If You Blinked, You Might Have Missed It

Or: 8 Hours in London, including travel time!

So, it’s Friday morning and we’re just about to embark on our Etihad fantasy, and I thought I’d give you the details of our sprint through London yesterday. In a word, it was “perfect”.

Our flight from JFK arrived right on time and, because we were fast-tracked through border control, we sped down to baggage claim and, unlike all US baggage systems, our luggage was already on the carousel and ready for us to pickup. We were on the street moments later.

We had intended to take a taxi from Terminal 5/Heathrow to the Hilton London Heathrow, which is located at Terminal 4. As it turned out, our intrepid AAC, CPA saw a shuttle bus which would do the very same thing. Ten minutes later, we were dropped off at the hotel.

Hilton Exterior
AAC, CPA does the Hilton and does it well

We had requested an early check-in (for a nominal surcharge), so our room was ready upon arrival, rather than the usual 3:00 PM check-in. We chose a king junior suite to give us some extra room and it was more than adequate. And the bed was SENSATIONAL!

We got settled in, checked out the hotel – there are several different dining venues down at the lobby level and a nice bar. 

And then we were off to London. Remember how I mentioned that there is a 10-minute covered walkway directly from the hotel to Terminal 4, getting us to both the Piccadilly line for our trip into London and, also, to Etihad check-in for our flight to Abu Dhabi? Well, I wasn’t misinformed.

Hilton - Walkway
Follow the walkway!

We hopped onto the Piccadilly line and – an hour later – we were exiting at the Green Park Station. You may think that’s a long time to get from Point A to Point B, but with London traffic as heavy as it is, we arrived in London possibly faster than if we’d taken a taxi. All for 3.10GPB each!!

AAC Puts on The Ritz
AAC, CPA puttin’ on the Ritz

Strolling along Piccadilly towards the theatre, AAC CPA was a bit peckish, and we all know how he gets when that happens. So we stopped into one of our favorite casual spots, Paul, and picked up some sustenance.

Paul - pre-matinee snack
Dee-lish!

From there, it was a hop, skip and a jump to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where we had tickets to see Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? What better way to spend a lovely afternoon that with Mr. Albee and his twisted characters?

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AAC, CPA in the theatre throng

AAC Damian & Sophie
AAC, CPA and Damian and Sophie

Haymarket Interior
The beautiful interior of the Haymarket 

The Set
The dimly lit set

Verdict on the play? Let’s just say that it was a very intense 1 hour and 50 minutes. Due to a bit of jet lag on both our parts, AAC, CPA and I may have had a few long blinks during the show….. But we enjoyed it nevertheless. (BTW, this play is not for the feint of heart!)

From the theatre, we shimmied over to our favorite hotel, the Corinthia in Whitehall Place, so that we could have a pre-dinner cocktail at the trendy Bassoon Bar. It’s a beautiful and low-key space with excellent cocktails. We know the manager there and he always takes wonderful care of us. They also have yummy nibbles.

Bassoon Bar Negronis
No, No, Negroni!

Corinthia Tulips
AAC, CPA tiptoes through the tulips as we leave the Corinthia

After lazing around the Bassoon Bar for an hour or so, it was time to get back on the road and head over the Hawksmoor Air Street, one of several Hawksmoor establishments throughout London. It’s basically a steak house, but really well done. We shared a couple of apps, a beauty of a beef fillet, yummy sides, a lovely Malbec and, for dessert, a very special Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
The aforesaid Sticky Toffee Pudding at Hawksmoor Air Street

By then, it was time to tube it back to the Hilton. Piccadilly Station was just 2 minutes from the restaurant and, within an hour, we were back at our digs.

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AAC, CPA retraces his steps after our 8-hour London adventure

By the time we got back to our room, the combination of not sleeping too much the night before and all of the day’s activities conspired to send us right to bed. We set a 6:00 AM wakeup call, slept fitfully and, now, here we are awaiting our flight, which we will board in about 30 minutes.

Etihad Lounge Entry

AAC orders breakfast
AAC, CPA fortifies himself before boarding our flight.

Etihad Flight Board
The flight board

So now it’s time to pack it in for awhile. Barring any surprises – both your’s and mine – the next time you’ll hear from me will be when we get to Dubai.

That’s all, folks!!

 

 

On the Road Again – Part One

Greetings from a slightly sunny and cool Sunday morning in New York City. Spring is trying to arrive in fits and starts. I suppose one must be patient.

I know we’ve been away a long time. We’ve missed you, but we’ve had a very productive winter, attending lots of theatre and opera and the like, dining out at establishments both new and familiar.

But now it’s time to get out of town and our upcoming trip will take us to some fabulous places and, perhaps, just a bit out of our comfort zones. 

The main event of this trip will be a 19-day cruise from Dubai to Piraeus (Athens). We’ll sail through the Middle East and the Suez Canal, to Israel and through the Greek Islands. It’s going to be quite the big deal, I think.

Our ship will be the 3 months old Seabourn Encore. As you know, we’re very loyal to Crystal Cruises, and this will be our first time aboard a Seabourn vessel, but everything we’ve heard augers well and we’re looking forward to trying something new. 

Seabourn Encore
The beautiful new Seabourn Encore

Spoiler Alert: If you look at the 2nd deck up from the jacuzzi at the front of the ship, the outdoor area on the right is the balcony for our cabin. We’re literally under the bridge.

More about the cruise later.

But first, we must get to Dubai to board the ship. And therein lies a tale and a bit of an adventure. 

It’ll be no surprise to you that we like to travel well and, most importantly, we like to get the best bargains wherever we find them.

We also like to tick off our “bucket list” items, one of which is to fly on Etihad Airways in the first class Apartments.

Oh – and we want to do it on miles, ie., for cheap!

So, for the past year, I’ve been looking to score 2 award flights from JFK to AUH (a/k/a Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates). There are 2 flights daily but, in order to fly in the Apartments, you must fly the A-380, which service is currently offered only on 1 flight daily. Awards in first class on this aircraft are impossible to obtain. The other daily flight is on a smaller aircraft and, therefore, doesn’t offer the Apartment. It’s always something, right?

(Wouldn’t you know – starting on June 1st, Etihad will offer A380 service on both daily flights from New York and, at that point, it’s possible to find award availability if you can book about 3 months in advance. Sigh!)

