That’s why I was at Joe’s Pub last night for New York City Christmas, a holiday concert featuring some big Broadway stars and benefiting Artists Striving To End Poverty. It was the second incarnation of the concert, which was held for the first time last year at the Zipper Factory (why is that place closed??). Due to the success of last year’s concert, ASTEP produced a recording of the songs performed on Sh-K-Boom Records (actress Sherie Rene Scott is a co-founder), and they decided to do it again this year.
It was a well-paced, dimple-ridden evening, with enough belts and laughter to last the entire year. Big names like Chester Gregory, Sierra Boggess, Sherie Rene Scott, and Orfeh filled the room with fantastic renditions of classic Christmas tunes. Lesser-known names like Lindsay Mendez and Tyler Maynard (both who appeared last year) held their own among the marquee fixtures, and looked ebullient. Mendez, who I want to see more of, two years in a row has made one of the most lasting impressions.
The evening was hosted by Harriet Harris (photo embedded, because I feel she’s one of those actors whose face everyone knows, but few people can attach a name to), who has the ability to induce hilarity with any word she says. Referring to cellist Summer Boggess (Sierra’s sister) who was part of the band, “Summer’s on the cello. I just had to find a way to work that in there and say that,” cooed Harris. But I also have to give huge credit to keyboardist Lynne Shankel, who unofficially co-hosted the event. She served as MC last year, and in addition to being wildly charming, she helped organize the concert (along with ASTEP founder Mary-Mitchel Campbell) and is astonishing with how wide her talents stretch. Where can I see more of her? Does it have to be once each December?
And now we come to Mr. Esparza. Last year, he debuted a mid-tempo, Spanish-guitar arrangement of “O Holy Night,” in which he sings the first verse in English and the second in Spanish. It is a searing performance, memorable in every way, and redefines the classic song. For me, he can do no wrong, and the way his performance makes my mom feel—“I want to claw the skin off my face!” You know, in a good way.
Below is the video of his performance from last year’s concert. I chose to enjoy this year’s without the confines of a lens. I hope you’ll understand.
All I can say is I hope this becomes a Christmas tradition, just as TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
I love Anne Hathaway. Like, love her. So when I heard she was doing Shakespeare in the Park’s Twelfth Night this summer with Raul Esparza, my other favorite actor, I couldn’t contain my excitement. In fact, I tweeted on April 15 “Raul Esparza has been cast in Twelfth Night, which is already starring Anne Hathaway. I’m getting in line NOW!” Little did I know I should have followed through with that tweet.
On Sunday, I was shut out from getting tickets to the performance. Unfortunately, it was the production’s final show. I know, I should have planned to do the famed Central Park rush earlier in the run, but due to scheduling conflicts, this is the way it worked out. But I took precautions. I arrived at 5:45 a.m.—a time I thought might even be over ambitious. But as the eternally long line of ticket hopefuls moved from Central Park West into the park (Central Park is technically not open to the public before 6 a.m.), line monitors of the Public Theater cut off the line when it reached a certain point, allowing no one else to join. There were already more people than there were tickets available, they said. After asking people who just made the cut off what time they arrived, I learned that on this particular day, unless you arrived at 4 a.m., you were out of luck. Read more
Kym, my date, and I arrived at Radio City Music Hall at 6 p.m. We had butterflies in our stomachs and were laughing because it wasn’t like we were nominated or performing. As we lingered around the entrance at 6th Ave and 50th St, trying to figure out how to approach entering, Best Featured Actor in a Play nominee John Glover from Waiting For Godot passed by. We twiddled our thumbs for a few more minutes, waiting to cross paths with more arriving celebrities, but soon decided we better find the commoners entrance and start making our way in. The entrance line for regular ticket holders stretched nearly around the entire block. We waited in line and felt the discriminating eyes of the tourists parked on Rockefeller Center benches meandering over our outfits. As we crawled toward the security check, we saw Heidi Blickenstaff from [title of show], accompanied by Christopher J. Hanke. As we entered the venue, we realized that Heidi had to enter the same way we did—which we felt extremely bad about. The girl was not only in a Tony-nominated show, but she was also Ursula in The Little Mermaid! [title of show] just gets no respect (which we realized again during the ceremony). Read more