Friday, April 27, 2012


After that fabulous lunch we set off to Mt. Kisco with the first stop at Epidavros Day Spa on North Bedford Road. I had a facial. I don't know exactly which one is was (I will find out when Sandra, the owner, talks on my radio show. All I know that it that there were layers of wonderful stuff put on and taken off my face to make it moist an smooth. I was also given a much need foot massage.

I wanted to sleep afterward but it was time for Laurie and I to check into the hotel. Holiday Inn, located on Holiday Inn Drive (I wonder if I can get the name of my street changed to Merle Exit Lane) in Mt. Kisco. Laurie and I each had our own room as I tend to snore and want to keep this long time friendship going. Not wanting to bring my Netbook, I found that they had a few computers so I was able to check my email. A full buffet breakfast is included. I had asked for a frig in my room so I could store any leftovers or any other goodies that I bought.

Next on the agenda was the Westchester Dinner Theatre located in Elmsford. Legally Blonde, the musical was being performed. I did see the show on Broadway but it was years ago and didn't remember it enough to make a comparison. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the movie on television. Talent wise, the show was quite good. The food is pretty good. There is certainly a long list of other food and drinks to be purchased beyond the salad, entree and dessert to include coffee or tea. Hairspray is the next show coming up.

The next morning we decided to view the downtown area of Mt. Kisco. Connie's Bakery & General Store seemed like an interesting shop. Their thing is that they give 100% of the profits to charity. General Store portion had much chachkas to choose from. Great baked goods of cookies and cakes. Sampled some cookies, and other tasty items. Problem is that they may not be there for long. There were two other shops that we wanted to visit (a list of "what's around" was provided by the hotel...they need to update the list) but they were forever.

Now, lunch was most interesting. There is this what I would call an "Entertainment Center". The two main attractions are the Grand Prix race cars and the Spins Bowling. In between there are bouncy areas for kids as well as a restaurant. Actually the name of the place is Grand Prix New York (also in Mt. Kisco). Laurie and were using both of our gps to find it. The trip kept on being a hoot to hear each of the women giving directions. Grand Prix is not on North Bedford itself as you have to go down a ramp. Thank goodness for signs. We had lunch at their Fuel Restaurant. I would recommend eating here even if you're not participating. I started off with a tasty drink that had a wee bit of alcohol and looked like an ice cream float. We had a chicken salad, rack of ribs and mac and cheese topped with bacon. I thought that the ribs might be the kind that comes precooked and vacuumed sealed. However, I am told that the ribs are freshly smoked and cooked on the premises. I'm impressed! I had not intention of racing around the indoor track. Laurie was much braver than I. These race cars get up to a speed of 40 mph. Okay, I have to admit that it's the getting in and out of the low vehicle that I can't do. Hey it was about 10 or so years ago when I found myself faced with a window to climb into.

That afternoon we spent a short time at another nature venue called Teatown, which had nothing to do with tea. The main building houses little animals for the purpose of education.  Lots of turtles, some ferrets, and a snake.  Hiking trails and an area with birds.  We weren't able to go to Wildflower Island that day as you have to be on a tour.

We had dinner at Chez Lang...the house of Enid and Gene Lang.  I requested chicken wings made the same as when I had them around 50 years ago at when Enid lived in the Bronx.  Her mom's recipe passed down. We all went to Yorktown Stage to see Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  Not at all disappointed with the acting or singing. 

One show that certainly stood out was at the Westchester Philharmonic in White Plains. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was performing.  I had never heard of her.  It was an all strings concert with Nadja directing and soloing.  You just have to see this woman perform!  There was an expression on her face for each note that she played!  Although she has cds, I wish she would put out a DVD.  After the show it was homeward bound.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Westchester County is just north of the Bronx here in New York City. I went online to see what I could do for a weekend. My friend Laurie loves to drive so off we went on Friday morning with the first destination being a nature center called Beczak Environmental Education Center in the city of Yonkers and located along the Hudson River.

They present exhibits and programs for all ages to raise environmental awareness and encourage informed stewardship of the Hudson River, the Saw Mill River and the Bronx River. It's mostly for kids. Learning programs includes hopping aboard a fishing boat and checking out the creatures that dwell in the rivers. I was busy checking out the turtles in the tanks.

