I spent the morning of the dress rehearsal chatting with costume designer Charles Neumann, who was handpicked by director James Darrah of the Boston Lyric Opera to bring the characters to life through his signature costuming. Having known each other from working together at Central City Opera in Colorado upon Neumann’s graduation in 2011, their long history afforded the BLO with a treat in costuming rich in background, design, and story that will be a true delight for the audience in the upcoming production of “The Threepenny Opera” this Friday at the Boston Lyric Opera House. (I’m entranced by the description of one character’s costume, which turns out to be Neumann’s fave as well.) Read more to find out the ins and outs of what goes into developing a costume wardrobe for a full-scale opera production and how a ready-to-wear fashion designer makes the jump from clothing design to costume design.
What is your background in fashion?
I graduated in 2011 from Lasell College in Newton with a BA in apparel design and production and went from graduation to Central City Opera in Central City Colorado for their summer season. I have been working since then on project commission work for smaller opera companies. I do a lot of ready-to-wear, but wanted to transition to costumes.
How would you describe your brand?
Women’s ready-to-wear, separates, mix and match separates, geared towards an “eye on the past”—a weird forward-thinking retrospect. My style details are pulled from fashion and apparel history. I like to use modern silhouettes, mix them. For example, if you had your two favorite people, what would they wear if we were on a date? I came up with long silhouettes with a heavily distorted hounds tooth. I love to create jarring juxtapositions favoring bohemian, or earth wanderer aesthetic. I use lots of hand beading and have a sharp eye for high quality production. It has to be 100 percent perfect. If you were to describe my brand in three words it would be: sharp, nostalgic, bohemian.
How does this tie in to your costume design choices for the BLO?
James Darrah approached me to do it—I met him at Central City, he was an [artistic director]. He followed my work, and came to me and said I’m doing this opera. Imagine existing in this world where your clothes are the only viable option for these people. I was immediately intrigued. He described this world that exists without a time or place. It feels new, and interesting, but also feels very familiar. It has an eye on the past. When you see the opera you’ll see that it’s my signature brand. There is lots of attention to handwork, mixed materials, lines very similar to what I typically work with.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the costuming for ‘The Threepenny Opera’?
It’s lovely, but it’s NOT lovely. It has a weird back and forth. Everyone exists on the same social level. No one is higher than anyone else. But everyone is scheming and planning to step all over everyone else. Your personal visual can take a step backwards when you have slipped away. The clothes become tattered, thread bare. Imagine a trunk in attic, filled with Victorian clothes, that when you touch they fall apart. You can tell they looked very beautiful at one time. “The Threepenny Opera” costumes feel like “all things forgotten,” melancholic, dark, and sad. Jarring, because the music is sharp and aggressive but also sad, and soft. A great example and signature piece is Lucy’s yellow velvet coat: sharp harsh lines, but contrastingly very organic.
How did you get into the design mode for this opera? What was your inspiration? Did you watch other productions or read the script, listen to the music?
Definitely a combination of all of the above. I read the script 100 times. It was really important for me to think about: Who’s going to wear these garments, what are they like? It’s harder than [ready-to-wear] because clothing is a signifier, a personal billboard to tell people this is how I feel—this is who I am. I had to do this for each of the characters in the show. Who were you? What did you do? How did you get where you are? Psychological profiles of how they see themselves and how they would show others how they see themselves. I watched 1920s versions of the show, as well as ’30s and ’40s. Used some of the elements from notable productions for the main character Mackise.
Which character did you relate to the most?
There were two. Jenny Diver, had this long history with Mackise, the villain. She’s sort of removed, aloof, always watching always seeing. She sells him out not once but twice to the Peachums to get him hanged. She has a similar aesthetic to mine, she wears this beautiful lace dress that has been worn and worn the hemline is tattered. She feels nostalgic and melancholic. It’s the main signifier of my look, by aesthetic and brand. The second one is Lucy Brown, the daughter of the chief of police. She’s certifiably crazy. Wearing yellow velvet coat with big portrait collar, sharp angular lines reminiscent of designers Viviene Westwood and Yoji Yamamoto. She’s driven crazy because she fell in love with this person who doesn’t love her back. That’s how I am with my work.
I know this has been your first large-scale commission for the performing arts following your work with MetroWest Opera. How has it been working for such a large-scale production and what were some of the challenges?
It’s been wonderful. The people at BLO have been a dream to work with. We are all vibrating on the same frequency, the director, lighting, set designer, all existing on the same frequency. What’s been tricky is I’m typically committed to an image, and to a process, but with opera things are always evolving. You get a lot of “This doesn’t work lets change this.” And you have to run with the punches. And, you’re running EVERY second. Like getting a call at 8 p.m. the night before the dress rehearsal (last night) with a “We need XYZ, can you get that?” It’s definitely made me become adaptable to change.
