- Monday: A slight chance of snow before 10am, then a slight chance of rain. Cloudy, with a high near 46. Southwest wind 6 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
- Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36. Southwest wind 5 to 7 mph.
- Tuesday:Partly sunny, with a high near 52. West wind around 10 mph.
CNR STAGE DOOR. Theatrical Review by John F. Bailey. March 8, 2014:
Strolling, tennis playing residents of New Rochelle, toiling immigrants, Negroes creating a new music, legends J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Harry Houdini and anarchist Emma Goldman colliding together seamlessly, up close and personally, tragically and inspiring!
Ragtime tells America’s story as touching, heart-breaking and as dramatic as it gets:
The sound of distant thunder
Suddenly starting to climb…
It was the music
Of something beginning,
An era exploding,
A century spinning
In riches and rags,
And in rhythm and rhyme.
The people called it Ragtime…
I have been reviewing shows at the Westchester Broadway Theatre for 14 years.
The Standing Ovations Studios rambunctious, irreverent, in-your-face overwhelmer of a revival of the 1998 musical Ragtime , that officially opened Friday night in Elmsford is the best production WBT has ever presented that I have seen. Easily it is the most involving and emotionally connecting.
Ragtime gives theatre goers all this top-of-the-line 40-member cast has—right from the anthem Ragtime . The anthem I quite above introduces the colors of America at the turn of the 19th century from white New Rochelle residents lofting tennis balls to immigrants from Latvia, Ireland,and Blacks up from the south from the Robber Barons and architects of America’s success to all seeking success in America.
It never lets up on the audience from its hour and 20 minute first act to its 55 minute second act at rolls like an express train of emotions…it overwhelms with 32 songs—by the second time Broadway composing team of Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens who executed a 4-song audition score for original producer Harold Prince and beat out 7 other 4-song writing teams to win the task of writing this score. The score won a TONY as Best Original Musical Score in 1998. Their first hit was Once On an Island in 1990, then the musical score for the Disney movie Anastasia, followed by their winning the competition to compose Ragtime. Their latest work, Rocky, The Musical premiers next Friday in New York City.
Director John Fanelli and Set Designer Steve Loftus takes us back to the future with clever use of an arched set and revolving stage that simulates assembly lines in Detroit, the Polo Grounds, a court room, docksides. We even have a model T Ford.
While choregrapher Greg Gramham has created ensemble numbers that do not look like dances they actually move the plot. And move it does. In a musical of this length and breadth the scenes never lag, you never yawn during songs that take you by the heart and soul. The audience was enthralled, brought to tears, warmed, shocked, they connected with the characters through the magical book of Ahrens & Flaherty put E.L. Doctorow’s novel on the stage.
The musical explores how prejudice against blacks and immigrants and denial of justice from by the suburban community of New Rochelle results in tragedy that turns Coalhouse, the ragtime musician into a violent activist.
FaTye, a fixture with Standing Ovation Studios, gives his best performance I have seen him do. When he reconciles with Sarah played by Brittany Johnson, his girl, who has taken refuge in a New Rochelle family home…their duet Wheels of a Dream warms the heart, and their chemistry delivers. The tragedy inflicted upon the couple tugs on your heart and will not be soon forgotten. Their second duet, Sarah Browneyes gives breathing life to what two people mean to each other.
Joey Sanzaro below plays Tateh, a Latvian immigrant with his daughter, delivers as believable a role in an ongoing cameo scenario I have seen in a long time. He is touching, tough, self-starting, showcasing the palette of skills demonstrated by the immigrants who came with nothing, and made something of themselves. You root for him.
The heroine who is the other storyline in this massive juggling of historical themes that hit home today is Victoria Lauzan above whose diamond contralto puts the heartbeat into the “connectors” of the show (and believe me all the songs are good and connective). From her Goodbye My Love (to her husband who is leaving on a polar trip with Admiral Perry), to the disdainful What Kind of a Woman (sung when she finds Sarah’s baby abandoned in her garden in New Rochelle, and she decides to take the baby in). Then Ms. Lauzan as she gradually realizes how sheltered she has been delivers a haunting anthem in the bring-down-the-house Second Act: You Can Never Go Back to Before. which she sings with Mr. Sanzaro (above)
History you say you want history, drama?
You’ve got it:
You meet Henry Ford (Todd Allan Little) , J.P. Morgan (Steven Stein-Grainger), Emma Goldman the activist (Nadine Zahr), and the Notorius Evelyn Nesbitt, Cali LaSpina (The “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee” girl).
The audience loved this show mounted as best as any I have seen at the WBT. Only seven Actors Equity Members grace this 40-performer ensemble and you would never know it.
The orchestra laid a seamless ragtime beat into most of the soungs, and laid an unobtrusive supportive bed for the songs, that performers sung with a clarity that was as professional sounding as you could wish for. Even the children performers you could understand.
The audience rose to its feet. The Show had them at first spotlight.
For box office information, contact 914-592-2222 or go to www.BroadwayTheatre.com.
Ragtime lives for all-time through May 4. Cautions: gunshots, violence, emotional situations that can affect younger children and adults. But that’s our country folks.
