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Hanukkah Events To Brighten The Holidays

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Hanukkah starts December 18 to the 26th. The Festival of Lights will be celebrated around the world. This is the time when miracles can happen, and that anything is possible. 

Each night the Menorah is lit for eight consecutive days.

On the 19th Chanukah on Ice. Ice skate to festive Chanukah Music with a DJ and live band, giant Ice Menorah will be lit, and boxed dinner including delicious Chanukah donuts. Attendees will need to comply with the rink’s Covid rules. The start time is 6pm to 9pm. RSVP online: $28 admission; $35 with skate rental. 

Chanukah Party on Wednesday, December 21st at 6pm at Richard Tucker Square (opposite Lincoln Center) Columbus Avenue & W 66th Street from 11am-7pm Featuring Chanukah giveaways Live Music, Donuts, Latkes, Gelt and more.

On Sunday December 18th  Chanukah Wonderland for Young Families! At the Waterline Square Club, At the 675 W 59th St, from 4:30-6:30pm geared to children ages 2-9.  RSVP: chabadpod.com/wonderland

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

CHRIS CARTER — (Via Maz Digital) Chris Carter was 7 years old when his mother bought him Rubber Soul, the Beatles’ sixth studio album, at a ShopRite market in Wayne, New Jersey. Fifty-seven years later, he’s the ultimate Beatles expert as host for 22 years of Breakfast With the Beatles, a radio show carried each weekday on SiriusXM’s Beatles channel and Sundays on Los Angeles’ KLOS-FM. The show is celebrating its 40th anniversary, at the same time that music fans are marking the 60th anniversary of Beatlemania.

We talked with Carter about his unique position: He’s a musician too. Carter played bass in alternative rock band Dramarama in the 1980’s and 90’s. “I loved Paul’s bass playing, but I got into wanting to play the bass from listening to Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper records. That really hooked me in.”He was in the right place when he got the job. Carter follows original host Deirdre O’Donoghue, who died in 2001.

The job offer call came just before he went to a Ringo Starr concert. “I knew once I got the job, I would be there ’til I died. This is one of those long-term things and I’m not going anywhere. “Prep keeps it fresh. “I have to handpick 60 Beatles songs a day, or solo Beatles songs, and have them pertain to that day—say, an anniversary or ‘today in Beatles history.’ There’s always something in Beatles history.” On Wednesdays, he spins a wheel to develop a topic for the show, such as “fifth Beatles” or “violins.” “I have to instantly put a set of songs together that matches that category.”

And news events also play a role. When Robbie Robertson of The Band passed recently, Carter made sure to note that by discussing and playing Ringo Starr’s “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond),” on which Robertson and other members of The Band played. “It never gets old. If they handed me a playlist, like they do for so many DJs, and said ‘Chris, play them,’ I would have no passion for that.” He was in the right place when he got the job.

Carter loves to provide tidbits about the songs he plays, so that listeners can experience them with fresh ears. “You’re dealing with 50- to 60-year-old music. If it’s not served up properly, you know, how many times can you hear ‘Hey Jude’? But if you put it in context, like this song was No. 1 for nine weeks. It was the first single over seven minutes long. And it was the first release on their own label. Most Beatles fans, they think they know a lot about the Beatles, but when you give them some information they might not know, then they’ll come back to you and listen again.” He broadcasts in front of a crowd. The satellite radio shows are put together in Carter’s home studio. But many of the shows for L.A. radio are broadcast live from one of three area venues. “I find it fun because in radio you never see your audience. Typically, you’re sitting in a room by yourself with a microphone. You could have maybe millions of people listening, but you don’t know who they are.

