<![CDATA[NBC New York - The Scene]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 20 Dec 2014 11:01:40 -0500 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 11:01:40 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[In the Wings: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:50:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005599795_1200x675_375251011718.jpg The Associated Press has named “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” one of the top productions of the year and based on ticket sales, theatergoers seem to agree. It is a dynamic adaptation of a bestselling novel about a remarkable teenager on the autism spectrum and it’s a strong Broadway debut for the actor who plays him. David Ushery takes us in the wings.]]> <![CDATA[Fashion Trends 2015]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 08:35:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/456371972.jpg Here are some trends you can expect to see next spring.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fashion Trends: 2015's Best Looks]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:19:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Inner.jpg

The world of fashion is fleeting and ever-changing. With each season, trends are introduced, reconstructed, and promptly disposed.

This past year, we saw a contrast between the incredibly loud to the impeccably subtle. Within four short seasons we visited the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s.

As we moved through 2014, we tapped into our inner flower-child, borrowed from the boys, went wild for animal prints, visited the heartland, learned new ways to reveal skin, yet also satisfied seasonal classics like pastels for spring and furs for winter.

Let’s look back at some of the favorite runway looks and trends:

As much as we are enjoying the retrospectives, fashion is very much about the future and 2015 is already shaping up to look like another exciting year for ready-to-wear.

During the recent monthlong parade of shows in New York, Milan, Paris and London, international designers seem to agree on what feels like a definitive message for the Spring Summer 2015 season: 70s chic.

“It was remarkable how much solidarity there was among designers in pushing forward a new look, albeit one that was largely rooted in an aesthetic that was inspired by the easy fashion of the 1960s and a somewhat hippie vibe of the 1970s,” said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle magazine.

Its influence was overarching, evident in the fringes at Proenza Schouler and Alberta Ferretti, flared pants at Derek Lam and Celine, bohemian flowy dresses at Pucci and Etro, fur vests at Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci, and patchwork at Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino.

But, it wasn’t all peace and love on the runways. Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, among others, went for a more utilitarian look with deep cargo pockets, tailored silhouettes, khakis and olive drab — think somewhere between military-chic and safari luxe.

There were also Japanese inspirations, asymmetrical hems, androgynous tailored suits, and denim galore.

Perhaps the most surprising trend to come next spring and summer is the fall staple, leather.

“Certainly 'summer leather' is a new category that looks promising, partly the result of technical advancements that have resulted in lighter weight materials, even perforated leather that feels cooler in warmer months, and partly the result of the fact that spring clothes now go into stores so early that they need to address multiple seasons' weather,” says Wilson.

As we brace the current arctic blasts swathed in cozy sweaters and coats, check out the gallery at the top of the story for a peek at the spring 2015 looks soon to be arriving in stores.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[“School of Rock” Musical Heading to Broadway]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:13:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/157499997CC00115_Spike_TV_s.jpg

A stage adaptation of the hit 2003 film “School of Rock” will make its world premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre in the winter of 2015. And it’s coming from one of Broadway’s biggest Tony-winning composers: Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“School of Rock—The Musical” will feature music from the film, as well as a new score by the “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats” scribe. Lyrics will come from Glenn Slater, who also wrote the lyrics for the stage transfers of “Leap of Faith,” “Sister Act” and “The Little Mermaid.”

Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) will pen the book for the musical. He’s also the creator of the PBS hit “Downton Abbey,” and previously provided the book for the stage version of “Mary Poppins.”

It will be the first new Broadway musical for Webber since 2005’s “The Woman in White.”

“School of Rock” tells the tale of a wannabe rocker (played by Jack Black in the film) who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school, and ends up forming a rock band with his fifth-graders.

Direction will come from Laurence Connor, currently represented on Broadway with the revival of “Les Misérables.”

No casting has been announced yet, but if ever there was a part to get “The Book of Mormon” star Josh Gad back to Broadway, it’s this.

Previews for “School of Rock—The Musical” begins Nov. 2, 2015. Opening is set for Dec. 6.

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter]]>
<![CDATA[Review: "Every Brilliant Thing," Starring Jonny Donahoe]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:33:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BrilliantMain.jpg

No. 1654: "Christopher Walken’s voice"; No. 1655: "Christopher Walken’s hair" ...

Theatergoers settling in for "Every Brilliant Thing" may be approached at their seats by kinetic British comedian Jonny Donahoe brandishing a piece of paper -- which he’ll then stuff into your hands. "When I call your number during the show," Donahoe will implore, "could I ask you to just please read aloud what it says there?"

With this fellow’s encouraging grin, you wouldn’t dream of saying no, even without any context for the odd words on the page: "Christopher Walken’s voice"? What you’ve signed on for, it turns out, is participation in an interactive tale well-suited to the short and gloomy days of winter, and evoking just a touch of "It's a Wonderful Life."

Duncan Macmillan’s one-man dark comedy has percolated in various small British theaters for nearly a decade and is now receiving its North American premiere in the round at the Barrow Street Theatre. A good half the audience at the 100-seat venue is pressed into service as narrator Donahoe relates a story of a young man trying to ease his mother’s depression.

The boy, age 7 as the story begins, may not be able to control his mother’s behavior, but he can remind her of everything in life worth living for -- that is, every brilliant thing -- and so he begins a list, intended for her: "1. Ice cream. 2. Water fights. 3. Staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV."

As the boy matures into a teen, his mother’s erratic behavior continues, but so too does the list grow. Some audience members are asked to read items aloud. Others are called on for more intricate duties. At a recent performance, Donahoe persuaded a middle-aged woman to remove her socks, turning her into a school counselor who uses a sock puppet to encourage students to share feelings.

Still other theatergoers become a town vet, the narrator’s father and his college girlfriend.

The success of "Every Brilliant Thing" hinges on the ability of a roomful of strangers to drop their collective guard and trust Donahoe, the leading player. This charismatic comic has no trouble getting people on his side, fast.

At 60 minutes, Macmillan’s story (directed here, as in the United Kingdom, by George Perrin) avoids getting preachy, though it is slight -- the action shifts at high speed from the narrator’s meet-cute with his eventual wife in the college library, to their split, years later, because of his own battles with depression. We’re not, so much, here for the plot.

What Macmillan and Donahoe have constructed is a participatory theatrical experience that works because everyone feels secure. There’s a second element at play, too: because you’re never quite sure when the time will come for your cue, you’re that much more invested in hanging on every word. Who wants to miss their line in front of a crowd?

The tangible result is that you listen just as carefully as the narrator surely wishes his mother would, and as the hour winds down, you’re thinking of a few things you find "brilliant," yourself -- if blank paper had been distributed at curtain call, I would've added: "The way the chairs in some old New York theaters rumble whenever a subway passes by underneath."

The point, of course, is to leave us counting our own blessings. Donahoe excels at making us do just that. In that sense, "Every Brilliant Thing" is a theater lover’s perfect stocking stuffer.

"Every Brilliant Thing," runs through March 29 at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St. Tickets: $55-$75. Call 212-868-4444.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Making Latkes ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bay-latke-chef.jpg

When it comes to holidays, there's no better recipe than the one you grew up with.

Same is true for latkes.

So, tonight, when Hanukkah begins at sundown, folks around the globe will be firing up the frying pans to create the ultimate potato pancake.

Some began cooking the Hanukkah delicacy even before the Jewish Festival of Lights began.

"We cooked 6,000 yesterday," said Evan Bloom, who co-owns Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco with partner Leo Beckerman. "And we'll probably be making more."

The secret to the Wise Sons latkes? "We try to keep it very simple," Bloom said, adding that the real trick is to squeeze any liquid from the potatoes after grating them, so that they taste "crispy, not soggy."

And of course, he uses oil. Lots and lots of oil.

And although schmaltz, the Yiddish term for rendered chicken fat, was recently touted in the New York Times as gaining a comeback, Bloom said he and his cooks tend to stick with regular cooking oil for their latkes.

"We use schmaltz in a lot of things, like our chopped liver and matzo balls, but not in our latkes. There are so many vegetarians, and so many people are afraid of it."

But there are all sorts of ways to make latkes. Here is a small round-up of some popular latke-making videos.

From upscale (with Parmesan cheese, chives and Tabasco)...

To India-inspired (with carrots and coriander)...

Lest your Bubbe should see, she just sticks to the basics: potatoes, oil, flour, salt and pepper.

Photo Credit: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
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<![CDATA[Merriam-Webster Names Word of the Year]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:52:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/27167011.jpg

A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster's 2014 word of the year: culture.

The word joins Oxford Dictionaries' "vape," a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and "exposure," declared the year's winner at Dictionary.com during a time of tragedy and fear due to Ebola.

Merriam-Webster based its pick and nine runners-up on significant increases in lookups this year over last on Merriam-Webster.com, along with interesting, often culture-driven — if you will — spikes of concentrated interest.

In the No. 2 spot is "nostalgia," during a year of big 50th anniversaries pegged to 1964: the start of the free speech movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the birth of the Ford Mustang and the British Invasion heralded by the landing of the Beatles on U.S. soil for the first time.

Nostalgia was followed by insidious, legacy, feminism and a rare multiword phrase that can be looked up in total, in a foreign language at that: the French "je ne sais quoi."

The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary giant filters out perennial favorites when picking word of the year, but does that formula leave them chasing language fads?

"We're simply using the word culture more frequently," said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. "It may be a fad. It may not. It may simply be evolution."

Sokolowski noted that the reasons words are looked up aren't just about not knowing what they mean. Sometimes, he said, we seek inspiration or a way to check in on ourselves. Of an estimated 100 million lookups on the website each year and a similar number on the company's app, culture enjoyed a 15 percent year-over-year increase.

Percentage-wise, it doesn't sound like much, but the raw number in that stratosphere is large, Sokolowski said. He wouldn't disclose actual numbers, though, citing the proprietary nature of that data for a company still privately held.

