Professional Bull Riders

Edge-of-the Seat Action Hits Town as the Professional Bull Riders Buck-Off Returns @ Madison Square Garden

By: Ellis Nassour

Want to ring in the New Year with a buck instead of a bang? Then the
place to be is with the international bull riders – but, unless you are brave and wear chaps, on the sidelines. NYC gets a huge influx of brawn and bravado in addition to winter chill for three intense days, January 6-8, as the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) mount and bravely try to stay on monster bulls for eight seconds. Sounds easy, you say! Not on your life!

Edge-of-the Seat Action Hits Town as the Professional Bull Riders Buck-Off Returns @ Madison Square Garden

By: Ellis Nassour

Want to ring in the New Year with a buck instead of a bang? Then the
place to be is with the international bull riders – but, unless you are brave and wear chaps, on the sidelines. NYC gets a huge influx of brawn and bravado in addition to winter chill for three intense days, January 6-8, as the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) mount and bravely try to stay on monster bulls for eight seconds. Sounds easy, you say! Not on your life!

The Monster Energy Buck Off lightweight vs. heavyweight edge-of-your-seat action is at 7:45 P.M. Friday, 6:50P.M Saturday and 1:50P.M. Sunday at MSqG. The world’s Top 35 bull riders – including World Champion Cooper Davis, two-time champ J.B. Mauney, and 2016 runner up Kaique Pacheco — battle foes 10 times their weight [average 2,000 pounds] with only a rope wrapped around one hand.
Each day, the riders face one bull each. Following the final round, 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. The winner captures glory and $30,000 or more.

The PBR, “America’s fastest growing sport” (Forbes.com), features the Durabull Fighters [similar to daredevil rodeo clowns], who jump into action to deflect the bulls as soon as riders are painfully ejected. It goes on until only one man’s left standing.

This is the 11th consecutive year in NYC for what’s called “the toughest sport on dirt.” The 18-state tour culminates with Las Vegas finals in October when the 2017 champion — the bull rider amassing the most season points, receives the World Championship belt buckle, gigantic trophy, and $1-million purse.

The PBR is a massive undertaking, traveling in 18-wheel rigs which contain the bulls’ luxury accommodations, the steel set, stalls, and, get this, 50,000 lbs. of specially-treated dirt.

The PBR, celebrating almost a quarter century, has paid out more than $150-million, with 27 riders earned more than $1- million.  The series, produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winning David Neal Productions, is televised weekly on CBS, CBS Sports, and networks worldwide.

Tickets to the 2017 PBR are $25 to $207 and can be online at www.ticketmaster.com, and by phone at (800) 745-3000 or (866) 858-0088 (MSqG). PBR Elite seating, in an exclusive area adjacent to the chutes with a meet & greet with riders, is $505. For more information, go to www.pbr.com.

 

A Life ****

By: Patrick Christiano

The world  premiere of  Adam Bock’s profound new play, “A Life,” at Playwright’s Horizon stars an endearing David Hyde Pierce as Nate, a 54 year -old gay single New Yorker whose fear of intimacy keeps him from sustaining a lasting relationship. The play begins with Nate, the central character, alone in his apartment and despondent after being dumped by his most recent boyfriend. He attempts to make sense out of another failed relationship in a 30 minute plus dialogue with the audience. He sits on the couch in his austere surroundings chatting away about how group therapy and astrology have given him an awareness of his personal challenges.

By: Patrick Christiano

The world  premiere of  Adam Bock’s profound new play, “A Life,” at Playwright’s Horizon stars an endearing David Hyde Pierce as Nate, a 54 year -old gay single New Yorker whose fear of intimacy keeps him from sustaining a lasting relationship. The play begins with Nate, the central character, alone in his apartment and despondent after being dumped by his most recent boyfriend. He attempts to make sense out of another failed relationship in a 30 minute plus dialogue with the audience. He sits on the couch in his austere surroundings chatting away about how group therapy and astrology have given him an awareness of his personal challenges.

We discover that Nate is a likeable loser, who can’t make the connections to lift him above his bleak circumstances, although he apparently longs for a companion to share his life. Nate tells us how lonely he feels since his latest boyfriend broke up with him, and that his group therapy friends insist he has a problem with intimacy. As a proofreader at an ad agency, he may be stuck in a dead-end job, but Nate believes that by studying astrology, notably the positions of the planets in certain houses of his chart, the ancient science will provide answers, or maybe it won’t he concedes. One thing is certain he states, “I can’t live like this anymore.”.

Midway through  “A Life” Bock throws a stunning curve-ball into the story, and the world of the play is turned upside down, never to be the same again, as the tale broadens its focus to other characters. Their small talk becomes almost appalling in juxtaposition to what has just happened.  And the production, too, has a bold surprise in scenic designer Laura Jellinek’s set, which literally turns upside down like Nat’s sad life.

Pierce is utterly compelling from moment to moment as Nate, a role that couldn’t be more different than his upcoming return to Broadway, co starring opposite Bette Midler in the highly-anticipated revival of Hello, Dolly!  And the entire cast, which includes Marinda Anderson, Nedra McClyde and Lynne McCollough in multiple roles, turns in solid support under director Anne Kaufman’s astute hand.

The story is moving and ultimately haunting. I am certain A Life will remain with me long after the final curtain.