Don’t take my word for it. After the show ended some comments overheard by yours truly: “Just incredible,” “what a great show.” The speakers appeared so entertained they did not want to leave.They just stood there saluting this effort.
It is as Ms. Nesbit (Cali LaSpina of Scarsdale, above, “the Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Girl” shown performing “The Crime of the Century” with vampy, impish delight) would put it,
“It’s the Musical of the Century”
THE TWO AND ONLY
THE NEW ICE RINK
THE CUOMO-CHRISTIE TAG TEAM KEEPS GW TOLLS LOW. MAYBE THEY CAN WORK A DEAL ON THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE TOLL, TOO!
THE SCHOOL TAX PROBLEM — IF THEY DO NOT CUT OR GET SIGNIFICANT SCHOOL AID
THE WHITE PLAINS TEAMSTERS GET 2% FOR THREE STRAIGHT YEARS
CITY ASSESSMENT ROLL WIN STRING ENDS AT 2 YEARS.
ON THE STATE OF THE ARTS
PEOPLE TO BE HEARD
“WESTCHESTER’S MOST INTERESTING TALK SHOW WHERE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY HAVE THEIR SAY”
- Friday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. East wind 7 to 9 mph.
- Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 26. North wind 7 to 9 mph.
- Saturday: Increasing clouds, with a high near 45. Northwest wind 6 to 9 mph.
- Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow showers after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 29. Northwest wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
- Sunday: A slight chance of snow showers before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 41. Northwest wind 9 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced at a press conference on Wednesday that a bipartisan group of over 60 Assembly co-sponsors, including all freshman members, have signed onto legislation he introduced that would permit stripping state pension benefits from any public official convicted of a felony where the public’s trust has been violated (A.7173).
Assemblyman Buchwald’s bill is an amendment to the New York State Constitution aiming to strengthen the current “Public Integrity Reform Act,” which only strips pension benefits of convicted officials of when he or she first held office.who first entered the State pension system after the law took effect in November 2011. Buchwald’s bill would apply to any public official, regardless.
To view the press conference Clip, go to : http://assembly.state.ny.us/user/cis/BuchwaldPublicIntegrityBill3-5.mpg
“When an elected official is sworn into office, he or she must sign a solemn Oath
Assemblyman Buchwald was joined by Chairman of the Ethics and Guidance Committee Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), Senator George Latimer (D-Westchester), Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), and members of the growing coalition in the legislature who co-sponsored the legislation.
“Government officials who betray the public trust should not collect a pension in the same way as those who serve honorably, and I’m pleased that over 60 members of the State Assembly agree with me,” stated Assemblyman David Buchwald. “No matter how serious the offense, current law still assures most public employees that their state pensions cannot be challenged. I promised Westchester families that I wouldn’t stand for this type of behavior.”
“When an elected official is sworn into office, he or she must sign a solemn Oath stating that they will uphold the laws and the Constitution that govern New York State,” said State Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) who carries the bill in the State Senate (S.1133). “This Oath sets the highest standard for integrity – the public’s trust. A violation of that trust, while in office, demands pecuniary as well as criminal penalty. The current law only regulates officials that joined the pension system after 2011. It is critical that we enact a law that applies to all public officials. The public deserves nothing less.”
“Decency dictates that tax dollars should not indefinitely support the well-being of lawmakers who violate their office,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. “Common Cause/NY applauds the members of the Assembly who put the public interest first, and calls on all members of the Legislature to follow suit and amend the Constitution so that, in appropriate situations, corrupt lawmakers don’t collect a public pension. Honest people have nothing to fear.”
Additionally, this is a concept that has been recently embraced by Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. At a September Moreland Commission hearing, Mr. Bharara was quoted as saying “The common-sense principle is a simple one: Convicted politicians should not grow old comfortably cushioned by a pension paid for by the very people they betrayed in office.”
A public official in the State of New York can currently accept bribes, steal public funds or engage in numerous other forms of public corruption and yet still feel secure in the knowledge that even if convicted of these serious crimes and thrown in jail, there will still be a state pension check sent their way every month for the rest of their lives. However, Assemblyman Buchwald noted that with enthusiastic bipartisan support of this legislation, including from all Assembly freshman, a new day is coming in Albany.
WPCNR LABOR NEWS. From Nonprofit Westchester. March 6, 2014:
Nonprofits are a multi-billion dollar industry and make up the largest employment sector in Westchester County, according to a report released by Nonprofit Westchester (NPW) and The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.
The study, entitled “Westchester County Nonprofits: A Major Economic Engine,” found that 53,987 people, or 13.6 percent, of the county’s total workforce is employed by nonprofits. That’s one out of every seven workers. Additionally, this sector generated $6.9 billion in revenues and paid roughly $2.7 billion in wages and compensation – including hundreds of millions in federal, state and local taxes.
“We’ve always known that we provide many essential services and are critically important to the regional economy,” said Joanna Straub, executive director of Nonprofit Westchester. “With this study, we have concrete data that shows just how vital we are and how much we contribute to Westchester County.”
