Promises, Promises Opens on Broadway

Promises, Promises Broadway ShowToday the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises opens at the Broadway Theatre. The new production stars Broadway newcomer Sean Hayes (best known as Jack on TV’s Will & Grace) as Chuck Baxter, an ambitious young businessman who tries to work his way up the corporate ladder by lending his apartment to executives for their extramarital affairs. Kristin Chenoweth (best known as the original Glinda in Broadway’s Wicked) plays Fran Kubelik, the object of Chuck’s affection, who he is unhappy to discover has become the mistress of one of the execs. Based on the film The Apartment, the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises has a book by playwright Neil Simon and a score by Burt Bacharach. The show’s songs include the title tune and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” and the song “I Say a Little Prayer” has been added to the score especially for this production.

Get Ready to Be Dazzled: King Tut Comes to New York

King TutTut, tut, New York, get ready to catch King Tut fever: Not one, but two exhibitions celebrating the legendary Egyptian boy king have landed in New York.
In midtown’s Discovery Times Square Exposition Center (Discovery TSX; 226 West 44th Street; 888-988-8692), “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” has just opened, and will be in the city through the beginning of next January before returning to Egypt. The exhibition includes both treasures unearthed from his tomb as well as scientific findings about King Tut.
The crown that was on his head in the tomb, along with a gold coffinette, are on display. King Tut died when he was 19 in about 1324 BC: the latest scientific evidence shows that the cause may have been malaria combined with a degenerative bone disease. An entire gallery is devoted to scientific studies, including DNA information, surrounding his life and death.
Two family days are coming up: Sunday, May 9, and Sunday, June 13—they will include special tours and a mummy-wrapping activity.
Over at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street; 212 879-5500; through September 6), “Tutankhamun’s Funeral” is on display; it looks at the funeral rites and materials associated with Tut’s burial. The exhibition serves as a nice complement to the one at Times Square. Materials that were used at his burial and funeral rites—including bowls, linen sheets and bandages, jars and floral collars–are on view at the exhibition, as are archival photographs that provide background. A sculpted head of the boy king is also on view, as are facsimile paintings showing funerary rites.
Get wrapped up in Tut and go!

American Idiot Broadway Show Review

American Idiot Broadway ShowShow Summary
Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning album, American Idiot follows the lives of frustrated working class youth struggling to find their place in a society that they feel alienated from.

Broadway Review
As in director Michael Mayer’s previous foray into the teenage wasteland, Spring Awakening, American Idiot both looks and sounds spectacular, thanks to an excellent young cast, Green Day’s many memorable songs (“When September Ends,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” etc.), Tom Kitt’s fine arrangements, and all-around terrific design elements (including Darrel Maloney’s clever video design). However, the loose concept that makes Green Day’s American Idiot album feel like a cohesive story is very weak when put up onstage, so the show is better appreciated as a staged concert than as an actual Broadway musical. Even then, it seems that American Idiot would fare better in a smaller concert-friendly venue that would allow the audience to rock along. (Or maybe the show just needs to take a page from Rock of Ages‘ book and find ways to create a more festive atmosphere.)

Get Ready, Union Square and 34th Street: Changes are Afoot

34th StreetFollowing on the heels of the much-disputed pedestrian plaza near New York’s 42nd Street and Times Square, another such plaza is in the works for the area between 17th and 18th Streets, north of Broadway near Union Square. The plan is expected to be brought before the local community board on Monday.
Also in the works: A walkway along 34th Street, between Herald Square and the Empire State Building, which would turn the thoroughfare—one of the city’s most crowded–into a one-way street. Buses would still run in both directions, in specific lanes that would be separated from pedestrians by concrete barriers. The plan is intended to give pedestrians more room to navigate, and also to speed up ponderously slow cross-town buses—some of the slowest in the entire city. Travel time for the buses could improve as much as 35 percent.
Riders would be able to pay for their ride before they boarded, and the buses could send a signal that would keep the traffic lights green as they approached an intersection. Cars, however, would not be allowed on the block between 5th and 6th Avenues; they would go westbound from 6th Avenue the West Side Highway, and eastbound from Fifth Avenue to the FDR Drive.
Not surprisingly, many bus riders support the plan, while drivers of cars are less optimistic, fearing that the closures will make their commute even worse.
The project is expected to be finished at the end of 2012, with final designs due next year; it’s expected to cost about $30 million. The plan was first proposed back in 2008; a public hearing was held last week.
The change would significantly alter both the traffic patterns and the layout of the streets in midtown Manhattan.

Keep Saving the Planet: Museums Help Save the Earth

Exit Art
For those of you concerned abut the planet (and seriously, that should mean you), Earth Day has now morphed into Earth week. (And hey, New York, shouldn’t it really be Earth Day every day?)
In the city, museums and arts organizations have gotten into the act with installations designed to highlight the environmental issues facing the planet.
PS 1 and The Museum of Modern Art took on the issue of rising sea levels, with the resulting “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront,” on display through October 11. (MoMA is at 11 West 53rd Street in Manhattan; 212 708-9400.) The creative solutions include water-absorbing sidewalks and apartment buildings that dangle above the water. (We said creative, not necessarily realistic.)
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum (145 Brooklyn Avenue; 718-735-4400), which is being certified as the city’s first “green” museum, is offering the “Celebrate Earth!” Festival, a two-day, earth-focused extravaganza this weekend, April 24 and 25. An eco-fair and bark-painting workshop are among the offerings.
Also in Brooklyn, the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge offers “A Thousand Thousand Slimy Things,” a play focused on the problems facing our oceans and ocean life. It’s offered through May 9 for older kids and adults. (290 Conover Street; 718- 624-4719). The museum promotes historical preservation and the city’s maritime past.
Exit Art, (at 475 10th Avenue; 212 966-7745) is presenting “What Matters Most?”, through April 28. The exhibition was inspired by a “New York Times” blog that asked the question “What Matters Most?” Artists contributing to the exhibit either created works that related to a particular blog entry or presented relevant works.
So take in an exhibit–and keep saving the planet.

