By William Wolf

THE BEST TEN FILMS OF 2017  Send This Review to a Friend

The films on this list have been selected from among those released in New York theaters during the year and are listed in order of preference.

1. THE POST

THE SHAPE OF WATER

LAST FLAG FLYING

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE

THE DIVINE ORDER

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

THE SALESMAN

1945

I, TONYA

THEIR FINEST

Other outstanding films of 2017 listed in no special order include: Graduation; Darkest Hour; Faces Places; Molly’s Game; The Women’s Balcony; Lady Bird; Foxtrot; Menashe; A Fantastic Woman; Dunkirk; Beatriz at Dinner; Call Me By Your Name; Downsizing; Aftermath; Afterimage' Wonder Wheel; Wonderstruck; The Florida Project; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Stronger; Maudie; Mudbound; Victoria & Abdul; First They Killed My Father; Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story; Detroit; The Big Sick; The Promise; In the Fade; Wind River; Jane; The Unknown Girl; BPM (Beats per Minute); The Midwife; The Fencer; Indivisible; Footnotes; My Journey Through French Cinema; The Ticket.

DELACROIX CELEBRATED IN IMPRESSIVE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART EXHIBITION  Send This Review to a Friend

Prepare yourself for an outstanding experience if you go to the magnificent Met exhibition of works by French painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). The show, scheduled from September 17, 2018 to January 6, 2019, ranks among the renowned museum’s most illustrious events. It is the first Delacroix retrospective in North America and was organized with the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Nearly 150 of the artist’s works, including prints and drawings in addition to his stunning paintings, are on display.

It is intriguing to see the extent to which Delacroix was inspired by literature, such as writing by Shakespeare, Lord Byron and Walter Scott. Delacroix’s art, organized and displayed to reflect different periods of his life, ranges from his most intimate works to his huge, impressive achievements. (Some of his murals are too large to have been shipped here for this display.) The museum reports that research involved in selecting his work included surveying more than 800 paintings, eight thousand drawings, one hundred prints and many written pages.

You will find your own favorites as you amble through the exhibit. One especially striking work is his “Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi.” There is also a very expressive expression on the face of the subject in another work, “Head of an Old Greek Woman.” His renderings of Christ on the cross are extremely poignant. One can also be deeply moved by his stark “Medea About to Kill Her Children.”

Delacroix ventured into action paintings, vivid scenes of battle, in which he showed the effect on horses as well as combatants. He was especially adept at giving a feeling of live action in some of his military works.

We can also see many paintings devoted to animals, as with his arresting painting of a tiger, as well as a number of others addressing the animal world. One, “The Lion Hunt” conveys a mass of turbulent struggle.

Delacroix spent a period in Morocco and Algeria, and a particularly fascinating painting is “Women of Algiers in Their Apartment.” On studying the painting one can be struck by the meticulousness he achieves in the delicacy with which he paints an array of materials, in addition to his expertise in conveying the expressions on the faces of his three women subjects.

One can also discover nude studies, including a rear view of a “Male Academy Figure,” “A Female Academy Figure Seated, Front View” and “Reclining Female Nude, Back View.”

The exhibit also includes self-portraits and Delacroix appears quite handsome in these takes on how he saw himself.

Should you go, I suggest you allow plenty of time, as there is so very much to take in. If you rush you will miss a lot-- this is an exhibit that especially requires you to pace yourself. Ideally it would be best to plan more than one visit.

Among the comments shown by other artists about Delacroix’s paintings is a famous one offered by Picasso, who said with apparent envy, “That Bastard. He’s really good.” This showing is not likely to make one disagree. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue. Phone: 212-535-7710. Posted September 16, 2018.

FJK DANCE COMPANY IN FIFTH SEASON  Send This Review to a Friend

Dancer, choreographer and artistic director Fadi J. Khoury’s dance company, known as FJK, launched its fifth annual season with performances September 13 and 14, 2018, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Born in Iraq, Khoury is versed in Arab culture and folklore, to which his dance concepts are especially related, as well as also embracing jazz and classical. Performers are adept at body movement as a vibrant part of their dancing abilities. Khoury takes a lead role in most of the works presented.

I attended the September 13th performance and found the opener the most riveting. “Echoes,” a dance inspired by Dabke, folkloric traditional Bedouin dance from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria, featured Middle Eastern drums and percussion with electric based sounds and rhythms.

