We head to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club for Karin Coonrod’s daring new Tempest. I’m enchanted by the smoky atmosphere and swinging starry-orb, whose tiny pinholes of light evoke night sky over a wild storm at sea. The white geometric on the dark floor suggests we’re in a celestial gymnasium. Coonrod’s Tempest is vigorous, with Tony Torn as Stephano enjoying delicious physical comedy with Slate Holmgren as Caliban, and swaggering Liz Wisan as Trinculo. The show features damn fine lighting by Chris Akerlind and evocative music by Elizabeth Swados. Get there.
We spend a sunny morning at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a carefully landscaped green space with young plantings along curving walkways. Cavernous twin squares are surrounded by bronze surfaces with names memorialized in dignified capital letters. Water runs gently and incongruously down the sides in an endless, symbolic journey. We don’t get the design, but love the serenity.
On to MAD Museum of Arts & Design, all about contemporary craft, where surprises abound. Dale Chihuly’s early work is clumsy, his goblets resembling the pottery of a preschooler. Hats off to MAD’s clever founder, affectionately known as “Mrs. Webb,” for seeing his potential. Gorgeous objects include birdlike music stands in wood, enormous clay vessels in mottled summer hues, and oh!, the jewelry, drawers and drawers of it, for inspiration and contemplation. Equally delectable is best-kept secret Robert, MAD’s upscale 9th floor eatery (reservations a must). The views are vertiginous in a great way, and the jazz brunch sounds like a gas. The gallery store’s snarky, quirky staff is helpful despite the layers of ‘tude. Don’t miss this MAD vertical gem.
Running With Scissors
And it’s on to MoMA for the epic Matisse exhibition of his dazzling cut-outs. I contemplate Mermaid and Parakeet, amazed that humble scissors and pins created these sprawling, extraordinary works. My first glimpse of The Snail, left, was at the Tate London decades ago. Its ravishing, exuberant color still makes me want to fashion my own universe in a lovely curving shell using exquisitely simple paint, scissors and pins.
Gloom & Gusto
We set sail for opening night of the inspired new musical, The Last Ship, by Sting. Yes, that Sting, whose gorgeous, memorable score encompasses foot-stomping folk tunes, sea chanteys and romantic ballads. Have a listen. Rousing performances include the great Jimmy Nail as the charismatic Jackie White, Michael Esper as Gideon, and Rachel Tucker as Meg, the ginger spitfire who lightens the grit and gloom of Wallsend.
As the opening night curtain falls, Sting treats us to a few songs. It’s magical. Opening and after-party are well-attended by Sting’s pals Bruce Springsteen, Billie Joel and Paul Simon — and my pals, incomparable lighting designer Chris Akerlind, and my lithe and brilliant sister Seeky. A great time was had by both luminaries and the well-lit. Was that me on the dance floor? You bet.
La Dolce Vita
The next afternoon at JFK I’m still feeling swozzled. My party photos look like blurry pyrotechnics. I’m grateful to decompress at Addo Nuovo with Marcello Mastroianni and the endless loop of La Dolce Vita. As I sip tepid coffee and watch Marcello unravel his way through Rome, I think my time away was probably just enough la dolce vita for me … for now. •