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4.26.10 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW

1. PLAY RED

If I turn off my brain and just let this play wash over me, it’s quite compelling. The minute my brain turns on, I see through the slim conceit which amounts to nothing much more than a Columbia College lecture on changing tastes in modern art with a protégé serving as nothing more than a foil to inspire long diatribes from the lead actor. Thankfully, the lead is Alfred Molina who makes the most of his role as Rothko preparing to sell out with a series of large red canvases. Amazingly it is the foil that steals the show, finding depth in a nothing role by drawing out the confused desperation of anyone trying to create. This should have been off-Broadway in an intimate setting or even performed in an actual artist’s studio where the proscenium would disappear and these characters could breath… B-

2. FOOD The Modern – Bar

This place is an oasis in midtown, a beautifully refined setting offering a smaller menu of half portions that will fully fill you up, rather than the tasting menu of the main dining room. The mushroom soup with fried dumplings is glorious, the upside-down raw tuna tart is refreshing with the accompanying crème fraiche. For a main plate, you’ll be very lucky to be there on a day with the steak special, drizzled in a bit of truffle sauce. But for my money (or my mother’s who was lovingly treating me to a fantastic excursion) it’s all about the duck with pistachio truffle dipping sauce accompanied by pepper crusted granny smith apples. Seriously delicious food… A

3. PLAY Next Fall

I really hope this play finds an audience on Broadway, because the night I was there, there wasn’t much audience to speak of. This well crafted small play hits the heartstrings and hits them hard. The emotion may be a bit undeserved by the end, but this is no doubt a charming story of the love of two men in a world that doesn’t understand their love. With a hospital as a backdrop, a group of people find themselves waiting as the play flashes back to explain how they’re all interrelated. It’s an elegant format, wittily written and finally offers a frank discussion of love and religion and coming to terms with the truth involved in both… A-

4. FOOD Luzzo’s

Truly amazing Italian food is surprisingly rare in a world where there’s decent enough pizza on every corner, but this East Village eatery is mouthwateringly heads above the competition. The thin pizzas are crispy and well adorned with the freshest of ingredients. But the true toast of the evening was the caprese salad… yes, the simplest of dishes can be elevated by the most tantalizing ingredients. This mozzarella is the perfect balance of saltiness and thick texture, you could almost spread it on a cracker. Matched with sliced cherry tomatoes, olive oil and a generous sprinkle of pepper, the plate is heavenly. Wash it all back with a Peroni and who needs to travel to Italy… B+

5. MUSICAL Catherine Zeta Jones in A Little Night Music

I was suspect about the stage talents of this screen siren, so much so that I willingly purchased a ticket to another performance during her short vacation. Thankfully I had reason to revisit and see this dynamic artist in her full glory. She is pitch perfect as Desiree Armfeld, with all the mannerisms of a faded actress who longs for a stable existence. Whatever she lacks in vocal strength (like Glynis Johns was vocally gifted?) she makes up with extreme poise and a radiant glow unlike anyone else on that stage. She is well worth the price of admission, doesn’t hurt that the show is so glorious as well… A

6. PLAY The Glass Menagerie

The play is already amazing, that’s a given. But it takes true fearless acting to find your way past something so well known and into the real soul of the people walking the floorboards. This darkly quiet production manages to do that and more, making the Wingfields both sympathetic and monstrous in their desire to find a better future that their unfortunate present. Everyone has made quite a deal over Judith Ivey’s performance, and she deserves the acclaim, but I think it’s the production as a whole that makes it so beautiful, never more clear than in the blackout scene when you actually feel that the stage is only lit by three candles. The show is a haunting, simple, elegant and affecting piece of theater… A-

7. TV Arrested Development – Season One

Um, I think I might be late to the party. I had seen a couple of episodes, but it was thanks to the Roku that I actually started to seriously watch this series from the beginning. How could I, and the rest of the American viewing public have been so blind to the charms of the Bluth family? This ensemble of actors are so far above funny compared the majority of sitcoms that it’s impossible to single one character out. And beyond all that, Liza Minelli had a recurring role! As much as I tired of the critics consistently telling me that I needed to watch this show, now I get it… A-

8. DRINK The Aspen Social Club

Antlers do really make wonderful ceiling decorations. This club brings the outdoors in with tress everywhere and moody lighting making you feel like you’re in the hippest of ski lodges. The drinks are well mixed and refreshingly alcoholic, the food is delectable enough to help counteract the effects of the alcohol. And if you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll be there to attend a cocktails function with a personal chef whipping up fresh pasta dishes. Always good to have another place to go in Times Square that isn’t a total mob scene… B

9. ALBUM Shame Shame Dr. Dog

Shame shame indeed. This is a perfectly decent album that should have been stellar. While nothing about it is bad, it doesn’t have the same ingenuity and well-crafted appeal of the first release Fate. Seriously, do yourself a favor, ignore this release, buy the first one, and revel in it all the while crossing your fingers that the third time will be a charm… C

10. TV Project Runway – Finale

Well, this season was certainly better than the last one, but somewhere the spark has disappeared for me. There’s no denying the talent of these people, but the competition seems to have become nothing more than a launching pad for personalities until the very end when you have three designers of talent that we may never hear from again. The winner was certainly the correct choice among the three, but I can’t say that I was wowed or thrilled by anything that walked down the runway that night… B

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