To cover ourselves, we booked flights on British Airways through Heathrow (London) with a connecting flight to Dubai. We were able to do it all on miles, but BA charges hefty taxes on awards flights. Even so, for a few hundred dollars each, we booked first class for both segments. These flights were booked last May and, ever since, I checked and rechecked award availability on Etihad, just in case.

BA 1st - 777
Our British Airways chariot from New York to London

BTW, we love taking the BA overnight flights to London Heathrow. If you’re lucky enough to be flying in first class, you’ll have access to the Concorde Room at JFK, which features a proper restaurant, so you can have dinner there (no charge for food and/or drinks) and, then, once your flight has taken off, you can climb under the covers and sleep for most of the light. Delovely!

Concorde Room JFK - 01
The Concorde Room at JFK

Concorde Room JFK - 02
You can enjoy a proper meal in the Concorde Room before your flight.

After months of frustration being unable to get that elusive Etihad award, I had – what Dorothy Kilgallen on What’s My Line used to call – a wienie! I remembered that Etihad has service to Abu Dhabi from London Heathrow. Would it be possible to find an award on that route?

The Etihad website has a very useful tool that allows you to find available awards and I hit the jackpot in finding exactly what I needed! Now, I wondered, would American Airlines allow me to rebook the 2nd segment (London – Dubai) over to Etihad (London – Abu Dhabi)? Only one way to find out.

The American AAdvantage rep couldn’t have been nicer: Not only was it possible, but we ended up saving several hundreds of dollars on the 2nd segment, because there were virtually no taxes! The whole thing took about 15 minutes and we were done! Woo-Hoo!

Etihad 380
The Etihad A380 – a beautiful piece of engineering

Etihad Apartment 3A and 4A
Our Etihad “Apartments”: mine on the left and AAC CPA’s on the right

Etihad Bar
If you want to be social, drop by the bar at 36,000 feet!

There was one small glitch, however: Because the Etihad flight departs London at 9:30 AM, we will end up having a 22-hour layover in London. Well, folks, I certainly know how to put a layover to good use!

Within 30 minutes of booking the Etihad flight, I’d arranged for matinee tickets to see Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at Theatre Royal Haymarket, and made an early dinner reservation at one of our favorite London restaurants, Hawksmoor in Air Street. In between, we’ll swan over to one of our favorite hotels, The Corinthia in Whitehall Place, where we’ll enjoy a cocktail at the lovely Bassoon Bar.

Theatre Royal Haymarket
The historic Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Goat
Hey – recognize the guy on the left? He was Brody on Homeland!

Bassoon Bar - 02
The trendy Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia

Hawksmoor Air Street
Great steakhouse and more: Hawksmoor in Air Street

Oh, and as we needed a place for the night, I booked accommodations at the Hilton London Heathrow. It was recommended to us by friends who know. And get this: the hotel is a 10-minute walk to Terminal 4/Heathrow, from which our Etihad flight will depart the next morning.

Hilton Exterior
The Hilton is a 10-minute covered walk to Terminal 4 at Heathrow

Hilton Room
Cool accommodations at the Hilton

Walkway LHR - Hilton
Hotel to airport – quick walk – how great is that?

So, our layover will be filled with fun things to do: culture, liquid refreshment, grub.

Oh, and from Terminal 4/Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus in Central London, we can take the Piccadilly line in just about an hour. How great is that?

Tube Map to London
How to get from here to there.

The flight from London to Abu Dhabi take about 7½ hours (wish it were LONGER!), so we’ll arrive in Abu Dhabi at about 8:00 PM local time. For the transfer to Dubai (about a 90 minute drive), we’ve arranged for our hotel – Raffles Dubai – to pick us up at the airport.

Dubai
Iconic Image – Dubai

Raffles Dubai
Our digs in Dubai – cute, right?

We’ll have 3 nights and 2 full days in Dubai before boarding Encore on Monday, the 17th.

There, in a nutshell, is the first 5 days of our trip. Another preview on the cruise will follow in a couple of days.

Enjoy!

Au revoir, Paris: Our Photo Album

Bon soir, mes amis! This will be my last entry on our holiday trip to Paris and, instead of a lot of gabbing, it’s just going to be photos taken while we were there. Some you may have seen in earlier entries but there are some new ones here, too.

Enjoy!

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Friday evening: British Airways offers on-the-ground-buffet dining for some overnight flights

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AAC, CPA taking advantage of same

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Our Open Skies cabin

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Saturday morning: Checking into the fabulous Peninsula Paris

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Saturday afternoon: AAC, CPA arrives at the Arch de Triomphe: Bon jour, Paris!

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And then grabs lunch at Ladurée just down the Champs Elysses

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Classic Club Ladurée

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The hotel provides us with our own stockings

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Saturday evening: Negronis at Bar Kléber at the Peninsula

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Followed by Christmas Eve dinner at Bistrot de L’Oulette

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Sunday morning: Christmas continental breakfast at Le Lobby

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Sunday afternoon: checking out the competition – Four Seasons George V

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Sunday evening: Pre-opera dinner at L’Opera

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Followed by AAC, CPA at the Palais Garnier

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The grand foyer and Christmas tree at the Palais Garnier

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Iphigénie en Tauride curtain call

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Christmas Night: the Champs Elysses all gussied up

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Monday morning: Irina, of Paris Muse, shows us the Louvre

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And we get to see the Mona Lisa. Wait, what???

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Monday evening: AAC, CPA arrives at Le Grand Véfour

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The jewel-box dining room at Le Grand Véfour

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Sensational duck liver ravioli – one of their “Classics”

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Post-dinner view from our Uber on the way back to the hotel

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Tuesday morning: AAC, CPA takes Le Metro to our next Paris Muse tour

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AAC, CPA outside of Notre Dame Cathedral

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And with our terrific Paris Muse guide, Jason

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Tuesday evening: Cocktails and dinner at Monsieur Bleu

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Cool light fixtures at Monsieur Bleu

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View from the best tables at Monsieur Bleu

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Wednesday afternoon: Lunch at Caviar Kaspia

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You always get pickles with your caviar – a Russian thing?

