Christopher on Christopher Street

I’m in New York City for a week, leaving on Christmas Day. It’s been an all-theatre/museum fest so far.

Some highlights: seeing the divine Tovah Feldshuh and Stephen Spinella in Volpone at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village, with drinks beforehand at Marie’s Crisis in the village, where everyone sings show tunes. Everyone. Because everyone is in the business–the bartender, the piano player, even most of the patrons.

I also saw the revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood last night at Studio 54. Of Drood, one reviewer said that no cast works harder to give its audience a good time, and I can heartily agree with that. It’s hokey, hammy, and fun. I sat ten feet away from the stage, and got to say hello to Will Chase (who plays Jasper), even more handsome than he was on television in Smash. And to see Chita Rivera in person–well, what a delight, even if she didn’t exactly dance. Every actor gave a heartfelt performance, particularly Betsy Wolfe as Rosa Bud and Peter Benson as Bazzard. The conceit, of course, is that this is a music hall production of Dickens’s unfinished novel, and when the cast reaches the part in the story where Dickens died, the audience votes on the outcome. The songs are not exactly “Oklahoma” memorable, but the haunting “Moonfall” was exquisitely sung by Miss Wolfe, and when Stephanie Block (as Drood) hits the high note in the final number, “The Writing on the Wall,” you want to stand up and cheer (as most of the audience did). The show tracks the Dickens novel relatively well, except that the Landless twins are played for deliberately culturally racist laughs, Grewgious is missing, and Bazzard has mysteriously become the assistant to Canon Crisparkle, but it works. If you have a chance to see it, you should; this is a top-notch production.

Another highlight: seeing the Rockettes perform their legendary Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Pure schmaltz, but the kid in me loved it. It’s a glorious thing to watch thirty people perform with such precision. And their eleven o’clock kicks–well, mine went to bed at eight.

I’m seeing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf tomorrow, and having Christmas Eve drinks with Michael Feinstein and Christine Ebersole at Feinstein’s at the Regency (before it closes after New Year’s Eve).

Another highlight: the tenement museum in the Lower East Side. It’s living history, and well worth a trip to Orchard Street, followed by a knish and a glass of borscht on Houston Street. I ran into the holiday Little Italy/Chinatown parade on Mulberry street, which was more crowded that I could have imagined. Oh, yes, and I saw Mario Batali at Babbo the other day while I was having luncheon at the bar. The beef cheek and squab liver ravioli was a delight (but it made me wonder how many squab livers it would take to make such a meal? They must be small).

I don’t know whether Simon would enjoy New York City as much as I do. The only thing that would make it better would be if I had not left Evan at home to take care of the living inspiration for Simon’s Miss Tox.

Happy holidays to you all.

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