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Live Performance

Renée Fleming Comes to Super Bowl XLVIII with Full Playbook of ‘Kudos’

ReneeFlemingPicOpera superstar Renée Fleming, who will perform the national anthem at MetLife Stadium on Sunday accompanied by the New Jersey Symphony and 32 standout U.S. military singers, needs no introduction. However, we have to applaud her for one of the liveliest website “clippings” sections we’ve recently come across.

In terms of both navigation and curation, Fleming’s “Kudos” tab is a breezy blast, bracketed by an April 2013 New York Times article and trio of November 2007 New York newspaper reviews of La Traviata. There’s much more to savor in-between, from how Fleming helped organize a one-night comedic event last winter at Chicago’s Second City to the way she took hold of an Albert Hall “Proms” series in the fall of 2010. From Ivan Hewett‘s excerpted Telegraph write-up:

One of the two star guests alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jiri Belohlavek was soprano Renée Fleming, and she provided the most ravishing vocal sounds I’ve heard in the Albert Hall these past two months.

Looking resplendent in a purple power frock designed by Vivienne Westwood, she nailed the emotional heart of Strauss’s songs in a way that stilled the waving flags and brought total silence to the packed hall.

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Taraji P. Henson Stars in Latest Bernard Weinraub Play

AbovetheFoldPosterOn Tuesday, Above the Fold began previewing at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. That’s close to KPCC 89.3 FM, a short MTA Gold Line ride from the Los Angeles Times and a couple of 134/210 freeway exits east of ABC 7.

Why the media triangulation? Because the author of the play is none other than Bernard Weinraub, former formidable New York Times reporter and husband to Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal. From the official synopsis:

Jane (Taraji P. Henson), an African-American newspaper reporter from New York, flies to a Southern university where three white fraternity members have been accused of raping a young African-American woman. Taking place amidst the shift from print to digital journalism, Above the Fold asks tough questions about the exploitation of tragedy, the cost of success and the dangers that come when ambition collides with truth.

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CBS News Vet Adapts 9/11 Experiences for the Stage

BikemanTheatricalExpPreviews of Bikeman: The 9/11 Theatrical Experience begin Sunday January 26 at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, with 7.5% of every ticket after mandated deductions going to the 9/11 Memorial. The official opening is set for February 18, with Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark) in the lead role.

The one-hour show is based on a book of the same name by Thomas F. Flynn. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Flynn was a writer-producer with the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. From the starting point that fateful morning of his Greenwich Village home, Flynn headed to the scene on his bicycle after the first plane hit and quickly became much more than a mere reporter.

Flynn, a part-time resident of Cape Cod, still does some writing today for the CBS Evening News, though he contributes mainly to former boss Rather’s HDNet show. From an article in the Cape Cod Times:

Flynn says he believes Bikeman is “everyone’s story” because what happened on September 11 “was the most watched event in the history of the earth…”

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Pussy Riot Duo Book Brooklyn Show

Feb5ConcertLogoThis promises to be quite the sideline attraction. Per a statement released today by Amnesty International and picked up by the New York Observer‘s Matthew Kassel, formerly incarcerated Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina will be part of the “Bringing Human Rights Home” charity-event bill February 5 at Barclays Center. Three days after the Super Bowl:

“We, more than anyone, understand how important Amnesty’s work is in connecting activists to prisoners.”

“A month ago, we were freed from Russian prison camps. We will never forget what it’s like to be in prison after a political conviction.”

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Jeff Daniels Sings the Terms of Endearment Blues

54BelowLogoOr, more precisely,”Allen Parkway Inn.” Per Stephen Holden‘s review in the New York Times of the actor’s recent musical run at 54 Below, the song highlights the class system that unfolds on most big Hollywood movie sets:

The song describes with barbed good humor Daniels’ humiliation at being put up in a dingy motel while filming Terms of Endearment, while those higher on the marquee received comparatively royal treatment.

Amazon is, presently, temporarily out of stock of the CD from which that song came, Live at the Purple Rose. That’s a good thing; it suggests that in-between seasons, Newsroom fans are turning to Will McAvoy‘s very tuneful night job.

