It started with Sinatra, and it has never stopped. On Saturday evening, April 29th, Steve Kalafer and Peter LeDonne, will present Patsy’s: If These Walls Could Sing, at the Ciccone Theatre at 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ. For one historic, and glittering night only, The Rat Pack comes alive, again.
Sponsored by Flemington Car & Truck Family of Dealerships, Patsy’s: If These Walls Could Sing, is a Gala Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and the restaurant they called home – the world-famous Patsy’s Italian Restaurant of New York.
This Red Carpet event will feature Patsy’s celebrated cuisine in a Under-The-Stars Reception, as well as a Post-Performance Party in the Ciccone Theatre’s Grand Lobby. Mingle with Hollywood legends, Industry singing sensations and award-winning musicians just like you can at Patsy’s every night in New York on West 56th Street.
Sal Scognamillo’s, Patsy’s globally esteemed Proprietor/Chef and award-winning author, of Patsy’s (If These Walls Could Sing) will host a line-up of Patsy’s regulars who will regale the audience with never-before heard “Patsy’s stories” between the evening’s concert performances. With an audience filled with Patsy’s regulars who knows who will pick up the mike!
Dean Martin’s daughter and singing sensation, Deana Martin, and her famous band will take the stage in an extraordinary tribute to her Dad and her “Uncle” Frank!
Opening for Miss Martin will be America’s Got Talent’s wunderkind, Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti.
At the evening’s end during the Post-Performance Party, each audience member will be gifted with a copy of Sal Scognamillo’s newest and best-selling autographed cookbook.
Talk about dinner and a show!
For Reservations: 201-447–7428 or Tickets.bergen.edu
Patsy’s opened in 1944 with Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo as chef, his wife, Concetta, and, as soon as they were able, children Joseph and Anna lending a hand serving and greeting an ever-growing loyal following. In over seventy years, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant has had only three chefs, the late Patsy Scognamillo himself, his son Joe and now, Joe’s son, Sal, who has been running the kitchen for the past 30 years.
Today, 236 West 56 Street, otherwise known as Patsy’s is one of the toughest places to get a table in New York. Being a celebrity, by the way, doesn’t help. It’s more difficult not to find a famous face at Patsy’s. The legendary dining destination has been known for years as Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant and has become a favorite with countless stars including Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ben Stiller, George and Amal Clooney, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Bublé, Ben Stiller, Tony Danza, Al Pacino, Placido Domingo, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Tom Hanks, Madonna, George Clooney, Rappers Heavy “D” and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Keanu Reeves, Jonathan Demme, Tony Bennett, Don King, Robert DeNiro, Don Rickles, Jaclyn Smith, Phyllis George, Stephen King, Calvin Klein, Carroll O’Connor, Jon Bon Jovi, Rush Limbaugh, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara Stiller, Chris Noth, Jaime Farr, Chevy Chase, Cheryl Ladd, Huey Lewis, and Patty LaBelle, to name several. In addition, our patrons have also included the late Mario Puzo, James Gandolfini, John F. Kennedy Jr., Farrah Fawcett, Rosemary Clooney, and many others.
And, they don’t come ‘to be seen.’ They come to eat. Linguine Puttanesca, Penne alla Vodka, Tortellini Bolognese, Spaghetti or Whole-wheat Pasta Marinara, and Cannelloni with Meat Sauce. Patsy’s Italian Restaurant’s famous sauces, made from the freshest ingredients, are available in better supermarkets and specialty food stores throughout the U.S. The tomato-based sauces, 100% natural, with no preservatives or added sugar, are available in six varieties, including Marinara, Tomato Basil, Fra Diavolo, Puttanesca, Vodka, and Pizzaiola.
The show business connection started with a crooner named Sinatra. For him, it was home.
Aunt Anna Scognamillo tells it best: ‘He was at the Paramount, and he was brought into our restaurant by the Dorsey Brothers. ‘This kid can really sing,’ said Tommy, ‘but you got to fatten him up. He’s too skinny.’ Frank fell in love with our whole family, and we loved him right back.
