Marilyn Maye 95th birthday - 54 Below
Click here for tickets
Regular readers know I almost never recommend events that are only available in one time-zone or one time only, because I’m always hoping that the presenters of one-time presentations will be so alarmed by not being included in the Theatrewise Blog that they’ll expand their streams, livestreams and video to a worldwide audience at an hour when we can all watch (delusions of grandeur? moi?).
That works more often that you’d believe but I have to admit that New York’s classy cabaret room, 54 Below, has been and remains, deaf to my entreaties.
Accordingly, when Marilyn Maye turns 95 – not a typo, she’s really 95 – and celebrates her birthday with a special concert at 54 Below, those of us not on the East Coast of the United States will have to stay up late to celebrate with her. Although her birthday appearance on Saturday will be livestreamed – tickets available worldwide, see link above – it will be live only, at 7pm NY time on May 27th, and not repeated.
So if you want to join the marvellous Marilyn Maye and her band for a marvelous celebration in honor of her 95th birthday, brew a big pot of coffee, open the wine, and have a great time.
Maye is a timeless icon who has been entertaining audiences for over eight decades, a theatrical legend with the power to “melt the heart of the most hardened cynics” (The New York Times), and a consummate entertainer who breathes new life into classics, carrying the torch from her peers who originated tunes of the Great American Songbook to the future generation of singers. $25
VIVIDREAM – Royal Danish Ballet
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A mesmerising and unusual dance/theatre/poetry piece choreographed and directed by Matteo Di Loreto for the Royal Danish Ballet.
Between dream and reality a girl finds herself in an empty theatre’s audience to find out there are other people there with her. She dreams a series of interactions with the dream people she encounters. While events between the dancers unfold, a voice guides them on a journey of surreality where the relation between the audience and the stage is connected by a subtle veil.
This VividDream is wonderfully well danced and the commentary/poem that accompanies it is sufficiently unusual and thought-provoking to hold the attention. Dancers include Ji Min Hong, Sebastian Hayne, Samuel Zaldivar, Tomoka Kawazoe, Matteo Di Loreto, Filippe Moraes and Sorella Englund.
Jonas Kaufman – A Tenor for the Ages
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Jonas Kaufmann, frequently cited as “the world's greatest tenor”, seems to have been canceling a lot of performances recently often at the last or nearly last minute. One of the few opera singers who can sell out a recital or opera appearance in the minutes following its announcement, this sudden unreliability is giving producers and presenters all kinds of fits.
After two years of unprecedented and surprising access to the singer, this feature-length portrait of Jonas Kaufmann by John Bridcut goes behind the scenes to discover the secrets of his success. With his breathtaking voice, his natural intelligence, his wit and charm, and his matinée idol delivery, Kaufmann is one of the hottest properties in classical music.
The pressure on a singer at the top of his form is enormous. Everybody wants a piece of you and the clamour for your appearance and attention must be overwhelming. This is why I was interested to see this documentary to try to understand what it’s like to be Jonas Kaufmann. This is a good and serious try to get inside the life of an artist on his level but, inevitably, it shows us only what the artist wants us to see. But that, in itself, has much to recommend it to the opera lover who is also an admirer (and who isn’t?) of Jonas Kaufmann.
Henri Matisse: A Master of the Modern Era - MIKOSarts
Click here to watch
This is a beguiling documentary about the great post-impressionist master, Henri Matisse. Less stuffy and pedagogic than many similar educational videos, the presenter, Alistair Sooke, presents the life history and artistic directions of Matisse with clarity and understanding.
Sooke is the chief art critic of the Daily Telegraph and a frequent commentator on the visual arts for the BBC including this series, Modern Masters which also includes documentaries about Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, all available, like this one, free on YouTube.
Brokeback Mountain - @sohoplace theatre
Two men who are, or soon will be, husbands and fathers, meet on a Wyoming mountaintop in 1963. They are there to do a job - herding sheep – seasonal work for the unskilled. Something happens to them. Call it chemistry, call it love, call it an irresistible force which can’t be denied, and two lives are irrevocably changed.
If you’ve seen the movie, based on the short story by Annie Proulx, then you know what happens. The play, by Ashley Robinson, makes no attempt to expand this simple but earthshattering incident into a larger context but has written a compelling drama from this accidental meeting of two ordinary men.
This is doubtless the pitch-perfect contribution of the two American actors playing Jack (the chatty one) and Ennis (the inarticulate one), Mike Faist and Lucas Hedges, who not only inhabit their characters but make us care about them. Robinson’s spare script gives them space to experience both the joy of their mutual self-discovery and the bemusement when they understand that their situation is impossible. The original country and blue grass songs by Dan Gillespie Sells, performed by live band just off stage, add context to a sketchy physical production.
This is the best evening in the theatre that I’ve had for many a month and restores my faith in the ability of art to transcend the everyday.
By the way, the new West End theatre, the @sohoplace, is excellent, despite its funny name and well worth a visit.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.