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2nd course of “The Rasputin Set” – caviar with a baked potato

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Famous sites on the way back to the hotel: the Madeline

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Place de la Concorde – late afternoon

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Wednesday evening: 42nd Street at Théâtre du Châtelet

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AAC, CPA at Théâtre du Châtelet

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42nd Street onstage at Théâtre du Châtelet

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Thursday morning: Paying a visit to Jeu de Paume

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Seeing the exhibit “Uprisings”

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Thursday afternoon: And now over to Bibliothèque nationale de France

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AAC, CPA pays homage to Richard Avedon and Audrey Hepburn

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Part of the Avedon exhibit at Bibliothèque nationale de France

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Thursday evening: Gala farewell dinner at L’Oiseau Blanc atop the Peninsula Paris

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The view from our table at L’Oiseau Blanc

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AAC, CPA takes a picture at L’Oiseau Blanc

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A replica of the actual L’Oiseau Blanc (The White Bird)

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Friday morning: AAC, CPA heads back to reality and New York City

That’s all, folks!!

A Romantic Atmosphere

Whenever the great 1960s musicals (a/k/a the last gasp of the “Golden Age of Broadway”) are written about, the list is invariably topped by such shows as the leading lady musicals (Hello, Dolly!, Mame, Funny Girl), the groundbreaking shows (Cabaret, Hair), the satiric and/or subversive shows (Bye, Bye Birdie, How to Succeed), the unlikely blockbuster (Fiddler on the Roof).

What’s often missing from these lists is one of my favorite shows that is too easily dismissed: the Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick/Joe Masteroff 1963 musical She Loves Me.

Based on the 1936 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Milklos Laszlo, you may know the source material better from its 3 film adaptations: Ernst Lublisch’s sublime 1940 film, The Shop Around the Corner, starring a perfectly cast James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, MGM’s musical remake for Judy Garland and Van Johnson, In the Good Old Summertime and, in 1998, Nora Ephron’s re-remake You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Shop Around Poster

Shop Around - Sullivan Stewart
Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart – note the body language

She Loves Me has had 2 major Broadway productions (the original and a revival in 1993), neither of which returned its original investment. Having said that, not every work of art can be judged a failure or success solely on the merits of its box office receipts. Had that been the case, Follies never would have been revived, even though no production (and there have been many of them) of that masterpiece has ever turned a profit.

She Loves Me - 1963 - Playbill
Playbill from the original 1963 production

She Loves Me - 1963 - Cook & Massey
Barbara Cook and Daniel Massey in a tense moment from the original production

She Loves Me - 1963 - Cassidy & Baxley
Jack Cassidy and Barbara Baxley in the original production

As I write this post, a new Broadway production of She Loves Me has just begun previews at Studio 54 and has set March 17th at its opening night. AAC CPA and I were there last week for the 1st preview and by the time you have finished reading this post, I hope you will have already ordered your tickets.

She Loves Me - 2016 - Playbill

CULTURE TIP: She Loves Me at Studio 54

So, what is it about this story that so captures our fancy and has certainly withstood the test of time, considering its many iterations over the past 80 years? And, in particular, what is it about She Loves Me that casts a spell over its audiences and completely captivates us to such an extent that it is difficult to remove the smile from your face well after you’ve left the theatre?

As with everything, let’s start with the story.

Here comes the BIG SPOILER ALERT, which is revealed within the first 30 minutes of the show: the leading man (Georg, originally played by Daniel Massey) and lady (Amalia, originally played by Barbara Cook) work in a “parfumerie” – a place which no longer exists – where perfume was sold and/or made. Being on the cusp of middle age and still single, they have each entered into a correspondence relationship with someone they believe to be their possible soulmates. Unbeknownst to each of them, they are writing to each other. And, oh yes, at work they cannot stand the sight of each other.

So maybe the plot might seem like boy and girl meet cute, complications ensue, but it all works out in the end – in other words, a formula story with a denouement we all saw coming as soon as were in on the gimmick.

But that’s not what’s going on here. In the finest of the Parfumerie adaptations – and I consider The Shop Around the Corner to be every bit as good as She Loves Me – the story becomes elevated by the material that was written by, respectively, Samuel Raphelson and Ben Hecht for the movie, and by Masteroff, Bock and Harnick for the musical. Put quite simply, the material for both the film and musical is just about perfect on all counts.

Joe Masteroff wrote the books for 2 musicals in the 1960s: She Loves Me and, three years later, Cabaret. Whereas the book for Cabaret is a hard-edged, cynical Brechtian orgy, She Loves Me is its complete opposite: witty, genuinely funny and completely romantic. More importantly, Masteroff has created an ensemble of 7 leading players, each of whom is completely human and completely recognizable to the audience. Simply put, we know these people.

Best of all, while the show is in no way sentimental, the show has great sentiment. By that, I mean that the story plays on to its inevitable conclusion but is in no way sappy or sugar-sweet. Whenever the situation threatens to crossover towards a false note of saccharine, our writers come to the rescue with a quip, a witty lyric or a surprise. In this way, it is almost anti-musical in its intentions and its presentation.

That is, except for its exceptional book and score.

It is at this point that we give a tip-of-the-hat to Mr. Bock and Mr. Harnick. They created, perhaps, their most harmonious, humorous and romantic score. There was so much of it, in fact, that the original cast album ran to 2 discs.

The amazing thing about this score is how, from the very opening number, it draws you in, not only to the story but, more importantly, to the inner lives of the characters. Masteroff’s book gives each character his or her special moment when they take center stage and shine. Because She Loves Me exists in musical comedy land, these moments are almost always musicalized. What’s most striking to me is the imagination inherent in the score: the moments that Bock and Harnick choose to musicalize are, in many cases, so surprising. Right at the top of the evening you have “Sounds While Selling” – a double trio of sorts in which customers are being waited upon by their salesmen in overlapping dialogue. Or our leading lady’s first number “No More Candy”, in which she “auditions” for a job at the parfumerie. Or Sipos’ “Perspective”, in which this nerdy clerk explains how not to lose your job and tells you exactly who this Sipos person is.

I thought you might enjoy Amalia’s “audition” scene in the movie and compare it to the musical moment in the play. In the first clip, Margaret Sullavan makes a sale and, in the second clip, Barbara Cook musicalizes the same scene.

