Andréa Burns, Mary Testa, Priscilla Lopez, and Eden Espinosa. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Michael John LaChiusa’s The Gardens of Anuncia is based on the early life of Broadway legend Graciela Daniele The two have been collaborators on several projects including Hello Again (1994), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1995), Marie Christine (1999), and Bernarda Alba (2006). This is his love letter to her, complete with a tango-infused score.
This memory musical is directed and choreographed by Daniele, which is surprising as we miss the more intricate dancing moments.
We meet Anuncia (Priscilla Lopez), as she tends to her country garden in America, reminiscing about her girlhood in Juan Perón’s Argentina from 1940s-50s as she trys to avoid attending an awards ceremony, where she’ll be honored with a Lifetime Achievement. Instead, she reflects on her family and childhood, as she brings back her Mami (Eden Espinoza), her Granmama (Mary Testa), and her aunt Tia (Andréa Burns), hoping to honor all the women who supported her journey in becoming an artist. Her distraction is she is looking around her garden for the proper place to bury Tia’s ashes. We see a young Anuncia (Kalyn West), as she is shaped by three very different women. From Tia she learns imagination and music, her Mami enrolls her in ballet class to fix her flat feet and her Granmama gives her drama.
In the meantime Anuncia and a deer (the fabulous Tally Sessions) dance, talk and romance.
Highlights of the show include Eden Espinosa, who will be on Broadway later this season in Lempicka, tango “MalaGueña,”. Andréa Burns makes us love “Listen to the Music” and Mary Testa’s one-liners and description of her secret courtship with Anuncia’s grandfather (Enrique Acevedo) in “Miss The Man” give the show some oomph.
The design of the garden by Mark Wendland and the lighting, by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, give the show it’s magical look.
The Gardens of Anuncia shows the love of the collaborators and of the women who shaped our lives.
The Gardens of Anuncia: Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center through December 31.
The Hotel Edison Opulent and Convenient with History
George Burns and Gracie Allen lived on the 9th floor of The Edison Hotel. Their friend Jack Benny lived on the 4th floor. Moss Hart lived there after his Once in a Lifetime was a Broadway hit. He then moved his parents there until he found them an apartment. The Edison Hotel is featured in the movies “The Godfather” and “Bullets Over Broadway”, so history abounds.
Located at 228 West 47th Street, you are down the street from Six, Hamilton, Prayer for the French Republic and Sweeney Todd. Across the street is the Barrymore Theatre, but all of Broadway and Times Square is a hop, skip and a jump away. Talk about location, location, location.Built in the late 1920’s, Art Deco abounds from the hotel lobby to the lights and the bed spread in the lush rooms. The hotel is elegant and feels like you stepped back in time. My room was spacious with a king-sized bed that was so comfortable, I wish this was a staycation where I could have spent more time catching up on sleep. I also had a small sitting room with a couch, desk and more windows with views.
The rooms are well designed with great features, such as a Keurig coffee maker and coffee, black-out drapes, windows that opened, and a full-marble bathroom. In the bathroom fluffy towels, designer toiletries and a hair dryer awaited me. The spacious shower also had a relaxing rain shower. In the closet a safe, iron, ironing board and fluffy robes.
There were also two flat-screen high-definition smart TVs, Bluetooth-enabled audio, high-speed Wi-Fi which made my life so much easier, and an alarm clock.
The room was ultra clean and to get to it you need a room key, which you also need for the elevator, so you feel incredibly safe.
Another fun fact…when you arrive you will have a personalized note waiting just for you and some lovely snacks, which were highly appreciated considering I had been running all day and needed a pick me up.
Amenities to the hotel are a gym, two fabulous restaurants, a piano bar, complimentary wine and cheese receptions (Tuesday & Friday), with entertainment, as well as complimentary walking tours of the neighborhood.
You would think for this much pampering and convivence this hotel would be overpriced but it is not. There are rooms are the best offer and prices in town.
If you are looking for history, comfort, boutique, friendliness and luxury, this is the perfect place to stay.
The Edison Hotel: 228 West 47th Street
Going Down The Rabbit Hole To Discover A Fabulous Unheard Treasure of Linda Eder
In February one of my favorite singers is coming to 54 Below on the 6, 13, & 17. Linda Eder is forever linked to Broadway history via her Theatre World Award winning performance in Jekyll & Hyde. Her concerts sell out and the reason why is her voice is remarkable.
In 2020 she release an album that somehow slipped through my radar. Retro – volume two is full of Broadway and Standards. There are 17 tracks on the CD. Most are written by Frank Wildhorn with the exception of four tracks. There are two pop tracks, one written by Frank Wildhorn and one written by Jake Wildhorn. She recorded the vocals for four of the tracks at home by herself due to social distancing. This CD is only available at LindaEder.com.
Guest stars on the CD are Will Lee and Michael Lanning. Songs from Bonnie & Clyde, Svengali, Tears of Heaven, Havana andThe Last Five Years are heard here.
I can not believe this slipped through the cracks, but thrilled to find it. Can’t wait to see her at 54 Below.
Celebrating Love in Times Square
There’s no better place to say “I love you” than Times Square. On Valentine’s Day 2024, New Yorkers and visitors alike will once again declare their love and celebrate their relationships at the Crossroads of the World through surprise proposals, weddings in the heart of Times Square, and a Vow Renewal Ceremony on Duffy Square’s iconic Red Steps.
Felicia Finley Shines in From Backwoods to Broadway
As Broadway veteran Felicia Finley proves in her one woman cabaret show, From Backwoods to Broadway, which she showcased at The Green Room 42 in NYC this week, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And that’s a very good thing!
She began her journey as a performer when she started singing at age four. Her first big break came at age nine, when she was cast in the Broadway company of Annie…and her first big heartbreak came when the show closed the very next weekend. Her early career was a roller coaster of promising opportunities and dashed hopes. She might have co-starred in the film of Gypsy opposite Bette Midler had five foot one Ms. Midler not refused to stand on a box to look Ms. Findley in the eye. But that’s show biz.
Finally her talent prevailed. She made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe’s Café, before going on to play Amnaris in Aida, April in the original cast of The Life, and to create the role of Linda in The Wedding Singer.
Along the way, Ms. Finley has never lost track of her gospel roots, or her love for Patsy Kline. Her rendition of “Sweet Dreams”, one of Patsy’s big hits, was a highlight of the evening, flavored with the smoky sound that makes Ms. Finley’s voice so distinctive. Not surprisingly, Ms. Finley won a “Best Actor” award for portraying Ms. Kline in A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline at the Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester, NY.
Ms. Finley was ably accompanied for this performance by her talented musical director, Michael McBride.
Under the direction of JoAnne Zielinski, From Backwoods to Broadway is like spending a welcoming evening in the intimate warmth of Ms. Finley’s living room. The next chance you get to see her, don’t miss her.
Sing Your Heart Out at Baby Grand
In New York City everyone is a singer and or wants to sing. Well, one of the best places to go for karaoke is Baby Grand, located at 29 West 17th Street, With three private rooms, a large event space, a large neon sign to light the way and a main stage, you can have the time of your life. Get ready to show that you have what it takes to make it anywhere.
The hours are Sunday-Wednesday 5 pm – 3 am, Thursday-Saturday 5 pm – 4 am so you can sing into the wee morning. For just $2 a song in the main room you can rent a small room (1-5 people) for $50 a hour a medium room (6-10 people) $75 an hour or for a $100 hour (11-16 people) a large room to party with all your friends.
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