Stuff to Do

Where to Watch the TONYS in Manhattan on Sunday

Last year I was fortunate to attend the TONY Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This year I’ll join my fellow Broadway fans at two special TONY viewing parties happening in Manhattan on Sunday.

Both are fabulous ways to kick off this theater-filled evening with drinks, bites, and some entertainment prior to and during the event. The 71st telecast of the TONY events is scheduled for 8pm.

Just around the corner from Radio City Music Hall, where the TONYs are being hosted by Kevin Spacey, Ocean Prime New York is holding a party in the Lounge starting at 7:30pm.

Photography courtesy of ICRAVE

The restaurant’s runway-ready TONY Awards cocktail menu is perfect for the occasion.  Select a drink according to your predictions for each category. How about a 21st-century East European influenced “Natasha, Pierre & the Ruby Comet of 1812,” made with fresh ruby red grapefruit, Finlandia grapefruit vodka, and lemon?

Or the delicate but edgy “Dear Evan Hansen Margarita,” a mix of Don Julio blanco tequila, elderflower, ruby red grapefruit and agave nectar.

Both would make a nice prelude and encore with their base of ruby red grapefruit. And both honor two serious contenders for Best Musical. When it’s time to celebrate the winners, the dramatic “Berries and Bubbles” cocktail in a Champagne glass is as festive as it gets. Get your video camera ready!

When you arrive, fill out an awards ballot with your Broadway predictions, and you just might win a $150 gift card to the restaurant.  No reservations are required.  Ocean Prime New York, 123 West 52nd Street. https://www.ocean-prime.com/locations/new-york-city

Broadway meets cabaret at the Yotel Hotel, at the edge of the Theater Row. The Green Room 42 cabaret will be throwing their own TONY viewing party bash, substituting purple lights for the red carpet. Hosted by Broadway “personality” Lesli Margherita (Dames at Sea, Matilda the Musical, Man of La Mancha) along with Lauren Molina of The Skivvies, the party here starts one hour earlier at 6:30pm. For $99, you get an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres (burger sliders, falafel bites, tomato & mozzarella, and more) and entertainment by Ms. Margherita and Ms. Molina.  Pre-show and commercial break entertainment will also include contests, prizes and theater fun. With these two ladies, you can expect a truly outrageous evening! Tickets: www.thegreenroom42.com. A full dinner menu is also available, a la carte. 570 Tenth Avenue.

Enjoy an Outdoor Broadway Concert FREE – June 2, “Stars in the Alley”

Theater lovers, it’s time for one of my favorite Broadwa experiences , STARS IN THE ALLEY®, a showpiece of what’s currently playing on the Great White Way, held one week before the Tony Awards® for the 2016-2017 season. Scheduled on Friday, June 2, Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the current Broadway season, and you get to see a sampler of songs and performances from nearly two dozen shows, all FREE. A 12-piece live orchestra accompanies. Given the price of theater tickets, this is a show you don’t want to miss.  #StarsInTheAlley

Heather Hedley and the cast of The Color Purple at Stars in the Alley 2016. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock,” Guys and Dolls, The Little Mermaid and much more) is the host of this year’s outdoor concert, scheduled rain or shine on June 2, at 1 PM in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. Come early for the best seats.

The show is produced by the Broadway League and sponsored by United Airlines.

Crowd at Stars in the Alley 2016 (bottom). Photos by Jeremy Daniel

How many of these shows, scheduled to appear, have you seen? Now’s your chance!

Musicals:

Aladdin

Anastasia

Bandstand

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

A Bronx Tale

Cats

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Chicago

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day the Musical

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

The Phantom of the Opera

School of Rock the Musical

Sunset Boulevard

Waitress

Wicked

Plus star appearances from:

Jitney

The Little Foxes

The Play That Goes Wrong

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Sweat

War Paint

Visit broadway.org for more information.

Hungry after the show? Stop by Juniors, right next door, for a pastrami on rye or a slice of strawberry cheesecake.

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.

The Green Room 42 Invites You for Cabaret and More – New in the Theater District

I have a new favorite place to watch cabaret, Broadway tunes, and all manner of musical entertainment. And it’s all in an intimate yet spacious setting in a hotel, at the edge of the Theater District. The Green Room 42 has given New York City a new option when it comes to great entertainment and dining in a cool setting. Brought to you by Broadway lovers who have analyzed how to create a better burger (you’ll see what I mean later), and, in this case, a better cabaret venue, the Green Room 42 shines with a purple glow with a stage and acoustics just right for a night of song.

On any given night the headliner might be Alice Ripley of Next to Normal and Sideshow fame singing her favorite ballads, or Lillias White of Fela!, The Life, Dreamgirls.  Or maybe it’s the entire cast of Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 led by Josh Groban, singing their favorite Broadway and non-Broadway chansons.

