There is no better antidote to the cold dark winter that is upon us than filling the season and one’s soul with art, music, theater, film. People are turning COVID-19 isolation into an opportunity to broaden skills, discovering new talents and exploring new interests. And the Gold Coast Arts Center, a regional nonprofit multi-arts organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance, and outreach, is adapting its programs to the new reality, which in an interesting twist, has enabled the center to expand its reach well beyond the Long Island community.
Winter 2021 School registration is starting next week (Dec. 10) for classes starting in January. The arts organization has been able to continue to offer about two-thirds of its catalog by adapting programs – some virtual, some still in-person in the arts center’s studios.
“Our focus for Winter 2021 as it relates to school is FLEXIBILITY,” says Julie Wostenholme, Marketing & Development Director, for the arts center. “During these difficult times of Covid and with a second wave looming, our school team has proven itself to be a highly trusted resource and a dedicated concierge service to students and families. We’ve evolved with the times by offering more options.”
These include innovative programs such as:
· Virtual, Hybrid & In-Person classes.
· Multi-session classes, One-Day workshops, Pop-Up classes & Create Your Own classes.
· Host a Holiday Art, Dance or Chess Party with Family & Friends
· Private lessons in all disciplines.
· Film / Art Combo Series – first session is a film on Claude Monet, paired with a Monet themed painting class (this series is sponsored by HSBC in Great Neck).
· A new focus on adult classes, workshops.
One of the adaptations is that instead of offering programs that extend from winter into spring, because people are not comfortable committing to longer programs, most of the courses are divided into eight-session segments, but for specific classes, when you sign up for the winter session, you will be sent a promotional discount for signing up for spring session at same time.
Even its renowned film festival and year-round cinema series, which were reintroduced last May, is in high gear, continuing to bring the best of independent new films with its at-home screenings. The series continues to offer two to three new films a month, partnering with film distributors (a 50-50 split in the ticket price). You click to buy a virtual ticket ($10-12 per film) and have 48-72 hours to watch once you purchase. And you still have access to the hallmark of the center’s film festivals: special Q&As with directors and people connected with the film, as well as the ability to link to film reviews and critiques. (Tickets can be purchased for individual films, rather than a whole series.)
The center’s cinema series films are now accompanied by “film kits,” so that in addition to seeing movies that have been specially curated, movie-goers can also enjoy a GCIFF Film Team Selection Review as well as Director Statements, Q&As and any other specialized collateral materials made especially for the arts center. “This is a highly competitive market so we are trying to make the film experience with us a very well-rounded one,” Wostenholme says.
On view now: Ric Burns’ documentary “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life”; “Conviction” a French courtroom thriller based on a true story (French with subtitles); and “Saul & Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band,” a musical documentary about finding purpose and meaning in life at any age, the transcendent power of music, and the importance of speaking out against anti-Semitism and bigotry, featuring an exclusive Q&A with director Tod Lending.
Virtual, Hybrid & In-Person classes are offered spanning age groups, from 4 years old to teens and adults as well as family programs, and across a huge array of “the arts” – art, dance, music, theater, even robotics two virtual classes: for beginners, an intro to robotics, and programming, physics of robotics targeted to intermediate & advanced) and chess – a program that the center has offered for years, but with the “Queens Gambit” craze, now offers two new virtual chess classes. “People called to create their own chess class.”
“We have kept up a robust program. We’re not offering everything, but we continue to offer the most successful, innovative and popular programs, well thought out to accommodate the times.”
Indeed, one of the innovations is to “create your own pod” – customized class. People can propose a class to Ellen Schiff, Director of School for the Arts, and the arts center will arrange a teacher. The class can be customized and personalized for time, interest and competency level.
Another innovation are one-day adult workshops, which do not require a commitment beyond signing up in advance. One of these new workshops is a “film & art” series –combining two disciplines: participants see a documentary of an artist’s exhibition and life on screen, which is then linked to a one-day painting class at the arts center (the elements can be purchased separately or as a combo).
The January 7, “Adult Painting & Film” immersive workshop is focused on the life of Claude Monet and his most beloved paintings. “Watch how his art developed as the film, Exhibition on Screen: I, Claude Monet features his gardens at Giverny, and the series of paintings they inspired. Students will recreate their own rendition of The Bridge with the lively strokes that Monet used in this live in-person workshop.” No experience is required and the supplies are provided (sessions limited to 8).
The center is hoping to offer one of these Adult Painting & Film workshops per month.
For programs that are offered in the arts center’s own building on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck, strict guidelines and protocols are maintained for anyone coming into the center to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff – socially distancing; only the students and program participants are allowed in; grids mark off six-feet separation; masks must be worn at all times, the center has a filtration system and keeps windows open where appropriate.
Even virtual classes, taught online, are organized so the supplies are provided – people drive to the arts center and pick them up curbside.
For example, an Adult Virtual Pastel Art Workshop is a 90-minute-session with an instructor, offered on January 24 (no experience necessary; supplies are included and can be picked up at the arts center; limited to 8 students).
The arts center is also offering “pop-up classes” – one day workshops, for example in ceramics (artist Jude Amsel is offering a holiday ceramics workshop); and “create your own” classes, where people make a request and the arts center puts together an instructor.
You can also host a customized holiday art, dance or chess party with family and friends to learn, say, cartooning.
The arts center is also offering private lessons in all disciplines. – 45-60 minute sessions that are virtual, interactive, personalized to your learning style and experience, with the instructor providing feedback (people have signed on from Colorado and Chicago).
All of these programs are prime for gifts and the Arts Center offers the opportunity to give the gift of art or membership. “How great to gift your parents or grandparents with an amazing class or workshop – they may discover some hidden talent or unexplored interest.”
Purchases on Amazon can also support the arts center, which is a beneficiary on the Amazon Smile program.(Shop, then choose Gold Coast Arts in the Pick a Charitable Organization tab).
The arts center remade the website, goldcoastarts.org, with user-friendly menu and easy access to all class registrations).
Gold Coast Arts is a 501(c)(3) multi-arts organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance, and outreach. For a quarter-century, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the Long Island region. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities, including artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops, and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts “Partners in Education” program and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.goldcoastarts.org.
Nothing can stop the holiday magic so iconic to New York, and though this holiday season will be different, the spirit and cheer shines through with traditions and iconic events that have delighted generations continuing, albeit with some innovations and modifications. This guide was compiled by NYC & Co.:
“New Yorkers and visitors are invited to mask up and safely enjoy this festive, holiday season in New York City, with less crowds, significant savings, and more outdoor activities than ever before,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon. “From ice skating rinks and igloos to colorful light displays, cultural exhibitions and holiday shopping, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. By taking advantage of our All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways offers including the Mastercard $100 rebate, you will also be supporting local businesses and hospitality industry jobs. We’re also encouraging those from afar to give the gift of NYC this year by shopping iconic NYC merchants online, gifting museum memberships and buying gift cards for future travel.”
New Yorkers and visitors alike can show support for NYC by masking up and taking an NYC-cation, staying overnight at one of the City’s welcoming hotels. NYC & Company’s most ambitious savings program ever—All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways—offers nearly 300 deals across accommodations, attractions, dining, retail, tours and more, available at nycgo.com/neighborhoodgetaways. Those who register their Mastercard for the All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways program—now including new offers through a unique holiday collection—can receive up to $100 total in statement credit when spending $100 or more at hotels and $20 or more at all other businesses.
Those unable to visit are encouraged to Shop NYC this year, through purchases at nycgo.com/shopinnyc, including a roundup of e-commerce/gift cards, distinctive apparel and accessories, signature hotel items, museum gifts and memberships, food and gift baskets, souvenirs, books, music, games and more.
Additionally, Virtual NYC experiences are available online for those from afar to enjoy NYC this festive season, including live stream presentations from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Carnegie Hall, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Lincoln Center and more, available at nycgo.com/virtualnyc, along with a special holiday collection.
Here are a selection of holiday-themed events, attractions, markets, hotel offers, gifts and more, available this holiday season in NYC. For more information, visit nycgo.com/holidays.
Holiday Light Displays and Light Shows
Holiday Lights at Bronx Zoo November 20 through January 10, 2021 | The Bronx During this festive celebration, visitors can enjoy five animal lantern safaris, as well as holiday-themed music, ice-carving demonstrations, costumed characters, stilt walkers, souvenirs, and seasonal treats like hot chocolate and s’mores.
Harlem Holiday Lights November 16 through December 31 | Manhattan Each holiday season, Harlem’s 125th Street is illuminated with more than 10,000 festive LED lights across nine blocks, from Broadway to Fifth Avenue. The annual Turn On the Lights event will be live streamed this year, enabling all to watch the iconic thoroughfare light up with festive light and window displays, as well as a caravan of decorated floats traveling around Harlem to safely greet participating buildings and businesses.
Shine Bright at Hudson Yards November 22 through December 31 | Manhattan NYC’s newest neighborhood will introduce new holiday decor, , that will illuminate the Public Square and Gardens, The Shops at Hudson Yards, Vessel and Edge with white lights set against evergreen trees and one-of-a-kind set pieces. By downloading this app, guests will be transported through augmented reality to the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop where they will be able to walk through mounds of snow, along candy cane lanes, pose for pictures alongside animated polar bears, elves, penguins, and Rudolph, and video chat with Santa Claus.
Luminaries at Brookfield Place November 27 through January 8, 2021 | Manhattan Lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place will feature a canopy of colorful lights emanating from hundreds of lanterns suspended among the shopping center’s palm trees. Touchless, motion-activated stations allow visitors to make a wish and prompt a magical display of lights and colors.
New York Botanical Garden will present a gorgeous outdoor light show, illuminating its landmark gardens and the Haupt Conservatory on 14 select nights. As part of the experience, visitors will also be able to enjoy artistic ice sculptures, music, roving dancers and more outdoor fun.
LuminoCity Festival November 27 through January 10, 2021 | Manhattan A spectacular light show which debuted for the first time last year on Randall’s Island, LuminoCity will feature several acres of new light art installations and sculptures inspired by nature, history and magic.
Holiday Lights at Arthur Avenue November 30 onwards | The Bronx Come walk the Bronx’s “Little Italy” and take in the bright lights strung along Arthur Avenue, as well as the area’s holiday windows. A neighborhood Christmas tree at Ciccarone Park will be festively lit, beginning November 30.
Lighting of the Largest Menorah in Brooklyn December 10–17 | Brooklyn The annual lighting of Brooklyn’s largest Menorah at Grand Army Plaza will take place each night of Chanukah, kicking off with a socially distanced celebration on December 10.
Holiday Light Show Featuring Carrie Underwood’s “Hallelujah” with John Legend at the Empire State Building December 19–25 | Manhattan The Empire State Building’s annual music-to-light show will kick off on December 19, with Carrie Underwood’s new song “Hallelujah” with John Legend being synced to the iconic building’s dazzling holiday lights. In conjunction with the release of Underwood’s new Christmas album My Gift, at 8pm each night the song will be broadcast on iHeartRadio’s Z100 and LiteFM, and the light show will also be streamed live via Earthcam.
Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden Now through January 31, 2021 | The Bronx Marvel at model trains zipping through an enchanting display of famous NYC landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center and other favorites, each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns and cinnamon sticks. Due to limited capacity and tickets this year, the Train Show can only be viewed by a Member, Patron, Corporate Member, or Bronx Community Partner.
UrbanSparkle at UrbanGlass Now through January 15, 2021 | Brooklyn UrbanGlass presents UrbanSparkle, an annual holiday exhibition which features artists exploring the material of glass as decoration. Works selected for this installation feature five artists using a variety of techniques, offering one-of-a-kind gifts to holiday shoppers.
The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History November 25 through January 10, 2021 | Manhattan An annual tradition for more than 40 years, the Origami Tree is a beloved New York City holiday offering. This year’s tree features 1,000 colored origami cranes, representing peace and good wishes as the City continues to be challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christmas Tree and Hanukkah Lamp at The Met Museum November 27 through January 6, 2021 | Manhattan The Met continues a longstanding holiday tradition with the presentation of its Christmas tree, a magnificently lit, twenty-foot blue spruce that looms over a vivid eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene, enshrined in an abundant array of lifelike figures with silk-robed angels hovering above. Recorded Christmas music adds to the enjoyment of the holiday display. The Met will also have a spectacular silver Hanukkah lamp on display, generously on loan from the Moldovan Family Collection. Both beautiful and functional, this remarkable lamp was created in 1866 through 1872 in Lemberg (Lviv), Eastern Europe. Its rich history connects the lamp to centuries of Hanukkah celebrations across Jewish communities throughout the world.
“Broadway at the Drive-in” Radial Park at Halletts Point November 27 through December 19 | Queens Head to Astoria to experience the Christmas Show, featuring new and classic Christmas flicks, live performances, a holiday-themed installation, games, raffles and secret Santa fun all in a socially distant manner with views of the Manhattan skyline and East River.
