Friday, June 9, 2017

It's Time to Watch the TONYS (and party with your friends)



Last year I was fortunate to attend the TONY Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This year I’ll join my fellow Broadway fans at two special TONY viewing parties happening in Manhattan on Sunday. Both are fabulous ways to kick off this theater-filled evening with drinks, bites, and some entertainment prior to and during the event. The 71st telecast of the TONY events is scheduled for 8pm.





Just around the corner from Radio City Music Hall, where the TONYs are being hosted by Kevin Spacey, Ocean Prime New York is holding a party in the Lounge starting at 7:30pm.  

The restaurant's runway-ready TONY Awards cocktail menu is perfect for the occasion.  Select a drink according to your predictions for each category. How about a 21st-century East European influenced "Natasha, Pierre & the Ruby Comet of 1812," made with fresh ruby red grapefruit, Finlandia grapefruit vodka, and lemon? Or the delicate but edgy "Dear Evan Hansen Margarita," a mix of Don Julio blanco tequila, elderflower, ruby red grapefruit and agave nectar.  Both would make a nice prelude and encore with their base of ruby red grapefruit. And both honor two serious contenders for Best Musical. When it’s time to celebrate the winners, the dramatic "Berries and Bubbles" cocktail in a Champagne glass is as festive as it gets. Get your video camera ready!

When you arrive, fill out an awards ballot with your Broadway predictions, and you just might win a $150 gift card to the restaurant.  No reservations are required.  Ocean Prime New York, 123 West 52nd Street. https://www.ocean-prime.com/locations/new-york-city

Broadway meets cabaret at the Yotel Hotel, at the edge of the Theater Row. The Green Room 42 cabaret will be throwing their own TONY viewing party bash, substituting purple lights for the red carpet. Hosted by Broadway “personality” Lesli Margherita (Dames at Sea, Matilda the Musical, Man of La Mancha) along with Lauren Molina of The Skivvies, the party here starts one hour earlier at 6:30pm. For $99, you get an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres (burger sliders, falafel bites, tomato & mozzarella, and more) and entertainment by Ms. Margherita and Ms. Molina.  Pre-show and commercial break entertainment will also include contests, prizes and theater fun. With these two ladies, you can expect a truly outrageous evening! Tickets: www.thegreenroom42.com. A full dinner menu is also available, a la carte. 570 Tenth Avenue.




Thursday, June 1, 2017

Join Me at "Stars in the Alley" - a FREE Sampler of the Best of Broadway on June 2


Photo:  Beautiful, Credit: Jeremy Daniels

Theater lovers, it’s time for one of my favorite Broadway experiences, STARS IN THE ALLEY®, a showpiece of what’s currently playing on the Great White Way held one week before the Tony Awards® for the 2016-2017 season. Scheduled on Friday, June 2, Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the current Broadway season, and you get to see a sampler of songs and performances from nearly two dozen shows, all FREE. A 12-piece live orchestra accompanies. Given the price of theater tickets, this is a show you don’t want to miss.  #StarsInTheAlley

Actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock,” Guys and Dolls, The Little Mermaid and much more) is the host of this year’s outdoor concert, scheduled rain or shine on June 2, at 1 PM in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. Come early for the best seats. The show is produced by the Broadway League and sponsored by United Airlines. How many of these shows, scheduled to appear, have you seen? Now’s your chance!

Musicals:

Aladdin

Anastasia

Bandstand

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

A Bronx Tale

Cats

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Chicago

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day the Musical

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

The Phantom of the Opera

School of Rock the Musical

Sunset Boulevard

Waitress

Wicked

Plus star appearances from:

Jitney

The Little Foxes

The Play That Goes Wrong

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Sweat

War Paint

Visit broadway.org for more information.

Hungry after the show?  Stars in the Alley is right next to Junior's -- stop by for a piece of strawberry cheesecake or a gigantic pastrami on rye.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunset Boulevard and More: Leading Ladies to See on Broadway Now



It's countdown time to the Tony's.  This year it’s a diva dash and you can still catch most of the leading ladies who have graced the Broadway stages this season, albeit most in limited runs.
(All photos -- credit: Joan Marcus)

First, the play ladies. Sally Field has been nominated as Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Amanda Wingfield in the highly touted re-imagining of The Glass Menagerie. Sadly, the show’s lack of overall nominations forced a closing six weeks earlier than planned.  You’ll have to wait for the next revival of this Tennessee Williams classic or, perhaps, for a future tour with Sally (we can only hope).