Sokolowski is a lexicographer, not a mind reader, so his observations about why any single word takes off in terms of lookups is well-informed but theoretical.

"The word culture's got a cultural story. We have noticed for years that culture has a cyclical spike every year at around Labor Day. That is to say back to school time during the month of September, so we've been watching this word spike at that time for years," he said by telephone from Springfield. "In recent years we've seen similar spikes at the end of semesters during finals."

But traffic throughout the year indicates that culture is a "chameleon," Sokolowski said. "When you put it next to another word it means something very different. For example, 'consumer culture' or 'rape culture,' which we've been reading about lately."

There's the "culture of transparency" in government and business, and "celebrity culture," and the "culture of winning" in sports, he noted. "It's a word that can be very specific, like 'test prep culture,' or it can be very, very broad, like 'coffee culture.'"

One standout reference that caught Sokolowski's eye in The New Yorker's December issue is from a new book, "How Google Works," which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

"It wasn't Google's culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend," wrote the authors, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former head of product development Jonathan Rosenberg.

"Rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place."

Before the word culture exploded, Sokolowski said, "we used to talk about 'society' a lot. Certain groups are taking 'society' out of their names now. It seems to be receding. Part of that seems to be because it's elitist. We're using the word culture more frequently in that place."

Not all lookup spikes are quite that complex. The reason "je ne sais quoi" landed at No. 6, for instance, is "dead simple," he said.

The fast-food drive-in chain Sonic, known for TV spots featuring two goofy dudes eating in a car, had them munching on boneless chicken wings in September.

"I've finally found myself a wingman," goofy guy No. 1 says of the wings he hopes will make him a chick magnet.

"Oh right," sneers goofy guy No. 2, "gonna give you that certain je ne sais quoi."

Responds No. 1: "Jenna said what?"

They mine the word play a couple more times, but you get the picture.

"Since September when this ad came out this word has been close to the Top 10 or in the Top 10 of our lookups almost every single day," Sokolowski said.

Fast-food aside, he called this year's list a relatively sober one.

Insidious, for example, received a bump early in the year when a new trailer was released for "Insidious: Chapter 3," a prequel in the horror film franchise "Insidious," out in June. The word surfaced in a big way again, on Oct. 8, when a Texas hospital released a statement on the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first confirmed Ebola patient in the United States.

The statement spoke of his courageous battle and the hospital's profound sadness when he "succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola."

Rounding out the Top 10 are innovation, surreptitious, autonomy and morbidity.

"This is a fairly sober list. It was a fairly sober year," he concluded.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[“Side Show” Revival Closing]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:49:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SideShowBway1wITW.jpg

The conjoined twins at the center of the Broadway revival of “Side Show” may sing “I Will Never Leave You,” but it looks like they will, in fact, leave you.

The reworking of the 1997 flop musical, which features Erin Davie and Emily Padgett as freak-show-turned-vaudeville-stars Violet and Daisy Hilton, will close at Broadway’s St. James Theatre on Jan. 4.

The $8 million reboot took in just $439,000 at the box office last week — well under half of its $1.1 million gross potential, and likely well below the cost it would take for the production to maintain operating costs, especially during the months of January and February, where Broadway attendance typically falls off significantly.

It’s a short stint for “Side Show,” having only started performances on Oct. 28 and officially opened on Nov. 17. The original Broadway production had a similar short stay, playing 31 previews and 91 regular performances.

Oscar-winner Bill Condon, who worked on the film versions of “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls,” made his Broadway directorial debut with “Side Show.” He has expressed interest in adapting the musical for the big screen, though nothing official has been announced yet.

A London debut for the show is also said to be in the works.

“Side Show” features a score by Henry Krieger, with book and lyrics by Bill Russell. Condon also provided additional book material.

Erin Davie and Emily Padgett announced the show's closing after a performance on NBC's "Today."

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Have a ticket for a performance after Jan. 4? Call Telecharge.com Customer Service at (212) 239-6210 for exchange or refund.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[“Love Letters” Revival Wraps Early ]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:55:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/file_54663930c17a1.jpg

The Broadway revival of A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” will play its final performance Dec. 14 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Upon closing, the production will have played 95 regular performances, and 6 preview performances.

“Love Letters” opened on Sept. 18 to strong reviews, but struggled to find box office success among an unusually crowded fall.

Directed by Gregory Mosher, “Love Letters” depicts the 50-year relationship between two friends -- Melissa Gardner and Ander Makepeace Ladd III -- through a reading of the cards, notes and yes, love letters, they exchanged. The play examines love, regret and choice amidst life’s greatest successes and disappointments.

The revival had a revolving cast of stars, including Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow, who opened the production, and Carol Burnett, who returned to Broadway after more than 10 years away.

Alan Alda and Candice Bergen, who stepped into the production on Nov. 9, will remain with “Love Letters” through closing.

The revival was originally scheduled to end its limited run Feb. 15, with Anjelica Huston, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg and Martin Sheen rotating through the cast in final weeks.

The original Broadway production of “Love Letters” opened in 1989. In the last 26 years, the play has proven to be one of the theater’s most enduring romances, with productions of the play appearing in over 40 countries around the world.

A national tour of the Mosher’s production will launch in the fall of 2015. Casting a full tour schedule will be announced soon.

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA[Laura Benanti to Headline New Rockettes Show]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:21:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/494775671SL00029_2014_Drama.jpg

The Rockettes will kick off a new show this spring at Radio City Music Hall, and they’ve enlisted one of Broadway’s biggest stars to help them out!

Laura Benanti, who won a Tony for her turn in the 2008 revival of “Gypsy,” will lead the Rockettes in “New York Spring Spectacular,” a song and dance spectacular that will celebrate the charm of the Big Apple.

Co-conceived by Tony winner Diane Paulus and directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle (“After Midnight”), “New York Spring Spectacular” features 36 Rockettes alongside some 40 ensemble performers.

The show, also co-created by “Sleep No More” producer Randy Weiner, originally began as “Hearts and Lights” and was expected to premiere in spring 2014, but was nixed at the last minute.

Benanti, who can currently be seen on ABC’s “Nashville,” plays the new owner of a NYC tour company who wants to take the tours of a yet-to-be-cast veteran tour guide viral.

Along their tour of New York, Benanti and The Rockettes will meet a number of other New York celebrities, including Donald Trump, Martha Stewart and a roster of sports figures, all of whom appear in pre-recorded video segments.

“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg will also appear — as the recorded voice of the show’s oversized Statue of Liberty puppet.

Emmy-winning “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer Mia Michaels will choreograph the show’s opening number.

“New York Spring Spectacular” begins performances on March 12, with a March 26 opening. The limited run will end May 3.

If successful, MSG Entertainment, owner of Radio City, will annually present the seasonal attraction — as a springtime version of the “Christmas Spectacular,” if you will.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jennifer Nettles to Make Broadway Debut in “Chicago” ]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:06:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/167011822DB097_2013_Billboa.jpg

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jennifer Nettles will join the cast of the long-running revival “Chicago” for a limited run in February.

Nettles will play Roxie Hart, a murderous housewife who dreams of a life in the spotlight. It will be her Broadway debut.

You can catch her eight-week engagement from Feb. 2, through March 29.

As a lead vocalist for the country group Sugarland, Nettles has sold over 22 million albums and singles to date, with eight No. 1 singles, including the platinum-selling hit “Stay.” She recently released a No. 1 solo album, titled “That Girl.”

Nettles joins a long list of celebrities who’ve played Roxie Hart on Broadway, including Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams, Ashlee Simpson, Brooke Shields, Melanie Griffith and Christie Brinkley.

Renee Zellweger was Oscar-nominated for her portrayal of Hart in the 2002 film adaptation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[#SantaPhotoFail: Pics of No Good Santa Encounters]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 02:42:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/01-santafailthumb.jpg It's Christmastime and it's that time of year when you head out with the family and get those beloved pics of the kids with Santa. Except the photos don't always turn out as you hoped.]]> <![CDATA[Rita Wilson Joins Larry David Play ]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 10:07:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/166627989CO00051_Rita_Wilso.jpg

Rita Wilson has joined Larry David’s upcoming Broadway play “Fish in the Dark.”

The highly-anticipated comedy, which marks the Broadway debut as both actor and writer for David, the Emmy-winning “Seinfeld” co-creator and star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm, will begin performances on Feb. 2 at Broadway’s Cort Theatre. Opening is slated for March 5.

Wilson hasn’t been on Broadway since 2006, when she played Roxie Hart in the long-running revival of “Chicago.” The actress and producer has been focusing on music as of late, with an album, "AM/FM: The B-Sides," released this past June.

She’ll join the 15-person ensemble, which includes “The View” co-host Rosie Perez, Jake Cannavale (TV’s “Nurse Jackie”), Jayne Houdyshell (“Follies”), Ben Shenkman (TV’s “Royal Pains”) and Jerry Adler (TV’s “The Good Wife”), among others.

Much is still unknown about the “Fish in the Dark” — including the part Wilson will be playing. The play, which will be directed by Anna D. Shapiro (“This is Our Youth”), is being described as “a comedy about a death in the family.”

Speaking of family, Broadway seems to be a trend in Wilson's family as of late. Her husband, Tom Hanks, made his Broadway debut a few seasons back in 2013's "Lucky Guy."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[University to Begin Offering Beyonce 101 Class]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 09:59:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_beyonceclass1205_700x394.jpg The University of Texas will soon offer a class entitled "Beyonce Feminism & Rihanna Womanism. Amanda Brandeis reports.]]> <![CDATA[Review: Bradley Cooper as "The Elephant Man"]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 20:23:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ElephantMain.jpg

Two-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper transforms so methodically into the disfigured Joseph Merrick at the start of “The Elephant Man,” now in the midst of a limited engagement at the Booth Theatre, that you barely realize it’s happening.

