The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Beauty and the Beast

If you watch the above video you might fall completely in love with Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz as I did this evening.
Their wonderful interpretation of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST completes a limited season tonight at the Henry Street Settlement, a gorgeous little theatre on the Lower East Side.
It took me forever to find in the pouring rain and I ended up on the other side of the river in Brooklyn TWICE trying to get there and return home but I'm so glad I persevered.
 Mat Fraser was a thalidomide baby so his arms and hands are stunted "seal flippers" as he calls them. Brilliantly, two other performers (Jonny Dixon and Jess Mabel Jones) play the Beast's arms in early scenes, occasionally and hilariously ending up on the wrong side and, hauntingly, remaining onstage like the Cheshire Cat's smile at the end of a scene after Fraser has left.
 Alternating with the fairy tale scenes, we hear the story of how Muz and Fraser met and fell in love, and see recreations of their famous burlesque acts. They are both naturally gifted performers, highly attractive, very funny and very sexy, so when their clothes come off...and stay off...halfway through the show it isn't at all confronting. The added bonus is, the other two eventually get their gear off as well!
 The play also contains the most hilarious erotic eating scene since the film of TOM JONES. Only a great deal more explicit.
If you hear of this production at a theatre near you, it is X-rated but great fun.

2014 Macy's Flower Show

Jones Street

and West 4th in the West Village

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Talkback at Urban Stages

Each Wednesday night after performances of Jim Brochu's CHARACTER MAN there is a talkback with (or about) character actors. Past guests have included Josh Mostel and Joe Gilford (sons of Zero and Jack), Sondra Lee and Lee Roy Reams discussing their HELLO, DOLLY! co-star David Burns, and Lewis J. Stadlen. Tonight the panel was (L-R) Jim Brochu, Sheldon Harnick, Richard Kind, moderator Peter Filichia, Sheldy and Emily Bergl.
I have no idea what story I'm telling here.
Mr. Harnick was calling his wife Margery Gray to tell her he'd be late getting home.
The night before I was at the opening night of The Acting Company's production of BEYOND THERAPY. Donna McKechnie wasn't my date but we were sitting together so...why break up the old team, I say!
I also had the distinct joy of seeing a little piece of genius called MURDER FOR TWO this afternoon.
Written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair who performed it for a record-breaking run in Chicago, the New York cast is made up of the terrifyingly versatile Jeff Blumenkrantz (centre) who plays all the suspects (and victims) and Brett Ryback (left) as the detective investigating the murder of a novelist.
Both actors play virtuosic piano, sing, dance, are truly hilarious and completely adorable.
At 90 minutes without an intermission I was exhausted from laughing and screaming bravos at the curtain call. A triumph.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 4 J-Ville

For some strange reason, part of the public transport system ceases to operate on weekends. The Skyway does not cross the river, forcing one to walk across the bridge to get downtown, and I never even found the much touted Riverside trolley which I spent an hour looking for on Friday. Not to, too, disappears on Saturday and Sunday. So across the bridge I tromped, once again without having eaten breakfast but a little more confident that a smart café with a water view was within easy reach and eager to sample the weekend hustle and bustle of downtown Jacksonville.

I was bound and determined to find the Riverside shopping area and "historic Five Points" even if the trolley WAS in hibernation so I headed in the direction of the Jacksonville Terminal which would no doubt be a whirlwind of activity.
I was obviously getting lost so, after careful reading of several timetables at various deserted bus stops I ascertained that at least two bus routes would most likely take me to my destination which was probably no more than two stops away. After about ten minutes a bus actually arrived! Vastly relieved, I hopped on like a bunny and kept my eyes peeled for the smart shopping precinct I had read about in the brochures at my hotel. Imagine my dismay when the bus immediately lurched off the main road onto a freeway at breakneck speed and within minutes took me miles away through a series of unappetizing districts, each more drab than the last. Oh well. I had no pressing appointments until 8pm that night so if I ended up halfway across the country I had plenty of time to find my way back. After twenty minutes we turned into the grounds of a college campus. I perked up, figuring at least I could have breakfast in a student cafeteria. But no, dear reader. "CLOSED FOR SPRING BREAK". Of course. I stayed on the bus for another twenty minutes but the vista was unchanging and I figured getting off here was as good as anywhere.
I looked around for a diversion.

I was poised to visit Aurora's creations for a bag or a baptism when I saw a magical vision!!!
Hurrah! Coffee! Toast! Omelette! Then it was just a matter of waiting for a return bus (another 25 minutes standing on the roadside) to take me back to my starting point. Take 2. I retraced my steps, this time hewing a little closer to the river and was confronted with a rather daunting staircase.
leading to a bridge which led God knows where. Was this yet another dead end?
I took the punt and yeee haw!! THIS is more like it!
But what's that I hear? Music? What's that on the road? A head...?
It's the famous Riverside Arts Market!!!

I bought some apples (for some reason I haven't been able to find fruit since I got here) and happily continued along the yellow brick road until I found this gorgeous park.
A right turn took me to Historic Five Points which turned out to be a handful of nice restaurants and a few antique shops but compared to desolate Downtown it was a pleasant way to while away a few minutes.
Then another trek back into town and across the bridge to the hotel to tend to my poor blistered feet and freshen up for the purpose of this entire visit. Yes, folks, it's showtime!
Broadway legends Pamela Myers and Harvey Evans are headlining a special presentation of SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM at Florida's oldest community theatre. So where else would one be on Sondheim's 84th birthday?
I had planned for this trip to be a surprise and just turn up backstage after the show, but to my disappointment one of the theatre staff recognized my name when I picked up my ticket and told Harvey I was out front which threw him into a nervous tizz. Bugger.

But considering the magnitude of the project and the short rehearsal period the entire cast triumphed, especially Harvey recreating moments from his Broadway shows ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and FOLLIES and Pamela's show-stopping "Another Hundred People" from her debut in COMPANY. She also delivered definitive readings of "Send in the Clowns" and a roof raising "I'm Still Here."

The entire gang were due to fly out of Jacksonville at 9 a.m. the next morning (my flight was a civilized midday) but nonetheless we all partied at the bar of their hotel until we were thrown out around 2.15 in the morning. Despite all the twists and turns of the past four days, the whole trip was worth it just to see Harvey's overwhelmed reaction and to spend some quality time with the delicious Ms. Myers.

 I made it safely to the airport the next morning in plenty of time and when our plane was delayed on the tarmac I closed my eyes for a moment and waited for takeoff. When I opened them again it was two and a half hours later and we were landing in New York.