Sally Fields

Not to worry. There’s still much female power that shouldn’t be missed. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are the chameleon actresses in The Little Foxes exchanging roles every other night. In an interesting twist, Ms. Linney has been nominated as Leading Actress for her turn as Regina, while Ms. Nixon received the nod for Featured Actress as Birdie. The Lillian Hellman play, nominated for Best Revival of a Play, closes on July 2. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street , 212-239-6200.

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The big diva story, however, lies with the musicals. 

Bette Midler is an instant hit, and a Leading Lady nominee, as meddling matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levy in the Tony-nominated revival of Jerry Herman’s and Michael Stewart’s masterpiece Hello Dolly! (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200). Pitted against each other, Patti Lupine and Christine Ebersole create a bravura War Paint dance at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street, 877-250-2929) as cosmetics industry titans, with both ladies nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole

It’s a shame we don’t have the opportunity to award Glenn Close another Tony – she isn’t eligible for her reprise as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard because she’s already won a Tony for that role. It’s also a shame that the category of musical revivals was reduced to only three contenders this year, thus also closing out the show from another potential award.

Glenn Close

Nonetheless, Sunset Boulevard is a musical that you should not miss, and don’t let a non-appearance on the Tony Awards roster nor on the stage of Radio City Music Hall on June 11 deter you. Ms. Desmond's non-acceptance of her relevance as an aging silent-screen actress spiraling out of control is a powerful story that evokes admiration and pity. Think Follies meets Grey Gardens. It's a privilege to watch Glenn Close take on the same role she played 20 years ago in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tour de force, this time with a maturity and presence even more in keeping with the story line. The songs strike with pathos and stay with you long after the curtain falls. Grab any ticket you can; the end date is June 25. You can even buy a keepsake to remind you of this glorious musical evening, a beautiful replica of Norma Desmond's jewelry specially curated for the show.  Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th St., 877-250-2929. 

NYC Has a Sexy New Cabaret Spot (Drinks and Dinner, Too)

I have a new favorite place to watch cabaret, Broadway tunes, and all manner of musical entertainment. And it's all in an intimate yet spacious setting in a hotel, at the edge of the Theater District. The GreenRoom 42 has given New York City a new option when it comes to great entertainment and dining in a cool setting. Brought to you by Broadway lovers who have analyzed how to create a better burger (you’ll see what I mean later), and, in this case, a better cabaret venue, the Green Room 42 shines with a purple glow with a stage and acoustics just right for a night of song. 

The Green Room 42 - Photo: Meryl Pearlstein 
On any given night the headliner might be Alice Ripley of Next to Normal and Sideshow fame singing her favorite ballads, or Lillias White of Fela!, The Life, Dreamgirls.  Or maybe it's the entire cast of Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 led by Josh Groban, singing their favorite Broadway and non-Broadway chansons. 

Josh Groban @The Green Room 42 - Photo: Meryl Pearlstein

Lillias White - Photo: Victoria Mora-Purroy

Sunday’s bottomless brunch has been host to the Skivvies, the duo who saucily perform a tuneful medley wearing nothing but their lingerie and tighty whities. The menu for both tunes and food is equally evocative.  Think “Out of the Boxers,” a falafel waffle with poached egg, tahini and bacon; and “The Package,” with pita-baked beef, egg salad, tomato coulis and pickles.

But here's the best part. Well, maybe the second best part. There's actually no food and beverage minimum at The Green Room 42. Come for the show, grab a drink, have a bite. Do it all or do none of it. This is your evening to enjoy a show as you see fit. Show tickets are reasonable, as well, starting at $15.

On the docket are a Tony’s viewing party on June 11, with open bar, passed hors oeuvres and entertainment; the music of Nine on May 29; “At This Performance,” a show with Broadway understudies and standbys taking the lead on July 10, and “The New Peggy,” a new musical in concert on July 16 among others. Check the schedule for additions.

 
Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser
But if had my druthers, I’d always come to dine as well.  The Green Room 42 serves dinner nightly (in addition to brunch), helmed by Green Fig’s Chef Gabriel Israel (who is also responsible for the cool graffiti art adorning the walls at the banquettes). Try their offbeat schnitzel burger, with a fried chicken cutlet in place of a traditional hamburger patty, slathered with homemade BBQ sauce and topped with a tangy cranberry-Brussel sprout slaw (now you know what I mean by “a better burger”), shareable items like greenroom mushrooms, falafel bites and tuna tartare; or larger plates including steak frites and Tajin baked beef kebab. A creative cocktail menu is offered along with beer and wine.