When you finally do, it kind of knocks the wind out of you.

Early in this cold and spartan revival, directed by Scott Ellis (“You Can’t Take It With You”), we see movie star Cooper staring ahead, shirtless, on a bare and sloping stage. To his left stands Alessandro Nivola, as Dr. Frederick Treves, the London physician who would become Merrick’s confidante and caretaker.

Between them hangs a projected image of the titular 19th-century Englishman, whose agonizingly human story has been chronicled in books, an Oscar-nominated film, and this, the often-revisited version by playwright Bernard Pomerance first staged in 1979.

In a clinical, if sobering monologue, Nivola will describe Merrick’s appearance—“The thumb was like a radish, the fingers like thick tuberous roots”—to be met in turn by a reaction from Cooper, who, for this example, twists one hand into an angry ball.

Doctor and patient alternate monologue and response, with regard to Merrick’s jaw, arms, chest and so on. After two or three minutes, the “American Hustle” and “Silver Linings Playbook” star is gone, and in his place is the former freak show attraction, a man with deformities that rendered his face incapable of showing emotion but who, as Cooper convincingly depicts, had a great capacity for joy.

Joseph Merrick (his first name is sometimes erroneously given as John) is thought to have been afflicted with a syndrome in which a mutant gene causes unusual growths on the body. His family would explain they believed the boy’s condition to have been caused by his pregnant mother’s collision with a fairground elephant. At one point in Merrick’s brief life, he signed on as a side show act, where he was exhibited as “The Elephant Man.”

In Ellis’s efficient production, first staged two years ago in Williamstown with the same lead actors, the audience is, obviously, tasked with imagining Merrick’s disfigurement. Some theatergoers will suggest that you can’t look at Cooper and “not” see a movie star, People magazine’s 2011 “Sexiest Man Alive.” They’ll be wrong, but that’s beside the point. Cooper humanizes a man few at the time were willing to treat as human.

It’s potently evident in a simple wisecrack Merrick makes when Dr. Treves introduces him to yet one more nurse candidate who will flee upon beholding him: “Thank you for saving the lunch this time,” Cooper deadpans, commending the good doctor for taking a tray of food from the nurse before she entered the room.

Patricia Clarkson, the Oscar-nominated actress of “Pieces of April," is Madge Kendal, a famous thesp chosen by Dr. Treves to befriend Merrick because it’s thought she has the chops to disguise any “disgust.”

Clarkson, above, speaks with deliberation. It’s impossible to take your eyes off her when she’s on stage in Clint Ramos’s plum-colored Victorian ballgown and black-lace sleeves. Her ultimate metamorphosis—from an actress playing a part, into a woman who values her own emotions and is capable of reaching a man who has never known affection—is compelling, to say the least. Nothing she does (and she does plenty) feels like a stunt.

Nivola was an enigmatic and arrogant barrister in The Roundabout’s “The Winslow Boy,” and I may have hoped for something similar here. Treves was a deeply empathic character as embodied by Anthony Hopkins in the bleak, vastly different 1980 David Lynch film, which counted the doctor's journals—not Pomerance’s play—among its source materials (and starred John Hurt, in prosthetic makeup).

Rather, Nivola’s physician turns out to be even-keeled and pragmatic, an Englishman set in his belief that the sole goal of “treatment” for the untreatable Merrick is “normality … as far as is possible.” He does a convincing job making us see Freddie Treves as a fair and satisfied clinician, grateful for his own place in the universe.

The trio of leads are ably supported by a strong ensemble, including Anthony Heald as Merrick’s freak show exhibitor and, later, his religious guide. As the bottom-line focused hospital administrator, Henry Stram (wonderful in the recent “Fly By Night” at Playwrights Horizons”) make no bones about his interest in capitalizing on Merrick’s disfigurement, and his point of view comes across as simple pragmatism.

The dramatic tension in Pomerance’s play peaks in the first act, when Merrick is pursued through a train station by a mob determined to “rip him to pieces.” From there, it morphs into a character study. This “Elephant Man” will be best remembered for its deeply committed performance by Cooper, who joins a long line of actors—Hurt, Philip Anglim, David Bowie, Bruce Davison—to play him.

“The Elephant Man,” through Feb. 15 at the Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th St. Tickets: $99-$169. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[James Franco Talks Sony Hack on "SNL"]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 09:02:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/James-Franco-SNL.jpg

James Franco returned to the "Saturday Night Live" stage this weekend, kicking off his opening monologue by addressing the massive hack at Sony, which produced Franco's upcoming movie "The Interview."

"These hackers have leaked real, personal information about everyone who's worked with Sony," the host said. "Soon you'll know that my email is cuterthandavefranco@aol.com, my password is 'LittleJamesyCutiePie,' and this is all a huge invasion of my personal life."

Halfway through the monologue, Franco's friend (and "The Interview" co-star) Seth Rogen shuffled onstage to inform Franco that the hackers released all their personal photos.

"They also released this one of me teaching you how to read," Rogen somberly told Franco. "We were making such good progress, man."

Franco later appeared as Tad Rankin, a man miffed about losing to a four-year-old in a mayoral election.

"Tommy is a little kid!" he howls. "This town needs a mayor who doesn't get ear infections!"

The "SNL" cast spoofed NBC's Thursday-night special "Peter Pan Live!", starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken.

Peter Pan (Cecily Strong) challenged Captain Hook (Franco) to a duel while asserting "his" own masculinity.

"You heard me -- I'm a boy! The most gorgeous, womanly boy with shiny bright eyes and feminine features!" Pan proclaimed, in a sendup of the bright-eyed (and thoroughly female) Williams.

One difference from the original: Tonkerbell (Aidy Bryant), Tinkerbell's puckish half-sister, joined the cast. "Do not boss my ass around, okay, Peter? I work for myself as a reverse tooth fairy -- I fly into kids' rooms, I take a dollar, and I leave one of my own teeth."

Franco lampooned Walken's laconic delivery as Hook, whose singing was limited to monosyllabic grunts while his motley pirates did song-and-dance routines.

In the cold open sketch, Al Sharpton (Keenan Thompson) addressed the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions.

"For the first time in my life, everyone agrees with me," he said. "Folks are high-fivin' with me, invitin' me places -- this must be what it feels like to be Beyonce!"

Sharpton welcomed Peter Dinello (Bobby Moynihan), a spokesman for the Staten Island Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and asked what it takes for a police officer to be indicted for homicide.

"Well it does happen, Al, but there are very clear rules on this," Dinello said. "The victim must not be resisting arrest, it's best if he's sleeping, and, uh, it helps if he's white."

The political skewering continued during "Weekend Update," as co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che lambasted a grand jury's decision not to indict the two police officers.

"It used to be you said you were racist to get out of jury duty. Now it seems like it's a requirement!" Che said. "These decisions were so bad that I might just stop avoiding jury duty. I might just show up at court and see if they take walk-ins."

Jost piled on: "Please, for everyone's sake, keep the cop trials out of Staten Island," the Staten Island native said. "We're not ready for these complicated modern issues yet. We still arrive in Manhattan every day huddled in a boat."

Joining them at the desk was Weekend Update "relationship expert" Leslie Jones, who documented her experience taking psychedelic mushrooms after joining a dating site for marijuana smokers.

"When I took the mushrooms, I talked to Harriet Tubman for like 2 hours," Jones said. "Have you ever been called a bitch by Harriet Tubman, Jost?" she barked at the bemused co-host.

Kim Kardashan (Nicki Minaj) rounded out Weekend Update, as she tried to give some context to Kardashian's skin-baring photoshoot for Paper magazine.

"Look at this photo. Do you notice anything? There's no background to the photo," she said. Then, as the background changed: "See, it was actually about about getting regular checkups from your gynecologist."

In addition to performing as Beyonce-as-the-Virgin-Mary in the "Jingle Ballerz" sketch, Minaj sang "Bed of Lies" with Skylar Grey and "All Things Go."

"SNL" returns Dec. 13 with host Martin Freeman and musical guest Charli XCX.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Awesome Rock Tree Time-lapse]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:18:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tree+timelapse+tree.jpg See time-lapse video of the 2014 Rockefeller Center tree being put up and illuminated.]]> <![CDATA[Target Employee's Black Friday Pep Talk Goes Viral]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 20:25:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/target+credit+card+breach+latest.jpg

Although Black Friday can be a stressful day for bargain-hunting shoppers, it may be even more difficult for retail employees.

That is why a Target electronics department worker in Westminster, Maryland, gave his coworkers an epic pep talk ahead of the shopping holiday, as seen in a video that has gone viral.

"They come here with bargains in their heads, and fire in their eyes!" Scott Simms shouts in the video. "We're more than just a store. This is a team! This is a family! This is Target!"

The speech has been compared to Gerard Butler’s in the 2006 war movie "300,” but others say it is just marketing scheme concocted by the company.

However, Target told “Today” that it wasn’t responsible for the viral video.

"One of our favorite parts of the holiday is watching our entire Target team bring the season to life in their own way,” the retailer said in a statement. “We have long said that Thanksgiving weekend is to retail what a championship game is to sports. Scott is clearly quite a team player." 

<![CDATA[Review: Talented Teen Helps "Liberty" Raise Her Torch]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 15:09:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LibertyMain.jpg

“Liberty” is a winning Off-Broadway musical about an immigrant who arrives on American shores, only to be stymied by a political system tilted against her. It will spur memories of headlines we see every day … except this story is set in the mid-1880s.

Aimed at young adults, but with appeal for New Yorkers of any age, “Liberty” chronicles the way ordinary Americans fought to secure the Statue of Liberty a place on her pedestal. It’s a twisty tale many of us were taught in grade school, though some of us—guilty!—could use the refresher course.

