Pre Covid-19 we searched the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you didn’t have to.” We made it as easy as 1-2-3.
Covid-19 has required some changes for the time being. Stay Safe.
Earlier today we covered Selected NYC Instagram Photos and some curated event info. Now, how about some more useful NYC information.
New York magazine is biweekly these days and every issue has a wonderful section, “The Culture Pages,” which includes a “To Do” list – 25 things to see, hear, watch, and read. Here are my favorites from the current issue (Nov.25-Dec.9).
Holiday in the House of Atreus.
The Met oddly chose Thanksgiving to stream Strauss’s Elektra, in which children gather at home, sing bloody murder, and commit it, too. In this spectacular 2016 performance of a production directed by Patrice Chéreau, Nina Stemme delivers an extra helping of sublime rage, and Esa-Pekka Salonen keeps the home bonfires burning. —Justin Davidson
metopera.org, November 26.
New York composer Paola Prestini and Mexico-based singer-songwriter Magos Herrera (plus a crew of musicians) used the lockdown to collaborate at a distance, and the result is a melancholy but uplifting quasi-cantata full of bird calls, phone calls, and calls across frozen borders. —J.D.
National Sawdust Tracks, December 4; live.nationalsawdust.org, December 13.
Tom Sachs: Handmade Paintings
A mad man.
Sparks crackle at the sight of Tom Sachs’s perennially engaging squirrelly trickster art. Here, bumpy paintings of logos, slogans, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, McDonald’s Golden Arches, the American flag. It’s steampunk hand-painted Pop Art made by some uniquely American Rube Goldberg–Unabomber sensibility. —Jerry Saltz
Acquavella Galleries, 18 East 79th Street, through December 18.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Exploring the theme “American promise.”
Tested, masked, and distanced, the BSO returns to its native stage at Symphony Hall, minus a live audience. The lone advantage of canceled seasons and rare performances is that orchestras have become nimble enough to respond to the world around them. This program, the second in the series “Music in Changing Times,” brings together music by three Black composers, Jessie Montgomery, William Grant Still, and Duke Ellington (plus two works by Osvaldo Golijov), led by the Black conductor Thomas Wilkins. —Justin Davidson
bso.org, November 26 to December 26.
This Is Who I Am
A wide coalition of theaters (including New York’s PlayCo) has joined virtual hands to present Amir Nizar Zuabi’s Zoom drama about a father and son, one in Ramallah, the other in New York. The two men talk from their respective kitchens, trying to bridge their political and physical gulf by making a traditional dish together. —Helen Shaw
woollymammoth.net, November 29 to December 27.
New York Festival of Song
At a time when every news day seems to bring another epic struggle, vertiginous downfall, and act of hubris, soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Steven Blier are here to remind us that we’ve seen it all before. They’ve organized songs by Kurt Weill, Billy Strayhorn, Hall Johnson, and other composers into an evergreen program called “Myths to Live By.” —J.D.
nyfos.org/athome, available through December 31.
Kim Jones: Rats Live on No Evil Star
The artist served in the Vietnam War.
Here, the scratchy, challenging battlefield pencil drawings of veteran Kim Jones. Some of these images covered whole walls with erased ships and columns of troops moving forward, retreating, being blown up, setting bulwarks, and regrouping. This retrospective show of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and videos will establish this artist’s bona fides as a connoisseur of visionary windmills of the mind. —J.S.
Bridget Donahue, 99 Bowery, through January 9.
Earlier this year, card-handler and illusionist Helder Guimarães made one of the few true blockbuster quarantine theatrical performances, The Present. We got to do magic in our own homes. And only felt lightly manipulated. Now he returns with The Future, which will include interactive illusions, a mysterious kit mailed to you before the show, his rather wistful style of storytelling, and a choose-your-own-adventure flourish. —H.S.
geffenplayhouse.org, December 4 to January 31.
Salman Toor: How Will I Know
Salman Toor’s first solo exhibition of his queer rococo paintings, which live, as he does, between worlds (Lahore, Pakistan, where he was born and has a studio, and New York, where he lives) was supposed to open at the Whitney in April; it went into pandemic hibernation, but you can finally see it in person. —Carl Swanson
Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort Street, through April 2, 2021.