Five men and five women, sensually costumed, danced with great intensity and waving movements as an entire unit and breaking up into groups. The striking looking men were bare-chested, projecting gym-worthy physiques. Choreographer Khoury created perfectly synchronized body language for both sexes and the number frequently attained frenzied excitement. Soloists were especially appealing, and the entire experience was visually expressive and captured the essence of the company’s folk leanings.

Perhaps just to show versatility, the second number was titled “Waltz,” and that is exactly what it was, couples stylishly waltzing in what was a far cry from the first selection and more like old-fashioned ballroom dancing. The guest choreographer was Gary Pierce. Another first act offering was “Clockwork,” with Debbie Roshe as guest choreographer.

After the intermission, the dancers returned with a premiere of what was obviously meant as a major accomplishment titled “UnTold.” Also rooted in Middle East culture, this was a lavish intertwining of bodies and assorted movement creating a non-stop panorama to music by Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton. It went on at length, and although so much effort was poured into the concept and the dancers achieved their customary excellence, from my viewpoint, it was outshone by the especially admirable creativity demonstrated in the evening’s consistently striking first number, “Echoes.”

Particularly important in the company is accomplished Sevin Ceviker, associate artist and principal dancer. She was born inTurkey and trained there at an early age. It is also noteworthy that Khoury designs the costumes for the troupe.

The company’s dancers of varied origins include, Elisa Torn Franky (Bogota, Columbia); Serena Giannini (Bellinzona, Switzerland); Lucia Jackson (Madrid, Spain, and New York City); Stefanie Roper (Ft. Lauderdale Florida); Gabriela M Soto (Puerto Rico); Estafano Gil (Caracas, Venezuela); Gianni Goffredo (Italy); Dannys Gonzalez (Cuba), and Jose Losada (Cuba). At the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 West 59th Street. Posted September 15, 2018.

LIVES WELL LIVED--UPDATE  Send This Review to a Friend

Sky Bergman’s excellent film “Lives well Lived,” about oldsters making the most of their later years, and having already been playing in many cities around the United States, has finally landed a New York venue. (See Search, Special Reports for original article containing review.)

The documentary will be screened July 19-24 at the Carole Zabar Center for Film at the Marlene Meyerson JCC (Jewish Community Center) at 334 Amsterdam Avenue (at 75th Street) in New York City. For further information phone: 646-505-4444.

Sky Bergman, noted photographer as well as the director of the film, will take part in Q and A sessions following the July 19 and 20 screenings. Posted June 25, 2018.

NEW BOOK EXPLORES ANDY WARHOL'S FILM 'THE CHELSEA GIRLS'  Send This Review to a Friend

One of the talked about films in the moviemaking of the late renowned artist Andy Warhol was his “The Chelsea Girls.” Now a beautiful new coffee-table-sized book explores in depth that controversial film, both admired and disliked when it was released in 1966. The volume is dramatically enhanced with striking photographs. Very impressive, “Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls” is a joint publication by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the Andy Warhol Museum.

There is the script for the film, which remains an avant-garde look at life in the noted Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, including the cast of characters who were part of the free-wheeling lifestyle among renowned literary figures and others of that era.

There are profiles of those involved with the film, Warhol included, an overview of the film and samplings of the pro and con reviews of the time, reviews that ranged from criticizing the film as impossibly boring to praise for advancing the art of cinema.

The stunning photographs are generously positioned throughout the book, and the tome affords a new generation the opportunity to become familiar with those who became part of the Warhol’s retinue. Thoughtful essays help place “The Chelsea Girls” in the artistic context of the period.

(Personal disclosure: My review from Cue Magazine’s December 17, 1966 issue is included--it was on the negative side--and I am thanked for my cooperation in the acknowledgments.)

I was not prepared for how impressive the book is when I received my copy. It is quite an achievement to take one film, a disputed one at that, and come up with such an all-embrasive and visually arresting work.

The Warhol Museum is a story in itself. After great, extended efforts by various individuals and institutions, it finally opened in 1994, logically located in Pittsburgh, PA., where Warhol was born. It preserves Warhol’s art and keeps his memory alive. Warhol died unexpectedly at the age of 58 in 1987.