You can reserve your tickets at http://www.greenfignyc.com/thegreenroom42 , 570 10th Avenue, 4th floor, Yotel hotel, 646-449-7792.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Cagney The Musical -- Last Chance to Buy Tickets, Closing May 28

You might have forgotten that James Cagney started off in Vaudeville as a song-and-dance man. It was later in life that he developed his “tough guy” persona, becoming one of the Hollywood’s top actors. And you might not even remember some of the songs that made him famous like pretty much everything that George M. Cohan wrote.

 (All Photos: Carol Rosegg)

You have one more month to see Cagney, the off-Broadway musical that’s as much a powerhouse as James Cagney was.  Played by Robert Creighton, a Cagney lookalike with matching bravado and appearance, James Cagney dominates the stage as he takes on role after role starting as a chorus girl and rising to the top of the Broadway Vaudeville and Hollywood film scenes. Everyone tap dances in this show, not surprisingly, and it’s wondrous to see this dance form on the stage. 



You know the songs: “Give My Regards to Broadway, ““You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  Now you’ll also learn about how this spunky kid from New York City’s Lower East Side won the hearts of the stage and film world too.  The show which chronicles James Cagney's involvement with Warner Brothers over the years includes both the classic Cohan tunes as well as original music.  Westside Theatre (upstairs), 407 West 43rd Street, Manhattan. For tickets, cagneythemusical.com, 212-239-6200. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1000 Cars and More at the New York International Auto Show



Schedule your time this weekend to spend at least a few hours of the 2017 version of the New York International Auto Show.  With cars and SUVs set up on the first floor, and trucks and a few SUVs on the lower level, you’ll have a lot of exploring ahead of you. Electric cars, hybrids, new SUV models, concept cars and luxury vehicles are all on display. From now through April 23, this show is a must for any car lover. Show hours: Friday and Saturday, 10am-10pm. Sunday, 10am-7pm.

Among the trends that are apparent this year:

SUVs are big news. Big ones, small ones, crossovers. Everyone seems to have a variety of versions in popular colors like blue and red. Of particular note, Alfa Romeo has joined in with the stylish Stelvio. Who knew that you could up the raciness quotient started by Porsche’s Cayenne with an Alfa Romeo? The Stelvio is quite striking and will be available in the US in 2018.


(Credit: all photos by Meryl Pearlstein)
 

Smaller cars are getting a visible style makeover. Just take a look at the Toyota Camry and the Honda Civic, and you’ll see what I mean. Add leather, trim, and some stylized exterior appointments and bright colors, and, poof, you have an affordable alternative to higher-priced BMW 3 series of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Well, almost.  






Speaking of BMW, the all-new 5 Series has a dedicated area so you can decide for yourself whether the changes are significant or not. The styling doesn’t seem all that radically different, but under-the-hood shows the improvements.


Hyundai’s high-end division, Genesis, displays their attractive sedans, soon to be introduced in the US.

The new Lincoln Continental is luxurious as ever but markedly different from the Continental of yore, with sleek door handles and lines.

If you’re not in the market for a new car, or if you have kids in tow, there are plenty of other fun activities as well. Try out the Hyundai racing challenge stimulator or the Nissan interactive GTR Driving Experience.

Virtual reality stations are offered by Jaguar, Ford and Acura.

And, of course, there’s the ever-popular outdoor Camp Jeep off-roading experience. Line up early and put your driving gloves on!

Hungry? Check out Clyde Frazier, Walt Frazier’s massive basketball and sports restaurant around the corner. Cocktails are named after some of Frazier’s signature basketball quotes: “Loosey Goosey,” “Stumbling and Bumbling” and “moving and Grooving.” Main courses span the US with mac and cheese, burgers, and blackened Scottish salmon, and add Asian accents with Thai lobster curry with jasmine rice. While you wait, you can duck into the half court at the end of the bar and shoot hoops in this tribute to one of the Knicks’ greatest players. 485 Tenth Ave.

Where to go:  Jacob Javits Center, 11th Avenue between 34th and 40th streets, New York City.  Hours:  10am-7pm. http://www.autoshowny.com/.   Tickets are $17 for adults and $7 for children under 12, and can be purchased online or at the show. 












Thursday, March 30, 2017

Healthy and Not-so-Healthy Restaurants That Should Be on Your Radar if You’re Visiting Manhattan

Hawaiian poke is a newish trend in New York City – it’s healthy, fresh, and relatively inexpensive.  Try Pokeworks on 37th and 6th, next to a restaurant that’s anything but healthy, Chick-fil-a. You start by picking your fish – tuna, salmon, shrimp (or even chicken), add toppings like seaweed, pineapple, and garlic flakes, and create a personalized bowl that’s far superior to those quinoa or salad bar things.