“A Life” is now playing at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street,  though December 4, 2016. For tickets or more information call 212 270-4200 or online www.playwrightshorizons.org Photos: Joan Marcus

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Brad Heberlee, David Hyde Pierce

 

Classics @ Center Stage

Two Magical Christmas Celebrations on Center Stage @ Southampton Cultural Center

A heartwarming radio play of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Joe Landry is back and now playing in Southampton Village at the Center Stage, the
Southampton Cultural Center at 25 Pond Lane. The bittersweet tale adds new life
to the poignant tale of George Bailey and is lovingly directed and designed with impeccable detail by Artistic Director Michael Disher. The classic’s message hope, desire with positive action is clear for everyone and as relevant as ever. 
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Two Magical Christmas Celebrations on Center Stage @ Southampton Cultural Center

A heartwarming radio play of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Joe Landry is back and now playing in Southampton Village at the Center Stage, the
Southampton Cultural Center at 25 Pond Lane. The bittersweet tale adds new life
to the poignant tale of George Bailey and is lovingly directed and designed with impeccable detail by Artistic Director Michael Disher. The classic’s message hope, desire with positive action is clear for everyone and as relevant as ever. 
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When George Bailey, played by Tim Ferris, in a state of despair wishes he had never been born, an angel is sent to earth, and George’s wish comes true.  An epiphany occurs when George begins to realize how many lives he has affected, and what Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born.

 
The outstanding cast, many playing multiple roles, shines in the charming story.
They are Richard Adler, Daniel Becker, Dane DuPuis, Rebecca Edana, Sheree
Elder, Tim Ferris, Rich Gardini, Joey Giovingo, Bonnie Grice, Kristin Guldi,
John Higgins, Barbara Jo Howard, Samuel Johnson, Joan Lyons, Geoffrey Milton,
Deb Rothaug, Jack Seabury, Carol L. Sjoholm,Gerri Wilson and Edna Winston.

Next up with the same cast is a live radio play of “A Christmas Carol” also by Joe
Landry and adapted  from the novella by Charles Dickens. 

Center Stage organizes the energies of artists and theatre lovers, and provides a
venue for seasoned actors and emerging stars. Skillful, professional direction
is provided by veteran director and choreographer, Michael Disher. SCC’s lauded
performance space, the Levitas Center for the Arts, provides an elegant venue
for the productions. With combined talents and resources we are rejuvenating
the local theatrical landscape and helping to advance Southampton Village’s
Arts District.

“Its a Wonderful Life:” is performed on Friday, November 25 at 7pm Sunday,
November 27 at 2pm & 5pm

“A Christmas Carol:” is performed on Friday, December 2 at 7pm, Saturday, December
3 at 2pm, 5pm & 7pm, and Sunday, December 4 at 2pm & 5pm

Center Stage at Southampton Cultural Center is  located at 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. Tickets $20 adults/$10 students under 21 available at www.scc-arts.org or call 631-287-4377.

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Paulanne Simmons Unscripted

Best Seats In The House

Orchestra seats. We all want them. And many of us are willing to pay top dollar to get them. However, it’s remarkable how a $200 seat can turn into a fiasco, making us long for a more modest place in the balcony. 

Unscripted_0_1


We all know what happens when a six-foot-three bruiser sits down in front of us.
Or how about when your next-door-neighbor takes up a seat and a half?

But size is not everything. Not at all.

Best Seats In The House

Orchestra seats. We all want them. And many of us are willing to pay top dollar to get them. However, it’s remarkable how a $200 seat can turn into a fiasco, making us long for a more modest place in the balcony.

Unscripted_0_1

We all know what happens when a six-foot-three bruiser sits down in front of us. Or how about when your next-door-neighbor takes up a seat and a half?

But size is not everything. Not at all.

There’s  also all those cell phone addicts who can’t seem to keep it in their pocket. Sometimes they check their phones obsessively and furtively, producing that familiar otherworldly glow in the dark theater.

Not to mention the chatterers who are overflowing with questions and comments they think are so precious they won’t survive until the play’s over.

And recently, since theaters have started permitting people to take their drinks to their seats, a new problem has cropped up. I’d like to call these members of the audience  the ice swirlers. Does this constant motion (and consequent noise) make the drink better or do these people just need to reassure themselves their cup is still full?

The truth is I don’t mind an interactive audience. Theater is a community experience. Gasping, laughing, clapping are all appropriate (though entrance applause functions more for people in the audience to flatter themselves that they recognize the star than as a mark of appreciation, but more on that at
some future date). I was positively inthralled when the audience joined in singing a hymn during The Trip to Bountiful.

 

But I digress.

If picking a play you will enjoy  is something of a crapshoot (despite the excellent advice of critics), getting the right seat is even less of a sure thing.

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Michael Vincent Liuzza *****

Michael Vincent Liuzza at Rockwell Music Hall

By Paulanne Simmons

 New Orleans came to New York City on Nov. 6 just in time to help us  shake off the election blues. That was when Michael Vincent Liuzza and his band (Patrick
Pearson on Bass, C. J. Smith V on guitar, Andrew Davis on percussion) came to
Rockwell Music Hall with his brand of new and traditional blues.

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Michael Vincent Liuzza at Rockwell Music Hall

By Paulanne Simmons

 New Orleans came to New York City on Nov. 6 just in time to help us  shake off the election blues. That was when Michael Vincent Liuzza and his band (Patrick
Pearson on Bass, C. J. Smith V on guitar, Andrew Davis on percussion) came to
Rockwell Music Hall with his brand of new and traditional blues.

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A few of Liuzza’s songs were quite personal. “Justice 4 Joe” was written by his
father, Michael Vincent Sr., who was born and raised on Bourbon St. A
self-proclaimed “eighties baby,” Liuzza sang the English band Tears for Fears’
1985 hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

Liuzza/s voice, raspy or soft as silk, is perfect for traditional blues like “St. James
Infirmary,” and the Louis Armstrong hit, “What a Wonderful World.” At one point
he sang with great feeling a song his grandmother taught him and dedicated it
to Louis Armstrong: “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” But his
voice is also wonderful for modern blues, like his own “Political Persuasion.”