How many people are on your production team?
Quite a few: a project manager, an assistant, Costume Works in Somerville—they are a costume company for BLO, Disney— a patternmaker, and Liz Perlman who owns Costume Works and built and fabricated the yellow coat. It’s a team of about 12 to15 people working with me from fittings, pattern making, assembling, and altering. We’ve been working together for six weeks. Actually, today is the first day we will see all of the clothes living in the set, on the actors and under the lighting. It’s exciting, intimidating, and joyful all at the same time. I’m waiting to see these clothes exist on stage. If anything needs to be altered or changed luckily, there is time before the show opens.
Were there budgetary constraints on the wardrobe?
BLO had a great budget to work with. I had designed the show before I knew what our physical budget was. It was submitted to the costume shop. They did a price breakdown of what it cost. Our principal costumes if they have something specific, those things we build from the ground up. With the supporting and chorus, those are pieces we pulled and bought and altered. It wasn’t a challenge. I’m very thrifty anyways. I’m good at getting a great look for not a lot of money. I do this in my own designs for my clothing line—I don’t think that fashion should be isolating. I feel like it should be accessible.
What is your favorite costume of the show?
A couple. Lucy’s yellow coat. It’s so beautiful. It was a triumph in making it. When I suggested this coat at our initial meetings at BLO everyone was wanting this coat. …When it came to how are we going to make this, Liz Perlman, she was like “I got this.” She was able to take what existed on the page and turn it into reality. It’s super soft, very hard, draped structured. It was an achievement to make this coat. This velvet is covered in all these custom dyed chiffon flowers. I built one dress for the opera—the dress to be worn by Jenny Diver. It’s a chiffon dress with open work on top made of gray lace. It has shine with its asymmetrical bodice. It’s beautiful, very well built, floor length with a small train. I used several bones in the bodice. The whole bottom of the dress is cut away leaving a soft organic hemline. The best part was we submerged the lower half in water and painted into it with browns, grays, blacks, all dirty tones so it really looks like someone was wearing this beautiful dress for years, walking through back alleys and streets. We built and added all those years into the dress by distressing and staining it. It feels beautiful but sad. It is one of my favorite pieces. There is high melancholy in it. A dress with a long history.
What are the differences between creating costumes for an opera versus designing a collection for fashion show?
It’s really the target audience. When designing a collection for the runway you come in with a concept, create an image. With a runway show, you’re in a tighter avenue. You know who your ideal customer is, your target audience. With an opera you are creating an image aesthetic, but it’s like real life, everyone has their own style, so it’s not necessarily the same, so it becomes harder because you’re trying to work in an overall aesthetic, but be true to each character’s personality. You must do intense psychological breakdowns of each character but be true to this world you created. It’s more involved doing costuming.
What are the plans for the costumes after the show ends?
They will go back to Costume Works. They will be cleaned and get packed away. They go into the BLO stock. For any future shows, they can be pulled. There is an opportunity if BLO is in love with the show, they can freeze the show and the costumes don’t get broken down, and it can get rented to other productions all over the country. In any event, the BLO owns everything.
What is your next project?
I am working on a fall collection inspired by Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep and the image of the world in which he dwells—a cave filled with poppies, where the river of forgetfulness stems, a world without light or sound.
For more information on tickets to the performance go to https://blo.org/the-threepenny-opera
The 90th annual Academy Awards was not an exercise in shyness, though we did feel a strong throwback to old Hollywood glamour in many of the fashion choices. (Editor’s Note: Tonya was one of the few who predicted that the color palette would lighten up from the darker colors worn in protest earlier in awards season.)
There were lots of red, white, and blue as well as touches of the requisite shimmer. Necklines were plunging, asymmetrical or even turtled as in Maya Rudolph’s interesting choice of a billowing red gown. My favorites and top picks includes Gal Gadot in a plunging silver dress with an exquisite encrusted 27 carat aquamarine lariat drop necklace with more than 1000 diamonds from Tiffany & Co.
Also top on my list was Allison Janney in the stunning red low V-neck with draping kimono sleeves. It was very similar to Meryl Streep’s red in color and cut, but was simply stunning when she took the stage to receive the Oscar for her performance as Tonya Harding’s mother in “I, Tonya.” My third top choice was Laura Dern in a captivating white, one-shoulder dress by Calvin Klein. She doesn’t typically wow me on the red carpet, but definitely brought her old Hollywood A game to the Oscars.
With all of these top picks the bottoms are always interesting to explore as well. Top on my list of misses was Nicole Kidman in Giorgio Armani. The blue bow at her hips was distracting and just plain bizarre. It looked like a functional booboo, with nowhere for Nicole to place her hands.