Candlelight Tours at Historic Richmond Town Saturdays, November 28 through December 19 | Staten Island Visitors are invited to experience intimate, small-group tours of select, decorated historic buildings illuminated by candlelight, at this historic village and museum complex. In-costume interpreters will demonstrate period customs from the 18th and 19th centuries, including games, songs, and traditional treats and beverages. Prepaid reservations are required and tickets can be purchased now.
Sing for Hope at Hudson Yards December 1—31 | Manhattan One baby grand and seven upright pianos painted by artists inspired by Hudson Yards will be displayed throughout The Shops. The pianos will be played by Broadway artists and Juilliard students. In early January, all pianos will be delivered and donated to communities, homes and others who will benefit from the healing power of the arts.
Winter Activities at Queens Botanical Garden December 5—6 | Queens Celebrate the holidays with a slate of winter activities at the garden: wreath-making workshops, winter trees tours, beeswax candle making, and a holiday sale at the gift shop.
Holiday Wreath Workshops and Winter Solstice Garden Walk at Wave Hill December 5 & 6, December 20 | The Bronx On December 5 and 6, join local florist Hanako Shimamoto in Wave Hill’s grand and historic Armor Hall for a holiday wreath workshop. Beginning with a balsam wreath base, design a one-of-a-kind wreath accented with natural materials, accessories and fresh greens harvested from the gardens. On December 20, join a garden interpreter for a peaceful guided stroll on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The leafless trees provide spectacular views of the Hudson River and cliffs of the Palisades, to enjoy the serenity of the season and the promise of brighter days to come.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at The Morgan Library & Museum December 7, 2020 through January 11, 2021 | Manhattan Each holiday season, the Morgan displays Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. The Morgan now advances the Christmas Carol manuscript by one page each season, and this year, the manuscript is open to Scrooge’s vituperative remarks about Christmas. Explore A Christmas Carolonline and view other related highlights from the collection, and share in the festivities with a copy of A Christmas Carol available from the Morgan Shop.
Chanukah Family Experience at the Jewish Children’s Museum December 13-17 | Brooklyn Enjoy an experiential Chanukah celebration with the family by creating various art projects – from designing a dreidel-shaped pillow and helping to create a Chanukah mural on a Menorah, to decorating a mouth-watering holiday donut or discovering the art of olive oil making.
Iconic NYC Traditions
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade November 26 | Manhattan This beloved holiday tradition of larger-than-life balloons and dazzling floats has been transformed into a television-only experience that will be aired on NBC and Telemundo from 9am–12pm, in all time zones, for all to enjoy safely from the comfort of home. The 94th annual parade will feature Broadway performances by Hamilton, Mean Girls, Jagged Little Pill, and Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting December 2 | Manhattan Bringing joy and Christmas spirit to the City, the 88th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting has taken place. Visitors can see will take place on December 2 from 7—10pm with no public access, however, all are invited to view the live national broadcast “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” from home on NBC. the 75-foot-tall Norway spruce from Oneonta, NY, arrived at Rockefeller Center this past weekend.
New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop December 2020 through January 1, 2021 | Manhattan Each year, millions of viewers watch the Times Square Ball Drop from NYC and around the globe, and this year, for the first time ever, the event will be televised only with the traditional ball drop, live performances and special guests to be announced. Additional annual activities include the Wishing Wall activation (month of December), Numeral Arrival of “2” and “1’ for 2021 (December 21), Numeral Installation atop One Times Square (December 26), Crystal Installation (December 27), Good Riddance Day (December 28), Confetti Test (December 29) and Ball Test and Balloon Preparation (December 30).
Ice Skating Rinks
The Rink at Winter Village at Bryant Park Now through March 7, 2021 | Manhattan Enjoy the City’s only free, outdoor ice skating rink in Midtown at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Advanced ticket purchases are required.
The Rink at Brookfield Place November 16 onwards | Manhattan The Rink at Brookfield Place provides skaters of all levels a spot to take lessons or skate on their own while enjoying views of the Hudson River and surrounding cityscape.
Vale Rink at The William Vale November 27 onwards | Brooklyn Skate on the eco-friendly, synthetic rooftop rink of The William Vale in Williamsburg, with views of the NYC skyline. Guests will also be able to warm up in private, socially distanced tiny houses.
Wollman Rink at Central Park Now through March 2021 | Manhattan Situated in the heart of Manhattan at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue, the iconic Wollman Rink offers spectacular views of the NYC skyline and programs that cater to the entire family—ideal for visitors and local skating enthusiasts.
Rink at Rockefeller Center November 21, 2020 through January 17, 2021 | Manhattan The world-famous ice skating rink will open for the holiday season, with advanced tickets available for purchase at www.skatingatrockcenter.com. Skaters also have the option of purchasing VIP packages in partnership with City Winery.
How’s this for a novel way to engage in the holidays: Bike New York is organizing a series of “Holiday Lights & Sights” rides in the boroughs, starting with Brooklyn (Dec. 12), Manhattan (Dec. 13,); Bronx (Dec. 18). You need to preregister ($10; free for members). https://www.bike.nyc/events/local-rides/.
Holiday Markets, Retail Displays and Shopping
Virtual Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal Now through December 24 | Manhattan This holiday attraction will be online only this year, featuring handmade home goods, toys, art, accessories, jewelry, bath and body products, and men’s, women’s and children’s apparel.
Holiday Under the Stars at The Shops at Columbus Circle Now through December 24 | Manhattan Spend time shopping for that perfect gift and dine under the stars, daily, from 4—7pm at 14-foot stars hang from the ceiling and illuminate to the beat of holiday music in the Great Room overlooking Central Park.
Open Storefronts Program Now through December 31 | Citywide This holiday season, there is no better gift to give than shopping local and supporting small businesses. The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor, storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis to sell merchandise through the holiday season.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Now through March 2021 | Manhattan In addition to one of the most popular ice skating rinks in NYC, the Winter Village provides must-buy gifts and winter activities at the Holiday Shops. For a festive cocktail or bite to eat, check out The Lodge Deck by Urbanspace.
Make Merry Holiday 2020 Shop at Nordstrom NYC Now onwards | Manhattan The Nordstrom flagship store on Broadway will unveil its annual holiday decorations on November 27, and Santa and his elves will participate in a daily Santa Snow Show at 2pm and 6pm through December 24. A Make Merry Holiday 2020 Shop, curated by the buyers at Nordstrom, will assist with this year’s shopping needs.
Empire Outlets December 3 onwards | Staten Island Located steps away from the free Staten Island Ferry, Empire Outlets is NYC’s only outdoor outlets shopping destination with views of Lower Manhattan. This holiday season will mark the launch of Empire Outlet’s food and beverage deck including MRKTPL artisanal food hall, Bake Culture, Clinton Hall beer garden, and Wasabi Steak & Sushi. The outlets will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with a festive socially-distant tree lighting ceremony to kick off the season on December 3.
Window Displays at Macy’s Herald Square & Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn November 19 through January 1, 2021 | Manhattan & Brooklyn Thank you, Gracias, Merci, all multilingual expressions of gratitude, will be the centerpiece of Macy’s flagship world-famous windows, taking the form of a thank you letter to first responders, essential workers, marchers for equality and New Yorkers who showed their grit and hopeful spirit during a difficult year. Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn will also host a celebratory “Thank You” to the City beginning November 27. This year, Macy’s is also bringing Santa Claus to every home through Santaland, where children of all ages can take an interactive online journey through the North Pole and NYC, and take a virtual selfie with Santa himself November 27 through December 24.
Window Displays & Saks Lights Up Fifth Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue November 23 through December 23 | Manhattan Saks’ theme for the holiday season, This is How We Celebrate, shines a light on the importance of spending time with loved ones and the different ways people and places celebrate. The theme comes to life in their holiday window display, which brings a different quintessential New York moment to life in each scene. The iconic holiday windows and 10-story-tall theatrical light show will be revealed with a reimagined, one-of-a-kind event concept titled, Saks Lights Up Fifth Avenue. In lieu of closing down Fifth Avenue for a single, large-scale performance, Saks will host several intimate ceremonies with prominent members of the fashion and entertainment communities, as well as NYC notables, lighting up the Saks New York flagship each night.
“Give Happy” Holiday Campaign at Bloomingdales November 23 through December 31 | Manhattan The reinvented “Give Happy” holiday campaign will come to life through an exclusive Virtual Holiday Benefit on November 23 featuring singer and songwriter Andra Day, innovative activations with charitable components, digital experiences, new services, and holiday window displays.
The 34th Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue December 5| Manhattan The 34th annual Miracle on Madison Avenue will be held from 10am to 5pm, and 20% of sales at participating stores will be donated to pediatric initiatives of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Madison Avenue’s holiday decor and lights will be on display a bit longer this year to spread extra cheer, from late November through early February.
Shop NYC’s Independent Bookstores Ongoing | Citywide This year, give the gift of literature and unique goods, while supporting NYC’s independent bookstores across the City by shopping local, including Books are Magic, Greenlight Bookstore, McNally Jackson and more.
Outdoor Igloo and Winter Rooftop Experiences
City Winery at Rockefeller Center Now through December 31 | Manhattan Enjoy a glass of locally-crafted wine and a bite to eat in a warm, private winter dome at City Winery, or in the Outdoor Wine Garden, offering views of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Reservations can be made through Resy.
The Greens at Seaport District NYC Now onwards | Manhattan The City’s premier open-air rooftop venue at Pier 17 will bring seasonal charm as it converts the Seaport’s socially distant summer dining concept, The Greens, into winterized rooftop cabins, each including comfy seating, an air purifier, a spacious and heated floor plan, a virtual fireplace, floor-to-ceiling views of NYC and more.
Igloo Bar at 230 Fifth Now through May 2021 | Manhattan Experience a winter oasis at one of the 17 igloos offered at 230 Fifth. Igloos can accommodate up to 10 guests and cannot be shared with other parties this year; advanced bookings are recommended.
The Runway Chalet at the TWA Hotel Now onwards | Queens This sixties-era après ski experience is now open, along with the heated infinity pool on the roof of the TWA Hotel. The vintage electric fireplace crackles as enjoy cocktails like the Altitude Adjustment (spiced rum and hot cider with a cinnamon stick).
Winter Experiences at The William Vale Early December onwards | Brooklyn Village at Westlight comprises of festive, enclosed chalets for small parties to enjoy food and beverage alongside the Vale Rink on the hotel’s 23rd floor rooftop, while Winter Spa treatments are being offered on the hotel’s 4th floor terrace in partnership with Terra Glamping tents.
Winter Dining at The Hoxton, Williamsburg Now Open | Brooklyn Enjoy a selection of natural wines, classic cocktails and a rustic menu served in front of the fireplace at Klein’s Wine Cellar, or warm up on the heated Winterly rooftop of this beautiful boutique property. The enclosed rooftop is open from 4—10pm on weekdays and noon—10pm on weekends.
Festive on Fifth Suites at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue Now through December 26 | Manhattan The Langham’s Festive on Fifth Suites package includes individualized Christmas decor for a personal family holiday celebration, with the hotel giving guests a gift as a souvenir of a fabulous holiday spent on Fifth Avenue.
Holiday Staycations at The Beekman Now through December 31 | Manhattan This holiday season, guests checking into The Beekman can save up to 25 percent on rooms and 40 percent on suites, while enjoying complimentary late checkout. This beautiful Lower Manhattan hotel is also offering festive 3-course dining menus on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Holiday Cheer at Shelburne Hotel & Suites by Affinia November 16 through December 31 | Manhattan Enjoy a cozy stay in one of the hotel’s spacious guestrooms or suites, complete with holiday movies, hot chocolate, and cookie decorating. Those who book directly with the hotel can enjoy late checkout and receive free cancellations.
Christmas Tree Sip and See and Letters to Santa at Lotte New York Palace November 18 through December 25 | Manhattan From November 18 on, enjoy hot beverages and admire the Lotte New York Palace’s beloved Christmas tree in the hotel’s Madison Avenue courtyard. Staying from November 30 through Christmas Day? Make sure to fill out the postcard given to all guests and send it to Santa via the convenient North Pole Mailbox in the hotel lobby.
New Holiday Traditions at AKA Central Park, AKA Times Square and AKA Sutton Place November 20 through January 3, 2021 | Manhattan Conveniently located close to all the action, AKA’s New York City hotels are offering a special holiday deal which includes 10 percent off when booking two or more suites of any kind for a week or longer, special holiday amenities including gourmet hot cocoa and a bottle of wine upon check-in, private access to a cinema (at select locations), a sweet treat upon departure, and more.
