Over the next few weeks, Christmas trees and menorahs will be lit all over the city, accompanied by live performances, seasonal treats, special guests, and family-friendly activities, all free. Below are only some of the many highlights as the Big Apple prepares for the holidays.
Park Slope Holiday Tree Lighting
Fifth Ave. at Third St.
Saturday, November 29, 6:30
Live music by Amy Miles, carols by Opera on Tap, crafts, puppet shows, cookies, marshmallows, hot chocolate, popcorn, children's activities, Santa and Frosty the Snowman
Fifteenth Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square
Dante Park, Broadway between 63rd & 64th Sts., Time Warner Center, David Rubenstein Atrium
Monday, December 1, 5:30 - 9:00
Emcee Billy Porter, ice sculpting, live performances by Arlo Guthrie and family, Alice Farley Dance Theater, Golem, Spuyten Duyvil, Batala NYC, the Lucky Chops Brass Band, M.A.K.U. SoundSystem, the N’Harmonics, Uptown Vocal, the Cafe Wha? House Band, the Jazzmeia Horn Quartet, Bach Vespers, Annika, Hungry March Band, Raya Brass Band, Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, Dylan Meek, Elena Ayodele Pinderhughes, the Hot Sardines, Yaz Band, Mariachi Real De Mexico, the Suzi Shelton Band, the Big Apple Circus, Chinese Lion Dancers, Kinky Boots, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, dance groups, WNET characters, a screening of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, food tastings ($1-$4), Sesame Street’s Digital Playground & Walkaround Abby Cadabby
The South Street Seaport’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
Fulton St. at Front St.
Tuesday, December 2, 5:45
Live music, family-friendly activities, more
Winter Village Tree Lighting
40th - 42nd Sts. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Tuesday, December 2, 6:00
Details to be announced
Eighty-Second Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Wednesday, December 3, 7:00 - 9:00
Musical guests to be announced; tree will remain lit through January 7
Central Park Conservancy’s Eighteenth Annual Dana Holiday Lighting
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center inside the park at 110th St. & Malcolm X Blvd.
Thursday, December 4, 5:30 - 6:30
Flotilla of more than twenty illuminated trees on Harlem Meer, live ice carving, photos with Santa and his elves, Christmas carols, and hot cocoa and cookies
Christmas in Richmond Town: Traditional Tree Lighting
Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island
441 Clarke Ave.
Sunday, December 7, 5:00
Festivities begin at 11:00 am ($2 per person, six and under free) with shopping village, carolers, storytelling, Santa Claus, tours, Bell Choir, horse & carriage rides ($2, two and under free), free Christmas tree lighting at 5:00
Carl Schurz Park Holiday Tree Lighting
East 86th St. at East End Ave.
Sunday, December 7, 5:00
Christmas carols, Cantori choir, Orbital Brass, candlelight, candy canes, and hot chocolate
The Park Avenue Tree Lighting
Outside Brick Presbyterian Church, Park Ave. at 91st St.
Sunday, December 7, 6:30
Annual lighting of trees along Park Ave. Malls between 54th & 97th Sts., starting with tree outside Brick Presbyterian Church
Mad. Sq. Holiday 2014
Madison Square Park
23rd - 26th Sts. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Tuesday, December 9, 3:30
Live performances by Audra Rox and cast members of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, horticultural workshop with a red twig dogwood planting led by Gardener Steph, Reading Rangers storytelling, Gingerbread Boulevard, seasonal treats from Hill Country Chicken, SD26, and Frittering Away, tree lighting at 5:00
The Washington Square Park Tree Lighting
Washington Square Park Arch at Fifth Ave.
Wednesday, December 10, 6:00
Live music by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, songbooks for caroling, Santa Claus
Holiday on the Hudson
West Harlem Piers Park, West 125th & Marginal Sts.
Saturday, December 13, 5:00
Live music by the All-City High School Chorus, holiday decorations workshop, more
Zuccotti Park Holiday Lighting
Broadway & Liberty St.
Saturday, December 13, 5:30
Live music by the Manhattan Dolls and Metropolitan Klezmer, sweet treats, more
World’s Largest Menorah
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
December 16-23, 6:00
Live music, hot latkes, gifts for kids
World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan
Fifth Ave. between 58th & 59th Sts.