Listening to Liuzza and his band is a little like being at a really cool jam session in
your best friend’s basement. It’s all warm and fuzzy, but it’s also really
cool. 

Throughout the show Liuzza expressed his gratitude to the very enthusiastic audience. He said he’d last been to Rockwell in 2011 and this was his final stop on tour before boarding a plane at JFK airport. Let’s hope he comes back soon.

 Rockwell Music Hall is located at 196 Allen Street, Brooklyn, NY 10002
212 477-4155 

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James Monroe Iglehart *****

By: Iris Wiener
Not surprising that James Monroe Iglehart’s show at 54 Below has some punch and flair, he won a Tony award in 2015 for his show-stopping performance of “A Friend Like Me” in Aladdin’s. What might be surprising is the number of layers beneath his comical veneer. Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences lucky enough to experience his solo cabaret show, “How the Heck Did I Get Here?,” saw firsthand that this Genie holds more magic within his big heart than he’s ever displayed in Broadway’s Aladdin.

By: Iris Wiener
Not surprising that James Monroe Iglehart’s show at 54 Below has some punch and flair, he won a Tony award in 2015 for his show-stopping performance of “A Friend Like Me” in Aladdin‘s. What might be surprising is the number of layers beneath his comical veneer. Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences lucky enough to experience his solo cabaret show, “How the Heck Did I Get Here?,” saw firsthand that this Genie holds more magic within his big heart than he’s ever displayed in Broadway’s Aladdin.
Derrick_BaskinJames Monroe Iglehart, Derrick Baskin


      James Monroe Iglehart at Feinstein’s/54 Below
                        How the Heck Did I Get Here?Derrick_Baskin        James Monroe Iglehart, Derrick Baskin

By: Iris Wiener
Not surprising that James Monroe Iglehart’s show at 54 Below has some punch and flair, he won a Tony award in 2015 for his show-stopping performance of “A Friend Like Me” in Aladdin‘s. What might be surprising is the number of layers beneath his comical veneer. Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences lucky enough to experience his solo cabaret show, “How the Heck Did I Get Here?,” saw firsthand that this Genie holds more magic within his big heart than he’s ever displayed in Broadway’s Aladdin.

Through recounting his growth as both a performer and a young adult, Iglehart took audiences along for a ride through his childhood passion for gospel to the tunes that he would use to win over the ladies. All aspects of his fun-loving yet grounded character were on display with his meaningful song choices and heartfelt stories. He sweetly recalled his mother’s influence as a gospel singer with “Long As I Got King Jesus,” and his father’s infusion of passion for theater when he was taken to see The Wiz. In fact, Iglehart memorably played the role of the lion in his school musical at the age of 11, a part that he lovingly paid homage to with an energetic rendition of “Mean Ole Lion.” No genre was off limits at this delightfully refreshing production, and every number was overflowing with soul and passion. Iglehart treated his audience to Lionel Richie’s “Hello” with as much sincerity as his performance of “Silent E” from The Electric Company (with the creative genius who wrote the adorable song, Bill Sherman, on piano). Other landmark moments culled from his life and career included a demonstration of his freestyling skills, which were accompanied by sound mastermind Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan, a fellow member of the hit group Freestyle Love Supreme. The show wouldn’t have been complete if Iglehart hadn’t revered Memphis with his breakout number “Big Daddy,” and of course “A Friend Like Me.” However, it was the sincere ballads that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house…including those of the star on stage. When he belted “My Love is Anchored in the Lord,” every angel in the metro area got its wings; his enormous emotion and belief in the power of the lyrics proved why his soulful performances are essential experiences for everyone.

Iglehart’s ruminations about his life and career were similarly impactful, whether humorous or touching. From meeting his wife in high school to his five minute journey as a music theory major (at which time he discovered that he could not read music), and his eventual rolls in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (one that showed him he could sing professionally) and Showboat, Iglehart wore his heart on his sleeve. Kathryn Allison (a fellow performer in Aladdin) was a star in her own right as she joined him for the galvanizing “Honeysuckle Rose.” Just try to hear Barry White the same way again after witnessing Iglehart’s hilarious, yet sexy duet on “Never Gonna GiveYou Up” with fellow Aladdin performer Trent Saunders.

The finale didn’t disappoint, as Iglehart did the nearly impossible, making Elvis Presley sexier and more soulful than the artist himself. His rendition of  “Good Luck Charm” slid through the room sensually, sending toes curling andn spines tingling. Calling this a feel-good concert doesn’t do it justice, as it made the entire audience feel joyous and hopeful at every note.No need to wish upon a star, Mr. Iglehart (alas, another ballad only made more beautiful when given this artist’s tender spin); when the stars hear your voice, they’ll fall from the sky for you.

Photos: Lisa Dougherty
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Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan, James Monroe Inglehart

Courtney_Reed_James_Monroe_Iglehart
Courtney Reed, James Monroe Inglehart
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James Monroe Inglehart and his band

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James Monroe Inglehart

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James Monroe Inglehart

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Courtney Reed, James Monroe Iglehart

Trent_Saunders
Trent Saunders, James Monroe Iglehart

IrisWiener is an entertainment journalist. Her work appears on Playbill.com and in TheaterMania, Long Island Woman and Long Island Herald, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Iris_Wiener [https://twitter.com/Iris_Wiener] or
visit her at IrisWiener.com.

 

 

Notes From the Field **** Women of a Certain Age **** Sweet Charity ****

By: David ShewardMonique_Carboni_Sutton_Foster
Sutton Foster in Sweet Charity

By: David ShewardMonique_Carboni_Sutton_Foster
Sutton Foster in Sweet Charity

The recent presidential election has shifted the subtext of two Off-Broadway plays. With the unexpected triumph of Donald Trump as president, irony has been added and at the performances attended, the audience sighed with regret at lines which would have had a different meaning if the outcome had favored Hillary Clinton. Both still offer
telling and sharp snapshots of America at this moment as w
e are balanced on a
knife-edge precipice between a conflicted recent past and an uncertain future.

