Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Total Solar Eclipse is Coming - August 21 - Where to See It


Are you curious about where you can see the upcoming solar eclipse? According to Wikipedia, not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from the mainland United States. Viewing of this summer’s total eclipse on August 21 will be possible in 14 states, beginning in Oregon as a partial eclipse at 9:06am PDT and ending as a partial eclipse along the South Carolina coast at about 4:06pm EST.

The last visibility of the Great American Eclipse in North America happened in 1979, so this year’s is a really big deal. Depending where you live you’ll either see a full eclipse of the sun, or at least a partial one. The next total solar eclipse won’t happen again until the year 2024, so you might want to stock up on those Solar Eclipse Glasses now and get ready to watch. A total eclipse is caused when the moon moves directly between the sun and the earth. Based on where you’re located, the duration of the eclipse will also vary. At the maximum duration, the moon will totally obscure the sun for 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Where can you watch the eclipse? You can head west to Portland, Oregon, reputed to be the epicenter for many eclipse groupies, or really anywhere on a curve between South Carolina and Oregon to get the full effect.  Or you can find a rooftop or open field nearby and join a group with your 50s-style glasses on to experience whatever portion comes your way. I love this site from vox.com -- it has an interactive tool that can tell you how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see in your respective zip codes. It also shows the best locations for seeing total darkness.

If you’re on the East Coast, here are some of the places to consider:
In New York City, Hotel Americano invites guests to its rooftop on Monday, August 21, from 12Noon to 3pm. New York City won’t be able to witness a total eclipse; however, according to the Amateur Astronomers’ Association of New York, much of NYC can expect about 70 percent totality and that would still be an amazing sight to see. 517 West 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-216-0000


In the Hamptons, The Parrish Art Museum has joined with the Montauk Observatory to offer both an indoor and outdoor solar eclipse experience.  Indoors, the full eclipse will be livestreamed so you can pretend you’ve travelled to its epicenter. For those interested in communing with nature (and friends), eclipse viewing glasses will be provided for the outdoor event. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets.  279 Montauk Highway Water Mill, 631-283-2118. Reserve your spot online and plan to arrive by 1pm


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Escape to the Hamptons for a Food, Wine and Art-filled Holiday



You may have missed last month’s premier foodie event in the Hamptons, the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne tasting showcase, but there’s still much to sample for a weekend in the Hamptons at the tip of New York’s Long Island.

(All photos by Meryl Pearlstein)

Starting with Art and the Great Outdoors

The Hamptons have perfected the art of the garden. And while most of the mansion have theirs hidden away behind their unfriendly privets, the Peconic Land Trust has created one that’s open to the public at any time. Bridge Gardens on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton is the kind of oasis among the Hamptons scene that will make you rethink your plans, even on a sunny beach day. In this decidedly uncrowded setting of multiple flower and vegetable gardens you might feel that you’re in an English garden, one hidden and exclusively yours. In fact, you might have the gardens entirely to yourself, a rarity for New Yorkers. It’s a beautiful place to Zen out and ignore the Hamptons traffic.

Take Me Indoors, It’s Too Hot

Museums also offer a respite from the summer heat.  The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill is one of the country’s finest, with a collection of art from local artists. The permanent collection is enhanced by frequently featured exhibits. This summer’s “live” Light Waves exhibit projects videos on the outside of the museum’s distinctive building.  A café and bookstore are welcoming and creative as well.  If you’re in town on August 21, a special Solar Eclipse program in conjunction with the Montauk Observatory will be hosted from 1-4pm on the museum grounds. In Southampton, the Southampton Art Center offers changing exhibits as well as other performing arts programming.

So You Must Be Hungry

Dining is one of the pleasures of the Hamptons.  Each town has its local favorites, some with outdoor dining.  For a quick lobster fix, the Shinnecock Lobster Factory in Southampton,  Bay Burger in Sag Harbor, and Canal Café in Hampton Bays have the best lobster rolls around.  At each, you can choose to enjoy your sandwich outdoors or indoors.  

