Theatre

Puccini’s Chronicles STYLE: Curated by Broadway’s Newest Leading Ladies

Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein

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Think red palettes, pearl accented jewelry, and fashion-forward hats with an old-fashioned flair. Your inner diva is sure to shine.

Denee Benton as Natasha

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Think femininely with gossamer dresses, faux fur stoles, and wrist-length gloves. For extra credit, pair with a Tolstoy novel or cute accordion player (whatever you prefer).

Jenn Colella as Beverley Bass

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Think navy blues, aviator shades, and tennis bracelets (just because). Channel your inner pilot with a brave outlook and grace under pressure.

Phillipa Soo as Amelie

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Think checkerboards patterns, gold jewelry, and a classic bob hairstyle. Your aura of excitement and wonder draws people to you. Duck into a photo booth for some fun!

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Theatre

A Tale of Two Show Boats

One of my favorite musicals ever is the groundbreaking Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein piece called Show Boat. Although I have never seen it live, I did watch the Papermill Playhouse production that PBS recorded…it was during my high school Musical Theatre class. I remember being blown away by the grand set designs, the gorgeous music, and the heartbreaking story that also managed to be very hopeful.

Anyway, when I was a teenager, I acquired a CD of the 1965 Lincoln Center Show Boat, which starred Barbara Cook, Constance Towers, and William Warfield. I loved this recording because everyone was in fine voice and the orchestra was amazing. I was also annoyed at this recording because it didn’t include the complete score of this phenomenal show. But it was all I had.

And because it was all I had, fast-forward to the premiere BroadwayCon in 2016. There, I got an autograph from Rebecca Luker, who played Magnolia Hawks in the 1994 Broadway staging of the piece. (Magnolia is one of my bucket list roles, incidentally.) Since I only had the Barbara Cook production, I asked her to sign that, which she happily did. So, I have the wrong recording of Show Boat signed by Rebecca Luker.

Picture it: Midtown Manhattan, the last day of February, 2017. I’m on lunch break and decide to stop by the secondhand electronics/bookstore. I browse through the music section and choose the Almost Famous soundtrack for my boyfriend; it’s one of his favorite movies. A few minutes later, I find- wait for it- the 1994 Broadway cast CD of Show Boat, starring…Rebecca Luker!

Both discs cost $5, and you really can’t ask for a better deal than that. So I headed for the cashier, two items in hand and a silly grin on my face. The moral of the story: now I just need this album signed by Barbara Cook and I’ll be in business!

I don’t know…were you able to follow this story? Or are y’all feeling a bit like the secretary in Cagney right now?

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(Thanks to BroadwayBox for creating this magical thing.)

Theatre

The Lincoln Center Manual

Lincoln Center is one of the most iconic performing arts institutions in the world. From world-class opera productions to beautiful ballets to film analysis: no matter which art form you prefer, there’s a spot in Lincoln Center for you to find like-minded folk. But navigating this lovely complex can be daunting at first, so I’ve broken it down for you.

  1. Metropolitan Opera House

This luxurious arched building behind the great fountain plays host to many different operatic shows every year. Some 800,000 people attend more than 200 performances at the place every year. Blending gifted singers with visionary directors, the Met promises you quality artistry and a night to remember. And there are subtitle screens at every seat!

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  1. Vivian Beaumont Theatre

The only Broadway house in the complex is named for Vivian Beaumont, a philanthropic heiress who financially supported the completion of this theatre. It is a rather large venue; noteworthy shows that have played here in recent years include The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, and The King and I.

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  1. Alice Tully Hall

Film and music buffs should find themselves at this hall, the building next to the Juilliard School. Since its opening in 1969, it’s played host to the annual New York Film Festival and also serves as the home for Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society. The Alice Tully Hall was renovated in 2009. Interestingly, there is an enormous pipe organ in the venue rivaling those often found in cathedrals.

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  1. David Geffen Hall

This concert stage has gone through a lot of names. It began life in 1962 as the Philharmonic Hall, became Avery Fisher Hall in 1973, and got its current name in 2015. The venue of choice for the NY Philharmonic, David Geffen Hall features a vast lobby and houses many beautiful sculptures within its walls.

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  1. David Koch Theatre

Formerly known as the New York State Theater, it was one of the first buildings to open at Lincoln Center. Although the default home of the New York City Ballet, it also serves the Royal Ballet and the annual Mostly Mozart Festival. Architecturally, it is known for its winding staircases and modern art displays as well as stud lights around the orchestra and an impressive chandelier.

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  1. David Rubenstein Atrium

This is a relatively quiet spot, one that’s a very popular gathering point and a great place to begin your LC journey. It is one of the newer buildings on the campus, existing only since 2009, but has quickly grown into a versatile space with free Wi-Fi, a café, and a 42-foot “media wall.”

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  1. Other Locations

Of course, these major parts of Lincoln Center are just the tip of the iceberg. Nestled in between are parks, studios, the lauded Library of the Performing Arts, and many more sites to whet your cultural appetite. If you do get lost, there’s no need to fret; you may very well discover something new and wonderful. And if worst comes to worst, just flag down a native and ask for some directions!

