Page 1

DECEMBER 2010 t/&8:03,t888&/$03&."($0.

ETHAN HAWKE

Searches for the Next Great Play Spyder Darling Explains the X’s and O’s of Lombardi Barney’s Version Todd English’s Ca Va


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Editors Josh Kurp (NYC, Boston), Olga Belogolova (LA)

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Contributing Writers Reese Breen, J.P. Bullman, Nadia Chaudhury, Kevin Dugan, Chris Evangelista, Andrew Hall, Lisa Hytner, Lindsey E. Rose, Nicole Zak Art Director John B. Fakorede Graphic Designers Katharine Sherman, Janice Olson Zarina Rose Lagman Web Programmer Jose Burgos, Jr. Photographers James Palmar, Erin Gleeson Marketing Manager Natasha Huang Marketing Associate Jonathan Valdez Operations Manager Emily Holmes Account Executive Giuseppe Longo Finance Nery Solorzano

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 24

THEATER

LOCAL CULTURE

10

MUSIC

22

12

18

DINING

FILM

16

COVER STORY

Ethan Hawke: Searching for the Next Great Play J.P Bullman Kent Tritle: The Brightest Star in the Chorus

Barney's Version: Promising to be Hilarious and Heartbreaking J.P Bullman

Lombardi: The Play Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing Spider Darling

So You Want To Be A Writer: Location, Location, Location

Ca Va Brasserie: Todd English Adds to the Theatre-Going Experience Chris Evangelista


Kent Tritle > The Brightest Star in the Chorus December is the season for choral music and there’s no one more acquainted with it than Kent Tritle. Born in Spirit Lake, Iowa, Tritle has made it big in the New York performing arts world. He is one of America’s leading choral conductors and is called “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world.”

2010-2011 season marks Kent Tritle’s sixth season as Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, New York City's acclaimed 200 voice volunteer chorus and leads the Society’s annual Messiah performances at Carnegie Hall. This year’s event takes place on December 21st and 22nd:

Here are a few of his accomplishments:

Handel Messiah

• Founder and Music Director of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the acclaimed concert series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City;

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 8:00 PM Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 8:00 PM

• Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York and of Musica Sacra; • Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music; and a • Member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. • Organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra. 10

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

Carnegie Hall MUSICA SACRA Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra Kent Tritle, Conductor Jennifer Zetlan, Soprano Matthew Shaw, Countertenor Colin Balzer, Tenor Tyler Duncan, Baritone For more of Mr. Tritle’s concerts and other choral concerts around New York go to www.encoremag.com.


“

BEST OF THE SEASON!� — David Cote, Time Out New York

A PLAY BY THORNTON WILDER

DIRECTED BY DAVID CROMER

“WONDERFULLY INTIMATE!� — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

“ENTHRALLING!� “SHATTERING!� — Ben Brantley, The New York Times

— Frank Rich, The New York Times

“MIRACULOUS AND REVOLUTIONARY!� — John Heilpern, New York Observer

“THE BEST SHOW IN NYC, IF NOT AMERICA!� — Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

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Barney's Version

Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman in Barney’s Version

> Promising to be Hilarious and Heartbreaking BY J.P. BULLMAN – The highly anticipated Barney’s Version, starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver is slated to open next month. It’s the story about a defamed Quebec television producer, Barney (Giamatti), that promises to be both hilarious and heartbreaking. Barney’s Version is based on the novel of the same name by Quebec writer, Mordecai Richler. In Richler’s version, Barney recounts his life story from a decrepit position. Although still formally active as a television producer, he suffers from ailments of old age, alcoholism, an unhealthy diet and the social stigma of being the suspected murderer of his best friend. As the narrator, Barney begins writing his autobiography at the age of 67 to offer his version of the murder mystery opposite the tale of his accusers. Unfortunately his memory is weakening, making Barney’s version of the story untrustworthy. When the book was published in 1997, the political incorrectness was probably one of Barney’s major attributes, railing against 12