Sushi Nakazawa and O-Ya – two splurge-y restaurants for sushi and fish.  You can request no meat dishes and have an outrageous omakase (chef’s choice) meal.  Sushi Nakazawa is on Barrow Street in the Village.  O-Ya is in Murray Hill. Both feature superstar food talents, Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, a protégé of Japan’s acclaimed Jiro Ono and the O-Ya team from Boston,  Tim and Nancy Cushman.


Chicken is high on everyone’s list for healthy foods.  Le Coq Rico in the Flatiron District is Antoine Westermann’s tribute to the bird.  He brings his French-Alsatian expertise from Paris to NYC with chicken sourced from the farms of New York.  Roasted, it’s a healthy alternative to that breaded or fried version. I’d save my calories for Chef’s wonderful Ile Flôtante. For pure, unadulterated rotisserie chicken in a luxe setting, visit Rotisserie  Georgette on East 60th Street, where the owner's many years of experience working with Daniel Boulud is in play at this sophisticated midtown restaurant.

When I'm craving something decadent, I love ordering fried chicken. It's not something I do every day, and I realize that's it's less-than-healthy, but it's always wonderful. My go-to is the tiny, quirky Birds and Bubbles on the Lower East Side. You go down a narrow metal stairway to a very narrow restaurant where Southern food is the star. Sarah Simmons, most recently of City Grit fame, has brought her North Carolina upbringing to NYC and paired her amazing dry-brined, fried chicken with Champagne. Who would have thought? It's pure brilliance.


I always like finding the small bistros that really make you feel at home.  Little Frog sits quietly on busy East 86th Street, an authentic French bistro from people you should know from their time at Balthazar, and also from Minetta Tavern.  Order all seafood – try their amazing oysters -- or splurge on the fab coq au vin, and you’ll have a wonderful cozy meal. It’s a quick walk from the new Second Avenue subway stop, too.

Indian cuisine has always been notable for offering wondrous vegetarian dishes, and NYC has a Michelin-starred one that takes Indian cooking to a new level.  Tulsi, on East 46th Street, brings cooking from Goa, mixes it up with street food, resulting in a showcase of unusual takes on somewhat familiar dishes.  Here, it’s worth saving room (and calories) for dessert as well. The creations from Chef Eric McCarthy (yes, that’s really his name and he IS from Goa) are anything but ordinary.

Finding a good restaurant after going to Carnegie Hall just got a little bit easier with the return of Jams to New York City. The original California cuisine restaurant of the 80s, Jonathan Waxman's Jams is now on the West Side walkable from the Theater District as well as Carnegie Hall. The airy room is a great choice for sampling their signature Jams chicken and pancakes with caviar and smoked salmon, both from the menu of the original restaurant.

For that special-occasion, serene but sensational dinner, book a table at Gabriel Kreuther.  The former chef at The Modern, Chef Kreuther serves up a meticulous menu of Alsatian dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. If you don’t want to have the full set menu every night, there’s a separate bar with its own menu where you can order the tarte flambée, a pizza-like creation with sweet onions, smoked bacon and fromage blanc that put this chef on the map.  The restaurant is an oasis across from Bryant Park and has an extraordinary wine list, too. Walk next door to the amazing new handcrafted chocolate shop.

And speaking about wine, how about a wine bar and a tapas bar that’s so small that you’re advised to arrive by 5:30?  Desnuda on the Lower East Side on East 7th Street will thrill you with its tiny space and its chef’s prowess and creativity. Tea-smoked oysters are sensational -- it looks like they’re being cooked in a bong -- as are the ceviches.

If a scene is more your speed, head to the back of the NoMad, to the NoMad Bar in the city’s newly coined NoMad district (north of Madison Park), where the bar is lively and the menu is pure comfort.  In cold weather, the perfectly indulgent chicken pot pie with foie gras and truffles is a knockout, as is Chef Daniel Humm’s Humm dog, a hot dog unlike any you’ve had before. Trying to eat healthy?  The carrot tartare, originally on the menu at sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park, is an exceptional vegetarian dish, with the consistency and ingredients of its meat-based counterparts sans the meat.  Add a touch of caraway seeds, horseradish, apples and … because we’re talking about carrots after all.  It’s pretty and delicious.
And, finally, one of the newest “hot” restaurants on the Manhattan scene is in Midtown, just behind Bryant Park. Coffeemania is NOT a coffee shop.  Rather it’s a Euro-Russian-American eatery that’s chic and has unusual choices in both beverages and food. The menu is so creative that you can eat healthy (or not, as you wish).  I love the hamachi tartare (very healthy) but also the bone marrow (definitely not healthy) and the warm borscht. Teas from around the world are as creatively curated as the wine list.



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