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Expect to be delighted and outraged by our incisive and sprawling coverage of culture and arts.

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    2016-10-28-1477617441-3364201-IMG_4100.jpg

    Nick Cave, Until, Mass MoCA

    There is nothing so sweet as combining nature and art.

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    Rearview of new-ish Tadao Ando reflecting pool, Clark Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass

    The last time I wrote about this magical elixir was when Creative Time took over the north end of Central Park in a site specific installation of dancers, sculpture and sailboats.

    2016-10-28-1477615888-186944-IMG_4099.jpg

    Nick Cave, Until, Mass MoCA

    Last week I had the chance for a day trip to the Berkshires and was able to peep at leaves and at the work of two artists who held their own with colors that popped at Mass Moca --always a dramatic destination--with Nick Cave and Alex Da Corte strutting their stuff.

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    Alex Da Corte, Free Roses, Mass MoCA,


    The museum is a veritable funhouse of fall color easily rivaling the reds, yellows, oranges and greens you can spy through the oversize windows.

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    Nick Cave, Until

    Cave installed a number of site specific pieces that will take you through a forest of ornaments on your way to a cloud topping Wunderkammer of found objects, ceramics and the contents of his own crazy closet mind reached only by yellow ladders, through woven beads of brightness on your way to a mylar waterfall of pom poms.

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    Nick Cave, Until

    Cave--erstwhile grand puppeteer-- offers these pieces as a reaction to racism and racial profiling, specifically in response to the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" and in solidarity with the stop-and-shoot cases in the news. But you will not necessarily take that more didactic lesson away from this exhibition Until without my telling you. What one gets in the giant gallery is awe at his imagination and his craft.

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    Nick Cave, Until

    Yet Cave hopes it's a change agent as an event space inciting conversation about race as it travels to Australia and the Crystal Bridges Museum (funded by a Walmart heiress--where they could really use some shaking up. Or possibly a line designed by Nick Cave.)


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    Nick Cave, Until

    Alex Da Corte is someone I discovered when he took over the Luxembourg and Dayan gallery in Manhattan. In fact I found that smaller venue gave him a tighter focus that I preferred in his zany, décor-meets-art practice.

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    Alex Da Corte, Free Roses


    Still, he has a wild and witty approach to the world I find engaging in Free Roses, so called after a fantasy stimulated by a flower seller near his home in Philadelphia. Also riffing on found objects juxtaposed with items integral to daily living, Da Corte remixes, restages, begs, borrows and steals his way through suburbia using carpeting (a favorite element of his), lighting, swans and dogs on tracks, everything you might want in the dwelling of your mind, in Disneyland or as I prefer, in Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete, decorative elements that have a way of coming to life when you least expect it.

    2016-10-28-1477616566-2954204-IMG_4104.jpg

    Alex Da Corte, Free Roses

    I don't want to spoil your experience of these two giant installations, like a good mystery story, I don't want to give away the ending. Or the beginning.

    I'm not sure where these two artists go from here. Mass MoCA is a very big space and accommodates their grand visions well. But I know it must be fun to be them. I hope they know each other. If not, that would be a jolly meeting to attend. Meanwhile, we (and our children) have the juicy fruits of their fertile minds.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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  • 10/28/16--06:13: Capitalism and Pleasure
  • 2016-10-28-1477660040-3722237-466pxAdam_Smith_The_Muir_portrait.jpg
    Is capitalism based on the deferral of pleasure? This was an issue that Max Weber was dealing with in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. If you believe in predestination which was one of the tenets of Protestantism than the difference between the saved and the damned would be demonstrated by their adherence to values of frugality and saving. But forget the religion, if you're a true capitalist you expend effort in order to build your wealth. Those who believe in seizing the day (carpe diem) indulge the pleasure principle at the expense of their principal. While the sybarite might, with his or her Dionysian spirit, delight in wine, woman and song, the capitalist who's more reason bound and Apollonian, to invoke Nietzsche's famous duality, actually experiences pain at the loss of his potential wealth. The outflow of capital registers as a diminution of spirit. The anorexia of Kafka's Hungerkunstler (Hunger Artist) is a perversion of the Protestant ethic. It's capitalism in extremis to the extent that self-deprivation eventually leads to suicide. The legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin pointed out that self-sacrifice is no longer a form of good if it results in doing harm to the self. So it is with the emetic notion of grace. A true capitalist is not an anorexic since his deferral of pleasure is predicated on the notion of future bliss. While the capitalist defers pleasure, he or she does so in the spirit of anticipation. However, the pleasure that results is more like gestation to the extent that by saving he or she derives satisfaction not from the possibilities of enjoying what money can buy, but in seeing his or her nest egg grow.














    portrait of Adam Smith (Scottish National Gallery, Given by J.H.. Romanes 1945)






    {This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    2016-10-26-1477506869-8975937-halloween.jpg

    By Don Adkins, ZEALnyc Managing Editor, October 28, 2016

    It's that time of year again. Halloween has become a huge holiday, at least here in NYC. On Monday New York City will host the 43rd annual Halloween Parade, which has grown substantially over the years from what was basically a neighborhood affair, to a full-fledged "parade" with floats and marching bands--it's even broadcast on NY1! More and more front yards and brownstone stoops boast seasonal displays to borderline haunted houses (or yards) when space permits. In keeping with the ghoulish holiday spirit, we at ZEALnyc wanted to let you know some of your options for celebrating this year. Read more below--if you dare!

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    New York City Annual Halloween Parade


    On October 31st 50,000 ghouls will parade up Sixth Avenue--donned in some of the city's scariest, most inventive and most hilarious costumes (there are sure to be some politically-themed ones in honor of the upcoming election), along with numerous live bands complementing the revelry. Show up with a creative costume of your own and join the parade (note: a costume is required to march), or be a "spooktator" and enjoy the spectacle from the sidelines. Marchers line up on Sixth Avenue between Canal and Spring Streets. The parade gets rolling at 7pm and heads north up Sixth Avenue to 16th Street. For more info on watching or participating, visit halloween-nyc.com.

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    Theater for the New City's 40th Annual Halloween Costume Ball


    Nonstop theater, a costume competition and ballroom dancing will bewitch the East Village in Theater for the New City's 40th annual Village Halloween Costume Ball on Monday, October 31 at TNC, 155 First Avenue. This unique festival continues as a grand coming-together for real witches, everyday New Yorkers and artists alike. The one-night fiesta takes over all four of TNC's theater spaces, plus its lobby and the block of East Tenth Street between First and Second Avenues. Customarily over 1,500 wildly-clad celebrants gather for dancing, dining, showing off costumes and viewing acts from the cutting-edge of Cabaret and Theater. Admission is $20; costume or formal wear is required. Once inside, everything is free except food and drink, which are graveyard dirt-cheap. Info/ticketing: theaterforthenewcity.net.

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    Heartbeat Opera's Drag Extravaganza
    'Queens of the Night: Mozart in Space'


    Heartbeat Opera--the daring young company whose unconventional orchestrations and stagings of classic operas have been called "a radical endeavor" by Alex Ross in The New Yorker--launches its third season on October 31, 2016 at the new music venue National Sawdust with Heartbeat's Annual Benefit Drag Extravaganza, this year titled Queens of the Night: Mozart in Space. Two performances take place at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

    Co-Artistic Directors Ethan Heard and Louisa Proske and Co-Music Directors Daniel Schlosberg and Jacob Ashworth, graduates of the Yale School of Drama and Yale School of Music, will create an hour-long show combining Mozart's most beloved music, taking the audience on an adventure through the galaxy with their signature blend of eye-popping spectacle, gender-bending mischief, and musical mastery. Audiences can expect drinks, raffle prizes, a costume contest, and outrageous encounters with aliens, astronauts, and the cosmic Queen of the Night. For more info: heartbeatopera.org

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    Halloween Edition of York Theater's 'Tune in Time' Game Show


    Tune in Time launches in October with an installment that celebrates the horror musical genre, featuring a panel of judges from spooky musicals like Bat Boy, Little Shop of Horrors, and all things vampire. Songwriters include three returning players--champion Landon Braverman (Queen of the West), his writing partner Derek P. Hassler (The White Rose), and Jimmy Fisher (Lasagna Mañana), with newcomers Gretchen Midgley (Wendy), Erin Murray Quinlan (Hemingway's Wife), and Meghan Rose (HELD, A Musical Fantasy). Two-time Tune in Time player Clare Cooper subs as Music Director. The eerie judges' panel will include Lee Wilkof (the original "Seymour" in Little Shop of Horrors) and two other scary judges to be announced. Bring your best costume--or your worst!--and join the freaky fun on Monday, October 31, 2016 at 7:00 p.m; tickets are $20. For more info: yorktheatre.org

    2016-10-26-1477507757-6562600-bloodwm00156711.jpg

    Blood Manor, NYC's Premiere Haunted Attraction


    If it takes more than a few cobwebs and creaking boards to send a chill down your spine, then you should investigate Blood Manor. It has taken the "haunted house" concept and elevated it to an art form. So if you think you're up for it, check it out (at your own risk!). For more info: bloodmanor.com

    2016-10-26-1477507937-9135714-RISEHistoricHudsonValley04.jpg
    RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns


    To help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" you might want to check out what is probably the largest and most extensive display of carved pumpkins imaginable. The organization has branched out and has locations in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Los Angeles. They are partnering with Disney for the third year in a row to also create some of the iconic Disney images in pumpkins (the pictures of Finding Dory pumpkins are amazing!). For more info: therise.org.