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

a society stiffened by the conventions of liberalism, in the same sort of way the comedians like the makers of South Park would execute in the years following. In between rough and tumble hockey memories, Barney recalls stories where he is embattled by feminists, Quebec separatists and his son Saul, a leftist academic whose constant bickering with his father provides amusement throughout. A screenplay of Barney’s Version has been attempted several times in the 13 years since the books publication, once by Richler himself. The dense prose, however, with a loose narrative structure, humorous letter correspondences and footnotes supposedly written by Barney’s son could be very difficult to translate into film. It’s lucky that the film has two fantastic actors seasoned with these sorts of blemished characters; both Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman (who plays Barney's father Izzy) were praised by attendees of September’s Venice International Film Festival, with several reviewers noting that Giamatti’s performance may be Oscar worthy.


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December 2010 SUNDAY

MONDAY

5 NUTCRACKER IN THE LOWER: At Abrons Arts Center www.henrystreet.org

12

BALLET HISPANICO: At The Joyce www.joyce.org

THE 6TH ANNUAL WFUV HOLIDAY CHEER BENEFIT

TUESDAY

6

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT : At Carnegie Hall www. carnegiehall.org

WEDNE

7

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER ( Until Jan 2 ) : At NY City Center www. nycitycenter.org

13

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20

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FROM THESE ROOTS & JOSEPHINE BAKER: At Symphony Space www.symphonyspace.org

19 NYCGMC H OLIDAY SPECTACULAR SING YOUR BRASS OFF! At Town Hall www.townhall.com

26

CHARLES LEDRAY (until Feb 13): At The Whitney www.whitney.org

27 Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green, Dezron Douglas & Willie Jones III: At Dizzy’s www.jalc.com

Adam Pendle BAND - The K At www.Thek

28 THE BAD PLUS: At The Village Vanguard


ESDAY

THURSDAY

1

FRIDAY

2

SATURDAY

3

Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte (until the 19th) at LaMaMa www.lamama.org

8

4

TANGO MEETS JAZZ FESTIVAL: At Jazz Standard Www.jazzstandard.com The Liar Show: At Cornelia Street Café corneliastreetcafe.com

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11 Monk in Motion: At Tribeca PAC www. tribecapac.org

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16

17

18

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25

30

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God’s Trombones: At at Harlem Stage www.harlemstage.org

22

NYPhil: Contact www.nyphil.org

eton: Kitchen kitchen.org

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Searching for the Next Great Play > An Interview with Ethan Hawke BY J.P BULLMAN – When I was asked to

kind of a portrait of an American family in

interview Ethan Hawke about his upcoming role

2011. It kinda feels like it’s shot straight from

in the Off-Broadway show, Blood from a Stone,

somebody’s heart.

my mind immediately recalled the image of the rotoscoped slacker with a fuzzy goatee and even fuzzier ambitions from Waking Life. As it turns

JPB So it has to do with financial troubles of a working class family?

out, this is (and isn’t) the Ethan Hawke that

EH Well it has to do with financial troubles of

has been working Off-Broadway with The New

a working class family the same way Death of

Group for the last three years. In many ways

a Salesman does. If you wanted to abbreviate

he is still the idealist embodied in his early film

it to a sentence, I guess that’s the sentence,

roles, hoping to create great art while cautious

but it’s really about the interrelationships of a

of the potential trappings of commercialism.

family and all its grown children and how the

He is not, however, a slacker, having published

different children’s live are different responses

two novels, received an Oscar nomination

to the same situation. But it’s hard to quantify

for Training Day and returned to his original

it because what it really is, is incredibly honest

love, the theatre where he continues to strive

and heart felt.

toward a gritty American masculinity found

JPB I always felt that your roles are heartfelt.

in artists like Martin Scorsese, Marlon Brando

Recently it’s come to my attention that you also

and Mark Twain

have written novels, and ones that are praised

J.P. Bullman Tell me about the new play.

for their characters. Can you offer some insight

Ethan Hawke It’s a real throwback old-school play. And by that I mean, character driven, it’s

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DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

into how you develop a character as an actor and how you develop one for a novel and how those things are similar or different?