December 16-23, 6:00
National Museum of Mathematics
11 East 26th St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Monday, December 8, $14, 6:30
One of the most exciting shows on Broadway right now is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, the London import based on the award-winning 2003 novel by Mark Haddon, about a fifteen-year-old boy who is obsessed with prime numbers. On December 8, Alex Sharp, who gives an extraordinary performance as Christopher John Francis Boone, the teen with a kind of Asperger’s syndrome who is on the hunt for a canine murderer, will be at the National Museum of Mathematics next to Madison Square Park for the intriguing special program “Broadway Intersections: The Math Behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Sharp will be joined by MoMath founder Glen Whitney for a discussion on the role of math in the play, followed by an audience Q&A. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time brings math to life in an extraordinary fashion, and MoMath is thrilled to offer the opportunity for people to gain a deeper understanding of Christopher’s journey to self-discovery,” Whitney said in a statement. The show, running at the Ethel Barrymore, concludes with a wild postcurtain display of mathematics by Sharp that is certain to be a focus of this supercool event.
New York City’s Jane Lee Hooker, consisting of five women (from such bands as Nashville Pussy, Bad Wizard, Helldorado, and the Wives) who blast out traditional blues in a flurry of intoxicating aggression, will be celebrating the release of its debut album, No B!, on November 30 at Mercury Lounge with the Steepwater Band. The fast and furious No B! includes such hot tracks as the old spiritual “Wade in the Water,” Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues,” Ray Charles’s “I Believe to My Soul,” the rollicking “In the Valley,” and Muddy Waters’s “Champaign and Reefer” and, appropriately enough, “Mannish Boy.” Lead singer Dana Danger Athens really lets it rip, with Tracy High Top and Tina T-Bone Gorin on guitars, Hail Mary Z on bass, and Melissa Cool Whip Houston on drums. Jane Lee Hooker is no mere novelty act with an ultra-cool name; this band knows the blues down to their souls, so get ready to have your ass kicked.
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through April 26, $49 - $145
Oscar-winning writer-director Bill Condon makes a rousing Broadway debut with Side Show, a wonderful revival of the Tony-nominated 1997 musical about real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. In Depression-era Texas, the daring, outgoing Daisy (Emily Padgett) and the shy, reserved Violet (Erin Davie) are the stars of a freak show run by a controlling ringmaster they call Sir (Robert Joy), who considers them his daughters while also overseeing the rest of his wild menagerie, which includes the 3 Legged Man (Brandon Bieber), the Geek (Matthew Patrick Davis), Venus di Milo (Lauren Elder), Dog Boy (Javier Ignacio), Reptile Man (Don Richard), the Half Man/ Half Woman (Kelvin Moon Loh), the Bearded Lady (Blair Ross), the Fortune Teller (Charity Angel Dawson), and the small Cossack Male (Josh Walker) and Cossack Woman (Jordanna James). When talent agent Terry Connor (Ryan Silverman) sees the twins, who are joined at the hip, he instantly visualizes them becoming stars on the vaudeville circuit. He has his partner, Buddy Foster (Matthew Hydzik), teach them song-and-dance routines, but when they’re at last ready and willing to leave the side show, the dastardly Sir stands in their way, and a thrilling tabloid-tale court battle ensues, also involving Sir’s right-hand man, Jake (David St. Louis), who serves as the twins’ protector. After the court’s decision, Buddy is soon falling for Violet, who Jake also deeply admires, while Daisy sets her sights on Terry. The romantic pentagon comes to a climax at an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration that has the talented twins wondering if they might just be better off living separately, risking all on a potentially deadly operation.
Padgett (Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde) and Davie (Grey Gardens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) are terrific as Daisy and Violet, respectively, beautifully displaying the characters’ emotional hopes and fears as a new world opens up to them that threatens their unique relationship. Joy (The Nerd, Hay Fever) is deliciously dastardly as Sir, while Silverman (Passion) and Hydzik (West Side Story) make a fine duo, the former full of smooth-talking charm, the latter sweet melancholy. St. Louis (Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar) brings down the house early on with a powerful rendition of “The Devil You Know” that shakes the rafters. Bill Russell’s lyrics and Henry Krieger’s (Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid) music flow nearly imperceptibly from the exemplary book, which was written by Russell with new material by Condon, wisely never overdoing the idea that’s it’s okay to be different. The score, which contains additions and subtractions from the original production, features such moving numbers as “Cut Them Apart / I Will Never Leave You,” “Stuck with You / Leave Me Alone,” and the gorgeous “Who Will Love Me as I Am?” while such words as “connected,” “ties,” “bind,” “join,” “glue,” etc., become sly nods to the conjoined-twins aspect of the tale. David Rockwell’s eye-catching set has a sweet Gothic touch, while Paul Tazewell’s costumes, from the Hilton sisters’ gowns to the freaks’ general appearance, are simply fab. Condon and choreographer Anthony Van Laast do a marvelous job of keeping the twins together through most of the show, except for one breathtaking, memorable moment. If you want to find out more about the Hilton sisters after seeing the show, seek out Leslie Zemeckis’s 2012 documentary, Bound by Flesh, which includes plenty of archival photographs and film footage.