Just how did that copper-and-cast-iron statue end up in the middle of New York Harbor? Yes, she was a gift from France, but wasn’t there more to the story? Indeed there was, and the musical’s creators, brother-sister composing team Jon and Dana Leslie Goldstein, have imagined an attention-holding saga to fill in the gaps.

“Liberty” (the show’s full title is “Liberty: A Monumental New Musical”) starts with a father and daughter visiting the modern day Battery, then quickly rewinds as the duo transform into French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (Ryan Duncan) and his “daughter,” the heroine of the title (Abigail Shapiro), a living, breathing and singing embodiment of the famous statue.

“America,” Bartholdi explains to his “child,” is a melting pot: “A bouillabaisse with not just the shellfish. But also the squid and the urchin …”

America, in fact, has promised Bartholdi a warm welcome for his daughter, but challenges arise from the start, when an overcrowded boat means the patient young girl, like so many thousands of immigrants, will be traveling steerage. Tougher problems would come later: Just who is going to pay for a place to put Bartholdi’s gift?

Tiny and tenacious, Shapiro is a one-time Cindy Lou in Madison Square Garden’s “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” who has performed at 54 Below with her younger sister, a former Broadway “Matilda.”

Talk about a torch singer. The charismatic actress, 14 years old, has the vocal control of a seasoned pro and a quiet stage presence that belies her years. Earlier incarnations of “Liberty” featured an adult actress as Liberty, but Shapiro’s audition spurred producers to change things up.

Emma Rosenthal, a veteran Chicago performer, is a warm presence as poet Emma Lazarus, who mingles daily with the hoi polloi, teaching them English, while fearing what would happen if her wealthy parents were to know it.

Ben McHugh provides the requisite oily sheen as Mr. Walker, director of the Census Bureau, a man with awesome power over the lives of arriving immigrants … and his sights set on bigger opportunities. On the subject of immigration, “Liberty” has a decisively open-arms stance. Walker voices his opposition in song, worrying “there won’t be enough to go around if the world docks at our pier,” and he’s clearly the show’s villain.

Cozying up to Walker is a wealthy society widow named Mrs. Schuyler (Cheryl Stern, a Jonathan Larson Award-winning writer and vet of 2010’s Broadway “La Cage” revival). The two share a delightfully wicked duet called “The Charity Tango,” in which they warn Liberty against looking for handouts.

Stern does double-duty as a Russian immigrant earning her keep as a pushcart peddler.

Also carrying an extra workload: Tom Souhrada, as both an Irish construction foreman in charge of job assignments and newspaper baron Joseph Pulitzer, whose friendship with Liberty leads to the story’s satisfying conclusion.

Pulitzer, a few of us may have forgotten, concocted a fund-raising campaign for the pedestal that attracted 100,000-plus Americans, most of whom contributed less than a buck—the sort of loose change any of the tempest-tossed masses might be able to conjure up. Worth noting: as a theater pro next to me observed, the tycoon gets a kinder ride here than he did in “Newsies.”

Ryan Duncan, C. Mingo Long and Andrew DiTusa round out the talented ensemble, who are directed by Evan Pappas, a Broadway actor who has starred in “Parade” and “My Favorite Year.” Pappas brings things in at 80 minutes, a sweet spot for school groups and fidgety grownups.

Kids and teens will find inspiration in Liberty’s perseverance, but the musical operates on a different level for adults, illuminating the xenophobia that has met every wave of immigrants to America. The show is a welcome jumping-off point for a discussion about the ingredients that make America the multicultural bouillabaisse—to borrow Bartholdi's phrasing—it is today.

“Liberty: A Monumental New Musical,” has recently concluded a run at Theatre 80 in the East Village and producers are working on an expanded Off-Broadway production. Visit libertythemusical.com for more information.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Zach Payne]]>
<![CDATA[Lia Sophia Closing Its Doors]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 19:32:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LiaSophia11.jpg

The popular direct-sales jewelry retailer Lia Sophia announced Monday it will be closing its doors this month.

“We are so proud of building Lia Sophia over the past 28 years into an outstanding company that has empowered women, and whose jewelry has been a favorite of so many,” creative director Elena Kiam wrote in a blog post on the company's website Monday. “However, given the challenging business environment, we made the painful decision to wind down Lia Sophia in the United States and Canada by December 31, and cease operations by the end of February.”

Kiam’s husband, Lia Sophia CEO Tory Kiam, acquired the business from his father Victor Kiam. Victor Kiam, former owner of the New England Patriots, made a name for himself in the 1980s as president and CEO of Remington Products, famously appearing in commercials coining the slogan, “I liked the shavers so much, I bought the company."

Victor Kiam purchased the retailer in 1986 under its original name Act II Jewelry before renaming it to Lady Remington. Following the entrepreneur's death in 2001, the brand was acquired by his son Tory Kiam and his wife Elena. In 2004 the couple relaunched the brand under the name Lia Sophia.

"Most of all, we're proud to be a family company, and to see the names of our daughters, Lia and Sophia, on every box of our jewelry," the company's website states.

Lia Sophia sold its jewelry through a network of local independent sales representatives, relying on in-home demonstrations and a direct-selling approach similar to the practices of Avon and Tupperware.

An outpouring of messages to the company’s Facebook page from customers and employees expressed a mixture of shock, disappointment and appreciation for the products and jobs the company created during its operation.

Photo Credit: Lia Sophia]]>
<![CDATA[Giant Gingerbread House Fits People]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 07:31:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/giant+gingerbread+house.jpg

Vermont's Woodstock Inn & Resort has unveiled a giant gingerbread house that towers above the rest. The creation of pastry chef Lerome Campbell and his team stands 9 feet tall from its base to rooftop. It's 7 feet long, and has ceilings high enough for most people to carefully stand up beneath.

"We have about 180 pounds of flour in there," Campbell told New England Cable News. "Confectioners sugar? I'm going to say about 150 pounds."

The gingerbread house was about three weeks in the making, Campbell said. It's mostly edible, but is built over a wooden frame. Campbell explained there is so much gingerbread — more than 350 shingles on the roof and 700 bricks on the walls — that it would need a sturdy wooden frame to bear the weight of the gingerbread, icing, and candy.

Campbell said he has worked on even larger gingerbread houses before. At a previous job at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, Campbell said he once helped construct a taller house than the one in Woodstock. "I always shoot for the 'wow effect' in people," Campbell told NECN.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Robin McCluskey, a traveler visiting Woodstock from the Boston area. "It's just wonderful."

"There's no detail spared," added McCluskey's friend, Kate Brown, who was marveling at the giant gingerbread house's windows, trim, and flowerboxes, which are filled with lollipop blooms and shredded wheat soil. "It's just amazing!"

This mansion of the gingerbread house world will be up at the Woodstock Inn & Resort until the start of 2015. Campbell said the wooden frame will be saved for use in future years, as a base over which fresh candy decorations and gingerbread tiles can be applied.

The Woodstock Inn & Resort has a series of Christmas events and outdoor winter activities, like dog sledding, planned for the next several weeks. For more, visit the destination's website.

For additional information on planning a visit to Vermont during the winter, visit the website of the state's Department of Tourism and Marketing and Ski Vermont.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Apps to Help You Save During the Holidays]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:19:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/holiday+savings+apps.jpg Tech guru PC Mike Wendland takes a look at apps designed to help you save during the holidays.]]> <![CDATA[Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Tonight]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:08:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/228*120/capitol_christmas_tree.png

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner will light the Capitol Christmas Tree on the Capitol's West Front Lawn at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.

This year's tree, a massive White Spruce, came from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest and will be decorated with thousands of ornaments made by residents of Minnesota children.

After Tuesday's lighting, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. every day through Jan. 1.

<![CDATA[NORAD Santa Tracker Launches Ahead of Christmas ]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:42:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sb10069274b-004.jpg

Once you've made your Christmas list and checked it twice, you can log online to track Santa Claus as he delivers millions of gifts around the world.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, launched its official Santa tracker website and mobile app Monday.

The latest version of the NORAD Tracks Santa effort, which has been around since 1958, features new games and daily activities, including the opportunity to help name a new elf in the North Pole Village. The #NoradElf challenge was announced in a new video posted to the site.

Santa and his sleigh will have a hard time staying under the radar thanks to the site, which is accessible in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Visitors can watch Mr. Claus prepare for his flight around the world on the day before Christmas, starting at 12:01 a.m MST on Dec. 24. 

Starting at 4 a.m MST that day, trackers can speak with a live phone operator to find out Santa's current location, by dialing 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by emailing noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Q&A: NeNe Leakes Gets Real]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:53:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/163848016CB019_2013_Bravo_N.jpg

NeNe Leakes, the star of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” is known for her outspoken attitude and sassy one-liners.

It’s what’s made her one of the most successful reality stars working today, with runs on “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” and even her own clothing line, The NeNe Leakes Collection, for HSN.

But prior to her “Housewives” fame, NeNe Leakes was a working actress. It’s a muscle she flexed on NBC’s “The New Normal” and FOX’s “Glee.” And it’s one that’s brought the 46-year-old to her next step in her career: Broadway

Tonight, Leaks begins her run as the evil stepmother Madame in “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” Leakes will remain with the production through its final performance on Jan. 3.

On the eve of her opening night, Leakes spilled the tea with NBC 4 New York on “Cinderella” and the new season of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

NBC 4 NEW YORK: Is this your first holiday season in New York?
NENE LEAKES: It is. I’ve been here once or maybe twice for New Year’s Eve, but I’ve never lived here this long a period of time. My youngest son and my husband are here now, and right now we’re scrambling looking for a place to eat for Thanksgiving. Usually I cook for my family, but this year we’re going out.