Warhol’s art work remains better known and monetarily valuable. But although Warhol’s films have been secondary, they constitute important evidence of how he saw the world. “The Chelsea Girls” in particular reflects the essence of what Warhol brought to the screen in style and content—lengthy looks at subjects he chose with efforts to be different, such as using split screen technique and challenging viewers to go along with unusually slow pacing in quest of fly-on-the-wall intimacy. There is validity in the choice of this film to illustrate what Warhol was exploring.

“Andy Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls” arrives as an important addition to film history. Posted June 5, 2018.

HELEN MIRREN GETS 45TH ANNUAL CHAPLIN AWARD FROM FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER AT ANNUAL GALA  Send This Review to a Friend

A roster of stars had lots of complimentary things to say about Dame Helen Mirren at the Film Society of Lincoln Center Gala, at which she received the 45th annual Chaplin Award. But the greatest evidence of her achievements was the screened collection of clips that revealed her extraordinary performance range and the outstanding career that brought her to the honor.

The audience at Alice Tully Hall on April 30 only had to look at a scene from “Hitchcock” (2012) in which, as Hitchcock’s wife Alma, she passionately explodes with her list of grievances about what she has endured from him, or, for another example, to see her in her starring role from “The Queen” (2006).

In one clip after another the range of parts she has played and her ability to inhabit whatever role with insight and perfection were amply illustrated. Mirren watched evidence of her career flashing before her from a seat in the orchestra after her un-announced entrance just before the program started was spotted and touched off a burst of applause.

The award was presented to her by Jeremy Irons, one of her distinguished co-stars in her film career that began in 1967. Irons warmly spoke of her skill, and in a personal note, said that when working with her “it is hard not to fall a little in love with her.”

One of the gala’s speakers—among them were Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vin Diesel and Julie Taymor--was director Taylor Hackford, Mirren’s husband of some 30 years, who talked about their life together and her admirable qualities, describing their marriage as “one long passion.” Looking toward Mirren seated in the audience, he added, “I love you.”

Julie Taymor spoke of how she had worked with Mirren in filming her version of “The Tempest” (2010), in which Mirren played the role of Prospero, here changed to Prospera to go with the flow of the unusual casting. There was a clip shown of Mirren standing on a hill in a huge, oversized coat, and Taymor told of how hot it was during that part of the filming and how Mirren dutifully endured wearing that heavy garment.

These days no major event in New York is likely to come off without some political comments. There was a film clip of Billy Crystal saluting Mirren. He got a laugh when he apologized for not being present because “my lawyer, Michael Cohen, told me to lay low.”

Robert De Niro was present and he provided the most political comments of the night. He stressed the meaning of the award named after Charlie Chaplin, who was an immigrant, an important point given the current attacks on immigration. But he first wisecracked to Mirren: “Congratulations for being honored with this year’s Chaplin Award. This is what happens when you have weak immigration laws.”

De Niro launched into an attack on bullying, specifically against limiting free speech. He sharply rebuked the White House Correspondents’ Association for caving in to criticism of Michelle Wolf’s acerbic comedy routine and apologizing. “Shame on them,” De Niro asserted.

I have attended almost every Film Society awards gala, starting with the first one in 1972 honoring Charlie Chaplin when he returned to America after his 20-year-exile, having been barred barred from the U.S. in 1952 during the McCarthy era. (I had visited him at his home in Vevey, Switzerland, earlier in 1972 when he granted me an interview.) In that year he was also given an honorary Oscar.

Many distinguished film people have been celebrated by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in the years since the Chaplin gala, and it was a pleasure to this time see Mirren, looking beautiful in her colorful designer dress, mount the platform, receive her award from Irons, and proceed to elaborately thank the audience and the Film Society for the meaningful honor. It is richly deserved. Posted May 2, 2018.

LIVES WELL LIVED  Send This Review to a Friend

Director Sky Bergman’s extraordinary and uplifting film “Lives Well Lived” has been playing in many cities around the country but has yet to find a home in New York City. The tragic closing of the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, taking away a major Manhattan art house, deprived “Lives Well Lived” of an appropriate venue, just as the shuttering has also affected many films that must search for an alternate New York site. Meanwhile, the city’s residents are missing the opportunity to see an exceptionally appealing movie that others in the United States are already enjoying.

Bergman is a successful photographer whose work has been widely displayed internationally at major museums, and who is a professor of photography and video at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Some of her photographs can be seen in her book, “The Naked & The Nude: Images from the Sculpture Series.” The saga of her Italian grandmother, whom she found vibrant at 103, inspired Bergman to look into lives of other seniors. The result is “Lives Well Lived,” introducing an assortment of impressive seniors who talk about what they have done and are doing with their advanced years.