EH There’s this old Mark Twain quote that

she’s like “Oh, you cheated.” That’s kinda how

the purpose of art is to alleviate shame. I

I feel. It’s why Steppenwolf (Theatre Company)

always thought that was an amazing line.

has been able to achieve the level that they

The purpose of acting in many ways is to get

have, because they are a band and they stayed

inside somebody and to be so truthful and

together and they know each other on a cellular

honest about what motivates them and what

level. I enjoy off-Broadway, because it’s a place

makes them tick to the point where people

where you don’t have to worry at all about

can see aspects of themselves in it, and when

commercial pressures. And you can really, really

they recognize those they won’t feel so alone.

focus on ideas. It’s a place where you can really

And that’s the mission of great music and any

dig deeper.

kind of great art. So, character has something to do with a value of humanity. I kinda fall in love with people and everybody’s different struggles. It’s funny, whenever I’ve worked on

JPB What kind of projects do you have planed for the future, and how do you plan to dig deeper?

Shakespeare, I have this amazing realization,

EH The truth is, for me, the future is now. This

our experiences as people feel so different and

play is something we’ve been talking about for

so unique all the time. But what’s amazing is

a couple years. There’s nothing more exciting

how consistent they are, whether you’re a king

than giving birth to a new play. So one of the

in the goddamn 15th century or whether you’re a high school student today, so much of the real need of life is the same. I don’t know if that’s what your talking about. But character is such an elusive thing. I mean, what

does

it

even

mean?

What is identify and what is personality? They’re kinda big questions.

There’s nothing more exciting than giving birth to a new play.” -Ethan Hawke

fantasies in my life is to be part of a group of people that originates a great new play. JPB Do you feel that’s what’s happening in your group right now? EH Well, that’s the aim. You know, it’s like what did it feel like on opening night of Streetcar? What did it feel like to originate Death of a

JPB Tell me about The New Group, you've been

Salesman? What was it like to work on the first

with them for a few seasons now and they've

production of Iceman? And for me at this time

offered you a chance to direct as well as work

there’s something very radical and punk rock

with some old friends on the stage. Can you

about doing theatre at all. We live in a world

talk about the community element of The New

that’s all about maximizing sales potential and

Group and your place in that community?

everyone’s got a camera on their phone. So a

EH I’ve always felt that there is great value in

living art form like the theatre is a real throwback.

building on working relationships, where you

It’s something that you can’t quantify and sell.

have the opportunity to get somewhere really

If you miss it, it will not be on YouTube. There’s

deep. We have a lot of shared passion for the

something that’s so beautiful about that to me.

theatre. Kind of a funny story, when Meryl

It’s like I’m a Luddite or something. It’s funny,

Streep came backstage to see HurlyBurly and

as I see the world getting more technologically

she came back stage and asked Josh Hamilton

advanced, I see the place of theatre getting even

and I about our rehearsal process and how we

more secure. There’s nothing like going to a rock

achieved

show, that kind of feeling that you’re really part

what she just saw. When we told her we’d been working together since we were eighteen,

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DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

of something. And that’s something the theatre can do for you when it’s really good.*


DINING

DINING

Ca Va Brasserie > Todd English Adds to the Theatre-Going Experience

what to expect from Todd English’s CaVa in Times Square. The man is a machine with nearly 10 restaurants under his belt including Olives in Union Square and the Food Hall at the Plaza hotel. Would CaVa play to the tourists and offer bland, middle of the road cuisine? Would it be another overrated place that only gets press because of its celebrity 18

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

chef owner? I figured the answer to all of those questions would probably be yes, so I tried not to get my hopes up. Boy, was I wrong! From the decor to dessert, everything at CaVa was well executed. The moment the aroma of the first dish (a small plate of white truffle and caramelized onion tart) hit me, I knew that dining there would be fun. The dish’s crunchy crust was firm yet moist, and it held just the right balance of savory to sweet. From there, the meal just got better and better. Here’s a sampling of some of the items I tasted from the menu:

