Thursday, June 9, 2016

Save My Bag Goes Both Ways – It Covers Your Bag and, Covers Itself. And Now It Has a Dream Deal

The Save My Bag suite. Photos courtesy of Dream Downtown.

On the fringes.

"Mine!" No, Mine!" "Mine!" No, Mine!" To be continued ...


you just love a happy accident?

Like when you are out and about and run into a favorite chum. You squeal in delight, hug and proceed to have a merry old time.

Stefano and Valentina Agazzi with some of their wares.

And when you buy two different frocks from two different designers at two different times and two different places – maybe even on two different continents – yet they go together like two peas in a pod?

Yet another happy accident is the three-year-old Save My Bag, line from the imagination of Italian husband and wife design team Stefano Agazzi and Valentina Agazzi.

Initially, the handbags were conceived to be the fetching fashionable pod that was to hold one's Birkin and other valuable (or invaluable) vessels, providing protection from problematic elements.

Scarves are among the accessories in the Save My Bag line.

Made in Italy from a polyfabric with neo-lycra fiber that embue them with elasticity and hold – plus keeps them as light as a feather – the handbags are rainproof. And machine washable.

But Save My Bag owners – those multipurposenous Misses (and Misters?) – began carrying it as the main bag. And born is another happy accident!

Save My Bag, continued its conquest of the U.S. market a few days ago at a press preview on the intimate South Tower Terrace of Dream Downtown. The event marked the pomp and circumstance portion of the deal between Save My Bag and Dream Hotels in the United States. In short, the hotels (from coast to coast) will stock the bags in their boutiques.

SA and VA were on hand. SA: Italian-suave in brown derby hat, light blue jacket, light blue shirt with open white collar and white slacks.

Devices need to take cover, too.

Meanwhile, VA with the mien of a countess, was got up in white pumps and a flattering shift reminiscent of the pattern on those plates of blue plate special fame. One didn't inquire and she didn't say, but she looked pleased with herself. As she should be, considering the potential of her product and deal.

Stylewise, the Save My Bag line (including nifty accessories) runs to totes, weekenders, device covers and clutches. The color scheme tends toward lemon-yellow, orange-orange, pastels and basic primary colors. Around 30 hues. Fanciful prints are among the mix, too. And at price points for many under $200, they won’t beggar a body.

So, mama (and papa) can now get a brand new Save My Bag at a dream price at a Dream Hotel.

Pretty in meditations on pink.

Mine and Yours.

Save My Bag has it covered!

You may have any one of us you wish. Or all of us!

Visit to learn more about Save My Bag.

Monday, June 6, 2016

ON THE TOWNS: Apollo Theater Gives Prince a Place of Honor; Northside Festival and the Next Big Things; in 'Hooligan Sparrow,' a Good Deed Does Not Go Unpunished; Lens on Danny Lyon

Prince will be inducted posthumously into the Apollo Theater's Walk of Fame in a ceremony on 13 June. Photo from Prince fan Facebook page.

JUNE 2016

A list of goings-on, from a place on the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame for Prince to Eva Longoria getting down with "Lowriders" and all manner of cattiness at CatCon LA 2016.

1-7 June

ART. Through 26 June. Intrude. Four-city tour of public art installation by Amanda Parer of Australia continues. Presented by Arts Brookfield, “Intrude” depicts white nylon-inflated rabbits illuminated from within. New York, 17-30 April; Houston, 9 May-14 May; Los Angeles, 5 June-11 June; Denver, 17-19 June, 24-26 June. Brookfield properties. Free. New York. Houston. Los Angeles. Denver.

FILM. 1-9 June. LA Film Festival. Festival opens with Ricardo de Montreuil’s “Lowriders,” starring Eva Longoria and others. The closing film is “Desierto” from Jonás Cuarón. Various Locations. Los Angeles. http://

ART, MUSIC, FILM, BUSINESS, etc. 6-12 June. Northside. Festival convenes trendsetters and stakeholders across various artistic and business disciplines. Concerts, films, popup shops, speakers content creators. Various locations. Brooklyn. http://

8-15 June

FOOD, TECHNOLOGY. 10-12 June. Food Loves Tech. Hosted by Edible Manhattan and VaynerMedia, the expo explores the intersection of food and technology. On the table: sustainability and healthy eating, panels, chefs and tastings. The Waterfront, 241 11th Avenue. New York. http://