The Shop Around the Corner

No More Candy, sung by Barbara Cook

The “second” couple – Ilona and Steven Kodaly (originally played by  Barbara Baxley and Jack Cassidy) get their due as well. In each act, they have back-to-back numbers that, in the first act, totally inform their characters and, in the second, resolve their stories. These numbers are comic but also real. And, in the current revival, one of these numbers – “Ilona” – has an interpolated dance break because Mr. Kodaly and his Ilona are played by the supremely talented Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski, both of whom know a little something about “la danse”.

Our leading couple has ample opportunity to show the various colors of their personalities. When – finally! – the pen pals agree to meet, but still don’t know their real identities, Georg’s “Tonight at Eight” displays the manic combination of fear and joy that an almost blind date inspires. Amalia’s “Will He Like Me?” takes a more touching and introspective look at a woman alone and contemplating what may be her last chance for happiness.

Later, in the second act, they have back-to-back numbers. The ice has now begun to thaw for our lovebirds (he’s figured “it” out, but she doesn’t yet know) and first she, in the showstopping “Ice Cream” and then he, in the show’s title song, invite the audience to share in their newfound joy and surprise. (Notice how, in each song, both Amalia and Georg sing “Will wonders never cease?”)

It’s heady stuff.

And, by the way, let me just mention that the leading lady for this revival of She Loves Me is none other than Laura Benanti. She is one of those performers who, in the old days, Cole, Irving, Alan and Fritz, and Oscar and Dick would be fighting over to cast in their next show. It is a real treat to see Ms. Benanti onstage in a role that fits her like a glove that she might have purchased down the street from that parfumerie.

She Loves Me - 2016 - Cast
Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Cavin Creel and Jane Krakowski, now onstage at Studio 54

But mostly, what’s so deeply moving and entertaining about this show is that, for the entire evening, you are confronted by real people going through their lives in full view of the audience. While She Loves Me might be considered light entertainment, the show is played not for laughs but for real (which, by the way, makes the show riotously funny).

I know that there are many more exciting shows on Broadway just now (Hamilton, anyone?).

But in the final analysis, She Loves Me is both a charmed show and a show with great charm. It’s the type of show that is no longer being written and, quite frankly, may never be written again.

She Loves Me is now playing at Studio 54; performances are currently scheduled through Sunday, June 12th.

2015 Wrap-Up, Part III: Culture

OK – this post is a few days late!! But, in the rush of spending Christmas week in London, New Year’s Eve, and preparing to leave next Thursday for Buenos Aires, I fell a bit behind. I’m sure you’ll forgive my tardiness.

Ahem: As I was saying:

At this time of year, everyone seems to be publishing “best-of” lists. As I’ve only been blogging for barely 3 months, I thought I’d challenge myself to post 3 of these lists: one each for travel, culture, and cuisine.

My final year-end post highlights the cultural events that made a real impression on me in 2015.

In alphabetical order:

Apotheosis Opera – New York

“Hey, kids! Let’s put on an opera!!”

Let’s say that you’re 25 years old and you’re just out of school and it’s always been your dream to conduct and stage an opera. And you get together with a buddy of yours’ and you both agree to start from scratch and – to make it really interesting – you’re not going to produce just any old opera but – why the heck not? – you choose, as the 1st production of your fledgling opera company, Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

We’re talking about an opera in which the title role is so treacherous (à la Siegfried or Tristan) that there are probably less than a dozen tenors worldwide who regularly perform it.

Throwing caution to the wind, that’s exactly what Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz and Sam Bartlett did. They found themselves an orchestra and a talented group of young up-and-coming singers and a venue, the Museo del Barrio on upper Fifth Avenue and, for 3 performances last summer and at a top ticket price of $45.00, you could see a complete Wagnerian opera. IN ENGLISH (even with supertitles!)!! And it wasn’t half bad. In fact, the audacity of it made for one of the cultural highlights last summer in New York.

Welcome to Apotheosis Opera.

One of the best things about attending the performance was seeing the audience – a very diverse one at that – and how excited they were to be there. And, because the pit wasn’t lowered below the main floor as in most theaters and was fully visible to the audience, it was fascinating to watch the orchestra warm up. We were particularly obsessed with one young percussionist rehearsing a tambourine solo over and over again. These were, for the most part, young professional musicians performing Wagner, possibly for the 1st time.

And then there was our young conductor, Mr. Jaroszewicz, whose enthusiasm was palpable and infectious.

I won’t tell you that it was a perfect performance but it had the elements of something very special happening for the first time.

Apotheosis

Opening Night Tannhäuser Curtain Call

The Tannhäuser run was successful enough that, next summer, the Apotheosis guys will present their 2nd production, Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, another opera not often performed and with its own special set of challenges.

Look for it next July.

CULTURE TIP: Apotheosis Opera

The New York Times on Apotheosis Opera

Awake & Sing! – The National Asian American Theatre Company 

Clifford Odets’ quintessential depression-era play about a Jewish family of dreamers and realists living in a cramped apartment in the Bronx had a brief run at the Public Theater last summer and it proved two things: first: NAATCO is a theater company of the 1st order; and second: you don’t have to be or look Jewish to make a compelling case for the play. In fact, it showed, once again, how an excellent production of a seminal play transcends any particular demographic community and becomes, instead, a story of any family that could take place anywhere and anytime.

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The Awake & Sing! Company

CULTURE TIP: National Asian American Theatre Company

The New York Times on Awake & Sing!

Gypsy – London

Performed on the West End for only the 2nd time, since Angela Lansbury’s spectacular 1973 turn as Rose, Gypsy returned in triumph, following a brief run at the Chichester Festival the previous fall. Starring Imelda Staunton as the indomitable Madame Rose, and directed by Jonathan Kent (both of whom collaborated on the 2012 production of Sweeney Todd), this Gypsy was a sensation, and particularly so for Ms. Staunton.

Her fearless and boldly unsympathetic performance is one for the ages: this Rose takes no prisoners. When she says at the end of the play: “I guess I did do it for me”, you know exactly what she means. Yes, she’s a mother and she’s a lover but her ambition lays waste to everything and everyone in her path. She plays the ruthless monster who, through circumstance (because she “was born too soon and started too late”), gets her comeuppance but fails to understand or to accept what has happened to her.