The Penthouse Holiday Spectacular at The Mark Hotel December 1 onwards | Manhattan Luxurious holiday offerings for guests of The Mark Hotel include a private skating rink on the hotel penthouse’s terrace, a private performance of The Nutcracker ballet, after-hours private shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, in-suite spa experiences, personal fitness classes, airport transfers by helicopter, and more.
The Gift of Travel with the InterContinental New York Barclay Purchase by December 24; Offer valid from May 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022 | Manhattan Give the gift of a future carefree stay at the InterContinental New York Barclay. For $500, this gift certificate – pre-packaged in a festive gift box! – includes a three-night stay in Executive Accommodations, daily breakfast for two during the stay, and a Barclay Momento Welcome Amenity. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.
Hotline to the North Pole at Conrad New York Downtown December 24 | Manhattan Conrad New York Downtown will have a “Hotline to the North Pole” for the first time this year, offering current and past guests, as well as the children’s ward at a large NYC hospital, the opportunity to video conference with Santa Claus on December 24 from 4-6pm. Guests utilizing the Hotline to the North Pole while at the hotel will receive complimentary milk and cookies to enjoy while talking to Santa.
Home for the Holidays at Crosby Street Hotel and The Whitby Hotel December 24–26 | Manhattan Guests checking into Crosby Street Hotel and The Whitby Hotel can experience festively decorated suites complete with their own Christmas tree, and enjoy private dining on Christmas Day followed by a holiday film screening in the hotel’s cinema.
Fireplace Package at Royalton New York Ongoing | Manhattan For colder days during the winter season, enjoy a cozy stay at the only hotel in New York City with wood-burning fireplaces in select guestrooms.
Shopping Package at SIXTY SoHo Ongoing | Manhattan Guests can take advantage of this promotion to receive a welcome bag with gifts from neighborhood stores and access to discounts at neighborhood retailers, for all your holiday gifting needs.
Festive Holiday Cruises by Classic Harbor Line November 21 through December 31 | Manhattan Guests can enjoy festive 90-minute sightseeing cruises on 1920s-style yachts this holiday season, complete with hot chocolate, holiday decor and unobstructed views of New York City’s iconic skyline, and new health and safety protocols in place.
Private Holiday Shopping Tour by Inside Out Tours Thursdays through Saturdays in December | Manhattan Enjoy a private holiday shopping experience, featuring some of the top holiday markets and retail around the city. Additionally, Inside Out is offering a Holiday Dessert Virtual Cooking Class that will showcase NYC through the lens of food and multiculturalism by having participants create and taste foods including: Mini sweet potato pies, mulled apple cider, and double fudge holiday cupcakes.
Give the Gift of New York City
Shop NYC Those who can’t go in person, can always shop some of their favorite retailers, hotels and cultural institutions online, with gift cards, e-commerce and other offerings. Discover distinctive apparel and accessories; signature hotel items like linens, robes and spa products; food and gift baskets; souvenirs, books, music, games and more. NYC & Company’s Shop NYC resource has something for every person on your shopping list.
Museum Gift Shops, Cultural Memberships and Subscriptions Consider gifting a cultural membership/subscription or purchasing your holiday gifts from one of New York City’s many world-class museums’ online gift shops, to support these beloved institutions while planning ahead for a future visit.
Junior’s Cheesecake One of the most iconic desserts in New York City, a cheesecake from makes a great holiday gift. You can send that lucky person on your shopping list a holiday themed cheesecake like their Holiday Little Fellas Sampler or their Strawberry Swirl Designer Christmas Cheesecake. There is surely something for everyone.
Levain Bakery Grab a gift card, merchandise or a gift box of Levain Bakery’s enormous and delicious cookies. Signature cookie assortments allow your friends and family to sample all four of the beloved NYC brand’s original cookie flavors.
Li-Lac Chocolates Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, ships all over the world. Check out their holiday themed molds and goodies, as well as their NYC gifts like a chocolate Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, taxi or “Big Apple.”
Russ & Daughters A New York City staple for more than 100 years, offers some of the most delicious bagels, lox, appetizers and baked goods. Ship that homesick friend a holiday brunch basket with bagels, babka, lox and more.
Zabar’s Send a luscious gift basket filled with meats, smoked fish and pastries from
NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York. For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit nycgo.com.
New York City’s major cultural institutions are
temporarily closed to help minimize the spread of coronavirus, but many are
making their exhibits and programs available virtually, and have websites that
really engage, that make the time spent in enforced hibernation that much
richer and more productive, and frankly, less maddening.
When the Met reopens,
it will offer a series of special exhibits marking its 150th anniversary:The exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020 will present
more than 250 works of art from the collection while taking visitors on a
journey through the Museum’s history; The reopening of the galleries for
British decorative arts and design will reveal a compelling new curatorial
narrative; Transformative new gifts, cross-cultural installations, and major
international loan exhibitions will be on view throughout the year; and special
programs and outreach will include a birthday commemoration on April 13, a
range of public events June 4–6, and a story-collecting initiative.
galleries may be closed, but never fear! Social media never sleeps.”
Follow @metmuseum on Instagram for Tuesday Trivia, #MetCameos, and daily art
Being confined to home is a perfect time to take advantage of the Museum of Modern Art’s free massive open online course What Is Contemporary Art?, available now on Coursera. This course offers an in-depth look at over 70 works of art from MoMA’s collection—many of which are currently on view in the expanded Museum—from 1980 to the present, with a focus on art produced in the last decade. Learners will hear directly from artists, architects, and designers from around the globe about their creative processes, materials, and inspiration. What Is Contemporary Art? can be found at mo.ma/whatiscontemporaryart.
I can’t wait for MoMA to
reopen so I can see Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures,
the first major solo exhibition at the Museum of the photographer’s incisive
work in over 50 years. The exhibition includes approximately 100 photographs
drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection. Dorothea Lange: Words
& Pictures also uses archival materials such as correspondence,
historical publications, and oral histories, as well as contemporary voices, to
examine the ways in which words inflect our understanding of Lange’s pictures.
These new perspectives and responses from artists, scholars, critics, and
writers, including Julie Ault, Wendy Red Star, and Rebecca Solnit, provide
fresh insight into Lange’s practice. (Scheduled through May 9, 2020).
American Museum of Natural History while closed, the
website is a treasure trove of information and engaging photos and ways to
explore and interact on your own. At the section of its site labeled “Explore” https://www.amnh.org/explore, there are
videos, blogs and OLogy: The Science Website for Kids, where kids of all ages
can play games, do activities, watch videos and meet scientists to learn more
about fossils, the universe, genetics, and more. (Check out https://www.amnh.org/explore/ology/brain)
New-York Historical Society is closed so you will have to wait to experience “Women March,” presidential/election exhibits (take a selfie in Reagan’s Oval Office) and “Bill Graham” (phenomenal and surprising exhibit with fabulous musical accompaniment about this iconic concert impresario). Meanwhile, the N-YHS website offers sensational online exhibitions featuring some of their important past exhibits, including ‘Harry Potter; A History of Magic,” and “the Vietnam War: 1945-1975” and Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/online-exhibitions). You can also delve into its digital collection, with selections from the N-YHS Museum and Library’s holdings paintings, drawings, photographs, manuscripts, broadsides, maps, and other materials that reveal the depth and breadth of over two centuries of collecting. (http://digitalcollections.nyhistory.org/). (See: Many Pathways to Mark Centennial of Women’s Suffrage)
some outdoor venues are open, as of this writing (the situation has changed
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden remains open to
the public, having implemented stringent cleaning protocols and posted new
signage on-site about best practices in personal hygiene. “We hope that the
Garden might offer you some comfort and beauty even during a particularly
stressful time.” (https://www.bbg.org/visit)
Central Park, Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows may well provide needed respite. However, the Wildlife Conservation Society has temporarily closed the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and New York Aquarium, effective Monday, March 16. Check wcs.org for updates.
by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
“Solar Impressions,” a new art exhibit featuring works using the innovative Solarplate print-making process, has opened at the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, Long Island. The exhibit, which runs through April 10, 2020, brings together the works of more than 40 artists including internationally acclaimed American painter Eric Fischl. Each work of art is a representation of an ongoing exploration of the Solarplate etching process developed by Dan Welden, and reflects the extraordinary diversity of applications of the technique.
Noted artist, master printmaker, educator, and author, Dan Welden, was among scores of artists and art lovers on hand at an opening reception that took place on Sunday, January 26. Welden, director of Hampton Editions, Ltd., in Sag Harbor, is the developer of the Solarplate etching process, which uses light-sensitive material applied to a metal plate, and then hardened by the sun. The innovative process is a simpler and safer alternative to traditional etching that uses corrosive acids and is now used at universities and art schools all over the world.
sunlight and water to fix an image from a photograph or drawing into a steel
plate which has been treated with polymer. Artists can apply color by hand into
the ridges and grooves, or use a silk-screen process.
What is impressive is
the versatility of the Solarplate process for artists across various media –
photographers, painters, printers, collage makers – as well as the materials
they use – paper, textured paper, Mulberry paper, fabric – which is very much
on view in the Gold Coast exhibit.
“Rather than using all of these harmful materials that get inside an artist’s lungs and immune system, solarplate etching uses sunlight and water,” Welden said in an interview with Robert Pelaez of Blank Slate Media. “It’s pretty easy to grasp for people of all ages, and you don’t need an extensive artistic background for this.”
Solarplate is a light-sensitized steel-backed
polymer material. Artist can work on the plate directly, with opaque materials
in nonwater-based pigments, or by expose the plate through a transparent film
with artwork on it. The artwork is printed on the plate through UV exposure for
2 to 5 minutes depending on light exposure, time of day and other variables.
Welden first developed the technique, he called fellow artist Jude Amsel. and
current Gold Coast Gallery Director Jude Amsel. More than 30 years later,
Amsel, the Gold Coast Gallery Director, brought together 40 pieces of
solarplate etching from across the country for the Gold Coast exhibit.
first I definitely had some questions about the process,” Amsel told Pelaez
during a studio tour. “But once I did it, I realized how revolutionary an art
form this would be for artists all over the world.”
a common ground of personal creativity,” Amsel said. “Some feature nature,
traveling, or aspects of life that resonate with an artist, but there’s no
limit to what can be done with solarplate etching. It’s one of the many things
I think is fascinating about it.”
said artists from all backgrounds are able to use the technique. Even
photographers can use the art form by reprinting and then shading in the
outline of their subject through etching.
of them, photographer Kelli Glancey, has two pieces in the exhibit. Using the
process, she has created photo images – shot in color on a phone – that harken
back to Steichen and Stieglitz. Two of her works, “Freedom Tower, Pier A”
(2019) and “The Conductor” (2019), are images taken from the 1907 Lackawana
train depot in Hoboken, NJ, pay homage to Steiglitz who lived in Hoboken.
herself as a “newbie” to solarplate, Lori Horowitz said, “Artists are so
fixated on making art we poison ourselves. This is safe process for print
making.” She holds up the original color photograph from which she made the
realm of possibilities is really endless with solarplate,” Amsel told Pelaez.
“My personal relationship with Dan makes this exhibit even more special.
Watching him work and being a part of the early stages of this art is a
innovated the process but says he has not patented it. “I did it to
share, not to own.” He travels around the world giving workshops in the
which is almost 2,000 years old, developed in China with the invention of
paper, is a process used in art to transfer images from a template onto another
surface. The design is created on the template by working its flat surface with
either tools or chemicals. Traditional printmaking techniques include
engraving, etching, woodcut, lithography and screen-printing. In the 1970’s,
Dan Weldon, a Long Island printmaker created Solarplate, a new printmaking
with Solarplate is a simple approach and safer alternative to traditional
etching and relief printing,” Amsel writes in the introduction to the exhibit. “Solarplate
is a prepared, light-sensitive polymer surface on a steel backing for artists
to produce fine prints. Since Dan Welden’s development of the process in the
1970s, printmakers, painters, photographers and art teachers interested in
multiple impressions have found printmaking with Solarplate a new tool. All an
artist needs is inspiration, a graphic image crated on a transparent film
(acetate or glass), sun or UV light, and ordinary tap water. Both positives and
negatives can be utilized; intaglio and relief printing techniques can be
“Universities and art schools all over
the world are using Solarplate as part of their curriculum. The simple,
spontaneous approach also makes it faster and more economical for use in
professional printmaking workshops and collaborations with artists. Educators
are replacing traditional acid techniques with Solarplate because of safety
regulations. Photographic in nature, Solarplate incorporates a broader range of
techniques than any other printing medium,” Amsel writes in the introduction to
Welden’s 50-year career
includes collaborations with numerous artists, including Willem and
Elaine de Kooning, Jimmy Ernst, James Brooks, Kurt Vonnegut, and Eric
among those on display at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery. Fischl’s work
graces the cover of the “Solar Impressions” souvenir catalog guide.
