The new musical 9 to 5, based on the popular 1980 movie, made me smile for two solid hours. If you are a fan of the movie (who isn't?), you'll love this show!
Dolly Parton, who wrote the songs for the new show, came out and the crowd went wild. They stood applauding like crazy, and it was a great way to start the show.
The show is very faithful to the movie, closely following the plot. All of your favorite lines are there, and the audience howled waiting to hear "I'll get my gun and turn you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!".
The acting is terrific, and Megan Hilty was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for best actress in a musical for her role as Doralee (the Dolly Parton role). She could be Dolly's little sister. She and Stephanie J. Block (Judy Bernly, the Jane Fonda role), who both appeared on Broadway in Wicked, have lovely singing voices shown off to their advantage in Dolly's songs. Block got a huge ovation following her powerhouse song, "Get Out and Stay Out".
Allison Janney (The West Wing) plays Violet Newstead (the Lily Tomlin role),and she deserves much credit for sharing the stage with two such powerful Broadway musical talents as Hilty and Block. Her comedic timing shines, and her singing blends well with her costars. In her big production number, "One of the Boys", she looks like she is having a blast, and the audience feels that joy.
Marc Kudisch plays the lascivious Franklin Hart Jr., and he makes the iconic Dabney Coleman role his own. His big number, "Always a Woman", which he sings and dances while in chains, is sung like a James Brown song. Kathy Fitzgerald, as Hart's assistant Roz, laments her love for the boss in "Heart to Hart",to the delight of the audience.
The staging is terrific, and it adds a new dimension to the show. Dolly Parton is one of our country's best songwriters, and in her first Broadway attempt, she succeeds once again. The choreography is also nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award, and the ensemble dancers bring an exciting energy to the show.
I overheard one person say that the show was too faithful to the movie, but I think that is what people in attendance wanted. How could you choose which of the wonderful lines to leave out of the show? When you add in the clever staging, the new music, the fresh choreography, and the fun performances, "9 to 5" is a show that will delight theatergoers..
I attended a book signing at Borders Park Ave. in NYC for the Countess LuAnn de Lesseps for her "Class with the Countess". She arrived a few minutes late, explaining that she just came from the reunion show, and it sounds like it's going to be a doozy!
The Countess introduced her handsome son Noel and her housekeeper Rosie, "because tonight is taco night" as fans of the show will remember. The reunion moved to Borders when Bethenny showed up, with Bobby and Jill Zarin not far behind to support their friend. The flashes were flying furiously from all of the press cameras, everyone getting their photos taken. The crowd was very excited to see their favorites from the show.
Jill said that she was proud of the Countess for 'putting one of the housewives in her place' during the reunion show. When an audience member yelled out "it was Kelly!", the look on Jill and the Countess's face confirmed it. The women did seem a little keyed up; I can't wait for reunion night! (The Countess believes it will air on May 13th)
The Countess shared some of her story with the audience, which is an interesting one. She definitely had a lot of self confidence to do the things she did and take the chances she did to succeed. She signed books, posed for photos with fans, and genuinely seemed grateful that people showed up for her signing.
OK- this celebrity sighting is a BIG one! I was walking to the Rainbow Hardware store on First Ave. and who walks by me but the Yankee captain himself, Derek Jeter, with another guy. He said hi, but I couldn't get my camera fast enough.
They went into Starbucks and when he came out, I was coming out of the hardware store. He held the door open for a woman coming out of Starbucks behind him. His mother raised a gentleman. I snapped a picture of him walking away from me.
Last night we attended a fundraiser for the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Music Hall in Lincoln Center. Marvin Hamlisch conducted and it was so thrilling.
Joel Gray opened the show with "Wilkommen" from Cabaret, and what a way to start the show. He was delightful. Keep an eye out for fifteen year-old Canadian sensation Nikki Yanofsky, who sang two iconic Ella Fitzgerald songs. She has such poise, and what a voice. Forget "American Idol", this girl blows them away.
