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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Movie Review: Demolition

This Demolition really is a wreck.

It was over so quickly, investment banker Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his wife Julia (Heather Lind), are driving one seemingly normal weekday afternoon when a car crashes into the side of their vehicle killing her. Almost immediately, Davis reacts strangely to his wife's death. After he receives the sad news at the hospital, he goes to a vending machine which takes his money without delivering the candy. He photographs the vending company's contact information with his phone. He shows up at work rather than taking the time to grieve. His boss who is also his father-in-law deeply mourns the loss of his daughter and dismisses his son-in-law's aloofness to the shock over the tragedy. Despite there being many more pressing matters to deal with, Davis decides to write the vending machine company, not just one letter about the lost coins, but a series of letters.

Out of concern for his mental stability one of the customer service reps (Naomi Watts) from the vending machine company, calls Davis. Their initial exchanges result in an intertwinement of their lives. Also, Davis begins to take pleasure in destroying structures, even paying construction site foremen to participate in the demolition of buildings, thus, the title of the film.

Demolition fails simply due to its storyline's absolute implausibility. A man at a hospital learns a car accident in which he was in, killed his wife. He then attempts to buy peanut candy, the machine doesn't deliver, he writes a bunch of letters to the vending machine company, the customer service rep decides to reach out and even meet him. This is set in New York City where people are very cautious of strangers. And of course, they both happen to be very attractive people.

Without a credible foundation, it's impossible for Demolition to work.

It's unfortunate that some very solid performances are wasted on this farfetched plot. Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis in the lead almost succeeds in his Atlas-like effort, to put this entire project on his shoulders and carry it to success. Veteran actor Chris Cooper excels as the tough businessman but who is emotionally devastated by the loss of his "little girl". Newcomer Judah Lewis who plays Karen's son enriches the film as he deals with some coming of age realities.

Another problem with this film is at the end it rushes through several important developments as if they either ran out of money or time.

As to our cast diversity rating, Demolition gets a "C". While actors of color have a few speaking roles and are sprinkled throughout background scenes, only one Blaire Brooks, who plays Davis' assistant, appears in multiple scenes.

Demolition gets our lowest rating, Dead on Arrival. It's not a horrible film but it's neither a See It! Nor a Rent It.

It's rated R and is 101 minutes length.

THE NATIONAL JAZZ MUSEUM IN HARLEM HOSTS OPENING CELEBRATION

March 29th was a special night! At 58 West 129th Street (at Lenox Ave), The National Jazz Museum in Harlem hosted its opening celebration. A lively, diverse crowd participated in the gala event.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem Opening Reception 02292016 600x399The opening reception for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on March 29, 2016.

The celebration featured a star-studded list of performers: pianist Marc Cary and his band which included vocalist Terri Davis; tenor saxophonist, Bill Saxton; drummer, Russell Carter; and, bassist, Rahsaan Carter.

There were comments by the Loren Schoenberg, Grammy Award-winner and Founding Director; Harold Closter from the Smithsonian institute in which the museum is an affiliate, also addressed attendees, as did Attorney Tim Porter, the New Chairman of the NJMH's Board of Directors.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem Tim Porter-Esq Board Chair 03292016 600x399Tim Porter, Esq., Board Chair, National Jazz Museum in Harlem 

Board Chair Tim Porter noted that the vision for the new NJMH space would include, "providing more educational programming; taking advantage of performance and partnership opportunities afforded by the new location, enhancing our role in Harlem's cultural and civic life, presenting new and exciting exhibits, nurturing emerging talent in the many areas associated with jazz both on and off the band stand, building upon the programs we have successfully operated in other parts of the city, targeting some of our programming where to those who would otherwise miss out on the arts, and all the while continuing to expand, where appropriate, our national and international outreach activities."

Among other luminaries in attendance were: Kenneth Knuckles, president and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Mercedes Ellington, accomplished dancer and granddaughter of Duke Ellington; and Lloyd Williams, CEO of the Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

Mercedes Ellington grannddaughter of Duke Ellington NJazzMHarlem Opening 02292016 600x766Mercedes Ellington, dancer and granddaughter of jazz legend Duke Ellington, at the opening of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on March 29, 2016

National Jazz MH Opening Reception Tim Porter Voza Rivers Tim Wein Lloyd Williams 600x399Photo l to r: Tim Porter, Esq., Board Chair, National Jazz Museum in Harlem; Voza Rivers, Harlem Arts Alliance Board Chairman; George Wein, NEA Jazz Master/Newport Festivals; and Lloyd Williams, CEO, Harlem Chamber of Commerce

The purpose of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem is to preserve, promote and present jazz by inspiring knowledge, appreciation, and celebration of jazz locally, nationally and internationally. With the goal of keeping jazz at the forefront of musical visibility and exciting in the lives of a diverse range of audiences.

