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Film and the Arts

Music Preview: 'Fiorello!' at Encores!; Kirchschlager and Bostridge at Lincoln Center

Encores! presents Fiorello!
January 30-February 3, 2013
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, New York, NY
Angelika Kirchschlager and Ian Bostridge
February 3, 2013
Alice Tully Hall, 65th Street and Broadway, New York, NY
Rutigliano (center) as Fiorello! (photo: Joan Marcus)

When Encores! began in 1994, the first musical resuscitated was Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Fiorello!, the immensely entertaining show about New York City’s legendary mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Now, Encores! begins its 20th anniversary season with seven performances (through February 3) of that very same musical, starring Kate Baldwin, Shuler Hensley, Erin Dilly, Emily Skinner and, in the title role, Danny Rutigliano.
Between rehearsals, veteran Broadway performer Rutigliano recently discussed starring as Hizzoner in Fiorello! and how Encores! has changed over the past couple of decades.
Kevin Filipski: This is your fifth Encores! show. As a veteran, describe how different it is now from then: more performances and fancier stagings compared to concert versions with everyone flipping through their books.
Danny Rutigliano: I started back in the early days of Encores! I did One Touch of Venus with Melissa Errico, The New Moon directed by Fiorello! director Gary Griffin, Kismet with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie, and Bells Are Ringing with Kelli O’Hara. It’s definitely gotten bigger each time. Back then it was so bare-boned: it was all about the music. So what we’re doing now is making it simple, not elaborate and exorbitant—it suggests the physical production but with fully staged blocking and musical numbers. It’s getting back to what we’re about—Encores! is a very unique treasure. Kismet was more elaborate—and in Bells, Kelli was so inspiring, she tackled the lead as if she’d been doing it 8 times a week for months. The bar has been set higher—the performances have a level of expectation.
KF: How does it feel bringing back this show?
DR: Fiorello! is a great show—it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, let’s not forget that. The characters and the story are so rich: he was so fascinating, he was celebrated about being a great 3-term mayor, but the show ends when he is first elected. That’s how full his life and career were. The score is so terrific, it’s got many great tunes, so this is utter bliss for me, a role that I’ve wanted to play. It’s also timely about politics and how history repeats itself. And this is a terrific cast—Erin and Kate are fabulous. Encores! always puts together the best talent in town, it’s a little jewel that it isn’t so little—in the acting community everybody wants to do one of these shows.

Bostridge and Kirchschlager perform Wolf

When Angelika Kirchschlager and Ian Bostridge take the stage for their duo recital at Alice Tully Hall on Sunday, February 3, they will not be singing anything by such obvious candidates as Schubert or Schumann or Brahms, instead devoting their program exclusively to the exceptionally artful lieder of Austrian composer Hugo Wolf.
Specifically, the talented pair will perform 34 selections from Wolf’s voluminous and wide-ranging Spanisches leiderbuch (Spanish Songbook), with the stylish pianist Julius Drake accompanying them. Although he is considered one of the master songwriters (to my mind, he’s right up there with Gabriel Faure, with whom he shares the elegance and refinement that separate them from the pack), Wolf isn’t programmed as often as he should be.
Similarly, since the lovely Austrian mezzo and lanky British tenor don’t perform often enough in New York—Kirchschlager has especially been scarcely seen and heard on local stages, at least when compared to other top-flight female singers—this concert should be a must-attend for those who appreciate such musical artistry.
Encores! presents Fiorello!
Angelika Kirchschlager and Ian Bostridge

Concert Preview: Susanna Hoffs at City Winery in NY (Nov. 5) and Chicago (Nov. 6)

Susanna Hoffs (photo: Jonathan Kingsbury)

Back in the late ‘80s, when the Bangles had hit after hit, Susanna Hoffs was one of MTV’s poster girls: although all four members shared singing duties —Hoffs, sisters Vicki and Debi Peterson and Michael Steele—Hoffs’ sultry looks turned her into their defacto lead singer, especially on videos like “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” (despite three lead singers), “In Your Room” and “Eternal Flame.”

After the Bangles first disbanded, Hoffs released two solo albums, the poppy When You’re a Boy (1991) and more introspective Susanna Hoffs (1996). Following a Bangles reunion that produced the energetic Doll Revolution (2003), Hoffs teamed up with Matthew Sweet for two cover records, Under the Covers, Volumes 1 & 2, on which, under their monicker Sid’n’Susie, they tackled ‘60s and ‘70s staples “Cinnamon Girl,” “Monday Monday,” “Maggie May” and “You’re So Vain.”

The past year has been a busy one for Hoffs. First, the Bangles reunited yet again for their first album in eight years, the folk-influenced Sweetheart of the Sun, released in September 2011. And this past summer, Hoffs released her first solo album in 16 years, Someday, a pure-pop gem (clocking in at a mere 33 minutes, like early Beatle records) heavily influenced by the mellow acoustic sounds of the ‘60s.

Hoffs played New York’s City Winery in 2009 with Matthew Sweet as Sid’n’Susie; the club’s intimacy should also nicely complement the songs on Someday.