When my mother was busy, Frank would answer the phone, take reservations and mix drinks.’ ”
Peter LeDonne is now the Director of Community and Cultural Affairs at Bergen Community College. A successful advertising and marketing executive Peter LeDonne was the owner and partner of Ash/LeDonne, Inc. one of the most prominent entertainment marketing firms in the Industry. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and London, the agency represented theatre, films, personalities, record companies and major entertainment venues. While working on over 1000 Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, Mr. LeDonne altered the way theatre was marketed – worldwide. He made the first live-action television commercial for the original Broadway production of Bob Fosse’s Pippin. The seismically successful commercial delivered an entirely new audience to Broadway and, by so doing, redefined the lengths of successful Broadway runs from several months to several years. In addition to Broadway, Ash/LeDonne also represented many other major clients such as: Resorts International Hotels and Casinos; The Sands Hotel & Casino; Helmsley Hotels; Radio City Music Hall Productions; Universal Studios; Crum & Forster Insurance; Marcal Paper Products; Metro One Cellular Telephone System; First Jersey Securities; Doubleday Publishing; St. Martin’s Press as well as Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Elton John. He has also produced for the stage in New York and London and was one of the first Americans invited to The Soviet Union to produce films for several dance companies, folk troupes and The Moscow Circus. Over a period of several weeks, he and his film crew were permitted to travel throughout Russia, documenting both performance and behind the scenes material. The subsequent promotional films and commercials made the U.S. tours of those companies an unprecedented triumph. Upon his return to the USA, he signed The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Joffrey Ballet, The Kirov Ballet, The Moiseyev Dance Company and The Bolshoi to his Agency’s glittering roster. When he added television and film production to his endeavors, he achieved early success with his first production, Curtain Call, which began a partnership with Steve Kalafer and was nominated for an Academy Award®. One year later their Sister Rose’s Passion was also nominated for an Academy Award®. He has since produced four other films; directed two; the most recent production, Barrymore, starring Christopher Plummer. Mr. LeDonne has been the recipient of several major advertising industry awards, including: The Clio, The Andy, The International Broadcasting Award, The Big Apple Award, The London International Advertising Award and others. He actively supports several non-profit organizations, which expose young people to the arts, particularly The Actors’ Fund of America, American Theatre Wing, Young Audiences and Arts Horizons. His pro-bono work has included producing, a live benefit performance of Come a Waltzing With Me, An Evening With Zoe Caldwell for Young Audiences and a documentary film, The Power of The Arts, featuring Harold Prince, Celeste Holm and Robert Whitehead, for Arts Horizons.
Deana Martin is a world-class entertainer who is equally comfortable with a celebrated symphony, at a legendary concert hall or on an intimate cabaret stage with a swinging jazz quintet. She’s a New York Times best-selling author, a gifted actor, a vocalist of incredible depth and passion and a licensed pilot. When talent is part of the family pedigree it can sometimes be difficult for an artist to forge an individual path, Deana Martin has successfully navigated that tricky terrain. Deana’s latest album, Swing Street is a collection of songs which capture the essence of this consummate entertainer who is equally at ease performing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind,” as she is singing Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” Swing Street was recorded at Capitol Records Studio A in Hollywood and features a cast of preeminent LA musicians under the batons of legendary arranger and conductor Patrick Williams and Chris Walden. On this, her fifth album release, Deana also pays tribute to three men who helped guide and encourage her performing career: Uncles Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra and, most certainly, her Dad, Dean Martin. The album is an elegant mix of jazz and blues inspired songs. Swing Street was produced by Deana’s husband John Griffeth. The orchestra is a who’s who of the best Hollywood musicians. Among them are: Gene Cipriano, Bob Sheppard, Don Shelton, Tre Henry, Sal Lozano, Wayne Bergeron, Bob McChesney, Andy Martin, Ray Brinker, Jason Lee and Deana’s pianist and music director, Rick Krive. Deana’s smash 2013 release, Destination Moon, offers her distinctive take on jazz and pop classics, including the song “True Love,” a duet with her father. “To record that song with my Dad,” says Deana, “was an incredible highlight in my life and another dream come true. When we listened to the playback I was thrilled to hear how beautifully our voices blended together. It’s an unbelievable memory that I’ll