One of the best aspects of this production is that it has been reimagined after so many productions in New York directed by the original librettist, Arthur Laurents. It frees up all of the creatives and allows them to start fresh. Even the original Jerome Robbins’ choreography – except for the brilliant transition when the kids grow up in front of our eyes – is given a fresh coat of paint.

But the main reason to see this Gypsy was to see Staunton’s Rose. Every moment and every movement was completely thought out and yet retained complete spontaneity. Her specificity of thought and deed was riveting.

Fortunately for anyone unable to see the performance live in London may yet have a chance to see this production: It was filmed for BBC several months ago and will be televised in the UK during the holidays; perhaps it will cross the pond and eventually be shown here.

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Imelda Staunton takes on Madame Rose

Variety reviews Gypsy

Hamilton – New York

Is there anyone left who hasn’t heard of the juggernaut called Hamilton? Inconceivable! Playing its initial run at the Public Theater last winter, it arrived on Broadway in triumph this past summer.

And everything you’ve heard is true. It is a landmark musical and Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius.

Hamilton - 01
The insanely talented Lyn-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

Based on Ron Chernow’s 800+ page book, Alexander Hamilton, the musical is a faithful adaptation, performed in rap! Before Miranda’s previous musical – In the Heights – opened and proved me wrong that rap couldn’t succeed and flourish on the musical stage, I was a complete naysayer. But using rap to tell Hamilton’s story – and utilizing the talents of a supremely talented cast of diverse actors – turns out to be a brilliant conceit. Not only that, but the diversity of the cast which, if you look closely, resembles what America looks like today, draws a direct line from the late 18th century to the early 21st century. All of which contributes to the diverse audience clamoring for seats to this show for which tickets are nearly impossible to obtain, unless you have extremely deep pockets (and possibly not even then).

Hamilton - 02
The Hamilton Company

For those of you with long memories, you may recall that exactly 40 years ago another show opened at the Public Theater and, after a resoundingly successful run there, moved quickly to Broadway, where it swept all the theatre awards that season – and the Pulitzer Prize – and went on to run for 15 years. That show was A Chorus Line, and it’s entirely possible that history is about to repeat itself.

CULTURE TIP: Hamilton

The New York Times on Hamilton

The King and I – Lincoln Center Theater

Sometimes, there’s nothing like an old-fashioned musical to lift your spirits. But what’s even better is seeing a new production of a classic show that feels fresh and new. That’s how I felt about Gypsy on the West End and it’s exactly how I feel about Bart Sher’s production of The King and I, now playing at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. Sher has a great talent in mining the texts and scores of well-loved shows, but always finding something new to say, while still respecting the original material. In The King and I, he’s managed to do it in two ways.

First, he’s swept away all of the “far East exotica” that seems highly theatrical but also, perhaps, inauthentic. Instead, Sher and his designers have created an austere and yet incredibly beautiful playing area that suggests Siam and inhabits every inch of the vast Beaumont stage. It is spare and, at the same time, sumptuous. There’s also a marvelous coup-de-theatre that opens the show – which I won’t spoil for you here – that, again, shows off what the Beaumont stage can do.

King and I - 01
Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe – Act I Finale

Second: Sher has reexamined the text and understood, perhaps for the first time, that not only Mrs. Anna Leonowens, but also Lady Thiang and Tuptim, are strong powerful characters and he has directed them in just this way. In Lady Thiang’s case, she has always been presented as subordinate to the King, with little or no character of her own. Not this Lady Thiang, as played by Ruthie Ann Miles, in a Tony-winning performance. She is a prime mover and shaker at the Siamese court and a true power behind the throne. For the first time, I felt that “Something Wonderful” was played not as a plea by a weak woman to a strong woman but, rather, as drawing a line in the sand and daring Mrs. Anna to do what she knows is right.

King and I - 04
Ruthie Ann Miles – Something Wonderful

Ashley Park’s Tuptim is also made of sterner stuff. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t end well.

King and I - 03
Ashley Parks and Ruthie Ann Miles

Ken Watanabe brought great stage presence and charisma to the stage but, unfortunately, he was almost unintelligible during most of the preview period and into the run. Although his diction markedly improved, he left the cast when his contract was up last summer and has been succeeded first by Jose Llana and now by Hoon Lee, both more experienced in the art of theatrical musical performance than Mr. Watanabe.

King and I - 02
The 11:00 Number

Finally, 6 must be the charm for Kelli O’Hara, who triumphantly won her 1st Tony award last Spring (and did her version of “The Worm” as part of her acceptance speech). While her Mrs. Anna was not to everyone’s taste – and she had to compete with Kristen Chenoweth’s brilliant and wacky Lily Garland in the revival of On the Twentieth Century – O’Hara brought dignity and a sumptuous voice to this classic role.

King and I - 05
Kelli O’Hara

CULTURE TIP: The King and I

LoftOpera – Brooklyn

I covered LoftOpera in a post earlier last month, but I want to reiterate what I said then. With slim resources, but with lots of imagination, talent and integrity, this young company is performing opera for the peeps. Since the venerable New York City Opera went under in 2013 (although it is making some kind of comeback in 2016), and with the unexpected loss of Gotham Opera last year, it will be interesting to see if LoftOpera can continue on its trajectory to becoming the new “People’s Opera”. For as little as $160, can purchase a membership to their 2016 season of 4 operas (beginning with Puccini’s Tosca and ending with Weill’s and Brecht’s Mahagonny) and I’m telling you that you won’t regret making that investment of time and money.

Loft Opera - 01
LoftOpera’s 2015 production of Lucrezia Borgia

Loft Opera - 02
The audience and the performers are one

CULTURE TIP: LoftOpera

Lyrics & Lyricists – the 92nd Street Y

This venerable subscription series, which has been in business for many years, turned its attention this past year to Sheldon Harnick and, arguably, his magnum opus, Fiddler on the Roof, to commemorate the musical’s 50th anniversary. While we all expected a Fiddler redux with Sheldon telling stories and hearing that wonderful score performed by a talented bunch of singers, what we actually got was something of an archeological dig. Mr. Harnick presented an intriguing evening of some 20 songs composed for Fiddler that, for a myriad of reasons, never made it into the finished show.