FILM. 10-19 June. 2016 Human Rights Watch Film Festival (New York). Festival presents 18 films and three interactive programs. Opens with “Hooligan Sparrow” from Nanfu Wang. The subject of the film is Chinese activist Ye Haiyan (aka Hooligan Sparrow) whose efforts to expose the sexual abuse
of young girls by a school headmaster lead to unwanted government attention. Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) Walter Reade Theater and IFC Center. New York. 6-20 June, Chicago. 14 June, Sydney. http://

LIFESTYLE, MUSIC. 11 June. Shikuri Project Charitable Trust Fundraiser. Drumming group, Denbaya, performs during the benefit at Mist Harlem. Founded by Gail Sealy, the Shikuri Project is dedicated to providing medical care to needy children in Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa. Mist Harlem. New York. http://

FASHION. 11 June. St James’s London Hosts Jermyn Street Catwalk Show. For the second year during men’s fashion week (London Collections Mens), Jermym Street will be shut to traffic and turned into a catwalk. St James’s hosts the fashion shows and invites the public, too.
Jermyn Street, West End. London. http://

MUSIC. 13 June. Apollo Theater Prince Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony and 11th Annual Spring Gala. Before its 11th Annual Spring Gala and its largest fundraiser of the year – emceed by LL Cool J and with performances by The O’Jays and others – the Apollo Theater inducts Prince into its Walk of Fame. The Artist joins some splendid company under the venue’s marquee, including James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard and Stevie Wonder. Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St. New York. http://

FILM. 13 June. Kino & Vino Series: FLYTRAP. Monthly industry screening party sponsored by the Chelsea Film Festival and Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea. Screening of “Flytrap.” Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St. New York. http://

16-23 June

"Pumpkin Reneé, Galveston, Texas, 1967. Vintage gelatin silver print from the Whitney Museum retrospective, "Danny Lyon: Message to the Future." Photo by Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.

FILM. 16-19 June. Oak Cliff Film Festival. The 5th edition opens with a restored version of Eagle Pennelli’s “Last Night at the Alamo. Music performances also on the bill. Closes with “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” from Taika Waititi. Various locations.Dallas. http:// /

ART. 17 June-25 Sept. 2016. Danny Lyon: Message to the Future. The retrospective of the photographer’s work includes nearly 200 photos and is billed as the first to consider his work as a filmmaker. On opening night, DL participates in a program. Whitney Museum of American Art. 99 Gansevoort. New York. http://

Vegans expected at the Rose Bowl. Photo from Photo from Los Angeles Vegan Beer and Food Festival website.

FOOD. 18 June. Los Angeles Vegan Beer and Food Festival. Depending on ticket tier, unlimited pours of beer, wine, kombucha, craft soda and cold brew as well as access to more than 70 vegan restaurants and the pop up marketplace. A portion of all proceeds goes toward The Gentle Barn which works to provide a place of healing and safety for at-risk youth and animals. Rose Bowl. 1001 Rose Bowl Dr. Pasadena, CA.

Harvind Raj as Appoy in Shanjhey Kumar Perumal debut film, "Brutal." Photo from festival website.

FILM. 22 June-9 July. 2016. The 15th New York Asian Film Festival (presented by Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema. The festival attracts some of the most edgy work, featuring some of the most popular stars of the moment in Asian cinema. Also awards and talks. Walter Reade Theater and SVA Theatre. New York.

24 June and Beyond

Calling all cat people to CatConLA. Photo from CatConLA Facebook page.

LIFESTYLE. 25 and 26 June. CatConLA. Convention for cat people, that is individuals who like cats. Products, panels, furniture, food, ideas and experts. At the Reef, 1933 S. Broadway. Los Angeles. http://

Saturday, June 4, 2016

On Tonys Night / Gonna Be a Fight / With 'Hamilton' in for a Staggering Sixteen / Yet It Won't Achieve a Feat Never Before Seen

Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones in "Hamilton." Photo by Joan Marcus.


you just hate a foregone conclusion? There's no room for surprises when the outcome is inevitable.

Since it began its hot-ticket run, transferring from The Public Theatre last July,"Hamilton" has been the anointed, all-around Tony winner. Its inevitable rise to the top of the list started way back at the White House Poetry Jam in 2009 when its auteur, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapped excerpts from the musical in the works.

"Hamilton," based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father and the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, is expected to win and win big come the “70th Annual Tony Awards.

The ceremony, hosted by British actor-comedian and Tony winner James Corden, will be broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. from the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Truth be told, this reviewer has also been party to the boosterism behind "Hamilton." I first became enamored with the musical during L-MM's American Songbook appearance in 2012 and have called it a "Perfect 10!" on several occasions.