carry with me forever.” Destination Moon followed Deana’s 2006 top ten hit CD Memories Are Made Of This, her acclaimed holiday collection, White Christmas, and Volare, which entered Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart at No. 22 and Billboard’s Heatseeker chart at No. 7. Among the projects she is most passionate about these days, is seeing her best-selling book, Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughters Eyes, become a movie. Joe Mantegna is slated to direct the film with Jennifer Love Hewitt set to star as Deana. Actress/writer Bonnie Hunt is writing the screenplay. Speaking of her Dad, Deana says, “My dad would always say ‘Deana, when you dream, dream big, because dreams do come true. There’s nothing you can’t do, honey, if you really set your mind to it and work hard.’ And that’s exactly what I do, because knowing that he believed in me has always given me the strength and determination to shoot for the moon!” Armed with an abundance of talent, a dedicated work ethic and a buoyant personality, Deana was determined to step out from her famous father’s shadow and launch her own successful entertainment career. Deana received her formal education from Dartington College of Arts in the United Kingdom. She has amassed a wealth of stage experience including roles in Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Six Rms Riv Vu and The Tunnel of Love. Her first major break was in the National Touring Company of Neil Simon’s play, The Star Spangled Girl with Jimmy Boyd and George Hamilton. Deana’s acting career expanded into film with the 1968 western “Young Billy Young” co-starring Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson. Her movie career continued with staring roles in “Strangers at Sunrise” with George Montgomery and “A Voice in the Night” with Vitto Scotti. In addition to her work as an actress, Deana also signed a contract with Reprise Records and scored hits singles with the “Girl of the Month Club” and “When He Remembers Me” produced by Lee Hazelwood.
Sal Valentinetti is an Italian-American crooner know best for his flawless vocals, larger than life personality and his heart of gold. Born August 26, 1995 to Steve and Maria Valentinetti, Sal was raised in the small town of Bethpage, New York. From a very young age Sal was influenced by his grandmother, Tina Valentinetti, to love the musical genius of the classic crooner sounds of Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. At the young age of fifteen Sal realized the hidden talent he possessed and began performing his flawless tribute to the great Frank Sinatra. Before long the world would come to know him as “Sal the Voice” In 2016, Season 11 of the NBC hit show “Americas Got Talent” was taken by storm by Sal Valentinetti. The 20 year old College Student that delivered Pizza for his cousins Italian restaurant was now in the spot light. Belting out the classic Frank Sinatra hit “My Way” Sal not only received a standing ovation but got the coveted “Golden Buzzer” from judge Heide Klum, who he later performed a duo with singing “Santa Baby”. Although Sal did not win the overall competition, he rose to stardom and his professional music career was launched. Sal left for Hollywood as a pizza delivery man and returned home to Bethpage as a National Rock Star. His live show, featuring his new band “The Black Tie Brass”, is now in great demand. Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti sold out three Christmas Shows at the now famous, Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York. Then his dream came true, an opportunity to perform in the round at one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite venues, The Theatre at Westbury- (Formerly The Westbury Music Fair). Sal loves to tell the story of how his father saved up just enough money to see Frank Sinatra on June 11, 1975 in Westbury. The Valentinetti family returned to Westbury on March 3, 2017 andthey watched with pride as Sal performed his 90 minute show to a sold out crowd of 3,000 people just like his idol, Frank Sinatra. After Sal’s successful sell out shows at home, he teamed up with some of the country’s top promoters and agents like Brian Rosenberg, Robert Maffia, Fever Entertainment and TCI Talent Agency and is now touring the country as one of the hottest new performers on the scene. In between shows on the road, Sal is in the studio working on his first EP which is scheduled to be out in Spring of 2017 and a Christmas Album due out September 2017. Sal has also become a dominate force on Social Networking reaching up to a quarter million people per video and over 300,000 followers. It all started with that first appearance on America’s Got Talent where the judges unanimously agreed he was a star, but Heidi Klum declared “I like the way you talk. I like the way you sing. I like everything about you” and she pounded the magical button that launched his “Golden Ticket” to stardom. We are currently finding out that it was not only a game changer for Sal but it has created a revival in music. The standards of yester-year are now being listened to by 4 generations of Americans and music lovers abroad. “Old Blue Eyes” would be proud.