    2016-10-26-1477508052-5472361-LincolnCenterLCKidsHalloweeneventcopy.jpg
    Lincoln Center's Annual Kids Trick-or-Treat Event


    If you're looking for an event for your 'smaller goblins,' Lincoln Center once again welcomes costumed kids and families for a festive Halloween celebration. Hosted by the LC Kids program, the all-ages event will feature trick-or-treating around the cultural campus, a parade to live music, a haunted scavenger hunt, a David Bowie tribute concert and dance party, and a number of additional free activities to delight all ages. Last year's inaugural Trick-or-Treat event welcomed more than 10,000 people to Lincoln Center, marking it as a destination for families and children of all ages to celebrate Halloween--featuring a costume parade, activities, a scavenger "haunt," performances, storytime, and more. This FREE event takes place on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 11:00 am. For more info click here.
    __________________________________

    Don Adkins, ZEALnyc's Managing Editor writes on arts, cultural and lifestyle events.

    More from ZEALnyc below:

    Halloween Costume Challenged? Here are a few budget-conscious ideas...

    If the 'rat race' is getting to you, then why not run one--of the 'marathon' kind

    Review: 'Puffs' Leaves Muggles Laughing In Their Seats

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    8 so far ^^^















    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    2016-10-28-1477669751-3038233-MyUrgeInTheIcebox.60x48.2007.jpg


    A long gray curtain barely touches
    The thinly laid white velvet carpet.
    Both are bathed in the in-between:
    Early dawn's half light,
    An unearthly, ethereal cyanotic hue.

    I am taken, and I am left, breathless
    Where all I can do is think of you.
    There is a frost, a chill that is familiar.
    It glances, then pierces the skin of my heart.

    The frigid feeling is not the January morn,
    Rather, it is the icy fingertips of longing,
    Reaching out to a desperate future
    To a time that I know will never come.

    No matter how high in the hearth the fire burns,
    Nor layers of blankets, nor warmth of my bedclothes
    I cannot stifle the shivering of this coldness,
    No more than I can stop the quaking sobs
    Of my despairing sense of losing you.

    Now, I shall finally fall fast asleep,
    To awaken not within your embrace, but alone.
    Oh, save me from this frozen death of my soul,
    Or free me to seek shelter in sensual illusion.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    I'll never forget the first time I crossed our American national border and what an eye-opening experience it was: a trip through Mexico and into Central America, with revelations of vivid new people, languages, and traditions that lay beyond the confines of this young traveler's own small tribe.

    I've since traveled farther afield; and while the knowledge I've gleaned from these pilgrimages is precious indeed, none can quite compare to the moment of wonder the first time I ascended in an airplane and peered out the window--not merely crossing a border, but seeing beyond them all. I kicked myself for being so impressed by the obvious lack of dotted lines around our neatly-divided world. Astronaut Cady Coleman describes a similar feeling of awe when looking at the Earth from space: "After living in space, it's actually hard for me to feel that I'm the citizen of one country."

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    We don't need to be astronauts to have such a profound experience that alters the way we relate to the world and our place within it. For me, it has always been music which most surely summons a sense of wonder and appreciation for the incredible variety of human expression. I thirsted for a project through which I could engage this same diversity--but it seemed like too big a tale to tell on my own, and too great a journey to make without companions.

    Then in early 2013, what seemed at first like a distant mirage had gained more clarity and presence. As composer for the Chicago-based chamber music organization Fifth House Ensemble, I found myself for the first time among musicians who wanted to use our talents to accomplish something more than simply presenting music as a kind of museum experience. Founded in 2005 by flutist and Executive Director Melissa Snoza, the ensemble's mission has been to build on the collaborative power of chamber music in engaging artists of other disciplines, educational institutions, and underserved communities through music presented at the very highest level. Fifth House Ensemble is all about reaching beyond the traditional perceived borders of what classical music can be, so perhaps it's only natural that we soon found ourselves talking with the globetrotting folk band, Baladino. And that's when we formed the first inkling of an idea that would grow to become our new album Nedudim, released earlier this year on Cedille Records.

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    Rooted in the rich traditions of Middle Eastern, European, and American folk music, Nedudim is a celebration of music that transcends borders and merges ancient and modern instruments--with arrangements that place classical mainstays such as violin, flute, and piano alongside the shofar (ram's horn), oud, didgeridoo, and many others from all across the map. Baladino originally hails from Tel Aviv and while many Americans might be most familiar with Orthodox Klezmer music, it's the Mediterranean-tinged wanderings of the Sephardic Jews and their ancient melodies that inspire the band's thoroughly modern, virtuosic interpretations. Baladino often performs in parts of the Middle East where they do not feel especially welcome due to complex cultural politics, so the idea of home as an inner place--and one's musical identity--pushed our explorations further.

    The inspiration behind Nedudim (Hebrew for "wanderings") began with a simple question: what is your earliest musical memory?

    Through a co-creation process with a diverse group of cultural partners across Chicago representing Israel, Spain, Iran, and India, we met with our future audiences and shared our most personal formative memories. Along the way, we were thrilled to affirm the power of music in forming our sense of identity, and also impressed by how every culture's music plays a crucial role in marking the most important life events from birth, marriage, and the passing of loved ones. In sharing our stories we came to see how our diverse tellings and traditions are different ways of inflecting the timeless stories that connect us all, more so than we often appreciate. By engaging our audiences through these sessions, their musical memories led us all across the map, each step of the journey music as an indelible part of cultural identity.

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    The resulting album reflects the same process of musical and cultural inquiry, featuring music chosen by each musician that reflects a cherished musical experience--from my new arrangement of Robert Beaser's old American mountain song "He's Gone Away" that restores the original lyrics, to West Coast composer Ken Benshoof's Traveling Music reimagined as a musical journey through a menagerie of exotic instruments. Some of the most exciting musical moments resulted from familiar traditions colliding in unexpected ways, as in the album's funky Greek Blues and a version of my fiddle-driven Black Bend, where folk and bluegrass licks play off of Persian-influenced improvisation.

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    Much of the source material may be foreign to Western ears, yet at the same time it is not esoteric but representative of each home culture's mainstays. Take for example Baladino vocalist Yael Badash's earliest musical memory of the lullaby "Durme Durme" that frames my composition Native Tongues: it's hard to find a Jewish lullaby collection that doesn't include some version this song that accompanied Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain and dispersing into exile communities in North Africa, the Balkans, and North America. The words are touchingly direct, "Sleep my little one. Sleep without worry or pain." Soon the music meanders to other musical memories, both literal quotations of cherished melodies and my evocations of stories and situations--the sound of sirens, the hiss of a tea kettle, and a host other melodies and memories collected from our community sharing sessions.



    Native Tongues features so many references to different musical styles that a lot of the fun came in composing the transitions that morph the melody from the sound of one culture into that of another by playing with the "connective tissue" or point of similarity between seemingly unrelated tunes. It's a vivid way to show off the hidden relationships among joyous outbursts of different source material, and for our listeners to hear important part of their own experiences reflected back in the work we created together.

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    Just as my view of Earth was transformed by achieving an elevated view of the whole, I feel like my musical world--and my view of classical music--will never be the same after working on Nedudim. In this case, we achieved a musical work that is reflective of the communities it aimed to serve, and many of our partner cultural organizations have gone on to collaborate with Fifth House Ensemble on additional projects. We were thrilled to work with GRAMMY-winning producer Steven Rodby on this album and here he offers a closing peak at what made the journey together truly such a source of enlightenment:



    Our hope is that listeners might experience Nedudim as an intimate gathering of musical friends, the kind of music we make with our own families. This is music that we make from scratch, slowly, with ingredients both familiar and unexpected - music with deep roots that sustains us, for more than a moment. When we share our music, we end up sharing the truest and most vulnerable parts of ourselves, which in a world increasingly marked by xenophobia and conflict might be the most subversive act of all.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    London--Comparisons might be odious, but Kenneth Branagh invites them. Over several decades he's assumed classic roles associated with Laurence Olivier. His Henry V and Hamlet were unquestionably Olivier-worthy. Now, however, he's playing Archie Rice (for another two weeks) in John Osborne's The Entertainer, at the Garrick and as the conclusion to his Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company year.

    It could be argued that Archie Rice was the great performance of Olivier's later career. I'd certainly make that argument vigorously. As the aging music hall performer, Olivier--frequently at his best when playing a ham (watch him in Sleuth, for instance--pulled out every last stop. His Archie Rice was someone far past his prime, a prime that probably was not much of a prime anyway. His on-setting desperation was visible in the song-and-dance routine that began the play.

    Branagh starts with a deft tap routine executed in Neil Austin's hazy lighting and augmented by four dancing cuties. Immediately, Archie Rice's cheap turn, as Osborne plants it, is fudged. That's the start of director Rob Ashford's undercutting the playwright's music-hall metaphor--of the fading post-World War II music hall as a metaphor for the United Kingdom's post-war fade.

    Yes, it looks as if Ashford, who started his career as a choreographer, is the explanation for this misguided look at The Entertainer, although since Branagh and he have been a team for a while now, Branagh can surely be assumed to be in agreement with all decisions made. (Chris Bailey and Pip Jordan are credited as, respectively choreographer and associate choreographer of the numbers.)

