Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cultural New York and eating out!

I would hate to try to make a comparison between the two theatre capitals of the world. The truth is I rarely get the time to go in London due to work and end up making up for it in my down time in New York! So invariably my experience is one of enjoying Broadway much more. My friends always make sure we have tickets when I visit and this time was no exception .. they really pushed the boat out!  It was an ecclectic mix of entertainment that's for sure!

The first was to the New York City Center to see 'Little Me, Encores!"  In the summer of 2013, City Center launched Encores! Off-Center, a new series featuring seminal Off-Broadway musicals filtered through the lens of today’s most innovative artists. Neil Simon's first musical adaptation for the stage first played on Broadway in 1962 and although it opened to 'mostly rave reviews' it didn't really catch on and disappeared from view.  

All the Encore productions run for a week at a time and I have to say I enjoyed this production immensely. It starred Christian Borle (most recently known for Smash) and he did a phenomenal job as did the rest of the cast!

photo: Joan Marcus
My second outing was to see 'Beautiful - the Carole King Musical' which I think will be running for quite some time.  Bookings are being taken until October 2014 at present.  It tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy award winning singer/songwriter. The show starts with her life before she became famous .. when she was just a 16 year old girl from Brooklyn with a passion for music and songwriting .. right up until she became a star in her own right. I loved it and was amazed at all the songs I knew and who she had actually written for.  Jesse Mueller who plays her did a fantastic job! I'm hoping it will transfer to London - fingers crossed!

I was also privileged to go to a cocktail party at the Salmagundi Art Club which featured Grammy nominated Robert McDuffie playing violin to promote the Rome Chamber Music Festival which he founded and is held every year in Rome

The second weekend I was there marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival in New York City. There were various events on and a special TV show from the Grammy theater in LA.  We went along to 'America Celebrates The Beatles All-Star Concert' which sounds as though it would be absolutely fabulous! It boasted a multitude of stars all paying tribute in their own way. I don't like to be negative about anything but this has to have been the worst show I think I have ever been witness to so I will say no more than we stuck it out for as long as we could but left before the end ... and I almost never do that!

Lastly, I feel lucky enough to have been able to attend a performance of 'Carousel' by the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. The entire orchestra, actors and dancers attend the school and it was an absolute triumph! There is a massive talent at the school and I'm sure we'll be seeing them in future theatre, film and television productions.

Mussels in BXL Cafe
I haven't left myself much room to mention the fab restaurants I went to so I'll just list them as recommendations and hope you get the chance to go if and when you visit the city. 

It's also always great fun to dine out in a genuine American Diner .. eggs over easy, pancakes, crispy bacon, bottomless coffee ... etc etc etc


Balthazar Restaurant, 80 Spring Street, New York NY 10012  (French)
Osteria al Doge, 142 West 44th Street, New York NY 10036 (Italian)
BXL Cafe, 125 West 43rd Street, New York NY 10036 (Belgian)
Enoteca Otto Pizzeria, One Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10003 (Italian)
Craft Bar, 900 Broadway, New York NY 10003 (American)
Landmarc Restaurant, Time Warner Center, 3rd Floor, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 and Tribeca, 179 West Broadway, New York NY 10013 (French/Italian)
Luna Rossa, 347 East 85th Street | New York, NY 10028 (Italian)

Bon app├ętit!!

 
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpu
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Show poster
Other Broadway Venues in New York

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Ms. Mueller, a Broadway star in waiting for several years.... steps confidently into the V.I.P. room of musical headliners.
Ben Brantley
Buy Tickets For Beautiful: The Carole King MusicalBuy Tickets
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Show poster
Other Broadway Venues in New York

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Ms. Mueller, a Broadway star in waiting for several years.... steps confidently into the V.I.P. room of musical headliners.
Ben Brantley
Buy Tickets For Beautiful: The Carole King MusicalBuy Tickets
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Show poster
Other Broadway Venues in New York

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Ms. Mueller, a Broadway star in waiting for several years.... steps confidently into the V.I.P. room of musical headliners.
Ben Brantley
Buy Tickets For Beautiful: The Carole King MusicalBuy Tickets
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Show poster
Other Broadway Venues in New York

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

Ms. Mueller, a Broadway star in waiting for several years.... steps confidently into the V.I.P. room of musical headliners.
Ben Brantley
Buy Tickets For Beautiful: The Carole King MusicalBuy Tickets
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom.
- See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the story of the life of Carole King, a Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter. The musical tells her story from her life before she became famous - when she was just Carol Klein, a young girl from Brooklyn with heaps of passion and talent - to her rise to stardom. - See more at: http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/stephen-sondheim-theatre/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical.php#sthash.ZqOrNhFz.dpuf

East Village and Street Artists

This time two weeks ago was my last Saturday in New York and was spent wandering around the East Village. It certainly hasn't lost the old charm and hopefully won't as it's home to the New York University campus and dorm houses.

In the 1950s, the migration of Beatniks into the neighborhood later attracted hippies, musicians and artists well into 1960s. The area was dubbed the "East Village", to dissociate it from the image of slums evoked by the Lower East Side. According to The New York Times, a 1964 guide called Earl Wilson's New York wrote that "artists, poets and promoters of coffeehouses from Greenwich Village are trying to remelt the neighborhood under the high-sounding name of 'East Village.'"

I met with my friends at Craft Bar for brunch .. truly scrumptious and a great way to set up a day of walking which was beautifully sunny but with a temperature of -6C! We shared the Brioche pain perdu (French toast!) which was amazing then followed up with Pork scrapple and eggs .. so delicious but after scoffing the French toast we all found it hard to finish our plates! 

