Category: NYC

Starting today, July 24, NYC enters its 2017 Summer Restaurant Week. Despite the name, this popular event actually takes place over the course of three weeks, as the event goes until August 18. For lunch/brunch, restaurants are offering a $29 pre-fixe menu, and for dinner, they’re offering a $42 pre-fixe menu. While some restaurants offer different dishes for each meal, for others, these menus are exactly the same, so try and score a lunch reservation if you can. Or a brunch reservation if it’s the weekend!

Keep in mind, though, that certain restaurants only offer their pre-fixe menus at certain times. Many only have Monday-Friday lunch menus this year, so save yourself the disappointment and use the filters on the Restaurant Week website. You can choose whether you want a Sunday Brunch restaurant, a Monday – Friday lunch, a Monday- Friday dinner, etc. You can also select filters for neighborhood, type of cuisine, and more, and you can even check out the menu on the same site!

When booking these reservations, it’s also important to note what time the restaurants serve these meals, especially when it comes to brunch because times for brunch tend to vary the most. This might take a little sleuthing (aka going to the restaurant’s website), but it’s better than showing up to a restaurant planning on paying $29 and ending up with a $60 bill.

Here are some of the restaurants our staff at The Lion is most excited for:

  • Ai Fiori: Our managing Editor, Veronica Roach, ate here during winter restaurant week and wouldn’t stop talking about their delicious soup and dessert.
  • Nobu: It’s some of the best sushi you’ll ever have, according to Tech Team member Will Essilfie, and you get to dine somewhere Drake once rapped about. What’s not to love?
  • Gaonnuri: What makes this restaurant special isn’t the food, but the views, which are breathtaking. If you’re looking for an upscale place with amazing ambience and views, this is the place to go.
  • Red Rooster: A fantastic restaurant with an amazing vibe and menu. Great place to visit Uptown, hear some good music, and talk with friends.
  • Tao Downtown: The atmosphere at this restaurant is quite hip and resembles a bar or nightclub. The Asian food served is also quite good, but it is not one of our Directors of Campus Outreach, Yi Jun, calls authentic Chinese food.
  • Cafe Boulud: This is a good French restaurant on the Upper East Side and has a very clean and classic decor. The food is pretty good, and the restaurant has a very classy atmosphere. It is a perfect place to go to after an outing to the Metropolitan Museum or after shopping on the Upper East Side.
  • Root and Bone: Our Editor in Chief, Arlena McClenton, is eager to try Root and Bone’s shrimp and grits. She’s always searching for authentic Southern food in NYC.
  • Indochine: This restaurant is great as it was a ‘young and hip’ atmosphere and ambience. However, while the food tastes pretty good, keep in mind that it is not traditional Vietnamese cuisine but instead a French fusion.
  • Aureole: Delicious modern western cuisine that is totally worth every dollar. It is quite fancy, so be prepared to spend once you get there if you don’t go during Restaurant Week.
  • Tuome: This restaurant serves a delicious fusion of Asian and western cuisine for a reasonable price. Yi Jun, one of our Directors of Campus Outreach, would recommend it for dinner if you find yourself in the East Village.
Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone. Photo Courtesy of Joan Marcus.

“There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”

Helena Rubinstein, cosmetics entrepreneur and rival of Elizabeth Arden, repeated that over the course of her career. Beauty was revolutionized by Rubinstein and Arden, but more importantly, they were powerful entrepreneurs in a male-dominated workforce. War Paint, a new musical at the Nederlander Theatre, gives us a glimpse of the day-to-day of the lives of these women and their rivalry.

The set design was beautiful, the costumes were magnificent, and, of course, the two-time Tony Award-winners Patti LuPone (Helena Rubinstein) and Christine Ebersole (Elizabeth Arden) were fantastic, as expected. The musical progresses from the advertised topic, the rivalry of these two beauty entrepreneurs, to a broader reflection on their internal struggles as powerful women. By the end of the musical, drugstore cosmetics lines have devalued the image of timeless beauty, and the two women are forced to reflect on the value and impact of their lives’ work.

While a compelling and moving narrative put to incredible music, the flow of the lyrics was sometimes stilted. Elizabeth Arden, despite her humble upbringing and incredible corporate empire, was portrayed as a brainless blonde in contrast to Helena Rubinstein. She was ‘obsessed’ with her packaging, as opposed to obsessed with how good her porcelain containers were for business. In wartime, the outfits of her sales representatives were exaggerated by ‘military women’ in short skirts, contrasted sharply by Rubenstein’s clinical containers and women in military-inspired uniforms. The rivalry between the two women was written with a strong hand and exaggerated dialogue, while their hesitant coming together seemed much more natural. And at the end of the performance, a question about the unresolved impact of cosmetics on women’s freedom seemed to be misplaced. The narrative of two successful women strong enough to create a lasting industry was diluted by the question of their lasting impact, not on professional women but on beauty standards.