Les Petits Flats Escargots Flatbread with melted onions, garlic butter and parsley -- The name of it made me wonder if it would be good, but the flavors

PHOTO: Ca Va Brasserie (left). Todd English (right)

BY CHRIS EVANGELISTA – New Yorkers are no strangers to fine dining. We have been introduced to every imaginable culinary gimmick from organic salad on the go to bacon cupcakes and gourmet street cart vendors. Some of the concepts are great – we did start the cupcake craze – while a few are overrated – I am still not convinced that corn dogs are the next big thing. Naturally, I am skeptical whenever a celebrity chef announces another fancy new concept, and I wasn’t sure


to really strut. And Domain Michel Tête is making to really strut. And Domain Michel Tête is making bangin’ Juliénas. bangin’ Juliénas. I’m partial to Rioja. I do love Rioja, like really, I’m partial to Rioja. I do love Rioja, like really, really love Rioja. Muga’s Prado Enea is aromatically really love Rioja. Muga’s Prado Enea is aromatically fascinating. fascinating. When you eat out, what factors do you When you eat out, what factors do you consider when ordering a bottle of wine? I think consider when ordering a bottle of wine? I think about the food we’re going to have and if we are about the food we’re going to have and if we are only having one lonely bottle, what would fit only having one lonely bottle, what would fit reasonably well throughout. reasonably well throughout. Suggestions to finding a great value on a Suggestions to finding a great value on a restaurant’s wine list? For good quality to price restaurant’s wine list? For good quality to price ratio, I tend toward off the map regions— ratio, I tend toward off the map regions— 143 Montague St. • 718.624.7167 Languedoc and Southern France, the regions no one Languedoc and Southern France, the regions no one knows from Spain—Bierzo, Montsant, Alicante, and knows from Spain—Bierzo, Montsant, Alicante, and Armando’s of course, Italy!has been a fixture on Montague Street of course, Italy! in Brooklyn since 1936, once frequented Where canHeights we find you enjoying a glass of Where can we find you enjoying a glass of by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and the wine around town? In Brooklyn, Brooklyn I’ve been wine around town? In Brooklyn, I’ve been Dodgers. AfterI’m a brief hiatus, Armando’s is back with recession-ified! often at Diner or Marlow & recession-ified! I’m often at Diner or Marlow & a whole newRoberta’s look, still serving Italian Sons for wine. offers aclassic lean list, but good Sonsfare forinwine. Roberta’s offers atmosphere. a lean list, but a cozy, neighborhood Fullgood bar. wines. The Richardson Bar and Huckleberry Bar wines. The Richardson Bar and Huckleberry Bar

ARMANDO’S

DUMBO GENERAL STORE have great wines by the glass, almost unheard of in OCEAN have great winesVIEW by the glass,DINER almost unheard of in 111 Front Street • 718.855.5288

