Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It Happens Quietly (Book Review: When It Happens To You, Molly Ringwald)

As a teenager in the 80s, I worshipped Molly Ringwald. I think I saw every movie she had as a teenager, and I even remember for one of my essays in College English class, I wrote a review of her movie "Pretty In Pink."  But who knew she was such a great and sensitive writer? Her book "When It Happens To You," is a collection of short stories that interrelated, and is fantastic. She has a great flair for creating characters that speak to you, that sound very real, and you will leave thinking about them past the last page. At the core of her stories is a marriage gone awry, that of Greta and Phillip. They have a child, and he involves himself in an affair with Theresa, their daughter's violin teacher. It's a simple story, and the story, and its repercussions, are told in separate points of view so you get a fuller picture of the situation. But my favorite story in the book is titled "My Olivia," which tells the story of Marina, who has a son, Oliver. (Oliver is Charlotte's play mate in school) Oliver is a little boy, but identifies as a little girl. He doesn't want his hair cut, and likes to dress in little girl's clothing. Ringwald's light touch in telling the story makes you understand and feel the dilemma, without resulting to judgement. I never for a second felt insulted reading it, and eventually loved its resolution, as people are "born this way."  I look at short stories are slices of life, and I love when they make me think, when the characters resonate, when I can relate to the characters. The stories in "When It Happens To You" made me feel all those. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dulled Edge (Television Review: Kathy, Thursdays On Bravo)

I loved Kathy Griffin's talk show last season. It started out shaky - she had the idea that she would only have regular people as guests, but towards the end of the season, she started bringing out her celebrity friends and it got a lot more interesting. You could sense that she knew these people, and they were along for the ride. I know people either love or hate her, and you can firmly put me on the "love" camp. When her show got renewed, they made a decision to put her on live, and that possibility of danger perhaps added more edge. But something is off this year, and I can't put my finger on it. Maybe because she is now on live, she is more cautious? The initial episode, with guests Jane Lynch and Lisa Kudrow, was funny enough but there's a missing spark. The second episode, featuring T.I. (God - am I so old that I really do not know who he is?) again, on paper, sounds hilarious, but it was much too safe, or trying too hard to be edgy, I can't figure out. I just finished watching the third episode, with Chris Noth and Chelsea Handler as guests, and again it wasn't as funny. Kathy Griffin made her mark in the comedy world skewing celebrities, and I think maybe she has become too close to them now, with her comedy now focused on reality television "stars."  These people are easy targets, and somehow this has dulled her edge.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hotel (Book Review: Heads In Beds, Jacob Tomsky)

I like hotels, and feel comfortable in them. I like the luxury, the decadence, the possibilities they offer. So I was very interested in reading "Heads In Beds," bu Jacob Tomsky, which is described as " a reckless memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality."  That's a mouthy description, and I had hoped that the book would live up to it. It did, and it is partly because the book is well-written. Mr. Tomsky definitely has his own voice, and it comes across as raunchy, arrogant, but very readable. He peppers his chapters with "tips" on how to have a better hotel experience, but for me anyway, they offered nothing new. Yeah, of course, a $20.00 bill given to the front desk person would give you a better room, but maybe not, too. He speaks from his own point of view, and other front desk clerks may or may not agree with him. I was more entertained when he told stories of guests - he writes about them vividly that I felt that I got to know them, too. I wish he had written about how he transitioned from working in the hotel industry to writing, or I may have missed it, but I wonder if he still works at a hotel.  This was a good quick read: it definitely kept my attention, and finished it in a couple of hours. 

BC - 6

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bringing Retro Back (Music Review: "Suit & Tie," Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z)

A lot of things have happened since he brought sexy back. Justin Timberlake is out with a new song, "Suit & Tie," and it's still sexy. He brings out his falsetto once again and we're all good for it. The track is a throwback to those 70s soul records, perhaps a little bit Marvin Gaye, a dash of Stevie Wonder? He modernizes it with a sensibility that is not unlike Robin Thicke's. Actually, a lot of people has said that he sounds exactly like Thicke in this record. I am a big fan of Thicke's music so I definitely see the similarities. Even Thicke himself has said that they have made similar records in the past so it's all good (I am kind of embarrassed to admit I saw him say that on "Watch What Happens Live")  "Suit and Tie" is essentially a love song, perhaps tied to his recent wedding to Jessica Biel. Look at the lyric: "Tell your mother that I love her cause I love you/ Tell your father we go farther as a couple/ They ain't lose a daughter, got a son." Jay-Z of course supplies the obligatory interlude, and while Hova is still Hova (I never thought I would hear a gangsta rapper reference fashion designer Alexander Wang) I kind of wish this was a "pure" song, retro style speaking. But it's all good, and a good precursor to Timberlake's forthcoming album.

