Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flatiron Lounge

Flatiron Lounge (daily from 5 pm)
37 West 19th St., between 5th/6th Aves.

Set in a historic building dating back to 1900, Flatiron Lounge is a retro dining lounge that serves old school classic cocktails – available in flights of three. The style is a tribute to the glory years, with sleek banquettes, dark wood and wrought iron work – classic old New York. The bar itself a 30-ft.-long Art Deco counter that used to be in the legendary Manhattan Ballroom. Esquire Magazine rates this as one of the nation’s top bars.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lobby Lounge at Mandarin Oriental

Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
80 Columbus Circle at 60th St.
35th Floor; 212-805-8800

There are enviable views across the southwest corner of Central Park from the floor to ceiling windows of the Lobby Lounge, located on the 35th floor of
80 Columbus Circle.
Light fare is served alongside very expensive drinks just a few steps down from the round reception area. There is also a proper bar, called the MO Bar, separate from the lobby.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hotel Metro

Hotel Metro New York City
45 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001

A mid-price range hotel near Penn Station, Macy's, Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building, this property dates from 1901 and features Art Deco architectural detailing. The lobby decor pays homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. A complete renovation took place in 2006. Its rooftop terrace (open seasonally) affords stellar views of the Empire State Building and Manhattan skyline.

Member World Hotels First Class Collection

179 guest rooms and suites
Rooftop terrace with views of Empire State Building (weather permitting)
Metro Grill Restaurant & Bar
Complimentary Continental Breakfast
Complimentary WIFI throughout the Hotel
Complimentary use of Business Center
iHome Clock Radios with iPod Docking Station
Room Service
Fitness Center
In-room Laptop Size Safe
Check-in 4 pm; check-out noon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blithe Spirit at the Shubert Theatre

From left: Jayne Atkinson, Rupert Everett, Angela Lansbury, Christine Ebersole.
Directed by Michael Blakemore.

Noël Coward’s 1941 play “Blithe Spirit” was written in seven days in reaction to the “pitiful sight” of London’s wartime devastation. It played 1,998 performances, one of the longest runs in London theatre history. Coward’s brilliant ghost play explores the connections between memory, mourning, and the erotic; it’s a comic demonstration in which the dead’s aggression toward the living confronts the aggression of the living toward the dead.

The novelist Charles Condomine (Rupert Everett) has arranged a séance, as research for a murder mystery he’s working on. In a posh drawing room that’s as proper and sedate as Charles’s sturdy second wife, Ruth (Jayne Atkinson), Madame Arcati (Angela Lansbury), the Martini-guzzling, Irving Berlin-loving local spiritualist, accidently conjures up his late first wife, Elvira (Christine Ebersole). Charles’s second marriage is a comfortable, sensible relationship – “Not the wildest stretch of imagination could describe it as the first fine careless rapture,” Ruth says. When the exciting and possessive Elvira materializes, in a sort of ghostly off-white chiffon poncho, she is a vision of long-mourned passion. She reminds Charles that he once beat her with a billiard cue. “Only very, very gently,” he replies. Charles can see and talk to Elvira; Ruth can do neither. Charles sees the memory of love; Ruth sees an apparent lunatic. The unconscious, in all its wayward self-destructiveness, has been released. Fiasco naturally ensues. Elvira’s malicious mischief ultimately causes Ruth’s death. In due time, Charles finds himself an “astral bigamist,” persecuted by the tyrannical ghosts of both wives. While they trash the drawing room, Coward, as he does in all his major comedies, lets his comic surrogate tiptoe away from the chaos. “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Charles says, in the play’s last line, exiting as bookshelves and paintings tumble. The moment plays as both a raspberry to melancholy and a huzzah for denial.

At the bar at the Shubert, theatergoers can buy a “Madame Arcati’s Ectoplasm Martini.” You may lift a glass of this potent stuff to Michael Blakemore, one of the finest directors of farce around, and to his superb ensemble. A particular tip of the cloth cap to Everett, who in tuxedo and pompadour cuts a fine Coward figure, hitting every upper-middle-class note of the Master’s teasing nonchalance with swaggering languor. Atkinson’s fluting high dudgeon and Ebersole’s flirtatious hostility create a terrific force field for Everett’s droll reactions. At the center of the mayhem, of course, is the eighty-three-year-old Lansbury. The epitome of the swiftness that Coward admired in his players, she scuttles expertly around the stage like a water bug – not a poltergeist but a whirlwind of idiosyncratic expertise. Together, the actors offer a master class in light comedy.

Blithe Spirit - Directed by Michael Blakemore
Run time: 2:40, including one intermission
Shubert Theatre, 225 W 44th St. (between Broadway & 8th Ave.)

In this video, reviewer John Lahr sits down with the director Michael Blakemore to talk about staging Noël Coward and his long career working with actors and playwrights.