Steve Kalafer is a distinguished businessman who entered the automotive industry in 1973 and has since grown his automotive business, Flemington Car & Truck Country to include showrooms and service centers in 8 locations for 18 franchises. Mr. Kalafer has been deeply involved in Somerset County, Hunterdon County and New Jersey civic undertakings. He has founded several boards and served as an appointee to Governor Christine Todd Whitman’s Economic Master Plan Commission for New Jersey and chaired the Transportation subcommittee and served on the Department of Treasury’s transition team. Additionally, he is a board member of the New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance Company, The Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation and RWJ/Barnabas Hospital. He served as Chairman of the Somerset Health Care Foundation, Chairman of the New Jersey Public Research Organization, Member of the NJIT Board of Overseers, and serves as Treasurer of the Actors Fund of America. He was awarded the Actors Fund of America Medal of Honor in April 2013. Steve has been presented with several Hunterdon County community awards including: the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, The Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Golden Award presented by the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, the Citizen of the Year Award by the Flemington Elks and the Hunterdon County YMCA Man of the Year Award. He also has been awarded the Anti-Defamation League’s prestigious Torch of Liberty Award, named the Ernst and Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year in New Jersey, honored by the Women’s Crisis Services of Hunterdon County and received the Spirit of Jane Rodney Award. He was honored as the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2016. Steve’s first love is baseball. He is the Chairman of the 6 time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots. Home for the Patriots is TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. TD Bank Ballpark has been designated the Best of the Ballparks by Baseball Digest. Steve also produced many documentaries and entertainment projects through his company, New Jersey Pictures. He is a three time Academy Award nominee for his films MORE, an animated short film, CURTAIN CALL, and SISTER ROSE’S PASSION. Steve and his wife Suzanne reside in Gladstone, New Jersey. They have two sons, Jonathan and Joshua and five grandsons, Zachary, Broden, Caleb, Tristan and Elliot.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot
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 and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
Vineyard’s “Scene Partners” Gets Stuck Between Floors
“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.
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.
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.
Make Me Gorgeous Tells Of One Man’s Authenticity
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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 candy. I 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
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.
Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurman and Christmas Joy
Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurman, Music Director and Conductor, announces the release of Christmas Joy,a new collection of holiday music that was all recently commissioned by Essential Voices USA. The centerpiece of the recording is “Christmas Joy,” a through-composed work, scored for chorus and string quartet. The arrangement and text adaptation are by Josh Clayton and Judith Clurman. The carols heard are Silent Night; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Angels We Have Heard on High; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; O Come, All Ye Faithful; and Joy to the World. The two other pieces are “Illumination” by Pierre Jalbert (music) and William Schermerhorn (lyrics) and “The Snow” by Bill Cutter (music) and Lewis Carroll (lyrics). The recording on Albany (Troy 1955) can be streamed on all platforms. The recording was produced and engineered by Silas Brown, who was assisted by Doron Schacter and Michael Schwartz. The recording can be streamed on all major platforms. The published scores will be available in 2024.
Members of Essential Voices USA: Phillip Cheah, Paul D’Arcy, Olivia Sue Green, Chloe Holgate, Heather Jones, Linda Jones, Helen Karloski, Enrico Lagasca, Elizabeth Lang, Steven Moore, Neil Netherly, Nicholas Prior, Gregory Purnhagen, Elisa Singer Strom, Jason Weisinger with Apprentice members – joining on Christmas Jo y- Michael Douris, Roberson Keffer, Marie Schwab, and Norman Schwab; The Essential StringsSuliman Tekali and Yu-Chie Wang violins; Caeli Smith viola; and Coleman Itzkoff cello.
I Illumination 3:13
II The Snow 2:06III Christmas Joy 13:48
STREAMING LINK on all platforms
The premiere performances Judith Clurman will conduct her Essential Voices USA in A Concert and Family Carol Sing-Along on December 16, 2023 at St. Malachy’s – The Actors’ Chapel (239 West 49 Street), New York City, at 7:30PM. The chorus will be joined by The Essential Strings (Suliman Tekalli & Rita Wang violins, Caeli Smith viola, Aaron Wolffcello), Organist Stephen Fraser, and David Chase and Paula Leggett Chase, who will read beloved Christmas poetry. The event is part of EVUSA’S The Community Project, a program which provides concerts and sing-alongs and is free of charge to the NYC community.