Just outside in the back are these pieces of artwork sitting along a fence. Recycled and "framed". Two dimensional and depicting the history of the area.

Down the block, so to speak, is a place called The Barge, another environmental center run on solar panels. It's another thing for kids to learn about the cleaning up of the Hudson River. What's special about The Barge is that they grow hydroponic plants and vegetables.

A walk away is an area with some shops and restaurants. One restaurant that jets out over the Hudson is called X20 aka Peter Kelly's X20. That's where we had lunch.

Unfortunately they only serve sushi in the evening, but I did start the meal with some great Sake. Smoked Salmon Spring Roll with Goat Cheese & Mango was just a bit more than an amuse bouche sent out by the chef. It set me up for an expectation of how good the food would be.

Roasted Fennel Soup served with Pumpkin Seed Oil and Fennel Fronds sounded interesting and tasted great (I wonder if they stomp on pumpkin seeds to get the oil). It didn't have an overpowering licorice flavor and I happen to be Frond of fennel.

Salad is a must for me. This one had Heirloom Beets (not just the red ones) and Field Lettuce topped with crumbled goat cheese. Mmmmm...tasty.

Since I couldn't have sushi I ordered Soft Shell Crab Tempura. It was served over Mesclun & Heirloom Beets (beets are good for you) with Spring Ramps (a wild green veggie) and Jalapeno Aioli.

We then ordered our entrees. Pan Seared Montuak Skate Wing with Robuchon Potatoes & Asparagus topped with a balsamic brown butter and Lemon Crumbs. Robuchon potatoes are cooked in lightly salted water with skins on. After draining the potatoes are then peeled and put through a food mill. Then they are dried out over a low flame and emulsified with butter and milk. Now if that isn't enough to achieve a texture, they are passed through a fine sieve. It's almost like sipping mashed potatoes. Loved it and the rest of the dish.

The second entree was Ravioli with Short Ribs & Foie Gras in Truffle Butter with Broccoli Rabe and Grated Amoretti (I'll have to ask again as to what this is). Entree was sooooo delicious.

Got some samplings of dessert (Can you say, "doggie bag?"). House Made Grand Marnier Ice Cream. I can't resist tasting house made ice creams. Classic Carrot Cake made with Mascarpone Frosting and Rum Anglaise. Liked that it didn't have a "spice" taste. Warm Soft Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Ice Cream. Close to having one of those chocolate lava cakes...mmmmm....chocolate. Will have to return for dinner some time...after a few hours on the tread mill.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Ghost the Musical is doing its run at the Lunt-Funtaine Theatre. Is it just another attempt at taking a popular movie and forming a Broadway musical to totally wow audiences? If so, I would raise both my thumbs as well as my big toes.

I realize that there are some people who have not seen the movie or forgot the plot (I've seen the movie more than several times on television), so let's get that part over with.

Molly Jensen (Caissie Levy)and Sam Wheat (Richard Fleeshman) are the couple who Ghost revolves around. Carl Bruner (Bryce Pinkham) and Sam both work as bankers as well as being best friends. Carl, however, is a "third wheel". It's time for Molly and Sam to share an apartment. Molly's income is about sculpture which includes using a pottery wheel, becoming like "the portrait scene with the Righteous Brothers version of Unchained Melody".

Unbeknownst to Sam, Carl is doing some underhanded investing regarding a foreign account and seems to be having a problem with a password. He needs the help of Sam's password for this multi-money transaction due by a particular day and time.

Molly and Sam are enjoying an evening (in joke: Molly will tell Sam that she loves him and Same will respond by saying, "ditto") when a mugger, Willie Lopez (Michael Balderrama) ensues, pointing a gun and demanding Sam's wallet. Mugging becomes fight becomes Sam being shot. As his body lies on the ground with Molly holding him, his ghost appears.

As a ghost Sam begins meeting a few other ghosts who have not "gone to the light". One is in the hospital that he is brought to (Lance Roberts) who give him the 101 on his "state of mind and body". The other is one who he meets on the subway (Tyler McGee)who eventually teaches him how to move objects.

In the meantime Molly is in total grief and Carl is looking to take over Sam's position as Molly's lover. Molly is not interested.