“The Beatles are fans. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have each called into the show for interviews, but Carter doesn’t have his head in the clouds about it. “They’ve got to sell a solo record. You’re on the radio. They need you for publicity. They know you’re there for them. Even though they’re the gods of the world, they still need you to sell their records.”SHORT TAKES — (Via Deadline) The meteoric political rise of George Santos and the web of fabulist tales it was built on are getting a movie treatment. HBO Films has optioned the rights to Mark Chiusano’s new book The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos, which was published on November 28, 2023. My only comment is, why? If this ever gets made, it will not be a hit. Exploitative? Definitely and not needed at all …

I’ve watched the two episodes of Hulu’s Fargo so far this season and though somehow intriguing, but didn’t I just see this show on Netflix – Who Is Erin Carter? Fargo’s creator Noah Hawley must have been transfixed by Carter. Odd for sure

Also, just for the record, why was there so much Russian-dialogue in episode 4 of Apple TV+’s For All Mankind without any sub-titles? Clearly this show has suffered some major budget-cuts, but that was a huge error for sure. Ronald D. Moore’s creation started out brilliantly, but has become something like a space-age soap-opera. Sad for sure.

This show was among my favorites … I loved Chuck Lorre’s Big Bang Theory, so I was anxious to see his Bookie on MAX. Sebastian Maniscalco – who I don’t really get at all – left me somewhat underwhelmed. The show’s about a bookie – funny? Somehow it wasn’t. Even a cameo by Charlie Sheen w/o tiger blood was a letdown.

Zach Martin

Very disappointed … Joe Cocker-scribe Mark Bego speaks to Zach Martin Wednesday for his NEWHD outpost …

Chris Carter and Micky Dolenz 2. Who Is Eric Carter? 3. For All Mankind 4. Bookie 5. Zach Martin Ahmet and Mica Ertegun

HAPPY BDAY Randy Newman and RIP one of the most adventurous, creative and intriguing women I’ve ever known, Mica Ertegun.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Kent and Laura Denmark; Steve Leeds; Ira Robbins; Richard Branciforte; Eppy; Barry Fisch; Frank Patz; Bobby Bank; Roger Clark; Edmond O’ Brien; Jonathan Clyde; Richard Johnson; James Edstrom; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Bob Kaus; and BELLA!

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Cabaret

Adrienne Haan Celebrates Irving Berlin and Christmas at the Triad

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This Christmas take a big scoop of classic Irving Berlin songs, have them sung by the ever sparkling Adrienne Haan, sprinkle in the voice of her musical director, Richard Danley and you have a festive feast for your ears. I have seen a number of Ms Haan’s shows at the Triad and each one includes something that makes it a step above a typical cabaret show. The first time I saw her there was an actual tuba on stage; the second a number of costume changes, other shows had duets with guest stars or choreography; this time hearing the singing voice of her long-time accompanist and musical director, Mr Danley. The two have bantered in the past but in this show Richard shows his vocal and comedic side with songs like I Paid My Income Tax Today and How About a Cheer for the Navy.

The man at the piano can sing

Of course Adrienne blew her audience away with her renditions of There’s No Business Like Show Business and Blue Skies; but, hearing the usually silent man behind the piano was a surprise to me like Teller taking the stage from Penn and his baritone was as shocking as hearing the bumbling Gomer Pyle turn into the rich voiced singer, Jim Nabors. The two of them created a wonderful celebration of Mr Berlin’s musical catalogue with a combination of solos and duets.

They really enjoy each other

Entering the theater, as the holiday season begins, and a show title of  White Christmas at the Triad Theater, one would expect to hear 90 minutes of Christmas songs; but, read the second line on the program and you realize that it is really a celebration of the man who wrote one of the most recognizable holiday songs of all time, White Christmas. Not only will we hear the music of Mr Berlin but we will get some insight into his life as Adreinne celebrates his 130 year anniversary of his arrival in the United States. From Europe to Broadway to Hollywood; in military songs, love songs or holiday classics the trio of Haan, Danley and Berlin take us on a historical journey of a life well lead.

