No Longer Broadway Bound

Brighton Beach Memoirs Broadway ShowThe Broadway community got a rather stunning announcement today when news came out that the revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which just opened less than a week ago, will close tomorrow, Sunday, November 1st. This means that not only will that show be shuttering, but its sister production, Broadway Bound, won’t be opening at all. The two Neil Simon plays, both about Simon’s alter ego Eugene Morris Jerome at different stages in his life, were going to play in rep at the Nederlander Theatre. The reason for the unusually quick closing of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which stars Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) and newcomer Noah Robbins, is simple: lack of ticket sales. In a season of dramas featuring big name stars (e.g. A Steady Rain starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, Jude Law’s Hamlet), these two old-fashioned plays just couldn’t drum up enough public interest. Forty years ago, that would have been unthinkable, as Neil Simon’s name was a colossal draw at the Broadway box office, but his plays – new or old – simply don’t bring in the crowds the way they used to.

Oleanna Broadway Show Review

Oleanna Broadway ShowShow Summary
A college professor (Bill Pullman) faces off with one of his female students (Julia Stiles) in this revival of the 1992 David Mamet play.

Broadway Review
Although this is not considered to be one of Mamet’s best plays, and both the director and actors have made a few less-than-effective choices in this production, Oleanna still succeeds at being a fantastic conversation starter (in fact, each 80-minute performance is followed by a lively audience talkback with special panelists). Serving as a virtual Rorschach test for viewers, the play provokes questions about sexual politics, higher education, political correctness, feminism, male aggression, and class differences that will have you arguing with your theater companions for the rest of the night.

Get Your Scare on and Join the Village Halloween Parade

Village Halloween ParadeYou either love it or you hate it, but it’s probably safe to say that Halloween in New York is not like Halloween anywhere else. Today’s the big day, and with the plethora of catalogues that start arriving in July, pop-up Halloween stores, and events around the city, Halloween has reached the status of a seriously major occurrence. (Many of us grew up in an era where our moms just threw together a few sheets to make us into ghosts, and that was it.)
And with Halloween comes the biggest Halloween event of all—New York City’s Village Halloween parade.(It’s included in the book “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”
This year marks the event’s 36th anniversary, with the theme “Terra Incognita”; it celebrates the ancient mariners exploring undiscovered waters. (Interpret as you wish.) The parade, which wends its way up Sixth Avenue, starts south of Spring Street and north of Canal Street. Revelers can gather between 6:30 and 8:30 pm; the parade officially kicks off at 7:00 PM.
The spectacle offers one of the more over-the-top, exhibitionist Halloween events anywhere in the country—all in the confines of an organized event. Along with the marchers, musical acts, circus performers and puppeteers–one of the parade’s highlights—join the throngs.
Parade-ers have to be in costume to join, but spectators–sometimes more than 2 million of them–are welcome. Only costumed participants are allowed in the parade itself. Abandon normal clothing, all ye who enter there.
Not brave (or foolish) enough to participate or watch it in person? Never mind–it’s being broadcast on NY1 from 8-9:30 pm tonight.

There’s No Place Like a Train for the Holidays: Get on Board for "A Christmas Carol"

Christmas Carol Train TourSo you still haven’t decided where to put Uncle Mel at the Thanksgiving table, but never mind–wire your brain to skip ahead, because big Christmas movie releases wait for no relative.
This Friday–Sunday (Oct. 30-Nov.1) Disney’s “Christmas Carol” Train pulls into New York’s Grand Central Station, the last stop on its 40-stop tour across the country. (Track 37; 9 am -7 pm, Fri and Sat; 9 am-4 pm on Sun.) The occasion? The upcoming release of Disney’s big holiday movie “A Christmas Carol.”
The tour started in Los Angeles’ Union Station last May (no, really), and spent the summer and early fall traveling across the country, covering more than 16,000 miles of track and touching in points from Santa Fe to St. Louis, Oklahoma City to Omaha.
Each train car (yes, they will remain stationery) showcases a different aspect of the film’s production, and activities galore are on board for guests of all ages; you can check out objects from the Charles Dickens Museum in London; wander through digital galleries; and even be serenaded by holiday carolers. And yes, you can also(no surprise) catch a glimpse of a pivotal scene (so we’re told) in the 3-D film.
The walk-through takes about an hour; lines are expected to be long; but–on the upside—the tour is free, and no reservations are needed.
So get into the holiday spirit–even if you’re still several holidays behind.

There’s a Rainbow on the Great White Way

Finian's Rainbow Broadway MusicalThe brand new revival of the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow opened on Broadway this evening. The production, which is playing an open run at the St. James Theatre, began as a part of the City Center Encores! series. Because of its success during that limited run, producers decided that they wanted to transfer it to Broadway. The Broadway production, re-imagined and expanded from the Encores! version, stars Tony Award winner Jim Norton (The Seafarer) as the title character and Christopher Fitzgerald (Young Frankenstein) as the leprechaun who chases him from old Ireland to America’s Deep South. Also starring is Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu), Kate Baldwin, Chuck Cooper, Terri White, and William Youmans. A whimsical, satirical, romantic romp, Finian’s Rainbow has a score by Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg that features songs such as “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?” and “Old Devil Moon”.