Willie comes to the apartment looking for the password while Molly happens to be in the shower and not hearing anyone enter. Sam sees this but can't warn Molly. Frantically walking about the streets of the city Sam comes across a storefront Psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and her two side kicks. Oda thinks she's been faking it all until she hears Sam talking. Sam feeling that Molly is in trouble needs Oda Mae's help with communicating to Molly, who's at first skeptical about Oda.

Sam finds out the name of his killer, goes to seek him to later discover that it was Carl who sought Willie's assistance in just getting the wallet. Oops!

A very funny (not intended) Oda Mae now becomes the center of attention in the pursuing and finalizing Sam and Molly's relationship.

Before I get into the actors the sets need to be focused on. Double kudos for Hugh Vanstone on Lighting, Jon Driscoll on Video & Projection, and Paul Kieve for the magical illusions.

Animated screens become sets for several scenes as we travel from one location to another as well as the use of the "moving passenger walkway" to make it appear that the actors are walking from set to set. Lighting that makes "the heavens" appear. Illusions such as Sam walking through a solid door as well as each time we view a dead body and the ghost at the same time. How about watching those ghosts rising onto or into the back drop as they go to either heaven or hell.

How about the score? No, I didn't leave humming any of the songs (other than Unchained Melody). I did, however, fully enjoy the score and choreography of the production numbers.

Now, here is where I get to the actors. I personally did not care for the three leads. The acting was okay...nothing to write home about. Cassie Levy's singing became extremely annoying to me. Every note became predictable in sounding like a typical singer who took singing lessons for the stage. I did not get emoted from the acting or singing of Levy, Fleeshman or Pinkham. I actually pictured the couple from Glee taking on the Molly and Sam role. Hopefully since they are "graduating", these parts will be given to them.

I felt that the star of the show was Da'Vine Joy Randolph who I just noticed that this was her Broadway debut. Total surprise even if I didn't recognize the name. Her comic timing was perfect! Her singing was superb! Most of the performers get their featured solo. Randolph appears in three numbers of which "I'm Outta Here" makes her talent shine even brighter than the lights. She's certainly had me laughing but neither Levy or Fleeshman brought a tear to my eye.

All in all, as my friend Susan Liben said, "Ghost see it"!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Have you heard of the China known as “The Celestial Empire?” Ancient myths and legends throughout history record that the Middle Kingdom was continually guided by celestial beings. Traditional Chinese culture attributes all aspects of its civilization to the heavens, including its script, medicine, attire, music, and classical Chinese dance.

It is this tradition of divinely inspired culture that Shen Yun Performing Arts will be presented at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre April 18 to April 22. Shen Yun has toured the world for five seasons, sharing the beauty of this lost culture through classical Chinese dance.

Classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world. Dynasty after dynasty, it was passed down among the people, in imperial palaces and ancient plays. Thousands of years have refined it into a distinctive dance system embodying traditional aesthetics.

One of the strengths of classical Chinese dance is its expressivity. It can vividly depict a wide range of emotions and portray any cherished virtue— righteousness, loyalty, benevolence, and tolerance. It can be masculine and vigorous, soft and graceful, somber and stirring, playful and humorous.

Such range is achieved through bearing and form. Bearing describes the physical expression of one’s inner spirit. Spirit leads to movement, thus bearing leads to form.

Form refers to Chinese dance’s external appearance—hundreds of unique movements and postures. An accomplished performer makes them appear effortless, but they require a perfect coordination of the entire body that takes years of rigorous training. A dancer’s every cell—from toes to fingertips, from the angle of the head to the direction of the gaze—must be in perfect harmony.

Classical Chinese dance also has an extensive array of techniques—jumps, spins, flips, aerials and other very difficult tumbling moves. These supplement and enhance the dance’s expressive powers while adding vigorous physicality.

And yet, classical Chinese dance is still mostly unfamiliar to the West. But that is quickly changing. Shen Yun is the world’s premier Chinese music and dance company; promoting an authentic form of classical Chinese dance is part of its mission. Based in New York, Shen Yun is very different from companies coming out of China.

