December NYC events, Only the Best (12/22, continued)

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 curated event info.  Now, how about some more useful NYC holiday 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 (Dec.9-23).

Art

Sam Gilliam: Existed Existing
A first-tier innovator of painting.
Behold Sam Gilliam’s magisterial painterly and sculptural grandeur. Plywood objects conjure pyramids, and continental plates vie for greatness with huge flecked, layered paintings the size of barges. Gilliam is a master of his medium in total control of his art. —Jerry Saltz
Pace Gallery, 510 and 540 West 25th Street, through December 19.

Harmony Hammond: Crossings
“Material engagement.”
Since the 1970s, Harmony Hammond has made the most psychically alive, roughly sensual, optically satisfying, and epistemologically adept paintings created anywhere. This powerful exhibition of new work finds the artist in top form, claiming a rightful place in the history of modernism with constructions that pack totemic presence and visual intelligence and make wonderfully aggressive demands on the graphic field. —J.S.
Alexander Gray Associates, 510 West 26th Street, through January 16.

Theater

The Long Goodbye Online Edition
I love a cup of tea and that.
Riz Ahmed’s concept album The Long Goodbye framed British Asians’ relationship with Old Blighty as a toxic love affair, one poisoned by colonialism, partition, and pernicious racism. The original plan was for Ahmed to take the album’s accompanying hybrid show — part theatrical storytelling, part music — around the world, but the pandemic canceled the tour. Now he’ll perform an in-real-time-only event, which will be streamed once via BAM’s digital broadcast. —Helen Shaw
bam.org, December 19.

Isaac@CafeCarlyle
A holiday show.
During the holiday season for the past four years, it was a special treat to go Café Carlyle and hear Isaac Mizrahi sing and do his own brand of stand-up, accompanied by the wonderful Ben Waltzer and his six-piece band. This year, of course, it’s different, but wonderful all the same, as we can look forward to a streamable concert series. In this four-show series, each mixes songs and storytelling and features a special guest. The first show will be released on December 4 and will then remain on-demand for 30 days, with additional shows on January 8, February 12, and March 19. Isaac says my favorite thing about the show, “It’s not exactly a holiday show … it’s not not a holiday show…” —Wendy Goodman
events.broadwayworld.com, through January 3, 2021.

Dance

The Hard Nut
Visions of sugarplums.
For vigor and variation, crack open excerpts from The Hard Nut, Mark Morris’s nearly 30-year-old comic “homage” to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. In Morris’s version, the E.T.A. Hoffmann story is reset in a kitschy ’60s suburbia, where party guests are more naughty than nice, Marie’s visions of militant rats speak to her own adolescent stirrings, and leaping Snowflakes throw fistfuls of snow into the air in little icy explosions. —Helen Shaw
markmorrisdancegroup.org/mmdg-holiday-special, December 12 to 18.

Classical Music

The Oratorio Society of New York
An abridged virtual performance.
In a normal year, professional singers would be earning a chunk of their annual income right now, dashing from Messiah to Messiah. The Oratorio Society, led by Kent Tritle, has done its best to preserve the tradition with a performance recorded outdoors, in a warmer month, rolled out in time for an at-home sing-along. —Justin Davidson
osny.org, from December 21.

Simone Dinnerstein
Live from Columbia.
When experiencing live music meant organizing an expensive night out, a two-hour concert with intermission was intended to give audiences their money’s worth. Now that it means clicking a free link, sometimes you want only a restorative half-hour. Miller Theater’s pop-up concerts satisfy that craving, and Dinnerstein is just the right pianist to keep the experience brief but intense, meditative, and surprising. Here, she pairs a Philip Glass étude with a movement from Schubert’s B-flat Sonata, two exercises in taking your time. —J.D.
millertheater.com, December 15.

*This article appears in the November 23, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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NYC-Arts Top Five Picks: December 18 – December 24

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.

Gimme 50

Gimme 50

Maysles Documentary Center

Manhattan / Sat, Dec 12, 2020 – Thu, Dec 31, 2020

In 1969 filmmaker brothers Albert and David Maysles set out to shoot a series of concerts by The Rolling Stones that culminated in their capturing one of the era’s most defining and consequential moments- the killing of a young Black man named Meredith Hunter by a Hells Angel during a free show at the Altamont Speedway in Tracy, California. GIMME SHELTER, the resulting film co-directed with Charlotte Zwerin, was released on December 6, 1970, and …

Paul Winter’s 41st Annual Winter Solstice Celebration

Paul Winter’s 41st Annual Winter Solstice Celebration

Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Every December since 1980, seven-time Grammy® winner Paul Winter and his colleagues have celebrated the Winter Solstice at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine with a feast of music and dancing from the diversity of cultures and creatures of the world. This December, with their beloved cathedral forum closed for events, their “41st Annual Winter Solstice Celebration” will be a unique video presentation that will be available to a worldwide audience. With a theme of …

Louis Armstrong Holiday Experience!

Louis Armstrong Holiday Experience!

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Queens / Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

LAHM would love for you to join them tonight, December 18th at 7pm! as they celebrate the season with their favorite memories of Louis and Lucille at the holidays and performances by special guests: Champian Fulton, Ethan Iverson and Catherine Russell. LAHM’s Staff Member, Hyland Harris, will also provide an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour of Louis’s den and will share numerous Holiday-themed treasures from our Archives, including a very special tape of Louis reading “The Night Before …

Make Music Winter 2020

Make Music Winter 2020

Make Music New York

Manhattan / Sat, Dec 19, 2020 – Mon, Dec 21, 2020

Celebrate the 10th annual Make Music Winter virtually this winter solstice. Despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Make Music New York’s mission continues to drive them, and they hope that it inspires you: to provide New Yorkers with the opportunity to enjoy free, rejuvenating music and to support music makers in the process. Event Schedule: For Love and Only For Love: Letters to New York (In Person) Sat, Dec 19, 202012:00 PM  Sun, Jan 10, …

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the MERCHANT’S HOUSE

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the MERCHANT’S HOUSE

Merchant’s House Museum

Manhattan / Fri, Dec 18, 2020 – Thu, Dec 24, 2020

This December, one like no other, Summoners Ensemble Theatre’s “A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the MERCHANT’S HOUSE” returns for its 8th holiday season, virtually. Be transported back 150 years from the comfort of your home for this captivating one-hour performance filmed in the landmark Merchant’s House dressed for the joyous season with a table-top tree, boughs of holly, and flickering candles. In the spirit of Mr. Dickens’ message of compassion, generosity, and goodwill, we want performances to …

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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!

NYCGO

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, NYC, Virtual NYC

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 BootsAn 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 FrozenHead 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.

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Stay home a bit longer. Mask up, stay smart and stay safe.

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