    Osborne alternates the song-and-dance turns (Branagh has a strong voice, though he's not always pitch-perfect, perhaps deliberately) with Archie at home alongside his accommodating wife Phoebe (Greta Scacchi, very effective), father Billy Rice (Gawn Grainger, still an on-stage powerhouse), son Frank (Jonah Hauer-King) and nubile Jean Rice (Sophie McShera) for whom Archie makes a baleful play.

    Somehow, these sequences seem diluted as well, the view of a troubled England surprisingly pallid. Perhaps 60 years on, Osborne's script is partially responsible for the lack of urgency. Nevertheless, the overall result is disappointing.

    What's no letdown is Christopher Oram's set which melds the music hall with the Rice home so that at no time is Archie's squalid professional life absent from the mundane family activity.
    ******************
    Kemp Powers's One Night in Miami... has already played Baltimore, Denver and Los Angeles, but it may be the sold-out Donmar Warehouse entry, directed by Baltimore Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armeh, that guarantees Manhattan and across-the-land sightings.

    It's 1963 and Cassius Clay (Sope Dirisu) has just defeated Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight title. He's returned to his hotel room to celebrate with good pals Sam Cooke (Arinzé Kene), Jim Brown (David Ajala) and Malcolm X (Francois Battiste), while Nation of Islam guards Kareem (Dwane Walcott) and Jamaal (Josh Williams) keep watch in the corridor.

    Don't look here for confirmation of the personnel present on that historic evening. Just know that Kemp has assembled four men important to the black community. They're men whose disparate attitudes have the capacity to influence a wide population.

    Malcolm X is among them because the following morning Clay will announce he's becoming a Muslim and henceforth will be known at Muhammad Ali. How that goes down with the others is the thrust of Powers's powerful 90-minute drama. For instance, Brown, who's just made his first movie, won't convert, since that would mean giving up his grandmother's pork chops.

    While the men wrangle over their different positions, perhaps the crucial entanglement is between Malcolm X and Sam Cooke. The former, who just then happens to be out of favor with the Nation of Islam, believes the latter could be doing more for his people than writing benign love songs, and in the heated discussion that follows Cooke singing "You Send Me" and "A Change is Going to Come" earns whopping audience approval.

    Before the 90-minute play ends, Powers has delivered a subtle lecture on racial intolerance that existed then and still does today--as, at a crucial moment, a projected image of Donald J. Trump attests.
    ******************
    At first it might seem as if director Michael Longhurst has decided to deconstruct Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, at the National's Olivier, where it started in 1979. To play the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart music mentioned throughout the script, he dispatches 20 members of the Southbank Sinfonia all over the expansive stage.

    The idea is that whenever Antonio Salieri (Lucian Msamati) hears Mozart in his head as he reads the scores, the audience gets to hear it played right there in front of them. Poor Salieri. Even while he remains the acknowledged musical genius of the world ruled by Joseph II (Tom Edden), very imperious), he has to admit to himself that it's younger cut-up Mozart (Adam Gillen) who will live in perpetuity.

    Up to the point where Salieri hears his first Mozart serenade, Longhurst's approach seems big but not overblown. Salieri's response to what he experiences as exquisite physical pain does capture something rarely articulated about the effect of great music.

    But later Longhurst feels the need to build on Salieri's reactions to the scores as he peruses them, and that's where the production goes wildly wrong. To end the first act Shaffer provides a scene in which Salieri, already considering himself the apex of mediocrity, scans several sheets of music and realizes that, though he's conscientiously devoted himself to his writing, he's woefully deficient when compared to the young whippersnapper, and his attempts to ruin Mozart's life ultimately disastrous..

    The carrying-on that Longhurst has Msamati go through is unconscionable--such breast-beating and flailing and sobbing and collapsing. Surely, this is not what Shaffer, who died this year at 90, had in mind. These tortured shenanigans are hardly a tribute to him. Nor is Gillan's outlandish performance, contorting himself as he constantly does, at one point hanging upside down from the piano frequently rolled on and off Chloe Lamford's striking, hulking steel-grey set.

    The result is that what initially looks to be a deconstruction is more a con and a destruction. Where what the subtle Amadeus requires in direction is a Mozart counterpart, what it receives is a Salieri treatment.
    ******************
    If you're in town with young children, you might enjoy tripping to Wimbledon and the 40-year-old Polka Theatre where director-adapter Peter Glanville, composer Barb Jungr and puppet designer Samuel Wyer have turned Helen Stephens's How to Hide a Lion into a charming, slyly instructive 40-minute musical.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    2016-10-30-1477838360-7212878-JEN_2561a.jpg

    There comes a point in her Act II monologue when the Kostelnicka, the moral guardian of a turn-of-the-century mill town in Moravia and the step-mother of the titular Jenůfa, imagines how the villagers will decry her and her stepdaughter when they find out about Jenůfa's illegitimate child. "Look at her! Look at her! Kostelnicka!" Well, with the white-knuckled Karita Mattila playing the upright, deeply conflicted Kostelnicka, it simply isn't possible to look away.

    Leos Janáček's Jenůfa premiered in Brno in 1904 and returned to the Metropolitan Opera on Friday for the first time in ten years. The bleak opera is a fascinating and elegantly-proportioned psychological study that elevates the thorough development of themes of jealousy, shame, and love into an airtight and believable case study. Taken from the play Her Stepdaughter by Gabriela Preissová, the plot revolves around the young, thoughtful Jenůfa who falls in love with and is pregnant by Steva, the heir to a mill. But when her childhood friend Laca slashes her face out of jealousy, Steva abandons Jenůfa, and her image-conscious stepmother, the Kostelnicka, shelters her until the baby is born. Terrified that the baby will stigmatize Jenůfa, the Kostelnicka drowns it in the ice while Jenůfa sleeps and tells her the baby died. The Kostelnicka then brokers the marriage of Jenůfa and Laca, but the body of the baby is discovered by the villagers in the thawing river on the day of the wedding. The Kostelnicka succumbs to her guilt, admits to the deed, and is taken to prison, while Jenůfa, humiliated, tries to release the insistently-committed Laca. The characters all end up about as unhappy as they were at the start of the opera and humdrum village life assumedly goes on.

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    Returning to the Met for the first time in 5 seasons, Mattila made a tremendous and extraordinarily-paced house-role debut as the crumbling sexton's widow. At age 56, Mattila still commands an easily-produced, soft-grained soprano with a distant pinch that she imbues with an extraordinary intensity, dramatic alertness, and attention to the Czech text. She isn't afraid to cry out or let the voice go white for a moment for effect and the shocking lines of her Act II monologue were both enunciated and screamed to a chilling result as she resolves to kill Jenůfa's son. Her high notes were effortlessly produced and her low notes were impressively secure in what was a welcome and overdue return for the undiminished Finnish soprano.
    Unfortunately, though, Mattila was matched nowhere else in the cast, least of all by the Jenůfa of Ukranian Oksana Dyka. Dyka's voice has turned from steely, laser-like focus to an edgy, strident wobble. Though her upper range is more intact and she can still ride the breath effectively, her lower range sounds dull and curdled and she didn't lend the music any of the pastoral lyricism is demands despite attempts at sincere delivery. Not a natural actress, she was majorly undercut by Olivier Tambosi's lackluster-but-inoffensive production that had her spend most of the evening posing near the stage-dominating rock. This Jenůfa wasn't so much a layered, tormented young woman as much as a baleful, shrieking village girl with a penchant for literacy.



    Her suitors fared better. Daniel Brenna's forceful heldentenor might not have been an ideal fit for Laca, but he sang with a youthful rambunctiousness and acted with commitment to the production which imagined him as more of a playground bully than a predator. Joseph Kaiser took some time to warm up as Steva, but once he did, his singing was confident and his negotiation of Czech even more so. He did sometimes compete to be heard with the orchestra, though, which conductor  David Robertson lead with great attention to the intricacies of Janáček's orchestral writing. The village scenes have a lot of moving parts, and Robertson managed them with ease and even scaled down his approach for the intimate Act II. That said, his conducting was taut, exciting, and tense the entire evening. The superb Metropolitan Opera Orchestra adroitly responded accordingly and the Chorus sounded in top shape. Other standouts of the cast included the indispensable Ying Fang whose distant, pearly soprano was a delight as Jano, Hanna Schwarz who sang with commitment and worn tone as the Grandmother Buryja, and Bradley Garvin who balanced generous phrasing and beautiful tone in his short appearance as the foreman. Frank Philip Schlössmann's geologically-inspired sets and subdued costumes got the job done.

    2016-10-30-1477838431-2793373-JEN_1753a.jpg

    Jenůfa runs through November 17th at the Metropolitan Opera and you'd be silly to miss Karita Mattila doing what she does best (besides the splits). Tickets available here.

    All photos by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

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  • 10/30/16--15:19: David Mach Will Scare You!
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    His own gentle face will make you smile as you look at him, but then watch his giant sculptures, and shriek!

    Just on time for some Halloween scares, let's have a look at the animals Mr. Mach creates and fabricates with the most unusual of materials.

    For example, his spiky cheetah and a tiger are entirely built with wire hangers. Are they still called sculptures or recycled masterpieces? In any case, they are frightening-looking, the kind one expects to see in an horror movie or a post-apocalypse scenario where strangely evolved beasts lurk in dark corners - maybe also have eaten all the humans on the planet.

    But I digress.

    Part of a series baptized "Coathangers," the life-size beasts are made of metal/wire hangers, which has their pointed metal hooks sticking out of the "skin" of the animals.

    The slightly scary looking cacti-like creatures are created from a plastic mold, covered with the hangers, and finally coated in nickel.

