Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.
“The British invasion” Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano point out, did not, in fact, begin with the Beatles. Long before arrival of The Fab Four, songs from music halls and London’s West End found their way across the pond. This upbeat show is an appreciation of material that enriched our canon. Songs, Fasano says, for Lady Mary and her grandchildren. (Referring to Lady Mary Crawley in PBS’s Downton Abbey.)
A jaunty opening bookends past and present with Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” and Eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” One can practically feel the mood in the club improve. Comstock then offers “London By Night” (Carroll Coates): Most people say they love London by day/But lovers love London by night…painting with his voice and piano. Fasano’s “These Foolish Things” (Eric Maschwitz/Jack Strachey) arrives in an our song interpretation. The vocalist takes her time, allowing each warm emotion to expand into the air. Control is pristine.
A wry “Everything Stops for Tea” (Al Hoffman/Maurise Sigler/Al Goodhart) is cited as an example of the British Songbook seeing a lighter side to life. Songs that take that point of view about immigration, trade, depression, stalking, sexism, and alcoholism follow, a few apt lines each.
From The West End, we’re treated to Comstock’s tandem “Who Can I Turn To?” (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley- The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd) and Lionel Bart’s “Where Is Love?” (Oliver.) The performer adds sweetness to melancholy in a splendid low key rendition.
Out of the pop world, Fasano delivers Tony Hatch’s “I Know a Place” (with a few lines from his “Downtown”) and “I Only Want to Be with You” (Mike Hawker/Ivor Raymonde). Hatch’s songs are accompanied by a practiced Frug. The Hawker/ Raymonde is treated without flippancy in a more sophisticated arrangement adding appeal.
“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (Eric Maschwitz/ Manning Sherwin) is wistful but not wispy in these skilled hands. Fasano shares the piano bench with her husband. Traditionally a solo, the lyric suddenly becomes shared nostalgia. Both vocalists had evidently recorded the song and decided after 12 years of marriage it was time to perform it together. The last verse floats down like a feather in the wind. He kisses her shoulder.
Pairing the eclectic “The Wind in the Willows” (Vivian Ellis/Desmond Carter) popularized by the great Leslie Hutchenson with Sting’s “Fields of Gold” is sheer Comstock/Fasano. Expect the unexpected. Comstock’s version of the first is lovely. Fasano sings the second shoulders back, a signature stance when she’s serious. Gestures come from further away gaining territory and importance. Fingers splay for emphasis. The “character” is stilled by overwhelming emotion. “We’ll Meet Again” (Ross Parker/ Hughie Charles) showcases the innately cool talent of jazz bassist Sean Smith. Oddly, Noel Coward’s iconic “London Pride” is arranged as a sashay robbing it of gravity.
In Billy Reid’s “It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight”: It’s a pity to say goodnight/Because I want you to hold me tight/But if gotta go home, you gotta go home/Give me a goodnight kiss…Fasano make’s “howzabout” a literate word. Flirting, she bounces, adding a bit of hip and shoulder action.
The evening closes with a beautiful version of “If Love Were All” (Noel Coward). …Cares would be ended if I knew that he (pause)/Wanted (sigh) to have me near…
Photos by David Rosen
Downton Abbey Road: The Best of Britain
Barbara Fasano &, Eric Comstock with Sean Smith-Bass
Birdland 315 West 44th Street
December 20, 2016
Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel comes to the big screen starring the adorable Emilia Clarke (sans her dragons) and the very appealing Sam Claflin (from The Hunger Games). Moyes also wrote the screenplay, so the film sticks closely to the book, something that will undoubtedly please her fans.
Moyes’ story is a twist on the familiar theme of star-crossed lovers. When Louisa Clark (Clarke) loses her waitress job, she finds employment as a caregiver and companion to Will Traynor (Claflin) a quadriplegic whose wealthy family lives in a castle that for centuries has dominated the landscape in a picturesque British town. Will, despondent about his physical condition, wants to end his life at Dignitas, an assisted suicide organization based in Switzerland. While Will’s father (Charles Dance) understands his son’s decision, Will’s mother, Camilla (Janet McTeer) hopes to change his mind. A skilled nurse, Nathan (Stephen Peacocke), takes care of Will’s bodily needs, but Camilla hires Lou hoping the quirky young woman can lift Will’s spirits and convince him to keep living.