Abigail Breslin To Play Helen Keller on Broadway

A new production of William Gibson’s wonderful play The Miracle Worker is bound for Broadway in February 2010. Young film actress Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Signs, and the new release Zombieland) will play Helen Keller in this production alongside New York theater regular Alison Pill (Mauritius and The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Broadway) as her determined teacher Annie Sullivan. The production, under the direction of Ruined helmer Kate Whoriskey, will play at the Circle in the Square Theatre. A 2003 production of The Miracle Worker starring Hilary Swank was supposed to come to Broadway following its run in Charlotte, but that engagement fell through. The drama is of course well known to movie audiences everywhere because of the fine film version starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, who both starred in the original Broadway production.

What Does the City Council Do? Take a Look at Yesterday’s Agenda

Proposed MOMA TowerEver wonder what the New York City Council is up to, or, more specifically, what exactly it is that they do?
For starters, yesterday they gave clearance for New York’s MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) to build an 82-story tower on West 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues as part of the museum’s expansion. The 1000-foot-high tower will add 40,000 feet of new gallery space (a 30 percent increase), as well as 150 residential apartments and 100 hotel rooms. It will be on the same block as the current museum building.
What else has the New York City Council been doing with its time?
Well, you should no longer leave your car keys in the ignition while you stroll away to check out a store window–if indeed you had ever contemplated doing such a thing. Not only is it foolish (thieves, people) but it’s also dangerous—unattended cars and vans have killed several people as they either rolled backwards or were stolen and then hit someone.
Leaving your car unattended can also be pricey–the fine has been increased from $5 (really? that’s all?) to $250.
Finally (busy day, apparently) the City Council took on advertising rules for businesses selling loan advice to people at the risk of foreclosure—the measure now requires print ads to disclose state regulations that govern the industry. (And they didn’t before?)
So ask not what your City Council does, New York—it passes random measures on just about anything.

Abigail Breslin To Become Helen Keller On Broadway

Abigail BreslinA new production of William Gibson’s wonderful play The Miracle Worker is bound for Broadway in February 2010. Young film actress Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Signs, and the new release Zombieland) will play Helen Keller in this production alongside New York theater regular Alison Pill (Mauritius and The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Broadway) as her determined teacher Annie Sullivan. The production, under the direction of Ruined helmer Kate Whoriskey, will play at the Circle in the Square Theatre. A 2003 production of The Miracle Worker starring Hilary Swank was supposed to come to Broadway following its run in Charlotte, but that engagement fell through. The drama is of course well known to movie audiences everywhere because of the fine film version starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, who both starred in the original Broadway production.

Feel the Earth Move? It’s the New York City Police

New York City Police CarIt’s not an earthquake or the fallout from a noisy party–it’s the New York City Police, and while they might not have their phasers on stun, they now have their cars on vibrate. Twenty-five New York City police cars were outfitted last week with a device called “The Rumbler,” and another hundred plus were added earlier this week. The devices were tested in precincts throughout the city for almost a year before they were rolled out.
What’s the point? Well, gabbing on your cell or to a friend next to you; texting; listening to your ipod; or merely being lost in a fantasy of moving to Barbados will no longer be enough to distract you from police vehicles trying to get through city traffic.
The device emits a low-frequency sound wave that can be felt by pedestrians as well as drivers up to 200 feet away. In the car? No use trying to turn up your stereo to ear-popping levels, yelling at the kids in the backseat, or rolling up your windows—the vibrations can still be felt; it’s rumored that they may even be strong enough to rattle a rear-view mirror. Hmm.
The system makes sense, sort of, since many New Yorkers seem oblivious to police cars trying to get by, especially at crowded intersections. Will the vibrations cause pedestrians to jump aside in panic or merely stand there dumfounded?
Well, the new system will certainly grab everyone’s attention.
Note: Any jokes—lewd or otherwise—that you are thinking of making have undoubtedly been made, most likely by the police themselves.

Halloween Frights Galore Set Sail on the USS Intrepid

Pumpkin Fun on the IntrepidYou may have noticed a distinct uptick in the number of witches, ninjas, and French maids on the streets of New York–and yes, that could just be everyday wear, given that it is New York, but in this case, it does mean that Halloween doth approach, so get thee to a pumpkin-carving class, or at least, get yourself some bat ears and try to feel festive.
To get you in the proper ghoulish mood, The USS Intrepid (Pier 86; West 46th Street and 12th Avenue; 877-957 SHIP; or 212-245-0072) has started the festivities early, with “Haunting on the Hudson,” a week of Halloween-y fun, running through Sunday, November 1.
The Haunted House part of the festivities allows guests to meander through the frightfully decorated Combat Information Center (there’s a joke in there somewhere…) and every day this week, visitors can catch a “Grumpkin” carving demonstration. (What is a Grumpkin? Well may you ask. They’re weird sculptures carved from giant fruit, and, as you can tell by their names, smiling cheerily is not in their nature.)
Things get creepier as the week progresses, with the bulk of the events happening, of course, on October 31. Magic Shows, stilt walkers (scary? who knows); face painting; storytelling; crystal balls or fortunetellers; and “Interactive Statue Scarecrows” all abound. That last one is enough to have us running from the ship.
If you’re made of stronger stuff, “Operation Slumber” commences on Halloween night; visitors can spend the night (ooh, creepy!), and also participate in a treasure hunt; watch a movie; hear haunted tales about the Intrepid; and finally, go to sleep (or not) on the aircraft carrier.
Well, it’ll make a good story.