NBC4NY:: How has the process been of preparing for “Cinderella”?
LEAKES: It’s been really tough. It’s not an easy role to play. I’m struggling with my voice now — sleeping with a humidifier and trying to make it to opening night. It’s a lot of work. Eight shows are a lot of shows in one week. But it’s definitely a dream come true. I think every actor dreams of doing Broadway one day.

NBC4NY: Your character in “Cinderella” has a villainous streak. Is it hard to relate to someone like that?
LEAKES: Well she’s definitely a lady with a dream. She wants her daughters to marry up, and she wants a better life for herself. Now, the way she goes about it may not be the way you go about it. But her intentions are good. I can relate to that. I’ve always been a dreamer. I want my children to have a better life. And she speaks her mind and is a little wicked, but she also has a heart. At the end, she asks to be forgiven. That’s a big thing to do.

NBC4NY: You recently completed a run in the Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas hit, “Zumanity.” What did you learn there that you plan to take with you to Broadway?
LEAKES: There were some tough audiences some nights at “Zumanity,” let me tell you. But I learned to block out all the other things that were going on around me, and really play the moment. I’m hoping I’m able to do that — to really forget about the audience being there. I’m definitely nervous.

NBC4NY: Nervous? That doesn’t sound like the NeNe I know. 
LEAKES: Oh I am scared of my debut. I don’t want to miss my lines. But you’re supposed to be scared. At Zumanity, when I walked out there, I was a nervous wreck. But after you get the first show under your belt, you feel like you can really go out there and have fun. I’m sure the tonight will be a complete blur.

NBC4NY: Has this experience been very different than working on “RHOA”?
LEAKES: Completely. Working on “Housewives” can be very negative at times. I think that’s the way (the producers) position the show. I’m the original — I’m the center of the show. Every season they want someone to come for me. It’s tough. Broadway is more about the work and the art. It’s being creative. And every one wants to go out there and deliver and put on a good show. It’s very positive.

NBC4NY: I can’t imagine what it must be like to work in an environment like “Housewives” where you’re constantly attacked.
LEAKES: It is hard, I’m telling you. I promise it will take everything in your body to do that. The show has definitely damaged me to the point where I don’t want to make friends with new people. People who I open up, later on they turn on me once they get a raise on the show. I always think to myself, “God, these people will work for a $1.50 to do ANYTHING.” I just can’t do it.

NBC4NY: Do you ever have any regrets about doing “RHOA”?
LEAKES: There are some things along the way that I wish I hadn’t said. Like when me and my husband had our issues, or some of the conversations I had with my son. But there aren’t things I really regret. The show has been amazing for me, and opened up many doors for me. So for that I am very grateful to Bravo.

NBC4NY: Well I hope we get to see some of the NeNe sass we’ve come to know and love on “Housewives” in “Cinderella.”
LEAKES: I hope so too. I don’t know if you’ll see that the first night, but I hope I can grow into that.

"Cinderella," through Jan. 3, 2015 at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway (at 53rd Street). Tickets: $39-$157. Call Telecharge: 212-239-6200 or visit cinderellaonbroadway.com

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Find the Perfect Present: Gift Guide 2014]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 20:28:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gift-guide-promo2.jpg
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Sting Boards the Cast of “The Last Ship”]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:58:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/525114637RK005_The_Last_Shi.jpg

Your chance to see Sting on Broadway again is finally here.

The 16-time Grammy winner and frontman of The Police, who made his Broadway acting debut in the 1989 revival of “Threepenny Opera,” will join the cast of “The Last Ship,” the musical about struggling shipyard town in England for which he wrote the music and lyrics.

Sting’s limited run in the show begins Dec. 9 and goes through Jan. 10, 2015. He’ll play Jackie White, the shipyard foreman originated on Broadway by Jimmy Nail.

"We have spent five years working on ‘The Last Ship’ and I have relished every moment of that process," said Sting, in a statement. "It is my distinct honor to join this remarkable cast and play the part of Jackie until I pass the baton back to Jimmy."

“The Last Ship” opened to mixed reviews, and has been struggling at the box office in recent weeks. The production played only to 61.6 percent capacity for the week ending Nov. 16, grossing only $536,449 — over $100K less than it needs to cover its overhead costs.

This won’t be the first time Sting has performed the songs found in “The Last Ship.” He originally released his own recordings on a 2013 album of the same name.

This also won’t be the first time Sting has performed with the cast of “The Last Ship” either. The musician was joined by Nail for a special PBS “Great Performances” series filmed at the Public Theater last year.

He also often joins "The Last Ship" cast for the annual Saturday Night Scream, a tradition on 52nd Street where the casts from the August Wilson Theater and the Neil Simon Theater perform for five minutes before their Saturday night shows. Here is Sting and the cast doing “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” last month:

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Glenn Close Returns to Broadway in “A Delicate Balance” ]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:20:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DelicateBalanceITW.jpg

If you’re going to do an Edward Albee play, you better be sure you have your bar pretty well-stocked.

The “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” playwright loves to get his characters liquored up. It seems to help their deep secrets and personal demons bubble to the surface more quickly. You know -- the whole “finding yourself in the bottom of a glass” thing.

There’s a lot of that in "A Delicate Balance," Albee’s 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning domestic drama that’s just opened at the John Golden Theater. In the stellar revival, from Tony-winning director Pat MacKinnon, the bar so integral to the story, it might as well be another character in the play.

It won’t get entrance applause, though. That honor goes to three-time Tony winner Glenn Close, who is making her a triumphant return to Broadway after 20 years away. (Her last role on the boards was as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1994 mega-musical “Sunset Boulevard”).

“A Delicate Balance” proves to be the perfect vehicle for Close. In the ensemble piece, she plays Agnes, a poised upper-middle-class suburban matron determined to keep everyone in her life in balance.

Close’s on-stage husband, Tobias, is played by John Lithgow, her co-star in the 1982 movie “The World According to Garp.” Tobais is the ultimate pleaser. A shell of a man. You get the sense that he’s retired not just in his career, but also in every facet of his life.

Agnes and Tobias have never truly dealt with the deep frustrations in their strained marriage. Like many WASPs, they’ve found escape through avoidance.

But they've never been able to escape their duties as caretakers. Even as empty nesters, their house is perpetually filled.

There’s Agnes’ sister Claire (Lindsay Duncan) -- a self-described drunk with a sharp tongue and a complete lack of filter. And Julia (Martha Plimpton, tough as ever) — their bratty, attention-seeking daughter who is returning home (at 36-years-old) after her fourth failed marriage.

Oh, and lifelong family friends Harry and Edna (Bob Balaban and Clare Higgins, perfectly paired), who stop by looking for sanctuary from an unnamed “terror” which has drove them from their home.

On the surface, Agnes seems like an easy role to play -- a cold, emotionless monster who always appears to be in control. But Close paints a much more complex portrait. Her Agnes is a woman carrying layers of sadness and loss under that strength; A woman who allows herself to breathe through humor and love.

It’s a transfixing performance. Understated, yet the glue that holds everyone together. And Albee’s words -- often presented in long, compound, poignant paragraphs -- will sound like pure poetry coming out of Close’s mouth.

The more showy role of the bunch is Claire (pictured above, with Lithgow and Close), to whom Albee gives all the funniest lines. Duncan delivers them perfectly. The British actress has embraced Claire’s dry sense of humor, and never falls into the pitfall of clichéd drunken overacting.

Claire is probably the most self-aware member of the family. She willingly drinks to not only escape, but also to avenge -- to pay her sister back for the pain that’s come with a lifetime of being viewed as an embarrassment. Duncan shows fragility in her portrayal of someone who is simply tolerated, not loved.

Those who saw Lithgow’s take on King Lear at the Delacorte this summer might be surprised to see him playing such a meek man. But Lithgow never lets us think that Tobias is a fool. He’s just walked away from the battlefield. And when Tobias eventually returns to the fight in a pivotal scene in the play’s third act, Lithgow leaves him raw, exposed and completely defenseless.

MacKinnon, who won a Tony for directing the 2012 revival of Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," guides these greats through the author's lengthy literature wisely, striking her own delicate balance between pacing and performance (the show clocks-in at nearly three hours, with two 10-minute intermissions, though never feels long). And Santo Loquasto’s exquisite scenic design is almost as detailed and compelling as the performances happening within it.

There’s a lot of mystery in “A Delicate Balance.” Albee never reveals some plot details, and when the curtain comes down, you’ll have unanswered questions. That can be frustrating. But you’ll certainly have a lot to discuss and unpack on the way home.

Or, you know… at the bar.

“A Delicate Balance,” through Feb. 22, 2015 at the John Golden Theater. 252 W. 45th St. Tickets: $60—$155. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe]]>
<![CDATA[The Broadway Community Remembers Mike Nichols]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:57:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/456420222.jpg

Iconic director of stage and screen Mike Nichols died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 19. He was 83.

Among the many accomplishments of Nichols’ esteemed career is the immense effect he had on the Broadway community.

Nichols debuted on Broadway in 1960 as a performer in “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.” The comedy duo’s recording of the hit show earned Nichols a Grammy for Best Comedic Performance -- the first of Nichols’ EGOT achievement.

Nichols directed more than 20 Broadway shows -- winning eight Tonys for best director along the way. He made his directorial debut in 1963 with Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” -- and would go on to helm Neil Simon-classics like “The Odd Couple” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”

He also directed the original productions of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” and the Monty Python’s “Spamalot” -- both of which would take top honors at the Tonys.

Last season, Nichols was represented on Broadway with the Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz-lead “Betrayal.” Before that was 2012’s acclaimed revival of “Death of a Salesman,” for which he took home his eighth Tony and directed the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final Broadway outing.

Nichols produced Broadway shows, too, including the original production of “Annie” and two solo shows for Whoopi Goldberg.