What makes the film special is that it is not only informative, but invitingly entertaining. The subjects visited and asked to express themselves are articulate and rich in anecdotes from their longevity. One woman does yoga at the age of 85. A 92-year-old doctor finds pleasure in making mozzarella. There are happy couples, as well as widows and widowers, and in the interviewing by director Bergman, they are prompted to tell the various ways they have found to keep enriching their lives.

No need to worry about such a documentary becoming pedantic. It is a pleasure to meet the folks, and while the film should entertain and even inspire oldsters, it should also be a wake-up call to today’s younger generation of viewers about appreciating what can be learned from the experiences of those in the older generation and also indicate the pleasures to be derived from interacting.

You meet 40 people as the subjects in “Lives Well Lived,” and they represent 3000 years of collective life experience. Think about that. A Shadow Distribution release. Reviewed April 16, 2018.

NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2018  Send This Review to a Friend

It’s that time of the year again when The Film Society of Lincoln center and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) collaborate in spotlighting the works of “New Directors/New Films” (March 28-April 8). I always look forward to sampling some of them, and accordingly, I have dipped in to see some of the entries.

One of the most impressive, if overlong at nearly three hours, is “The Nothing Factory,” directed by Pedro Pinho and set in Portugal. A group of workers are astonished when in the middle of the night they see equipment being removed from the factory where they work making elevators. What’s going on?

They are visited by one of the owners and new personnel in an effort to con them into believing that their being fired with some compensation is a forward-looking idea. They are told that difficult conditions make it necessary to shift work elsewhere, which means abandoning the factory.

Although there is dissention among the workers about what to do, ultimately there is the decision to try to take over the factory and keep their jobs going. There is a section of the film in which the economy and Marxism are discussed, and although that aspect is important, it is very polemical and could be tightened. The film has its charm, including a musical number expressing the feelings of the workers.

“The Nothing Factory” excels in being about important issues and the film is dedicated to those who attempted something similar in a real-life situation in Portugal. One can become completely absorbed in the lot of the workers, including their personal as well as work relationships, thanks to the perceptive and enthusiastic direction by Pinho.

Another impressive film in the series is “Djon África,” which was written by Pedro Pinho, who, as noted above, directed “The Nothing Factory.” “Djon África” was directed by João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis. The plot involves Miguel Moreira, also known as Djon África, who is troubled because he doesn’t know his father.

Thus Djon, with roots as a Cape Verdian in Portugal, begins a quest to find his dad, a search that involves traveling and the opportunity for the filmmakers to show us impressive scenery and involve us in the adventures that the protagonist has along the way.

Spoiler alert: There is a scene toward the end of the film when Djon is passed on the street by a man who looks back as if he recognizes something in Djon. Could that be his father?

(The film strikes a personal note for me, as I didn’t meet my father until I was in my twenties. But unlike Djon, I didn’t have to travel far and wide. I knew who and where he was and could just pick up the phone and say dramatically, “Hello, this is your long lost son.”)

If you enjoy a movie in the horror genre, there is the ironically titled “Good Manners,” directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas. It is set in São Paolo, Brazil, and--are you ready?—Ana (Marjorie Estiano), a wealthy socialite, explosively gives birth to a werewolf. Ana’s housemaid, Clara (Isabél Zuaa), who after being hired becomes sexually involved with her pregnant employer, has a commanding mystique about her as she realizes something strange is happening.

There is an amusing scene in which she mixes blood into a pasta dish she is preparing for Ana. The twist is that the little boy who is born and shown growing up is sympathetic, but must be confined at night so he doesn’t roam dangerously as the werewolf he becomes when the moon is out. If he gets loose, the result can be tragic.

The film is alternately scary and funny, but always with a sympathetic eye to the boy who is afflicted in a way that he cannot control. The performance by Zuaa as Clara, who becomes his keeper, is impressive.

For people having trouble sleeping I would recommend “Drift,” a German film directed by Helena Wittmann. If this doesn’t put an insomniac to sleep, the case is hopeless. We meet Theresa, a German, and Josefina, who is from Argentina, as they briefly vacation together at the North Sea. But there is minimal human activity.

