Diary of a theatre addict: New York weddings, interviews, shows and (very) cloudy views from the WTC

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I’m just back from a(nother) crazed addictive week in New York, built around the wedding on Thursday of my friend Vivien Goodwin — former managing director of Samuel French Ltd, and now MD at R&H Theatricals, managing the licensing of their musical theatre catalogue in London and Europe.

It coincided with the third anniversary last Tuesday of my own wedding in New York three years earlier. And continuing the wedding theme, I also visited City Hall on Wednesday morning to get myself registered as an officiate to hold weddings in New York, having been ordained in the Universal Life Church the week before, so that I can officiate at the early October wedding of my composer friend Dana P Rowe (who I first met when he came to London to premiere The Fix at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997) and his fiancee Andrew Scharf.

So weddings were very much part of this trip. But then I also used the opportunity to set up a few interviews in New York — with Michael Feinstein, at his home on the Upper East Side a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s, ahead of his London return for a concert at the Adelphi at the end of September; with Alex Sharp, the 26-year-old British-born but Julliard trained actor who won this year’s Tony for Best Actor for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (we met in a  restaurant across the street from the Barrymore Theatre where it is playing, but then discovered that we both have apartments on the same Manhattan street a few blocks away!), and with Andrew Lloyd Webber (who’s just 13 blocks away from me but could be in another world, with glorious views over Central Park from Central Park West), and is in town to prepare for School of Rock, his first musical since Jesus Christ Superstar to be receiving its stage premiere in New York, not London.

I also saw six shows and a film (the new Woody Allen, Irrational Man, on the day of its release on Friday; his 46th feature and counting!) between last Saturday and Wednesday, including the new musical Amazing Grace ahead of its official opening on Thursday and On the Twentieth Century (for the 3rd time) ahead of its closing today. We also saw extracts from four more musicals (Broadway’s Finding Neverland, from which star Laura Michelle Kelly is pictured left, Chicago and Mamma Mia!, and Off-broadway’s Sistas The Musical) in the weekly Broadway in Bryant Park summer lunchtime concert series, presented by 106.7 Lite FM and sponsored by TDF. I love how you can find Broadway everywhere in New York, and not always have to pay Broadway prices to do so!

We also paid a mostly abortive trip to the top of the new WTC1 observation deck – abortive because the rolling in of heavy cloud cover rendered the view all but negligible. Fortunately a visit to client services as we left meant that they’ve re-booked us to return for free when we’re back in New York in a couple of weeks time!

And then we were above the clouds again as we returned home overnight on Friday to land yesterday morning, in time for me to catch the last matinee of debbie tucker green’s hang at the royal court (her lower case affectation is infectious, but the play turned out to be an utterly gripping, gruelling account of retribution), and then catch the return of Bette Midler to London for the first time in 35 years — she turns 70 this December, so that’s nearly half a lifetime ago for her. I’ve seen her many times in the US — in New York at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and several times in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace; none of them exactly intimate venues, but they seem like the Union Theatre compared to the 02. So I was sorry that she wasn’t somewhere smaller, but I’m glad she’s finally come back to London.

And today I’m back at the Menier Chocolate Factory myself for a return visit, already, to What’s It All About?, the Bacharach revue that I saw (and reviewed for The Stage here) at a preview just before I left. That’s a treat trip — I’m going again purely for pleasure!

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Mark Shenton
Mark Shenton has been a full-time freelance London-based theatre critic and journalist since 2002, and is proud to have co-founded MyTheatreMates with Terri Paaddock. He has variously (and sometimes simultaneously) been chief theatre critic for the Sunday Express, The Stage, WhatsOnStage, What's On in London magazine and LondonTheatre.co.uk. He has taught at ArtsEd London in Chiswick on musical theatre history since 2012. He was until recently President of the Critics' Circle, and is also on the board of Mercury Musical Developments and the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF). You can follow him on Twitter @ShentonStage, and on instagram at @ShentonStage. His personal website is www.shentonstage.com.

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Mark Shenton on FacebookMark Shenton on RssMark Shenton on Twitter
Mark Shenton
Mark Shenton has been a full-time freelance London-based theatre critic and journalist since 2002, and is proud to have co-founded MyTheatreMates with Terri Paaddock. He has variously (and sometimes simultaneously) been chief theatre critic for the Sunday Express, The Stage, WhatsOnStage, What's On in London magazine and LondonTheatre.co.uk. He has taught at ArtsEd London in Chiswick on musical theatre history since 2012. He was until recently President of the Critics' Circle, and is also on the board of Mercury Musical Developments and the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF). You can follow him on Twitter @ShentonStage, and on instagram at @ShentonStage. His personal website is www.shentonstage.com.

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