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    The final products resemble magnificently aggressive porcupines layered in quills nobody wants to pet!

    His "Silver Back" measures 7-ft by 9-ft by 5-ft and is made of 7,500 metal coat hangers. It took 2,705.6 man-hours to create, and it first went on display at the FIAC art fair in Paris.

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    David Mach calls his work "Big on gesture and big in proportion, it demands your attention and gets it."

    The 60-year old Scotsman works out of his London studio with unlikely material recycled from the streets and the dumpsters. Wood, pipes, tires, bricks and furniture are used as well.

    His piece "A hundred and one Dalmatians" has flying washing machines incorporated in the sculpture. His "Out of order" line sculpture is made of red British phone booths.

    His version of the ancient Greek Parthenon, a familiar sight when looking at pictures of Greece, was perched on top of shipping containers to recreate the height of the hill in the actual setting of the ruin.

    For the artist, British-ness is well represented by bottles of HP sauce (a brown version of the American BBQ sauce), so he once requested the public's help to collect some 2,000 of such empty bottles to built a piece of art. The result was a weird version of the Union-flag.

    Michael Douglas/Gordon Gekko also has its very own rather prickly-looking version in a head collage made of postcards and cash.

    Scary stuff indeed! Happy Halloween! 2016-10-30-1477865754-8410845-halloweenicongraphic.png 2016-10-30-1477865754-8410845-halloweenicongraphic.png 2016-10-30-1477865754-8410845-halloweenicongraphic.png

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    On November 26 and 27, David Mach will have an open studio at 8 Havelock Walk, London, SE23 3HG, UK. Tel: 44-0-208-699-5659.

    Master classes in drawing and collage will be held at the studio during extended weekends from Nov. 18th to January 22nd.

    More info: http://www.davidmach.com/

    Questions / Comments = sidoniesawyer@gmail.com
    Visit my website for more stories.

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    The exhibition Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum in New York City is the most comprehensive presentation of Pipilotti Rist's work in New York to date. Rist's show occupies the three main floors of the museum. It includes work spanning the Swiss artist's entire career, from her early single-channel videos of the 1980s, which explore the representation of the female body in popular culture, to her recent expansive video installations, which transform architectural spaces into massive dreamlike environments enhanced by hypnotic musical scores.



    Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest features a new installation created specifically for this presentation and also reveals connections between the development of Rist's art and the evolution of contemporary technologies. Ranging from the television monitor to the cinema screen, and from the intimacy of the smartphone to the communal experience of immersive images and soundscapes, the exhibition charts the ways in which Rist's work fuses the biological with the electronic in the ecstasy of communication.

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    For more videos covering contemporary art and architecture, go to VernissageTV.

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    Capitalism is predicated on the idea of individual initiative. The most obvious economic manifestation of that is entrepreneurship, a talent that's touted on the television show Shark Tank, a kind of American Idol for those with an acumen for business. But the greatest capitalist of them all Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations, which did for capitalism what Das Kapital would for revolution, also wrote a book called The Theory of Moral Sentiments in which human empathy was the subject. Talk about Originalism, what a different attitude early proto-conservatives like Smith and Edmund Burke had in comparison to our right wing Tea Party firebrands, latter day Social Darwinists, advocating the dog eat dog vision of human society propounded by Herbert Spencer. In their view man is no different from the animal on the veldt competing for scarce resources, with the strongest, the pythons, the hyenas triumphing over more docile species. Advocates of this laissez faire view envision a society freed from entitlements and over constitutionalized with protections for those who may not be strong enough to defend themselves. The fact is that the ancestors of man may have been apes, but why throw the baby out with the bathwater? If individual liberty is at stake, why don't those who virulently argue for the free market, and less government intrusions, use their heads. Without the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment there would be no democracy to defend. Robert Ringer wrote the bestseller, Looking Out For Number One. But is that all there is?






    portrait of Edmund Burke by Joshua Reynolds




    {This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

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    2016-10-25-1477399979-9105980-IMG_0849.PNG

    Julianna Bass - SS17 collection

    This article will mark the first in a series of regular artist and designer features. The individuals that I'll be writing about will be connected in some way to the digital medium through their creative process. In my own practice, I'm always looking for new ways to push myself out of the comfort zone. Exploring and studying the way other successful professionals in the arts industry work, is one of the most effective ways of opening up fresh developments in our own making.

    To get the ball rolling, I'm going to present the work of the talented Julianna Bass, a fashion designer who has gained recognition as an innovator in her field.

    Maxine Noth, director of Haute Presents, explains why she decided to introduce me to Bass.

    "In the digital age, industries that have traditionally been relatively insular, are being merged in exciting ways. Whilst working with traditional artists like Adam Butcher, who is pioneering the use of digital media in art, and fashion designers like Julianna Bass whose portfolio fuses art and fashion, I thought we could find a unique insight into this intersection. By having Adam virtually attend Julianna's SS17 presentation through the iPad, they were able to create a platform exploring the innovation that is driving the merging of art, fashion and technology."


    I wasn't at all surprised that Bass had developed a fascination for incorporating the digital medium into her designs once I'd discovered that the original idea for her brand began in Berlin, where she used to live and work. Berlin is well known for being one of the leading pioneering capitals of fine art created with new technologies.

    "I am interested in exploring a subtle fusion of tech and luxury fashion." She mentioned, in the build-up to the launch of her SS17 collection which was premiered at the New York fashion Week in September 2016.

    The process of putting together the SS17 collection involved a partnership with Slovenian artist Blaz Kutin who's photography was digitally infused into her works. Kutin takes photographs of urban fragments; the unremarkable eroded street surfaces that capture his interest, are rendered without digital enhancement on a monumental scale and transformed into powerful abstract compositions.

    "I'm most satisfied when pictures are completely detached from the context in which they were shot, when they are - in a sense - reinvented. I want them to communicate with the viewer on a very personal, even subconscious level," explains Kutin on his website.


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    I think it's encouraging that digital artists are embracing opportunities to work alongside rising designers such as Bass. It makes sense on so many levels.

    The designer benefits from having access to a never-ending source of inspiration that gives her creations their uniqueness. The artist gains that all important recognition, not only from the fashion world, but above all from the designer who in a sense becomes their patron.

    Bass talked to me about the process of incorporating an artist's work into her designs. She explained how a mutually beneficial agreement between herself and the artist is created. As such, the artist sells her the rights to use and (within reason) rearrange the digital original. The artist has to be happy with Bass's interpretation in the final outcome and of course is credited when their work is featured. In this project, Haute Presents acts as curator and artist agent.

    Once Bass has chosen specific art works, she then selects, plays with and reorganizes these back in the studio using applications such as photoshop to help her refine and prepare the final edited images ready for printing onto textiles. In the same way that I might oversee the printing of my Giclee reproductions, Bass is present throughout the all important finishing stages. Once she's happy with the colour quality, the printed material is then cut and fashioned using the usual traditional methods.

    The results are incredibly powerful. She describes her creations as a: 'Post-apocalyptic cocktail: a dreamscape of honeyed calamity, oblivious opulence and drunk femininity--shaken, not stirred.

    2016-10-25-1477398773-8745188-IMG_0822.JPG


    From a digital artists' point of view, I'm excited by the potential possibilities of this kind of collaboration. In particular I can see the process of conceiving the physical pieces becoming much more interactive. It's now possible to paint and draw digitally directly on projected surfaces and share the process from anywhere in the world, as well as draw virtually and print the outcomes out in three dimensions. Recent developments in electronic and reactive textiles often referred to as smart fabric, are now making the headlines. I'm only guessing, but I have a feeling that Bass is only too aware of these developments in new technology and will surely be taking advantage of them very soon.

    So what does the future hold for Bass? Well understandably, she didn't want to give too much away, however she did hint at a growing association with technology. I very much look forward to seeing what exciting creations will come about from her next alliance.

    "We have been inspired by recent innovations in the area of fashion technology. Looking ahead, the label is increasing its engagement with technology and will be developing several fashion tech related projects in hopes of enhancing the overall fashion experience by empowering the women who wear our clothes."
    Julianna Bass


    For all of the artists out there who are passionate about using the digital medium, I would encourage you to be open to collaboration across the various specialist areas. The accessibility of the digital medium lends itself particularly well to these kind of creative pairings. As I always say, you have to take risks and be receptive to change if you want to build that robust practice that will ensure you stand out among the crowd.

    Are you an aspiring amateur or professional artist? Feeling overwhelmed? Need a one-on-one support in using the digital medium to take your practice to the next level?

    I've developed the perfect program for you.
    Subscribe to receive my free training video where I'll share 'My 3 Secrets to Unleashing Your Unique Creative Story'.

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    There's nothing like the powdered wig era to remind us that any set of gender norms is temporary. Louisa Proske, Heartbeat Opera's co-Artistic Director, sat down with Daily Pnut's Managing Editor Mary von Aue to tell us why we shouldn't be sleeping on opera, especially when it's in drag.

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    "Lick me in the ass," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once said in the six-voice canon he composed in 1782. "Leck mich im Arsh" was the original title of his scatological hit, which included a resounding chorus of "lick me in the ass, quickly, quickly" before his publishers cleaned up the language and retitled the song to "Laßt froh uns sein," or "Let us be glad." But any attempts to censor Wolfie were futile: his potty mouth would live on in other recreational compositions, which he'd perform over drinks with his closest buddies. And though it was originally attributed to him, Mozart may have inspired one of his contemporaries Wenzel Trnka to compose a similar jam titled, "Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber" or, "Lick my ass nice and clean."