Most of the film is given over to vivid but long, boring shots of the sea, the beaches, the country—just the camera on nature, and this goes on and on and on so that the 96-minute, soporific film seems like forever.

Although rather obtuse, a film from the Philippines directed by Shireen Seno, is nonetheless interesting. In “Nervous Translation,” eight-year-old Yael is depressingly lonely. Her mother treats her so casually that we barely see any relationship between them.

But Yael has gained access to audio cassettes that her father, who works overseas, has been sending to her mother. She plays them over and over, thus trying to establish a connection with her dad. Yael has a vivid imagination that helps her through her loneliness. However, the film is not definitive enough, and becomes more of a character study.

There is another strange film—“Our House,” from Japan and directed by Yul Kiyohara. In this one, we find Seri, an adolescent girl, living with her mother. Turning up is a young woman who claims to have amnesia. She is taken in, but the ensuing plot is very odd as two stories unfold and intersect. One is left wondering about it all.

One of the important films is “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” written and directed by RaMell Ross. The film zeros in on African-Americans who live in Hale County, Alabama. We learn much about their lives from the observations captured by the filmmaker in great detail. One comes away with understanding of what life is like for African-Americans living in this part of the country.

There are other films that you might want to check out in this edition of the annual series. At the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 11 West 53rd Street and the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, 165 West 65th Street. Tickets at NEWDIRECTORS.ORG. Posted March 26, 2018.

RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA 2018  Send This Review to a Friend

Each year the “Rendez-Vous with French Cinema” series, a presentation by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance, offers a sampling of new films from France, and the 2018 edition (February 19-22) is highlighted by some worthy examples from among those I have seen, as well as some less appealing inclusions.

“Number One,” right in tune with the time, stars the superb Emmanuelle Devos as Emmanuelle Blachey, a highly placed executive in a drama about what a woman must endure in rising to the top. Directed by Tonie Marshall from a screenplay that she wrote with Marion Doussot, the film presents an in-depth portrait of its protagonist, with Devos capturing the various subtleties in the character portrait.

Blachey at first shows no interest in getting into the battle for executive supremacy, but she is pressed by a forward-looking group to make the most of a chance to become the CEO of a water-distribution company. But the temptation is there. As the plot moves ahead, Blachey will learn about infighting with resentful men, having to allow the job to monopolize her time at the expense of her personal life, and being the target for those digging up her past.

“Number One” is an involving, intelligent look at the corporate world, and most importantly in tune with what’s happening now with respect to the support for women’s advancement. It therefore has a universality even though it is specifically set in France.

Another favorite of mine in the lineup is “The Guardians,” directed by Xavier Beauvois from a screenplay written by Beauvois and Frédérique Moreau. This is a war film that doesn’t stress battlefields, but concentrates on what’s happening on the home front.

The setting begins in 1916 on a French farm run by Nathalie Baye as Hortense Sandrail, the family matriarch. It is a stellar performance, with Baye embodying the toughness required to keep the farm going with the sons in the family off to war.

The plot grows interesting when Francine Riant, played with spirit by Iris Bry, arrives to seek work. She is taken on by Hortense and proves to be an excellent, dedicated worker with a sunny disposition. But trouble brews when the sons return on a furlough.

A romance develops, and the plot turns ugly as Hortense wants to thwart a relationship of which she disapproves because of Francine’s common status. The acting is excellent all around and director Beauvois achieves eloquent visuals that depict the French farm and countryside.

One film that annoyed me is "Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc,” written and directed by Bruno Dumont. It is certainly a valid idea to reach back to examine the development of Joan of Arc and see what impelled her to follow the path that led to her heroism and becoming a legend. But although exquisitely shot to capture the ambiance of the French countryside in 1425, the film becomes numbing.

We first meet Jeannette when she is eight and tending sheep. (The director has used non-actors.) I suppose if one is steeped in religion the film could connect emotionally. But I quickly tired of this kid singing and praying, singing and praying, and already obsessively devoted to God above anything else. It is the same as she grows up in different stages (embodied by different casting). More singing and praying.

We follow her trajectory with her child and adult relationships, including with twin nuns, until ultimately she mounts a horse and sets out to do battle in the still-raging Hundred Years’ War. The rest is history but at least we don’t have to endure more of a kid singing and praying.

On the up side of the series, there is a stunning, deeply emotional “Ava” by Léa Mysius. What is it like for a 13-year-old girl to learn that she is going blind? In Mysius’s film, the young heroine battles to savor very moment of her diminishing sight.