The $15,000 study, funded by the Westchester Community Foundation, includes five major economic findings. They include:
- At 53,987 workers, the county’s nonprofit sector employs more than retail, tourism, local government, construction, finance, real estate or other industries. In fact, nonprofits employ more than six times as many workers than the county’s real estate and information technology fields, more than three times as many as the finance industry, and 10 percent more than local governments.
- Health organizations, such as hospitals and nursing homes, were significant areas of employment in 2013 as were colleges and universities.
- Nonprofits generated nearly $6.9 billion in revenues and spent approximately $2.7 billion in wages. The compensation, in turn, translated into roughly $311 million in federal taxes, $104 million in state income taxes, and $21.8 million in local income taxes.
- Between 2003 and 2013, employment in this area grew by 8.4 percent, adding 4,203 jobs, particularly in health services and elementary and secondary education. Compared with an anemic 1.2 percent growth in all areas of the economy, growth in nonprofits trumped other segments.
- Other information in the study concluded that increased competition and overall wages were a mixed bag. Wages in this sector were below those in the for-profit and government sectors – by roughly 1/3 in both cases. However, nonprofit wages are higher in fields where nonprofits and other sectors compete, suggesting that nonprofits are concentrated in low-wage fields.
The Westchester Community Foundation, which develops, manages and distributes philanthropic funds in a manner that is responsive to donor interests and community needs, funded the study because they believed it was important to show the wide economic reach and impact of nonprofits.
“It’s important that organizations, governments and members of the public understand the true value of nonprofits in Westchester County,” said Catherine Marsh, executive director of the Westchester Community Foundation. “These results show that nonprofits are not only respected service providers, but also create a wide range of economic opportunities.”
For more information about Nonprofit Westchester or to read a copy of the study, visit www.npwestchester.org or call 914-332-6679.
WPCNR ZONING ZEN. Special to WPCNR from Ken Howard, Carhart Neighborhood Association. March 6, 2014:
Last night in a unanimous decision the White Plains Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) upheld an August 13, 2013 decision by Commissioner of Building Damon Amadio to not consider Sunrise’s proposed Application for an “alcoholism facility” at 37 Dekalb Avenue as a Community Residence.
Sunrise sued White Plains in federal court, but a judge tossed the matter back to the city for further review.
The ZBA felt that not all alcoholism facilities should be considered community residences and that length of stay was a significant factor in their decision.
The Carhart Neighborhood Association has led the fight against locating a short-term drug & alcohol detox center in their quiet residential neighborhood.
Sunrise initially attempted to establish a detox facility at 37 Dekalb and then made an attempt to call it an alcoholism facility, but both were deemed not to be community residences.
It’s unclear what Sunrise’s next steps will be, but it seems likely they will go back to federal court in another attempt to sue White Plains for discrimination against the disabled.
For additional information, please contact the Carhart Neighborhood Association at firstname.lastname@example.org
WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. March 5, 2014:
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino announced in a strong 6 minute video today he would run for Governor against Andrew Cuomo.
He said New York was losing under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s three years of leadership, saying Cuomo has raised taxes not lowered them, and blamed Governor Cuomo directly for ” Governor Cuomo’s Common Core,” saying he would work for better teachers and better testing. He also criticized the Governor for delaying a decision on fracking for three years.
View Mr. Astorino’s announcement at http://www.robastorino.com/?mf_portfolio=35
- Today: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35. North wind 6 to 9 mph.
- Tonight: A slight chance of snow showers before 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. Wind chill values as low as zero. North wind 11 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
- Thursday:Mostly sunny, with a high near 25. Wind chill values as low as zero. North wind 7 to 11 mph becoming east in the afternoon.
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey. March 4, 2014:
If the school district continues with its policy of using all the tax levy it can legally impose on White Plains property owners under the New York State imposed tax cap, ($167 Million), the middle market priced home will pay an additional $280 to $300 in property taxes to make up the difference caused by the drop in the assessment roll.
The million drop drop in the school district city assessment roll from $279.3 Million to $278.3 Million in 2014, just released by the City Assessor’s office Monday, automatically hits the White Plains property owner with a $17 increase in the school tax rate from $583.21 per thousand dollars of assessed this year to $600 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, if the school district levys all the taxes it can under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s tax cap.
Currently that is the plan. The district is figuring on levying $67.1 Million dollars on the district, pending delivery of the instruction budget next Monday that will show the final proposed budget. Of course some surprise state aid may be give a cash transfusion at the last moment limiting the damage.
The school district Monday reported the increase in the state-sanctioned levy is 2.53%, but because of the million dollar decline in the school district Assessment roll, the TAX RATE has to be raised $17 to make up the loss.
That is a 3% tax increase. Since the district is eager to stay within the 1.5% tax cap, and earn rebate checks for tax payers, the impact may be less.
The impact on the city tax rate to make up the shortfall of $761,498,000 from last year is substantially less. The city tax rate will only have to go up 56 cents to make up the tax levy shortfall. But, obviously, we have no idea how much the city will have to raise the 2014-15 city budget. That will become clear in April when the budget currently being crafted in city hall out of the public eye is made public.