*This article appears in the November 23, 2020, issue of New York Magazine.
Watch Broadway Performances During Social Distancing
GD: Unfortunately, fans of Broadway will have to wait a little longer for shows to resume — until at least late May 2021. That hurts!
Broadway theaters closed on March 12 as New York City enacted rules to promote social distancing and slow the spread of Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a show. The NYC theater community has responded with initiatives and online shows to help support its members and entertain audiences via the internet while we’re staying away from crowds.
We’ve put together a sampling of streaming performances you can watch from your laptop or phone:
Broadway HD Starting in 2015, this online service began offering HD versions of classic and recent Broadway plays and musicals. You can try it out for free (with a one-week trial) or buy a subscription (from $9 a month) to watch some of your favorite shows. You can see stars like Katherine Hepburn in 1973’s televised version of The Glass Menagerie as well as musical hits like Kinky Boots, An American in Paris and Cats.
Stars in the House Broadway actor, director and writer (and radio host) Seth Rudetsky and his husband, producer James Wesley, host two shows a day from their house on YouTube. The hourlong shows, which air live at 2pm and 8pm (the usual Broadway start times), raise money for the Actors Fund, helping to provide emergency relief for those unemployed in the theater community.
Living Room Concerts Broadwayworld.com has started posting daily concert videos from an array of performers, mainly those whose shows were running before the recent closure of Broadway. They’re posting a new video every day—stars featured include Carolee Carmello (Hello, Dolly!), Kathryn Gallagher (Jagged Little Pill) and teenager Andrew Barth Feldman, the former lead in Dear Evan Hansen.
Marie’s Crisis Virtual Piano Bar This West Village bar, known for sing-alongs to Broadway show tunes, has taken the experience online. They’re streaming two main sets of songs each evening, usually starting at 4pm, with different pianists tickling the ivories. To watch, join their Facebook group and tune in to “Sing out, Louise” (in the comfort of your own living room). You can also tip the piano players via Venmo or PayPal, with details during each performance.
Download recent shows, like the SpongeBob SquarePants musical, on Amazon Many recent shows are available to rent or buy on Amazon and other online streamers, usually in the range of $3–12. Highlights include Rent, taped just before it ended its Broadway run; 2013’s Carousel, via Live from Lincoln Center; 2010 Tony Award winner Memphis; and the original Broadway production of Into the Woods, starring Bernadette Peters.
Virtual Hal Prince Exhibit at Lincoln Center In December 2019, the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts opened an exhibit on the late Harold Prince, the legendary Broadway producer behind megahits like The Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd. While the library is closed, you can take a virtual walk-through and 30-minute guided tour of the gallery with Doug Reside, the show’s curator.
Broadway Dreams Live Lessons The Broadway Dreams Foundation is hosting free daily lessons, led by some accomplished Broadway-caliber talent, for aspiring actors, singers and dancers. Their lineup has included actors from Frozen, Head Over Heels and Chicago. To watch, get the Zoom link from their Facebook page. Sessions begin at 1pm; each day’s links are posted five minutes before class begins, though the schedule is listed earlier than that.
Viral Monologues from 24 Hour Plays Every year, the 24 Hour Plays event presents a series of shows that are written, cast, directed and performed in one day with the involvement of talent from the NYC theater community. Now they’re doing a mini version, with online monologues, on their Instagram account. They’re performed by actors like Denis O’Hare and penned by playwrights like David Lindsay-Abaire.
Groove to disco versions of Stephen Sondheim songs Broadway Records just released the digital version of Losing My Mind, a compilation of Sondheim songs with a dance beat. Conceived by Broadway performer Joshua Hinck and arranger Scott Wasserman, the 12-song album is an expanded version of a popular concert they put on in 2018. The album features singers like Alison Luff (Waitress) and Chip Zien (from the original Into the Woods). You can preview a track, “Unworthy of Your Love,” from Passion; hear the collection on Spotify; or order a copy from the Broadway Records site.
