food 08.4.06

Cool Drinks

A quick shot of non non-alcoholic drinks to take the sting out of the summer fug.

The Basque region of Spain gives us the lovely, lightly sparkling Txakoli (pronounced chocolee). You occasionally find it in restaurants and in wine shops, but if you have trouble, here's a vendor that will ship.

From the docks of America's oldest seaport, Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Cape Ann Brewing Co. produces one of our favorite summertime beers, Fisherman's Brew. It's the perfect balance of malt and hops, with a nice, clean bite to it.

We're not big rum drinkers as a rule, but rum and tonic with a twist of lime on a hot summer's day — not bad, not bad at all.

Lillet, the aperitif from Bordeaux, is made up of local wine grapes, sweet and bitter oranges blended into a liqueur, and quinine. We like both the white and red versions, but the red is best for months with an 'r' in them.

The first Pimm's Cup we ever had came fully loaded with an oversized handful of mint sprigs so that you got the rush of cool, refreshing liquid, and the aromatherapy of your face in a thicket of mint. That got imprinted on us at an early age, so we always double or triple the amount called for in any recipe. Pimm's itself was created in 1840 in England, a drink whose exact ingredients — gin, bitters, various herbs, and quinine — are known now, it is said, only to the "Secret Six" — the six top people at Pimm's.

We like just about all things Alsatian, and that includes their champagne-method Cremants — a delicate, elegant quaff that's also affordable. Garnet has one from Willm for $10.99.

by George Spelvin

AMERICA ON BROADWAY: In recent Broadway seasons, you could count on onehand the number of new American plays. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I read a recent Bloomberg News interview with A.R. Gurney, the prolific American playwright whose last Broadway play was Love Letters in 1989. Gurney's new show,Indian Summer, is getting good buzz in previews at off-Broadway's Primary Stages, but he doesn't expect a transfer. "I don't think it's a Broadway play," said Gurney. "I go to Broadway shows and see the audiences. They don't look like people who would be interested in what I have to say."

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA: That's the new branding campaignfor Live Nation (neé Clear Channel Entertainment), America's largest presenter of Broadway shows across the country. But how much "Broadway" are audiences getting on the road?Production values inevitably are diluted in the process of making a touring version that can close in Detroit on a Sunday and re-open two days later in Duluth. And it is also extremely rare that the original stars take their show on the road — which makes it all the more notable that Cherry Jones is reprising her Tony-winning performance in Doubt.
Then there are those 'Reader's Digest' productions: Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular is a mere 95 minutes long,and the Vegas edition of TheProducers is also half as long as its Broadway counterpart. Of course, that's nothing compared to a Japanese theme-park version Wicked which condenses the nearly 3-hour musical down to 32 minutes. As Phantom'sdirector Hal Prince himself wrote in a 1974 memoir: "Do we not run the risk ofmechanizing the theater until it becomes so slick it loses its 'live-ness?'"

SPEAKING OF 'LIVE BROADWAY': That's the slogan outgoing President Jed Bernstein championed at the League of American Theatres and Producers. Bernstein frustrated more than a few people as he carried out the often-thankless job of Broadway cheerleader over the last decade. Here's wishing better luck to his successor, Charlotte St. Martin. She'll need it, since tensions will inevitably rise again when the contracts expire with musicians next spring and stagehands next summer. St. Martin lacks experience in labor relations, but she may be aided by a potentially united front among producers. For the last number of years, the League's position has been weakened because a few major Broadway producers have not been members. But Dodger Theatricals (back on top with Jersey Boys) has reportedly rejoined the League and Disney Theatrical Productions is seriously considering it, too.

AND NOW A WORD FROM…: TV airtime is cheaper during the summer months, which explains Disney's ad blitz for Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan — but oddly, not Mary Poppins — plus those annoyingly ubiquitous ads for Spelling Bee. Elsewhere on the dial:

· "Q-mmercial" Avenue Q has invited fans to create a 30-second spot"in the style of your choice that captures the essence of [the show]." You have until Sept. 1st to enter, and the winner will be selected the third week of September.

· That 70s Show: The "I Love NY" folks are running a new TV spotpromoting tourism in the city and have included video footage from some Broadway shows. Which is great, except the shows they've included are all from the 1970s and 80s.

· Guilty pleasure: For another blast-from-the-past, watch the TV commercial for aproduction of James Kirkwood's play Legends starring Joan Collins andLinda Evans of Dynasty fame, which opens in Toronto this September. Catfight!

TENT CITY: What good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Spiegeltent, old chum. This traveling venue has been a hit around the globe and has just set up shop at the former Fulton Fish Market at South Street Seaport. From now through the end of September, check out their beer garden with its incredible view of the city AND an impressive line-up of more than 80 shows, including a Monday night seriesco-presented by Performance Space 122 and the super-sexy vaudeville L'Absinthe (an annual sellout at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's Spiegeltent under the title La Clique).

JUST ASKING #1: Does the logo for the new Twyla Tharp/Bob Dylan show The Times They Are A Changin' remind anyone else of the logo for the flop musical version of The Goodbye Girl?

JUST ASKING #2: Rumor has it that the Roundabout Theatre Company wants to add the 900-seat Henry MillerTheatre, now being rebuilt on West 43rd Street, to its growing Times Square empire (which already includes Studio 54 and the American Airlines & Laura Pels Theaters). How will artistic director Todd Haimes come up with enough shows — and money — to fill that many spaces?

The Broadway-bound revival of "A Chorus Line" opened last night at San Fran's Curran Theatre. It earns a near-rave from critic Robert Hurwitt.

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