Overall, War Paint brought this narrative into the 21st century with grace and respect for the immense task that both Rubinstein and Arden faced in building companies named after and run by women.

Photo courtesy of BBB.

Rousing applause closed the night at Bandstand, the latest of Broadway’s American musicals. Bandstand boasts an all-original storyline and an all-American plot, addressing the inaction of American government and society in addressing the needs of our veterans in a post-World War II, swing-era context. A tantalizing portrayal of the not-so-glorious aftermath of World War II, Bandstand catalogues the story of Donny Novitski (Corey Cott), a swing pianist from Cleveland with a desire to make it big in the city that never sleeps, and Julia Trojan (Laura Osnes), a recently widowed choir singer who decides to pursue the dream of being a jazz vocalist in order to cope with the unfortunate demise of her husband in the war.

The musical tells the story of a group of veterans gathered by Donny (in a wonderful scene in which each character has a chance to declare “I know a guy”) who form a band to compete in a national radio contest in New York City while struggling to fit into their old lives and deal with the lingering effects of the war. The prize could guarantee celebrity status to its winners, but dealing with complicated interpersonal relationships and the challenges of finding jobs in post-war America, provides obstacles to the band that confront not only the dismal treatment of veterans, but also the essential flaws haunting any pursuit of the American Dream.

Throughout the musical’s opening, Donny is tormented by his role in Julia’s late husband’s death, and is not alone in his burden. Every character bares the marks of the war on their minds, in their music, and in their hearts. Physical ailments are paired with post-traumatic stress and beautifully choreographed scenes wherein the actors physically struggle under the weight of men in military uniform— dragging their ghosts with them. Even Julia, as she joins the band of veterans, struggles with her own loss in the aftereffects of the war.

In addition to survivor’s guilt, Donny has to overcome his pride and fear. His failure to save Julia’s husband presents a very cutting scene on stage in part because Donny is the epitome of the trope of the overconfident male with complete faith in his ability to achieve the American Dream. In fact, in a beautifully belted solo, Danny even quite forcefully inserts himself among the era’s greats, denigrating Sinatra’s skills in comparison to his own.

Altogether, Bandstand hits on a sensitive and relevant topic in today’s society in a way reminiscent of White Christmas’ classic “What Can you Do with a General,” an early commentary on the aftereffects of war; however, with Bandstand modern theater brings us a portrayal more unapologetically gritty and honest…

And, as the musical clearly elucidates, contentious.

It is often hard to like Donny as he gives in to his pride and aggression, losing himself at times to his own mind, but as Julia comes around to see him in a different light, audience members cannot ignore his charm— nor the damage unfairly done to him by the lack of support and representation for returning veterans, veterans living in a society that does not want to acknowledge the scars inflicted on their brothers, fathers, and sons.

Occasionally the complexity of projecting multiple perspectives onto the stage (i.e. the first scene, which is both set at home with Julia and simultaneously abroad in the trenches) and pairing them with interpretive demonstrations of the characters’ mentalities manifests in Bandstand as strange staging and slightly confusing choreography. But, considering the massive scope of the undertaking, Bandstand does an impressive job of playing out its various plotlines.

The only real criticism that came to me in the mutterings of the audience and my own hesitations while watching Bandstand was the distinctly awkward inadmission of the concurrent issue of racial segregation during the 1940s and early 1950s. After all, Brown v. Board of Education didn’t even occur until 1954. As a result, it was a little disconcerting to see the token black character come to life in their use of Kevyn Morrow, the only POC cast member, as blanket ensemble in ambiguous roles with minimal speaking, the musical’s realism marred by its refusal to acknowledge its historical context in this regard. At one point, he is a preacher (for an all-white church), and, at another, he works as a radio executive (for an otherwise all-white station). To leave this unacknowledged is to pretend the harsh reality of the segregated social climate did not exist.

That being said, the musical dealt and dealt well with the issues it did confront, and it is understandable (though unfortunate and perhaps uncomfortable) that, in the stress of dealing with such a hugely important and controversial subject as the mistreatment of veterans, certain aspects of the play became “unreal” and certain unpalatable realities went unacknowledged.

Still, we can learn from Bandstand, in its message and its omitted lines, a great deal about the change that our society calls for, that America needs. So I would still call Bandstand a great American musical, and, with its hard-hitting message on veterans’ needs and its equally stunning choreography, certainly worth watching.

A cohort of Columbia students have reached the semifinals for the The CommonBond Social Impact Award. The award, along with its financial components, is to help foster a new generation of social entrepreneurs.

Photo Courtesy of StreetMate team

Photo Courtesy of StreetMate team

The idea behind StreetMate is to help offer connections to ensure every homeless person can access a bed to stay in at night. From their team description:

StreetMate: Recognizing that 70% of homeless individuals have smartphones, and that with the creation of LinkNYC all will soon have easy access to the internet, we’ve created a webapp that allows anyone to find and access a shelter that’s guaranteed to accept them after just four simple questions. We ensure that NYC’s homeless are only a few taps away from a warm bed.