Where Do Broken Hearts Go? (Book Review: The Provence Cure For The Broken Hearted, Bridget Asher)

Where do broken hearts go? Apparently they go to Provence, France. Heidi is heartbroken. She just lost her husband, and has been struggling with it as she starts to raise her son, Aboott, alone. After some manipulation from her mother, she flies to France at a little village near Aix en Provence, France, to fix the summer house she used to vacation to when she was a kid. This seems to be a perfect setting for a romance, right? So of course, she gets to meet the French man of her dreams, but can she let go of the hurts in her past and fall in love again? The novel has all the elements of something I would love, and I only liked it. I have been to Aix en Provence, so I knew exactly the region where this novel is set. I remember the one thing that I noticed in Aix en Provence was that there was art everywhere: it seemed to be an in integral part of the city. I wish I could have felt that in the descriptions of the locale. But Bridget Asher concentrated on the patisseries and she was accurate. I remember going to one and getting macaroons and trying to desperately decide what to get from the beautiful concoctions they had. But back to the book, I wish I felt more the love story between Heidi and Julien, the childhood friend of hers from France. I felt that there was just too much of her reminiscence of her husband, that even as the story was ending, I still never felt that Heidi ever let go. And the story line of Charlotte felt too neatly tied up: the resolution felt just a little forced after all the build-up. Still, there's  a lot to like about the book: the majestic descriptions of the mountains, the internal element of the narrator, and it's France, it's Provence! I have had a few broken hearts over the years and it sure would have been so romantic to mend them in the beauty of that locale. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blackberry In Winter (Scent Review: Lalique Amethyst)

I wanted to feel better today, so when I was trying to scent myself this morning, I wanted something that would bring a smile to my face. Then I saw Lalique Amethyst, which I realize I really haven't worn in a long while.  I thought it would be a perfect winter scent as well, I am sure the musk will help the blackberry bloom. The opening - a gorgeous burst of blackberry currants - is one of the best fruit bursts in perfume. I dare say it is even better than L'Artisan Mure et Musc, which, to me , feels a bit frail. This berrylicious opening is alive, it's sweet but not too sweet. Jo Malone's Blackberry and Bay is sweeter, and fuller, and more "natural smelling" but there's is one thing in Amethyst that I like : it's the musk. It grounds it, it rounds it,, it frames it. I wish the drydown here would be more imaginative - a red woods mix here smells kind of generic, and I also wish this had more longevity. At four hours, it just trails. But Amethyst is such a cheap find - I think I got my 100ml for less than thirty dollars a while back that I can't much complain.

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is Always (Film Review: This Is 40)

I was talking to a friend who just had his birthday recently, and we had this deep talk about him having a mid-life crisis of sorts. He just turned a little over forty years old. I thought to myself, did I have one when I turned forty?  I don't remember so, maybe because I never took stock in numeric age. I had no problems accepting aging, as a matter of fact, I spent my fortieth birthday partying with my friends in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But I guess not everyone may feel that way, as evidenced in Judd Apatow's "This Is 40."  I had heard all the worst things imaginable about this movie, so perhaps I was not expecting much, but all in all I enjoyed this and give this a big thumps up. The movie is based on characters from "Knocked Up," but I really do not remember them from the movie, so I'll just scratch that factoid. Pete and Debby (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann ) are both turning 40. She doesn't want to be reminded of her age, he is throwing a party. So you can kind of see where the characters are. I cannot help but think that this movie is an autobiographical account of Apatow's life. I mean, he cast his muse (Rudd) his wife (Mann) and his real-life kids in this. For all I know, they probably even shot in their house. I thought the humour would be of the raunchy testosterone variety, but whatever it is, I find myself laughing a lot - whether it be when Pete and Debby are adapting therapy talk when fighting, or the boob jokes when Megan Fox is around. And a revelation to me - Fox is funny as hell. In a million years , I would have never thought I would find Fox to be an appealing actress, but there you go. But I understand the quibbles, too. At a hundred and fifty minutes, the film is self-indulgent. I mean, I am sure the same story could be told with less. And yes, the movie can feel like a home movie of an upper white entitled family. I surely am not in that demographic, but I liked the film anyway, so the message could transcend.