Artworks in the exhibit are available for sale to the public, according to Regina Gil, Founder and Executive Director of the Gold Coast Arts Center. The artists have priced the art well to make them affordable to art lovers and collectors.
presents the public with a display of unique and creative works of art using
Dan Welden’s innovative process now used by artists and art students around the
world,” Gil said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to acquire some of these
The gallery is open to the public and is free. For more information about “Solar Impressions,” including gallery hours, visit www.goldcoastarts.org. For tour information or to register for classes, visit https://goldcoastarts.org/art-gallery/ or call 516-829-2570.
Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) multi-arts organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance, and outreach. For a quarter-century, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the Long Island region. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities. These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops, and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts “Partners in Education” program and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of my earliest memories of New York theater is of seeing the D’oyly Carte production of “The Mikado,” one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most iconic works. So I am jarred when the curtain rises on a very different production –a first scene which I don’t recall, in which composer Arthur Sullivan, librettist William S. Gilbert and producer Richard D’Oyly Carte himself appear, reflect on the new exhibit of Japanese art at Knightsbridge, and Gilbert imagines a new opera set in Japan. When the curtain rises on the fictional town of Titipu, instead of elaborate Japanese kimonos, the Gentlemen of Japan look a lot like Englishmen with odd hats and outfits, and so do the ladies when they appeared in their modified flowing dresses.
I soon appreciate the bold innovation including the new opening scene and characters, and costumes that make clear these are Victorian Englishmen pretending to be Japanese – as the new character of Gilbert says “They dress like us,” except with bright colors. The device, to address the sensibilities of a modern audience, puts the focus of Mikado properly where it should be: a satire on human nature. And in revising the work in this way, a new generation can be delighted by the magnificent music and ingenious lyrics. If anything makes us laugh, especially at ourselves, that is a gift.
Indeed, Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas – basically inventing today’s musical theater form – are on par with Shakespeare and similarly deserve to be tweaked and reinterpreted, just as “Much Ado About Nothing” was at this year’s Public Theater production, and performed generation after generation.
This production, was first introduced in 2016 as a response to an outcry from New York’s Asian-American community in 2015 over the political incorrectness and insensitivity of the original, regularly performed with Caucasian actors in yellowish makeup and taped-back eyelids. There is no danger of that: this cast is multi-racial.
“NYGASP listened for a simple reason – it was the right thing to do. One year later we created an imaginative new production which all communities, audiences and artists could embrace,” the program notes. The show opened to sold-out crowds and critical acclaim in December 2016; this is its second New York City run. Run to see it before the season concludes, January 5.
The new opening scene and costuming make sure there is no confusion that the Mikado represents Englishmen satirizing Victorian society and politics, capitalizing on British fascination with all things Japanese in the 1880s, to defuse the pointed references that might have gotten Gilbert & Sullivan, who were under censorship of Lord Chamberlain, into trouble. And frankly, the depiction of The Mikado (who doesn’t even appear for the first 2 ½ hours of the three-hour show) as a cruel but ridiculous tyrant is reminiscent of how the Red Queen is depicted in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865). If anything, that character is more relevant today than in 2015 or even 1885.
Of course British audiences of 1885
could have cared less about “political correctness.” The object of Gilbert
& Sullivan’s satire was British society and human nature and the human
condition, and they created their fictional Titipu, Japan, to make their satire
We take advantage of seeing the December 30 afternoon “Grandparents” performance, geared to families, which features a before-show talk introducing the plot and music and an after-show backstage tour in the company with the players.
During the talk, by the Conductor and Musical Director Albert Bergeret, who founded the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players 45 years ago, I learn that my comparison of “Mikado” for Gilbert & Sullivan to “Madame Butterfly” by Puccini is not entirely unfounded. While the music that Sullivan composed runs the gamut of British musical styles (ballad, madrigal, march), he incorporates the Japanese five-note scale and an actual Japanese folk song, Miya-sama (though for this production, new English lyrics are substituted for the Japanese) – music which Puccini also expropriates in “Madame Butterfly.”
“We took out what’s incomprehensible or inappropriate,” Bergeret says, who adds that Sullivan was a brilliant, classically trained musician who was well versed in all genres of music and composers from around the world. In “Mikado” Sullivan demonstrates his virtuosity in writing in many different forms.
Just as Gilbert incorporated contemporaneous digs, so too does this Ko-Ko, a common tailor taken from the county jail (for flirting) and elevated to Lord High Executioner, update his “List” of those who shan’t be missed, to be as current has yesterday’s tweet, changing it each performance, surprising even the rest of the cast.
Ko-Ko, brilliantly played by David Macaluso, includes “the wealthy narcisscist, he never will be missed” on his list and manages to spell out T-R-U-M-P in the subheads of the long, long list as the scroll unfurls.
The premise of “The Mikado,” is a
society under the thumb of an all-powerful sadistic but ridiculous ruler who
makes ridiculous but cruel laws on a whim: flirting as a capital offense, then
demanding to know why no executions have been carried out.
The Mikado, played by David Wannen,
exclaims, “My object all sublime/I shall achieve in time/ to let the punishment
fit the crime.. And make each prisoner pent/Unwillingly
represent/A source of innocent merriment.”
The Mikado’s updated
list of who to punish and how, includes the instagrammer “made to endure a
dungeon cell without not one cellular bar” and “political pundits, who must
sail for weeks on a boat full of leaks on a sea of alternative facts.” (That
gets tremendous laughs.)
They do manage to slip in a few names, carefully spreading their barbs more or less equally: but one placement in particular is rich – Pooh-Bah, marvelously played by Matthew Wages, signs the execution order with all his official positions, but adds to the list signing of those supposedly witnessed Nanki-Poo’s execution Attorney General William Barr and the chair of the Judiciary Committee (balance).
The Mikado then looks to execute Ko-Ko (the Lord High Executioner), Pooh-Bah (the “Lord High Everything”) and Pitti-Sing (one of the “three little maids from school” and Ko-Ko’s wards, played by Amy Maude Helfer) for carrying out the Mikado’s orders to execute somebody but unwittingly executing the heir to the throne. The Mikado appreciates the effort (he only wishes he could have witnessed the execution) but insists they still should be executed for, well, killing the heir and looks for the entertainment value in their lingering death.
The Mikado justifies killing the three because, after all, this is an unfair world where the virtuous suffer and the undeserving succeed. This leads to the song that probably best sums up the moral of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado,” in which the three condemned sing, “See how the Fates their gifts allot/For A is happy, B is not/Yet B is worthy, I dare say/Of more prosperity than A…If I were Fortune which I’m not/B should enjoy A’s happy lot/And A should die in miserie/That is, assuming I am B.”
In the end The Mikado is less a jab at all-powerful monarchal misrule, than a comic contemplation of what human beings do when in that situation. Their focus is on human nature and the human condition. In Mikado, we see self-preservation – even by Yum-Yum who is willing to marry Nanki-Poo who loves her so much he is willing to be executed after just a month, until she realizes that as the wife of an executed man, she would be buried alive.
This production makes another change at the end, stopping the show for a return to the Gilbert & Sullivan characters trying to figure out an ending that would not rely on a magical or fantastical device like the “magic lozenge” they used in their 1877 opera “The Sorcerer” and almost breaks up their collaboration. (Gilbert finally gets to use the device in “The Mountebanks,” written with Alfred Cellier in 1892). Instead, Gilbert comes up with an argument that actually makes sense given the circumstance: Any order by the Mikado must be carried out, so having given the order, it must have been carried out (not much more absurd than “He was too stupid to know withholding military aid to a vulnerable ally in exchange for political favor was illegal”).
Another part that young
people might assume was added as a nod to “Me Too” to make relevant, is Katisha
espousing on ‘beauty’ –her face might not be much (and doesn’t cruelty hold
some allure?), but she has a shoulder blade, a right elbow, and a heel that
admirers come miles to see.
“The Mikado,” the ninth of 14 collaborations between Gilbert & Sullivan, was immensely popular when it opened on March 14 1885 in London, running for 672 performances, the second longest run for any musical theater production. By the end of 1885, some 150 companies in Europe and America were performing the operetta. It even was widely performed in Japan (apparently they took no offense).
There were decades when a
production of Mikado could be seen somewhere in the English speaking world any
day of the year. Performed for the last 135 years, some of its word inventions
have entered the lexicon, such as “the grand Poo-Bah” and “Let the punishment
fit the crime.”
The new Prologue, written by NYGASP Director and Choreographer David Auxier-Loyola (who also plays W.S. Gilbert and Pish-Tush), appears actually a distillation of the actual background (or rather the mythology) to Gilbert & Sullivan creating “The Mikado,” especially their references to avoiding a similar plot solution of a magic lozenge. Apparently, the Knightsbridge exhibition of Japanese art came after Mikado opened, though British fascination in Japan had built up from the 1860s and 1870s, after Japan opened to Western trade in 1854. (The 1999 film “Topsy Turvy” is a marvelous film depicting their lives around this time.)
Gilbert & Sullivan actually invented musical theater. At the time Gilbert & Sullivan were writing, there were opera, light opera and music hall theatricals, but nothing like a musical show with story – music that had both class and pop – with real story lines, music advanced the story, Bergeret tells us. This is where musical theater started,. Watching “Mikado” you see a straight line to Rogers & Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim.
that are being presented this season are family friendly, but some have special
events attached. We had the marvelous experience of attending a “Grandparents”
performance which featured a before-show talk introducing the show (especially
to children), and a most marvelous after-show backstage tour with cast members.
(David Auxler, who plays the Gilbert character said they only had five
rehearsals) and so enjoyed going backstage with David Macaluso (Ko-Ko), who
showed us the various props including his giant executioner’s ax.
This not-to-be-missed production of the iconic comic opera is fabulous, featuring original choreography and direction by NYGASP Associate Stage Director David Auxier, who also authored the show’s prologue and plays Gilbert and Pish-Tush, and Assistant Direction by Broadway performer/director Kelvin Moon Loh.
The show’s sensational cast includes: dynamic bass David Wannen as The Mikado; clever patter man and comic David Macaluso as Sullivan and Ko-Ko; blustering Matthew Wages as Richard D’Oyly Carte and the pompous Pooh-Bah; creative David Auxier as author Gilbert and town leader Pish-Tush; charming tenor John Charles McLaughlin as romantic hero Nanki-Poo; formidable Caitlin Burke as lovelorn and overbearing Katisha; beautiful soprano Sarah Caldwell Smith as self-aware Yum Yum; Rebecca Hargrove as maiden sister Peep-Bo, and mellifluous mezzo Amy Maude Helfer as adventurous Pitti-Sing.
The production showcases
magnificent scenery designed by Anshuman Bhatia, costumes by Quinto Ott and
lighting by Benjamin Weill. The
Mikado is produced by
NYGASP Executive Director David Wannen.
Since its founding in 1974, the New
York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP) has presented more than 2,000
performances of the Gilbert & Sullivan masterpieces throughout the United
States, Canada and England, captivating audiences of all ages.
NYGASP has been hailed as “the leading custodian of the G&S classics” by New York Magazine and has created its own special niche in the cultural mosaic of New York City and the nation. According to the Company’s Founder/Artistic Director/General Manager Albert Bergeret, NYGASP’s mission is “giving vitality to the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan.”
“Everyone loves The Mikado and our new production, with its celebrated premise of imagination, keeps the revered story alive and colorful,” he says. “I’m delighted to once more be involved in elevating the humor and musical values of this evolving and very theatrical production, while alternating on the conductor’s podium with my colleague, Joseph Rubin, as part of NYGASP’s commitment to the future development of the Company”.
“The Mikado” is the showpiece of NYGASP’s 45th season, presenting eight family friendly performances after Christmas, Dec. 27 through Jan. 5, 2020 at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. An encore Family Overture presentation will take place at 12:45 pm before the Jan. 4 Saturday matinee at 2 pm which features a musical introduction and plot summary made entertaining for the whole family (free to all ticket holders).
Tickets are $95/orchestra, $50/balcony; $25/rear balcony; special discounts: 50% off for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult, 10% off for seniors 65 and older;order by phone: 212-772-4448, order pnline: www.nygasp.org, or purchase in person at the box office (Monday-Friday, noon-7pm).
The next NYGASP production is Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers,” April 18-19, 2020.
The Kaye Playhouse, 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.
by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,
Philadelphia is a jewel box of unique and spectacular, even life-enhancing attractions, a trove of national treasures of history, heritage, culture that glitters particularly during the holidays. The holiday splendor is eye-catching and warms the heart, but any visitor still has to make time to experience first-hand at least some of these iconic places. I manage to bookend my holiday merrymaking with a mix of art (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens) with history (Independence Hall) with heritage (National Museum of American Jewish History) with science and enlightenment (Philly is the hometown of one of our most enlightened inventors, Ben Franklin), and so I end this visit with the Franklin Institute and can’t wait to come back.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
You get a taste of what to expect in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) as you enter the South Street neighborhood. The creator, Isaiah Zagar, who has lived in the neighborhood since moving there with his wife, Julia, in the late 1960s when it was derelict and blighted, turned trash and broken walls into sparkling mosaic art. Otherwise forbidding narrow alleyways and whole sides of buildings twinkle with the pieces of broken mirrors and glass and humor (you can’t help but smile). But nothing prepares you for the awe you feel when you walk out of the two indoor galleries into the Magic Gardens.