His career as a film director began while sticking to his theatrical roots -- directing the film version of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” He would win an Oscar for that and take home two Emmys for small screen adaptations of Margaret Edson’s “Wit” and Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

He also directed film adaptations of Simon’s “Biloxi Blues” and Patrick Marber’s “Closer,” plus the hit film “The Birdcage,” an adaptation of “La Cage aux Folles” starring Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams.

At the time of his death, Nichols was once again adapting a popular stage play for TV -- this time, Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” for HBO. The Tony-winning play, about opera legend Maria Callas, reunited Nichols with frequent collaborator Meryl Streep, who hailed Nichols as one of the essential artists of our time.

"No explanation of our world could be complete and no account or image of it so rich if we didn’t have [him],” Streep tweeted.

Known for making stars out of the actors whom he cast, Nichols worked with many of the greats on the Great White Way, including Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver and Judith Ivey.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Sara Ramirez, who won a Tony for her role in “Spamalot,” tweeted that Nichols was“an extraordinary man who impacted so many lives with his art, love, wit and humor.”

“My first Broadway audition was for ‘Spamalot,’” tweeted Tony-winner Steve Kazee (“Once”). “My time with Mike Nichols...I consider to be some of the most valuable time of my life. He was truly a genius. More than that he became a friend and a mentor. I could never truly express all the good he brought to my life on so many levels.”

"Thank you to the legendary Mike Nichols for directing me in my Broadway debut," tweeted "Pitch Perfect" star Anna Camp, who worked with Nichols in 2008's "The Country Girl." 

Many of Nichols other collaborators and friends shared their memories of him. 

"I'm absolutely heartbroken," tweeted Audra McDonald. "I love you."

"River" star Hugh Jackman called him "A true visionary and friend" on twitter, while "Glee" star Matthew Morrison thanked Nichols for giving him the advice to help him continue on his own path when he was a struggling young actor.

"I wish I could capture in 140 characters what a wonderful man Mike Nichols was, and how much I loved him and his work," tweeted Hank Azaria, who worked with Nichols in "Spamalot." "I will truly miss him." 

Patrick Wilson, who starred in "Angels in America," said Nichols "gave me my film career" and praised him for his unmatched legacy. "His Cheshire Cat smile looms large." 

The marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will dim their lights Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:45pm in memory of Nichols. 

Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA[“Rock of Ages” Will Close on Broadway]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:13:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/RockOfAgesITW.jpg

It’s the final countdown.

“Rock of Ages” will plays its final Broadway performance at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Jan. 18.

At the time of its closing, it will have played 22 previews and 2,328 performances — making it the 27th longest running show in Broadway history.

The ‘80s jukebox musical, with a book by Chris D'Arienzo, features rock hits from many of the glam metal bands of the decade, like Poison, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Styx, Journey, Steve Perry and Europe.

Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Julianne Hough starred in the 2012 movie adaptation. 

"Rock of Ages" had a bit of an unconventional road to Broadway, beginning at The Vanguard Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles back in January 2006. A limited run at The Flamingo in Las Vegas followed, before “Rock of Ages” made its way to New York in October 2008 at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages.

The show officially opened on Broadway on April 7, 2009, and received five Tony nominations that year, including for Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for star Constantine Maroulis.

Maroulis has rejoined the cast of “Rock of Ages” -- along with six other members of the original cast -- and will remain with the production through closing. They’re joined by YouTube famer Chester See and “Big Brother” star Frankie Grande (brother of Ariana), who are both new to the show.

For tickets and more information, visit rockofagesmusical.com.

<![CDATA[Review: “Side Show” Takes Center Stage]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:31:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SideShowBway5w.jpg

Freak shows are very in these days.

Between the weekly dose of circus scares on FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show," to the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Elephant Man” starring Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper, the pinheads and bearded ladies of the Big Top’s sidelines are stepping front and center.

The latest in the freak show frenzy is the slick new revival of “Side Show,” now open at the St. James Theatre. Directed by the Oscar-winning Bill Condon (of the film versions of “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls”), the musical tells the tale of Violet and Daisy Hilton, conjoined twins who long to find acceptance in the world outside of the carnival.

The story is based on the real-life Siamese twins of the same name – sideshow stars who toured the vaudeville circuit in the 1930s and starred in the 1932 film “Freaks.”

The wonderful Erin Davie and Emily Padgett star as Violet and Daisy, respectively. Though each dream of “walking down the street with no one noticing,” there’s friction amongst the twins in how they see each their future. Daisy wants fame; Violet, stability.

Enter Terry (Ryan Silverman) and Buddy (Matthew Hydzik), two smooth-talking producers who promise success on the Orpheum Circuit. Soon, our heroines are leaving behind their oppressive guardian Sir (the delightfully creepy Robert Joy) and their family of freaks for freedom and the possibility of the seemingly impossible: love.

Those who saw the original 1997 Broadway production might see Condon’s “Side Show” as more of a reworking than a revival. Composer Henry Krieger (“Dreamgirls) and lyricist Bill Russell (“Pageant”) have added 10 new songs. Russell and Condon have reworked the book extensively, clarifying, among other things, the cruel childhood that brought the sisters to the side show in the first place.

Many of the changes work, especially new numbers like “Ready to Play” and “Stuck With You,” which present Violet and Daisy at their vaudeville-best. (You’ll have a hard time taking your eyes off of Anthony Van Laast’s clever choreography).

But there are problems. A new Harry Houdini anecdote, meant to clarify how the girls learned to find solitude in their psyches, feels more like an unnecessary detour. The show has also yet to understand what to do with the subplot of Jake (the powerful David St. Louis), the girl’s black handler whose unrequited love for Violet never gets the exploration or complication it deserves.

What remains constant in both productions of “Side Show,” though, are the near flawless performances by its two leading ladies. Davie and Padgett (pictured below), like Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley before them, are masterful here. Each colors her twin with a distinguishable personality, yet gracefully moves together as a single unit.

You’ll innately identify with Violet and Daisy’s struggle for acceptance, and their desire for independence despite an overall fear of loneliness. But Davie and Pagett don’t get trapped in the weak moments. Any vulnerability they show is washed away when they hold hands, as if an electrical beam of strength is passing through them.

They sound great, too, with bright, bold vibratos on display in perfect harmony in showstoppers like “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” and “I Will Never Leave You” (both held over from the original production).

Silverman and Hydzik are lovely complements to Davie and Padgett, with their undeniable charisma on full display. Unfortunately, the book is structured so that neither gets to explore his character’s true intentions until late in the second act — a point at which is too late to warrant much compassion.

There’s not a weak link among our ensemble, who play, amongst other parts, our choir of freaks. They do an excellent job at establishing the community among society’s outcast, and transform “The Devil You Know” into an explosive standout in the show. They’re also given much to work with in Paul Tazewell’s rich, elaborate costumes — the details of which can be seen from the last row.

Still, there’s something amiss in this new “Side Show.” It could be the polish of Condon’s direction, which can leave you feeling empty. Or the production design itself, which appears far more grand and cinematic than the story can support. The danger never feels dangerous enough. The challenges, never that hard to overcome.

“Side Show” wasn’t a hit when it played on Broadway back in 1997. Despite its five Tony nominations, the show opened to mixed reviews and closed after only 91 performances. And though it has attracted a cult following through the years among the theater kids and the cabaret scene, “Side Show” has never achieved mainstream success.

Perhaps that will change with this revival. If ever there were a time for the freaks to snatch the spotlight, it would be now.

“Side Show,” at the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street. Tickets: $49-$155. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Web Extra: Annaleigh the Dancer]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:36:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005327365_1200x675_358686275701.jpg In "You Can't Take It With You" on Broadway, Annaleigh Ashford plays Essie Sycamore, who thinks she can dance. In real life, Ashford can dance very well but her character, not so much. She recently told Gus Rosendale about the dancing, and the toll on her toes.]]> <![CDATA[Review: "The River" Finds Hugh Jackman in Troubled Waters]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 21:22:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/RiverMain.jpg

You can’t help being mesmerized when Hugh Jackman talks about fishing during “The River,” the new 85-minute drama by playwright Jez Butterworth.

Hooking a trout is akin to “catching a lightning bolt” or “jamming your finger into a socket.” The sensation is “like a million sunsets rolled into a ball and shot straight into your veins.”

Got shivers? When Jackman puts it that way, he makes trout-fishing sound a lot like falling in love. So we may be here, at the Circle in the Square—where the beloved song-and-dance man is working well outside his customary milieu—for a little romance.

Then again, we may not.

What you’ll hear about “The River” is that it’s hard to describe without giving away too much. This much is fair: A man has brought his new girlfriend to a remote cabin for a night of trout-fishing. It’s never specified where, but given all the fetching accents involved, my vote is for somewhere in Australia.

“The River,” Butterworth’s first new play since 2009’s award-winning “Jerusalem,” is not for theatergoers who demand resolution. There’s no traditional plot, and the narrative is non-linear. It’s as much about what we bring to it—the blanks we fill in, from the darker corners of our mind—as what’s on the page.

Butterworth’s thriller premiered in 2012 at London’s Royal Court Theatre and has made its way across the pond with one of two female stars from that staging, Laura Donnelly, intact (Dominic West, of HBO’s “The Wire,” headed the U.K. cast).

The intimate Circle in the Square is transformed into Jackman’s rustic getaway, with cobwebs dangling from the ceiling, a well-worn wooden table, and drawers of fly-fishing apparatus. Much of the real estate has been reserved for what producers coyly call “riverbank seats.” The result is less theater-in-the-round than theater in a narrow rectangle, with entrances for actors on either end.

For effect, a mournful Yeats poem, describing the mythological god Aengus’s endless search for his lover, occasionally fills the air—that, ever so subtly, is a clue to the nature of “The River.”

As The Man, Jackman reaffirms his versatility as a performer. During a heralded sequence in which the venerable awards-show host and sometime-Wolverine guts an actual trout to serve for dinner, I was never certain if he was planning a seduction or … perhaps something else?