Moving On (Television Review: SMASH S02E01 On Broadway)

SMASH is back, and all is well in the world. Let me just say, that I have had a pretty rough couple of weeks, and my holidays were meh to say the least, but after seeing the first half of the two hour premiere (The title is "On Broadway") I felt happy, I felt giddy for the first time in weeks. The opening number, "Cut, Print, Moving On," is from Bombshell, but it effectively interweaves all the characters as they finish last year's stories and move on. Karen moves out and has a new roommate. Ivy moves back and throws away her pills. Julia moves back and tries to save her marriage. In one quick production number, the show tries to "correct" a lot of what they thought went wrong last year. This year's showrunner, Joshua Safran, has tried to listen to fans' input and is remedying things (no more scarves for Julia's , for example) Well, Bombshell is Broadway-bound, but not without drama, of course. We are also introduced to the character of Veronica Moore, played by Jennifer Hudson. While Hudson is fine and brings star power to the show, at this point, I am still unsure what she really brings to the storyline. She does some kickass numbers, though, and she duets with Katherine McPhee on "On Broadway," and it's great. We get to see Ivy "suffer," and I guess this is how she gets a retrieved reformation storyline, but by the end, when she sings "Don't Dream It's Over," you know that she is back. I can't help but be annoyed a little bit about the Karen character: she is still a bit whiny, and entitled acting. Karen, remember, you are not a star yet, and you have not opened on the boards. We are also introduced to Jeremy Jordan's character, a young songwriter, and he gets the coveted closing number of the episode, so we know big things are in store for him. There's a bombshell (he he) of sorts that happens to "Bombshell," so at the end of the hour, things are uncertain. It's meant, of course, to lure people back, and it succeeds. This hour is a wonderful opener for  the new season, and I'm in!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pre-Catfish (Book Review: Fake Boyfriend, Kate Brian)

After reading my previous back, which was emotionally heavy to carry, I wanted to switch to something mindless and fun, so I started reading "Fake Boyfriend" by Kate Brian. It's a cute (if cruel) premise. Vivi and Lane, are sick of their friend Isabelle always going back to her abusive relationship, so they create a fake profile on MySpace (this book was written in 2007) to distract her attention away from her loser boyfriend. Of course, as these things go, nothing happens as they should. My first thought about the whole set up is that this really happened at a more innocent time with regards to the internet. Online life is much bigger now, so something like this would be hard to pull off. And, people in general, and I would think especially young people, would be more wary to act and react if faced with a similar situation. But as a story, it was interesting enough, and Ms. Brian has created innovative twists and turns to make the story  lot less predictable. Even I was thrown off for just a tiny bit, and I am the most jaded person I know. This was a genuine diversion for me, and it entertained me as I tried to recover for my three week old cold.  And the cover was just too cute to ignore.


Betty Boy (Music Review: Ah, Men! The Boys Of Broadway, Betty Buckley)

Betty Buckley is sick and tired of men getting the best songs in musicals (that's debatable, but...) so she set out to record "Ah, Men! The Boys Of Broadway," which is a collection of songs originally done by men. This concept isn't really that original - a lot of women have recorded similarly themed albums - but I bet no one has injected more character in their songs as Miss Buckley. Here she becomes the song in each selection - and each character is as varied and interesting as the other. Take for example the opening track, "I Can See It, " from the Fantasticks. She gives it just enough urgency and energy that you soar with her through the whole ride. And she is heartbreaking in "Venice," from William Finn's "Elegies." If you look at the Amazon reviews for this album, you will see a lot of people complain that she cannot sing anymore. I will be honest and say, she may not have the range she used to have (at her age, she still have a great deal of it) but listen to her as she sings one of my favorite songs of all time, "Song On The Sand," from "La Cage Aux Folles," and you can see she that her emotional involvement in a song is peerless: no one can else make you feel years of love in a song.  There are songs that didn't quite work for me, like "Maria, " from West Side Story (I thought that was stretching it a bit) but this collection is not the kind that grabs you right away anyway. Listen to it over and over and with each spin you will discover a new layer.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stars In Our Eyes (Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars, John Green)

In December, when everyone was listing the best books of 2012, one title kept on coming up: "The Fault In Our Stars," by John Green. I've had this title on my TBR for a while now, but I have been putting it off, probably because it is about a sixteen year old cancer patient. I mean, I told myself, I have enough depression in my life to add another depressed person's story to it. But everyone has been raving about this, and it has such a devoted following that it even has its own Tumblr.