The most ironic post-election moment in Notes from the Field, Anna Deavere Smith’s latest hybrid  foray into journalism and theater, comes late in the evening. As Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal and Education Fund, Smith
states in the next three years, the country will be making a major investment and
hopefully it will be in education. After speaking those lines, the
actress-playwright turned her face from the audience and paused for a few
moments to dead silence. One can only imagine that with Trump headed to the
White House, Smith may have been struck by the missed opportunity for a
renaissance in public education, given the Donald’s statements on drastically
cutting federal government funding in this area.

It’s a heartbreaking image in a play of heartbreak. As with her earlier works, this is a collection of monologues derived from the authour’s interviews with hundreds of subjects affected by the same topic with Smith playing all of the characters. She’s examined the Crown
Heights riots (Fires in the Mirror), the Rodney King controversy (Twilight:
Los Angeles, 1992), the relationship between the White House and the press
(House Arrest), and the American health care system (Let Me Down Easy).
In Notes, she plays educators, politicians, students, and activists
caught in the school-to-prison pipeline. She begins with the staggering number
of high-profile incidents of fatal encounters between unarmed African-American
men and the police and then moves to individual stories of the struggling
public school system, revealing how the two are connected.

 
Among the most striking portraits are a  Latino mother going to extreme lengths to keep her kids out of trouble, a
woman imprisoned as an accomplice to murder regretting her choices but deriving
joy from training dogs, and a teacher detailing the arduous work of keeping
order in her classroom (“It’s like running a jail without a gun”). Each of the
17 characters comes to intense life as Smith assembles a vibrant collage of
voices. Leonard Foglia provides smooth direction and transitions between the
pieces while cellist Marcus Shelby elegantly accompanies and humorously
interacts with Smith.

 
The election has an even greater impact on Richard Nelson’s Women of a Certain Age, the third and final
play in his trilogy about an American family in this tumultuous year. We are
once again in the Gabriel kitchen in the upstate New York town of Rhinebeck. It’s
election day, Nov. 8, in the early evening, a few hours before the returns come
in. As the Gabriels prepare a meal, they revive old hurts, face new challenges,
and seek comfort as the nation is about to change. As in the earlier works in
this cycle, Hungry and What Did You Expect?, politics creeps
slowly into the conversation, but it’s underscores everything that is said in
hushed tones.

 
The play takes place before the ballots
are finally counted and much of the political dialogue focuses on Clinton and
what her victory would be like. But the prospect of a moderate woman president
instead of a fire-breathing demagogue does not brighten the Gabriels’ discourse
or outlook. (The eventual outcome makes the discussion all the more
shattering.) The family house must be sold, all of its members are still
grieving the recent death of elder brother Thomas, a playwright, and are facing
limited employment prospects. None have faith in government no matter who runs
it. Once again, Nelson’s quiet subtle direction and his Chekhovian script evoke
a realistic, slightly humorous, and movingly melancholy milieu. The cast
continues to excel. Maryann Plunkett’s gracious Mary, Jay O. Sanders’ befuddled,
teddy-bearish George, Lynn Hawley’s feisty Hannah, Amy Warren’s wounded,
passive-aggressive Joyce, and Meg Gibson’s desperately needy Karin pull at our
heartstrings without tugging too hard. Most devastating of all is Roberta
Maxwell’s defeated matriarch Patricia. The fiery spirit she exhibited in the
earlier plays is quenched by circumstance and bad choices. Maxwell shows us the
ember of Patricia’s barely-flickering personality as she attempts to make sense
of a confusing new world.

 
The current political climate even has
resonance in a revival of a seemingly frivolous musical from the late Golden
Age of Broadway. Sweet Charity was conceived as a star vehicle for Gwen
Verdon by her then-husband Bob Fosse in 1966. Shirley MacLaine headlined the 1969
movie versions and subsequent Broadway productions starred Debbie Allen and
Christina Applegate respectively. Cy Coleman’s peppy score and Dorothy Fields’ witty
lyrics still snap, crackle and pop despite the occasional dated reference. Neil
Simon’s book transforms the heroine of Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria from
a soft-hearted Roman prostitute to a soft-hearted Manhattan dance-hall hostess.
The position of women allowing customers to paw them as they tango together has
vanished from our culture, but the exploitation of female sexuality continues—even
allegedly by the president-elect and the ousted head of Fox News. Director
Leigh Silverman puts a dark, feminist spin on the musical in her intimate
revival for The New Group at the Signature Center.

 
The band is all female, offering an
ironic slant on female objectification, and costume designer Clint Ramos has
dressed Charity and her fellow not-quite sex workers in matching spangled
halters and big wigs so they look alike, a chorus of overpainted dolls catering
to male fantasies.

 
Shining through the gloom is the luminous Sutton Foster as the heartbreaking Charity. Her sad-clown antics bring
to mind the tender-toughness of Giuletta Masina (of the original Fellini work),
the comedy genius of Lucille Ball, and the musical-theater pizzazz of Verdon
and MacLaine. This is a performer who will do anything to illuminate her role
from literally crawling all over a repulsive boyfriend to being splashed in the
face with water (twice) to barring Charity’s confused and torn soul in the
climactic “Where Am I Going?”

 
Shuler Hensley is brilliantly neurotic as her pathetic suitor Oscar and Joel Perez impressively quadruples as the abusive boyfriend, an Italian movie star, the scuzzy manager of the dance hall,
and a flaky cult leader. Asmeret Ghebremichael and Emily Padgett are
delightfully gritty as two of Charity’s co-workers.