Charles Dance and Janet McTeer
Lou and Will are polar opposites. Lou’s father, Bernard (Brendan Coyle, Bates from Downton Abbey), has lost his job and Lou, putting her own future on hold, is supporting the family. She’s never been outside her small town, never attended a concert, and never watched a foreign film with subtitles. Her boyfriend, Patrick (Matthew Lewis) is a self-absorbed exercise fanatic. (For Lou’s birthday, he gives her a necklace that says “Patrick.”) Before his accident, Will was a star at his firm and dazzled his friends with his athletic ability. “I loved my life,” he tells Lou. The morning of his accident, he gave in to his girlfriend’s urging not to ride his motorcycle in the rain and, as fate would have it, was struck by another motorcycle.
Lou and Will get off to a bad start. He resents her presence, his behavior condescending, even hostile. Lou, however, is willing to put up with a lot to keep the well-paying job. She’s also a Pollyanna, able to see something positive in even Will’s situation. Her appearance alone serves to pick up Will’s spirits. Lou favors fuzzy pastel sweaters, brightly patterned skirts, and whimsical shoes. Predictably, Will’s icy attitude begins to thaw. He introduces Lou to foreign films and agrees to attend a Mozart concert. When he’s invited to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding, he asks Lou to go with him. In Lou’s presence, he seems less self-conscious about his disability, even taking a turn on the dance floor in his wheelchair with Lou on his lap.
Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin
While Will seems happier, he hasn’t changed his mind about ending his life and the 60 days he promised his parents to wait is nearly at an end. Lou, however, refuses to give up, pressing Will to go on a dream vacation. Accompanied by Nathan, the three fly on a private jet to a tropical island. While the word “love” is never spoken, it’s obvious the two have indeed fallen for each other. On a moonlit beach, they share a kiss. But that intimate moment proves frustrating for Will, bringing home that he would never be able to have the type of relationship with Lou that he truly wants and she deserves. (Get those tissues ready.)
Clarke and Claflin have wonderful chemistry. Director Thea Sharrock allows the pair’s relationship to unfold slowly so we are able to watch these two talented actors test each other and then finally come together. Clarke’s face is particularly expressive and she’s wonderful to watch. Fans of Game of Thrones will enjoy seeing her in an entirely different role. Claflin has a tough job, conveying an array of emotions while remaining immobile. The scenes where Will’s condition takes a turn for the worse are particularly tense, underlining how even with the best of care a quadriplegic’s health is sometimes precarious.
Sam Claflin and Stephen Peacocke
Moyes’ book received uniformly positive reviews when it was first published in 2012 and went on to become an international bestseller. Yet even before the film’s opening, disability advocates have protested what they feel are problematic messages. Will’s charge to Lou to “live fully”, seems to imply, the groups say, that only able-bodied people can do so and that euthanasia becomes a likely choice. (Other films besides Me After You – Million Dollar Baby and Whose Life Is It Anyway? – have shown individuals with paralyzing injuries fighting for the right to die.) Moyes and the film’s stars have emphasized that Me Before You is simply one story (and a fictional one at that) about one man’s decision. And there has been praise for the book, specifically from The Christopher Reeve Foundation. (See Robin Weaver’s interview with Jojo Moyes.)
With robust sales for the book, the film is expected to do well at the box office. In a summer filled with super heroes and sequels, Me Before You provides an alternative for moviegoers. If this movie also sparks a discussion about how the disabled are portrayed in all forms of media, that would be a very positive outcome.
As the countdown continues to the eagerly anticipated second season of Netflix’s critically acclaimed streaming series Daredevil, let’s take a moment to appreciate one of the secrets to the show’s success; it’s knockout cast. Here’s what they’ve done before (and since!) bringing the grittier side of the Marvel Universe to life.
Charlie Cox Before mesmerizing us as Matt Murdock, Charlie Cox unsuccessfully pursued Lady Mary on Downton Abbey (above),played Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, got romantic in Casanova, got entangled with gangsters in Boardwalk Empire, and formed a romantic triangle with Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He’s next scheduled to appear in the vampire action/horror movie Eat Local.
