BY FRANK J. RICH
Happily, it is not only bread that rises to meet its destiny. In each is the heart and the sinew to make a difference.
If you’ll allow, Main Street businesses are struggling to find sustenance in an economic rift that is slow to heal. Its perennial competition—national brands and box stores—enjoy soaring equity gains and the advantages in the use of media tools, while local retailers cautiously await their turn after watching both auto and real estate segments rebuild. But the irony in their dongtacular condition is that the path to recovery is available, easy to access, and affordable. It is but to join brands in the use of media tools. (more…)
November 6, 2013 | admin
Panic sets in as the powers that be sense their time is near. (From left) William Parry (as Captain Smith), Jeremy Ellison Gladstone (as Harold Bride), Tom Hewitt (as Thomas Andrews) and Adam Heller (as J. Bruce Ismay). Photo by John Vecchiolla
BY BRUCE APAR
The stage musical Titanic — which ends its acclaimed run Feb. 23 at Westchester Broadway Theater (WBT) — is a see-worthy display of theatrical ingenuity, from the hopeful yet foreboding prologue that senses history of the worst kind in the making, to the chilling yet humanistic climax when passengers literally walk the plank to either survive by lifeboat or perish by drowning. (For ticket information: (914) 592-2222 or www.BroadwayTheatre.com.)
Titanic the Musical is a daring, unconventional work – popular entertainment drawn from a colossal calamity with utmost sensitivity and artistic accomplishment. The Broadway original that opened in 1997 was honored with a boatload of Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Scenic Design. The heart-pulsing stage spectacle of that slowly sinking ship quickly sailed straight into Broadway legend.
That scale is not practical almost anywhere outside of Broadway, but the more suggestive scenic retooling here is effective on its own terse terms, the handiwork of Patrick Rizzotti, Andrew Gmoser and Howard Werner.
If anything, their combined craft brings into sharper relief the story’s heart-breaking preoccupation with the people who populated the phenomenon that floated fleetingly before flailing, failing , then falling.
Weeks after seeing it, the more I muse about Titanic, the more I admire it.
For one, it has the steely resolve to defy the formulaic familiarity of feel-good musicals. Light fare is not in Titanic’s wheelhouse. How could it be? The oceanliner that its maker touted as “unsinkable” did not have the light of day to be forewarned of what fate awaited it in the icy Atlantic. (In Titanic, we meet its maker, White Star Lines’ J. Bruce Ismay, the villain of the piece.) Director Don Stephenson and Musical Director Ian Weinberger steer clear of the maudlin while maintaining a moody ambience that befits the tragic tale.
One of this region’s most seasoned performers, Elise Godfrey, whom I’ve had the privilege of appearing with on stage, said to me after the final curtain of the Titanic performance we both attended, “That’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.” Quite a comment by someone who has seen more shows, on Broadway and beyond, than anyone I know.
Also noteworthy about Titanic is a sort of sea change it signifies in the freshly contemporary repertoire entertaining audiences of late at Westchester Broadway Theater. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, and having mounted to date more than 180 “mainstage” productions, WBT’s enduring enterprise is a testament to Westchester County Business Hall of Famers Bill Stutler and Bob Funking. Their legacy is one of the Hudson Valley’s most appealing and adaptable cultural treasures.
WBT not only presents evergreens like the recent The Sound of Music and Oliver! It also affords suburbanites an affordable dinner-theater package to stay current with Broadway works of recent vintage, including a spectacular In the Heights and family-friendly Big River.
With a generous range of ticket prices to choose from, dinner and show at WBT don’t need to cost too much more than what you’d pay just to park your car in a midtown Manhattan theater district garage.
Next up, Feb. 27-May 4, is a show I always wanted to see and now I can, close to home: the award-winning epic musical Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel set in the Hudson Valley that spans generations. For more info: www.RagtimeWestchester.com.