 
At the end of the show, Charity is standing is alone in Central Park with no love, no money, and no job, but she looks at the dawn and smiles with hope. The Gabriels have less optimism, but here’s to looking ahead like Charity with belief in ourselves and our national destiny.

 
Notes from the Field: ****
Nov. 2—Dec. 18. Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St.,
NYC. Tue—Thu, 7 pm;  Fri—Sat, 8 pm; Sat, 2 pm: Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission. $92—$107. (212) 246-4422. www.2st.com

Anna_Deavere_Smith_Notes Anna Deavere Smith in Notes From the Field

Women of a Certain Age: ****
Nov. 8—Dec. 4. Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., NYC.
Tue—Sun, 7:30 pm; Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: 100 mins. with no intermission.
$65. (212) 967-7555. www.publictheater.org. Photo: Joan Marcus
Joan_Marcus_Women_Women of a Certain Age 

Sweet Charity: ****
Nov. 20—Jan. 8. The New Group at the Pershing Square
Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., NYC. Tue—Fri, Sun, 7:30 pm; Sat, 8 pm; Wed,
Sat, Sun, 2 pm. Running time: two hours and 20 mins. including intermission.
(212) 244-7529. TheNewGroup.org. Photos Monique Carboni 
Emily_Padgett__Donald_Jones__Jr___Sutton_Foster__Joel_Perez__Cody_Williams_i Emily Padgett, Donald Jones, Jr., Sutton Foster, Joel Perez, Cody Williams in Sweet Charity 

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Cocktails with Cole ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

Although songwriter Cole Porter was born into wealth and raised by a doting mother, he was not destined for a happy life. First, he realized at an early age that he was gay, when gays had not yet received the acceptance and rights
they have today. But even worse, while he was still in his forties, he was
seriously injured in a horse-riding accident and left crippled for the rest of
his life.
Leslie_Orofino_

By: Paulanne Simmons

Although songwriter Cole Porter was born into wealth and raised by a doting mother, he was not destined for a happy life. First, he realized at an early age that he was gay, when gays had not yet received the acceptance and rights
they have today. But even worse, while he was still in his forties, he was
seriously injured in a horse-riding accident and left crippled for the rest of
his life.
Leslie_Orofino_

In her cabaret show, Cocktails with Cole, at Metropolitan Room on Nov. 9,
Leslie Orofino, sang and narrated her way through the major events of Porter’s
life, from his early attempts while still at Yale to his last great musical,
Kiss
Me Kate. She walked onstage dressed in diamonds and fur, totally ready for
cocktails and even sipped a drink or two, never bothering to take off her long
black gloves.

Orofino was backed by a three-piece band, with Dmitri Kolesnik on bass, Rex  Benincasa on percussion and Daryl Kojak, her musical director, on piano. Many of the
songs they played were familiar: “It’s De-Lovely,” “I Get A Kick Out Of You,”
“What Is This Thing Called Love,” “Too Darn Hot.” But there were also a good
number of lesser known songs like “The Laziest Girl in Town,” written for
Alfred Hitchcock’s
Stage Fright.

Marlene Dietrich sang the song in the film, and Orofino’s deep sexy voice and
languorous pose certainly make us think of Dietrich, minus the accent.

Cole  Porter lived in Paris for many years. And a good deal of his songs have a
french theme: “Give Him The Ooh La La,” “You Don’t Know Paree,” “C’est
Magnifique.” But like Porter, Orofino is much more Manhattan than Paris.

Orofino dedicated Cocktails with Cole to the late cabaret legend, Julie Wilson.
Wilson told Orofino she put a Cole Porter song in each of her shows for good
luck and advised her to do the same. Orofino has now gone a step further,
devoting an entire show to Porter.  What a piece of luck for all of us.

Metropolitan Room is at 34 West 22 Street, www.metropolitanroom.com.

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Gypsy

Curtain Up on Imelda Staunton in Olivier Winning London Production of Gypsy – November 11 on PBS

By: Ellis NassourGypsyLogo

Curtain Up on Imelda Staunton in Olivier Winning London Production of Gypsy – November 11 on PBS

By: Ellis NassourGypsyLogo

Curtain up!  Light the l
ights!Here she is, world! Rose’s back! Acclaimed  Olivier- and BAFTA- winner Imelda Staunton takes on Sondheim and Styne’s classic Broadway
musical
Gypsy on Great Performances November 11 at 9 P.M. It’s part of  PBS/THIREEEN’s Arts Fall Festival.

The first London production to be seen for 40 years, Jonathan Kent’s production of Gypsy, with book by Arthur Laurents, originated at the Chichester Festival Theatre
before moving to the West End’s Savoy. Kent was Tony-nominated as director of
last season’s Roundabout’s Tony and Drama Desk-nominated revival of O’Neill’s Long
Day’s Journey into Night.



In addition to the OBE-dubbed Staunton as Rose, Lara Pulver co-stars in the
title role, with Peter Davison as Herbie. The show was a record-breaking
sellout during its run and won five Oliviers – including Best
Musical Revival, Best Actress, Musical, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role,
Musical.

Critics were unanimous in their praise of Staunton, with one stating she gave
“one of the greatest performances ever seen in musical theater.”

Laurents’ book was suggested by the memoirs of  vaudeville star and exotic
dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, who rebelled from her mother’s act where she played
ingénues. She went from trekking cross country in juvenile roles, appearing
opposite her sister June [Havoc], to playing the burlesque circuit, where she
achieved international stardom and went on to appear in film.

 The score features songs that have become standards: “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,”  “Some People,” “You’ll Never Get Away from Me,”  “If Momma Was Married,”
“Together, Wherever We Go,” “Let May Me Entertain You,” and, the finale of
finales, “Rose’s Turn.