I read it and finished it last night, and I am still quite shaken. This is an extraordinary book. It touched me in a lot of different ways, and I actually had dreams about the characters: they wouldn't leave my consciousness: hey have seeped into my core being. Hazel Grace has thyroid cancer and has to breathe with an oxygen tube. She meets Augustus, who is in caner remission, but has lost his leg in the process. They meet cute: at a cancer support group meeting, and they fall in love. They do so not in a bombastic rom-com way, they just do. They exchange their favorite books, they play video games with Isaac, a fellow Cancer kid who loses his eye, and girlfriend when he does. This book is supposed to be a tragic story - tragic things happen - but it is surprisingly uplifting maybe because if the wise smart-alecky attitude of these young people. They laugh, they live their lives, they swoon, they flirt. In some ways, they live fuller lives, maybe not from choice. Hazel and Gus take a trip to Amsterdam and Green writes about the place intimately: you can practically smell the canals as he describes them (I read on the acknowledgements that he spent time in Amsterdam while writing this) Sure, the book is a bit manipulative, and it practically gives you instructions on when to turn on the waterworks, but is subtle enough. I can imagine why this book has resonated with a lot of people. If someone asks me to describe love, I will just tell them read "The Fault In Our Stars," and they will understand.  


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lisa Vanderpump Carrington Colby (Television Review: Vanderpump Rules)

"Casa Blanca is where you bring your wife. Sur is where you bring yoru mistress," Lisa Vnaderpump exclaims at the beginning of the pilot episode of Vanderpump Rules. So she sets up the series with only one thing in mind: sex, sex, and more sex. This spin-off from RHOBH is cast with young, beautiful people. I think of it as a modern-day Melrose Place. One of the cast members even says that there have been a merry go round of them sleeping with each other. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, actually. The first episode concentrates on the storyline concerning Scheanna. You should know her - she was the young lady that Eddie Cibrian was cheating with while he was still with Brandi, but ultimately Eddie left Brandi for country singer LeeAnn Rimes. Scheanna is new at Sur, and is being subjected to mean girl Staasi's shenaningans (whatever happened to people named Stacy and Sheena?) and we are asked to root for Scheanna after her being portrayed as a homewrecker. Morals aren't really high priority among these people, apparently. But you know what? Damn it if it wasn't entertaining. I will have to admit, trash is good sometimes, and this one may just have me hooked. Lisa Vanderpump is interesting as a modern day Alexis Carrington Colby, complete with British accent - and she acts that way, too. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Day In Barcelona (Scent Review: Ramon Monegal Lovely Day)

I haven't been feeling well. I have had this cold since before Christmas and it just seems relentless. Anyway, I woke up this morning with aches and pains and I desperately did not want to go to work, but unfortunately I had to. So I wanted to scent myself with something uplifting. I went to an old neglected bottle - Ramon Monegal's Lovely Day. Ramon Monegal is a perfumer from Barcelona and I got this when I was there a couple of years ago. I fell in love with this instantly and I don't know why I don't use this more often. It's a bright floral, and it is so perfectly blended that it just screams perfume. It has notes of sambac jasmine, and rose, edged out by licorice and black current. The notes just "disappear." It is more floral than anything else, and the licorice is never screechy. The black currant pulls it down to prevent it from becoming heady. On a winter's day, it blooms better, and it's pretty full. Here I am about six hours later, and I can still smell it, even with a stuffed nose. It has major projection, and I would imagine, massive sillage. For me, this scent is a souvenir snapshot of Barcelona. In this cold winter day, I am suddenly transported by this scent to a sunny Barcelona day, and that's a lovely day indeed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reading A Past (Book Review: The Unborn Spouse Situation, Matt Rauscher)