Brian d’Arcy James To Join Next To Normal on Broadway

Brian d'Arcy JamesBrian d’Arcy James will be rejoining the Tony Award winning musical Next To Normal, this time on Broadway. James originated the role of Dan Goodman in the Off-Broadway premiere of Next To Normal at Second Stage Theatre, but was unavailable when the show eventually went on to its Broadway production at the Booth Theatre. Now that he’s no longer playing the title role in Shrek, and his limited run engagement in Time Stands Still has ended, Brian d’Arcy James is now free to succeed J. Robert Spencer (Jersey Boys) when he exits the show on May 16. James will start his run in the show the following day, May 17.

Shut Off a Light, Save the Planet: It’s Earth Day

Earth Day 2010OK, New York: Flick off those lights, turn off that faucet, pick up that litter. Yes, you should do that every day, but today is Earth Day (the 40th anniversary, no less) so it’s time to take stock of your impact on the planet.
For starters, you can head over to Grand Central Station (42nd Steeet and Park Avenue). Two days of Earth Day events start tomorrow: The Earth Fair (Friday; 12-7 pm; Saturday; 11-5 pm) celebrates with music, art, “green” vendors and more. But you don’t have to wait until then: Earth show images are being projected onto two of the north columns of the concourse, and will run 10 hours a day.
In New York’s Central Park, free Earth Day events are happening all day. Check out the Chess & Checkers House (mid-Park at 64th Street); where you can participate in eco-friendly crafts from 2-4 PM. (Call 212 794-4064.)
You can also view an exhibit called “Under the Canopy: Caring for Central Park’s Trees” at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street and Lenox Avenue); learn about the Park’s 24,000 trees. (Go to centralparknyc.org for more information on Earth Day events.)
Stores around the city are also getting involved: you can visit a green pop-up shop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (625 8th Avenue) through May 1; or, for a larger-scale event, stop by Times Square between 11am and 2 pm for a public celebration today
FYI, Earth Day began in April, 1970 as a way to raise awareness about such environmental problems as pollution and ozone depletion.
Forty years later, everyone’s involvement is no less important.
Tomorrow: How museums and arts organizations around the city are getting involved in preserving the planet.

Harry Connick Jr. To Croon on Broadway This Summer

Harry Connick JrCharming crooner Harry Connick Jr. is bringing his act to Broadway this summer in a special limited engagement concert to be held at the Neil Simon Theatre from July 15-26. Connick Jr. previously appeared on Broadway in concert back in 1990 when he performed An Evening with Harry Connick Jr. and His Orchestra at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Since then, his involvement with the Great White Way has been as an actor (in the hit revival of The Pajama Game in 2006) and as a composer (for the ill-fated musical Thou Shalt Not).

Red Broadway Show Revew

Red Broadway ShowShow Summary
Alfred Molina stars as the legendary abstract painter Mark Rothko in this new play about the artist’s struggle with fame, fortune, and the challenge of creating new work.

Broadway Review
John Logan’s two-man drama is a thrilling look at the artistic process and also a fascinating biographical sketch of a methodical painter who defied the stereotype of the reckless artist. Those who consider abstract art puzzling will likely find Red quite illuminating, and everybody can appreciate the dynamic performances being given by Molina and by Eddie Redmayne, who plays Rothko’s young assistant, a budding artist with a terrifying past.

Gun Control Laws Use Haunting Images to Make Their Point

Mayor BloombergMayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun control organization partly overseen by New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is using footage from the Columbine High School shootings to get their point across. The organization counts more than 500 mayors from across the country as part of their group, which seeks to prevent the purchase and dissemination of illegally obtained guns by criminals. Their aim is to develop laws, practices, and policies that will allow Americans to own guns, but prevent criminals from possessing them illegally. Mayors who belong to the group come from a diverse range of locations , including Orlando, Florida; Portsmouth, VA; St. Paul, MN; and Vista, CA.
More than $250,000 will be spent on ads to air on cable TV stations. The ads, which feature video shot by surveillance cameras at Columbine High School, started running yesterday in states including Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Virginia, in order to reach the senators of those states.
The ads make the point that four of the guns used in those horrific shootings were purchased at gun shows, where background checks are not required when purchasing a firearm.
Last year, more than $1.5 million was spent by New York City on detectives who went undercover at gun shows and bought weapons. The detectives even told the sellers that they wouldn’t pass a background check.
Congress has not been able to push through laws requiring background checks for gun purchasers. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) said that background checks at gun shows would take too long, and also hamper the rights of gun owners who purchased their weapons legally.