The adoration was nearly universal. Earlier this spring, "Hamilton" won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Broadway production has also received an unprecedented number of Tony nominations this year. It sets the record at 16.

My history with predicting Tony winners has been spotty over the years, but that won’t discourage me from prognosticating about the 2016 Tonys from a "Hamilton-"centirc point of view, starting with the ones that I expect "Hamilton" to lose.

Word on the street is that the most beautifully lit show on Broadway is ”Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.” That’s no exaggeration. So, the Tony for Best Lighting Design of A Musical will go to the team of Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer.

Adrienne Warren and company perform "I'm Just Wild About Harry" in "Shuffle Along ..." Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

David Korins’ sets for "Hamilton" tell their story with a spare simplicity. Best Scenic Design of a Musical, however, should go to David Rockwell for his solidly whimsical and inventive sets for "She Loves Me." DR's designs have a dollhouse quality that add to the effervescence of the show.

Andrew Blankenbuehler puts the 1776ers through some moves, but choreography is not entirely the point in "Hamilton" the way, say, Sergio Trujillo's congas are in "On Your Feet." Meanwhile, the expressive tapping of "Shuffle Along ..." is vital to its plot. Consequently, Best Choreography will go to Savion Glover because the dancing is such an essential element in moving the story along in "Shuffle Along …"

Orchestration is a little outside my wheelhouse, but let's assume that it, too, goes to "Shuffle Along ...," a hybrid of a 1921 show put in a new context. The Best Orchestrations winner, in this case, is Daryl Waters, because of all the complexity the music handles.

As for Best Direction of a Musical, John Doyle's helming of "The Color Purple" has all the buzz, nearly guaranteeing him a win. Inevitable.

Carleigh Bettiol, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. and Anthony Ramos in "Hamilton." Photo by Joan Marcus.

Likewise, it seems inevitable that "The Color Purple" will deliver a winner in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical category. British singer-songwriter-actress Cynthia Erivo has taken Broadway by storm in this revival. She is placed in contention with some old Broadway hands, too.

Phillipa Soo, in her first Broadway role as Alexander Hamilton's wife in “Hamilton,” is not one of them, of course. For now, she will remain a Tony nominee.

Then there are the Tony categories in which "Hamilton" is likely, even very likely, to win.

With three in the running in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical category, "Hamilton" has a better than even chance of walking away with a Tony. My money is on Jonathan Groff, though he left the show in April to work on a new Netflix series. He was an audience favorite as King George.

Less of a shoo-in for “Hamilton” is the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical category. The competition includes a charming Zachary Levi in "She Loves Me" and a charismatic Alex Brightman in "School of Rock – The Musical."

With L-MM and Leslie Odom, Jr., contending, however, "Hamilton" has a good chance here. LO,Jr. plays Hamilton's rival and frenemy, Aaron Burr, and is more likely of the two actors to emerge victorious.

Though Renée Elise Goldsberry most assuredly faces the stiffest competition from Adrienne Warren ("Shuffle Along ...") in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical category, she is likely to sail ahead for her role as the excellent and savvy Angelica Schuyler in "Hamilton."

Red coats, blue coats, high-bodiced dresses, tri-cornered hats will likely yield Paul Tazewell an award for Best Costume Design of a Musical (“Hamilton”).

Now for the three sure "Hamilton” wins:Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.

L-MM's genius had been awarded often before now. In 2008, he won with "In The Heights," with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, which was that year's best musical.

Is "Hamilton" really the best musical of 2016. You bet. It is, in fact, the Best Musical of the decade. It is iconic like "Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miz," "Rent" and "Chorus Line." It will have a very long run and will be a memorable musical drama.

Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson in "The Color Purple. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

As for breaking records, "Hamilton" falls a little short; it will go home with around seven Tonys, matching the number won by a revival of "South Pacific" in 2008. The record number of wins is held by "The Producers" with 12 in 2001.

In closing, in the spirit of “Hamilton”:
Nominated for sixteen
A feat never before seen

"Hamilton" is sure to win
How can it not with Lin

L-M, you'll take Tony home for your mantle
To your story, nothing holds a candle

It's The BEST in show
The score and lyrics glow

Will Tony make "Ham" a Barmitzvah boy
It'll take just 13 the record to destroy

No, "Hamilton" will get its shot
With seven, it still stays hot

So "Hamilton" walks away with only seven
Not the record-tying one plus eleven

Or the record-breaker, lucky thirteen
Broke the mold it did, getting sweet sixteen

Visit to learn more about the Tony Awards.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

‘Shuffle Along’ Taps Happily, Its Jauntiness Obscuring Unpleasant Realities

Joshua Henry, Brandon Victor Dixon, Billy Porter and Brian Stokes Mitchell, with Richard Riaz Yoder in a scene from "Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed." Photos by Julieta Cervantes.


a lot of shameful history – past and present – in the way America has treated its so-called minorities.