Adrienne has a number of costume changes – First up New Years Eve dripping in “ice”

Opening the show in a festive seasonal outfit ready for a New Years Eve celebration with “ice” dangling from her ears and around her wrist Adriene introduces us to some well-known Berlin tunes Alexander’s Ragtime Band and Let Me Sing and I’m Happy. One of the treats of her shows is that she does a lot of research into the music she sings and she has done her homework telling us about the life of Israel Beillin, immigrant from Imperial Russia, the country now known as Belarus. He only spoke Yiddish when he landed on Ellis Island so Ms Haan sings Ofyn Pripetchik in his native tongue and then follows with Berlin’s Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – a tribute to that wonderful Statue in NY harbor. She finishes this section of the show with Marie from Sunny Italy which gives her the opportunity to show her strong vocal ability with a long strong belt of a song.

Army songs

Berlin came to America in 1893 at the age of 5 which means he was drafted into the army during World War 1, where he wrote the famous anthem Oh How I Hate to Get up in the Morning and which Ms Haan sang in military uniform. A number of tunes that Berlin wrote for both World Wars followed as the two singers alternated songs and Adrienne gave us some more tidbits about the composer. The song I Paid My Income Tax Today sung by Mr Danley is actually owned by the IRS. (I wonder is THEY have to pay tax on the royalties they earn when it is sung.)

When she sings some of Mr Berlin’s wartime songs she dresses for the occasion.

Ms Haan is a proud Luxembourger and as life imitates art, or vice versa, Mr Berlin’s Broadway and film musical, Call Me Madam is based on the life of Perle Mesta who was the Ambassador to Luxembourg from 1949-1953. Haan again showed she’s the singer with the zinger when she sang The Hostess with the Mostes’ on the Ball  from that show as well as the tribute to the fictitious country in that show Lichtenburg. As far as art leading to reality it is interesting to note that Mr Berlin’s home, 17 Beekman Place, was purchased by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1990 a year after Berlin’s death.

She is one performer who uses every part of the stage

Berlin wrote over 1,500 songs in his 60 years of composing so to highlight all of the numbers Haan sings is too long a list; but, the jaunty I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning, They Say that Falling in Love is Wonderful, Cheek to Cheek and Blue Skies show her range of interpreting music. The love song Always was a particularly important song to Berlin and Haan did it justice as this song was written to Berlin’s wife, Ellin Mackay, on their wedding day.

Hittng high notes

Of all the show tunes, patriotic anthems, and love songs performed in this show I have to give a special shout out to the Haan/Danley duet of You’re Just in Love. I have seen it sung by a number of Broadway stars, Merman, Stritch, Donald O’Connor and Larry Blyden,  (and for the newer generation, Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana) in the past; but I’ve never seen the male singer play the piano at the same time. WOW!

Facial Expressions bring life to her Songs

It is the holiday season, remember, so Ms Haan’s third costume change is a beautiful red gown that fits the time and she finished the evening with the traditional songs of the Yuletide spirit, including Happy Holiday, I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm and of course White Christmas.

This is not a traditional Christmas carol singing show but Ms Haan never is one to follow the norm. This was a wonderful tribute to Mr Berlin with added surprises featuring the excellent wit and talents of both Adrienne and her musical director and accompanist of 22 years, the unsung (until this show)  singer Mr Richard Danley.

A second show is at the Triad on Tuesday, December 5 at 7PM. It will get you smiling and into the holiday spirit.

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot

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Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad andTaran Killam as Lancelot.

I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.

To read T2C’s review click here.