Staunton received Oliviers for two 1985 productions, Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus
of Disapproval and Emlyn Williams’ The Corn Is Green; and, in 1991, for Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Her amazing body of work onstage, in film, and on TV includes the West End Sweeney Todd, co-starred with Michael Ball and directed by Kent. Films include Sense and Sensibility with Dame Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, her Oscar-nominated performance in Vera
Drake,  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), and Maleficent, opposite Angelina Jolie.


Gypsy, which premiered in 1959, was Tony-nominated for Best Musical,
with nods also to Ethel Merman, in one of her most notable performances, and
Sandra Church. The late Jack Klugman was also nominated. It played 702
performances. It’s considered the penultimate  show business musical.

Gypsy was taped by Lonny Price for Ellen M. Krass Productions, Serpent
Productions, and Shout! Factory,  in association with the BBC.

Funding for Great Performances is provided by the Irene Diamond Fund,
LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, Agnes Varis Trust,
numerous other art funds, and viewers like you. 

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She Loves Me

Tony Award winning production will appear in cinemas nationwide.

By Patrick Christiano

On December 1st Fathom Events and BroadwayHD launches their partnership with the Tony Award winning Roundabout Theater Company’s production of She Loves Me in select cinemas nationwide. This past Thursday October 10th Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane hosted a special screening of She Loves Me at UA 25 on 42nd Street in New York City.

Tony Award winning production will appear in cinemas nationwide.

By Patrick Christiano

On December 1st Fathom Events and BroadwayHD launches their partnership with the Tony Award winning Roundabout Theater Company’s production of She Loves Me in select cinemas nationwide. This past Thursday October 10th Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane hosted a special screening of She Loves Me at UA 25 on 42nd Street in New York City.

David Horn, the director of the film version attended the event along with several stars form the Broadway show. Shot with 10 cameras from multiple locations and various angles, Horn’s filmed version is a revelation of a production that was outstanding to begin with capturing a  unique up-close vision of the critically acclaimed original production at Studio 54.

She Loves Me will be the first title offered in the partnership, which plans on bringing a diverse lineup of productions from Broadway, Off Broadway and London’s West End, giving movie fans personal front row experience of domestic and international theater.

Tickets can be purchased beginning Friday, October 28 online by visting www.Fathon.Events.com or at one of the 500 plus participating theaters nation-wide.
Click on the link below for tickets and to find a movie theater near you. http://www.fathomevents.com/event/she-loves-me/more-info/details

She Loves Me is the story of Georg (Tony Nominee Zachary Levi) and Amalia (Tony Winner Laura Benanti), two clerks at an upscale perfume store that aren’t exactly the best of friends. They are constantly at odds with each other on the job where the sparring coworkers can’t seem to find any common ground. Little do they know they are each other’s anonymous romantic pen pals and each has been falling in love with the other through their shared letters. When the two pen pals agree to meet for the first time a chain of events plays out that keeps them and their friends off- center until the final fade out.

Critics were enchanted with the original production and Marilyn Stasio form Variety called the show “Absolutely flawless…an enchanting revival so charming, you wish it would follow you home.” While Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal called the show, “Pure delight! The most romantic of all Broadway musicals.”

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Laura Benanti, Darren Finnie
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Nicholas Barasch, Richie Ridge

 

David Hyde Pierce Honored

Tony Award winning actor feted by Drama League

The Drama League presented their 33rd Annual Musical Celebration of Broadway by honoring Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel on Monday, November 7th, 2016. The black-tie gala closes out The Drama League’s centennial celebration that began last November honoring two time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters.

Tony Award winning actor feted by Drama League

The Drama League presented their 33rd Annual Musical Celebration of Broadway by honoring Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel on Monday, November 7th, 2016. The black-tie gala closes out The Drama League’s centennial celebration that began last November honoring two time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters.

Mr. Pierce, a popular figure in the Broadway community, has been working continuously in the theater since Frasier, the television show that he is best known for, ended. He won the coveted Tony Award for Leading Actor in a Musical for the 2007 production of “Curtains.” And he won four primetime Emmy awards as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy series for his portrayal of Dr. Niles Crane on the long running NBC sitcom “Frasier.”

A stellar lineup of celebrities from Hollywood and Broadway paid tribute to the actor admired for his talent and generosity of spirit. They included F. Murray Abraham, Kate Baldwin, Sierra Boggess, John Bolton, Tyne Daly, Lea DeLaria, Christopher Durang, Peri Gilpin, Harriet Harris, Adam Kantor, Michael McGrath, Debra Monk, Kristine Nielsen, Bebe Neuwirth, Billy Porter, Daryl Roth and Christopher Sieber.

The black-tie gala is a one-night-only musical tribute supporting The Drama League’s educational initiatives for promising young artists.

By: Patrick Christiano

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Stewart F. Lane, Bonnie Comley


Photography: Barry Gordin

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Thanksgiving Day Parade

Let the Magic Begin: Ring in the
Holiday Season with Macy’s Spectacular High-flying Thanksgiving Day Parade

By: Ellis Nassour

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Let the Magic Begin: Ring in the
Holiday Season with Macy’s Spectacular High-flying Thanksgiving Day Parade

By: Ellis Nassour

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It’s the parade that has everything: award-winning marching bands, performance groups, floats with celebrities galore on them, those famous giant helium balloons, and a very special guest, Santa Claus, decked out in his North Pole finest [as everyone
should be this y
ear!]. Yes, of course, it has to be Macy’s Thanksgiving Day
Parade! There’s only one, and this year’s 90
th Edition will be more spectacular, family friendly, and memorable than ever. 