a bar. a515 bar.Atlantic Avenue • 718.243.9172 Any idea by what year the cork top will cease ideaStore by what year cork top cease TheAny General opened in the the spring of will to exist? Cork may always have a place in the very Come in and grab a bite at Ocean View Diner to exist? Cork may always have a place in the 2001to provide the artists and artisans of Dumbo very upper echelons of renovated wine, but Stelvin andnew increasingly, in Brooklyn! and under upper Stelvin andup increasingly, with a echelons good Newly cup of of wine, coffeebut while picking boxes, are finding the company of good wine. I’m ownership, Ocean View has a wide variety ofwine. dishesI’m needed art supplies. Come enjoy some of the boxes, are finding the company of good saying by 2020, almost all everyday wines will be in sure to satisfy everyone. We serve breakfast, lunch best panini in town in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. saying by 2020, almost all everyday wines will be in and or dinner around box screw cap. the clock, seven days a week. box or screw cap. Free Delivery. Also, with the holidays approaching people Also, with the holidays approaching people often give wine. Any tips to impressing the inoften give wine. Any tips to impressing the inlaws, a boss or good friend? I really only give laws, a boss or good friend? I really only give champagne—it, by its very nature, suggests champagne—it, by its very nature, suggests celebration. Most people like it and can enjoy it celebration. Most people like it and can enjoy it without being wine-geeks. I’m a fan of Gosset, and without being wine-geeks. I’m a fan of Gosset, and Jean Milan’s Terres de Noel—a too obvious choice Jean Milan’s Terres de Noel—a too obvious choice for Christmas, but oh-so-good, and Jacques Selosse, for Christmas, but oh-so-good, and Jacques Selosse, if you can find it and have a wine geek to impress. In if you can find it and have a wine geek to impress. In the words of Joe Strummer, “there’s never a bad the words of Joe Strummer, “there’s never a bad time for champagne.” time for champagne.” Read more online at www.encoremag.com Read more online at www.encoremag.com

63 Lafayette Ave. • 718.852.1100 63 Lafayette Ave. • 718.852.1100 Scopello, named after a small village in Sicily, is a Scopello, named after a small village in Sicily, is a place you can immerse yourself in a spectacular place you can immerse yourself in a spectacular natural setting, ancient history and delicious natural setting, ancient history and delicious wholesome foods. Our menu features the freshwholesome foods. Our menu features the freshest produce, fish and meats, homemade pastas est produce, fish and meats, homemade pastas and bread, with ingredients imported from Italy... and bread, with ingredients imported from Italy...

25 Lafayette Ave. 25 Lafayette Ave. 718.222.5800 718.222.5800 The wunderbar authentic The wunderbar authentic Viennese dishes at chef Thomas Ferlesch’s Viennese dishes at chef Thomas Ferlesch’s charming Fort Greene Austrian bistro are charming Fort Greene Austrian bistro are worth traveling for; it recalls a homely corner worth traveling for; it recalls a homely corner of old Europe, and the location and personof old Europe, and the location and personable service are both perfect for a BAM night. able service are both perfect for a BAM night.

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DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM


DINING

DINING

really work. This escargot “pizza” is a great example of how well Todd English balances his Italian heritage with his French culinary training. Panisse with crispy chic pea fries, red pepper harissa and chorizo dust -- A rectangular slab that looks like a slice of cake with a boiled tofu texture and a smoky flavor? I know that sounds strange but I couldn’t eat mine fast enough!

Appetizers Soupe Al'oignon with gruyere crostini -- I'm not a big fan of french onion soup, but I enjoyed this. It had rich flavor – not just all salt – and I loved the hearty helping of warm and gooey cheese on top. For those of you who do enjoy French onion soup, you'll also be happy with the generous portion. Petite Iceberg Salada with avocado, tomato, cruton and russian dressing -- At first glance, this dish looks intimidating: the whole head of lettuce is served. I wasn’t sure how to cut into it, but the effort paid off; it was delicious. Sweet bacon in my would

corn crab ravioli with melted leeks, and peas -- I still have the taste of it memory. It's very decadent and yes, I order it again.

Rabbit Wellington with spinach, mushrooms and carrot puree -- I have to hand it to Todd English for nicely incorporating the French's love of adding pastry into savory dishes. The meat is tender but it doesn't fall apart when cut into.

Dessert Olive oil cake with mascarpone ice cream This may sound foreign to some of you, but please try it. This dessert has triple layers of surprises for the taste buds. The mascarpone ice cream is a perfect treat by itself. I enjoyed it so much that I was tempted to ask for a bucket to take home. 20