Here is a riot of
handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, international folk art,
recreated into walls, pathways, stairways, layers and levels. There is so much
to explore and discover – not just visually, but emotionally. Woven into the
art are Zagar’s profound, personal sayings, expressions, thoughts, feelings: “I
build this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasies.” “Imagery
which refuses to stabilize.” “The complexity of various problems. Rewind it.”
It’s called Magic Gardens
even though there are no plants, flowers or trees. But you aren’t here long
before you realize how it nonetheless is a living organic thing, where broken
and discarded trash and objects considered valueless or past their useful life,
get new life, purpose, meaning. And value.
The “magic” is how the objects
are re-animated – an expression of creativity, infusion of imagination. ”The
Garden” grows organically, as if living organism.
“It is one man’s vision,
process, style,” Elisabeth Carter (Lis), a Magic Gardens guide, tells me. “He had
assistants. Most of the smaller figurines and sculpture were made by Mexican
folk artists and couple of local artists, especially the Aguilar family. Others
helped make some of the tiles – including First Lady Michelle Obama (there is a
letter that she sent to the Gardens).
“It is still a work in
progress – new pieces are added – plus it is outdoors, so weather (snow/ice) is
factor. We have a full-time preservation team of thee who maintain, repair, and
document new folk art.
“He’s interested in how
things wear, fade, and change over time – things are constantly changing, new
things added – like a breathing animal.
Zagar brings the art
form of mosaic to a whole different dimension. “Zagar is known for mosaics. He uses things
that others think are trash or have no value. He is inspired by the Hindu God
Shiva – the god of destruction and transformation.”
Zagar, who is 80 years
old now, studied art at the Pratt Institute, Lis says, “but painting wasn’t
fulfilling. He Is bipolar; he used mosaics as mental health therapy. Small,
broken pieces of tile people were throwing away, he found satisfying to build
into something positive and beautiful.”
Lis points me to a small
sculpture which is a self-portrait, depicting the artist with three arms.
There must be thousands
and thousands of objects here. You first see what is in front of you as a
whole, but then your eye goes to sections, narrower and narrower, until you
spend time searching and discovering individual objects. And what you see, what you experience would
always be different – with light, time of day, weather affecting the colors and
You have to walk through
at least twice: the first time is very sensory, overload. The second time, you
can focus more. You walk through an alley of art, curved paths, you see things
differently from every angle, every step. Like a Japanese Garden, you cannot see
the whole thing at once, and you don’t know what to expect beyond. It’s a carnival of art, a riot of color, texture, shapes and
subjects that dazzle the eye and the brain and stir the heart.
“Zagar has devoted
himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960s, when
he moved to the area with his wife, Julia. The couple helped spur the
revitalization of the area by renovating derelict buildings and adding
colorful mosaics on both private and public walls. The Zagars, teamed with
other artists and activists, transformed the neighborhood into a prosperous
artistic haven and successfully led protests against the addition of a new
highway that would have eliminated South Street. This period of artistic
rebirth was coined the ‘South Street Renaissance.’ After the street was saved,
Zagar continued creating mosaic murals, resulting in hundreds of public
artworks over the next five decades.
“In 1991, Zagar started
working on the vacant lots located near his studio at 1020 South Street. He
first mosaicked the buildings on either side of the property, then spent years
sculpting multi-layer walls out of found objects. In 2004, the
Boston-based owner of the lots discovered Zagar’s installation and decided to
sell the land, calling for the work to be dismantled. Unwilling to witness the
destruction of the now-beloved neighborhood art environment, the community
rushed to support the artist. His creation, newly titled Philadelphia’s Magic
Gardens, quickly became incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the
intention of preserving the artwork at the PMG site and throughout the
South Street region. Zagar was then able to develop the site even further;
excavating tunnels and grottos.”
Gardens opened to the public in 2008, giving visitors the opportunity to
participate in tours, art activities, hands-on interpretive experiences,
workshops, concerts, exhibitions, and more.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is open
Wednesday-Monday, 11 am – 6 pm, closed Tuesdays. (1020 South Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147, 215-733-0390, www.phillymagicgardens.org)
I continue my walk to
the Franklin Institute, all the while coming upon the fantastic public art
throughout the city – magnificent murals that decorate buildings, that reflect
and speak to that particular neighborhood and inspire with their beauty and
their message. No doubt a public art movement inspired by Isaiah Zagar.
There is also
Philadelphia’s “Museum Without Walls” of sculptures and art work throughout the
city (an audio tour is available, www.museumwithoutwallsaudio.org, 215-399-9000).
As you enter Franklin
Institute. beneath a giant moon there is a sensational lighted statue of
America’s first scientist and Philadelphia’s Favorite Founding Father, Ben
Franklin, who inspired the institute’s founding in 1824. During the course of a
few hours, I travel to outer space in search of life; walk through a human
heart; tangle in neurons of the human brain; visit one of the earliest steam
engines; and try to unravel the mystery (to me, anyway) of electricity.
“If you wish to make an
apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe,” Carl Sagan said,
the quote opening the movie in the Fels Planetarium, one of the first ever
built, that dates from 1933.
Founded in honor of America’s first scientist,
Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest and premier
centers of science education and development in the country. Today, the
Institute continues its dedication to public education and fostering a passion
for science by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in
ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake.
Everything about the Franklin Institute is
designed to engage, immerse, interact.
This is exemplified in the special exhibition on
view through April 12, 2020, the world-premiere exhibition of “The Worst Case
Scenario Survival Experience,”
based on the best-selling survival handbook series. The exhibit
showcases strategies of survival and elements of escape in the form of a
hands-on, minds-on logical series of immersive challenges providing the
essential instructions for surviving unexpected but possible real-life
scenarios with countless moments of excitement and levity throughout.
how to jump from a moving train car, pick a lock, escape from quicksand,
survive an avalanche, and more in the thirteen challenges that fill the
Survival Gymnasium, which offers step by step instructions, expert advice, and
the training to build the worst-case survival skills.
for extreme survival, including counterintuitive uses for everyday items are on
display, plus graphics that share how to identify anxiety and fear within the
body and uncover how stress, physical exhaustion, and disorientation can make
an activity, like surviving, more challenging.
Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating founded The
Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the
Mechanic Arts in 1824. The Franklin
Institute science museum opened to the public on January 1, 1934, calling
itself a “Wonderland of Science,” and was one of the first museums in
the nation to offer a hands-on approach to learning about the physical world. It
has been expanded over the years to contain more than 400,000 square feet of
exhibit space, two auditoriums, and the Tuttleman IMAX
Theater – becoming the most
visited museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a top-five tourist destination
in the City of Philadelphia, and one of the leading science centers in the
The Institute also operates the Fels Planetarium, the second oldest planetarium
in the Western Hemisphere. The Institute is home to the Benjamin
Franklin National Memorial, which was fully restored in 2010 and
which is open free to the public. It is one of just a handful of national
memorials in the custody of a private institution.
new 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion which opened in
June 2014, houses a STEM education and conference center, a climate-controlled
traveling exhibition gallery, and (an amazing) new permanent exhibit Your Brain, in which
visitors can explore neuroscience and their own senses.
Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th
St., 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu.
Staying at The Roost
East Market apartment hotel really enabled us to be part of the city, most
of what we wanted to see within walking distance. It’s not hyperbole to say the
comfort of a fully-equipped, gorgeously furnished apartment meets luxury
amenities of a boutique hotel. All of the apartments feature
full-size kitchens with cookware and utensils (I especially love not having to
go out for breakfast) and king size beds. A third-floor is
devoted to guest amenities including a well-equipped 24-hour fitness center,
magnificent and comfortable lounge areas and library, a huge demo kitchen, a
private screening room, an outside, 20-meter heated lap pool, barbecue area,
landscaped terrace, community vegetable garden;
and bike-share program. There is also 24-hour front desk and concierge,
security (you need your card to access the elevator and public areas); and
direct access to a parking garage. They
even arrange dog-walking and grocery delivery services. (The Roost East Market, 1199 Ludlow
Street Philadelphia, PA 19107, 844-697-6678, https://myroost.com/philadelphia/east-market/).
A Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes overnight free parking and perks, and is bookable at Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website, visitphilly.com, 800-537-7676 where you can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Philadelphia is a jewel box of unique and spectacular, even life-enhancing attractions, a trove of national treasures of history, heritage, culture that glitters particularly during the holidays. The holiday splendor is eye-catching and warms the heart, but any visitor still has to make time to experience first-hand at least some of these iconic places. I manage to bookend my holiday merrymaking with a mix of art (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Magic Gardens) with history (Independence Hall) with heritage (National Museum of American Jewish History) with science and enlightenment (Philly is the hometown of one of our most enlightened inventors, Ben Franklin, and so I end this visit with the Franklin Institute.
We spare no time once we drop our luggage
at The Roost East Market, park the car in the garage, but grab an Uber to race
over to The Barnes Foundation. The Barnes Collection is one of the world’s
greatest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist
paintings, with especially rich holdings in Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and
Picasso. Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912 and 1951, the
collection also includes important examples of African art, Native American
pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde
painting, and wrought-iron metalwork. In fact, we are told, Dr. Barnes has the
greatest collection of Renoir anywhere – 181 of them acquired by Dr. Barnes
between 1921 and 1942 that you actually see (as opposed to museums that keep
most of their collections in storage). Plus 69 by Paul Cézanne; 59 by Henri Matisse; 46 by Pablo Picasso;
21 by Chaim Soutine; 18 by Henri Rousseau and the list goes on and on, as
you walk from gallery to gallery to gallery.
The building complex is new, but the
gallery rooms re-create the rooms and how Dr. Barnes displayed his art,
intentionally juxtaposing masterworks by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and
Pablo Picasso next to ordinary household objects – a door hinge, a spatula, a
yarn spinner; a French medieval sculpture displayed with a Navajo textile;
African folk art with Modigliani and Cubists. Dr. Barnes called these dense
groupings of objects from different cultures, time periods and media his
“ensembles.” He meticulously crafted the ensembles to draw out visual similarities
– even the source of inspiration. He meant them as teaching tools, essential to
the educational program Dr. Barnes developed in the 1920s.
“He believed you could
as likely learn about how to do surgery wandering through a hospital as art
wandering through a gallery – you have to be taught how to see, what to look
for,” a docent explains. “He wanted people to appreciate how culture influences
art.” She adds, “He wasn’t an artist himself.” In fact, she relates, 10 years
ago, Central High School (Dr. Barnes grew up in a working class family in
Philadelphia), came across his school books. “He got A’s in everything but
At the Barnes, you experience these
masterworks in the most intimate manner, as if visiting a home (albeit a
mansion). We are exceptionally lucky to visit when the museum is not at all
crowded (actually we are there until closing) – I even get to have some of the
art completely to myself. It is very comfortable to view – many of the rooms
(and they seem to go on forever, one after another) are small and there is
seating in each one, with guides to the artwork at hand. But you should try to
take a docent tour. At one point, the docent pulls up a photo of Henry
Matisse, sitting on the very bench and gazing at his own painting in that very
In every room, you are astonished to see art that is amazingly familiar – because they are so famous: Georges Seurat’s “Models” (the basis for “Sunday in the Park with George”); Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Postman”; Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players”; Edouard Manet “Laundry”; Pablo Picasso “Acrobat and Young Harlequin”, and a plethora of Renoirs – so many, you get a sugar high. Every gallery takes your breath away, and for that moment, the art, the masterpiece, is yours.
And then there are the surprises – the art and artists you “meet” for
the first time. I fall in love with a Van Gogh country scene I have never seen
There is a wonderful painting of Dr. Albert Barnes (1872-1951) by
Giorgio de Chirico (1926), which makes you wonder more about who he was to have
assembled such an astonishing collection. Dr. Barnes was born and raised in
working-class Philadelphia, earned a medical degree from the University of
Pennsylvania and went on to study chemistry in Germany. After starting his own
business and making a fortune in pharmaceuticals, he began collecting art.
“Dr. Barnes believed that art had the power to improve minds and
transform lives,” the notes read. “In 1922, he established the Barnes
Foundation as a school for learning how to see and appreciate art. He had a
gallery built in Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, to house his growing
collection. He held classes in the gallery so that students could learn
directly from the artworks.”
In 2012, the collection was moved to Philadelphia, to a building
designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture. The collection gallery
replicates the original gallery building in Merion.
