Sunday, August 28, 2005

A day in New York - Some reviews

Yesterday I saw "Light n the Piazza" at the Lincoln Center Beaumont theater. Spent the rest of the afternoon taking in music from around the world at the Lincoln Center Outdoors "Las Casita" and had dinner at Asiate, the restaurant in the Mandarin Hotel in the new Time Warner building.

The much talked about musical follows the story of a woman and her daughter who in 1953 travel to Italy to revisit the honeymoon she took with her husband there before the war.

The daughter meets a local man named Fabrizio, and they begin falling in love. The daughter has a secret that the mother tries to protect her against, slowly she realizes she can't protect her daughter forever.

The story follows the growing love, the interaction of the Italian family with the two American women and the meaning of love.

Its all set against the romantic backdrops of Florence and Rome.

I found the story to be cursory and incomplete. Seemingly ever time something deep is approached it is left handing. The music was ordinary and there wasn't a single song you walked out of the theater humming, let alone remembering. Mostly it was background music to spoken word/singing.

The performance by Kelli O'hara as the young Clara was commendable, in fact all of the performances were quality, but I felt they only had mostly empty sentiment bordering on pablum to work with.

The sets were simple but did a good job in evoking the streets of Italy. All in all I was left wondering what all the hype was about, but the tears and smiles on the faces of the mostly female audience told me that the show connects with many, has an audience and perhaps was just not my cup of tea. Although I maintain that is no excuse for music with no melody and lyrics that were overly sentimental and simplistic.

Upon exiting the theater I walked over to the outdoor stage where a day long presentation of musicians from around the world were performing for free. Billed as "Las Casita" (a traditional Latin American neighborhood gathering place for music, talk and poetry) I enjoyed Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern Fusion, Columbian, Latin Jazz and Blues music and poetry.

Finally for dinner I ate at "Asiate" the upscale French/Asian fusion restaurant on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Hotel/Time Warner Center.

The setting was spectactular. A room with full length windows on three sides overlooking Central Park. Decorated in a post-modern Zen simplicity, featuring a see through Plexiglas wall in which the wine collection was stored.

I had a sashimi appetizer and a Sukiyaki Lobster for dinner. The food was elegantly presented, an interesting blend of tastes, spices and textures and was well worth the price of admission.

All in all it was the type of day that makes me happy to live in New York City.