The evening will include the World Premieres of the three new works that are featured in the ensemble’s recent holiday recording “Christmas Joy” (Albany Records): “Christmas Joy” – arranged, with text adaptation by Josh Clayton and Judith Clurman; “Illumination” – by Pierre Jalbert (music) and William Schermerhorn (lyrics);and “The Snow” – by Bill Cutter (music) and Lewis Carroll (lyrics). The poems that will be read include “The Night Before Christmas” (Clement Clarke Moore), “little tree” (E.E.Cummings), and “Love Came Down at Christmas” (Christina Rossetti). Organist Stephen Fraser will play an organ fantasy on the beloved carol “O Holy Night,” and the audience will sing-along with EVUSA on traditional carols, with newly arranged accompaniments for string quartet by Bill Cutter.
Here We Are Or The Search For The Meaning of Life
Let me just state that I love the Stephen Sondheim/David Ives musical/play Here We Are. It’s as if the genius, known as Sondheim was trying to resolve his life. The first act is cynical and the characters are hypocritical, while the second act is about coming to with grips with life’s choices and surrendering to the inevitable.
The music is like playing Sondheim jeopardy. His motif’s from other shows are blended into new songs that make you want to have a pen and paper to play the game. I can’t wait until the CD comes out. I’ve been told that it is being recorded in January.
The show is highly surreal, with life’s journeyIn question. Think “The Outer Limits” or “The Twilight Zone,” very Rod Serling.
Based on two Luis Buñuel films “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972) and “The Exterminating Angel” (1962). Act one has Leo Brink (Bobby Cannavale) a entitled tycoon whose opinion is the only one that matters, his wife Marianne (Rachel Bay Jones) who lives for beauty and is a bit on the vaped side, their friends Paul Zimmer (Jeremy Shamos), a plastic surgeon celebrating his 1,000th nose job, his wife, Claudia (Amber Gray), an agent who lives for the celebrity of it all, Raffael Santello Di Santicci (Steven Pasquale), an ambassador from Moranda who lives for the number of notches on his belt and Fritz (Micaela Diamond), Marianne’s younger sister, who wants a revolution, while also wanting to live the good life, searching for brunch. It turns out Leo, Paul and Raffael run a drug cartel. As the day goes down the hill Marianne keeps asking Leo to “buy this perfect day for her.”
Act two is a little more dark. While they finally find food, the consequences of their choices keeps them trapped in purgatory. Enter a colonel (Francois Battiste) whose parents were killed for $26.15, a soldier (Jin Ha) who has feelings for Fritz due to his dreams and a bishop (David Hyde Pierce) who wants another job, has a shoe fettish, and plays piano, until there is no more music. This act is very reminiscent of Steambath. I love the homage to “The World According to Garp” and the bear.
Playing butlers and maids and assorted restaurateur’sare the incredible Tracie Bennett and Denis O’Hare. Kudos has to go out to the wigs by Robert Pickens and Katie Gell and the neon various establishments. white box set and costumes by David Zinn.
Joe Mantello’s staging is exquisite, allowing for each of these brilliantly talented performers to take center stage. This is true ensemble acting and I hope when the Drama Desk is giving out awards this wins.
Where many have criticized the lack of music in the second act, it makes perfect sense. The music stops. The concept very much reminds me of Davids Cromer’s Our Town, when Emily dies and suddenly things are in color and have smells. It makes complete sense that once you are trapped the music would die.
Natasha Katz’s lighting really helps the shinny set take shape, Tom Gibbons’s sound makes the inner world come to life and Sam Pinkleton’s choreography is just enough to make this move seamlessly.
Alexander Gemignani, and Jonathan Tunick, make Sondheim’s music an art and I for one appreciate the subtlety and musicality. Many may not know that Sondheim was a game master and in this it is like he won the final game of “putting it together”.
Here We Are, is intelligent, witty with so much to say and if you ponder the meaning of life you to will walk away extremely fulfilled.
Here We Are, The Shed, 545 West 30th through January 21st
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