Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Andre Rieu-international classical superstar launches national tour in live concert at the TODAY SHOW, NBC-TV

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

Andre Rieu-international classical superstar launches national tour in live concert at the TODAY SHOW, NBC-TV

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

New York--The NBC Plaza at 30 Rockefeller Center was awash “Mit Schlage” and “Gemutlichkeit”) (alternating feelings of sentimental emotion and intoxicating warmth and togetherness) when Dutch violinist, composer and classical music superstar Andre Rieu brought his colorfully dressed Johann Strauss before a live international television audience on the Today Show, June 16. The performance was done to herald the start of his national tour, which will bring him to the area’s Allstate Arena in Rosemont on June 28th.

The “Celebration of Music” 2010 North American Tour will support the release of his Universal Music Enterprises (UME) CD, “Forever Vienna,” which drops the following day, June 29.

Andre Rieu’s charismatic demeanor and high-energy style have catapulted him to worldwide fame, matching such stadium concert superstars as The Rolling Stones and U2. His albums have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. The second leg of his tour will commence in Mexico City where nearly 40-thousand fans will witness his electrifying brand of classical music.

Andre Rieu’s shows promise a spectacle like none other. His world stadium tour has the largest transportable set-up ever; with a life-sized replica of a Viennese castle featuring fountains, ice rinks, horse-drawn carriages and flying angels.

NBC’s Today Show had to erect a huge concert stage to accommodate the 55-piece orchestra, featuring some of the world’s greatest concert musicians, all dressed in brightly colored costumes that heralded the beginning of summer. For more on the tour, visit www.andrerieu.com.

Monday, June 21, 2010

James Taylor and Carole King launch national tour at NBC Today Show, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

A nationwide telecast on NBC’s Today Show and a live concert in the plaza of 30 Rockefeller Center in New York served as the launching pad for the start of a cosmic event, the national concert tour of pop/rock legendary singers and songwriters James Taylor and Carole King.

Crowd started lining up in a cue that stretched around the entire two-block circumference of Rockefeller Plaza as early as 4am for the 7am broadcast. Even the windows of nearby coffee shops and office buildings became viewing stations for avid fans of the duo. A noisy protest of alleged unfair labor practices by NBC, launched by union members displaying a giant inflated rat nearby by, was completely drowned out by the roar of adoring fans as first Taylor and then King emerged from the entry of the Today Show’s street-level studios.

When Taylor launched into his rendition of King’s first hit, Upon The Roof, written for the Drifter’s in 1963, the shouts from fans both singing along and cheering his presence, drowned out Taylor’s signature reedy vocals and twanging Carolina-tinged guitar playing.

It took Herculean effort by Today host Matt Lauer to rise above the clamor in order to introduce the famed pair in a live concert on Rockefeller Plaza. The pair was especially energized by their previous night’s appearance at two sold-out concerts at Madison Square Gardens. Ticket demand was so great; Taylor and King have scheduled a return engagement to Madison Square Garden June 30. Their Chicago appearance will be Friday, July 9 at 8pm at the United Center.

Today Show staff members passed out Styrofoam microphones with the Today Show fob and bucket hats emblazoned with the iconic NBC peacock logo, but the most coveted take-away was an autograph from James Taylor. Many fans brought treasured album covers of the pair’s multi-Platinum and Grammy awarded albums to be autographed, their vinyl contents worn from years of playing over and over. James Taylor obliged them with enthusiasm; the top of his white baseball cap could be seen bobbing throughout the crowd, even working the pockets of fans buried in the far reaches of Rockefeller Center. A burly security guard finally gave up keeping a close tail on his ebullient charge as Taylor plunged deeper and deeper into the crowd. His actions were a testament to his love for his fans who have supported him through the many trials and tribulations of his life that have inspired his most telling lyrics for songs that have inspired more than one generation of fans.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Michael Feinstein debuts new cabaret home with stylish performance

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

Opening night at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in New York was one of the landmark events of the cabaret season. With Michael Feinstein at the keyboard, manning the helm of a seven piece orchestra for the inaugural week of “Cool Swing” performances, the stellar evening brought out the royalty of New York’s Café Society and the music world, including the reigning King and Queen of the modern American songbook, the multiple Academy Award and Emmy winning lyric-writing team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman) The Way We Were, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, The Windmills of Your Mind, to name a few).