From here, we go to a family gathering at the mega-popular Zahav Restaurant (the Uber driver can’t believe we are getting in there since lines are usually around the block), an award-winning restaurant which elevates Israeli cuisine to gourmet status. The small plates menu is designed for diners to sample the variety of cultural influences on Israeli cuisine, from Eastern Europe to North Africa, from Persia to the Mediterranean. “Creamy, nutty hummuses, sizzling skewers of meat grilled over hardwood charcoal, and laffa breadar, the soul of Zahav, baked to order in a wood-fired Taboon.” (237 Saint James Place, 215-625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com).
holiday happenings (see:
Holiday Happenings Give
Visitors to Philadelphia Even More to Enjoy) are bookended by visits to several of Philadelphia’s
incomparable sites and attractions. Next: Independence Hall (you need to get a timed
ticket, either walk up for free or in advance online for $1 fee, www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/independencehalltickets.htm); a fabulous exhibit
devoted to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG) at
the National Museum of American
Jewish History, located within the Independence Hall area
(thru Jan. 12, at 5th & Market, mnajh.org, 215-923-3811); Philadelphia Magic Gardens (doesn’t
need any holiday embellishments, 1020 South St., 215-733-0390, phillymagicgardens.org);and Franklin
Institute (222 North 20th St., 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu), before having to pull myself away from Philadelphia.
Staying at The Roost
East Market apartment hotel really enabled us to be part of the city, most
of what we wanted to see within walking distance. It’s not hyperbole to say the
comfort of a fully-equipped, gorgeously furnished apartment meets luxury
amenities of a boutique hotel. All of the apartments feature
full-size kitchens with cookware and utensils (I especially love not having to
go out for breakfast) and king size beds. A third-floor is
devoted to guest amenities including a well-equipped 24-hour fitness center,
magnificent and comfortable lounge areas and library, a huge demo kitchen, a
private screening room, an outside, 20-meter heated lap pool, barbecue area,
landscaped terrace, community vegetable garden;
and bike-share program. There is also 24-hour front desk and concierge,
security (you need your card to access the elevator and public areas); and
direct access to a parking garage. They
even arrange dog-walking and grocery delivery services. (The Roost East Market, 1199 Ludlow
Street Philadelphia, PA 19107, 844-697-6678, https://myroost.com/philadelphia/east-market/).
A Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes
overnight free parking and perks, and is bookable at Greater
Philadelphia’s official visitor website, visitphilly.com, 800-537-7676 where you can explore things to do, upcoming
events, themed itineraries and hotel packages.
by Karen Rubin, Travel
Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The best thing about Christmas is that the festivities that brighten and warm all the days of the holiday season go on from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. And the best part is you don’t have to wait for Christmas week – festivities are happening throughout December. Here are some of our favorite places to revel in the holiday spirit:
in the Capital
Here are some of the best,
can’t-miss ways to experience the holidays in Washington DC::
The National Christmas Tree, one of DC’s iconic holiday traditions, lives in
President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, surrounded by trees decorated with
handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories. Each night throughout
the holiday season there are musical performances. The display is free to visit
and open from 10 am – 10 pm while the National Christmas Tree is lit
each day from 4:30-10 pm, from Dec. 5, when the lighting ceremony takes place.
Visit the Smithsonian National
Zoo during ZooLights, when the zoo is illuminated with
more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light
installations, live music and various animals on display. ZooLights runs Nov.
29 – Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31).
Enchant Christmas is a light maze, billed as the biggest in the world, that
is in DC for the first time at Nationals Park from Nov. 22 – Dec. 29.
Throughout the holiday season there are ice skating trails and a large holiday
market offering products from more than 60 vendors, including local businesses
and international brands. (Use promo code “VISITDC” to
get 10% off when you buy tickets.)
GLOW exhibition of light-art, a stroll
through DC’s most historic
neighborhood has proven to be such a
hit that it’s now a month-long celebration (Dec. 6 – Jan. 5,
5-10 pm). Afterwards, wander through a winter wonderland at The Washington
Harbour, one of the district’s favorite places
to ice skate.
The U.S. Botanic Gardengets decked out for this
annual exhibit. This year’s display focuses on gardens from Hawaii to
Maine, including iconic spots like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Franklin Park
Conservatory and Huntsville Botanical Garden. Inside the Conservatory are the garden’s collection of DC’s iconic
landmarks and a showcase of poinsettias. Season’s Greenings is
open from Nov. 28 – Jan. 5 (10 am – 5 pm), and stays open until
8 pm, with holiday concerts on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
A magnificent tree decks the Great
Hall of the Library of Congress‘ Thomas Jefferson Building each December, visited from
the First Street SE entrance between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm (the Jefferson
Building is closed Sundays and on Christmas). (Check the guide to visiting the largest library in the world so you can properly
Harbor, a shopping, dining and amusement
park-like landmark located just 20 minutes south of DC (reached by public
transportation). Step inside the Gaylord National Resort for ICE! (Nov. 15 – Dec. 30), an indoor winter wonderland
featuring two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, ice slides, a live
carving area and a retelling of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
Christmas. While at National Harbor, view the tree from atop the Capital Wheel, shop for gifts at the Tanger Outlets and experience weekend
events like holiday markets,
performances and movie screenings.
The Willard InterContinental Washington offers a holiday tradition throughout December. You can enjoy afternoon tea from 1-4 p.m. in the elegant Peacock Alley every day of the month (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31). There will be seasonal decor, sandwiches, pastries and the beautiful sounds of a harp to accompany you as you sip on festive teas from one of DC’s most historic hotels.
Now in its 15th year, Vintage Christmas, taking place throughout December, transforms Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which National Geographic/Travel described as “possibly the greatest small town in the USA,” into a picture-postcard winter wonderland.
Those who visit Portsmouth during
the holiday season discover an intimate streetscape framed by 19th century
storefronts, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. The city’s reputation as a
“foodies’” haven is upheld by chef-owned restaurants on more than every corner.
The thriving craft beer and local music scene banish all suggestions of “staid
New England” without losing the charm. And sales tax-free shopping offers
delights for every age and taste.
For 2019 Vintage Christmas in
The Music Hall, a historic theater dating from
1878 on Chestnut Street, presents “Annie” from November 27 to December 22,
with Sally Struthers reprising her Broadway tour reprisal of Miss Hannigan. Juston
McKinney: Last Laugh 2019 on Dec. 27, 28 & 29, looks back at “the
year that was” with one of the region’s most “popular stand-up comics. New
Year’s Eve Champagne Pops with the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra on
Strawbery Banke Museum: 40th Annual Candlelight Stroll on December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22, showcases 300+
years of daily life and holiday festivities around the theme “A Tradition for
Every Family” in the historic waterfront neighborhood and living history museum
of Puddle Dock. Saturdays 5-9 pm. Sundays 4-8 pm. Adult $25; child (5-17) $10,
Family (2 adults/2 kids) $60. Children under 5 and Military families, free.
Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock
Pond, Strawbery Banke’s seasonal outdoor
ice skating rink, open daily 9 am to 9 pm, also hosts costumed Victorian
skaters evoking Currier & Ives during each of the December evenings of
Vintage Christmas Trolley. This free trolley, courtesy of the City of Portsmouth,
shuttles visitors on a 15-minute loop throughout the festively decorated
downtown, from hotels and parking garages to the key events and shopping areas
on weekends, December 7-22, 1:30-10:30
more information, visit VintageChristmasNH.org; Discover Portsmouth, PortsmouthHistory.org, 603-436-8433.
Christmas in Newport, RI
Newport, Rhode Island, the Gilded
Age’s favorite summer resort, is always
enchanting, but never more so than at the winter holidays, when, it seems, the
entire town is one big festival. A sampling of “Christmas in Newport”
(now in its 49th year) and winter festivities include:
Holiday Lantern Tours: Hear the
history of early American holiday traditions on an evening walk and learn how
Newporters did, or did not, observe the holidays. Tours depart from the Museum
of Newport History and Shop (Nov. 22 – Dec. 28, Fridays and Saturdays at 4 p.m.)
Christmas at the
The glitter of gold and the sparkle of silver dazzle as you tour three magnificent
mansions decked out in yuletide finery. Music, tours and spectacular
decorations highlight celebrations at The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House –
each of which will have Gingerbread Mansion replicas on display. Special events
include “Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions” and “Santa Sundays.” (Nov.
23 – Jan. 1)
Enjoy elaborate holiday decorations around every corner of this historic early
19th century estate in Bristol. (Nov. 29 – Jan. 1)
Features a curated selection of travel, lifestyle and fashion finds. (Nov. 29 –
Dec. 20, Friday – Sunday).
Dinner Train: Immerse
yourself in the classic tale of humbuggery, ghosts and redemption with this
interactive retelling of “A Christmas Carol” by the Marley Bridges Theatre
Company. Experience a dining journey along the Newport and Narragansett Bay
Railroad in a custom-designed theater car featuring special tables for two all
facing center stage. (Nov. 30 – Dec. 21, Saturdays)
A Rough Point Holiday: Experience the
holiday traditions and winter caretaking practices at Doris Duke’s Rough Point
with various rooms of the mansion museum both spruced up for the Christmas
holiday and cloaked in their winter coverings. 30-minute guided tours offered
throughout the day. (Dec. 7 – 28, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m)
Gurney’s Newport Resort: Features heated multi-sensory igloos overlooking
Narragansett Bay, each with its own theme including Santa’s Workshop, Winter
Wonderland, Cozy Log Cabin, Roaring 20s, Harry Potter, Tropical Summer,
Northern Lights, Astrology and Après Ski, complete with activities and cocktail
pairings. Proceeds will go to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Rhode Island. (Nov.
22 – Feb. 29)
Resort Skating Rink:
Opens for the season with outdoor skating on the North Lawn overlooking the
Newport Harbor Lighthouse, The Point and the Newport Bridge. Open seven days a
week. (Nov. 26 – March 1)
Goat Hikes at
Spend an afternoon on a two-hour hike led by Farmer Karla and her crew of
adventurous, fun-loving goats. Each participant gets their own goat to
walk on a leash. The afternoon finishes with hot chocolate made with the milk
from the farm. (Nov. 24 – Jan. 1)
Painting with Color and Light,” an exhibit of colorful glass artwork and objects by the renowned Louis
C. Tiffany opens at Rosecliff beginning Sunday, Dec. 8, and continuing through March 1. The exhibition is free to view with paid
admission to Rosecliff (548 Bellevue Ave.). For tickets and information, visit
newportmansions.org/learn/adult-programs or call (401) 847-1000, ext. 178. Rosecliff
is one of the Preservation Society of Newport 11 historic properties, seven of
them National Historic Landmarks, collectively spanning more than 250 years of
American architectural and social development. (NewportMansions.org)
See more holiday and winter events in Newport and plan a visit
at DiscoverNewport.org, 800-326-030, 401-849-8048.
A Longwood Christmas
at Longwood Gardens, is magical with 500,000 lights gracing 150 trees throughout the outdoor
Gardens, a four-acre Conservatory with holiday sing-alongs accompanied
by a 10,010 pipe Aeolian organ – the largest organ ever constructed in a
residential setting. At the Open
Air Theatre, fountains dance day and night to holiday classics. Delight in
Longwood’s outdoor train display as it travels past miniature Longwood
landmarks illuminated for the holiday season. In the Meadow Garden, stroll
through a 140-ft tunnel of light in the winter landscape, and discover a grove
of glowing architectural orbs that pulse and change to the rhythm of holiday
music. Grab a hot chocolate and
cozy up to one of the many fire pits. ALongwoodChristmasruns November 22, 2019– January
5, 2020 (including Christmas Day). Admission to the Christmas display is by
Timed Admission Ticket, with tickets purchased in advance for a specific date
and time. (Tickets and reservations at longwoodgardens.org.)
Yuletide at Winterthur: From November 23 through
January 5, you can experience one of the Brandywine Valley’s most memorable attractions. Henry du Pont’s mansion is
transformed into a magical holiday spectacle, with food, music, exhibits, an
exquisite 18-room dollhouse mansion, and an Enchanted Woods children’s garden.
Reservations are recommended for the Yuletide exhibits, and the last chance to see Winterthur’s Costuming
THE CROWN (showcasing costumes from Netflix’s Emmy winning series) before it
closes on January 5.
Nemours Estate: Starting November 17, you
can experience holidays in traditional du Pont style as you tour the 1907 mansion and gardens that Alfred du Pont built for his wife
Alicia. See original decorations (including a 19th century
German crèche), twinkling lights, and bright colored ornaments.
