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Two exciting exhibits are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The first, “Play It Loud” is a must-see for anyone who fancies himself or herself a rock ‘n roll fan. The exhibit consists of rooms and rooms tracing the history of iconic instruments of rock ‘n roll from 1939-2017 with many used by musicians like Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett and Lady Gaga. While there are more than 130 instruments on display, the exhibit is not surprisingly guitar-heavy.

If you’ve been curious about the origin of the electric guitar, the evolution of Stratocasters, and other guitar paraphernalia, the exhibit gives you more information than you’ve probably ever imagined. It’s all an interesting path through one of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century, and the videos with explanations of the power of guitar work and music by Keith Richards and Eddie van Halen add some real-life star power to the show.

Music plays in each room, illustrating the time period shown. In the first room, you’ll need to pause a moment to take in the actual Beatles drum set and guitars dating from 1963, a powerful trip down memory lane. Many of the display items representing instruments from more than 80 musicians are on loan from notables like Paul McCartney, so it’s a rare chance to see these up close.

There’s a lot more than guitars, although the guitars on display are pretty fabulous. You’ll see costumes worn by Prince and Jimmy Page. There’s a sculpture made from pieces of the smashed remnants of Pete Townshend’s electric guitars, the purpose-built multi-neck guitars of Don Felder and Jimmy Page, a Moog synthesizer customized by Keith Emerson along with his electric tone-wheel organ, an electric piano, and the pianos played by Lady Gaga on the Jimmy Fallon Show and a vintage gold-painted one played by Jerry Lee Lewis. Design fans will love the psychedelic hand-painted guitar from Keith Richards who admits to have painted it while high, St. Vincent’s personally designed guitar, Bo Didley’s red “Twang Machine,” the drums from Keith Moon’s colorful “Pictures of Lily” drum set and Jimi Hendrix’s notable “Love Drops” electric Gibson. Concert fans have a treat in store. The room of vintage concert posters spans the globe. It’s almost inconceivable to note that the Rolling Stones played at Carnegie Hall and tickets cost a mere $3.50. Or that there was a concert with a lineup of The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rascals, all together at Flushing Meadow Park, again for only $3.50 per ticket.

And, of course, there’s a room with footage of a variety of important concerts where you’ll want to soak in the atmosphere and stay and watch multiple times.

A special MetFriday evening celebrating rock and roll will include performances, talks, lectures, screening and workshops on September 13. Organized by The Met Museum’s Department of Musical Instruments and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Play It Loud” is the first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to iconic instruments of rock and roll. “Play It Loud” runs through October 1. #MetRockandRoll.

Before you leave the museum, head up to the Cantor Roof Garden where the new outdoor installation has just been unveiled. Named ParaPivot I and II, the massive dual pieces were designed by Alicja Kwade, a well-known artist from Berlin who exhibits regularly at Gallery 303 in New York City and has shown at exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale.

Set against the backdrop of Central Park and Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Central Park South and Central Park West skyline, the site-specific sculpture makes a dramatic setting for a day or evening out, particularly in the warmer months when the roof turns into a cocktail party in the evening.

As described by the artist herself, the installation is a consideration of the world, noting how “it’s amazing that we are a full world spinning on a ball.” Thinking about that, she added nine spheres as key elements to her powder-coated steel frames. The frames intersect at oblique angles, creating transparent boxes through which you can contemplate the world as well as the New York cityscape beyond. The placement of the massive globes on the frames gives the impression of looking at the orbital pathways of the globe.

You have until October 27 to take a look.

Slow Down and Smell the Orchids at the New York Botanical Gardens This Week. Then Enjoy an Evening of Food, Drink, Dance and Music

The Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden is in full bloom with its daffodils, azaleas and tulips. But it’s the Garden’s exotic orchid show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its after-dark program, “Orchid Evenings” that add a special something to programming this spring. This year’s orchid show with its thousands of delicate orchids is a tribute to Singapore, the “City in a Garden” where orchids are a vital part of the culture and landscape. Orchids from Singapore as well as from the Bronx collection are on display in full dazzling colors and shapes.

There’s still one more week to enjoy the beauty of these Singaporean orchids and indulge in a fun evening reminiscent of Asian night markets. Dancers, live DJs and outdoor food and drink vendors are as enticing as the flowers. Plan your timing so that you can explore the gardens outdoors by day, enjoy the orchids in their indoor setting as dusk falls, and then indulge in the outdoor fun that will have you smiling until late. You can also reserve an early-evening table at the Hudson Garden Grill (last reservation is at 5:30pm).

The show was developed in partnership with Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. Some of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ signature Arches make their appearance here in specially designed versions, adorned with thousands of orchids and other tropical flowers. Gardens by the Sea has contributed their Supertrees, amazing vertical shapes dripping with orchids of all colors created especially for the New York Botanical Garden. The trees have another function as well; they are embedded with photovoltaic cells that harvest solar energy, not as important within the confines of the Conservatory in the Bronx but important in Singapore.

Tickets can be purchased online for either day entry to see the orchids or for the full evening experience.

Evening tickets are available for the weekend fun, with entry times at 7pm, 7:30pm or 8pm, on April 26 and 27. No one under 21 is allowed.