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

Todd English

Todd English Restaurants • The Plaza Food Hall 1 W 58th St, New York (212) 986-9260 www.theplazafoodhall.com • Ca Va Brasserie 310 West 44th Street, New York (212) 803-4545 www.cavatoddenglish.com • Olives 201 Park Avenue South, New York (212) 353-8345 www.toddenglish.com • The W New York Hotel Union Square 201 Park Ave South, New York (212) 253-9119 • Libertine 5 Gold Street, New York (212) 785-5950 www.thelibertinerestaurant.com • Juliet Supper Club NYC 539 West 21st Street, New York (212) 929-2400 www.julietsupperclub.com • Figs Restaurant LaGuardia Airport (Central Terminal) (718) 446-7600 figslga.com


248 Fifth Ave. • 718.783.4565 “Fantastic,” savory cooking at relatively gentle prices explains why this oh-so-popular Park Slope Venetian is always packed. (Zagat)

773 Fulton St. • 718.797.3494 Aqualis Grill is a Mediterranean-inspired seafood restaurant that serves a variety of seafood starters and main courses. In addition, Aqualis offers a Prix-Fixe menu that includes a threecourse meal with wine for only $25 between 5:00 and 7:30 pm. Closed Monday.

76-78 St. Marks Ave. 718.622.3276 Born from the desire to forge a pleasant and friendly dining establishment with fresh, locally grown produce, Flatbush Farm features an eclectic selection of ales, wines, and spirits. An endeavor of wonderful simplicity: eat heartily, drink merrily. Lo, now is come our joyfullest feast!

386 Flatbush Ave. Ext. 718.852.5257 World-famous restaurant for over 55 years. Voted No. 1 “The Best Cheesecake in N.Y.” Overstuffed deli sandwiches, skyscraper desserts, blintzes, broiled steaks and fish, 10 oz. steakburgers and more. Open daily: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM


So You Want To Be A Writer

Chumley’s in the West Village

> Location, Location, Location There’s no better place to be a writer than New York City. Every neighborhood has historical places that have connections to famous writers including Dylan Thomas and The Whitehorse Tavern, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Chumley’s, O. Henry and Pete’s Tavern. A few decades later little has changed. Every neighborhood still has its haunts for a new generation of writers. Here are a few locations that you’ll be able to write, read, drink, mingle and meet other writers. West Village - ’SNICE (45 8th Ave.) It’s small, comfortable and communal tables for writers. A literary crowd, with usually a famous writer sighting every week. Beware: its vegetarian … just in case you’re looking for a porterhouse steak. Chelsea - THE HALF KING (505 W. 23rd St.). Co-owned by writer Sebastian Junger so it’s probably a no-brainer the writer crowd will follow. Reading’s are held once a week. 22

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

During the day its a great, quiet place to write, at night those raucous writers let loose and you’re sure to strike up a conversation about everything writing including the Perfect Storm. A pub with bar food. NoLita - MCNALLY ROBINSON (52 Prince St.). A great indie bookstore with a café. Writers hang and do some writing but mostly look at the gorgeous people shopping about. East Village - KGB BAR (87 E. 4th St.). Free weekly readings. Expected to drink a lot of Russian vodka. This place is remnants of East Village past and a joy to hang out in. UWS - HUNGARIAN PASTRY SHOP (1030 Amsterdam Ave.). Makes you feel like you’re in a Woody Allen movie. Oops…wait, that’s right, Woody Allen did film a scene from Husbands and Wives there. Lots of tables and the food and coffee are incredible with writers scribbling about. For more listings go to www.encoremag.com


171 Lafayette Ave. • 718.643.7003 A short walk from BAM, this stylish and relaxed restaurant features Tapas, a raw bar and salads and Entrees from across the Mediterranean. Sangrias, an interesting and affordable wine list, full bar and friendly, professional service have made this a neighborhood favorite. Open seven days.

86 S. Portland Ave. • 718.643.0000 This local Fort Greene spot respects the simple things, like getting chicken tortilla soup, salads, tacos and enchiladas just steps from home. It also respects that a fresh lime margarita, offered frozen, on the rocks, salted, or flavored with fresh fruit, could just make your night.

