Scandal and Satire Never Go Out of Style, as a New Exhibition Attests

Voltaire's CandideVoltaire’s “Candide,” the rollicking, ironic, effervescent commentary on 18th-century Europe, turns 250 this year, and the New York Public Library is celebrating with not one, but two exhibitions.
The book’s sharp-eyed mix of satire and social commentary made it both widely popular as well as a target for its scandalous nature from the Vatican. It has been made into a superb and well-loved operatic musical, and the story has been illustrated more than 100 times; other authors have even tried their hands at adding to our hero’s adventures.
Now, the Stephen A. Schwartzsmann Building of the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street; 917-275-6975) hosts the exhibition “Candide at 250: Scandal and Success” in its Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery, though April 25.
The exhibition includes all 17 of the (known) 1759 editions of the book, as well the original manuscript of “Candide,” on loan from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
But wait…there’s more! In conjunction with the physical library exhibition, an online exhibition is also being presented. (candide.nypl.org). “On the Road with Candide” offers an “online journey” that takes viewers/readers though commentary, illustrations, videos and even a lesson plan concerning the novel. It’s a lively and in-depth look at the novel that even includes a project done by Brooklyn 10th graders, as well blog posts by NYPL curators and guest artists. (How modern of the Library!)
Scandal and satire? It was as modern then as it is now.

Michelle Obama and Children See Memphis on Broadway

Michelle ObamaThe Obamas minus papa prez (who was quite busy in Washington D.C. with the vote on health care reform) made a visit to Memphis yesterday. First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha took in the Sunday matinee of the new musical about a southern DJ who introduces his listeners to the rhythm and blues music known at the time as “race music”. The show’s cast members weren’t the only ones to get applause at that performance – the Obamas received an enthusiastic standing ovation from their fellow audience members.

Like a Banana With Your Hot Dog? Head to Central Park

A NY GreencartOK, New Yorkers, it’s time to think green and healthy instead of brown and salty. If you automatically search out a hot dog cart or a pretzel vendor when you’re in New York’s Central Park, start thinking bananas and strawberries instead.
Starting next month, the city will expand its Green Cart campaign in an effort to get New Yorkers to eat healthier–even on the go.
The new carts, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, will be located in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, including Fifth Avenue between East 80th and East 81st Streets; Fifth Avenue between East 86th and East 87th Streets, and West 100th Street between Lenox Avenue Central Park West. Part of the choice of locations was an effort to draw in tourists who visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue at 81st Street) and the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 81st Street).
Produce will come from the Hunts Point Market, and will include goodies at competitive prices, such as three bananas for a dollar; mangoes for $1.50; and a half-pound box of strawberries for $2. And if you’re craving all three, you can now try something new: fruit salad will be offered at $3 a pound. (Whether you want to walk around Central Park or the Museum of Natural History eating fruit salad is another story.)
About 30 carts in Central Park already offer snack foods such as pretzels, peanuts, ice cream and hot dogs throughout the park.
New Yorkers’ reactions to the carts is mixed: Some say they’re not likely to buy a banana while strolling through the park, while other applaud the larger selection of healthier, fresher food.
In any event, now you’ll have a choice. A pretzel with a side order of mangoes, anyone?

The Miracle Worker Broadway Show Review

The Miracle Worker Broadway ShowShow Summary
William Gibson’s dramatic masterpiece tells the true story of how Annie Sullivan (Alison Pill) finally taught deaf-and-blind girl Helen Keller (Little Miss Sunshine‘s Abigail Breslin) how to communicate with the outside world.

Broadway Review
With vital lessons about perseverance, the importance of communication, and learning to see beyond disability, this timeless story is great for students, families, and people of all ages. Breslin, an articulate young actress, has the challenge of taking on a role in which she can only communicate through action and grunting, and she does a wonderful job. She is effectively the antagonist though, as this is really Sullivan’s story, and the always-excellent Pill (reasons to be pretty, The Lieutenant of Inishmore) is perfect as the determined teacher, herself once a stubborn little girl yearning to see.

Present Laughter Closes On Broadway Today

Present Laughter Broadway ShowThe Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the classic Noel Coward comedy Present Laughter has its final performance at the American Airlines Theatre this afternoon. The play stars Victor Garber as vainglorious actor Garry Essendine, an aging leading man who, on the verge of taking a trip to Africa, finds his apartment overrun by a chaotic series of characters, including his estranged wife, a lovestruck young actress, an adulterous producer, and a maniacal playwright (played with hilarious hysteria by Brooks Ashmanskas). Harriet Harris (who has been in numerous Broadway shows, including Roundabout’s production of The Man Who Came To Dinner) plays Essendine’s long-suffering assistant. The limited run production began on January 2 and will have played almost 100 performances when it has its final Broadway bow today.