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Off Broadway

Vineyard’s “Scene Partners” Gets Stuck Between Floors

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This is exactly how it happened “ we are told, followed by a big wide screen opening that descends upon us, but it does not quite land where it, and our leading lady’s character, most likely intended it too. Finally escaping the 11th floor on a folding chair and faulty pulley system, Meryl Kowalski, as portrayed as only the magnificently gifted Dianne Wiest (Broadway’s All My Sons; “Purple Rose of Cairo“) could, finds flight and falter inside this fascinating exploration of some sort of demented dream. Giving the “correct response“ to abstract questions and assignments, Wiest delivers a befuddled and determined performance that elevates a play that fractures realities every chance it gets. As written with a wild wandering spirit by John J. Caswell, JR. (Wet Brain), the play is an absurdity of utter invigorating complexity, playing with and sometimes delivering itself forward in a fascinating but distancing dementia. Is it a post-traumatic disassociation of epic proportions or a fractured descent into grief and mental illness, played for a laugh or a tug at the heart? Or is it something quite else that was lost on this avid fan of this Oscar-winning actress? And I don’t even know if there is a clear correct answer to this. But that is half the fun in this half-fun exercise in abstractionism and determination.

It’s big on ‘concept’, directed with a strong forward vision by Rachel Chavkin (Broadway’s Hadestown), obviously enjoying the ride and the wandering with glee. The visuals ride and slide in and about, thanks to the incredibly detailed and smooth work of video and projection design by David Bengali (Broadway’s The Thanksgiving Play), lighting designer Alan C. Edwards (Vineyard’s Harry Clarke), and scenic designer Riccardo Hernández (Broadway’s Indecent), giving depth and clarity to this otherwise meander into fractured and fantastical thinking. Supported by clever extravagances by costume designer Brenda Abbandandolo (Broadway’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), the effect is a fevered dive into the mind of a woman beaten down hard to the ground by a now-dead husband whose death has freed her to her desire; her dream and determination to be a big famous movie star, and she’ll point the barrel at anyone who might stand in her way or say otherwise.

Josh Hamilton and Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Scene Partners feels anything but safe and secure, as we join Wiest’s 75-year-old widow from the Midwest as she steadily abandons her needy mess of a daughter, played with clever calculations by Kristen Sieh (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), to jet, train, or sled herself off to Hollywood to become a big gloriously famous movie star even before her now-dead violent abusive husband has been buried six feet under. The framing is slanted, with efforts to keep us off balance. Finding a flavor in its madness and splitting. The name of Wiest’s woman is Meryl Kowalski, and she’s not to be ignored. She is told quite clearly and quickly that she must change it if she really wants to be an actress, as that first name of hers has already been taken by that other, already famous and award-winning actress with the same first name that we all know and love. But this Meryl holds firm, inside and out of her first acting class somewhere out there in Los Angeles. It’s there, when confronted by her over-the-top acting teacher, played with wild abandonment by the perfect Josh Hamilton (Broadway’s The Real Thing), that she reveals another level of strong abstractionism. This particularly twisted Meryl’s dead husband was named Stanley Kowalski, and her Streetcar husband made Tennessee Williams’s character seem like quite the gentle nice guy.

At this point, the play stands shakily in some abstract parallels that are fun, clever, complicated, and a bit distancing, playing with fragments of trauma and grief that don’t fully come together. It pulls and pushes at about the same level of conflicted engagement, until Johanna Day (Broadway/MTC’s How I Learned to Drive) as Meryl’s half-sister comes into play, shifting the formula with a centered grounding that makes us sit back and question what’s really going on. When a doctor also enters the picture, played well by Eric Berryman (RT’s Primary Trust), a medical diagnosis once again adds a different framework that could alter the whole process. Where are we with these two half-sisters and their shared knowledge of a non-collaborated trauma of abuse? Especially after a (pre-recorded) interview with a very well-positioned Sieh asking pertinent questions that illicit praise from Hamilton’s pompous character and a disappearing act of a half-sister who might never been. It plays with the head, in both an engaging and disassociating manner that works, and doesn’t.