Some of the upcoming events at the museum include:

Urban Design, Jazz and Creativity, Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016, 7:00 pm

Jazz, Baroque Design and Beyond, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 7:00 pm

Cannonball Adderley – The 1950s, Thursday, April 21, 2016, 7:00 pm

For a complete list of activities and events, check out the National Jazz Museum in Harlem's website: www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org

I strongly recommend that you visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; it's a gem.

 

Theatre Review: On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

It's 1975 and they are the Miami Latin Boys. A modestly successful boy band. Then in 1977, they hear young Gloria Fajardo sing, sign her and become the Miami Sound Machine. After ten years, she marries the band's manager Emilio Estefan, and when her star power can no longer be denied, they change the group's name to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

Next, the producers want the band to stay within the Latin market. Emilio refuses to be pigeonholed; he realizes that they have something very special to offer the world.

This is just part of the story of On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan now on stage at Broadway's Marquis Theatre. From the opening curtain, this production exudes energy and creates a connection that grabs you until intermission and then grabs you right back again after the break!

Intertwined with captivating dancing and singing is this marvelous story of the exceedingly talented performer, Gloria and her marketing genius, but also her musically talented husband, Emilio. Her talent combines with his vision, forever changing the music world.

But this story is just not one of fame and glory. This group had to fight to have their unique sound given the mainstream exposure it deserved. There are plenty of other hurdles as well.

As a child, Gloria has to care for her chronically ill father, deal with her mother's conflicts over her own unfulfilled entertainment dreams, and Gloria's difficult decision to leave college to pursue her career full-time.

Then there is Gloria's tragic accident at the height of her career.

Even if you have never heard of Gloria Estefan (which is highly unlikely), you will embrace this story and this production.

I am frankly not sure if there has ever been a better cast. This is a strong chain of performers, without a single weak link. It all starts with Ana Villafane in the lead role of Gloria. She rocks it! Her voice ranges from soothingly angelic to absolutely earth shaking. Josh Segarra is Emilio and has the authentic onstage persona of a man who would create a recording empire. (He and Gloria are worth a half billion dollars and are part owners of the Miami Dolphins.)

The dancers seem to have so much fun; it's as if they would gladly perform these steps even if there were no audience.

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan is an engaging story, with phenomenal dancing, and sinfully provocative singing, all woven together in this onstage masterpiece.

I'll put it very simply - GO SEE: On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan. It's playing at the Marquis Theatre 46th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.

  • Published in Theatre

Theatre Review: Kinky Boots

This is a story that gives real meaning the phrase: Truth is Stranger than Fiction.

Here goes: A British manufacturer of high-end men's shoes struggles to survive. In an increasingly disposable society, customers are less interested in shoes guaranteed to last them for years. In a chance encounter, the factory owner's son, Charlie Price, meets a drag queen named Lola who convinces Charlie that there is a real market for women's shoes – made for men!

Charlie and Lola create a partnership, and the shop that once made footwear for elite Englishmen switches gears. It still makes shoes for men but for men with a different style of dress – no pun intended.

This production begins as a mildly interesting story set in a factory in decline. The dialogue is routine and frankly, I am starting to not expect very much. Then on the stage arrives Wayne Brady as Lola! This play takes off. It's like a football team waiting for a few plays to bring in their star quarterback.

This is a Wayne Brady that you probably haven't seen before. He's had his own television program, The Wayne Brady Show, and he currently hosts, Let's Make a Deal. But here, he absolutely owns the role of Lola. It's not just his exceptional singing and dancing, it's the complete presentation. The dresses and wigs turn him into a stunning individual; however, his thin, unattractive, typical black man's legs do serve to undermine his overall appearance (I can say that because I too have thin, unattractive black men's legs!).

The night I saw Kinky Boots, Charlie Price was played by the understudy, Ross Lekites. Andy Kelso is usually in that role. However, Ross was excellent, his timing, singing, acting were as if he were the lead performer.

The music and lyrics are by Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), and its direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell.

The set was modest but more than adequate for the storyline.

The bottom line is put on your shoes, boots, or whatever you wear and get down to The Al Hirschfeld Theatre, at 302 West 45th Street and see Kinky Boots.

  • Published in Theatre
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