We walked through the Farmer's market and meandered through the streets on our way to the Dorian Grey Gallery to see a collaboration of work by street artists Remi Rough and John 'Crash' Matos.  I have been a fan of John's work for a number of years. He was one of the original graffiti artists whose work adorned the New York Subway in the 70's and has gone on to greater things. I feel lucky to have seen the subway in the 80's when I first went to NY just before they were cleaned up. The carriages looked quite different to anything I'd ever seen  and I found the atmosphere very intimidating and scary. Crime was rampant so I was right to be cautious. How different it is now! 

Whilst at the gallery we got to see prints by London based artist Stik.   
Stik mural
Stik people, although androgenous and constructed from simple shapes, are nevertheless capable of conveying complex body language and emotion. These themes of human emotion and expression are infused in Stik’s brightly coloured street art. Stik, the street artist, himself was homeless for a period and ideas surrounding human vulnerability are also detectable in his art. I love the visual simplicity of his work and the prints I saw were all sold ready for shipment. I acquired a small diary he had produced and signed so that's my little piece of Stik art to treasure.

The area is a hub of vintage shops and independent traders. I loved the vibe and reminded me so much of all those iconic scenes in old movies. I really hope that the gentrification that's occurring all over the city doesn't make too much of an impact on it. Once the soul has gone it never returns.

http://www.doriangreygallery.com/ 
http://remirough.com/ 
http://www.crashone.com/#!trains/c1w1e 
http://streetartlondon.co.uk/blog/2011/01/06/street-artist-stik/

Monday, 17 February 2014

Snow and skin care in New York

No going out for the flip flops!
The thing I love about living in the Northern Hemisphere is the seasons, although there doesn't seem to be much of a variation some years! I love New York at any time whether it's scorching hot or freezing cold. Being February it was bound to be cold and as I've said in a previous post, it has been known to be spring like in January so anything is possible! However, this year the winter has been a bitterly cold one.

In the weeks prior to my arrival the temperatures had been extreme with snow storms and ice threatening to disrupt travel plans and the Super Bowl. I was lucky as it had calmed down and when I arrived it felt relatively mild .. and apart from a few mounds of leftover snow drifts most of it had gone and I had an easy transportation into New York City.

If you have read the previous post to this you will already know that my first day was working at Super Bowl but once that was over I could look forward to nine days of fun in my favorite city with good friends.

Carl Schurz Park
Dog walkers with their pack
Waking up on the morning of my first day off I looked out of the window and saw it was snowing heavily. I love the snow and was not deterred from going out. New Yorkers know how to deal with it too .. people were already out clearing the sidewalks and garbage trucks doubled as snow plows to clear the roads so traffic could function as well as possible. People carried on as normal and were out with their dogs .. some with custom coats and booties - the dogs that is! I even saw a cute little pooch with a black leather jacket obviously made to measure! It helps to have the right gear yourself and as long as you wear layers and have a good coat and some snow boots, or in my case boots with yak trax attached, you can plow through the ice and snow with abandon! (I highly recommend having some of these on hand anyway as you never know when you might need them.) I particularly loved walking through the park .. the fresh snow brings a sound of silence (except for the crunching underfoot) and a freshness in the air that for me has a real feel good factor. 

The one downside is that the freezing cold air really does play havoc with your facial skin specially when you have been in an environment with warm dry centrally heated air indoors! My skin felt dry and dehydrated even though I was drinking copious amounts of water and moisturizing profusely! One morning I decided to give myself a DIY facial using skin Chemists Rapid Facial. It's a real luxury item and not cheap (£117) but you only need a small amount at a time and I found it really gave my skin a healthy glow and made it feel smooth and soft again. Unlike other 'face masks' I've tried before it does not dry to a hard feels-like-your-face-will-crack-if-you-smile finish and it just requires a gentle rub as you exfoliate and wash it away with warm water.

My next posting will be about exploring the East Village and the fab restaurants and shows I was lucky enough to attend!



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII - February 2nd 2014

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. Source Wikipedia


Walking to the MetLife Stadium
Our view from the studio
I was fortunate enough to be able to work at Super Bowl this year in my role as a make up artist for the Sky Sports NFL team. It was an interesting experience and perhaps the best thing about it for me was the spectacle. It is incredibly well produced and one of the most watched televised annual sporting events in the world. Security is extremely tight - cars are not allowed to tailgate and without a parking permit are not permitted anywhere near the stadium grounds. On approach our people carrier was redirected by wardens a number of times and before even being allowed out of the vehicle it was swept by some serious looking security guards who eventually allowed us in. 

Half time show
In between on air segments
The big screen
Once inside however, we were able to get on with the job of putting on the show. Our studio was just under the MetLife sign at the Seahawks end so we had a great view of the game and the half time show which featured Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The atmosphere was electric and a very enthusiastic crowd really made some noise. The tickets were not cheap .. upwards from $1,500 per person so if you had a seat you were definitely committed to having a great time! Nothing comes cheap at Super Bowl. A plain hot dog was $13 .. that gives you an idea of the starting price! So if you take into account that neither of the teams were local .. Denver Broncos (Colorado) and Seattle Seahawks (Washington State) it's a lot of money that most people I know would rather spend on having a great holiday! 

However, I appreciate what it means to die hard fans and it is an American institution where people have Super Bowl parties at home while watching the game .. not a bad way to spend a cold winter's night!

If you are interested in next year's Super Bowl XLIX it will be held in Glendale, Arizona.

http://azsuperbowl.com/