"The Unborn Spouse Situation, "  by Matt Rauscher is a gay coming-of-age book, and I have read many of those. It's one of my favorite fiction genres. And while I sped through reading this book, I never really liked the main character. He reminded me so much of myself when I was younger, and I despised him. I am thinking about it and perhaps maybe because it is a part of myself that I regret living, or is it because of all the regret for missed opportunities. So, in the end, I can't really reconcile my feelings for this book except for the fact that I couldn't stop reading it. Maybe, in a way, it was like watching a flashback of a life I no longer want to revisit. Rauscher is an engaging writer, but I just couldn't handle his main character, Augie, make the same mistake over and over and over again. Even as the book ended, I do not get a hint that he has really learned his lesson. But that isn't the writer's fault. I accept now the fact that this is the character he has created, and I just need to accept the character as is. It is similar to seeing a young person making a wrong decision - you know and everyone else knows that it is a wrong decision, but you also have to accept the fact that he has to go through the consequences of that decision before he realizes his mistake.  I guess it is a testament to the book that it made me think about past choices, and where I am right now, and happy to have arrived at my particular place in life.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stars In Your Multitudes (Film Review: Les Miserables)

Finally, my Les Miserable review.  If you want the short version, I loved it. 

It has never been my favorite musical. When I first saw it on Broadway with the Original Cast, (with the wondrous cast of Colm Wilkenson, Randi Graff and Judy Kuhn) I thought the show was bloated and just a little too over-the-top, but I have seen it so many times since then, with different iterations (Lea Salonga As Eponine, Ricky Martin as Marius, Debbie Gibson as Eponine, Idina Menzel as Fantine, Lea Salonga as Fantine, just to name some memorable ones) that I have grown to be quite familiar with it. In fact, I am confident enough to say I know most of the lyrics to most of the songs. And of course, some of the "hits" are ubiquitous: I think I have probably hundreds of audio versions of both "I Dreamed A Dream," and "On My Own." 

A lot has been said about Tom Hoppers' decision to film with actors singing live. Yes, it's unusual, and yes the vocals aren't as polished, but with what's lacking, the actors more than make up with emotions. I have noted that while listening to the soundtrack, a lot of the actors sound too "acting," but with the visuals, they all work. Yes, I know a lot of people have complained about Russell Crowe's singing, but I thought he was more than fine. he wasn't off pitch, he followed he melody close enough, and best of all, he gives Javert a screen presence it needed. I was kind of scared that Hugh Jackman would sound nasal, but no, he, too was terrific. And he is fantastic in the role, perfect for it. He gives "Bring It Home" just enough gravitas without overplaying, and on the new song, "Suddenly," he is heartbreaking. I now in my mind cannot envision anyone but him when I think of Jean Valjean. And yes, Anne Hathaway as Fantine is simply that  Academy award-worthy performance. I knew she could sing, I knew she could act, but she does both stunningly. I am officially rooting for her Oscar night. Eddie Redmayne is a revelation: I have always admired him as an actor, and he gives Marius just the right charm, sensitivity, and testosterone. And his "Empty Chairs And Empty Tables" should be more than enough for at the very least a nomination. I know people have complained about Amanda Seyfried's vibrato, but I thought she was touching, and Samantha Banks displays her singing strength (though if I want to be truthful, her screen presence is kind of low batt compared to the other heavy hitters) Aarn Tveit steals scenes he is in, and Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are perfect Thenadiers - much needed comic relief. Quite simply, this movie has stars, and the star power makes the movie, in their multitudes.

So why does the movie polarize so much? Well, you really need to love the show to really love the movie. Hopper knows how to push buttons, and I totally understand why people would say "Enough Already." I can understand how the pacing can madden some, especially the last fifth of the movie. I bet the show will get new young fans (there' already a new Broadway revival slated for 2014) Bottom line, though: if you are not into it, have never been into it, then this movie will not change your mind. As for me, I loved it, and yes I shamelessly cried a couple of times, and I know that the waterworks scenes are so manipulative, and yes they got me again and again and again. I just think, that's why I go to the movies: to have my emotions stirred. Okay, so this movie may not have really challenged my intellect, but you can't have everything. This gave me enough.

Among My Favorites : Television 2012

Among my favorite television from 2012: 

1.  SMASH (NBC) - Yes, it's the show that everyone loved to hate. But you have got to admit, its pilot is one of the best in a long time. It literally made my heart beat faster, and made me want to see the show, for forever. I would even venture to say that the strength of the pilot made me stay with it even if a lot of things went wrong, after the first episode. 

2.  EPISODES (Showtime) - My favorite sitcom right now - yes it's irreverent, and maybe too British, but it's laugh out loud hilarious. I found myself doing the ugly laugh whenever it is on. And Matt Le Blanc - who knew there was more to him than Joey?