246 Dekalb Ave. • 718.789.2778 With a menu that changes with the seasons, iCi was a pioneer in Brooklyn using exclusively fresh, local, and naturally grown ingredients. It has now become a classic destination for anyone looking for a solid modern bistro. Open seven days for dinner. Brunch Sat. and Sun.

56 5th Ave. • 718.636.4385 Alchemy is a pub-style restaurant on the north end of 5th Ave. in Park Slope with a small, creative menu, seasonal specials and outstanding selection of beer, wine and cocktails. We provide a warm, welcome atmosphere to enjoy anything from a relaxed pint to a four course meal.

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Lombardi

Dan Lauria stars in LOMBARDI, opening on October 21, 2010 at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre

BY SPIDER DARLING – As if it wasn’t obvious from the all caps title boldly printed on the poster outside the Circle In the Square Theatre, featuring the title character’s iconic profile attired in his classic fedora, black-framed glasses and camel hair overcoat, glaring out at an unseen frozen tundra, Lombardi is all about the hard nosed life and inspirational times of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vincent T. Lombardi. As such, it is an entertaining, emotional and informative 90-minute scrimmage with a tough man, his tough men and the tough woman who was crazy about her man, even if she realized shortly after they married that she’d made “the biggest mistake of my life.” And playing that man to the obsessive, manic-depressive hilt is Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years). This type of play is only as good as its titular actor and Lauria’s gravelly voice, irascible manner and dynamic performance score MVP honors and hopefully Tony Award 24

DECEMBER 2010 | WWW.ENCOREMAG.COM

consideration as Lombardi, winner of three consecutive NFL championships, including Super Bowls I and II (the trophy for which is now named after him), and recipient of innumerable accolades including the Vincent Lombardi Service Area (Exit 16W on the New Jersey Turnpike), a location visited even more often than his Hall of Fame bust, albeit for somewhat different reasons. Lombardi’s action takes place mostly in 1965, alternating between the Packers’ grueling, highly disciplined practice field and the Lombardi living room, a venue nearly as combative and the one place where the coach’s cast iron will bends slightly to the arched eyebrow and acerbic but loving asides of Marie, his long-suffering, highball-drinking, chain-smoking wife, played with a delicious, deadpan demeanor by Judith Light (Who’s the Boss). Imagine a slightly buzzed, better dressed Alice Kramden of Honeymooners fame and you’ll get the idea. Banished to the frigid

PHOTO: Joan Marcus

> The Play Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing


278 Fifth Ave. • 718.369.9527 This Park Slope treasure is a favorite for chicken wings, catfish burgers, beef-on-weck, pulled pork, microbrews, hot sauces, and sports games. Tasty vegetarian dishes are also available. Come enjoy the best burger in town in a fun, friendly atmosphere. (Citysearch)

87 Lafayette Ave. • 718.624.9443 Voted top wine bar in New York City two years running by Zagat’s Night Life Guide, the Stonehome Wine Bar is conveniently located just two blocks from BAM. Stonehome “gives the culinary as much attention as the oenonoligal” (New Yorker) with a seasonal new American menu and a 200 bottle list. 35 wines are offered by the glass. Dinner reservations are recommended (open daily at 5pm).

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outback of Green Bay, a place Marie needed an atlas to locate upon learning Vince would be tacking the Packers’ head coaching job instead of continuing his brief off-season banking career, she desperately misses her family and friends back east, the Manhattan social scene and, of course, shopping at Bloomingdales.

Other premiere Packers depicted in Lombardi include Jim Taylor, the “Thunder” to Hornung’s “Lightning” in Green Bay’s unstoppable power sweep offense. Taylor is played with the likeably dim demeanor of a faithful plow horse with only so many rows left in him by Chris Sullivan, a Broadway