For a New Career in Film, New York’s the Place to Be

A NY Film PosterEver thought about a career in film? Wondering what exactly a rigger does on a film set? Well, now may be your chance to find out.
A program is being launched by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration to help train women, minorities, and New Yorkers who are struggling job-wise to train for jobs in New York’s film and TV production industry.
The training will include teaching hands-on skills like rigging (whatever that may be) and dolly operation. (In other words; you won’t be learning how to be Sandra Bullock’s stand-in, but you will be learning what all that cool equipment does.) Teachers are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees. It also includes a placement service for mid-level film jobs in those areas.
The first classes launch this spring, and will have about 24 participants. A recruitment event is also being held later this spring, sponsored by the city and held at the New York City College of Technology.
New York is home to a thriving TV and film industry. TV shows from “Sesame Street” to “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl” have filmed (and continue to film) here, while endless movies use the city as a locale, including such recent entries as the “Sex and the City” movies (the latest opens in May) and “Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”
While many film and TV shows now shoot in other cities as stand-ins for New York, we know that there’s nothing like the real thing.

Union Square Gears Up For Spring With a New Playground and More

Union Square PlaygroundUnion Square is no longer just for market vegetables and artisanal breads.
The Parks Department and the Union Square Partnership officially opened a new 15,000-square-foot playground this week, just in time for spring.
This playground is three times larger than the previous one. And play equipment (including swings and climbing rocks) is just the beginning—certain features will make their debut when it gets (even) warmer.
The new playground has three separate “rooms” dedicated to different age groups and equipment. Toddlers get swings and climbing platforms; school-age kids are offered play equipment and a spray shower; and the last area offers more of a free-for–all experience with monkey bars and a tube slide. Landscaped gardens surround the area.
In addition, the whole north side of the park will be renovated: A newly overhauled pavilion will offer a district office, a recreation space and perhaps a café starting in early summer.
The Greenmarket itself is also gearing up for spring with a wider selection of fruits and vegetables as the weather warms up. (In coming weeks, expect asparagus, new potatoes, and perhaps artichokes.) The Market is open for business Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 8 am – 6 pm.
Want to know more about the square and its origins? Free walking tours depart every Saturday at 2 PM; they leave from the Abraham Lincoln Statue near 16th Street. Participants will explore the social, political, and architectural history of the area–expect plenty of discussion along the way. (Reservations are required for groups, but not individuals.)
And, oh yes, perhaps the best news of all for patrons? Five new bathrooms will be added, three of which will make their debut next month in the new comfort station.

Broadway Star Sutton Foster To Go On Tour

Sutton FosterSutton Foster, the talented actress who has played lead roles in such Broadway shows as Thoroughly Modern Millie, Young Frankenstein, Shrek, and Little Women, will be hitting the road soon. She will be presenting An Evening with Sutton Foster at both big cities (Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Francisco) and smaller towns as well (Midland, MI; Morristown, TN; Springfield, OH; and more). The concerts will feature Foster performing songs from her solo album Wish, as well as numbers from her Broadway shows.

Going Green’s in Fashion, Even at the Library

Battery Park CityIt’s a big week for going green–and we don’t just mean because of Saint Patrick’s Day.
A new Public Library opened yesterday in Battery Park City, and it will be one of the city’s “greenest” libraries. An all-day series of events celebrated the library’s official opening.
The branch, the city’s 88th, incorporates such green technology as energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and lighting; it was built with recycled and renewable materials. The floor? Made from wood scraps from window-frame manufacturing. The upstairs carpet? Car tires. If you were wondering, the sanitary fixtures are low-flow, which reduce water consumption. It will receive LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.
We’re not sure what that means, but doesn’t it sound impressive?
The $6.7 million enterprise includes a two-story, 10,000 square-foot library with 24,000 items. It offers three dozen public computers, a large space for various programs, and separate reading areas for kids, teens and adults. Another groovy feature: two self-checkout machines—plus plenty of windows. It’s a heartening development in an economically troubled time; especially when so many public services are being shuttered. (More good news: This branch is actually open until 8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.)
The library will offer a wide range of classes, workshops, and community programs.
It’s located at 175 North End Avenue at Murray Street. Call (212) 790-3499 for more information.
Another welcoming fact about the library? It plays host, rising many stories above it, to the city’s newest–and greenest–residential high-rise.

All About Me Opens on Broadway

All About Me Broadway ShowThe new Broadway show All About Me opens tonight at Henry Miller’s Theatre. The unusual hybrid show, which combines music and comedy, stars gladiola-loving comedienne Dame Edna Everage and singer/pianist Michael Feinstein, both of whom usually perform solo. Their duo show was first announced via a publicity stunt in which each performer had pretended to be bringing individual but similarly-titled shows to Broadway. However, it was subsequently revealed that they would actually be starring alongside one another in a piece written by playwright Christopher Durang. Dame Edna (aka Barry Humphries) has had two shows on Broadway previously, Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance in 2004, and 1999’s The Royal Tour, for which he/she won a Tony Award. Feinstein has previously appeared on Broadway in a handful of concert specials.