The Parade, “A Holiday Treat for Children Everywhere, is a three-hour entertainment feast if you’re watching on NBC [with Today’s Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker hosting] before the turkey and yams hit the table. It begins at 9 A.M. from
Central Park West
near the Museum of Natural History. Nothing stops the Parade: it marches along no matter the weather. TV viewers get to see the entertainment on Macy’s stage, as the parade winds down avenues until a final turn to the the store on Herald Square. Parade goers by the thousands bundle up experience it live.

 
It’s hard for anything to dampen its razzle-dazzle. This year features 16 giant character balloons; 27 novelty/ornament balloons,balloonicles” (a hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) andtrycaloons”; 26 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 16 marching bands, pop stars and Broadway stars singing
and
performance groups, such as the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes [making an early appearance before their Christmas Spectacular performances],  Kilgore (TX) high-kicking Rangerettes, Alameda (CA) dancing Christmas Trees, and Boston’s Sayat Nova (Armenian) Dance Company Stars from Roundabout Theatre’s Holiday Inn will be “onstage.”


Since our historic first march in 1924, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a call to celebration,” says Amy Kule, Parade executive producer. “Generations have gathered to enjoy the spectacle of high-flying balloons, fantasy floats,
incredible performers, and the oneand-only Santa Claus.
As we celebrate 90 years, we’re truly humbled by the unique role
Macy’s Parade fills in the lives of millions worldwide, and thrilled to celebrate this milestone with a spectacular line-up of unparalleled holiday entertainment.”

 
That first Parade had live animals from the Central Park Zoo: lions, tigers, camels, and elephants. Three years later came the giant balloons created by puppeteer and Macys window designer Tony Sarg. From 1929 until 1931, the balloons were let go. If you found one and returned it, you received a Macy’s $50 gift certificate. The practice ended after a balloon got caught in an airline propeller/ The  Parade is one of the few to have a starring role in a movie: The 1947 film classic, Miracle on 34th Street.

 
This 90th march kicks off with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and the Muppets gang. Following them will be U.S. Paralympic Gold medalists Tatyana and Hannah McFadden and NYC’s mounted brigade of police and Park rangers.


Among new balloons is a multicharacter one from Dream Works Trolls
and
Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Returning giant balloons include
Angry
Birds’ Red, Sinclair Oils Dino, Hello Kitty, Ice Age’s Scrat and his Acorn, PADDINGTON. Pillsbury Doughboy, Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Thomas the Tank Engine. The Parade’s first balloon star Felix the Cat returns, thanks to Dream Works Animation —designed and built using the methods from the 1920s. Also back is Peanuts’loveable blockhead Charlie Brown.

Many of the clowns and those securing the balloons are Macy’s employees and volunteers.

There’ll be no shortage of stars, stars, stars including legendary Tony Bennett singing for Hallmark, country star Brett Eldredge performing on Delta Airlines’ Central Park winter wonderland, Tonynominee (Hamilton) and Drama Desk winner (In the Heights) Christopher Jackson cutting up with the Sesame Street gang, Johnnys wim making laps for Crack Jacks, lifestyle maven Sandra Lee whipping up grave on Tom Turkey, hip-hopper Lunch money Lewis in Krzay Glue’s Fun House, NHL legends Adam Graves and Eric Lindros, and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists (Michelle Caryter, Laurie Hernandez, and Claressa Shields). Yes, there’s something for everyone!

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New floats include The Aloha Spirit by King’s Hawaiian, Building a Better World by the Girl Scouts, and  Deck the Halls by Balsam Hill where pop star Sarah McLachlan will sing under a three-story-tall Christmas tree. Ronald McDonald will drive his Big Red Shoe Car. Even if you wanted to, you can’t get away  from the Aflac
duck ‘cause he’s in the Parade on a “balloonicle.” 

The magic of the Thanksgiving Day Parade can be experienced interactively with  Macy’s Parade Time Traveler app, available free on the iTunes App Store or Google Play, which, with your Smartphone camera, will transport you to three eras of Parades, from 30s, 60s, and 80s in liveaction virtual reality.

 
On  Macy’s YouTube channel, watch Old Friends: A Tribute to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which showcases how this largerthan-life event created long lasting personal connections over generations.


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Untold Stories of Broadway

Hot Off the Presses: Volume 3 of Untold Stories of Broadway: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theaters

By: Ellis Nassour

Untold

Hot Off the Presses: Volume 3 of Untold Stories of Broadway: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theaters

By: Ellis Nassour

Untold


The long-awaited Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 3: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theaters by producer and cabaret programmer Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Dress  Circle Publishing; 332 pages; 8 ½ x 11 Trade paper; SRP $20) lands in book outlets. Co
creator of the Bistro Award-winning series, If It Only Even Runs a Minute [now in its sixth year], Tepper did her homework. She interviewed over 250 actors, directors, producers, writers, composers, producers, stagehands, designers, dressers, and just about everyone who helps bring shows  to life eight times weekly.

Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) will host Tepper reading tales from the new volume in her inimitable style on  December 1 at 5:30 P.M. There’ll be guests readers, too: Liz Larsen (Beautiful – The Carole King
Musical
, Hairspray), Jared Bradshaw (Jersey Boys, Forbidden Broadway) and Broadway publicist Chris Boneau, all interviewed for the book. A signing follows.

Tepper’s enthusiasm for the job not only jumps off the page but also elicits
funny and compelling front of house, backstage, and onstage experiences. You’ve
heard the expression “If these walls could talk!” The walls of some legendary
Broadway houses do [revealing secret passageways, even ghostly encounters] –
even the spirits of from those, sadly, long gone raise their voices.

The book, as did Volume 1 and 2, celebrates just about everything about Broadway – and from Tepper’s unique perspective as an insider. She engages you with wonderful bites from interviews from those who were “there in the light.” It covers untold numbers of careers with delightful anecdotes.