Holidays at Hagleyat Hagley Museum takes
you back to 1803 as you visit the du Pont ancestral home Eleutherian Mills,
decorated in vintage holiday charm. There’s also a “Christmas Trees Past and
Brandywine Christmas atthe Brandywine River Museum of Art, renowned for its collection from three generations of Wyeth family artists, during the holiday season showcases the region’s most impressive model train display, which includes nearly 2,000 feet of track. Throughout the season, festive trees and crafts, live musical performances, and imaginative “Critter” ornaments made by local volunteers. There’s also a Polar Express Pajama Party, breakfast with the trains, and more special events. (www.brandywinemuseum.org)
Holiday Light Express: throughout
December you can take a 45-minute ride in 100-year old (heated!) coaches and
experience thousands of holiday lights twinkling as you pass decorated homes
along the route.
A Christmas Carol: Delaware Theater Company’s adaptation of the Dickens classic has
a twist: performed with just five actors
bring Charles Dickens’ beloved characters to life using props, puppets, bold
physicality and the imagination of the audience. Opening night is December 7,
so make this a cultural must-see on your holiday road trip.
Experience the magic of the
Christmas City: Bethlehem, in Lehigh Valley, PA boasts one of the top-ranked
holiday markets in the world, now celebrating its 27th season. Christkindlmarkt (weekends, Nov. 22 – Dec. 22) offers visitors wares
from 100 vendors, musical performances, and glass blowing demonstrations.
Along Main Street, browse the Christmas Huts on Main (weekends, Nov. 22 – Dec. 22), a shopping experience
inspired by a German Weihnachtsmarkt, complete with charming wooden huts
lining the streets offering holiday gifts. Browse the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the
Join Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites for a variety of tours including Christmas City
Stroll, which takes you on a walking excursion through the city’s National
Historic Landmark District. Led by a guide in period dress, this tour will give
you a peek into what Moravian life was like in the 1700s.
To get a great view of the famous
star atop South Mountain, get tickets for the Bethlehem by Night bus tour. On this tour, participants will learn
why the north side of the city dons white lights and the SouthSide dresses up
in colored lights. (Reserve in advance.)
One of the most distinctive holiday
traditions is the Bethlehem’s Live Advent Calendar. Thought to be the only one
of its kind in the country, visitors can join locals in this activity nightly,
Dec. 1 – 23, at 5:30 p.m. Crowds gather outside the Goundie House at 501 Main Street. A selected visitor knocks on the
door and the group is greeted by representatives from local businesses offering
a surprise for all to enjoy. Nightly surprises could include musical
performances, a story, or a tasty treat.
As you wander along Main Street,
enjoy the music. Trombone choirs stroll the sidewalks playing holiday tunes, a
nod to the city’s Moravian heritage.
For a special view of the city’s
historic district, take a horse-drawn holiday carriage ride, hosted by the
Bethlehem Carriage Company.
A free Christmas City Trolley is
offered Fridays-Sundays, Nov. 15 – Dec. 22. The trolley runs every 20-30
minutes, shuttling between the Historic District and the SouthSide Arts
a special holiday tradition with friends and family on a festive tour of
Victorian Cape May during Christmas Candlelight House Tours, presented by the
Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Every year since 1974,
a large selection of Victorian inns, homes, churches and hotels open their
doors and welcome visitors to share the warmth and hospitality of the season
during these popular, self-guided, walking tours. You will be welcomed inside
with holiday hospitality and cheer. Enjoy Christmas carols by candlelight,
strolling musicians along the historic streets of Cape May and beautiful
holiday decorations. Walk from site to site, stopping at hospitality centers
for warm beverages and holiday treats during your travels. Free heated shuttles
make limited stops along some routes. The three Christmas Candlelight House
Tours of the 2019 holiday season are held on Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 28, from
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (tickets should be purchased in advance). The
festivities begin Friday, Nov. 22 and continue through Jan. 1, 2020.
For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at 609-884-5508 or visit www.capemaychamber.com. For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at www.capemaylodging.com.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center and the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City offers unparalleled ways to celebrate the holidays with vibrant performances, tours, lightings, special events taking place from early November into January.
“New York City’s celebratory spirit and excitement are palpable during the annual holiday season. From iconic attractions and events to hidden-gem activities in all five boroughs, there’s an endless roster of memorable programming to enjoy from November to January,” said NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon. NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, is forecasting seven million visitors will visit the City during the 2019–2020 holiday season.
Here are some of the festive events, performances and activities across the boroughs to celebrate the holiday season in New York City.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, November 28, Manhattan The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a classic New York City celebration of the holidays, featuring larger-than-life helium balloons, fantasy floats, clowns, performance groups, Broadway’s best musicals, celebrity appearances and more. The 93rd Annual spectacle will feature new balloons including Astronaut Snoopy, Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham, SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary, Smokey Bear and Yayoi Kusama’s Love Flies Up to the Sky. New floats include Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You!, The Brick-changer by The Lego Group, Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store®, Rexy in the City by COACH® and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life. The parade begins at 9 am on 77th Street and Central Park West, snakes around Central Park South and heads down Sixth Avenue before concluding at Macy’s Herald Square at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Balloon Inflation, November 27, 1-8 pm: Head up to the American Museum of Natural History on November 27 from 1 to 8 pm to watch the balloon inflation at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue but be prepared for long lines (entrance at 73rd and Columbus.)
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, December 4, Midtown, Manhattan: The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center has been a tradition for more than eight decades. Lighting up Rockefeller Plaza, the tree lighting ceremony features performances and classic Christmas songs. The tree will arrive on November 9, light up on December 4 and be on view through early to mid-January.
New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop, December 31–January 1, Times Square, Manhattan: Each year, millions of viewers watch the Times Square Ball Drop from New York City and around the globe. The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball sparkles in Times Square for visitors to see all season, but its descent is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Prospect Park, December 31–January 1, Prospect Park, Brooklyn: The Grand Army Plaza’s iconic New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Prospect Park offer an alternative to the frenzy of Times Square. This spectacular celebration includes live music, followed by a fireworks show at midnight.
Shine On at Hudson Yards, November 29-January 5. A new tradition being introduced at Manhattan’s newest neighborhood. Kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with full day of live performances featuring award-winning New York musicians, dangers and entertainers, plus Only at Hudson Yards offers. Then, every Tuesday through December 24, music and dance performances throughout Hudson Yards, and Saturdays children’s activities and family events. Immersive Light and Music Shows: the New York premiere of artist Christopher Schardt’s light sculpture Lyra, 5 pm daily at multiple locations throughout Hudson Yards. Visit Wells Fargo Lodge for hot chocolate tastings and 360-degree photo ops, plus interactive Star Stations with gift wrapping. Unlock holiday offers from SAP with shine ON LED bracelet available at Hudson Yards retailers.
Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo, November 21–January 5, Fordham, the Bronx: Returning for the first time since 2007, the stunning light displays at the Bronx Zoo will cover several acres in a walk-through experience with wildlife-themed LED displays, custom lanterns and animated light shows.
LuminoCity Festival, November 23-January 5, Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan: Sixteen acres of lights will illuminate themed worlds during this inaugural festival, creating an immersive journey for visitors that includes a castle, skating unicorn and enchanted forest.
Brookfield Place Light Up Luminaries, December 3-January 4, Battery Park City, Manhattan: This spectacular light installation kicks off December 3 with an evening of free ice skating, snacks and live performances.
Festival at Citi
Field, December 6–January 26,
Flushing, Queens: The debut of this international lantern, food and art
festival will include 60 global cuisine vendors, arts experiences, live
performances and a holiday market.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival, November 20–January 12, Randall Manor, Staten Island: The NYC Winter Lantern Festival is returning for a second year to Staten Island. Sponsored by Empire Outlets and venue partner Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, eight acres will be lit up by more than 50 LED installations, accompanied by live performances of traditional Chinese dance and art.
New-York Historical Society, (November 1, 2019 – February 23, 2020: A holiday favorite returns this season, reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Busytown series author and illustrator Richard Scarry. Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry’s Busytown showcases artwork and graphics of Scarry’s characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm from publisher Random House Children’s Books alongside more than 300 objects from the Jerni Collection’s antique toy trains, stations, and accessories. Using Busytown stories and characters, dynamic displays explore the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving. Fun, train-related activities for kids of all ages take place through the exhibition’s run―all free with museum admission. These include: Celebrating Richard Scarry and Busytown! (Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15; 1–3 pm); December School Vacation Week (Thursday, December 26 – Wednesday, January 1) (170 Central Park West (77th St), New York, NY 10024, www.nyhistory.org)
Gingerbread Lane at New York Hall of Science, November 23–January 12, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens: Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science invites visitors to witness the vast collection of gingerbread structures embellished with candy canes, chocolate and frosting.
New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, November 23–January 26, Fordham, the Bronx: Conveniently accessible via the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Terminal, head to the New York Botanical Garden to be enchanted by model trains zipping through a display of more than 175 NYC landmarks, each re-created with natural materials.
Belmont BID Arthur Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony, November 30, Belmont, the Bronx: Experience Christmas in the Bronx’s Little Italy at the Belmont BID Arthur Avenue Tree Lighting. The annual event features a visit from Santa, cookies and hot chocolate among the twinkling lights.
Seaport District NYC Celebrations, Seaport District NYC, Manhattan: Festivities in this neighborhood include the Winterland Holiday Tree Lighting on December 2, Menorah Lighting on December 22, a pop-up tree farm, ice skating and a light display at Pier 17.
Holiday Workshop Weekend at Wave Hill, December 7–8, Riverdale, the Bronx: Create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations by the gorgeous gardens and galleries at Wave Hill during their interactive Holiday Workshop Weekend.
Historic Richmond Town Candlelight Tours, December 14–21, Staten Island: This Christmas season, experience the tastes and scents of centuries past at Historic Richmond Town. Step back in time while touring the unique New York City which is illuminated by candles and oil lamps.
11th Annual Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Museum, December 16, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn: One of New York City’s most unique and delicious holiday tasting events, the Latke Festival is a charity event that celebrates the best and most creative potato pancakes.
Melrose Holiday Parranda, December 21, Melrose, the Bronx: The Melrose Holiday Parranda follows in the footsteps of Puerto Rican holiday caroling with a procession based on plena music and holiday songs. Cheer-Filled Performances:
Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes, November 8–January 5, Midtown, Manhattan: The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes returns to Radio City Music Hall, dazzling audiences of all ages with incredible costumes, festive songs and synchronized high kicks.
Four Renditions of
the Holiday Classic A Christmas Carol
Holiday Performances at the World
Famous Apollo Theater, Harlem,
Manhattan: The Apollo Theater, celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2019, hosts
holiday events including a Harlem gospel choir performance at Coca-Cola
Winter Wonderland on December 14, followed by the Amateur
Night Holiday Special. Gospel legends Yolanda Adams and Donald
Lawrence headline annual concert Holiday Joy: A Gospel Celebration on
December 21. As a grand finale, the annual Kwanzaa Celebration on
December 28 features Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and guest
Year’s Eve Concert for Peace, Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, (1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St., New York 10025,
212-316-7540,email@example.com, www.stjohndivine.org), Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019,
7-8:30 pm,: Founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, the
annual New Year’s Eve Concert for Peace is a signature Cathedral event with performances
by the Cathedral Choir and Orchestra led by Director of Music Kent Tritle.
Harry Smith, host; special guests Paul Winter, Jamet Pittman,
Jason Robert Brown, and David Briggs. General admission seats are free and open
to the public on the night of the show. Reserved seats are available now.
Holiday markets: New York City is full of incredible holiday markets, with must-buy gifts, sweets, drinks and winter activities. This year, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opened earlier than ever on October 31. Other popular markets include the Union Square Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Brooklyn Flea and Astoria Market.
Iconic Holiday Windows: Awe-inspiring window displays at stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s Herald Square and the new Nordstrom Women’s Store sparkle, inviting visitors to explore the magic of New York City shopping.
Empire Outlets, St. George, Staten Island: New York City’s first-ever outlet destination, Empire Outlets, will ring in the holiday season with a special Black Friday sale and their first annual tree lighting ceremony. Easily accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan, the outlets will be adorned with thousands of lights, garland wraps and a 40-foot tree.
23 Days of Flatiron Cheer,
December 1-23, Flatiron District, Manhattan: 23
Days of Flatiron Cheer will include free, holiday-themed events showcasing the
intersection of shopping, dining and culture in this vibrant neighborhood.
The Shops at Columbus Circlehas kicked off its fourth year of Broadway Under the Stars, a five-week series of free public performances taking place this holiday season.Select cast from today’s hottest Broadway musicals will perform against the backdrop of the destination’s famous 12 massive stars. These stars, one of the largest specialty crafted exhibits of illuminated color displays in the world, are suspended from the 100-foot-high ceilings. Performances, lasting 20 minutes, begin at 5 pm and are free to attend and open to the public, no reservations or tickets are required. (Nov. 11, Waitress, Chicago, Oklahoma!andThe Lightening Thief; Nov. 18, Come From Away, Rock of Ages;Nov. 25: Dear Evan Hansen, The Illusionists, Frozen; Dec. 2: Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Mean Girls; Dec. 9: Phantom of the Opera, Wicked). Additional Broadway Under the Stars offerings include specialty cocktails from the Shops at Columbus Circle’s Restaurant and Bar Collection which includes Monday night drink specials like Center Bar’s Pomegranate Smash cocktail ($16). Visit www.theshopsatcolumbuscircle.com for more information and list of events and happenings.