It’s an exceptionally understated and enigmatic performance, conveying euphoria in some places—listen to Jackman describe the experience of catching his first fish, at age 7—and, perhaps, scaring the life out of you in others … in much the same way The Man was terrified the first time he felt a snared fish “buckle and shudder” as its life slipped away.

The Man has been coming to this cabin most of his life, first with an uncle who used to relate stories of his conquests, then by himself. Has he brought many other women here? Don’t expect a straight answer. What you’ll see before you are his interactions with actresses Donnelly and Cush Jumbo (below), a young Londoner who made waves last year as Mark Antony in the all-female “Julius Caesar” that enjoyed a St. Ann’s Warehouse transfer.

Both are confident and alluring performers who are wholly believable as objects of desire.

You’re likely to get lost wondering who each woman is and what role she plays in The Man’s life. Director Ian Rickson, who helmed “Jerusalem” on both sides of the Atlantic, throws in a red herring or two, particularly in the form of clothing, just to keep matters indecipherable.

“The River” could be an allegory about a man lamenting lost love, or something more sinister. If you’re like me, the possibilities won’t even hit until you’re well on your way home. Rarely in my theatergoing experience has a 650-seat venue felt as claustrophobic and threatening as it did toward the play’s conclusion.

Heraclitus once said it, and it was even seconded by Pocahontas in the eponymous Disney film: “No man ever steps in the same river twice.” The sentiment, the Greek philosopher argued, alludes to the idea of ever-present change in the universe—the always-moving river. Some people, of course, aren’t so comfortable with change. The Man, I think it’s safe to acknowledge, is one of them.

“The River,” through Jan. 25 at The Circle in the Square Theatre, 235 W. 50th St. Tickets: $35-$175. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Richard Termine]]>
<![CDATA[“Duck Dynasty” the Musical in Works]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:07:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/450325685LC026_87th_Annual_.jpg

Yes, you read that right.

The Robertson family, who rose to fame on the hit A&E reality series “Duck Dynasty,” are bringing their story to the stage.

“The Duck Commander Family Musical” is being billed as a celebration of the family’s rags to riches history. The show, based on Willie and Korie Robertson’s 2012 memoir of the same name, will explore how faith and family helped the ducks build a dynasty.

If all goes well, the 90-minute show plans to open in February 2015 at the Rio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Jeff Calhoun (“Newsies”) will direct.

The Robertsons, playing alongside the Chippendales and Penn & Teller? Sounds about right.

The 14-song score will come from Steven Morris, Robert Morris and Joe Shane, and will blend a traditional Broadway sound with blues and country. Asa Somers is writing the book.

The Robertsons themselves won’t be in the show. Rather, actors will play the bearded bunch, with Willie Robertson and family giving approval rights over casting and story.

“We’ve enjoyed the process of making a musical alongside the team who is interested in telling the Robertson family story from an outside perspective,” said Willie Robertson in a statement to The New York Times, who first reported the story.

Michael David, who mounted the Tony-winning “Jersey Boys,” is producing. “Jersey Boys” is one of the few Broadway shows that has found financial success in Vegas.

A New York transfer is not expected, so if you want to see the Robertson family sing and dance, you’ll have to head for Vegas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Q&A: Tracey Ullman Takes On Musicals]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:07:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/TraceyUllmanITW.jpg

Tracey Ullman has always had to be her own ensemble.

From her breakout sketch comedy series “The Tracey Ullman Show” to her award-winning series for HBO and Showtime (“Tracey Takes On” and “Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union”), Ullman’s knack for playing a variety of wacky characters has become her signature style.

Now, Ullman is trying something new: musicals. She’s currently singing and dancing with Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Ragtime”) and Laura Osnes (“Cinderella”) in the Encores! production of “The Band Wagon” at New York City Center.

“I’m a bit tired of being my own cast,” Ullman told NBC New York, days before opening in the adaptation of the MGM musical of the same name. “I do so much work on my own, it’s really nice to be with other people.”

She also has a role in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods,” which hits theaters this Christmas. Ullman plays Jack’s mother, alongside Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp.

Here, Ullman talks about both experiences, and her own outlook on comedy:

NBC 4 NEW YORK: What drew you to “The Band Wagon”?
ULLMAN: Kathleen Marshall. I worked with her before, and I worked with her brother Rob on “In the Woods.” She really understands this genre and makes it real and great for you. It seemed like a lovely opportunity. I’ve never done something like this before. So I get a month with all these incredible people to see how I do.

NBC4NY: And you get to sing again, which is a real treat for those of us who still listen to “They Don’t Know About Us” on the regular.
ULLMAN: Oh I was just a pop singer! I can carry a tune, but here you see people like Brian Stokes Mitchell and Laura Osnes who really are just incredible. Their pacing and their phrasing and the strength they have! It’s that energy and that discipline of doing a musical that's really interesting to learn about.

NBC4NY: You play Lily Martin, a writer going through the process of trying to make a show work. What’s that experience like in real life?
ULLMAN: It’s painful. You have to just keep trying. If you’re in a room full of writers in a group like I’ve been, they’ll soon tell you if it’s not working. Learn to take the blows and go, ‘Okay, I’ll try something different.’ If I feel it’s phoney or not working, I work from the character I based it on and just improvise.

NBC4NY: Improvise? Sounds hard when you’re doing a TV show!
ULLMAN: I get bored quickly. So I like to do 30% of it on the day and be spontaneous. Sometimes it just doesn’t work up to the day. They’re the most interesting ones because you say 'Blimey, I’m just going to have to give it a go here.'

NBC4NY: Is that why you’ve mostly done work you’ve created yourself?
ULLMAN: I always made my own stuff happen because I just was one of those people who thought, ‘Oh, well no one is going to cast me!’ I was an odd looking thing when I was younger. So from very early on in my career, I was instigating my own work. I’ve been very fortunate to have people pick up on it.

NBC4NY: Has it changed for women working in comedy over the years?
ULLMAN: It’s so different being girls now. Women like Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig have made such great strides, starring in movies and not playing second fiddle to men. But, you know, they’ve always had that tradition in America. When I first came here, I couldn’t believe it that you had Gilda Radner, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett on TV. There were no shows with just women in England, really. Especially with comedy.

NBC4NY: What makes you laugh?
ULLMAN: Sometimes the poignancy or sadness of something is what’s funny for me. As you get older, it is different. You can’t just do the same things. I like trying to explore our culture and the melting pot we are. The things that are painful — that’s what’s interesting.

NBC4NY: Speaking of sadness, you lost your husband to prostate cancer this year. How have you been?
ULLMAN: It’s been a difficult year. I had been married 30 years. It’s a bit of a readjustment in your life, and I’m not quite sure what I’m up to on my own. But I have taken a great comfort in working, especially with the Marshalls. They’ve scooped me up and filled my heart with music.

NBC4NY: What can we expect from “Into the Woods?”
ULLMAN: I still haven’t seen it! I’m just thrilled to be a part of it. It was just the most fabulous experience. Everyone was brilliant. And it was another one of these great ensembles. We had a three-week rehearsal period, and we became a company.

NBC4NY: You have a real cow in the film, which is a bit different from the stage show.
ULLMAN: I fell in love with my cow! I would scratch her head. And you know when you stop scratching a dog’s head, and they sort of move their head for more? That’s what my cow did! And I thought ‘People eat these things?’ I know I don’t eat them. She was extraordinary. I’d come home and people would smell me and go ‘You been working with the cow again?’

NBC4NY: Do you think a full Broadway show is in your future after this?
ULLMAN: We’ll see! I’m always looking to try something different. And who knows. It’s wonderful to just have this trial of it.

“The Band Wagon,” through Nov. 16 at NY City Center; 131 W. 55th St. Tickets starting at $30. Call (212) 581-1212 or visit citycenter.org.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Black Friday 2014 Details]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 09:36:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Macy%27s_Holiday35345.jpg

Get that turkey and stuffing to go, because Black Friday doorbusters are no longer confined to Black Friday. Retailers like Target and Best Buy are starting their Thanksgiving sales even earlier than they did last year—and in many cases, those sales will keep going for days afterward. Here’s how the biggest stores are trying to lure customers away from Thanksgiving dinner and into the checkout line:

Walmart: After years of ever-earlier sales on Thanksgiving Day, the world’s largest retailer has transformed Black Friday into a five-day event. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Wednesday that sales will begin at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart will roll out sales in stores and online on different categories of merchandise like home goods, toys, and electronics. “This year, we're blowing it out with five days of deals in store and online,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, the company’s chief merchandising officer.

Target: Target is launching its “biggest, most digital Black Friday ever” at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with a range of deals over the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Target, which opened its doors last year at 8 p.m., is also offering free shipping up to Dec. 20. The biggest steal? Target is selling the Samsung Galaxy S5, regularly $200, for one whopping cent each (with a two-year contract).

Best Buy: In an attempt to one-up its retail competitors, Best Buy will kick off its sales at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than the store opened last year. (Best Buy is even handing out tickets up to two hours before the doors open.) As to be expected for an electronics giant, Best Buy’s flagship deal is a 50-inch Panasonic TV for $199.99.

Macy’s: Macy's will kick off its Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon, two hours earlier than its opening time last year. The department store's big deals, which last until Nov. 30, are focused on clothes, shoes, jewelry and homewares.

The Holdouts: Many retailers are bucking the Black-Friday-on-Thanksgiving trend. Costco, for one, is giving shoppers a chance to digest their Thanksgiving dinner, saying that its employees “deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families." Nordstrom, Dillard's, Barnes & Noble and GameStop are also closed on Thanksgiving, but are planning Black Friday sales.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Macy�s Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[Ninth Annual "Made in NY" Awards Held]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 12:50:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/522302725IS017_Made_In_NY_A.jpg

Neil Patrick Harris, Louis C.K., Steve Buscemi and Rosie Perez were among the honorees at the 2014 "Made in NY" Awards, Monday night in Brooklyn.