Johanna Day and Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Scene Partners doesn’t play easy with our unpacking, leading us down blind endless alleyways decorated with an abundance of movie imagery that either leads us to brick walls or bottomless pits to fall into. Wiest’s Meryl has necessarily immersed herself in these vintage cinematic panoramas, probably to unconsciously avoid the abusive reality she found herself trapped in, and in that trauma response, Wiest has found the perfect embodiment for Mrs. Kowalski, bringing feisty and forceful complexities to the forefront as she shuffles and stabs herself into frame. And even if it doesn’t, in the end, add up to much, this Vineyard Theatre production is flavorful in its twisted construction and projections. The “Doctor Zhivago” impressions and pop-culture references overwhelm, not just our heroine, but also our connections to emotional clarity and authenticity, leaving us hanging halfway down and in between floors waiting for something to fully make an impact.

Dianne Wiest in Vineyard Theatre’s Scene Partners. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Off Broadway

Make Me Gorgeous Tells Of One Man’s Authenticity

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Make Me Gorgeous! playing at Playhouse 46 in a nut shell is about the life and times of LGBTQ+ trailblazer Kenneth Marlow. Embodying Marlow is Wade McCollum, who tells us how he was born in 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa, and how he became a hustler, private hairdresser, stripped in mob-controlled nightclubs, became a female impersonator, a madam of a gay prostitution ring, until in the 70’s when he became Kate, throwing a “Ball to End all Balls” to fund gender-affirming surgery. We learn how she documented her life in books. In between he was a private in the U.S. Army; a Christian missionary; a mortuary cosmetologist and a newspaper columnist.

Wade McCollum Photo: Maria Baranova

In a sense Marlow was raised to be who he was dressed in girls clothes as a child, then became drawn to feminine clothes and his female relatives encouraged him. In high school he ran around in drag. in Iowa in the 30’s took some kind of guts. His father never showed him love and left, his mother was a raging alcoholic. He took to the cinemas populated by men to find what was missing in life, then to the church. When he is shipped off to California, he meets and hangs out with the transgender prostitutes finding feeling at home. He ends up with a sugar daddy who is unattractive, ends up in Chicago, ends up as a hairdresser and then a stripper in Calumet City as “Mr. Keni Marlo, Exotic Queen of the Boys” and that takes us to the 40’s.

Wade McCollum Photo: Maria Baranova

In the end he ended up becoming the hairstylist to Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball, and Gypsy Rose Lee, among others. His side job need up being documented in Mr. Madam: Confessions of a Male Madam, Cathouse Mother, Male Oral Love, and Around the World with Kenneth Marlowe.

Wade McCollum Photo: Maria Baranova

I have loved McCollum’s work ever since Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. This man is a consummate actor, whose rich voice and glamours gams make him perfect to tell this story. He brings everyone he is talking about to life. You feel as if you know each character. McCollum’ has oodles of charisma, so the tawdry tale he is telling comes off less crass. With lines like “I liked that men paid to have sex with me. And those who appealed to me usually didn’t have any money…so I did a lotta pro-bono work” if you are not exactly open this may not appeal to you. A couple walked out the night I went. McCollum is a natural with Sally Rand’s Fan Dance and glorious performing a song Marlow wrote with jazz pianist Reggie DuValle. The most pignut part of the story comes when he is drafted and is raped by 14 men. There is however a disconnect as on a book cover he wrote “He was raped by fourteen men in his barracks — and enjoyed it!”

Wade McCollum Photo: Maria Baranova

The theater is styled like a cabaret, with velvet curtains and bistro tables. Black and white photographs of drag queens hang on the walls. On the stage Walt Spangler’s set looks like a cross between Barbie’s house and cotton candyI really want the black dress designed by Jeffrey Hinshaw and the lighting by Jamie Roderick’s and sound by Ien DeNio’s really help to enjoy the evening

Wade McCollum Photo: Maria Baranova

Smartly directed and written by Donald Horn, I was on the edge of my seat the whole performance and definitely learned a thing or two or three about this culture.

Make Me Gorgeous! Playhouse 46, 308 W 46th Street, through Dec. 31st.

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