    There was a time when Mozart's operas were a little bit raunchy, satirical, and perhaps most importantly, relevant. But somewhere along the lines, the classical genre was crystallized by ornate set designs and steep ticket prices, leaving behind its context to become an elitist vehicle and a student's least favorite class trip. But Heartbeat Opera is changing that. Blending the music of opera with the aesthetics of drag, this team of artists created an opera space that more closely resembles the original. They breathe life into what had become a stagnant art form, allowing opera to once again become funny, frivolous, but also forward thinking.

    The earliest ideas for Heartbeat Opera came at Yale School of Drama when Louisa Proske, an opera and theatre director from Germany, met fellow director Ethan Heard, an acting teacher and drag performer. "I wanted to learn more about drag," Louisa told me, and what better way to do than go to drag shows with Ethan, who created the Yale School of Drag when he was Artistic Director of Yale Cabaret. Daniel Schlosberg and Jacob Ashworth, also School of Music alums, would become co-music directors, and with their powers combined they created hour long drag extravaganzas that paid tribute to a different classical composer each year. For the last three years, the team has arranged operatic arias with the emotional integrity it once had centuries ago, ditching the pomp and pretension for a DIY version of opera, using minimalist spaces and gender-bending fun.

    There's nothing like the powdered wig era to remind us that today's gender norms are temporary. "From the start of the artform," co-director Louisa explained, "there was a fluid conception of gender and the possibility of men playing women and women playing men, but in all kinds of shades of what that would mean." Opera was long overdue to bring back that versatility, and it will be celebrated this Halloween at National Sawdust, where the group will be performing Mozart in Space: Queen of the Night. With their resident band Cantana Profana and a few wicked sopranos in tow, Heartbeat will be dragging Mozart out of his ass-licking white tights and into the future. While prepping for the two performances on Halloween, co-Artistic Director Louisa Proske explained why we shouldn't be sleeping on opera, especially when it's in drag.

    Daily Pnut: Where did the idea come from to blend a drag show with an opera?
    Louisa Proske: I would say it was a crossing of a couple of different influences. Ethan, my co-artistic director, is sometimes a drag queen himself and instigated the Yale School of Drag. We met at Yale School of Drama and he was already in my mind kind of a drag expert and I always loved that side of him. I wasn't so familiar with it, so I really pushed at the beginning. I was like, "Let's go to a drag show" because I wanted to learn more about drag. But I should say that our interpretation of drag is not so much male/female impersonation, but a kind of explosion of gender and normativity around gender. It's joyful and exuberant and over the top. It gives us an opportunity to explore our wildest sides as designers and directors.

    Was that wild side missing from opera, in your experience?
    Ethan and I talked a lot about the crisis in opera, especially the crisis of bringing in new and young audiences. We wanted to do full productions of great classics, but we also wanted to create an event that would be kind of a gateway drug where people who might be, for various reasons, intimidated by the idea of opera, but would come to a costume party, or a drag show or a weird new performance.

    There's amazing opera singing there and they get roped in and then come back for a production. And that's actually exactly how it's worked. It's definitely our most diverse and young audience that we get for the drag shows and they'll love it. We hear things all the time like, "I never thought I could enjoy an opera like that" or "I never thought opera was like that" and so then they'll come back. That's exactly what we want.

    So what was your personal "gateway drug" into opera, if it wasn't drag?
    It goes so far back. In fact three of the four leaders: Ethan, our co-music director Jacob and I were all choir children in various opera houses. We were on the opera stage at the age of seven or eight, so we had a really long, deep roots in opera. I assistant directed opera right out of high school in Germany for awhile, then did more theater for almost eight to ten years and then came back to opera.

    What are the biggest challenges in making the opera more accessible to a young generation that would normally avoid it?
    There are a couple. I think one is a stigma around opera that it's elitist, that it's inaccessible, that it's expensive -- which is often true -- or that it's simply "not for me." I also think a lot of opera that we see is done in a very ornate, decorative, often conservative way where it feels like there's so much stuff on top of the stories and it's often done in the way that every "Carmen" before it has been done or every "Lucia" before it has been done.
    It feels like there's not a lot of room for really radical new visions for pieces that are still interested in the essence of the stories. We're not interested in random auteurship, but a retelling from the core of the story. That's what we do.

    Do you feel the minimalist designs you create help make these productions more accessible?
    Yeah, that's a really good question. One of the impulses was that a lot of opera we observed felt unnecessarily ornate or decorative. We wanted to get back to what we call the essence or the thing without which opera cannot be, which is this superhuman human voice coming out of bodies who are moving in space and telling a story. There was something radical to us about putting that at the center of the work.

    Accessibility, I would say relates to the audience, but it also relates to the company itself because we have an unusually collaborative process. Often from day one, the musicians will be in the room, which is unheard of in most operatic contexts where there's maybe one orchestra rehearsal at the end. It's normally kind of thrown together, whereas we always say we take the musicians out of the orchestra pit and into the process.

    How does that influence the storytelling in your next show Mozart in Space?
    The orchestra can often become characters in the story or they're somehow visually part of the landscape. In Mozart in Space, the band will be kind of the engine of the spaceship in which we're all riding to outer space. The work with the singers is very much informed by Ethan and my theater background. We work with them as actors with objectives and actions and the specificity that you would expect of great theater acting that we demand of the singers. And I think that relates back to accessibility. There's a kind of extreme collaboration happening within the company that you experience as the audience. A lot of young people are coming to our productions and maybe not knowing an awful lot about opera, but there are stories that speak very immediately to them. It's fully embodied storytelling where every element is integrated.

    There's a kind of extreme collaboration happening within the company that you experience as the audience. A lot of young people are coming to our productions who might not know an awful lot about opera, but there are stories that speak very immediately to them.

    I love the concept of Mozart and drag because his audiences loved gender-bending and dirty jokes anyway. What inspired you to throw that into outer space?
    I would say two things. Since our first drag show, we've been covering one composer each time. In our second year, we did "Miss Handel."

    Wait, did you do anything from Handel's "Messiah"?
    Yes! There was a very naughty reinterpretation of "Every Valley" that, to us, meant every valley of the body, instead of every valley in the land of Christ.

    I need this in time for Christmas.
    I will send you some footage! But we always wanted to do Mozart, picking and choosing arias and pieces from his oeuvre and weaving together our own narrative in the style of a mass or a drag show.

    Mass or drag show?
    One or the other. We knew we wanted to do Mozart when National Sawdust invited us to use their space. It's this weird, wonderful new space that's very modern. It's white and then it has these aggressive diagonal black lines everywhere. We set foot in there and were immediately like, "This looks like a spaceship." And that got us thinking, Mozart's genius is cosmic and maybe Mozart is still out there somewhere. Maybe this could be a quest to search for Mozart. I think every year, we try to do more story, more spectacle, more narrative for the audience, and this space is perfect for that.

    You have a long history of bringing great pieces of art, especially those that showcase LGBTQ+ voices, to a wider audience. You once translated Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year with 13 Moons, the 1978 film about a transgender woman in West Germany, and produced its stage adaptation for Yale. When did this passion begin?
    That's such a good question. I would say from an early time in my directing career, I grappled with a question of, "How do I make this text that I love and believe in immediately understandable to an audience? How can it be spoken in a way where even if you don't understand every word, you understand the drift of the thought or you understand a joke, somehow it lands on you in a more visceral way?"

    With opera, it's so similar because first of all, you're almost always dealing with a foreign language. Yes, we have subtitles, but really my aim is always to make the acting so clear that you could even not look at the subtitles and understand what's going on, basically. I think in that way it has been a really central quest. Bringing Fassbinder's work to the US was a collaboration with my great mentor, Robert Woodruff, who directed that production. In his own way, Fassbinder had a company or very tight-knit group of collaborators that he worked with over and over again. I think there's some parallels between that and Heartbeat, which very much leans on the passion and genius of the artists that we work with.

    You mentioned earlier you wanted to point out that Heartbeat Opera wasn't your typical male or female performative, it was more of a "queer explosion of heteronormativity." When you were first began producing drag shows alongside opera, did you have any resistance from either of those communities?
    We're playing with gender in all kinds of ways, both light and serious, and I think that is like you said, very true to opera. Opera from the start was an artform where there were women in pants, boys and men who were singing women's parts. From the start of the artform, there was a fluid conception of gender and the possibility of men playing women and women playing men, but in all kinds of shades of what that would mean.

    Of course like you say, the era of Handel, the era of Mozart, there's so much feminine in the way men dressed and vice versa. I think there's plenty to draw from and then explode with all of our vocabulary that we have today. I think it's playing with gender in a way that as I'm aware has delighted audiences or maybe challenged them.

    When the audience leaves the spaceship on Halloween, what ideas about drag and about opera do you want them to take home?
    I think one of the beautiful and dangerous things about art is that it doesn't tell you what to think about itself. I think when it has a clear message, it becomes a political vehicle or essay or whatever, which is good, but I think there's something about art that has to remain ambivalent about its own meaning. That being said, we hope people of any gender throw on a wig or some lipstick or just leave the confines of who they usually are in the outer world. I think we embrace and encourage that anarchy of experimenting with who you could be. I think the event is one of joy and celebration and experimentation. I think we embrace and encourage that anarchy of experimenting with who you could be.

