BY TONY FELTON
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN? She does nothing but continually ‘ruin’ the perfect openings I have planned whenever I REVIEW her performances. The last time she did this to me was after her magnificent opening night engagement at the King’s Theater in Brooklyn, NY. Now once again, this time at NYC CENTER, she comes out to “IM COMING OUT,” and my mouth drops. No offense to any septuagenarian out there, but THIS WOMAN LOOKS TOO GOOD! Does she have some special water? Is she quoting PSALM 103 V. 5 every minute? Does she sleep twenty hours of the day? Her skin, a creamy beige, is flawless. Her body is full but packaged so nicely in tight sequined gowns. And that HAIR.
FOUR COSTUME CHANGES: TEAL, RED, BLACK AND AN ASTONISHING WHITE SEQUIN PIECE WITH OVER-SIZED SLEEVES; all with matching brilliant chiffon capes, she takes us back to the days when music was MUSIC. Ask yourselves, will people be listening to the music of today fifty years from now? I think not. With her merry band of seven and three background singers: Downtown' Gerry Brown-drums. CC Thomas-bass. Michael Sechrest-guitar. Ritchie Garcia-percussion. George Svetich-piano/keys. John Scarpulla-sax/baritone. 'Ozzie' Osvaldo Melendez-trombone. Fred White-backing voc. Valerie Pinkston-backing voc. Terelle Tipton-backing voc, and complemented by a large video screen behind them, she gives tribute to a plethora of magnificent artists she ‘grew up’ with. MOTOWN REIGNS SUPREME.
THE FANS: OMGOSH. I thought I was devoted. Preacher lady name Queen, came all the way from Dallas, Texas. There was one man from Denmark who had tickets for two more nights. But he was beaten out by a woman we videotaped who had tickets for ALL FIVE performances. She sobbed when she explained so emotionally why she had come to see DIANA ROSS. Inside, the most eclectic group of people I have ever witnessed: Black, White, young, up there in age, international, domestic, hardened New Yorkers who have seen Ross many times, know her songs, routines, and STILL react as if the flower had just bloomed.
HER SHOW: MANNNN. Just when you think you have her figured out, she throws in the only song written for her by Luther Vandross: IT’S HARD FOR ME TO SAY. That large video screen now projecting pictures of her from time past. She is fearless projecting images of herself when she was younger, slimmer. Musically trained, I am not, but her delivery had this slower pace to it that allowed her vocals to sound strong. Like fine wine that gets better with age; get out of here with those tired clichés. DIANA ROSS is STILL one magnificent display of passion like none other. STILL, to this day, setting the bar so high. She says, come UP because down is no place I want to be. STILL so inspiring, she has ‘forced’ me to use that word I have come to disdain because of its over usage: like she said to the audience, I now say to her: DIANA ROSS---YOU ARE AMAZING---STILL!
YOUTUBE VIDEO: DIANA ROSS FANS REACTION TO OPENING NIGHT.
THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!
BY TONY FELTON
Given my personal experiences...combined with my two (2) seasonal work as an usher at Radio City and now as a journalist to review....I have easily seen the RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, some fifty (50) times. It remains, after all these years, spectacular! The lights, scenery, costumes, sets, the music, live animals, and the legendary RADIO CITY ROCKETTES----it is all truly wonderful!
Last year, marked by the toxic political nature in the air, I saw an evident off-ness in the performances (two (2) roles from the GREAT STAGE). The Rockettes, most usually so precise, were like, do you remember the 'Red Dot' episode of SIENFELD? A red dot on a beautiful cashmere sweater, unless examined closely, could not be detected. The lobby last year was 'dark.' Things were just a red dot off. But not this year. This year, the lobby was beautifully lit with a glow of loveliness. Toys for the kids (A GARDEN OF DREAMS FOUNDATION annual endeavor). The greeters were especially joyful. And the Rockettes were on POINT. Hard work made to look effortless. There was a beautiful lightness to the show. The numbers were crisp, clean, mistake free from the naked eye. There was love & happiness among the guests for this opening performance. "Please take our picture. May we take yours?" With brand new sets, tweaking of traditional numbers, dazzling light displays and the RAG DOLL number wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR, the 2017 RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR was just simply that---SPECTACULAR!