(Source: GoVisitNYC, as written by yours truly.)

Music

Spotlight: Summer Gift Guide for the Music Lover

Happy Friday, dilettantes! This week, I’m taking a cue from Disney’s blogs and presenting you with a little spread of all the things you’ll need to show off your artistic side at the beach. From a good summer read to a sophisticated way to accessorize, if you’re looking to bust out all over like June- look no further!

For something to cuddle with on a stormy summer night, we love this MOZART LITTLE THINKER plush from the Unemployed Philosophers’ Guild. He even plays the melody of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik!

If you need to kill time in your hotel room, try playing gin rummy with these STARS OF THE OPERA PLAYING CARDS. I’m glad Diana Damrau and Sondra Radvonofsky (two of my favorite sopranos) are included!

For some “musique tres elegante” at Sunday brunch, you’ll want the FASCINATING GERSHWIN album. It features all of the brothers’ biggest hits, sung by the greats. (Note: Not available for purchase online.)

Planning your summer reading list will be easy with Puccini Without Excuses, an analytical send-up of our namesake composer, written by William Berger. But it’s jam-packed with information!

Finally, for that perfect nautical accessory, we recommend the PIRATE’S LIFE jewelry from Opera Bracelets. Inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, it calls to mind oceans and operettas.

Personals

A Real-Life Christmas Story

In honor of this week’s holiday festivities, allow me to share with you a personal story of something that happened two days ago, on Christmas Eve. You see, I work at a retail store some days as a cashier and one of my coworkers is effectively homeless; most of her paychecks go toward paying for her mother’s medication.

So on Christmas Eve, my coworker Wendy tells me that many of the employees would be chipping in some money to buy Christmas dinner for this girl. I gave a $10 bill. The higher-ups at human resources told us it might look suspicious to security if we handed over cash, so they recommended we use the money to buy Visa gift cards and give them to her. Before Wendy paid for the gift cards, she told me that we’d collected $194. As it turned out- and here’s the really freaky part- with the purchase fees on $175 worth of Visas, the total of the transaction came to EXACTLY $194!

Wendy gave our present to the girl privately, as it was (correctly) predicted that it would evoke an emotional reaction. I spoke to the girl later that day, and she said that she’s not a crier- but bawled when she received the Visas. She also said that in all her years of living in Oklahoma, no one had ever done anything that nice. So the moral of the story, folks: even a small act of kindness can mean the world to someone, and NOT just around the holidays. Keep the faith!

Film and Television

Great Deals on MGM and Warner Bros. Musical DVD Sets

Each of the following packs contains four classic musical movies- and all of them are under $20 at Barnes and Noble (which, I’ve discovered, is also a great place to find OBC recordings of shows). That’s less than $5 per film; you really can’t beat that. Below, I will show you the sets and give you my opinion on them to help you make the best purchase choices.

HOWARD KEEL COLLECTION: This is probably my favorite of all the boxed sets. I never realized how many romantic lead roles Howard Keel played until I found this set for $9.99 at Target (it’s a bit pricier at Barnes and Noble). So I just HAD to buy it. Most of the appeal of this one will come from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, widely considered one of the greatest movie musicals ever made, but you’ll also get a double dose of Kathryn Grayson. Although this version of Show Boat doesn’t follow the stage play very closely, she and Keel still sound great in it. All in all, I really recommend this pack.

ASTAIRE AND ROGERS COLLECTION: This is a really fun set, particularly because I LOVE Top Hat. It features the timeless music of Irving Berlin and enough screwball plot twists to keep you laughing from start to finish. Of the four, the only one I’d never heard of was Swing Time- and I think it’s safe to assume that like the others, it will have plenty of mind-blowing dance numbers. This is Fred Astaire, after all. I should note that this pack is the most expensive of the four I’m showing you, so if you’re the frugal kind, this might not be your perfect match.

GENE KELLY COLLECTION: Four words- An American in Paris. That film alone is reason to buy this- because George and Ira Gershwin- but let’s take a look at the other movies in here. Singin’ in the Rain is noticeably absent, but this set does have On the Town and Brigadoon- the former is more of a dance story and the latter is more about the singing. I don’t know anything about Anchors Aweigh, I’m sorry to admit. Whether or not you buy this pack will largely depend on how you feel about Gene Kelly. He was one of the greatest song-and-dance men who ever lived, certainly, but he was also known for being a difficult person on the set.

JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY COLLECTION: This set saddens me a little bit because it limits the films to ones with Garland and Rooney together- and I would have loved to see Meet Me in St. Louis or Easter Parade in the pack. Oh well, c’est la vie. There is still some really good stuff here. My favorites are Girl Crazy (Gershwin again!) and Strike Up the Band, while Babes in Arms tends to remind me of why Richard Rodgers was better with Hammerstein than Hart. Also, I should warn that Babes on Broadway contains a minstrel show scene, so if you are offended by that, you might want to skip this collection.