Audience favorite Paulo Szot got a standing ovation for his rendition of "This Nearly Was Mine", his signature song from "South Pacific". (photo above) He owns that song now, and he was perfection. His co-star, Kelli O'Hara, who makes pregnancy look so beautiful, sang two songs and then joined Paulo for a duet of Rogers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" from "Carousel". They are so wonderful together.
Jennifer Holliday rocked the house with her "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls". Twenty-eight years later, she still has the audience in her thrall. Amazing!
London stage sensation Maria Friedman was up next, and then Mary Poppins herself, Ashley Brown blew the roof off with her rousing rendition of "I Happen to Like New York"; I think that was my favorite performance of the evening.
And no New York Moments performance would be complete without Liza Minnelli singing "New York, New York". She never disappoints. I met her at CD signing a few months ago, and she looks and sounds better than she has in years.
The Philharmonic played a Jerome Kern medley and Hamlisch finished with "The Way We Were". It was a phenomenal night of music and I got goosebumps several times listening to these gorgeous voices.
Celebrity sighting of the day: John Calipari, the new coach of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team.
I can't take credit for this one; while wandering in Little Italy on the way to dinner, my husband saw Calipari with who appeared to be two possible recruits. People were asking him to pose for pictures. If I had known that he had just signed an eight year, $31.65 million dollar coaching deal, I would have asked him to pay for our dinner!
During Holy Week/Passover, I saw Irena's Vow on Broadway. It's the true story of a young Catholic Polish woman who hid 13 Jews in the basement of a Nazi major's house where she was a housekeeper during World War II. If you come to NYC, you MUST see this play!
Tovah Feldshuh plays Irena, and she is so remarkable, she makes you believe that she is that young woman. She is a lock for a Tony nomination.
It's a great play for high schoolers to see, I hope that it tours throughout the country.It really drives home the point that one person can make a difference, even if she is young. An interesting conflict arises that calls into question Irena's dedication to her religion.It makes you think how you would react in the same situation.
The staging adds greatly to the play, and all of the actors are wonderful. It was very moving when the real daughter of Irena comes onstage at the end of the play to answer questions from the audience. Several people, including myself, were moved to tears.
Last week, I went to see Paula Deen at Borders Columbus Circle, promoting The Deen Family Cookbook. There were over 150 people there, and the most interesting thing is that so many people brought her gifts! I've been to quite a few book signings, but I've never seen that many gifts given. (At Joy Behar's book signing a few weeks ago, a man who owned a lingerie company brought Joy a bra and panty set, which was kinda weird, but Joy was very nice to him, even though I think she thought it was odd too.)
People gave her flowers, children brought cards they made, and more than one person gave her food that they cooked. She was so gracious to them all. I loved her outfit- a silk green/gold long jacket with pink embroidered flowers over a pale pink tank, with dark denim slacks and gold ballet flats. So stylish!
Her husband Michael was there, she called him Pe-Paw (must be what the grandson calls him). They were quite the comedy act and had everyone in stitches. Poor Paula has a nasty eye infection, but she gamely stayed over an hour, just her and Michael talking, answering questions, giving realistic advice to people who want to open their own restaurant.
I have an extra signed book from her for sale on Amazon.com- look for collectibles- I am spl1768. The recipes look delicious. One of my boys new favorites is Bobby Deen's Goulash, I made it for our family vacation week in Delaware last year.
People I talk to want me to share my experiences in NYC. I'm lucky enough to be able to spend so much time here going to book discussions and signings, plays and I love just exploring the city.
I write a monthly book review column (the first Sunday of each month) for the Citizen newspaper in Auburn, NY- www.auburnpub.com. I'll supplement that with more book reviews here, and if you've read some great books you'd like to share, please leave a comment.
I'll also talk about the plays and musicals I've seen; there are so many exciting actors on Broadway right now.
Stay tuned for more updates; I'm excited about sharing my adventures with all of you.