Opening remarks and video display of MSG'S GARDEN OF DREAMS FOUNDATION which brings love & happiness to so many, many children in the New York City area. Facilitating with their emotional problems and the assistance of their artistic talents---one such recipient of the FOUNDATION'S work was a most gifted young lady whose 'long' time wish had been to perform on the GREAT STAGE and play the violin. We all got to see her wish come true as she masterfully serenaded us with "OH, HOLY NIGHT." And kudos to MSG for not giving in to pressures from those who would love to see THE NATIVITY SCENE deleted from the production. Yes, for all of the beauty of high-step leg kicking of gorgeous women, please remember that the re-enactment of the COMING of JESUS CHRIST is TRULY the reason for the SEASON.
So, get up! Forget your troubles. Go on and be happy. Treat yourselves to a most wonderful time. Go and see THE RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, on stage live on the GREAT STAGE at the Radio City Music Hall. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL & YOURS!
SISI DASH ALBUM REVIEW
BY TONY FELTON
DIANA ROSS- IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
BY TONY FELTON
Diana Ross appeared at New York's Pier 17 rooftop on Sunday, September 30th, 2018.
BY TONY FELTON
"DENZEL!," an inebriated Whitley Gilbert, from the iconic television comedy, 'A Different World,' brilliantly played by Jasmine Guy, belts out. Brokenhearted because she believed that all had forsaken her on her birthday. She took to drink to drown out the sorrows, inviting only a portrait of Denzel Washington to her private party. Coincidence that I just happened to surf the channels and found this classic episode a few weeks before going to see DENZEL WASHINGTON in a revival of 'The Iceman Cometh' on Broadway? Coincidence that the driving narrative of the production centers around the inebriation of brokenhearted, sad, pathetic, band of misfits, who can only find the answer, a reason for living, in bottom pit liquid spirits? Playwright, Eugene O'Neill, thought it fit to drive this multi-narrative drama into three (3) hours of story telling. For indeed, he could have written at least seven (7) more plays with this multitudinous craft of words, words, words. Besides the theme of alcoholism there are prostitution, murder, fear, infidelity, racism, psychosis, and politics. No wonder it took three (3) hours to tell.
"DENZEL!," Ms. Gilbert bellows again. "Rock my world." She, too, believed that the answer to her problems was in him and alcohol. The cast of the production called him "Hickey!," their liberator, arms full of libations. But he came with more. He came to rock their world into reality. Foundation intact with heroics of personal on the wagon story telling. Mr. Washington is not an actor. He is a thespian. The play, along with the skilled direction of George C. Wolfe's crescendo, does not have the STAR immediately on stage or even soon. His arrival is anticipated with no one knowing when and what time. Does he come from stage left or right? On the second floor of the bar/rooming house like God? Was it in the original production of October, 1946, that he suddenly appears from the back of the theater house? Woe. How appropriate. Citing the phrase, 'I'mbackkkkk.' And then, thespian, Denzel Washington, commands the stage. He walked center, your eyes are center stage. Stage left, stage right, upstage, down, your eyes followed him. His voice is distinctive, robust. He teases us: he takes out a handkerchief to wipe his sweaty face, but oddly, he never does. Then finally, near the play's end, Mr. Wolfe gives the STAR a rather long winded soliloquy, downstage center. One could almost reach out and touch him.
"DENZEL!," Ms. Gilbert screams again until her, "This is a private party, right, baby?," is interrupted by well meaning friends. Hickey's friends are well meaning as well as they celebrate the birthday party of 'Harry Hope,' whose fear of getting run over by an automobile [two (2) cars per hour] keeps him chained to the rooming house and the bottles provided by his liberator. Hickey tries his best to convince Harry and the rest of the gang that the answer is not found in the bottle. No genie with three wishes. Stop procrastinating. Do it today! So that they, too, can be, like himself, a happy, freeman. Ironically, Hickey, the freeman, lands in jail and the lying drunkards return as the play began: getting drunk. Sleeping it off to wait for tomorrow to get drunk again. 1946. A dated play? No way. For as long as there remains alcohol in the world and people drinking it to smooth out the wrinkles, there will always be, Eugene O'Neill's, 'The Iceman Cometh.'
Four sample songs by rising star, SISI DASH. An eclectic mix of good old-school vocals and arrangements. From the positive up-beat rendition of 'WE'RE INCREDIBLE' to songs of fizzled love relationships, Ms. Dash sings clean. Her backgrounds vocals are on point. I wonder what could she do with the classics? 'TO BE REAL' by Cheryl Lynn comes to mind.