Susanna Hoffs
November 5, 2012
City Winery, New York, NY
November 6, 2012
City Winery, Chicago, IL

Fall 2012 TV Preview

Justin Kirk Animal PracticeThe fall has always meant the beginning of a new school year and the time when the broadcast networks introduce their new slate of shows, unlike their cable brethren who roll out new programs throughout the year, including the once verboten summer. Here is a look at what is in store for us. Sadly those one-time network staples, game shows and variety programs, continue to be missing.

In the 1950s a chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs helped make the Today Show the morning broadcast icon that it still is today. The Peacock Network, which has been languishing in the ratings for years, is hoping that a capuchin monkey named Crystal can do the same thing for its primetime lineup this fall, as she, along with comedian Justin Kirk, will star in Animal Practice, a show set in New York about an unorthodox veterinarian. Also co-starring is the wife of Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, Joanna Garcia.

Matthew Perry, who was one of the stars of NBC’s all-time biggest hits, Friends, returns as a snarky radio sports talk show host in Go On. The good news is that the role is tailor-made for Perry. The bad news is that it looks identical to his last effort, Mr. Sunshine, which bombed on ABC.

It is not officially a television season unless there is a new JJ Abrams-produced series, and this year’s entry from him is Revolution, a post-apocalyptic drama about survivors in the alte 21st century coping in a world without electricity. NBC execs are praying that fans of his old series, Lost, will quickly become hooked on this show.

NBC has had some success (measured by their low expectations) with Parenthood, so it’s new sitcom about a trio of young fathers who are friends, Guys With Kids, starring Anthony Anderson. Yes, any resemblance to the popular ‘80s Three Men And A Baby film series, is quite deliberate.

If any of these new shows fail to click, NBC is promising or threatening (depending on your viewpoint) to add, Next Caller, starring the once-hot comedian Dane Cook as a radio shock jock who is forced to take on a new female co-host by station executives. The clip shown at NBC’s Upfront presentation last May did not look very enticing.

The Tiffany Network absorbs digs from comics and rival network executives because even though it has long been the ratings champion, its audience skews older than its competitors. CBS is so strong that even the shows that it has canceled, CSI Miami (which starred Forest Hills’ own David Caruso), and a police procedural that took place in Queens, Unforgettable, would have been considered smash hits on other networks.
Unforgettable was a Top 20 show and CBS programmers are promising to bring it back next summer as a way of luring back viewers from cable.

elementaryComing up from “The Eye” (to use Variety Magazine lingo) will be a buddy comedy, Partners, concerning two childhood best friends, one gay and the other straight. (David Krumholz, who grew up in Forest Hills, is one of the stars), and yet another spin on Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, which co-stars Jackson Heights denizen Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson.
It’s hard to get excited for a new Friday night entry, Made In Jersey, about an earthy new associate (newcomer Janet Montgomery) at a stuffy white-shoe law that sounds like a TV version of the 1988 Melanie Griffith film, Working Girl.

House may be history but The Simpsons and American Idol remain solid programming tent poles for FOX. Last year they scored big with Zooey Deschanel’s The New Girl and this fall they are trying to repeat that comedic success with Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project.

Kevin Bacon will make his TV debut this coming January as a detective trying to track down an escaped serial killer who he arrested years ago in The Following, while this fall Jordana Spiro stars as a surgeon whose family is indebted to organized crime in the Sopranos-inspired The Mob Doctor.

In what seems like an annual tradition with American Idol, there will a change in the judges’ chairs this spring as Mariah Carey takes Jennifer Lopez’s seat in an even exchange of divas. Steven Tyler announced that he will be leaving as well. Preceding Idol this fall however will be the second season of Simon Cowell’s X Factor which did not deliver the ratings numbers that the acerbic former AI personality promised.

Two singers who have had more than their share of personal problems, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, will be judges this season. This could be a train wreck in the making for FOX.


While NBC’s woes have long garnered notoriety, ABC has also fallen on hard times. Desperate Housewives just ended its run while Grey’s Anatomy is getting very long in the tooth. Shows such as Castle, Happy Endings, and Don’t Trust The B– In Apartment 23 have generated some buzz but ho-hum ratings at best.

The "Alphabet Network" (to cite Variety again) will be banking heavily on a new drama about a tony apartment building with a fancy address whose tenants are from another planet unbeknownst to the outside world. 666 Park Avenue sounds like bizarre joke about one-percenters.

ABC is offering two series with country music themes. Nashville, starring Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton, is a drama about a backbiting musical family in the vein of Dallas (which been revived to success this summer on cable TNT) but with the gold albums taking the place of oil. Real life country music star Reba McEntire stars as a destitute Nashville entertainer who relocates her family to LA’s most famous beachfront community in the hopes of a new start in Malibu Country

The lone CW show which draws viewers, Gossip Girl, concludes this fall. Last year’s much hyped Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle, Ringer, flopped so badly that it got canceled. This is a rare occurrence for the CW considering programs that no one watches as Nikita90210" and America’s Next Top Model are all coming back.

arrowCW president Mark Pedowitz is putting most of his chips on a Sex And The City prequel called The Carrie Diaries that stars Anna Sophia Robb (who played Bethany Hamilton who lost her right arm to a shark while tackling the waves in the 2011 film, Soul Surfer) stars as the younger version of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw character.