In "Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed," in an open run at the Music Box Theatre, George C. Wolfe (direction/book) looks to put some of these inequities in a Broadway context, or at least it is presumed he does. His story is centered on a hit show that was produced by an all-black production team in 1921.

While celebrating this achievement, GCW's plot aims to shine a light on some of the injustices stage performers of color suffered. My anticipation was that the drama of this premise would provide a stirring tale. Unfortunately, the earnestness of the GCW's story is engulfed and then overshadowed by an entertaining vaudeville.

Nominated for 10 Tonys, "Shuffle Along ..." is episodic, in parts reprising snatches of the '20s show – originally titled "Mayor of Jimtown" – and backstage love stories. Rehearsal scenes and occasions when new material is created abound. Somewhere in all this backstory, the poignancy of GCW's "Shuffle Along ..." is lost.

The 1921 musical was not a revue, which was unusual for the time. It had a cockamamie story, but a story nonetheless. It also featured several love songs, including "I'm Just Wild About Harry and "Love Will Find A Way."

"Shuffle Along," the original, was written and produced by Aubrey Lyles (Billy Porter) and F.E. Miller (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and the composer/lyricist team of Eubie Blake (Brandon Victor Dixon) and Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry) . The impecunious James Cort (Brooks Ashmanskas, who also plays all the other white roles) provided the production with a theatre.

The show ran for 504 performances at the 63rd Street Music Hall. Lyles was right to object that this address was not Broadway, but "Shuffle Along" got a Broadway welcome. It attracted integrated audiences and ushered in an era of other successful black shows.

The syncopated dances created by choreographer Savion Glover for the reincarnated production are masterful. That everyone from Audra McDonald to BSM and BA get to tap is one of its joys. The company astounds as it dances out a long rail trip of tryouts as it taps from city to city.

AMcD is the ingenue/star as Lottie Gee, but it's Adrienne Warren as Florence Mills/Gertrude Saunders who is one of the highlights of the show. Also outstanding in the fine cast is BVD's sweet and sensitive Blake, a man caught by ambitions he never thought he could achieve.

Adrienne Warren, with company, gives a standout performance in "Shuffle Along ..."

The Broadway of 2016 owes a debt to the innovations that the "Shuffle Along" team brought to musical theater in that historic season of 1921. Much of the style and flair of that production inspired, even revolutionized, Broadway.

And by way of flattery, "Shuffle Along's" syncopations and jazzy rhythms were widely imitated by the likes of Ziegfeld and other mainstream producers.

Visit to learn more about "Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Steve Martin&Co.'s 'Bright Star' Is an Engaging Musical ... With a Country Inflection

Michael Pearce, Bennett Sullivan, Rob Berman and Martha McDonnell in "Bright Star." Photos by Nick Stokes.


unlikely that plain folk such as you or I would learn one of the more difficult stringed instruments just to strum it in a movie. Steve Martin, who decidedly is not ordinary people, apocryphally did just that.

Now, along with songwriter Edie Brickell, SM has created the musical
"Bright Star," currently enjoying an open run at the Cort Theatre. It is based on their Grammy-winning album (for best original American Roots Song).

"Bright Star" relies on the American country music of bluegrass to tell its tale of
love lost and regained. It's surprising how unusual it is for the American artform,
the musical, to be sung to American country tunes or danced to a Virginia reel.

An exception is "The Robber Bridegroom," in revival at Roundabout Theatre's off-Broadway space, the Laura Pels Theatre, through 29 May. It is also a Southern-inflected bluegrass musical. Further, like "Bright Star," in this latter musical based on a story by Eudora Welty, the musicians are on stage.

Eugene Lee's scenic design brings the country style to the cabin
that is the centerpiece of the staging in "Bright Star." Period costuming, with timeframes ranging from 1945 to 1946 and 22 years earlier, is flawlessly realized by Jane Greenwood.

The poignant and romantic tale, directed by Walter Bobbie, is as disarming and charming as its protagonist, Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack in a Tony-nominated role in her Broadway debut). Alice is the sophisticated, witty and astute editor of a big city Southern literary journal. Her roots are in a small North Carolina townlet.

On her road to success, she has not only left behind the backwater in which she was
born, but also her heart. The love she misses and recalls is for Jimmy Ray Dobbs (Paul Alexander Nolan). In flashbacks, "Bright Star" reveals just how young and foolish these two once were.