But rather than see her husband suffer a selfimposed banishment to corporate exile, Marie moved to the snowbound American Siberia of Wisconsin, to make her fearsome but frustrated hubby happy. Good woman, that Marie. I’d buy her a drink but she seems to have plenty of her own. Into this loving but combustible and slightly sauced dynamic comes, suitcase and notebook in hand, Michael McCormick, niftily played by Broadway newcomer Keith Nobbs, a young sportswriter from Look magazine on assignment to document the proud heart and private soul of a certifiable living legend, who just may certifiable in other areas as well. Unbeknownst to McCormick, his article is also meant to provide damage control following an Esquire feature that took exception to the coach’s old fashioned work ethic and winning is everything mentality. (I knew there was a reason I never liked Esquire.)

rookie via a decade of solid credits in the semi-pros, a.k.a. Chicago. Defensive star and early players’ union organizer Dave Robinson rounds out the trio of Lombardi’s real life All Stars. Robert Christopher Riley’s Robinson is a dedicated, purposeful man who just wants to play one perfect game of error free ball that leaves The Coach with nothing to complain about. Though, in reality, it was when Lombardi stopped criticizing when a player really knew he was in trouble and it wouldn’t be long before he was cleaning out his locker and boarding the next train for Detroit, Cleveland or the new upstart AFL. Eventually who among the Packers is allowed to contribute to McCormick’s piece, (and who gets final edit) becomes Lombardi’s turning point. Though clearly it’s all just an excuse for the audience to get the closest thing to face time with the coach with a gift

It’s semi-interesting to note that McCormick is the only character not based on a real person, but a composite of the era’s sports journalists, as well as David Mariness, on whose Lombardi biography, When Pride Still Mattered, the show is based, and partly on Lombardi’s estranged son, Vincent Jr., whose relationship to his father is mentioned backhandedly as befitting his apparent upbringing. Along the way McCormick makes fast friends and enemies, briefly, of Lombardi and several of his star players including Paul Hornung, played by Bill Dawes with a relaxed Mathew McConaughey style charm befitting the team’s leading scorer both on and off the field. Dawes delights wickedly while drawling Hornung’s strategy: “Why get married in the morning. You never know who you’ll meet that night.”

for human alchemy, the rarest of teacher who knows what buttons to push to turn a pack of perennial losers into a legion of chest beating champions. And no Mr. Kotter, for once I’m not talking about you. Welcome back by the way. Little matter in the eyes of eternity does it make that the cost of Lombardi’s winning ways was a trail of fractured family relationships and a cancer that would prematurely snuff out his twice brightly burning, gut churning candle. Would he have changed a thing if he could? Doubtful, according to Marie; the three things that mattered to Vince were God, family and the Green Bay Packers, with family placing third and God not exactly a close second. Like any winning team Lombardi is the cumulative effort of a group of individuals

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:WK6W‡OXF\PRVHVVFKRRORUJ‡ working in concert with eyes unblinking from the prize. In the show’s case, game balls are due to Dan Lauria for his visceral, vein popping performance; director and Tony

time, the stage soon rotates so the actors have their backs to you, whereupon precious dialogue can become lost and you want to yell, “Coach, come back, what did I do wrong

Award-nominee Thomas Kail; and playwright and Academy Award-winner Eric Simonson. Also of note: Lombardi is the first play to be produced in part by the National Football League, which may account for the lack of mention of the gambling scandal and suspension that kept Paul Hornung out of the Packers lineup in 1963, one of the few seasons that a Lombardi-coached Packers did not finish first, an unacceptable fate to a man who believed “you don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit.� Or more succinctly: “You show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.� Lastly, to all the production’s hard earned credit, the only negative spin comes literally in the theater and its round staging. While providing a great seat 25 percent of the

this time?� But for the most part Lombardi succeeds in its mission of bringing back to life the man, the myth, the legend in all his perfect imperfections. Those who knew him will remember tearfully as did the real life Dave Robinson at the shows’ premiere and those who never got the chance to play for the coach who “treats all his players the same— like dogs� will wish they did. And everyone can leave with a little of Lombardi’s “The greatest accomplishment is not never failing, but in rising again after you fall� attitude to help overcome whatever opponents they may face personally.

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Encore - December 2010  

Encore Magazine - New York City

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