This Week: Renee Rapp, a Chocolatey Evening, The Collaboration, and more!
The week that was featured some end of the year theater and film, plus a swanky influencer event and a concert from a real up-and-comer. Let’s dive into the third consecutive week of this column.
On Sunday I caught a matinee performance of Between Riverside and Crazy, a new Broadway play about a recently widowed ex-cop, his son and a few other friends as they try to hold onto their rent-stabilized apartment. It’s a slow burn of a show, but once the racial themes start to unfold and you realize what the play is about, it becomes a lot more engrossing. There are also several genuinely shocking twists which is no small feat in live theater. McKinley Henderson and Common were a great starring duo, turning in excellent performances. The second act leaves the audience with some interesting moral questions and I definitely enjoyed watching it all unfold. Riverside is certainly not the best play to open this season, but if you can find an affordable ticket it may be worth seeing.
Later that night, I headed down to Williamsburg for breakout star Reneé Rapp’s first New York concert ever (her third in a string of shows promoting her first EP, “Everything to Everyone”). When I saw Rapp as Regina George in the Mean Girls musical back in early 2020, I wrote “simply put, she is iconic. She is the future.” That continues to be the case. Now best known for her role in HBO Max’s Sex Lives of College Girls, she has incredible stage presence, stringing her eight songs together with hilarious crowd work and hyperactive banter.
The venue (Music Hall of Williamsburg) was tiny, and fans packed it to the gills. The show had sold out almost immediately, with tickets being resold for way above face value. It was definitely the shortest concert I’ve ever been to, with the artist taking the stage at 8:15 and wrapping up at around 9pm. Nonetheless, it was a blast to watch Rapp perform her hits like Colorado, Too Well, and Tattoos. It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a musician’s career (think Olivia Rodrigo and her debut album Sour) and watch what they achieve.
The last two months of the calendar year always bring the glut of prestige films as we gear up for the Oscar nominations. On Monday, I went to check out the latest of that vein, Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. When the lights went up, my friend and I sat in complete silence for a good minute or two, processing what we had just seen. That’s right, it left us speechless. Eventually I turned to her and asked what she thought first, as I didn’t want my distaste for the picture to cloud her immediate reaction. She liked it quite a bit, which is a good indicator that The Whale is sure to be divisive, especially as discourse around the film and its subject matter starts to grow as more people get a chance to see the movie and its star, Brendan Fraser in an apparent career renaissance, is all but a lock for Best Actor at this year’s Academy Awards.
You can read my extended thoughts on The Whale HERE. It required a longer post.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like the respective winter holiday of your choice, and on Tuesday night my office had its annual holiday dinner at Reserve Cut, a steakhouse right off of Wall Street. The food was excellent, vibes were stellar, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area and looking for an upscale dining experience.
Wednesday brought along a really unique invite to visit MarieBelle Chocolate’s flagship store in SoHo. They hosted a party to celebrate the launch of their new holiday collection as well as the occasion of founders Maribel and Angelina Lieberman gracing the cover of New York Lifestyles Magazine. The space is absolutely stunning, you must check it out the next time you’re in the neighborhood. Their artisan chocolates are delectable, to say nothing of the tequila-spiked hot chocolate they had in the backroom Cacao Bar. If you’re scrambling for a last-minute Hanukkah or Christmas gift, they have special boxed chocolates that have holiday pattern designs for a reasonable price. Visit the store at 484 Broome St!
After that, I headed to Times Square’s AMC for a press screening of Babylon, which hits theaters on Christmas weekend. Ladies and gentleman, it was my favorite film of the year. Damien Chazelle has crafted an absolute epic tale of the horrors of Hollywood. You can read my full review HERE. I am excited for the masses to experience the three hour spectacle and can’t wait for folks to freak out about the insane ending.
On Thursday night I saw The Collaboration, the last Broadway show to open in the 2022 calendar year. It’s a play about the friendship between two iconic artists, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope star as the pair, respectively. While their acting was stellar, the show is void of all purpose or meaning. The character work of these two icons was shallow and surface-level. After the two hour long acts, I had retained nothing of note from this play. However, all theater should begin with a live DJ set like this production does. Points for that at least.
Friday and Saturday were restful, as I made sure to stay safe and flu-free as everyone around me seems to get sick. Last thing of note this week was the Frosted Flakes cereal collaboration with Avatar that is selling out of Targets across the city. I had to go to a different borough to get my hands on a box or two. A quick review: as someone who loves the taste of blueberries, I found the taste of the orbs here to be extremely artificial, even worse than you’d normally expect from a sugar cereal. But as a promotional tie-in product for the new movie, I think it’s genius and makes for a good pre-game.
Other things I watched this week:
- Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing – Popped this on my subway commute one morning and enjoyed it. Birbiglia is a gifted storyteller and it was cool to see him at his start when he was a little less family friendly.
- Take Your Pills: Xanax – A perfectly serviceable documentary. Highly stylized in classic Netflix fashion so it will hold your attention.
- Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to be Special – A really unique and clever musical comedy special. Most importantly, it’s funny.
- Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration – This was fun! Great casting and songs, of course.
- Ben 10: Season 1 – I started a rewatch of one of my favorite childhood cartoons, and let me tell you, it absolutely holds up!
- Chewing Gum: Season 1 – A little too British for me, despite my love of Michaela Coel’s work.