Under chapters named for the Belasco, Broadhurst, Kerr, Lyric, Majestic, Schoenfeld,  St. James, and other theatres where the stars shone, Tepper let’s you in on what it’s like to “hang” with Stephen Sondheim with one of his shows in progress; reveals Patti LuPone’s ghostly theater encounter in riveting detail; and what it’s like to be on stage in front of over a thousand theatergoers with multi-colored lights blazing down at you.

This volume, as was the case with 1 and 2, would benefit with photos – even if only thumbnails or composites, window cards. But there’re more than enough funny and revealing stories to keep you turning pages. As Tepper proves, there’s rarely anything boring about theater.

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Chita Rivera ****

Chita: A Legendary Celebration    
By: Paulanne Simmons

At an age when many people enjoy sitting by the pool sipping a Diet Coke, Chita
Rivera is still doing what she knows and loves best: singing, dancing and
inspiring audiences of all ages. On Nov. 19, that audience was at Kingsborough
Com
munity College, where her show was the first in On Stage at Kingsborough’s 2016-2017 Cabaret Series. 
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Chita: A Legendary Celebration
By: Paulanne Simmons

At an age when many people enjoy sitting by the pool sipping a Diet Coke, Chita Rivera is still doing what she knows and loves best: singing, dancing and inspiring audiences of all ages. On Nov. 19, that audience was at Kingsborough Community College, where her show was the first in On Stage at Kingsborough’s 2016-2017 Cabaret Series.
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Dressed in stylish and youthful black, and backed by an ensemble of three – Michael Croiter (musical director) on percussion and guitar, Michael Patrick Walker (associate musical director) on piano and Jim Donica on bass – Chita performed many of the songs from the shows that have made her famous: West Side Story, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink, Chicago, as well as her most recent show, The Visit.

Happily, Rivera has starred in a great variety of parts. She’s been a Puerto Rican bombshell (West Side Story) a dance hall hostess (Sweet Charity), a temptress diva (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and herself (The Dancer’s Life). In A Legendary Celebration, she told the the stories behind how she got those famous roles, mostly through phone calls from friends and colleagues such as Leonard Bernstein, Cy Coleman, and John Kander and Fred Ebb. Rivera was always gracious and thankful. She presented herself as someone who was always surprised and delighted by the opportunities she was offered. With tongue-in-cheek rue, she remembered her excitement when she found out she was going to be in a show with her friend, Liza Minelli, until she found out she was going to play her mother. That show was The Rink. Even though we know that at the hight of her stardom such offers could hardly have been astonishing, her modesty is refreshing.

Equally endearing was Rivera’s concern for the younger generation, or the “kids” who are the future of the entertainment world. She was always encouraging and sympathetic. Despite the heights of her success, she remembered how difficult the climb was.

Indeed, Rivera recalled her trepidation at stepping into Gwen Verdon’s shoes when she took over the lead in the touring Sweet Charity, and she advised young people to just “Bring your own shoes.”

Happily that is what Rivera has done and continues to do in her decades-long career.

The Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center at Kingsborogh Community College is located at 2001 Oriental Blvd in Brooklyn, http://www.onstageatkingsborough.org/cabaret.

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ARF Stroll to the Sea

23rd Annual STROLL TO THE SEA DOG WALK to benefit The Animal Rescue Find of the Hamptons

The ARF “Stoll to the Sea” dog walk to promote responsible dog ownership and awareness for ARF happened on Saturday, October 8, 2016, a beautiful fall day, from 9am till Noon. The family event is a fun outing set amidst the Fall foliage that feels like a country fair, and this year the event is set against the backdrop of the 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival taking place on the same weekend.
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23rd Annual STROLL TO THE SEA DOG WALK to benefit The Animal Rescue Find of the Hamptons

The ARF “Stoll to the Sea” dog walk to promote responsible dog ownership and awareness for ARF happened on Saturday, October 8, 2016, a beautiful fall day, from 9am till Noon. The family event is a fun outing set amidst the Fall foliage that feels like a country fair, and this year the event is set against the backdrop of the 24th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival taking place on the same weekend.

The two-mile walk to the ocean and back began at the historic Mulford Farm in the heart of East Hampton Village. All registrants for the walk to the sea and back received free nail clippings for their dogs, a free event tee shirt featuring artwork by designer ISAAC MIZRAHI and tote bag along with refreshments including Starbucks Coffee, Dreesen’s Famous Donuts and dog treats from South Fork Pet Company.

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Edwina von Gal, Isaac Mizrahi

The walk was followed by contests that included DOG/COMPANION LOOK ALIKE, THE POOCH WHO CAN SMOOCH and STUPID PET TRICKS. The 1st prize for contest winners was a charming crystal dog by Baccarat.  A dog agility course was also set up for everyone to try out.  And singer/songwriter Sandy Rapp performed again this year, playing audience favorites on the guitar. A silent and Lucky #’s auction with many exciting products, services and experiences for owners and pets was offered as well.

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This year’s presenting sponsor was East End Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center.  Supporting sponsors included Starbucks, Corcoran Group Real Estate, Ollie Pet Food, Prince Associates and The Ocean Group. The ARF Mobile Adoption Van will lead the walkers to the ocean and back.

 

Founded in 1974, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons is the leading animal welfare organization on the East End of Long Island.  Each year we take in over 1,500 cats and dogs and provide food, exercise, a warm place to sleep and excellent veterinary care in our state-of-the-art Adoption Center.   Since inception ARF has found homes for over 25,000 dogs and cats.  ARF is dedicated to finding loving homes for our precious pets not only to improve their lives but also the lives of the families who adopt them.  The ARF Adoption Center is located at 91 Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott, next to the East Hampton Airport.

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Photography: Barry Gordin

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Richard Ziegelasch & Patrick Champion with Rico Suave

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