Saturday, December 24, 2011

Curtain Up (Soon)!

In recent years, theatergoers in the main Broadway area have been obliged to line up outside the theater until the doors are opened. I just don't remember this "herding" style approach in my (many) former years of theatergoing. That said, it's certainly encouraging to see hordes of enthusiastic patrons queued up for, in my case, Hugh Jackman's one-man show and, behind us, going in the opposite direction, the continuing masses attending The Phantom of the Opera, "still crazy after all these years." Despite ever-higher admission prices (and no discounts for Mr. Jackman), theater seems not to be affected by the current recession, at least if the show is any good.

Hugh does not disappoint, having one of the most charming and magnetic personalities of a performer in any medium. And, although he can be funny, his humor is never biting or malicious. And his singing and dancing would grace any venue in which he cared to perform. Though thoroughly skilled and polished, he is able to project a lack of self-consciousness and can appear not to take himself too seriously. I guess you can tell that I enjoyed the show. And, normally, my idea of a great evening out is Wagner's Ring or any opera by Mozart! Nothing against popular entertainment, when it's this good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O Tannenbaum!

A classic New York City—particularly Manhattan—sight is the Christmas tree vendor, filling a good third of the sidewalk with his fragrant green wares. Here is a typical scene, right near my apartment, slightly blocking the entrance to a local Duane Reade. Many of these vendors come down from New England and Canada to do their yuletide business. An unusually warm late autumn or, if you will, early winter doesn't set the trees off as well as do snowy pavements. I remember being in Latin America one Christmas and finding their decorated evergreens (a different style, with droopy branches) somewhat incongruous in the semitropical climate.

A typical bit of Christmas New Yorkiana: When asked what I was doing for the Big Day, I told my Italian hairdresser, "Un natale ebreo" ("a Jewish Christmas"). Hip and au courant person that she is, she countered, "Oh, yeah—a movie and Chinese food!" Perfectly correct, of course. We haven't chosen the movie yet, and the food could possibly be Thai or Korean. Last year it was Thai.