If the team is in the top 3 teams in terms of the number of votes, they could receive $10,000 in funding to develop the app and deploy it to people throughout the city.

Voting ends at midnight on Friday, June 29th.

To support the StreetMate team, simply fill out the voting form here.

If you would like share information about the competition, team member Michael Pusic (CC ’19) shared the following blurb with our team:

A friend of mine created an app to make information about homelessness services easily accessible, and we just made it into the semi-finals of a national competition for social start ups. To get to the final (and to get funded), he needs to have the top 3 amount of votes, so lets help out by going on the link below and voting for StreetMate. It just takes a second (only name & email) and it’d make a big difference. Thanks so much!

http://woobox.com/3bgoz9/gallery/4Ghy7AyMTgY

Christy Altomare and company of Anastasia. Photo Courtesy of Joan Marcus.

 

When the long-anticipated Broadway adaptation of the cartoon classic Anastasia (1997) debuted under the bright lights of the Broadhurst Theatre, the audience was tightly packed and diverse: thick Eastern European accents were offset by the squeals of American women in their teens and early 20s, eagerly anticipating their favorite story brought to life. Indeed, all of the audience members were likely intimately familiar with some form of the story behind Anastasia— whether the “true” history of the ill-fated Tsarevna Anastasia Nikolaevna, allegedly murdered by the Cheka (Bolshevik secret police) in 1918, or the whimsical tale of 20th Century Fox’s “Anastasia Romanov(a),” with its talking bat and mad villain Rasputin hunting the Romanov family to near-extinction, with its train crashes and hexes and wild run to the streets of Paris— but few could predict what would happen when the lights grew dim and these two stories intersected in a new translation of the classic tale.

With the introduction of Anastasia to the stage, Rasputin gave way to the Russian Revolution of 1917 (specifically the February Revolution and the fall of Winter Palace) and the rising Russian Communist movement; the new adaptation brought new “villains” to the story. But as Anastasia grew closer to real life, so did its conflict. Instead of employing the black and white morality shown in the movie, the Broadway play Anastasia thoroughly developed its villains and their drives. This idea of gray-moral conflict was embodied by the well-rounded character development of the main antagonist Gleb (Ramin Karimloo), who faced a moral dilemma threatening his identity even as Anastasia came to recognize her own.

Despite these major changes to the plot, the majority of the characters and music that made Anastasia the movie a success remained in the play. In fact, not only were iconic songs like “Learn to Do It,” “Journey to the Past,” and “Once Upon a December” beautifully rearticulated, but also the original songs like “My Petersburg” performed by Dmitry (Derek Klena) and “Stay, I Pray You,” which featured nearly the entire cast, were instrumental in exposing the raw nerve endings of a country torn apart by revolution and giving new depth to the characters.

“Stay, I Pray You” was a particularly timely addition for today’s audiences, given its thematic focus on the struggles of leaving a war-torn country to seek refuge away from one’s home. Dmitry and Anya (Anastasia) may have been full of hope, but they, along with the refugees they accompanied, still called:

Stay, I pray you.

Let me have a moment,

Let me say goodbye;

Harsh and sweet

And bitter to leave it all,

I’ll bless my homeland

Till I die.

The eyes of the cast at this point twinkled with tears in the bright stage lights. The audience was not immune from the sudden onset of emotions.

Anastasia is inherently self-aware: a nostalgic story centered around nostalgia; a story about respecting the past while growing to make new decisions respecting its past and growing into new decisions. And for the audience members not satisfied by this balance of whimsy and historical realism, a near-topless Derek Klena and a bejeweled Tsarina, stunning graphics that expanded the small stage into a platform crossing international boundaries and spectacular Russian choreography filling the stage in thrusting limbs and fluttering skirts— these seemed to have been enough of a distraction from defamiliarizing plot elements.

In the course of the night, very few technical or performative issues arose. The opening of the first scene, featuring a young Anastasia and her Grandmother the Grand Duchess as the Grand Duchess says goodbye before departing to Paris, was a bit choppy, seeming to be a near-direct quotation of the movie lacking the vivid character of the rest of the play, and Ramin Karimloo (Gleb) sounded slightly nervous at the play’s start; that is, Karimloo’s first two vocal performances were a bit more breathless than breathtaking. However, these minor issues were quickly eclipsed by the interactions between the young Anastasia and her family, the collapse of the Grand Duchess at the news of their deaths (a tear-jerking performance), and Karimloo’s heart-stopping second reprise of “A Simple Thing,” in which his voice persisted where many other actors would have failed.

Altogether, Anastasia overshot all expectations of success and managed a seemingly impossible feat with its reconciliation of history with fantasy. Its near-perfect opening performances can only improve as the actors and actresses continue to bring the streets of Leningrad (ne Saint Petersburg) to our very own West 44th Street, between 7th and 8th Aves.