“With Shen Yun, we use classical Chinese dance in its purist form, we don’t mix in modern, contemporary, ballet, and other dance forms until you no longer know what you are watching,” says choreographer Vina Lee. “Authentic classical Chinese dance can really give the audience an uplifting experience of pure goodness and consummate beauty.”

And with 5,000 years of civilization to draw from, Shen Yun has plenty of source material. Through dance, Terracotta Warriors awaken from the dust, the Song Dynasty general Yue Fei comes to life, Monkey King and Pigsy escape another sticky situation, maidens grace a heavenly palace, drummers shake the yellow plateaus of the Middle Kingdom.

A renaissance of Chinese culture has begun and one of the world’s ultimate dance forms is blazing the path.

Okay, the above is what I wrote in the Queens Times and tonight I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the show. "Prepare to enter a magical world where the good and the righteous always prevail and where beauty and purity have never been lost".

I have to say that although I did appreciate the Chinese history and culture, what it really boiled down to it for me was the entertainment of it all beginning with the digital back drop...because it was just so impressive! I would see people on the digital screen and then they would approach. Just as the one or some would reach the raised platform, the actor(s) would jump up as if they came out from the screen. And then they did the same going back.

Screen dancers would approach from the side and then the dancers entered from the sides of the stage.

The dancers. It was a combination of mostly ballet and some martial arts when it came to the guys. The women were given much flower dancing. It was like watching bouquets of flowers being formed.

Each of the acts were introduced in English and Chinese They all ended in a photographic pose and all were stunningly colorful. The costumes were intricate with vivacious hues unto themselves.

At first I expected Shen Yun to have the performers simply dancing the night fantastic. Lo and behold, there were two singers, tenor Huan Xing and Soprano Haolan Geng.

Loved the orchestra. Both western and Chinese instruments and conducted by a woman!...Wen-Wen Chou. Loved the music!

It looks as though they have added another show here in NYC to extend the short run to Sunday, the 22nd. However, if you miss it in NYC, you may be able to catch it in another city in the U.S. For further information go to

Saturday, April 7, 2012



Enter the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a political convention. Ushers are wearing those red and white ribbon straw hats and the setting is all around you with banners and posters. Old fashion television sets are on each side of the stage and a broadcaster with several monitors sits in one of the upper boxes. It is a performance of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.

It’s July of 1960 during what would be the Presidential Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The political party (which is never revealed) consists of a Former President Arthur “Artie” Hockstader (James Earl Jones), Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, Chairman of the Women’s Division (Angela Landsbury) and Senator Clyde Carlin (Dakin Matthews).

Then there are the candidates: Secretary William Russell (John Larroquette), Alice Russell, his wife (Candice Bergen), Dick Jensen, his campaign manager (Michael McKean), Catherine, a campaign aide (Angelica Page), Senator Joseph Cantwell (Eric McCormack), Mabel Cantwell, his wife (Kerry Butler), and Cantwell’s campaign manager, Don Blades (Corey Brill).

The race theme is Russell vs. Cantwell. We first get to find that Russell and his wife have not been getting along for several years (separate bedrooms and more), but the press is present and it’s time to join forces for the presidency. At one point the plot pits the two candidates with what each believes will be the reason for the other to drop out of the race and give the votes to the other. An egotistic Cantwell digs into Russell’s past to find emotional breakdowns while Russell is able to find information regarding Cantwell’s rumors of his life in the armed forces, revealed by a former buddy Sheldon Marcus (Jefferson Mays).

Let’s begin with the cast. Landsbury, Jones, and Bergen have certainly aged, but their acting abilities have not dwindled. Jones has been given that wonderful outspoken character and runs with it. Larroquette has the humorous role that fits him so well. Yes, humor. The show is quite funny.

Timing is perfect for The Best Man, which was performed several years ago. It could just as well be the present Republican Convention going on.
The setting puts us viewing the hotel rooms of the candidates, where we get a glimpse of their personal lives, and how they present themselves to the press.

Kudos has to go to Director Michael Wilson and Set Designer Derek McLane as well as the casting director. The question is whether this play would work as well without an all-star cast? With so many Broadway shows to choose from, it was a smart thing to do. As for the play itself, it did keep my interest and titillated my humor. I expect some nominations for The Best Man, a Broadway show not to be missed.