Just Do Art!




If Valentine’s Day is your annual gentle reminder that it’s time to take down the Christmas tree, have we got a late December CD purchase for you! “A Touch of Christmas” is the very first collection of holiday songs by the sweet, legendary Shirley Jones (she of “The Music Man” and “The Partridge Family” fame). Why did it take so long? “I just was never asked,” explained Jones during a recent phone conversation. Be glad somebody did, though, because this collection of familiar standards (produced by Les Brown, Jr.) is a throwback to a time when tunes like “Silver Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas” were not yet corrupted by ironic or needlessly pop-infused interpretations. Throughout, Jones navigates the swinging big band arrangements with a light, loose, low-register approach that’s worlds away from her usual style. For more of Jones stepping successfully out of her vocal comfort zone, try “Shirley Jones: A Tribute to Richard Rodgers” — and look for her to visit Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in March, to support that CD. For info, visit www.EncoreMusicPresents.com. For more of our interview, look for a feature story on Jones prior to that Feinstein’s gig.


Faye Lane’s not just the gal who had the hottest, sweetest, funniest show in this year’s FringeNYC festival — she’s also a 20-year resident of the Chelsea Hotel and has the secret to containing the common cold. The medicinal advice she gave during an interview following our recent viewing of her current show cut our usual sniffle/sneeze downtime in half. But that’s not why she’s part of this week’s A&E picks. Lane’s encore run of that FringeNYC hit (“Beauty Shop Stories”) is a perfect early evening activity for those who want to show their out of town guests why Broadway regularly scopes, steals from and sometimes makes a star out of solo performers playing to intimate Off-Off Broadway houses.

As for what you get when the show starts: Lane takes you on a journey of discovery that starts on the porch of her mom’s Texas beauty salon, makes an unexpected detour in Paris, and ends up right here in NYC — where she fulfills her sober childhood vow to become a stewardess by day and an entertainer by night. Finding out how the dreams of a chubby outcast were achieved by the charming dish you see on the stage is what gives this solo performance its angel wings. Plus, it’s really funny — and cute bartender Byron makes a killer drink (the Moon Pie Martini) that’s as sweet and easy to digest as Lane’s life story. An added bonus: Cozy up to Faye after the show, and she’ll tell you the name of that highly effective cold & flu medication.

Sundays at 5pm, through Jan. 9. At the Huron Club at the SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam St. btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). For tickets ($25), visit www.ovationtix.com or call 866-811-4111. For all things Faye, visit www.beautyshopstories.com.



Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear — and, along the way, find out how some of our most cherished Christmas traditions (trees, turkey dinners, caroling and Santa Claus) came to be. “Christmas Comes to Old New York” is a Merchant’s House Museum exhibit documenting how certain events (as well as books and articles published during the first half of the 19th century) helped to popularize the Christmas customs we still observe.

See a table-top Christmas tree (the first trees were sold in NYC markets in 1851) decorated with handmade paper ornaments, berries, ribbons, and “real” candles; stroll through parlors and hallways hung with lush greenery, including poinsettias (introduced to American in the 1820s by Minister to Mexico Joel Poinsett); listen to Christmas songs and carols recorded on the Museum’s original 1848 rosewood piano; and visit the kitchen, where preparations are under way for holiday entertaining.

This special exhibition is included with regular museum admission (10, $5 for students & seniors. Free for children under 12 and Merchant’s House Museum members). Through Jan. 10, 2011 — at the Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St. btw. Lafayette & Bowery). For dates, times and reservations, Call 212-777-1089 or visit www.merchantshouse.org.


Here’s a sober thought for all you sunny optimists among us: It may take a few more billion years, but eventually the sun will do a number on the earth and the planets — and our solar system will be no more. It’s no wonder, then, that our own looming destruction inspires humankind to spin tales of salvation in the face of hopelessness and desperation. “Baby Universe” explores the unavoidable repercussions of the way we live today — with the help of over 30 puppets ranging from 9 inches to 9 feet, masks, a Stephen Hawking-inspired robot, animated video projection and a space-age score. It may not help you sleep at night, but it’ll at least give you something to think about.

This production is appropriate for those 7 years of age and older, but it should also be noted that this is not a children’s’ show — it’s a theatre piece with puppets. At the Baruch Performing Arts Center (5 Lexington Ave. Enter on 25th St. just east of Lexington). Through Sun., Jan. 9. For specific performance times, and to purchase tickets ($30, $20 for students/seniors), call 212-352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com.




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