Presented by Mayor de Blasio and Media & Entertainment Commissioner Cynthia López at Weylin B. Seymour's in Williamsburg, the annual "Made in NY" Awards ceremony recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations that made significant contributions to the city’s entertainment and digital media industries.

'I’ve always been enamored by the culture and the energy and the vibes of New York," said Harris, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the title character in the Broadway production of "Hedwig and The Angry Inch" and will be filming a new variety show for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Center next year. "I’m hopeful that I can represent New York and show off the culture and show off all the amazing people who are here and make this city so great."

Steve Buscemi, a native New Yorker who won a Golden Globe for his work on "Boardwalk Empire," praised the unsung heroes of the industry. "We have great crews here," he told NBC 4 New York. "Every frame of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ was filmed in every borough in this city. It’s the people behind the scenes who live here and work here that I really love."

For Rosie Perez, the awards represented a full-circle moment.

"I was born here in Williamsburg," the actress and newly minted co-host of "The View" said. "So the fact that this event is here in Williamsburg is crazy."

Perez said she's stayed enjoyed living and working in the Big Apple more than any other city.

"I went out to LA to go to school, and I never felt like I fit in. I just felt lost for the first time in my life," she said. "I have to live in New York. This is my home base. I feel comfortable here — I can be who I am without apologies. That’s the New York spirit."

Comedian and Five-time Emmy winner Louis C.K. gave de Blasio some advice on how to keep productions filming in New York. "Don’t improve the city too much," he joked. "The buildings are terrific and there’s great architecture. If you fix the windows, it won’t look like a dump. That’s why we shoot here."

Louis C.K, who has two kids in the New York City public school system, went on to encourage de Blasio to put more arts programs in the schools.

"It teaches kids who are not in the arts to appreciate them," he said.

Also honored were producer Jane Raab, digital agency Huge, director Stanley Nelson and Lydia Dean Pilcher, Mari Jo Winkler and Rachel Watanabe-Batton — all of the Producer’s Guild of America.

Raab, who produced "Sex and the City" and “Blue Bloods," is a native New Yorker and 40-year veteran of the industry. She told NBC 4 New York that the city's people make it a great backdrop to tell stories.

"Everybody’s alert and alive," she said. "And the energy feeds off itself. It’s infectious."

Documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles was presented with the 2014 "Made in NY" Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. Among Maysles’ more than 40 films are the iconic documentaries "Grey Gardens," "Gimme Shelter" and "Salesman."

He’s also the founder of the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action."

The ceremony began with a performance of the Leonard Bernstein classic "New York, New York," by Jay Armstrong Johnson, Tony Yazbeck and Clyde Alves of the Broadway cast of "On the Town." The trio filmed their own video tour of New York, taking in the many great locations the city has to offer.

"It was incredible to be a tourist for a few days," Yazbeck told NBC New York. "We got to see a lot of things in New York we have never seen before."

New York City is currently hosting record levels of television and film production. In the 2014-15 season, the Big Apple has been home to 39 primetime shows — from NBC’s "The Blacklist" and "The Mysteries of Laura" to Netflix’s "Orange is the New Black" and Comedy Central’s "Broad City."

Of those 39 shows, 20 are new just this year. And more than 230 films have shot on location somewhere in New York City so far in 2014.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[“Glee” Star Returns to Broadway]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 08:25:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/497288157CB010_The_Public_T.jpg

“Finding Neverland” has found its leading man.

“Glee” star Matthew Morrison will take on the role of “Peter Pan” scribe J.M. Barrie in the new musical “Finding Neverland.” Based on Allan Kee’s play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” and the 2004 Johnny Depp film, the show will begin previews on March 15 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Opening night is set for April 15.

“Finding Neverland” marks a return to Broadway for Morrison, who hasn’t appeared on the Great White Way since “Glee” began in 2009. He previously starred in the 2008 revival of “South Pacific,” and the original casts of “Hairspray” and “The Light at the Piazza” — for which he was nominated for a 2005 Tony Award.

Directed by Diane Paulus (“Pippin”), “Finding Neverland” follows the relationship between J.M. Barrie and the family that inspired “Peter Pan.” Music and lyrics come from Take That singer Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy. “So You Think You Can Dance” judge Mia Michaels provides choreography.

This isn’t the first time Morrison has played Barrie. He previously took on the role during an early workshop. Jeremy Jordan (“Newsies”) played the role during its out-of-town tryout at Boston’s American Repertory Theater this past summer.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Art Brings New Life and Vigor to Little Italy]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:16:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/little+italy+graffiti.jpg Gabe Pressman celebrates his 60 years at NBC 4 New York by continuing his ongoing series on the neighborhoods of New York City. This time, he and photographer Keith Feldman look at how artists are using Little Italy as their public canvas.]]> <![CDATA[Emma Stone Begins “Cabaret” Run]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:27:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/EmmaStoneCabaret.jpg

While you explore lower Manhattan's new Fulton Center, here’s what everyone’s talking about this week In the Wings.

Emma Stone begins her run in “Cabaret” on Nov. 11. The 25-year-old actress makes her Broadway debut, stepping into the shoes of Kit Kat Club singer Sally Bowles. Stone will remain in the role, originated in this revival by Michelle Williams, through Feb. 1, 2015. [More info]

Danny Burstein will lead “Fiddler on the Roof” revival in 2015. The rumors are true! Danny Burstein will play “Tevye” in the 2015 revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Being the fifth Broadway revival for “Fiddler,” it’s only fitting that five-time Tony nominee Burstein lead the production, after all. “Fiddler” will begin performances Nov. 17, 2015 in a yet-to-be-named Broadway house. [More info]

“The Heidi Chronicles” revival, starring Elisabeth Moss, sets Broadway dates. The play will begin performances Feb. 23, 2015 at the Music Box Theatre, with an official opening on March 19. Joining Moss in the first ever revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical will be “American Pie” star Jason Biggs, as well as Bryce Pinkham (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”) and Tracee Chimo (“Lips Together, Teeth Apart”). [More Info]

Merritt Weaver joins New York premiere of “The Nether.” The play, by Jennifer Haley, is about a young detective investigating a crime within a new online reality. Weaver, who won an Emmy for her role in “Nurse Jackie,” will be joined by Peter Friedman and Tony winner Frank Wood in the thriller. “The Nether” will run from Feb. 4, 2015 through March 15 at the MCC Theater’s Lucille Lortel Theatre. [More info]

Minnie Driver will be part of NBC's "Peter Pan Live!" The Oscar-nominated actress, who stars on NBC's hit series "About a Boy," will join Allison Williams, Christopher Walken and Kelli O'Hara in the upcoming "Peter Pan Live!" She'll play Adult Wendy, who narrates much of the action throughout the show. [More info]

Broadway performers have been announced for 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, Broadway shows are spotlighted in the early hours of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The shows participating this year? “The Last Ship,” “On the Town,” “Side Show,” the forthcoming “Finding Neverland” and the Tony-winning Best Musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” There will also be a special preview of NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” [More info]

Kids can see Broadway shows for free in “Kids Night on Broadway.” The annual event, which runs Jan. 9, 2015 through Jan. 15, allows kids, between the ages of 6 to 18, to see participating Broadway shows for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. Nearly every Broadway show participates, including family-hits like “Aladdin,” “Matilda The Musical,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King.” For the full list of available shows, and tickets information, visit kidsnightonbraodway.com.

Photo Credit: Richard Phibbs]]>
<![CDATA[Time-lapse of Rock Center Tree Going Up]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:50:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RockefellerTree_1200x675_355061827521.jpg Watch the iconic Rockefeller tree be erected in the plaza -- in 18 seconds.]]> <![CDATA[Martin Short Joins “It’s Only a Play”]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:03:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/188013801DF00031_Academy_Of.jpg

Martin Short is coming back to Broadway.

The Emmy- and Tony-winning comedian will join the star-studded revival of Terrence McNally’s "It’s Only a Play" this January.

Short will replace Nathan Lane in the show, who will depart on Jan. 4 to prepare for Robert Falls’ production of “The Iceman Cometh” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Short, who won a Tony for his role in the 1999 revival of “Little Me,” is scheduled to begin performances Jan 7.

"It’s Only a Play" was previously set to end its limited run on Jan. 4 but, with Short joining the cast and ticket sales going strong, the show will now extend through March 29. It will also move down Broadway, from its current home at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre for a show Jan. 23.

The current cast, which also includes Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally, Rupert Grint and F. Murray Abraham, will remain with the production in its longer run.

Short was last on Broadway in his 2006 musical autobiography, "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me."

For more information, visit www.ItsOnlyAPlay.com.

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<![CDATA[Motown Acts to Ring in New Year on Broadway ]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:30:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3219581.jpg

If you’re interested in hearing some of Motown’s biggest hits on Broadway, you could see the Berry Gordy biographical musical “Motown: The Musical.” Or, for a limited time, you could hear them from the actual groups who made some of the genre's biggest hits.

The Temptations and The Four Tops will play a very limited engagement on Broadway this holiday season.

For seven performances only from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 the legendary Motown artists and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will take over the Palace Theater, bringing with them 50 years of classic hits.

Billed as “a career retrospective as well as a celebration of the hit songs that defined a generation,” the Broadway concerts will be packed with many of the 59 Top 40 hits the two groups have between them.

Some of those songs include "My Girl,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”

It’s like one of those Time Life box sets, only live and in person.

Tickets  range in price from $52 to $142 and will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 14 at Ticketmaster.com.

And don’t worry — there’s no New Year’s Eve performance, so you won’t have to brave the Times Square crowds gathered to watch the ball drop.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>