    And as for opera, well, I want this to be your gateway drug. We hope people get hooked on the beauty and infinite possibility of these voices that come out of bodies that look just like you and me but they're so big and rich that they can fill a space with thousands of people. At The Met, you sit so far away and maybe that's beautiful, but I think what we can do what The Met can't. We're up close and could touch the audience. In a very scientific way, you feel the vibrations of the voice on your skin and entering your body. That really does something to you that I think is quite profound. Sound is the first thing we experience before anything else. Even when we're still in the womb, we hear sound.

    I think in some way it is the most ancient of the senses and we have a very visceral way of responding to vibrations. I think opera when it's stripped of all the conservative bullshit is appealing to that sense of miracle or sense of human connection that we feel through sound. Once you try it, you'll keep coming back.

    Sign up for Daily Pnut, an email on world affairs that will make you sound marginally more intelligent.

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    For Bon Appetit, by Amanda Shapiro.



    Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites, is all the foods he cooks at home, for his wife, his daughter and their friends. You’ll find refreshingly easy recipes for scrambled eggs, tuna salad and macaroni and cheese, along with more exciting offerings like British-Style Pheasant with Bread Sauce, Ma Po Tripe and Pork (with 20 ingredients including MSG), oh, and A LOT of strong opinions. We’re not sure that we’re sold on the Thanksgiving “stunt turkey” — a small bird to show off to your guests while you carve the unphotogenic “business turkey” — but we admit we’re intrigued. Here are 11 more pieces of unlikely advice from the man we never want to be predictable.


    1. “If you ever need to deliver a baby unexpectedly, just reach for a nearby New York Times Styles section. You can be pretty sure nobody has touched that.”


    2. “God does not want you to put chicken on your Caesar.”


    3. “Always keep some pigs in the blanket in the freezer.”


    4. “If you’re putting mesclun or baby arugula on your burger... Guantánamo Bay would not be an unreasonable punishment.”


    5. “If you add truffle oil [to your macaroni and cheese], which is made from a petroleum-based chemical additive and the crushed dreams of 90s culinary mediocrity, you should basically be punched in the kidneys.”


    6. “It’s a myth that you need to boil fresh or dried lasagne noodles before baking the whole thing.”



    'Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. It’s a life lesson that should be taught to small children at school.'



    7. “Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. It’s a life lesson that should be taught to small children at school.”


    8. “Put those goddamn marshmallows away.” (On the subject of sweet potatoes.)


    9. “My mom’s meat loaf is inarguably better than yours.”


    10. “No beans, no rice — chili should be about the meat and the peppers.”


    11. “F*ck dessert.”


    Related: Anthony Bourdain Thinks You’re Crazy for Eating Airplane Food



    Appetites is out this week from Ecco.


    More from Bon Appetit:


    When Life Hands You Lemons, Make These Lemon Desserts


    No-Cook Pasta Sauces You Should Have Up Your Sleeve at All Times


    Gooey, Gorgeous Cheese Recipes


    35 Make-Ahead Breakfasts so You Can Sleep in and Eat Well All Week


    Our 50 Favorite Weeknight Dinners


    24 Recipes Everyone Should Know How to Cook


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    This piece by Mary Kate Miller originally appeared on The Establishment, a new multimedia site funded and run by women.


    During the last presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked about the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. He deftly replied that these women are in it for the “fame,” and America breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, a voice in America is willing to speak out against all those A-listers who rode their assaults all the way to the top!


    Like, for instance, the following.


    “Woman” (Derrick Rose)


    A couple hours before Trump set the record straight about these fame-hungry “assault survivors,” this woman was rising to the top, with the jury finding that claims of sexual assault were “not credible.” Man, can you say easy street? After she was allegedly raped by Rose and two of his friends, all this woman had to do was try to rationalize and explain it away to a friend (because, like, wouldn’t life be a lot easier if you could just believe you were into that thing rather than deal with the life-shattering ramifications of assault), decide that it was affecting her life too much and come forward, endure hours-long depositions, and have the jury rule against her just to get a mention in the press as “the woman.” That’s some star chasing, for sure.


    “High-School Girl” (Steubenville)


    Remember that time when a bunch of boys with a lot of promise got a lil frisky with a girl who was passed out, and then recorded it on social media? How could we forget? This woman is everywhere. She’s got endorsements from Nike, Wheaties, Staples, Progressive Insurance, etc. The list goes on and on. She wasn’t at all scarred by the coverage of the trial, and it was all worth it just to become a household name. (Update: her name was withheld in order to protect her privacy and prevent the woman from being further victimized.)


    “Emily Doe” (Brock Turner)


    Brock Turner is going to be dealing with the ramifications of “20 minutes of action” for his whole life. Meanwhile, this Emily Doe has a pilot deal on CBS. That’s 20 minutes of mildly funny situational comedy EVERY WEEK. Reports of said pilot deal cannot be corroborated, but it just feels right.


    “High-School Girl” (Owen Labrie)


    When Owen Labrie was acquitted of rape (and convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault), this unnamed woman was ready to acQUIT her day job. She was only 15 at the time of the alleged incident. Child star, anyone? Labrie was convicted in 2015. Since that time, this high-school girl has been sailing through life with therapy probably all the time and questioning whether she’ll ever be able to fully trust a man again.


    “Daughter” (Montana Man Convicted of Incest)


    Hot off the presses, ladies and gents! Even though he repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter, he was only given 60 days in jail because the judge didn’t think he’d be a repeat offender, which means that even though this dude was found guilty, the judge knew the truth: It’s another fame-hungry woman looking to capitalize on her “trauma.”


    Beth Ferrier, Andrea Constand, Beverly Johnson, Janice Dickenson, and 44 Others


    These women said that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. Clearly they were in it to tear down his career and to promote their own stand-up specials. You can buy tickets here. Oh wait, that never happened.


    This is an incomplete list of a systemic problem. The media is run by women who have been victims of rape (this article was written by one! Boom. Proof.). They’re in it for the money and the fame. At least we can finally count on Donald Trump to keep us honest.


    Other recent stories include:
    Yes, Amy Schumer Is Racist, And So Is Her Executive Producer


    I Know Firsthand How Obama Differs From Trump On Consent


    Don’t Put Roach Killer In Your Vagina Without A Doctor’s Prescription


    What Being A Phone Sex Operator Taught Me About Sexism And Racism


    Why I’m Okay With Asylum-Themed Halloween Attractions




    Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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    2016-10-28-1477691383-9441137-f_converge45_logo_color_nodiag01.jpg



    These are strange and hard times that we live in that call for humanity to converge! Who better to take in what is happening in the world and reflect with, then Artists? What better place for the first CONVERGE 45, for the stars to align for such a gathering-a three-day Artists' Congress and a citywide participation of galleries, museums and venues-than in the lush and fertile northwest soil of Portland, Oregon!

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    Entrance to the Elizabeth Leach Gallery



    Liz Leach, Portland's leading contemporary art gallerist, founder of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, and a well known figure in the art world in the U.S. and abroad, told me about the moment she had,"an other worldly experience.The wind was blowing. It was summer and warm. It felt magical to be in Portland." 8 years prior to that, her son, Tyler Rivenbark, (see in photo below), had planted the idea, "Mom, invite the world to Portland and that will make it a stronger base for art." Liz knew that the right time had come. It took three years of planning for the first annual CONVERGE 45 to come together in Portland, Oregon, this last 29th-31st of July 2016, establishing this great northwest city as a global go-to meeting place for artists and thinkers interested in Contemporary Art and Ideas.

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    Elizabeth Leach being interviewed by McKinzie Roth of KGW at the launch event at Wieden & Kennedy


    Liz was amazed at how everything came together for CONVERGE 45 to happen." We are in a place in this world and we need to come together and look deeply at important ideas that affect all of us. Obviously, there is a zeitgeist. I believe in it, a kind of energy that is collective, and if you feel it, you do something about it. That is what happened with CONVERGE 45. I have never seen anything get so many volunteers so fast. We have such a strong board. We have foundations and individuals who funded it. Portland is a major cultural art based city. We met our budget. It is hard to fund something. Our ideas manifested. We came out of the black. Sponsors have increased their participation for next year and many are giving 5 times as much."

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    A group of collectors from New York visiting the Yale Union run by Curtis Knapp and Aaron Flint Jamison (in photo)


    "This is an international conversation about our world and what everyone is experiencing. It will touch our hearts. We are looking at global ideas. It is a Big Conversation. Some of the artists who participated are very well known. Some are known locally. The artists are reflecting what the world is going through, offering reflection or solution. That's what art does."

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    MK Guth in her studio

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    Inside Malia Jensen's studio

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    A Malia Jensen Beaver inside a private collection (The Beaver is the State Animal.)



    So what happened? I went! It was geographically extensive, yet all interconnected, inspiring to experience a city coming together like that, which was awe-inspiring, making for a deeply, rich experience of art and cooperation. It was an opportunity to participate in a collective appreciation of art in a multitude of expressions and representations, see exhibits in a number of galleries, museums and venues all over the environs of beautiful Portland. Liz Leach, and she is right, said, "In many ways, Portland is like a European city. The architects who have come here refer to "alleys and piazzas." There are lots of connectors with parks and trees. There is a magic to the urban landscape, just walking around you get that sense."