Top to bottom:  Tagliatelle at Caci, Caci North Fork


If you like Italian food, you can try secluded Manna in Water Mill or go family-style at La Parmigiana or the casual Paul’s Italian Restaurant in Southampton, where the heroes are large enough to be shared and pizzas by the slice include interesting versions such as Buffalo chicken. Yearling Doppio la Spaggia in Sag Harbor, and this year in East Hampton as well, serves up crudo, pasta, carpaccio and other Italian favorites, each with a special farm-fresh twist. Note: sit outside if you’re sensitive to noise. The North Fork has two Italian eateries worth traveling for: Grana in Jamesport is a rustic, inventive trattoria which plates whatever vegetables are freshest of the moment. Chef Marco Pellegrini of Caci has brought his Umbrian savvy to Southhold to a setting on a farmstead. Here, Chef has a kitchen entirely devoted to pasta making. His green basil tagliatelle is as close to Italian perfection as I’ve ever eaten. Wines, if not from Italy, are all from the North Fork and menus proudly list the local purveyors of the proteins and produce.

For breakfast, two standouts are Hampton Bay’s The Hampton Maid, an inn with a restaurant that only serves breakfast; nearby Orlando’s adds a bit of Costa Rican spice to the dishes at this homey restaurant. Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor is a popular choice for breakfast and lunch as well with Mexican-inflected dishes.


For a restaurant experience that’s more sophisticated, lunch at Sant Ambroeus, Le Charlot or Silver’s in Southampton is casually elegant with Italian, French, and American cuisines respectively.

Among the newest restaurants in the Hamptons, Calissa in Water Mill and Kuzo in Southampton will keep you satisfied with their Mediterranean and Japanese-Peruvian flavors, respectively. Save these for a splurge, as the prices are as high as the quality. Book late for Calissa so you can dine to live music.

If you love wine, the Hamptons are New York’s answer to the West Coast. The North Fork has 43 vineyards, many of which offer daily tastings. Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters Winery on the South Fork offer two gorgeous settings where you can tour, taste, or enjoy an open-air yoga class.  Pick up a bottle of Wolffer’s acclaimed “Summer in a Bottle Rosé” at their new Drive-thru Rosé Stand if you’re short on time! Wölffer also has two restaurants, Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor and a new one in Amagansett, where you can sample their many varietals as well as enjoy their farm-to-table expertise.

Don’t feel like driving? Have a taxi bring you to The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton. The hotel offers a charming Scandinavian-influenced setting on the town’s historic mall. Here, you can spend the night, drink some fabulous wines and Aquavit, and enjoy the cozy hotel restaurant, all without worrying about joining the car parade on Montauk Highway.






Monday, July 24, 2017

Last Chance to See “Attack of the Elvis Impersonators”: Elvis is Really Leaving the Building

If you’re an Elvis Presley fan, or you loved the 1992 movie “Honeymoon in Vegas” with its Elvis impersonators: the Flying Elvises, Utah Chapter, this is an off-Broadway show you don’t want to miss.  And you only have one more week to get caught up in the Elvis-Drac Frenzie frenzy.

The campy musical comedy “Attack of the Elvis Impersonators” at The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row in New York City is about to bid Elvis a fond goodbye. The musical, which opened in June, features a crazy cast of swooning fangirls, a supervillain, a social media star, religious rockers and a fearless leader, Elvis Presley (aka Drac Frenzie). 

The original score and story by Lory Lazarus revolve around Drac, a world-famous heavy-metal rock star who is infused with the spirit of Elvis. What happens next is Drac’s re-invention from burnout to world hero as he becomes the leader of the Elvis impersonators and the new religion of peace, Hound Dog.  Also key in the story is Prissy Bordeaux, a news reporter whose obsession with Drac leads to her own metamorphosis into Drac’s sidekick and eventual love interest. Played by Eric Sciotto (Something Rotten, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Drac Frenzie has the moves and the vocal chops to fit his multiple personalities.  Laura Woyasz (Wicked, The Marvelous Wonderettes) is his worthy partner.


(Photos: Jeremy Daniel Photography)

The final performances are Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm and 7:30pm.

For tickets, visit www.telecharge.com, or call 212-239-6200.



The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues), Manhattan

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.


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