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Dismissed UK Journalist’s Orwell Musical Coming to New York

British journalist Peter Cordwell, who was rudely dumped this past summer by a weekly publication, has never been to Manhattan. But by the time his 67th birthday rolls around, he will have finally made the pilgrimage.

Per a report on newshopper.co.uk, Cordwell’s musical One George Orwell will be staged for five nights next September at the Lower East Side’s Teatro Latea. Written with musician Carl Picton, the musical features eight original songs:

“I always wanted to go to New York – I’m a big Bob Dylan fan and loved JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye – and there’s no better way of doing it than this,” said Cordwell…

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Hamish Hamilton On What It’s Like to Direct the VMAs

HamishHamiltonAs a live event director and producer, Hamish Hamilton has been behind some of the most watched shows in history. He recently directed the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show, the 2013 VMAs (aka Miley Twerk-Gate) and the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, Hamilton explains how he prepares for these enormous productions, and what happens behind the scenes:

At the 2013 VMAs we had the most disastrous, monumental technical breakdown 30 minutes before we went on air. The entire stage, which was supposed to rotate 360 degrees, became jammed. We were faced with the very real possibility there would be no show. It was one of those moments that’s kind of a nightmare; something you think isn’t ever going to happen. I just went cold. But you just deal with it. You know, when you have a lot of really great people thinking calmly, out of the box, and working as a team to do something difficult, that’s very important. It’s actually bizarre because a lot of people don’t even notice, the program isn’t usually affected — and we had Miley Cyrus and the twerking incident, which kind of overshadowed everything!

To hear more about how he manages the pressures of such huge productions, read: So What Do You Do Hamish Hamilton, Director Of Some Of The World’s Biggest Televised Events?

Billy Joel Set to Redefine ‘New York State of Mind’

Although Billy Joel recently confirmed his decision to forego the biography-autobiography route, he will be returning to the fore with a vengeance in the new year. Per a live-streamed press conference this morning from Madison Square Garden, the entertainer will begin performing monthly concerts in January, for essentially as long as the public wants to buy tickets for them. The 2014 “franchise” performances will include a show on Joel’s 65th birthday (May 9).

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The press conference, streamed live at 11 a.m. ET on the Internet and several TV channels, will be re-aired tonight at 9 p.m. on the MSG Network, with the added bonus of a Joel interview. Meanwhile, if you want to see how this morning’s big media event went down, search the Twitter hashtag #BillyJoelMSG.

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This Santa’s Helpers Include Meisner and Stanislavsky

CharlesEdwardHallFrankfort, Kentucky is a lot closer to midtown Manhattan than the North Pole. Which is a good thing because that’s where Charles Edward Hall, the man who has been playing Santa Claus in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since 1986, makes his home.

AP drama writer Mark Kennedy has fun with the subject matter, starting with a very cute cookies-and-milk lede. He also highlights St. Nick’s impressive thespian training:

Hall is a classically trained actor who cut his teeth doing Shakespeare, Moliere and Ibsen after graduating from Murray State University. One of his more memorable roles was as the Wicked Witch of the West in [previous Radio City Music Hall show] Snow White Live.

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Mike Albo One-Man Show Revisits ‘Crassest Junket Ever’

Mike Albo is certainly making the most of being fired from the New York Times. The one-time “Critical Shopper” columnist turned his ouster into the 2011 eBook The Junket and has now expanded those musings into a one-man show of the same name.

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The Junket opened this past weekend at Dixon Place and runs for the next two Friday/Saturdays. There’s no better primer for the show than this Q&A conducted by The Slant. Albo starts off by describing the titular junket that got him into trouble with the NYT:

“It was the crassest junket ever,” he laughed in a recent interview with The Slant, rattling off the trip’s corporate sponsors — Trojan Condoms, Cold-Eeze, Pom Wonderful, H&M, Starbucks and Gillette!

“The bukaki of a junket,” he joked.

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