Harnick - 01
Sheldon Harnick gives us the skivvy

For instance, the original opening number for the show was intended to be We’ve Never Missed a Sabbath Yet for Golde and her 5 daughters. It was an OK sort of number, but didn’t really set up the show for its audience. It took months of director Jerome Robbins haranguing the writers and producer Hal Prince: “What is the show ABOUT?” It took many meetings before one of them blurted out an exasperated something about the community’s traditions and how, over the course of the show, they began to disperse in the same way the characters would at the end of the play. “That’s it!!” Jerry cried, and continued: “But, if that’s what the show is about, then you have to write an opening number that tells the audience what they’re about to see.” And so Tradition, arguably one of the greatest opening numbers of any musical was born.

But I digress. The evening we spent at the 92nd Street Y and with Sheldon and his cast was full of discoveries. We heard incredibly good songs and lyrics that, for reasons explained by Sheldon, just didn’t make the cut. This was not untalented material, just not right for the show.

Harnick - 02
The cast performs the Fiddler songs we’ve never heard

And that was the most interesting aspect of the evening: how consummate theatre craftsman collaborate – “laden with happiness and tears” – and arrive at the right place to create one of the last great musicals of Broadway’s fabled Golden Age.

CULTURE TIP: Lyrics & Lyricists

Nutcracker Rouge – New York

Part ballet, part Cirque du Soleil, part cabaret, part burlesque, and part Marquis de Sade, Nutcracker Rouge will get your pulse racing in more ways than one. Presented as the middle production of Company XIV’s 2015-16 season, Nutcracker Rouge is the creation and inspiration of company Artistic Director and Founder, Austin McCormick. He and his extremely talented company of dancers/singers/actors presented one of the most raucously enjoyable evenings in New York last year.

Nutcracker - AAC
AAC CPA prepares to enjoy Nutcracker Rouge

I had expected an updated version of the Nutcracker that you and I remember from our childhoods. But, from the moment you entered the (faux) smoke-filled theater and saw all those red lights, you knew you were about to see something special and much more racy.

Nutcracker - JS-01

While you will most certainly recognize many familiar elements of the Nutcracker, the story takes many twists and turns, courtesy of the many novelty acts, none of which will I spoil for you here.

Your portal into this enterprise is Madame Drosselmeyer, who assumes many identities during the evening and changes costumes more times than Angela Lansbury in the original production of Mame. Think an extremely benign Emcee from Cabaret and you get the idea. Played with absolute insouciance by Shelly Watson, she has a fabulous voice and creates the perfect atmosphere through which the audience enters the delightful and demented world of Nutcracker Rouge. Oh, and she dances, too.

Nutcracker - 04
One of Madame Drosselmeyer’s many guises

Each cast member has his or her moment to shine, which they do as does the most brilliant precious stone. While time and space limits me from mentioning everyone, I would like to single out Laura Careless as Marie-Claire. In addition to her exquisite abilities as a prima ballerina, she is also a wonderful mime and comic. And she takes both her character and the audience on quite a journey towards enlightenment during the course of the evening.

Nutcracker - 03
Laura Careless (center)

Somehow, by the end of the evening and after all of the novelty acts, pole dancers, tricks and stunts, you will find yourself very moved when Marie-Claire’s Nutcracker Cavalier (charismatically portrayed by Steven Trumon Gray) emerges from the audience and takes the stage as the evening climaxes with their ecstatic pas de deux. The winning combination of Tchaikovsky’s irresistible music and the absolute commitment of the dancers make for a heartstopping moment.

Nutcracker - 05

If you can’t see Nutcracker Rouge, which plays through January 17th, I encourage you to see the company’s final production of the season, Snow White, which begins on January 26th and runs through March 12th.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the company does to THAT fairy tale!

CULTURE TIP: Company XIV

A View From the Bridge – New York

Who would have thought that New York would have been ready for – or needed – another production of Arthur Miller’s 1956 play, A View from the Bridge, particularly after the 2010 revival, directed by Gregory Mosher and starring Liev Schreiber as Eddie Carbone?

View from the Bridge - 03
Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker

As it turns out, this galvanic new production, which originated at London’s Young Vic, presents one of the most intense theater-going experiences of my life. Directed by the controversial but intensely talented Ivo van Hove, I attended the last press preview, at which the audience sat spellbound and breathless for the two-hour intermissionless performance, at the end of which the audience was stunned into silence.

The company is led by Mark Strong’s galvanic performance as Eddie Carbone. I knew him only as an action figure in movies and had no idea of the depth of his acting chops. His tortured and confused but, somehow, very sexy Eddie doesn’t make a false move throughout the evening. Totally believable and heartbreaking at the same time, he held the audience in the palm of his hand.

View from the Bridge - 02
Russell Tovey, Mark Strong and Phoebe Fox

The entire company was exquisite, none of whom struck a false note.

Van Hove’s great talent – depending on your point of view – is to reimagine plays in ways you never considered. This View is presented inside a square box with no props, no scene changes, and with all the actors barefoot. It must be very challenging for the actors to work in such a space, but they do.

The climax of the play is stunningly staged, and you will be thinking about it for days afterwards.

If you care at all about great theatre, you have only until February 21st to see this remarkable production.

CULTURE TIP: A View From the Bridge

The New York Times on A View From the Bridge

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 

 

London Recap

Greetings and Salutations. And sorry to be MIA over the past few days – it’s been a very busy time and all that.

The last time you’d heard from me, we had just attended a performance of Funny Girl, at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which was a real treat. If you’re planning a trip to London in the spring (and beyond), you can get tickets to see the production, which is transferring to the Savoy Theatre in March. Ticket sales are quite brisk, I’ve been told.

CULTURE TIP: Purchase Tickets to Funny Girl

Otherwise, our trip to London last week was a raving success. We had a blast and, rather than talking about it too much, I thought I’d share some photos with you to give you the flavor of the trip – you’ll get the idea.

On our 1st full day in London, we took afternoon tea at The Georgian at Harrod’s. The place was all gussied up for the holidays, of course.

Day 2 - HarrodsWorld famous Harrods

Day 2 - Harrods GeorgianIt’s the Georgian for your afternoon tea.

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AAC CPA anticipates his afternoon tea

Day 2 - Harrods Rose Tea
Rose Tea made with actual Roses!!

Day 2 - Harrods Tea Tray
And all of the tea goodies.