Shop at Your Hotel: Several hotels are home to retail pop-ups this holiday season, partnering with iconic stores to make shopping easier than ever for visitors.
Grand Hyatt New York is partnering with Macy’s Herald Square for a pop-up located behind the check-in desk, featuring New York City-themed gifts, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade apparel and novel gift items November 25–January 1.
Loews Regency New York Hotel and Bloomingdale’s are teaming up to bring a curated selection of holiday gifts to the lobby lounge November 29-December 24, including on-site monogramming of leather gifts by ROYCE New York.
Conrad New York Midtown is launching the first FAO Schwarz Holiday Suite, filled with shoppable toys, stuffed
animals and gifts that will be restocked for visitors who book a stay in the
suite November 18–January 5. Additionally, all guests during this time period
will be able to order gifts on demand to their suite or home address.
entertainer Ben Vereen, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Gold
Coast Arts Center, Long Island, at the opening of its 9th Annual
Gold Coast International Film Festival, Nov. 4, 2019, brings a spiritual message to the arts which
explains why he has been such a strong advocate for arts education, mentor and
“If you would ask, ‘Why
is life so important to you?’ I would say, ‘In the beginning God created.’ It’s
not ‘in the beginning God manufactured’. We are living, walking, talking art pieces
of the One who created us. Our job is not just performing arts, but one aspect
of life itself. Life is an art piece for everybody to see. We’re supposed to
care for each other, love each other, show the wonders of creation – this
building, these seats – didn’t just come here, they came from thought. A thought
and we bring forth that which is manifested.
“Arts have saved people
throughout the centuries. Art has calmed people from war. Art is here to
embrace our lives. We are healed through the arts.”
Vereen tells the
audience which included the young people from Uniondale High School who
performed in their nationally acclaimed choir, Rhythm of the Knight, “Go play
in hospitals. When someone would come to do art, music, singing, the vibration
in building is higher. It’s important we support – we call it the arts- what it
really is is ‘Let’s support life,’” he said to applause.
“The arts. Change the name
to life – arts of life, the teaching part of life, the engineering part of life
is all art.
If we give our children
arts from the beginning, they will be better at school.”
And what do you tell a young
person about pursuing a career in arts? Dilla asked. “Know thyself, study you,
who you are, you are that art you would bring forth. Be conscious of who you
are. It’s okay to take baby steps, eventually you will get you there. Don’t
take rejection as a ‘no’ to your life – your life isn’t over, just a
steppingstone to your higher self. Keep stepping up.
“We need you. Your form
of art may not be on stage, it may be going to government. Your art might not
be an interviewer like Frank Dilella, it might be to head a country and make
the world a better place for everybody. Know thyself and to thine own self be
offered insights into his life in a conversation with Frank DiLella, Emmy Award
winning host of On Stage on Spectrum News NY1.
was honored for his epic performances that have been woven into the fabric of
the nation’s artistic legacy – first coming to worldwide attention as Chicken
George in the ground-breaking television series, Roots for which he won an Emmy nomination in 1977. He won a Tony
Award as well as the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in A Musical in 1973 for Pippin; and starred in Jesus Christ Superstar, Fosse, Hair, Jelly’s
Last Jam, Chicago, I’m Not Rappaport and Wicked; and films including Sweet
Charity and All that Jazz.
recent projects include the TV series Bull
and Magnum PI, FOX’s Star, produced by Lee Daniels, Sneaky Pete with Bryan Cranston, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Time Out of Mind with Richard Gere, and Top Five with Chris Rock. He is
currently working on his new Broadway musical, Reflections, written by Joe Calarco, to be directed by Tony nominee
Josh Bergasse with music by Stephen Schwartz.
is heralded for promoting the talents and careers of young people – through
education and access to the arts – wherever he gives concerts he holds master
classes and in past concerts has provided the opportunity for a talented
newcomer to make their debut on stage with him – and for his humanitarian work
for which he has received numerous awards including Israel’s Cultural and
Humanitarian Award, three NAACP Image Awards, Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian
Award and a Victory Award.
2016, he signed with Americans for the Arts, the largest advocacy group of Arts
in America and has spoken before Congress defending funding for the National
endowment for the Arts.
Vereen spoke of his career and his calling in a conversation with Frank
about how he got started in show business, a boy of modest means from Brooklyn,
he said, “This career chose me.
“This career was handed
to me. In my community in Brooklyn going to the High School of Performing Arts was
like being a prodigal son. It is hard to say when I chose this, because it
chose me. I would never have left Brooklyn except for performing arts school –
–known as the Fame School.
Apparently he got into
trouble, because he was placed in a so-called “three-digit school”.
“I was placed in class with Mr. Hill, the director of theater.
I was with guys named Killer, Shank Diablo. Mr. Hill said he wanted me to do King and I. I went to the Brooklyn
Academy of Music – they had an all-African American company – 100 musicians – and
did King and I. That was it – that
was the bug.
Vereen attended the High
School of Performing Arts from the age of 14 – where he studied dancing with
stellar choreographers Martha Graham, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
He was 18 years old when he made his New York
stage debut off-off-Broadway in The Prodigal Son at the
Greenwich Mews Theater. The following year he was in Las Vegas performing in
Bob Fosse’s production of Sweet Charity.
He describes the
audition for Sweet Charity.”Every
dancer was on stage to audition – Bob Fosse was the coolest, he moved so
smooth. He did the combination, smoked cigarettes, the ashes wouldn’t fall. He made
the cut of dancers. Then it was time to sing. I had never seen a Broadway show.”
He had nothing prepared but mimicked another and got the part anyway, going on
to tour with the production from 1967-68.
He made his Broadway
debut in original production of Hair. “It was a groundbreaking show, it made
A real breakthrough was
meeting Sammy Davis Jr. He reflected how important an influence Sammy Davis Jr.
was to him. “Sammy was the first African American that I watched on tv. My
father loved tv. One night Sammy was on the Ed Sullivan show.
Sammy saw Vereen at an
audition. “I had attitude – Sammy Davis Jr saw it. He invited me to have dinner
and hired me for Golden Boy. That’s
where it began. I followed him, wanted to be like him, dress like him, the
coolest cat. He loved everybody. People don’t give Sammy enough credit – he
wasn’t just a song and dance man, but a great humanitarian. He died penniless
because gave all his money to everybody.”
Davis took him on tour
of Golden Boy to London when he was
25. That’s when he discovered he was adopted by James and
Pauline Vereen, when he applied for a passport.
went on to be cast opposite Sammy Davis Jr. in the film version of Sweet
Charity, and then as Davis’ understudy in Golden Boy in England.
life changed – and nearly ended – on one fateful day in 1992 when he had three
accidents the same day that put him in an ICU for 42 days when doctors thought
he might never walk again.
don’t remember being hit
by a car. The interesting thing about the spirit which inhabits this body, it
decides to take a break, ‘but I’ll be back’. All I remember – Pamela [Cooper, his
manager] told me this – I was driving and hit a tree, which damaged an artery
in my brain. I was walking home, got a stroke, and was hit by an SUV.
Amazingly, it was somebody I knew – David Foster, who I had met in Canada, a
famous songwriter who wrote for Whitney Huston, Celine Dion, who had said, “We
should get together.’ He could have left
me and I wouldn’t be sitting here today but he stayed; he called 911, cradled
me, waited for paramedics. They flew me to the hospital ICU. They told me I had
a broken my left leg, suffered a stroke on right side, took out my spleen, I
had an apparatus attached to my head, and a trach. The last thing I remember
was getting into my car.”
“[In my mind I am
thinking] what happened, why am I here? I can’t talk. All these things are going
through your mind – this can’t be happening, I have show on Saturday.
“They told me it will be
at least three years if you’ll ever walk again. At that point, I had just met a
wonderful woman, Rev. Doctor Johnnie Coleman in Chicago [known as the “First
Lady of the New Thought Christian Community] who taught metaphysics and would say, ‘Whenever you have something negative coming
at you, learn this mantra, Cancel. That’s only man’s perception. Cancel.”
Meanwhile, he reflected, people crowded the hospital lobby praying for him. “There were letters, boxes of letters come in. Looking at boxes, thinking were bills, but they were from you [the fans].”
“[The doctors were
saying] ‘We think you should think about another occupation.’ So when they sent
in an occupational therapist, I thought they were to get me a new occupation
instead of teaching me fine motor skills. Cancel, Cancel – I couldn’t talk.
“I said to myself if I
can’t walk again, Lord, whatever you want me to do I’ll do… I had to show up – I
couldn’t just lay there and ask God to heal me. I got to show up.”
“The thing about prayer,
how it works – the doctor instinctively knew where to cut- spirit is always
working in our favor. Steven Hawkins became my hero – if you can do that with Steven
Hawkins, here I am.”
At the rehabilitation
center in Kessler, NJ, he recalls, “There was a young man who had been shot
named Michael Jackson, an orderly called Juice because he delivered the juice
but his real name was Glen Miller, a therapist named Jerry Lewis.
“You don’t have the
luxury of a negative thought. But I did what no one thought I could do, get
back on Broadway.”
He was told there would
be a part for him in Jelly’s Last Jam
if he could be ready.
The therapists from
Kessler went to show, and said, “We can do this, and a few months later, I walked
on stage in Jelly’s Last Jam.
“Hear what that story is
really about: the inner spirit is stronger than our physical human
understanding of who we are. The idea, called surrender, take me as I am, I
what he considers the highlight of his career, he reflects back to Roots.
“I heard about a show, Roots. Every African American in the
world wanted to be a part of that. I go back to the same agent who said Pippin
won’t make it and told him ABC was brave enough to put on show, Roots and I wanted
to be a part. ‘Be real,’ he said. ‘They’re looking for actors. You’re song and
dance man. So I went to Chicago –I was introducing Sister Sledge – then went to
Savannah,Georgia. I did a character Bert Williams – African Americans in show
business had to wear blackface and Williams made it art form. I did a tribute
to him. [Roots’ producer] Stan Margulies knocked on my door and said he loved
the show. ‘We’re shooting Roots for ABC, I want you to be my Chicken George.’ I
fired my agent and off to Hollywood I went.”
In being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gold Coast Arts Center, Ben Vereen is in good company. Previous honorees and special guests of the Gold Coast International Film Festival include film industry VIPs Francis Ford Coppola, Hugh Grant, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Baz Luhrmann, Brian Dennehy, Paul Sorvino, Ed Burns, Bruce Dern, Isabella Rossellini, Lou Diamond Phillips, Morgan Spurlock, Eli Wallach, Gabriel Byrne, Jacques Pepin, Bill Plympton, Phil Donahue, Phylicia Rashaad, Joan Allen, Jay McInerney and Michael Cuesta, as well as composer Morton Gould, artists James Rosenquist, Oleg Cassini, Edwina SandysandBob Gruen, comedian Susie Essman, Broadway stars Kelli O’Hara, Melissa Errico andSavion Glover, and 4-time Oscar winner for production and costume design Catherine Martin.
The 9th annual Gold Coast International Film
Festival taking place From November 4-13, 2019, presents more than 80
feature-length and short films in venues throughout North Hempstead, Long
Island and an opportunity to
This year’s highlights
include The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan
Pryce; which will be the Festival’s Closing Night Spotlight Film. Other films
of note this year include Marriage Story, starring Scarlett Johansson and
Adam Driver, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the winner of the Best Screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard, which won the Grand Jury Prize at
the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
The Festival will also be screening By the Grace of God, the
Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2019
Berlin International Film Festival.
“Films are a unique
art form, bringing together drama, dance, music, art in 90 minutes. It’s one of
the most accessible and affordable art forms. You come together with 200
others, smile, laugh, cry, think, learn, and sometimes be moved to action. How
often do you get to hear from artists and creators how and why they made the
film?” reflected Caroline Sorokoff, the festival director.
Among the narrative
films that will provoke thought and action, “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste”
from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, co-sponsored by Island Harvest, the
first film in a new Gold Coast series spotlighting social issues of concern to
The Gold Coast Arts
Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the
arts through education, exhibition, performance, and outreach. Located on
the North Shore of Long Island, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of
people from toddlers, tweens, teens to totterers throughout the region for 25
years. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which
holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages
and abilities; a free public art gallery; concerts and lectures; film
screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival;
and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities.
These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school
assemblies, teacher-training workshops, and parent-child workshops. The Gold
Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts Partners in Education program, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. More information can
be found at www.goldcoastarts.org.
For information about
upcoming films in the Festival’s year-round film screening program plus the
latest news on the 2019 Festival visit www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org 516-829-2570.