there lost everything.

There are still no lights downtown. Block after block as far as the eye could see, not one light on in ANY buildings.

And no subways at all in the lower part of Manhattan.  It’s frightening. It’s shocking. It’s sad. It’s terrible.

Meanwhile, uptown the party that is New York goes on. Everybody in the “Light” area seems almost universally giddy, upbeat, rushing to the next Broadway show or movie.

And yes, the movie houses are now open as of yesterday, I think.

I went to see a screening of the upcoming “Lincoln” and went uptown on a bus(which was free)to the suddenly appropriately named Lincoln Square.

On the way up there was this terrible traffic snarl. Why? Well, there was this crane dangling over W.57th street, which is closed off for blocks. It took a long time, but we got there. And coming back, we got a subway (also free) I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the rumble of the always noisy subway for the first time in days!

There weren’t a lot of people on it. But every body who was on it was in a good mood, because they were riding on it and it was going. Just down to W.34th Street. But it was going. And it was bright and warm. And everybody was happy to be on it. THIS is a New York first, too. Smiles all ’round on a subway!

Freak Blizzard on Hallowe’en Freaks the Freaks

Thousands of out-of-towners pour into New York City to participate in the weekend long festivities that lead up to Hallowe’en, this year falling on a Monday. They were expecting one,long party,leading up to the Greenwich Village Annual Hallowe’en Parade and instead got what amounted to a blizzard yesterday. Yikes!

Weary, would-be party-goers were still visible on the subways, soaking wet, in their costumes and with a dazed look on their faces that said not only “I don’t believe I’m actually IN New York” but also “I don’t believe I’m in this soaking wet costume,” and mostly “I don’t believe it’s snowing like this on Hallowe’en.”

Today is cloudless. A bright, bright blue only seen in movies. And the sun is shining, shining down on New York and of course there’s barely a trace of snow anywhere. At least looking down from the safety of my skyscraper window.

Due to the subways underneath Manhattan’s street, the sidewalks are always extra warm, and rarely hold on to the snow.

And yes, ancient Viking that I must be, I was out in it.

Gale force winds nearly knocking me down every time I turned a street corner. And since it was a mixture of snow AND rain, you had to have an umbrella, and fortunately, for a change I did.

I had to keep battling the wind and it kept turning, the wind kept turning and turning and swirling and swirling. My best, good, strong, big umbrella, and I were in a constant battle with the elements as they tried to turn it, and me, inside out and blow us both to smithereens.

The TV said like 50 mph winds were blowing and in Central Park tree limbs with leaves still on them caught more snow than they ever had to hold before and broke. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them.

But the electric lights never go out in Manhattan.

And fortunately, too, the heat was on.

The best place to go and get warm quickly, the subways. Which never stopped running, packed as they were with bedraggled, costumed freaks, looking for a party that they never would find, on a night like this…There was a very large Mrs. Potatohead, with doo-dads stuck all over her capacious, brown self. She had a little purse as if she had planned to go shopping, not trick or treating, and was now completely wet, everywhere. Not a festive look.

Today, it’s so calm and quiet here in Noisy Town, you’d never know anything happened. It’s like a for-real Sunday morning. In some small town somewhere.

It’s like you could hear a pin drop. THANK GOODNESS! All is quiet on the Eastern seaboard.

And the temperature is going up, up. I guess all the costumed tourists will have their Hallowe’en Parade in the Village after all.

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