IN A LONELY PLACE (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, November 29, 2:00 & 7:00
Series runs November 26 - December 9
Humphrey Bogart stars in Nicholas Ray’s powerful, intense film about a cynical Hollywood screenwriter with a violent side. Dixon Steele (Bogart, in one of his strongest performances) is asked to write a screenplay based on a pulpy romance he has little interest in, so he brings home a coat-check girl (Martha Stewart) who has read the book so she can tell him the story. The girl turns up dead, and Steele, known for his drunken forays and abuse of women, is the main suspect. Aspiring star Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame), who has recently moved into the same Beverly Hills apartment complex, supplies an alibi for Steele, but she might have ulterior motives for doing so. Ray’s moody, introspective gem keeps you guessing until the very end. Ray (They Live by Night, Rebel Without a Cause) was briefly married to Grahame (The Bad and the Beautiful, Oklahoma!); they divorced when she had an affair with Ray’s teenage son, whom she later wed and had two children with. In a Lonely Place is screening November 29 at 2:00 & 7:00 as part of the BAMcinématek series “Sunshine Noir,” a two-week festival being held in conjunction with the Next Wave Festival presentation of Gabriel Kahane’s The Ambassador, a visual and musical exploration of Los Angeles, directed by John Tiffany. The film series runs November 26 - December 9 and includes such other L.A.-set works as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, Brian De Palma’s Body Double, Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey, Joseph Losey’s remake of M, and Robert Mulligan’s The Nickel Ride.
Circle in the Square Theatre
1633 Broadway at 50th St.
Tuesday - Sunday through February 8, $35 - $175
British playwright Jez Butterworth has followed up his brilliant, Tony-nominated Broadway hit, Jerusalem, with The River, a perplexing, comparatively slight tale in both length and scope. Hugh Jackman is superb as the Man, who has brought the Woman (Cush Jumbo) to his family’s fishing cabin on a cliff above a river stuffed to the gills with trout. On ULTZ’s rustic set that cuts through the audience, the Man and the Woman discuss fishing, poetry, sunsets, and interior design. She sings W. B. Yeats’s “The Song of the Wandering Aengus” and he removes a splinter from her using a rather large knife. She disappears during a nighttime fishing excursion and he desperately calls the police until she finally shows up, this time as the Other Woman (Laura Donnelly), both she and the Man acting as if nothing has changed, picking up the narrative as easily as a stream progresses down a mountain. Over the course of a lean eighty-five minutes (Jerusalem clocked in at three hours), the Woman and the Other Woman keep replacing each other as they individually explore the meaning of their relationship with the Man, who may or may not be a true romantic. But there is no doubt that, above all else, he is indeed a man, proud of his fishing heritage, swilling whiskey, and having fun with sharp objects.
Originally performed in London’s tiny Royal Court upstairs theater with Dominic West (The Wire, The Affair) as the Man, Miranda Raison as the Woman, and Donnelly as the Other Woman, The River is more like a Raymond Carver-esque short story filtered through the labyrinthine mind of Jorge Luis Borges than a fully realized theatrical production. That said, what there is of it is, for the most part, intimate and entertaining, until things get out of control in the last twenty minutes, resulting in too much obfuscation, confusion, and mystery in an attempt at philosophical grandeur. The Australian Jackman could barely be any more manly as the Man, waxing poetic over the art of fishing in long soliloquies while wearing thigh-high Wellingtons, a smartly nuanced performance worthy of his ever-growing stature. The English Jumbo (Josephine and I) and the Irish Donnelly, (Judgment Day; Philadelphia, Here I Come!) are fine foils for Jackman, going head-to-head and toe-to-toe with him as various truths come out — or remain hidden. Butterworth, who has also written such plays as The Winterling and The Night Heron and is an in-demand screenwriter as well (Edge of Tomorrow, Get On Up), has cast his line far into the water, but he doesn’t reel in quite the catch he could have. The night we went, there was an extra bonus, as after the play, Jackman auctioned off his shirts and a trip to the backstage bedroom for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, raising more than ten thousand dollars as he thoroughly enraptured the adoring crowd with his natural elegance and charming sense of humor.