Sunday’s bottomless brunch has been host to the Skivvies, the duo who saucily perform a tuneful medley wearing nothing but their lingerie and tighty whities. The menu for both tunes and food is equally evocative.  Think “Out of the Boxers,” a falafel waffle with poached egg, tahini and bacon; and “The Package,” with pita-baked beef, egg salad, tomato coulis and pickles.

But here’s the best part. Well, maybe the second best part. There’s actually no food and beverage minimum at The Green Room 42. Come for the show, grab a drink, have a bite. Do it all or do none of it. This is your evening to enjoy a show as you see fit. Show tickets are reasonable, as well, starting at $15.

On the docket are a Tony’s viewing party on June 11, with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres and entertainment; the music of Nine on May 29; “At This Performance,” a show with Broadway understudies and standbys taking the lead on July 10, and “The New Peggy,” a new musical in concert on July 16 among others. Check the schedule for additions.

But if had my druthers, I’d always come to dine as well.  The Green Room 42 serves dinner nightly (in addition to brunch), helmed by Green Fig’s Chef Gabriel Israel (who is also responsible for the cool graffiti art adorning the walls at the banquettes). Try their offbeat schnitzel burger, with a fried chicken cutlet in place of a traditional hamburger patty, slathered with homemade BBQ sauce and topped with a tangy cranberry-Brussel sprout slaw (now you know what I mean by “a better burger”), shareable items like greenroom mushrooms, falafel bites and tuna tartare; or larger plates including steak frites and Tajin baked beef kebab. A creative cocktail menu is offered along with beer and wine.

You can reserve your tickets at http://www.greenfignyc.com/thegreenroom42 , 570 10th Avenue, 4th floor, Yotel hotel, 646-449-7792.

Last Chance to see “Cagney” Off-Broadway — Closes May 28

You might have forgotten that James Cagney started off in Vaudeville as a song-and-dance man. It was later in life that he developed his “tough guy” persona, becoming one of the Hollywood’s top actors. And you might not even remember some of the songs that made him famous like pretty much everything that George M. Cohan wrote.

You have one more month to see Cagney the Musical, the off-Broadway musical that’s as much a powerhouse as James Cagney was.  Played by Robert Creighton, a Cagney lookalike with matching bravado and appearance, James Cagney dominates the stage as he takes on role after role starting as a chorus girl and rising to the top of the Broadway Vaudeville and Hollywood film scenes. Everyone tap dances in this show, not surprisingly, and it’s wondrous to see this dance form on the stage.  You know the songs: “Give My Regards to Broadway, ““You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Now you’ll also learn about how this spunky kid from New York City’s Lower East Side won the hearts of the stage and film world too.  The show which chronicles Cagney’s involvement with Warner Brothers over the years and includes both the classic Cohan tunes as well as original music.  Westside Theatre (upstairs), 407 West 43rd Street, Manhattan. For tickets, cagneythemusical.com, 212-239-6200.  https://youtu.be/7s0j_wSwl5w

Joe’s Pub Presents a Musical Program of Diversity and Hope — May 23 and 24

At a time when both the arts and diversity come under fire, Joe’s Pub has scheduled an event designed to elicit hope and humanity. On May 23 and 24 at 7pm, performer Migguel Anggelo presents his new show, So Close: Love & Hate at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Manhattan. The show is designed to break barriers on the American stage showcasing works reflective of the multicultural, multilingual, changing dedemographics of our country and times. Migguel Anggelo is a Brooklyn-based performance artist and singer who was born in Venezuela.

Joe’s Pub, part of the Public Theater complex, long a forerunner and ongoing proponent of innovative and compelling theatrical and musical performances, presents this show addressing divisiveness, humanity and hope. Migguel is no stranger to Joe’s Pub. In the past few years, he has presented critically acclaimed shows like I, Immigrant, Between Dreams and Another Son of Venezuela at the iconic venue which Migguel has described as a second home. But unlike his previous productions, So Close: Love & Hate will be a very intimate show. Accompanied by just three musicians rather than his full band, The Immigrants, Migguel will present a rich song cycle including an array of new compositions punctuated by Latin classics, American standards, Broadway, opera and Bjork. The new show is directed and developed by Obie Award winner David Drake (best known as the creator of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me) under the musical direction and arrangements of Mau Quiros.

Hailed by critics as “a dynamic treat” and a mixture of “Mambo meets Andy Kaufman spiced with a pinch of Michael Bublé,” Migguel has taken cues from Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Leguizamo and Cesar Alvarez, using his performances as a vehicle to promote diversity within the theater community. Through music-theater, Anggelo explores issues of heritage, identity, tradition, language and more as a first-generation Latino immigrant, all with the goal of holding a mirror for those that don’t find their story represented on the stage.

Tickets are only $20.  Call 212.967.7555 to order by phone. A full dinner menu is offered.  There is a $12 food or two-drink minimum per person. To learn more, visit https://goo.gl/g25Umi

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