3. VEEP (HBO) - Julia Louis Dreyfuss is a Goddess. I was never really a fan of hers, but her acerbic Vice President is gross and real, and really really funny. 

4. NEWSROOM (HBO) - yes, it's preachy (and to the choir) but damn it if it isn't riveting week after week. 

5. BROADWAY OR BUST (PBS) - A reality talent competition show that is close to my heart, and for once, I aw a lot of talent. 

Half I Liked:  GLEE (Fox) - The episodes focusing on Rachel & Kurt in NYC re-energized the series, teh storylines back home in Ohio dragged it down. 

Still On The Fence: The New Normal (NBC) - I still don't love it, and it keeps me coming back every week. 

Most Improved: Heart Of Dixie (CW) - The characters are now fully-fleshed out, and each one lovably crazy. 

Most Consistent: The Good Wife (CBS) - As good as teh first episode, after all these years. 

Disappointment: DTLA (Logo) - A hot mess. 

Guilty Pleasure - Bravo series. I can't help it - I regularly watch "Watch What Happens Live," and the Housewives, and the Decorators, and the Real Estate agents. I don't like them all, but they draw me back week after week. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Read London, I Read France (Book Review: Finding Monsieur Right, Muriel Zagha)

I don't know what possessed me to start reading "Finding Monsieur Right," but here we are, and it is my first book for 2013. (I am doing another one hundred books read for the year challenge , by the way)  Muriel Zagha's book isn't the most original in the world: it's one of those swap-life ones between two young ladies, one from Paris, and the other in London. I can't remember the last time I read one, or if I have ever read one at all. Maybe the idea of me having read one just sounds familiar. But this one is pretty much by-the-book. Yes, it is predictable, and yes, some plot points can be seen a mile away. I enjoyed it for another reason altogether: the book read and sounded very British. I am a self-confessed Anglophile, and I loved that the book (or the version I read, anyway) sounded very Continental. There were colloquial British terms I picked up ("niggle," "tetchy," "afeard" ) and I loved stopping, and familiarizing myself with them. I have read British books that have sounded "Americanized," because American editors fear that Stateside readers will not relate, but I loved the challenge. Plus, I love the European feel of the stories. Some kind of did not make sense here, and stylistically, there was a full British "stiff upper lip"  vibe.  They just made me like the book more. So yes, I totally dug the book, and I think it is a great start to a new year of reading.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Love Is Never Gone (Review: A Singular Senation, Live From Lincoln Center, PBS)

What a way to start 2013! I am too old for current pop sensations, so I might as well go for the one singular sensation! One Direction? Not going there. Rhianna? Never mind. I am going for what I consider real talents: real voices with no vocoders and pro-Tools. Last night, PBA aired "One Singular Sensation: A Tribute To Marvin hamlisch," and in my opinion, a great alternative to the noise and merriment in Times Square, about twenty five blocks north of the crystal ball. And what a wonderful, dignified evening: After a soaring "A Chorus Line" overture, Audra McDonald sang a luminous "The Way We Were," sounding like I have never ever heard that song sung before. Then Megan Hilty - a true Broadway star of today if there ever was one - sang a sexy "Nobody Does It Better." Joshua Bell plays a soulful violin of "I'll Take Manhattan," with dear Marvin "on piano," and it was quite touching. Then guys take stage: an understated Michael Feinstein and Josh Groban, in all his tenor wonderfulness. The little spitfire Lilla Crawford sings "Disneyland," and while a little inappropriate and a tad pitchy, the spirit is there (And while we are at it, how about a "Smile" revival?) A duo of songs come next via Raul Esparza and Kelli O Hara , both wonderful songs from two of my favorites. And who knew Beth Behrs (of Two Broke Girls) could sing, and does a very good Val singing "Dance 10 Looks 3."  Maria Friedman sings a song from "The Nutty Professor," and it's a wonderful ballad from Hamlisch's last show. Though Brian D'Arcy James was a bit excessive, he's in character. And Maria Friedman doing "nothing" was a little to much as well. What comes next is pure perfection, though: Audra, Megan and Kelli singing "At The Ballet." I still get chills thinking about that number. They all converge for "What I Did For Love," and "One" for a rousing finale, and yes, it was such a beautiful end. It was nice to see an old friend, Tedd Firth, on piano - oh how he has risen to the big leagues now. This, for me, is the perfect enjoyable musical evening. Yes, it may not have the current factor of Psy, but I will take it.