2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, 718-817-8700

https://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/

Celebrate Bastille Day and the World Cup Final at the Same Time This Weekend

The Fourth of July is over but we can celebrate another Independence Day with some great restaurant choices in Manhattan.  Even better, you can celebrate this “day” for an extended period while partying or dining out a la francaise.

Bastille Day, July 14, commemorates the fall of the French monarchy and celebrates the storming of the Bastille in Paris in 1789.

An annual celebration is the fête populaire thrown by the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF), the largest public celebration of France’s Independence Day in New York France’s historic friendship with the United States.

The festival, a three-block all-day affair, is popular among New Yorkers of all ages, with French cuisine, music, dance and other family-friendly attractions.

The Bastille Day celebration takes place on July 15, 2018 on East 60th Street from 5th Avenue to Lexington Avenue, and is a block party extraordinaire. Starting at 11am, there will be a live screening of the World Cup Final, following by a “Summer in the South of France” tasting starting at noon, along with a French-themed market, kids’ corner and musical performances. At 1:30 and 3:30pm, you can toast to everything French with a Champagne and jazz party. And, if you’re feeling especially lucky, enter to with trips to Paris and Martinique with a prize drawing to be held at 5pm.

If you’re still hungry, several of the city’s French restaurants including Bar Boulud https://www.barboulud.com/nyc/cd-slideshow/bastille-day (with live music, can can dancers and a caricature artist),

Claudette claudettenyc.com/ and Bar Tabac offer special Bastille Day menus. Additionally, on July 15 from 10am-8pm, Bar Tabac joins other establishments on Smith Street in Brooklyn for their annual Petanque Tournament and Smith Street Provence Festival www.bartabacny.com/bastille-day.

Another of my favorites, Paname French Restaurant www.panamenyc.com, is in easy walking distance from the FIAF fete.

Paname French Restaurant’s Bastille Day Menu features a three-course prix fixe selection for only $43 per person. The restaurant, helmed by owner/chef Bernard Ros, is mostly bistro in sensibility, but with a modern eclectic flair. Here you’ll enjoy an appetizer, a main and dessert with selections including escargot de Bourgogne, petites tomates fromage blanc, potage de legumes salade verte balsamic a l’huile d’olive, salade de betterave crabe cake remoulade, boudin noir, or portobello au fromage to start. Then choose from poitrine de poulet, pasta aux crevettes, porc aux champignons sauvages, cod fish aux herbes de Provence, filet of sole, crevettes aux curry, steak sauce bordelaise as your main, and a dessert. Bon appetit! www.panamenyc.com

You will definitely want to start off you day hungry.

Catch the Leading Ladies on Broadway Before the TONY Awards – Sunset Boulevard, War Paint, Hello Dolly!, The Little Foxes

It’s countdown time to the Tony’s. This year it’s a diva dash and you can still catch most of the leading ladies who have graced the Broadway stages this season, albeit most in limited runs.

First, the play ladies. Sally Field has been nominated as Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Amanda Wingfield in the highly touted re-imagining of The Glass Menagerie. Sadly, the show’s lack of overall nominations forced a closing six weeks earlier than planned. You’ll have to wait for the next revival of this Tennessee Williams classic or, perhaps, for a future tour with Sally (we can only hope).

Not to worry. There’s still much female power that shouldn’t be missed. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are the chameleon actresses in The Little Foxes exchanging roles every other night. In an interesting twist, Ms. Linney has been nominated as Leading Actress for her turn as Regina, while Ms. Nixon received the nod for Featured Actress as Birdie. The Lillian Hellman play, nominated for Best Revival of a Play, closes on July 2. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street , 212-239-6200.

The big diva story, however, lies with the musicals.

Bette Midler is an instant hit, and a Leading Lady nominee, as meddling matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levy in the Tony-nominated revival of Jerry Herman’s and Michael Stewart’s masterpiece Hello Dolly! (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200). Pitted against each other, Patti Lupine and Christine Ebersole create a bravura War Paint dance at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street, 877-250-2929) as cosmetics industry titans, with both ladies nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

It’s a shame we don’t have the opportunity to award Glenn Close another Tony – she isn’t eligible for her reprise as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard because she’s already won a Tony for that role. It’s also a shame that the category of musical revivals was reduced to only three contenders this year, thus also closing out the show from another potential award.

Nonetheless, Sunset Boulevard is a musical that you should not miss, and don’t let a non-appearance on the Tony Awards roster nor on the stage of Radio City Music Hall on June 11 deter you. Ms. Desmond’s non-acceptance of her relevance as an aging silent-screen actress spiraling out of control is a powerful story that evokes admiration and pity. Think Follies meets Grey Gardens. It’s a privilege to watch Glenn Close take on the same role she played 20 years ago in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tour de force, this time with a maturity and presence even more in keeping with the story line. The songs strike with pathos and stay with you long after the curtain falls. Grab any ticket you can; the end date is June 25. You can even buy a keepsake to remind you of this glorious musical evening, a beautiful replica of Norma Desmond’s jewelry specially curated for the show. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th St., 877-250-2929.

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