• From The Host – Week Ending January 12, 2017

  • Dear VDP Guest, We are pleased to invite you to this week’s Virtual Dinner Party. Today we are serving up 9 reviews and 8 comments to share with you for the week ending Thursday, January 12, 2017. Please click on www.theVDP.com to savor the …Read More


  • Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection

  • Just the thought of seeing even half of Sergei Shchukin’s iconic art collection amassed in one place sent me reeling when I read about the current exhibit in Paris. Never having traveled to St. Petersburg’s Hermitage or Moscow’s Pushkin Museums, …Read More

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  • Kerry James Marshall show at the Met Breuer

  • The Kerry James Marshall show at the Met Breuer was the best show I’ve seen in a while. I’ve always liked his work, but seeing the paintings exhibited chronologically and shown all together cemented my respect. It was a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts …Read More

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  • Museum of Arts and Design

  • There are several worthy and diverse exhibitions to see right now at MAD — CROCHET CORAL REEF: Toxic Seas by Margaret and Christine Wertheim displays an extraordinary array of Coral Reefs – both live with color and creature habitat and the …Read More


  • Salome

  • This entire opera belonged to Patricia Racette as the princess of Judea — her voice, her strength, her dramatic abilities, her “way of going” in spite of the difficult stagecraft, unfortunate sets and other incongruities. Over 100 minutes of dramatic …Read More


  • Candide

  • I think we’ve seen every production since the original of this sophisticated Bernstein-Sondheim operatic spoof of Voltaire’s philosophic message: “This is the best in this best of all possible worlds.” The current New York City Opera revival, directed by Harold …Read More

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  • Manchester by the Sea

  • No spoiler alert is needed for this film because the preview trailer gives away the central event: the sudden death of a man that leaves his brother responsible for the orphaned teenage son. Yet there is another event that drives …Read More


  • Hidden Figures

  • What a wonderful film, probably the best movie we’ve seen all year. A terrific story well told. The writing is light-handed and pitch perfect. The moment when the smartest woman in the room has to run a half mile in the …Read More

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  • Dining in Paris – Le Baratin

  • Time to forego all the Michelin one-, two- and three-star discussions/restaurant visits and experience where many of Paris’ greatest chefs go to dine when they crave bistro home-cooking at its finest — lovingly created in a tiny kitchen by Raquel …Read More


  • Confucius

  • The China Arts and Entertainment Group settled into New York for a short festival (four days) of their national award-winning dance drama named “Confucius” at the Lincoln Center Koch Theater. As their teacher and philosopher who “shaped the nation,” he …Read More


  • From The Host – Week Ending January 5, 2017

  • Dear VDP Guest, We are pleased to invite you to the first Virtual Dinner Party of 2017. We are serving up 21 reviews and 3 comments to share with you for the week ending Thursday, January 5, 2017.   REVIEWS MOVIES La …Read More


  • La La Land

  • There’s a magic moment early in “LaLaLand” — after boy-meets-girl-and-they-rub-each-other-the-wrong-way— when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone break into an avoid/attract dance on a hilltop overlooking the Los Angeles night skyline. It’s meant to evoke a moment in “Top Hat” when …Read More

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  • La La Land

  • This delightful throwback to old cinematic times is a fresh breeze in an otherwise overly introspective world. The beginning sequence is worth the price of the tickets. A crowded freeway in Los Angeles becomes the backdrop for a vigorous, rousing, …Read More


  • La La Land

  • Watching “La La Land” the night after Christmas was like finding a forgotten gift under the tree and unwrapping it slowly — box within a box within a box — and enjoying the process enormously. We will return and see …Read More

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  • Patriot’s Day

  • As a Bostonian, this is one I had to see – and I wasn’t disappointed. The story of the bombers at the Boston Marathon (properly, The Marathon) is well-known, although I had forgotten how the entire city had been closed …Read More

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  • Fences

  • As it’s our custom to spend New Year’s Eve at the movies, we saw “Fences” in an empty theater last night. We think of it as our screening room. August Wilson’s writing is spectacular and expresses the African-American experience of the …Read More


  • Jackie

  • For those of us who lived through JFK’s murder, few of us used that word or thought through the first week of this tragedy through Jackie Kennedy’s eyes. How many of us even knew Jackie? In this film, those who wrote …Read More