Vincent D’Onofrio His take on Wilson “The Kingpin Fisk was absolutely revelatory, but of course he’s had a very long and varied career before that. He first really came to public attention as the mentally disturbed Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. This was followed by memorable turns in such films as Mystic Pizza, JFK, Feeling Minnesota, Men in Black, The Newton Boys, Steal This Movie, The Cell, Thumbsucker, and most recently Jurassic World. Not to mention his many, many years as Bobby Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent (above).He will be seen next in the tv series Emerald City as the Wizard, and has also been cast in Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven.
Deborah Ann Woll She may be Karen Page on Daredevil, but to many Deborah will always be Jessica the baby vamp sired by Bill on True Blood (above). Deborah also played Paul Dano’s former flame in Ruby Sparks and starred opposite Bruce Willis in Catch .44.
Elden Henson Before he stole our hearts as Matt’s best friend and legal partner Foggy Nelson, Elden was stealing the scenes in the 90’s teen romantic comedy She’s All That as Laney Bogg’s smart, chubby best guy friend. Elden would later be part of such films as Cast Away with Tom Hank. O with Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett. Lords of Dogtown with Heath Ledger and Emile Hirsch, and most recently the role of Pollux in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1&2 (above).
Toby Leonard Moore Chilling as Fisk’s right hand man Wesley, Moore’s played bad guys before such as Russian thug Victor in John Wick. He can currently be seen on the Showtime series Billions as point man to crusading D.A. Chuck Rhodes (above, right, with Paul Giamatti).
Eyelet Zurer Israeli actress Ayelet made quite an impression as beautiful gallery owner Vanessa who becomes Wilson Fisk’s love interest. Before she stealing D’Onofrio’s heart though, she played wife to Mossad agent Avner Kaufman (Eric Bana) in Munich, a terrorist in Vantage Point, love interest to Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, and biological mother to Superman in Man of Steel. She’s set to play the role of Naomi in the latest remake of Ben Hur (above)alongside Jack Huston in the title role and Toby Kebbel as Massala.
Vondie Curtis-Hall It was Vondie’s performance that made us feel the pain of Ben Urich’s loss. Not surprising considering the career he’s had that began with a cameo in Coming to America. He starred as Dr. Dennis Hancock on Chicago Hope and was featured in such films as Eve’s Bayou, Romeo + Juliet, Heaven’s Prisoners, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Cymbeline. He also wrote, directed, and performed in the cult black comedy-drama Gridlock’d. His most recent work includes a guest appearance on Rosewood, and the upcoming Breaking Brooklyn (above).
Rosario Dawson The stunning Rosario has now appeared on two Netflix streaming series (Daredevil and Jessica Jones) as Claire Temple nurse to superheroes but the actress/singer has been a leading lady of Hollywood for a long, long time. She made her debut in the controversial indie film Kids and went on to do He Got Game, Sidewalks of New York, 25th Hour, Sin City, Unstoppable, Trance, and Gimme Shelter. She’s currently filming the thriller Unforgettable (above)alongside Kathryn Heigl and Cheryl Ladd.
Bob Gunston Wilson’s slimeball lawyer Leland Owsly has one of the longest resumes in Hollywood with credits going back to 1981. He’s best known for his work playing the corrupt warden in The Shawshank Redemption, General Harker in Glory, and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in Argo (above).
And now to look at some new names who will be appearing in Season 2…
Jon Bernthal Currently best known for playing Shane on The Walking Dead, Bernthal will be joining the cast of Daredevil as Frank Castle aka The Punisher. He’s also been in The Wolf of Wall Street and Sicario. Bernthal will be appearing in the upcoming Ben Affleck thriller The Accountant.
Elodie Yung French-Cambodian actress Elodie will be playing Matt’s infamous Greek assassin love interest Electra ( above, who was hinted at in Season 1.) While she’s been a star in her native France for many years, her first major role in a English language film was Lisbeth Salander’s love interest Miriam Wu in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She then went on to play ninja Jinx in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and goddess Hathor in Gods of Egypt.
Stephen Rider is set to play crusading D.A Blake Tower in the second season. Notable work in the past includes The Great Debaters, Safe House, and The Butler (above).
Daredevil’s Season 2 is available March 18, 2016, on Netflix.