CUISINE TIP: Take Tea at Harrods

Our first show in London was Terence Ratigan’s 1948 comedy, Harlequinade, starring and co-directed (with Rob Ashford) by Kenneth Branagh, preceded by Ratigan’s 1968 one-woman monologue, All On Her Own, starring Zoë Wanamaker. This double-bill is part of an ambitious six production season that the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company is presenting at the Garrick Theatre and is currently playing in rep with A Winter’s Tale, again starring Branagh alongside Judi Dench. The season culminates next summer and fall with Branagh taking on the touchstone role of Archie Rice in John Osborne’s The Entertainer. Needless to say, I already have my tickets for that one!

Day 2 - Harlequinade - AAC
AAC CPA does Harlequinade at the Garrick

CULTURE TIP: Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company

Following the performance, we had supper at one of our favorite London restaurants, the venerable J. Sheekey which serves, arguably, the best fish in town.

Day 2 - J Sheekey

Day 2 - J Sheekey Fish & Chips
AAC CPA had the fish and chips – enough for many

CUISINE TIP: J. Sheekey

Next day – typically cloudy but unusually mild for December – we were walking around our hood and snapped this pic of the Shard, where the Shangri-La is located:

Day 2 - Shard from a Distance

Following the Funny Girl matinee, we had dinner at another of our favorite London establishments, Hawksmoor, which is where you go for beef and great cocktails. There are several locations and we ate at the one just off Picadilly in Air Street:

Day 3 - Hawksmoor Exterior

Each Hawksmoor has its own distinct design and this one is Deco:

Day 3 - Hawksmoor Deco Detail
Fab Deco Chandelier

Day 3 - Hawksmoor AAC
AAC CPA anticipates his cocktail and dinner

The grub is really good here, too. In addition to amazing beef, this Hawksmoor has lots of fish on the menu. We shared the scallop appetizer:

Day 3 - Hawksmoor Scallops
Great presentation, right?

CUISINE TIP: Hawksmoor Air Street

We took an after dinner stroll and saw some fab sights on Picadilly:

Day 3 - Picadilly

Picadilly, itself

Day 3 - Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade

Day 3 - Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason all tarted up for the holidays

Next day, we woke up to a brilliantly sunny day. Look at the view from our room:

Day 4 - Shard Shadow over St. Paul's
Note the shadow of the Shard to the right of St. Paul’s

After breakfast at the hotel – by the way, a great deal when booking through the AmEx FHR program, because your breakfast is included – we checked out the lobby men’s room:

Day 4 - Bathroom with a View
A (Bath)Room with a View

Day 4 - Mens Room Amenity
The Shangri-La thinks of EVERYTHING!!

And, if you want a thrill, take note of how the hotel keeps its windows clean:

Day 4 - Window Cleaners
This photo was taken on the 35th floor, kids!

What trip to London would be complete without a visit to Covent Garden:

Day 4 - AAC - Covent Garden

That afternoon, we experienced our first Panto, a holiday tradition in which drag plays a prominent role and lots of audience participation is encouraged (and expected). Today’s Panto was Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Day 4 - Panto - AAC
AAC CPA does Panto!

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The Panto show curtain

Following the Panto, we rushed back to the hotel to change for the evening performance of Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre where, last Spring, we had seen Imelda Staunton’s star turn as Madame Rose in Gypsy.

Day 4 - Savoy Guys and Dolls - 02
Doesn’t this photo remind you of a publicity still from the film?

Day 4 - Savoy AAC
AAC CPA studies the Hot Box Cuties

Day 4 - Savoy Show Curtain
Opening image of the set

Needless to say, the show was aces. It’s such a great musical, definitely one of the 10 best of all time. Even when the show ground to a halt in the last few minutes – technical difficulties, they said – the audience was totally enthralled by the show, roaring its approval at the end.

On our way out – no pix, please, we’re British! – we noticed, sitting directly behind us, Jim Carter (Carson on Downton Abbey, and a former Big Jule himself) and his celebrated wife, the aforementioned Imelda Staunton. I couldn’t help myself and, in a very un-British-like manner, told them how much we’d enjoyed their performances and thanked them. They looked a bit startled (I guess that my outburst just isn’t done) but thanked me very graciously.

After humiliating myself, we strolled over to The Ivy, which is our favorite London haunt. As I reported when we were there earlier this year, the place had a makeover last spring and looks terrific, but the service and congeniality of the place remain unchanged.

Day 4 - The Ivy Exterior
The one and only Ivy

Day 4 - The Ivy - AAC
AAC CPA anticipates his Americano whilst perusing the menu

CUISINE TIP: The Ivy

Next day – Christmas Eve – was another double-header, starting with Jim Broadbent starring as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Noël Coward Theatre. Dickens’ story was adapted by Patrick Barlow (whose 4-actor adaptation of The 39 Steps played for years and years both in London and in New York) and was designed by Tom Pye and directed by Phelim McDermott. We initially wanted to see the show for Jim Broadbent, a fave actor of ours’ since the 1999 Mike Leigh film,  Topsy Turvy, in which Broadbent played W.S. Gilbert. As it turned out, we found the production imaginative, enchanting and surprisingly moving. I guess that Dickens knew what his was doing.

Day 5 - A Christmas Carol - Exterior
Marquee at the Noël Coward Theatre

Day 5 - A Christmas Carol - AAC
AAC CPA does Dickens

Day 5 - A Christmas Carol Show Curtain
A Christmas Carol show curtain

And, by the way, can I just put in a word about the London theatre-going audience and, in particular, the kids? We saw two matinees in which the audience was literally filled with children (as young as 4 or 5, I’d say). They were amazing! Respectful, attentive, and really into the experience. Dare I say that I prefer them to most of the audiences to be found on Broadway these day? OK, come and get me for that last remark.

Another rush back to the hotel to change for our Christmas Eve festivities. And look what we found in our room upon our return:

Day 5 - Christmas Tree
Our very own tree. AAC CPA thought it might be edible. It wasn’t.

That evening, we had a brand-new London experience, and long overdue! We attended the last performance of Carols By Candlelight at the famed Royal Albert Hall. This concert is an annual event and completely fills the 5,200 seat venue. It was a real thrill for us to be there.