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    A view from inside the Portland Japanese Garden

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    The lushness of light on trees at the Portland Japanese Garden



    There was a three-day Artists' Congress that featured Oregon artists alongside selected artists from around the U.S., and abroad, led by CONVERGE 45 Inaugural Artistic Director and Guest Curator, Kristy Edmunds, Artistic and Executive Director of UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance. Edmunds' curatorial theme for CONVERGE 45 is: "You in Mind." The discussions that took place in the first Artists' Congress set a tone and sparked ideas. Edmunds will bring to the Northwest, national and international artists, curators, and collectors to engage with regional artist, arts professionals and collectors, to explore the theme. The work produced over the course of this year will be in the exhibitions and installations for CONVERGE 45 in 2017.

    Needless to say, CONVERGE 45, was, and is, a highly ambitious undertaking. Remember though that Portland, is where NIKE was founded and is headquartered. People up there, just do it.
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    Tyler Rivenbark and Frida Ticehurst up from San Francisco


    A lively crowd attended the launch event at Wieden & Kennedy, surrounded by an exhibition of art, curated for the event, titled, "E & A, Empathy Affect," curated by Meagan Atiyeh, Mack McFarland, and Stephanie Snyder. Kristy Edmunds, and Liz Leach, spoke at this rooftop party filled with local philanthropists and art lovers, curators and collectors from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Fe, and abroad.

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    Kristy Edmunds, CONVERGE 45 Inaugural Artistic Director and Guest Curator


    Four of Portland's top chefs provided excellent food for the Benefit Dinner event Saturday night. The After-Party kept the spirit going to into the evening.

    As with any major production, it is the work of many that make it possible. Ideas do have an origin though, and there often is a collective energy about the ones that take form. As Liz Leach said, a "Zeitgeist," things happen in their time for a reason. CONVERGE 45 is here, in our time.

    Liz wrote, "Converge 45 was an exceptional first-of-its-kind contemporary art event in Portland. An unprecedented collaboration by the Portland arts community brought together the full force of our major museums, non-profits, galleries and a host of up-and-coming spaces and artists to showcase our vibrant arts scene and raise our community's national visibility.

    The vision for Converge 45 is to create a unique experience of art and ideas in Portland. The inaugural gathering presents a solid foundation upon which to build for years to come."

    Mark your global calendars to be in Portland, Oregon, the second weekend in August 2017 for the second annual CONVERGE 45!

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    Overlooking Portland

    Photos by Sally Fay

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  • 10/31/16--11:58: Wonderful Silliness
  • THEATRE REVIEW:

    SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER

    TACT--The Actors Company Theatre
    Clurman Theatre, Theatre Row
    410 West 42nd Street, NYC

    Through 5 November 2016




    Farces were a colorful mainstay of 18th-century theatre. And "She Stoops to Conquer," by the Anglo-Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith, which premiered in 1773 in London, is a celebrated part of the genre.

    Pity more of these delightfully absurd comedies aren't revived, as if today's producers think the humor is out of fashion. Hard to believe considering it inspired America's Screwball comedic tradition, from the Marx Brothers to Woody Allen.

    Mistaken identity is at the heart of this story, with the lead gentleman, Charles Marlow (Jeremy Beck), having been intentionally misinformed by the play's jester, Tony Lumpkin (Richard Thieriot), that he has wandered far from his intended destination, where he is to meet Lumpkin's stepsister.

    Lumpkin's stepfather, Mr. Hardcastle (John Rothman), and Marlow's father have arranged this rendezvous at the former's estate to bring their children into wedlock.

    Lumpkin suggests the patrician lad and his companion, George Hastings (Tony Roach) who has eyes for a family niece staying in the same house, would be much better served if they spent the night at a nearby inn. But Lumpkin warns they need be mindful of the eccentric landlord who believes himself to be a gentleman rather than an innkeeper. Of course this inn is actually Hardcastle's estate.

    And so starts this mischievous romp as the young men arrive at the inn where characters are quickly confused and feelings get crossed.

    We soon find the pompous Marlow dissolving into a trembling, stuttering boob when he first meets his intended, the lovely Kate Hardcastle (Mairin Lee). Marlow can barely cast an eye her way. The cause of this transformation: the gentleman, as we are told, loses all self-confidence and control when in the company of ladies of his own class.

    When a woman is beneath him, however, he spins his charm as deftly as Casanova. And we see the metamorphosis back to the cocky young gentleman when later on he mistakes Kate for a barmaid. This delights Kate to no end, now knowing that her dashing young man is made of the right stuff.

    In the second act, the play really hits its stride. The pace picks up, confusion peaks, until love ultimately conquers, with plenty of physical slapstick antics thrown in for good measure.

    One of the funniest moments is when the impertinent Marlow decides to finally put the uppity innkeeper in his place by declaring:

    "This is my house. Mine, while I choose to stay."


    So flabbergasted is Hardcastle that he proceeds to stack chairs, tables, and candlesticks on top of the seated bachelor, insisting that all must indeed belong to Marlow.

    Another wonderful moment is when Tony and his mother's niece (Constance Neville, played by Justine Salata) feign a romantic encounter to fool his mom into believing they are a couple, when in fact they come close to tearing each other apart.

    Scott Allan Evans, TACT's artistic and executive director, does a seamless job directing the mayhem, creatively blending wit and choreography, enabling each character to shine.

    The cast of nine all turn in first-rate performances, though I was most partial to Richard Thieriot's roguish Tony, a character likely inspired by the playwright's own personality, if the playbill's biographical sketch is on point.

    And Mairin Lee's Kate Hardcastle is a joy to watch playfully taking control of matters, while the men around her stumble about, turning confusion to her favor, as she blithely stoops to conquer.

    END


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    2016-10-31-1477940102-5758496-HolidayInn.jpg

    (l. to r.) Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer and Bryce Pinkham in Roundabout Theatre's production of 'Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical;' Photo: Joan Marcus

    By Chris Caggiano, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, October 31, 2016

    Right at the start, I must confess a personal aversion to "songbook" musicals like An American in Paris and Irving Berlin's White Christmas. They can certainly have their charms, but as a musical-theater historian, I'm reminded when I see these shows that the reason it's possible to repurpose songs from the musicals of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin is that the songs often weren't fully integrated into the plot of the original shows.

    That said, I also must confess to involuntary waves of warm nostalgia as I sat watching the new Broadway musical Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, particularly as I heard the opening chords to such Irving Berlin classics as "Blue Skies," "White Christmas," and "Shakin' the Blues Away." (I mean, I ain't made of wood.) With Holiday Inn, co-librettists Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge have come as close as anyone before them to creating what feels like an organically crafted musical from a set of inorganic parts.

    In fact, the show is a considerable improvement over the moth-eaten 1942 movie Holiday Inn, upon which the stage show is based. Sure, the authors have thankfully gotten rid of the horrifying blackface number "Abraham," performed so...memorably?...by Bing Crosby in the movie. (As a sort of retroactive recompense, the chorus in Holiday Inn features a high-than-usual number of people of color.)

    But the authors have thankfully gone beyond such cultural reparations and crafted an eminently enjoyable time capsule from a time that never really was. This Holiday Inn is an admittedly slight but charming diversion that's old-fashioned in feel, but full of modern storytelling and staging knowhow.

    The story of Holiday Inn centers around a song-and-dance nightclub trio: singer Jim Hardy (Bryce Pinkham), hoofer Ted Hanover (Corbin Bleu) and brassy chanteuse Lila Dixon (Megan Sikora). Jim wants to retire to Connecticut to become a farmer and wants his fiancée Lila to come with him, but Lila wants to stay on the road with Ted. A similar dynamic plays out when Jim meets and falls for teacher/songstress Linda Mason, the former resident of the farm he's just purchased in foreclosure. Jim and Lila decide to open the farmhouse up as a entertainment resort that's only open on holidays, ergo the title. But when Ted sees Linda perform, he decides that he wants to bring her to Hollywood as his new dance partner. Jim, of course, is none too pleased.

    The interesting thing about Holiday Inn is that the interpolated songs fit into the narrative about as well as those that were were actually written for the 1942 movie. Which is to say, incompletely. In an age when Rodgers and Hammerstein were raising the standard for integration in musical theater, Irving Berlin actually prided himself in writing shows with stand-alone hit tunes rather than what Berlin disdainfully referred to as "story shows."

    As such, the Holiday Inn score features not just songs from Berlin revues (e.g. "Easter Parade" and "Heat Wave" from As Thousands Cheer) but also songs from Berlin book shows ("It's a Lovely Day" from Call Me Madam, "An Old-Fashioned Walk" from Miss Liberty). As a result, we get some songs that sort of fit the story ("An Old-Fashioned Walk") and others whose relevance seems at best questionable ("Marching Along With Time").

    But considering that Greenberg and Hodge were hampered by the necessity of working with somewhat generic songs, Holiday Inn is nonetheless a remarkably efficient and enjoyable show. In fact, the classic Hollywood musical machine could have used people like Greenberg and Hodge to make those creaky old plots more watertight and the dialogue more natural. Act one in particular features strong, effective transitions between disparate locations, and the central conflict with Ted stealing Jim's romantic partners is considerably more credible than in the 1942 movie.

    As strong as Greenberg and Hodge's work is on the show, perhaps the most impressive achievement comes from choreographer Denis Jones, who whips up two crowd-pleasing, keister-kicking showstoppers for the show: the rousing "Shaking the Blues Away" and percussive "Let's Say It With Firecrackers." Jones's choreography is remarkably clever and yet grounded in 1940s idioms. He gives even the great Randy Skinner a run for his money in terms of creating airborne tap sequences and fully dressing the stage.