The plot is somewhat of problem, as the protagonist goes off on an unlikely venture that stretches credibility. Still, Mysius manages to hold our interest and sympathy for the afflicted youngster.

Noted French director and actor Mathieu Amalric has come up with a film that’s different, a salute to the so-called legendary singer Barbara. The triumph is in the casting of the dynamic Jeanne Balibar in the role of a woman who plays Barbara.

The singing is strong, although the melodramatics of the plot don’t rise to the film’s musical aspect. As for the other casting, always-interesting-to-watch Aurore Clément plays Barbara’s mother. I can recommend “Barbara” as among the best of what I have sampled.

The strangest of the films that I saw is “See You Up There,” directed by Albert Dupontel. A soldier in World War I is wounded, with the result that his face is badly shattered. He is distraught and doesn’t want to show it to anyone. He wears a mask and doesn’t want to return to his family in that condition.

He teams up with a friend in a fraudulent art scheme, and soon they are making money with a mail order business in which they sell what are supposed to be important originals. The tone of the film grows zany in this post World War I setting, and of course, there has to be a romantic story requiring resolution. Reviewed March 16, 2018.

BROADWAY UNPLUGGED 16TH ANNUAL CONCERT  Send This Review to a Friend

The most rousing reception in the 16th annual Broadway Unplugged Concert last night (November 30) went to Chuck Cooper, who in the final solo number on the program sang the iconic “Old Man River” from “Showboat.” Without a mike, Cooper cannily built to a climax that soared with the intense feeling that the song communicates when sung from the depths of the soul with the painful awareness of the racial suffering reflected. It was a supremely powerful performance.

The opportunity to hear singers without amplification, as it once used to be on Broadway, is what creator-writer-co-director and host Scott Siegel likes to call listening to voices “designed by God.” He used that description again as he hosted the event, held at the Merkin Concert Hall, and wittily introduced an impressive array of 15 vocalists.

There were other memorable performers in addition to Cooper. Farah Alvin, for example, wrung every bit of emotion out of the poignantly resentful “Cry Me a River” from “Swing!” The great William Michals was on hand, opening the show with a heartfelt “God Bless America,” the durable anthem that Iriving Berlin wrote, included in “This Is the Army.” Michals also soloed impressively with “Where’s the Girl?” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and he teamed with Douglas Ladnier for the amusingly macabre “Pretty Woman” from “Sweeney Todd.”

On his own Ladnier did romantic justice to “Stranger in Paradise” from “Kismet.” A highlight of the evening was Robert Cuccioli singing the amusingly reflective “Where Is the Life that Late I Led” from “Kiss Me, Kate.” Other male stalwarts with excellent voices included Hunter Ryan Herdlicka singing “Younger Than Springtime” from “South Pacific;” Brian Charles Rooney performing “Love Can’t Happen” from “Grand Hotel;” Bob Stillman enthralling with “It All Fades Away” from “The Bridges of Madison County;” Kevin Spirtas mining “Zorba!” for the affirmative “Life Is,” and John Easterlin superbly singing “Wanting You” from “The New Moon.”

Ethel Merman is lo longer with us, but Klea Blackhurst is. She let go entertainingly with Merman-style blasts as she power-housed “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” from “Anything Goes.” I can still hear her as I write. Likable Jenny Lee Stern brought freshness to the warhorse “Cabaret” from “Cabaret.” Looking great, Emily Skinner dazzled with her interpretation of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from “The Little Mermaid.”

Other crowd-pleasers were Maxine Linehan singing “Unexpected Song” from “Song & Dance” and Kristin Dausch tearing into “Some People” from “Gypsy.” The gang assembled for a finale to sing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from "The Sound of Music."

Accompaniment was provided delightfully by Ross Patterson, musical director, arranger and pianist, Tom Hubbard on bass and Mairi Dorman–Phaneuf on cello. Rick Hiknson was co-director and stage manager, Joe Burke assistant director and assistant stage manager and Holly Cruz production assistant and in charge of musical staging.

Scott Siegel announced that as a result of contributions received, fifty students of the arts were invited to attend the concert. At the Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street. Reviewed December 1, 2017.

  

[Film] [Theater] [Cabaret] [About Town] [Wolf]
[Special Reports] [Travel] [HOME]