Meanwhile, in the post World War II present, Alice encounters an interesting new talent in Billy Cane (A.J. Shively) whom she mentors. During a visit to her past, Alice's parents (Stephen Lee Anderson and Dee Hoty) are welcoming, as is Billy's dad (Stephen Bogardus) when she stops by to share the news that one of Billy's short stories will be published.

Billy also reunites with Margo Crawford (Hannah Elless). She has always been his biggest booster, and was his first editor.

Among "Bright Star's" principals, CC and PAN give outstanding performances. PAN is also an admirable dancer, polishing Josh Rhodes' excellent choreography.

Carmen Cusack and the "Bright Star" Company.

In the supporting cast, Broadway veteran Michael Mulheren (as Jimmy Ray's father, Mayor Josiah Dobbs) gives a poignant portrayal. Alice's assistants, Emily Padgett as Lucy Grant and Jeff Blumenkrantz as Daryl Ames, bring pleasant levity.

Humming merrily along throughout the proceedings is the orchestra, under the direction of Rob Berman, who also takes up the piano and accordian.

Visit to learn more about "Bright Star."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Last Day TFF2016: On a Frightening Acid Trip Down Memory Lane With ‘the bomb’

In "the bomb," footage of parts of Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped. Photos by V.W.


help us all if any of the club members have a meltdown moment. We’d all be ... melted down or suffer some similar, awful fate.

Here to remind us of this outcome is “the bomb.” The closing film of the "15th annual Tribeca Film Festival" continues its world premiere run tonight with showings at 7 and 10. From Kevin Ford, Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser, “the bomb” addresses the nuclear threat.

The Nuclear Club, the so-called name for the countries that admit to or are known to have nuclear weapons, is a motley crew: China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom and, of course, the United States. Do note that these are the countries that have come clean about their nuclear possessions.

Anyone with the remotest knowledge of geopolitics is aware that there exists a massive amount of tension among members of the club, heightening the relevance of “the bomb.”

It is a multimedia work by virtue of being projected on a series of large screens that surround the main show space at Gotham Hall. In the center, playing live, is the band, The Acid. It can be inferred from the 360-degree view of the film that it's a metaphor for the reality that the nuclear threat surrounds us.

Like a typical documentary, “the bomb” uses archival footage to take the viewer back and forth in time to various points of development of nuclear weaponry.

Disturbing business all around such as footage of animals being carted and taken away to be guinea pigs for scientists to test the effects of nuclear energy on living beings that will have similar reactions to humans .

The busy work of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s The Manhattan Project, the piece of nastiness that started the nuclear arms race and crushed a society, is cited. Back then, it all seemed so simple and innocent. Today, it is obvious that it spawned menaces to society.

Scene of the aftermath of a bomb attack in "the bomb."

In truly satirical moments, “the bomb” uses clips from propaganda films of the 40s designed to allay the fears that a wary, but trusting U. S public had about radiation poisoning. Of course, the effects of the atomic bomb on Japanese citizens would give lie to those assurances.

As comic as it is alarming is the PSA instructing children to duck and hide in the event of a bomb attack. Downright sinister is the Lockheed Martin manifesto.

Fast forward to today and “the bomb” shines the spotlight on certain members of the Nuclear Club saber-rattling under the guise of the harmless testing of their nuclear weapons. Or bragging about their capabilities.

“the bomb,” occasionally obtuse and too enamored with mushroom clouds, does not offer solutions. Rather, it seems to illustrate the problem ,and in doing so, exhorts us to remember the lessons of the past. To not forget what was wrought when The Bomb was dropped.

It quietly beseeches us to undertake the necessary course to avoid another catastrophe, one that will likely take us all out next time.

We’d do well to heed this counsel.

Other films/events on today's TFF2016 schedule: “Win,” “Children of the Mountain,” “Do Not Resist,” “Keepers of the Game,” “The Tenth Man,” “Here Alone,” “Adult Life Skills,” “Junction 48,” “Midsummer in Newtown,” “Untouchable,” “Dean,” “The Fixer,” “Kicks,” “Little Boxes,” “Women Who Kill,” “Madly,” “Check It,” “Between Us,” “Fear, Inc.,” “The Ride,” “Prison Dogs,” “Life, Animated,” “Almost Paris,” “Strike a Pose,” “SHORTS: New York Now, “Nerdland,” “Custody,” “Geezer,” “Mr. Church,” “King Cobra

Visit to learn more about it and the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.
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