Day 5 - RAH - Moon
World famous Royal Albert Hall with a full moon overhead

Day 5 - RAH - AAC
AAC CPA checks out the program pre-concert

Day 5 - RAH - Concert
The Mozart Festival Orchestra and Chorus in performance

Day 5 - RAH - Doris Day
For all you film buffs, AAC CPA has a Doris Day moment

We had a great time at the concert, although there was too much audience participation for my taste. I didn’t realize that we were expected to sing traditional carols!! Standing, no less, and I’d already had a long day. (Bah, humbug, you say?) And added to all that, most of the carols were sung to different tunes than their American counterparts. Who knew??

CULTURE TIP: Royal Albert Hall

After the concert, we had another magical view of the full moon over London:

Day 5 - Moon Over London

Merry Christmas, everyone!! Friday – our last full day in London – and did you know that the entire city shuts down?? We had thought we might go to a movie, or ride around, or something. Uh-uh!! No dice (as they’re currently saying at the Savoy Theatre). Fortunately for us, we were staying in a beautiful hotel with gorgeous views, so we didn’t mind hanging around our digs and relaxing after seeing 6 shows in the previous 4 days.

As we subsequently found out, Uber was available for getting around – whew!! We had decided to have our farewell dinner at another of our favorite London hotels, the Corinthia, and Uber got us there and back. Not only that, but Uber turned out to be cheaper than taking a cab (if we could have gotten one)!

Day 6 - Corinthia ExteriorThe gorgeous Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall Place

We started our evening at the Corinthia’s Bassoon Bar, one of our favorite watering holes in London.

Day 6 - Corinthia Bassoon AAC
AAC CPA chooses his cocktail from the iPad menu

We moved from the Bassoon to the Northall for our dinner. It’s a beautiful room and the food was delicious.

Day 6 - Corinthia Northall
My starter: Beef Tartare and it was yummy!

Day 6 - Corinthia Lobby
AAC CPA strolls through the Corinthia lobby after dinner

Ubering our way back to the Shangri-La from the Corinthia and look at what we saw:

Day 6 - Uber View of London Eye

By the way, did I mention that we ate on the early side so that we could get back to the hotel in time for – wait for it – the series finale of Downton Abbey? Yes, gentle readers, we had already seen all of season 6, save for the final holiday episode. How lucky are we? No spoilers here. Just know that we’ve seen it all, and mum’s the word.

Day 6 - Downton Finale
Opening Downton Abbey credits – for the very last time

All good things must come to an end and, on Saturday morning, we got into a taxi and made our way to Heathrow, where our BA flight was waiting to return us back home (and to reality).

Day 7 - BA Concorde Room - AAC
AAC CPA hanging out in the Concorde Room prior to boarding our flight

Day 7 - BA 177 - AAC
And settling in for the 8-hour flight home (with Mimosa)

Here’s our lunch menu:

Day 7 - BA 177 - Lunch Menu

I opted for the fillet of veal, which was pretty good:

Day 7 - BA 177 - Entree

And then, several hours later, it was time for afternoon tea, British-style:

Day 7 - BA 177 - Tea

Post-script: The flight landed a few minutes early but, due to some unexplained issue involving attaching the jetway to the plane, we were delayed for about 40 minutes!!

An imperfect end to a just-about-perfect trip.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

PS. Next week, we’re off to Buenos Aires and then, via Crystal Symphony, we’re sailing to Antarctica. More to follow!

From London: Funny Girl at the Chocolate Factory

Good evening, sports fans and greetings from an extremely windy London town.

We’ve just come from a matinee performance of the completely sold-out run of Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith, at the Menier Chocolate Factory. You may recall that I was able to obtain a pair of seats the day before the box office opened to the general public. Good thing I did, as the entire run sold out in something like two hours!

Funny Girl - 04

Before this production even started previews, a transfer to the Savoy Theatre on the West End was announced, and now tickets are available at least through the summer. (I was at the Savoy box office yesterday to pick up my tickets for tomorrow evening’s performance of Guys & Dolls and, apparently, tickets to Funny Girl are few and far between until next July!)

So, what did we think? Funny Girl hasn’t been seen onstage in London since Barbra Streisand brought the original production here in the mid-60’s. Since then, there’s been no first-class production either here or in the states. Part of the problem is that the iconic Streisand performance has been memorialized on film and it’s very difficult to compete with that. Also, the show had a very troubled gestation period and, only due to Jerry Robbins’ out-of-town doctoring – particularly working to get a performance out of Streisand – did the show succeed once it opened in New York. It is a flawed show with a great score. And it requires a star in the title role to make it work or even to contemplate a new production.

Funny Girl - 01
Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice

As it turns out, Sheridan Smith is that star. While no one will mistake her vocals for those of Streisand on stage or on film, one could say that, Smith is “the greatest star” in London at the moment. Diminutive in size, she is an oversized personality who brings her considerable skills to creating Fanny Brice. She is quirky, cute, gritty, and utterly believable, particularly in the early scenes of the play, when Fanny is on the ascent.

Funny Girl - 02
Don’t rain on her parade!

Our one reservation about this production was that it was being presented in a teeny-tiny theatre and Funny Girl is an exemplar of the big-scale Broadway musical. The original production boasted a huge cast, lavish sets and costumes and a full orchestra. None of that is possible in this incarnation. However, Michael Mayer’s production presents the material in a way that almost makes you forget that you’re seeing no more than 20 people on stage, accompanied by a 10-piece orchestra (with skillful new orchestrations) that makes the most from the least.

The show is very well cast. Fanny’s obsession with Nick Arnstein is no surprise, thanks to Darius Campbell’s performance. Towering over Fanny, he is both suave leading man and lost soul. And he gives the best vocal performance of the role of anyone I’ve seen or heard. In fact, a number that may have been cut from the original production (or was it written for and subsequently cut from the movie) – “Temporary Arrangement” – has been reinstated for Campbell. The supporting cast delivers the goods.

Funny Girl - 03
Darius Campbell and Sheridan Smith

It will be interesting to revisit the production when it lands at the Savoy to see if it is rethought on a much larger stage in a much larger theater. 

Finally, Funny Girl is a prime example of one of the last musicals of Broadway’s “golden age”. While not close to perfect, it boasts a great Jule Styne-Bob Merrill score and, in Sheridan Smith’s sensational performance, a case has been made for a new production of this almost lost musical.