Monday, April 18, 2011

Second week of Food, Music and Fun!

It's been another week of Broadway and off-Broadway shows, singing, and rich, fattening food...does the term zaftig mean anything to you? When we last left off the previous adventures (Part 1 and Part 2 of the first week) with the in-laws Bill and Janet, it was Thursday April 14th. That evening, we went to a wonderful French restaurant called Chez Napoleon - it's one of Bill's favorite spots to eat, as it is and has been run by a French family (the Bruno Family) for years. Grand-mere still cooks for them - she was present that night - and nothing beats the souffle and amazing sauces they make for the entrees. It's also a tiny restaurant filled to the brim with funny and tastefully amusing French decor. Here are Pete and Bill toasting with their own choice of beverage, although the sign behind them has a unique demand:
Good advice!
After dinner, we rolled ourselves over to see That Championship Season, which has a great five-man cast: Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Noth, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland. It was cool to see Patric and Sutherland together after first knowing them via "The Lost Boys" so many years ago. And Brian Cox is one of my favorite actors - he holds your attention and your guts in the palm of his hand, and always creates a fully realized character. Patric was also great as the sarchastic drunk; indeed, all the guys had fantastically real and specific "drunk" physical states. Unfortunately, I enjoyed the acting in this show mostly because it was the only thing truly holding my attention. I didn't care much for the subject matter...maybe too much testosterone and alcohol, although some of the dark humor was excellently biting, and all characters were flawed and multi-dimensional. Maybe if Sondheim did a version with his own twists of phrase...?

Friday claimed no excitement, and was a respite from the daily fare of theater and food, but Saturday rose up with a vengeance. Early in the day, I took my first voice lesson from Steven Stein-Grainger, an amazing voice teacher and singer in his own right who taught an open audit class a month ago that I attended. My friend Brian Allan Hobbs is taking voice from him as well, and came in to play piano as Steven coached. He gave me new breathing exercises, tips on further focusing the quality of my vocals, and began offering acting and diction tips on audition music I already had in my book. We will also start adding some more songs and audition choices to my repertoire - I'm very excited to work with him more!

After the lesson, I ran over to West 54th street to see my friend and acting career coach Erin Cronican play Maria in Twelfth Night, put on by The Seeing Place Theater company at the ATA's Sargent Theater. It was a good production by a newly formed theater company - I appreciated the use of music, behavior, props, and true emotion to make the Shakespeare text come alive. Erin is one of those actors that never lets a moment go past her - she always has a thought or mode of behavior or a relationship with another character going for her. I really liked Brandon Walker's clown-in-love Malvolio, who had great comedic angst (Brandon also was Director in the show), as well as the other drunken clown characters and Anna Marie Sell as Olivia. It was a little long at 3 hours and could have been tightened up for the modern audience, but I was never bored.

THEN I headed back to the Etcetera Etcetera restaurant, where I typically am each Sunday for The Salon...this time I was meeting up for dinner with Bill, Janet, Pete, and some friends of Bill's from years past - Chuck and Carolyn. Chuck spent years as a tour manager for the Metropolitan Opera, and Carolyn was heavily involved in Cancer cure research. They both love musicals, theater, and movies, so Pete & I found a lot in common to talk with them!

Cheeky bastard.

After dinner (which was served by my favorite singing tenor at Salon, David Ballard!), we went to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Laroquette. The production value and look of the show is gorgeous - great sets, lighting, costumes, singing, and some fantastically clever and funny choreography. Radcliffe, while not having perfect vocal tone, is well-cast as Finch (and jumped into some athletic dancing during "Brotherhood of Man"), and Laroquette was appropriately blustery and funny as the head boss.  I'm just not a fan of the show itself - although it's deliberately set in the early 60's, the obvious misogyny regarding the role, attitude, and sexual place men have in mind for women in the workplace is a bit dated. I could only have so many "ha ha, see, this show is dated and they're playing it for real to make a point" thoughts in my head. And the satire regarding office life is funny, but has been portrayed before and since in movies and theater that it's lost it's edge to me here. Plus, the lead character of Finch is as corrupt as the office ladder he is trying to climb. True, he doesn't outright lie (much), but he omits answers to direct questions to seem like someone or something else, just to get ahead. When the crisis comes during the second act, I truly looked forward to him learning a lesson or having some sort of comeuppance. ps. That said, I could probably play Hedy La Rue (T & A abounding) or the head secretary with the high notes, Miss Jones.

Sunday was a mix of fun and work; in the morning, I taught my 5th and 6th grade drama class (at All Soul's Church), then met up with Bill, Janet and Pete at The Hummus Place on the west side to have some hummus, pita, mint lemonade and falafel. It's one of our favorite non-Westernized, cheap-but-fun food options here in NYC, and we were happy to introduce it to Bill and Janet. I then headed over to San Martin to sing and blog for The Salon (you can read my entry about it here), which Bill and Janet attended as well. I sang "Anything Goes" from Anything Goes, and reminded Saloners that two weeks from Sunday, May 1st, the theme will be "Not Just For Kids,"and the co-hosts will be myself and Kay "ThePal" Pringle, my puppet-friend.

Bill and Janet leave for California today, and I am determined to burn off as much calories as I can from this past week on Wii boxing and at Bally Total Fitness. I so enjoyed all the shows I saw, from Broadway to off-Broadway, to Cabaret and Open Mic performances. It was a blast!

Sierra Rein
"I don't sing because I'm happy, I'm happy because I sing" - William James

1 comment:

Erin Cronican said...

Just caught your blog - thank you so much for the nice words! :)