Broadway Backwards 2020 Encore Broadway Cares, which produces number of annual AIDS fundraisers, has put together a special encore series of recent star-studded performances from Broadway Backwards, at which performers belt out famous show tunes with gender-swapped roles. They’re also asking viewers to support an emergency fundraiser for actors affected by the Covid-19 crisis—you can make a donation at broadwaycares.org.
Watch Broadway classics like Cabaret for free on YouTube These days you may be wondering, “What good is sitting alone in your room?” You can get a very direct answer on YouTube by watching the 1993 version of Cabaret, featuring Alan Cumming in his breakout role. Other star turns worth checking out for free are Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin in American Playhouse‘s 1986 broadcast of Sunday in the Park with George; Carol Burnett in 1964’s Once Upon A Mattress; Nell Carter in a 1982 broadcast of Ain’t Misbehavin’; Lauren Bacall in 1973’s Applause; Gregory and Maurice Hines in 1980’s Eubie!; and Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra in 1954’s Anything Goes.
Jason Alexander sings on Twitter While most people know Jason Alexander as George from Seinfeld, he got his big break on Broadway in a Stephen Sondheim musical (Merrily We Roll Along). He recently went on Twitter to sing a song from the show that got him interested in theater, Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. The beautiful ballad, “With You,” has a message of love and support we can all use today.
NYC-Arts Top Five Picks: November 27 – December 3
Interesting. Unusual. Uniquely NYC. Highlights of this week’s top events include Making the Met, NYBG Glow, Alvin Ailey’s Virtual Winter Season and more. Get the NYC-ARTS Top Five in your inbox every Friday and follow @NYC_ARTS on Instagram or @NYCARTS on Twitter to stay abreast of events as they happen.
We Fight to Build A Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz
The Jewish Museum
Manhattan / Thu, Oct 01, 2020 – Sun, Jan 24, 2021
The Jewish Museum presents “We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz” upon reopening to the public on Thursday, October 1, 2020. Originally scheduled to open in March 2020, “We Fight to Build a Free World” is an exhibition curated by Jonathan Horowitz, a New York-based artist who for three decades has made work that engages critically with politics and culture. Under his direction, the exhibition looks at how artists have …
Alvin Ailey Virtual Winter Season
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Manhattan / Wed, Dec 02, 2020 – Thu, Dec 31, 2020
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recognized by U.S. Congress as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world,” is known for uplifting and uniting audiences across the globe with messages of hope as it will this holiday season with a free virtual season from December 2 – December 31, 2020 celebrating six decades of Revelations. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers elevate a legacy of innovation and excellence in artistry with a reimagined …
New York Botanical Garden
Bronx / Fri, Nov 27, 2020 – Sat, Jan 09, 2021
“NYBG GLOW,” an all-new nighttime outdoor experience, illuminates the landmark landscape and Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) on 14 select evenings this holiday season, beginning Friday, November 27, 2020. With lots of room to spread out, visitors can explore a glowing world of color and light featuring the Haupt Conservatory as the centerpiece–its iconic exterior a glittering canvas. Washes of brilliant colors, thousands of dazzling, energy-efficient LED lights, and picture-perfect …
Making the Met, 1870–2020
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Manhattan / Sat, Aug 29, 2020 – Sun, Jan 03, 2021
The signature exhibition of The Met’s 150th-anniversary year takes visitors on an immersive, thought-provoking journey through the history of one of the world’s preeminent cultural institutions. “Making The Met, 1870–2020” features more than 250 superlative works of art of nearly every type, from visitor favorites to fragile treasures that can only be displayed from time to time. Organized around transformational moments in the evolution of the Museum’s collection, buildings, and ambitions, the exhibition reveals the visionary …
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection 2020
New-York Historical Society
Manhattan / Fri, Nov 27, 2020 – Sun, Feb 21, 2021
A magical wonderland awaits visitors with the return of this holiday tradition. Featuring toy trains, figurines, and miniature models from the renowned Jerni Collection, Holiday Express transports young and old alike to a bygone era. The installation includes a variety of toy train stations dating from the turn of the 19th century to the WWII era, showcasing the evolving designs of American and European toymakers. New to the display this year are Marklin’s Onion Dome Station and Grand