  • Best Non-Fiction ’16

  • Amazingly Wonderful Nonfiction: “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds” by Michael Lewis – Review posted earlier “The Hidden Life …Read More

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  • Places of my Infancy: A Memory

  • I am sure most of you have read the great Italian novel “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa (and seen the great film with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale). This little book is Lampedusa’s remembrances of the house in …Read More


  • Strangers in Their Own Land

  • Add “Strangers in Their Own Land” to the list of great books that document our current political divide, such as Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy,” Isenberg’s “White Trash,” Anderson’s “White Rage” and Packer’s “The Unwinding.” Arlie Russell Hochschild, a Berkley sociologist, spent …Read More


  • At the Existentialist Cafe

  • “At the Existentialist Cafe” by Sarah Bakewell is a wonderful biography-focused book about existentialism. “Ideas are interesting,” Bakewell writes, “but people are vastly more so.” She presents an entertaining cast of characters such as Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger, Husserl, …Read More

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  • Nabucco

  • The first team is back in town, and they’re not alone. James Levine commanded the thunderous Met Orchestra with precision, matched by Donald Palumbo’s great chorus. Placido Domingo defied age as a vigorous King Nabucco. But the star of the …Read More


  • Roméo et Juliette

  • There are many ways to spend New Year’s Eve, but for us the Opera is both spiritually rewarding and an artistic adventure. “The Merry Widow” with Renee Fleming one year, “The Pearl Fishers” with Diana Damrau the next, and THIS …Read More


  • Der Rosenkavalier

  • There are some operas that have a meaning for us far beyond their plot, the music, the composer, his librettist, the times, the place, the history. “Der Rosenkavalier” is one that has resonance for all of us. More than anything …Read More


  • The Encounter

  • Simon McBurney explores the time-space continuum in “The Encounter.” This multidimensional story is based on a book written by an Englishman about an American explorer who visits an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest. McBurney — or McBurney’s voice — …Read More


  • The Present/The Babylon Line

  • Is there a place in the theater for a play that is not a blockbuster, is cast with stars, has critics raving and tickets unavailable? Actually, yes. This past week, after we saw a blockbuster on Broadway (in previews) — “The Present” …Read More


  • Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812

  • Half, if not more, of New York has already seen this vibrant and athletic interpretation of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” which is giving “Hamilton” a run for its money in the pop opera category. Coming from Off-Broadway’s Ars Nova four …Read More


  • The Dresser

  • “The Dresser,” a poignant tale of theater personalities — the highs and the lows of touring and the relationship between a bombastic Actor/Manager (patterned after the fabled Donald Wolfit), and his dresser, Norman — is revived at the Duke of …Read More


  • NY Theater Diary in a NY Minute

  • The Present: Cate Blanchett brings Chekhov from the 19th to the 20th Century in two acts, the first a dazzling vodka tonic, the second a dizzying hangover. The Babylon Line: A brilliant discourse on creative writing, character development, plot evolution …Read More


  • National Gallery East Wing

  • Just opened in September after three years of work, the new I.M. Pei East Wing is spectacular. The National’s modern art collection has a wonderful new home. Great open spaces for a hanging Calder, spacious galleries for the Picassos and …Read More

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  • Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern

  • The Tate Modern is still a HAPPENING. Scores of children rolling down a carpeted hill as one enters the enormous hallway, with supportive parents in attendance. The escalators lift and transport myriads of people all out for a day of …Read More


  • Tenement Museum

  • The Tenement Museum tour we chose (of the five available) sure sounded inviting: Shop Life. Set in the 1870s, Lower East Side, Manhattan. “View the restored apartments of past residents from different time periods. Family-run stores filled the lower level …Read More

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  • Best Fiction ’16

  • It makes me sad that most of the “best of” lists are so awful, because I imagine a potential fiction lover taking the NYT 10 best list, for example, and reading all five novels only to ask is that all …Read More

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  • Nabucco

  • This is truly an historic production, with James Levine at the conductor’s podium and Placido Domingo in the role of Nabucco. For those who do not know the story, it actually ends happily, so stay until the end. In the …Read More


  • Finian’s Rainbow

  • The Irish Repertory Theatre has its share of O’Reillys, O’Neills, O’Dwyers and O’Malleys, but it reaches beyond the strictly dramatic Irish offerings to indulge in some totally light-hearted evenings that send you away singing. Such is “Finian’s Rainbow.” This delightful …Read More