    Jones's "Shakin' the Blues Away" is simply thrilling, and stopped the show cold both times I saw it. Jim's dancer friends have come to the farm to cheer him up at Christmastime, and as they decorate the tree, they begin using the wreaths and garlands as props in an ever-building whirl of tap and exuberance. It's a perfectly planned and paced number: just enough stage business, not too ornate, with a terrific sense of build, and coming in at just the right length. It's honestly a textbook example of how to build a showstopper.

    The cast of Holiday Inn features a raft of old reliables as well as some welcome new faces. The most pleasant surprise is Corbin Bleu of the High School Musical franchise. Bleu has served as a cast replacement in a number of recent shows, including In the Heights and Godspell, but I hadn't personally seen him in those shows, nor in any of the HSM movies.

    And what a revelation he is, an astonishingly deft and ebullient tapper, and a shining and personable stage presence. I was reminded of Laura Osnes, who came to Broadway via a similarly inauspicious route (reality TV versus Disney made-for-TV films), but who has nonetheless made herself invaluable on the Broadway scene. Perhaps a similar future awaits Corbin Bleu in the New York theater community.

    The show's two leading ladies -- Lora Lee Gayer as Linda Mason, Megan Sikora as Lila Dixon -- are simply ideal. It seems as though they've stepped onto the Studio 54 stage right out of a Hollywood musical from the 1940s. There's so much authenticity to the way they both look and carry themselves throughout the show. Gayer was both memorable and intensely appealing in the recent Follies revival as Young Sally. Sikora was likewise indelible as Bambi (née Elaine) in Curtains.

    Then there's Bryce Pinkham, a remarkably capable performer, and the highlight of many a recent Broadway production, including A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, The Heidi Chronicles, and Ghost. But whereas in those shows his wild, bloodshot eyes and slightly crazed look were considerable assets, here they're a bit of a distraction. Pinkham has a near-flawless voice and always credible acting, but there's always something decidedly off about his stage persona, as if at any point he could have a psychotic break. Perhaps it's just based on his stage roles, but here I found him professional but miscast as the conventional romantic lead.

    Holiday Inn runs through January 15th, 2017 at the Roundabout Theatre's Studio 54. It's probably for the best that the show came to Broadway under the wing of a well-heeled nonprofit, and for a limited run during the holiday season. That's just the sort of cosseted berth for this lovely little throwback to make a modest profit, and then proceed to the theatrical aftermarket, where it will likely make a mint.
    __________________________

    Holiday Inn at the Roundabout Theatre's Studio 54. Written by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge; music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. Directed by Gordon Greenberg; choreography by Denis Jones; set design by Anna Louizos; costume design by Alejo Vietti; lighting by Jeff Croiter; sound by Keith Caggiano; music direction by Andy Einhorn; orchestrations by Larry Blank. Cast: Bryce Pinkham (Jim Hardy), Lora Lee Gayer (Linda Mason), Corbin Bleu (Ted Hanover), Megan Lawrence (Louise), Megan Sikora (Lila Dixon), Lee Wilkof (Danny). Also featuring Morgan Gao, Malik Akil, Will Burton, Barry Busby, Darien Crago, Caley Crawford, Jenifer Foote, Matt Meigs, Shina Ann Morris, Catherine Ricafort, Drew Redington, Amanda Rose, Jonalyn Saxer, Parker Slaybaugh, Samantha Sturm, Amy Van Norstrand, Travis Ward-Osborne, Paige Williams, Victor Wisehart, Kevin Worley, and Borris York.

    Christopher Caggiano writes for ZEALnyc about theater performance and related topics.


    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    'Plenty' promises, doesn't deliver

    'Puffs' Leaves Muggles Laughing In Their Seats

    Things to do on and around Halloween

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

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    2016-10-29-1477760784-2175264-DreamofBrocoliI2015.jpg

    Joohyun Kang, Dream of Broccoli I (2015), ink on paper, 20 x 16 inches


    A fleeting, five-day exhibition at Gallery d'Arte, curated by the gallery's Director Suechung Koh, presents the artist Joohyun Kang's ability to modify and redirect her life and attitude by 'grafting' different but compatible elements.

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    Joohyun Kang, Arise and Shine (2015), ink on paper, 20 x 16 inches


    By utilizing her knowledge and understanding of science and mythology, Kang combines her experiences and observations in a variety of ways to express her journey as a seer and thinker. She records her dreams, her challenges and her theories with ink on paper or mixed media on canvas with such great fineness and intensity that we must stand up and take notice. I find the delicacy of the application of ink, and the variations in dark and light she garners in Arise and Shine (2015), and Dream of Broccoli I (2015) and II (2015) to be some of the most graceful and alluring drawings I have seen in a very long time. Despite their smallish size (20 x 16 inches) they draw me right in from across the gallery floor like a moth to light. Once in at close range, I am reminded of the curious tales or Dr. Seuss who illustrated with great flair for fantasy, life in the microscopic town of Whoville. Both Kang and Seuss are working in the realm of Surrealism; however, Kang is more of a romantic, more mysterious with her intentions, which are highly personal and intensely symbolic.

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    Joohyun Kang, Victory (2007), beads, sequins and mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 1/2 inches


    Within this most elegant and beautiful exhibition, curator Koh includes some of Kang's earlier works for those unfamiliar with the artist's methodology. Victory (2007) is a grand object comprised of carefully attached beads, sequins and other materials on a monochromatically painted chromium oxide green canvas. Even before I saw the title I read the iconography as 'victory' - a wonderful example of the power of visual communication. Dragons-Power Game I (2013), a similarly comprised work of beads, sequins and mixed media on canvas; and Dragons-Power Game II (2013), which is a wonderfully executed watercolor on paper declare the same endless tale where two bitter rivals endlessly battle each other with no apparent gain but to say they never gave in, even in death.

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    Joohyun Kang, Birth of Culture (2014), beads, sequins and mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 inches


    Birth of Culture (2014) is another symbolic work that correlates directly, the emergence of aesthetics with nature. For the most part in the U.S., we tend to flatten the land before we build. We erect buildings that have straight lines and right angles. Simply put, we want our building to stand out. In seeing Kang's Birth of Culture I am reminded, when for the first time while visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea, I understood that scale, line, form and color in ancient Korean architecture was directly related to the natural environment.

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    Joohyun Kang, Path I (2015-6), glass, beads and mixed media on canvas, 64 x 96 inches


    Path I (2015-16) and Path II (2016) are the most directly related to the artist's personal journey as they symbolize a multitude of paths one's life could take. And it is in these works that we see that Kang is becoming more focused, and even more mysterious with her Iconography as she attempts to hone in on a more metaphysical approach to addressing 'the nature of being'.

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  • 10/31/16--18:20: Stage Door: The Front Page
  • 2016-11-01-1477962197-2038618-thefrontpage.jpg
    It's 1928, a dirty press room in Chicago's Criminal Courts Building. Reporters are keeping a deathwatch on the jail, where anarchist Earl Williams (John Magaro) is waiting to be hanged for accidently shooting a black police officer.

    Williams' hanging has become a media circus: The mayor and police chief are days away from a reelection campaign -- and they need the black vote.

    Cynicism, indifference, political venality - it's all part of The Front Page, the dark comedy masterwork by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, now on Broadway at The Broadhurst. It exposes the vices of tabloid journalism with relish.

    The newsroom is either killing time or abuzz with the possibility of a scoop, any new twist on the case. Fastidious reporter Bensinger (Jefferson Mays) even asks if the hanging can move up a few hours -- so he can make the morning edition.

    At the top of the food chain is Hildy Johnson (an appealing, sassy John Slattery), who claims he wants out, and his demanding, scheming, story-obsessed editor Walter Burns (a volcanic Nathan Lane). Yet they eventually grab the scoop of the year: Williams has escaped -- and they're hiding him.

    What ensues, once the action shifts into high gear, are high jinks, insanity and a crazed disregard for anyone or anything, save the story. With a top-notch 26-person cast, the ensemble piece cracks-wise, a humorous salute to a bygone era of newspapers and the often boorish men who populated it.

    Corrupt politicians, the Red Menace and sensationalism rule the day. It's a time when, in the words of Burns, "baboons" and "bastards" ran the show. Facts? Sometimes. Mostly, it's about the sordid shenanigans to secure an exclusive -- whatever the cost.

    The play is sharp and well-constructed, though the first act (of three) is all exposition. And yes, for some it may be a bit cringe-worthy, with its casual racism and misogyny. But that's the deal. The playwrights were seasoned newsmen who knew the score. As one grizzled journo puts it, his breed is "a cross between a bootlegger and a whore."

    The Front Page is considered the greatest play written about the newspaper business. Later, it was made into a 1931 film version starred Adolphe Menjou as Walter Burns and Pat O'Brien as Hildy Johnson. But it's cinematic apex is the brilliant 1940 screwball comedy His Girl Friday, with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, as Walter and Hildy.

    This revival, with a spot-on set by Douglas W. Schmidt and lively direction by Jack O'Brien, hits the bull's-eye, aided by an excellent cast of stage vets, including John Goodman, Lewis J. Stadlen, Sherie Rene Scott, Dann Florek, Dylan Baker, Holland Taylor and Robert Morse.

    Hearing the always-funny Nathan Lane scream invective is a lesson in comic timing. And he's got real chemistry with Slattery. Their crazy codependency is a romance all its own.

    "Get me rewrite" and "stop the presses" may be a thing of the past in the digital age, but The Front Page is still big news.

    Photo: Julieta Cervantes

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