February 13, 2014 | BruceApar
BRUCE THE BLOG
BY BRUCE APAR
“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Those lyrics from Kenny Rogers’ hit song “The Gambler,” written by Don Schlitz, could be a theme for The Old Guard of White Plains. Now in its 60th year, the august group of retirees, like its members, is still going strong.
Virtually all its members are older than the organization, ranging in age from the 60s to 90s and beyond. A friendly fraternity of 150 male members, The Old Guard holds dear to the passion that “to fold ‘em” is to surrender to the aging process. Their mutual resolve is “to hold ‘em.” (more…)
January 7, 2014 | BruceApar
BY BRUCE APAR
As with all Disney stage shows sired by Disney movies, Mary Poppins faces the challenge of living up to the film classic, in this case live-action, including the iconic movie stars forever linked to their characters. (more…)
June 6, 2014 | BruceApar
BY BRUCE APAR
Do you know David Mamet? You probably do even if you don’t know it. He is a singular American artist who paints words on a cultural canvas that casts light and shadows on our naked faces. He has a soft spot for the underdog, for the ne’er-do-well, for the success story with a hollow soul.
Most would recognize his screen credits, especially The Untouchables. Some would recognize his celebrated plays and films, including American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross.
Mamet’s on my mind because I’m moonlighting, albeit on weekend afternoons, in his 1976 one-act The Water Engine. It is on tour in branches of the Westchester Library system through early May. A schedule of performances, all free of charge, is posted by producer M&M Productions at mmpaci.com under Spring Library Series.
Apart from playing a crooked patent attorney in cahoots with a crooked associate to rob a powerless entrepreneur of the eponymous groundbreaking invention, I’m also a world’s fair barker given to neo-theological pronouncements like “All people are connected” and “No one can call back what one man does.”
Mamet’s message in The Water Engine is a variation on the biblical “the meek shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5). The inventor prevails in the end, though not exactly in storybook fashion, but in patented Mamet mode.
Mamet’s meta message, as it were, is that those who rise up to try and take something of value from those working toward a better world may succeed for a time, but it’s a pyrrhic victory, dripping with the acid of cynicism. Good people and good ideas will find their way to fulfillment, even, if need be, from the grave. (more…)
February 28, 2014 | BruceApar
On July 15th at 7:30pm, All Sport will be having a Zumba Toning class that will be taught by Gina, that is a fundraiser for Dariana Jimison. Dariana is a 15 year old high school student who is fighting stage four Ewing’s Sarcoma. Ewing’s Sarcoma is a pediatric bone cancer that affects 200 children each year in the United States.
Dariana has been facing this challenge with determination and an unbreakable spirit. Zumba Toning combines target body-sculpting and high energy cardio infused with Latin moves that work out every muscle. $15 is the suggested donation, all donations collected are going towards Dariana’s medical expenses. Members and non-members are welcome. Sign up at All Sport Health & Fitness in the village of Fishkill, www.allsportfishkill.com (845) 896-5678.
July 12, 2013 | admin
The Kent Public Library will host Zumba Gold Chair on select Saturdays in the fall, starting September 19th from 10:00-10:45. Zumba Gold Chair is a fun Latin-inspired dance/fitness program which includes exciting Latin and international dance rhythms such as the Merengue, Salsa, Cha Cha, Cumbia, etc., as well as Oldies and Pop Tunes. This program is great for anyone who may have physical limitations and/or does not feel comfortable in a standing class. Special consideration is given to ease of movement, mobility and range of motion. Please wear comfortable clothing and sneakers and be sure to bring a water bottle. Before you start any exercise program, it is recommended that you check with your physician. Join the Party! This class is taught by Theresa, a licensed Zumba Instructor, Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Aquatic Fitness Professional. Space is limited. Registration is required. You may register for the program by going to www.kentlibrary.org or calling the Kent Public Library at 845-225-8585. The library is located at 17 Sybil’s Crossing, Kent Lakes, NY 10512.
September 2, 2015 | admin