The CW may finally be getting away from its image as a destination for 12 year-old girls as it will have a DC Comics action show, Arrow on its fall schedule.
Meryl Streep’s daughter, Mamie Gummer, is the title character of Emily Owens, MD a drama about a young doctor who discovers that being a resident in a snooty hospital is similar to the social pecking order in her high school.

The CW Network is a joint venture between CBS and Time Warner. Rumors are flying that the two entertainment behemoths may agree to pull the plug on the CW unless there is a dramatic upturn in the Nielsens.

While primetime shows get the glitz, daytime programming has long been the most profitable part of the networks’ schedules. Talk shows have replaced most soap operas and game shows at ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX.
Survivor host Jeff Probst will be trying his hand at being a talk show host while two veterans at the genre, Steve Harvey and Ricki Lake, will be hoping to duplicate past success with new syndicated offerings.

The most notable talk show newcomer will be former Today co-host and CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, who is hoping to have better luck than her predecessor Jane Pauley had with this format. ABC canceled the long-running All My Children to clear real estate for Katie.

Late Night
Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon won’t be facing new competition this year but Arsenio Hall is planning a syndicated comeback show next September.
NBC’s Saturday Night Live begins its 38th season but it will do so without stalwart cast members Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg who are devoting their time to making films.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Blooms Again

With fall in the works and the cultural frenzy that comes with it, fans of classic Italian cinema will want to mark their calendars for October 23, 7:30 pm. That’s when the il-giardino-dei-finzi-contini-cdvintage Avon Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut is set to screen The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. 

Jointly presented with JCC Greenwich and the Italian Cultural Insititute of New York, this Critic's Choice showing is a rare opportunity to catch legendary director Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief) at the top of his game. Finzi-Continis won the 1971 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

You'll bask in the lush setting, the ripe score, the dreamy ambiance. But you won't want to get too comfortable. The fate awaiting our beautiful and privileged protagonists is no less than an expulsion from Eden.

Inspired by a real family, the Finzi-Continis are Jewish owners of a gracious manor house cloistered from the outside by high walls, luxuriant grounds and the tranquility of a gentler era. There's even a 500-year-old tree that the Borgias may have planted. The adult children, elegant Micòl (Dominique Sanda) and Alberto (Helmut Berger), entertain theirSandaBerger friends with endless rounds of tennis and picnics, as befits their carefree aristocratic life in Ferrara, Italy.

Yet it’s 1938 and the close of an epoch stretching back to the Middle Ages that has granted the local Jewish community a modicum of communal protections. Leave it to the less affluent and cushioned co-religionists to detect the writing on the wall as, one by one, social prerogatives become increasingly off-limits.

One such middle-class landsman is Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio), who is mortified by Mussolini’s edicts. A friend of the family, he has loved Micòl since their youth, and imagines that she reciprocates his affections. Micòl, however, is busy carrying on with Giorgio’s Gentile friend Bruno Malnate (Fabio Testi), a manly jock who’s soon to enter the armed forces.

Recent racial purity decrees forbid Jews from doing just that -- serving in the military -- as well as from marrying non-Jews, attending public schools, being listed in the phone directory and engaging Aryan servants. These restrictions seem to occur beyond the pale of the Finzi-Continis. As Giorgio's father notes, “They are different. They don't even seem to be Jewish." Yet no amount of wealth, standing, credentials or obliviousness could shield the victims of Fascism from its intensifying thrust.

A surprising footnote here is that anti-Semitism was not part of the Italian Fascist platform during Mussolini’s first 15 or so years in power. According to Giorgio Bassani -- author of the 1962 autobiographical novel on which the film is based -- most of the Ferrarese Jewish community held party membership until Nazi ideology invaded Italy.

Bassani, who also collaborated on the film's screenplay, helped De Sica imagine the loomingFileVittorioDeSica sense of loss that the community struggled with in the years leading up to and during the war. In 1943, after northern Italy was occupied by Nazi forces, Ferrara’s small Jewish community was sent to the concentration camps; only one of its 183 deportees came home.

De Sica looks back and forward on history, showing the specter of tragedy through the characters' unfolding awareness. Painting with symbols, he equates the safe, idyllic gardens of the Finzi-Contini palazzo with the past. Similarly, Giorgio represents an innocent childhood bond for Micòl, allowing her to tolerate him as a platonic relationship. Yet to regard him as a romantic partner would mean swapping yesterday for tomorrow, an altogether too frightening notion in her vulnerable state of denial.

Following the October screening, Columbia University professor Alexander Stille will shed light on these and other key issues explored in this film of unusual power and merit.

For tickets and information, contact or (203) 552-1818.

Avon Theatre
272 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT 06901 


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