My buddy Teri and I went to this cool place in an area of NYC known as Soho/Nolita. It's a combo of a restaurant-lounge-bar and called Lair, located at 201 Lafayette Street between Broome & Kenmare Streets.
We were introduced to owners Michael Levin and Illarion Parmit (better known as Larry). It was described to me as a "chicly rustic interior of exposed brick, distressed wood, hand-painted ethic art work are accented by the earth tone color palette and lavish throw pillows" and that's what I saw.
The front of Lair is where the main decor and dining is located. Pass that area to view a long bar and a few more tables for lounging. Into the back to the "hang out" space (or event space as needed).
Time to check out the menu and order a drink. Michael (who has had years of experience in bar tending) has what I found to be the tastiest sangrias. Teri preferred the red while I preferred the white.
Michael and Larry hired Chris Cheung as the Executive Chef who decided on a fare of Asian fusion tapas better known as Dim Sum. Here is what we ate.
CHICKEN ‘PILLOWS’, CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN, JOHNNY BLUE SAUCE ROASTED BONE MARROW, X/O MARMALADE, SCALLION PANCAKES OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL, SEARED SCALLOP, TRUFFLE ESSENCE MANGO ‘NOODLES’ SALAD, ROCK SHRIMP, CHILI LIME LOBSTER, BACON, AVOCADO SALAD IN CRISPY WONTON ROLLS DRY AGED BLACK ANGUS BEEF DUMPLINGS CHICKEN AND FOIE GRAS SAN JIN DUMPLINGS EGGPLANT AND MUSHROOM SUI MAI
And for dessert: SHANGHAI WALNUT CRUSTED MARSHMALLOWS CARAMEL APPLES,’CRISPY PLUM’
I saw two more Broadway shows within this past week. One was Sister Act and the other a musical done by "tweens" called Helen On 86th Street. Here are the reviews.
SISTER ACT, GAY GAZUNTA HAY!
Sister Act is on Broadway and we’ve been blessed with the best! When standing ovations commence as the “ensemble” takes their bows, you know that a Broadway show deserves a ton of Tonys. Unfortunately there isn’t a Tony that is slated for a co- producer; in this case Whoopi Goldberg, who starred in the movie versions.
The locale is Philadelphia where nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (Patina Miller) is auditioning for her headline act in front of her boyfriend Curtis Jackson (Kingsley Leggs), who owns a nightclub. This will be the first of hearing what should be the song that will have you humming, “Take Me To Heaven”. Curtis is involved with much crime and upon hearing that one of his cohorts has snitched murders one as Deloris happens to witness. She is off to the police for safety as Curtis decides he now needs to kill her.
He will send his sidekicks Joey (John Treacy Egan), Pablo (Caesar Samayoa), who only speaks in Spanish and TJ (Demond Green), Curtis’ awkward young relative. Meanwhile, Deloris encounters Eddie Souther (Chester Gregory), one of the officers, who she remembers from high school having a crush on her and nicknaming him “Sweaty Eddie”. The cops need Deloris as a witness and to hide her before trial they decide on the Queen of Angels Cathedral where Mother Superior decides to make her “fit in” by posing as a nun and giving her the task of teaching an extremely poor singing choir as well as renaming her “Sister Mary Clarence”.
Now, you have to have the token “gay men” stint thrown in. At least here in New York City. Monsignor O’Hara (Fred Applegate) and Mother Superior (Victoria Clark) are discussing the church shutting down due to lack of funds and small congregation. Mother asks who will buy the church and he says, “Two bachelors who deal in antiques. Just last week I saw them eye the chapel, say the word ‘Gothic’ three times and then cling to one another for support”. They will be referred to and more! As for Sister Mary Clarence, she will help the choir with a much more modern style of singing hymns complete with rhythm and nightclub habits.
Where the movie version gave us songs that were “revised”, it is original music by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. That’s the next topic. Great Score!! Miller, who had starred in the London production, will have enough occasions to display her magnificent talent with songs such as, “Fabulous Baby”, “Raise Your Voice”, “Sunday Morning Fever”, “Sister Act” and “Take Me To Heaven”. Most of the numbers that she does sing are with the nuns.
Clark, who had starred in “Light In The Piazza”, shines with “Here Within These Walls” and “Haven’t Got a Prayer”. Gregory has “I Could Be That Guy” while Leggs gets to do his Barry White voice with “When I Find My Baby”. Marla Mindelle, who portrays Sister Mary Robert, delivers “The Life I Never Led”.
“Sunday Morning Fever” the reprise of “Sister Act”, the reprise of “Take Me To Heaven”, the reprise of “Fabulous Baby” as Deloris’ dream (where the “gay boys” come into play) and “Spread the Love Around” are the great production numbers to which we also have to thank choreographer Anthony Van Laast and all for director Jerry Zaks. And you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the humor. Hey, they even have Sister Mary Lazarus (Audrie Neenan) splurting a few Yiddish expressions. See it at The Broadway theatre!
HELEN ON 54TH STREET
I saw an off Broadway musical comedy called Helen On 86th Street at the American Theatre of Actors/Chernuchin Theatre, 314 West 54th Street. Based on a story that for the past decade has been taught in 10,000 high school classrooms across the country, the musical follows Vita Calista (Taylor Leigh Bera), a vibrant and unique 12-year old girl, as she learns to cope with an absent father, a single mother, a disappointing role in the school production of The Trojan Horse, and the daily pressures of a tween growing up in New York City.
It’s a story of loss, longing and acceptance, as seen through the eyes of a young girl wise beyond her years, which like the epic Greek stories it interweaves, carries a message of hope and redemption that will resonate with people of all ages.
Directed by Nicole Kempskie, the cast of 19 includes 15 actors under the age of 16, many with impressive Broadway credits. Not only has Kempskie directed this creative production, she has also written the show’s lyrics and book.
A very talented Taylor gave an outstanding performance. She not only has a fine singing voice, but her acting makes it clear that she has been on the stage.
It was Izzy Hanson-Johnston who got most of my attention. Her role in this play within a play was of the stage manager and was hilarious! Great facial expressions and timing. Obvious that she could dance.
Kathryn Markey, who has the role of Ms. Dodd, lucked out by getting the most humorous role. Of course it helps if you can deliver and she does.
There were two that I didn’t care for. I actually had to look at my playbill to see if Kevin Pariseau was a professional actor. The other was Clarice Mazanec who played the cello as part of the two-piece orchestra. Toward the end of the show she gets up, talks to Vita and goes into a song. I had to laugh because it was serious, rather than for the purpose of comedy. Not her fault.
Helen On 86th Street continues until Sunday, May 8. Check it out on www.helenon86th.com