Feinstein mined the treasure trove of great American songs written by the guiding lights of the past century; Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, to name a few. He seemed to take a special delight in presenting Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down an’ Write Myself A Letter,” that ultimate pane to loneliness and hardship. Feinstein sang it with such gusto that it almost made one want to wallow in the pity pit along with the composer.

The orchestra and Feinstein turned Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” into a tour de force of the artistry of cabaret. “A Trip to the Moon on Gossamer Wings,” Feinstein crooned in his velvety baritone voice. No other words could have rung truer.

As if the evening had not mounted enough superlative heights, an impromptu solo by Alan Bergman himself, singing what has perhaps become the anthem of his long-standing songwriting partnership with wife Marilyn, the Oscar winning, “The Way We Were”, capped it. In the deft handling of its composer, with Feinstein himself lovingly caressing the keyboard with lush accompaniment, the lyrics took on new depth and meaning. The words, sung by Alan Bergman in the hushed whisper of a cherished old friend, speaking in strictest confidence, took on new depth and meaning:

“Memories…may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.”

The poignancy of his words almost brought one to tears.

The evening was not without its share of surprises; an uncannily savvy performance by 17-year-old protégé Annie Yoakum of Ohio, the winner of a high school vocal competition put on by the Feinstein Foundation, which brought to mind the earliest filmed performances of the late Judy Garland. There was also the announcement by Michael that he will become the Artistic Director of the new $170 million Performing Arts Center in Carmel, Indiana, near Indianapolis, which will become the training center for the development of new talent, based around the Great American Songbook. Gossamer wings indeed!

Magical nights at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency continue throughout the summer season. For tickets and information, visit www.feinsteinsattheregency.com.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stars of Broadway, TV, Film converge at 2010 Tony Awards

Stars of Broadway, TV, Film converge at 2010 Tony Awards

Live at the Tony Awards 2010!!!!

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

New York—A harmonic conversion of stars from Hollywood, TV and the Broadway stage made the 2010 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan a spectacle that rivaled even the Academy Awards.

Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith reined as the unofficial King and Queen of the night. As co-producers of the electrifying Afro-Pop musical Fela!, they waltzed away with two Tony’s for Best Choreography and Best Sound Design; Musical.

Kelsey Grammer, TV’s Frasier was also in the winner’s circle with his starring role in La Cage aux Folles, which took the little statue for Best Musical Revival. Not to be outdone was his TV partner-in-crime David Hyde Pierce who received an Honorary Tony for his work with the Alzheimer’s Association. Pierce is currently working on the Broadway revival of David Hirson’s LaBete, set for Broadway previews in September and has signed on for a starring role in the long anticipated Broadway recreation of the landmark hit How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, set to open in Spring 2011.

Anthony LaPaglia, the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor best known for his long-running starring role in the CBS crime drama Without A Trace was nominated for Lend Me A Tenor, in which he co-stars with another TV icon, Monk’s Tony Shaloub.

American Idol’s former bad girl Paula Abdul was all grace and charm on the Red Carpet and at the post award ceremony celebration in the tented Plaza of Rockefeller Center where stars, including Denzel Washington, who won the Tony for Best Actor in a play for the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences, Aretha Franklin and Scarlett Johansson, the surprise winner of the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for A View From The Bridge, danced the night away under the penetrating gaze and dancing fountains of the famous golden corsair of Rockefeller Center. The Moet Champagne flowed as Tony Winner Catherine Zeta-Jones (Best Actress in a Musical) and husband Michael Douglas munched on Smoked Salmon and chive flavored cream cheese and Filet Tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce, along with Jone’s co-star, Broadway and TV legend Angela Lansbury . It was a night to remember!