Another miss for me was Salma Hayek. Her lavender paillette gown with excessive garland like beading read more like Bollywood not Hollywood to me, but not in a successful way.
Was anyone else wondering what was Eiza Gonzalez wearing? Her yellow “bodycon” gown looked like something you would wear coming back from a day on the beach. But it was a contouring couture from Ralph Lauren. (Note to the House of RL: What were you thinking? The material was all wrong for a black tie event, and almost insulting! I get it, she’s new to the awards, but please, next time have a publicist line up a designer for that girl!)
My last miss was Margot Robbie. This girl is so gorgeous that she could wear a Christmas tree and look good. The bad thing is, that’s exactly what she did! The beaded shoulder draping and neckline was just too holiday and not enough Hollywood for me. Sorry Margot, Chanel just wasn’t scoring high with this judge.
Local connections to the award show are always fun to keep track of. David Fialkow of General Catalyst and producer of “Icarus,” winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature rocked the red carpet with red Ferragamo shoes which added a fun punch of color to his navy tuxedo. So glad he made it on stage to accept the award! Local designer, Beth Miller, bejeweled Natalie Morales with her signature pearl rose gold earrings and diamond rose gold ring.
What were your favorites and misses of the evening? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
One thing that you can count on when talking about Wyclef Jean is that he is not going to walk a familiar path. From running for office in his native Haiti to leading humanitarian efforts after natural disasters, this Grammy Award-winning performer always seems to be on a road less traveled. For his current “Carnival” tour is making stops from cities as varied as Harrisburg, Pa., to Boston, where Jean will play the Wilbur Theatre on March 1. styleboston pulled our interview with Jean from our archives to share. You can view it here.
Photographer Steven Tackeff is a Boston area native who recently returned to his favorite professional subject: photographing concerts and capturing the music scene.
BOSTON – We now have a date.
After two years of being dark and undergoing an extension renovation, the Emerson Colonial Theatre will re-open on June 27 with the world premiere of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” producers Global Creatures and the Ambassador Theatre Group announced.
The historic Boston theater, the anchor of Boston’s Theater District, will re-open on June 27 for just 36 performances. “Moulin Rouge!,” is based on the Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film of the same name, and is expected to transfer to Broadway for a run. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical, will play this limited engagement at the newly refurbished venue at 106 Boylston St.
The Colonial, long known for its amazing acoustics, launched many legendary shows from its storied stage on Boylston Street, including “Anything Goes,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Oklahoma!,” “Born Yesterday,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Grand Hotel,” and “La Cage aux Folles.”
Tickets for the musical go on sale on Wednesday, January 17 and start at $55. They are available at EmersonColonialTheatre.com or by calling 866.616.0272. (In-person purchases will be possible when the theater’s box office opens at a later date.)
Although casting has not yet been announced, the musical is directed by Alex Timbers (A Tony nominee for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Peter and the Starcatcher”) with a book by John Logan, in photo, (Tony Award for “Red”) and choreography by Sonya Tayeh.
As in Luhrmann’s film, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” celebrates some of the greatest popular music of the last 50 years. The stage musical promises to feature many of the iconic songs from the movie and also includes recent hits released since the movie premiered 15 years ago.
SOMERVILLE – A couple of nights before “Phantom Thread” opened in theaters styleboston’s Tonya Mezrich hosted an exclusive, special screening of the Paul Thomas Anderson movie that stars Daniel Day Lewis as a detail obsessed head of a London fashion house.
Here is Tonya’s report: Hosting an advance screening of this Paul Thomas Anderson 1950s drama last night was a real treat. Sixty-five of my dear friends and fashionphiles dressed in their hottest phantom threads gathered at the AMC theater in Assembly Square to get a sneak peek of the film. Touted to be Daniel Day Lewis’ last–he was brought out of retirement and his 10-year cobblership to get back together with Anderson to make this movie together.
The period and the setting are depicted so realistically that you can imagine this fictional movie being based loosely on reality—think an over-the-top version of Christian Dior or Oscar de la Renta. Having developed and run my own fashion house (but on a much smaller scale) years ago, the realism of the measuring, the fittings, the backstage chaos of a fashion show and ruining your piece de resistance hours before its intended delivery is all so accurate that it makes it hard to believe that it is indeed fiction.
However, Anderson brings us back to reality swiftly—with the ending of the movie making it very clear that this is so. But not without the characteristic playfulness, quirkiness and even dark side of Anderson’s filmmaking style we are familiar with as we remember the tormented Tom Cruise in “Magnolia.”
Editor’s note: Keep checking our pages as we continue to partner with those who bring you the best in lifestyle, arts and entertainment. The Boston Globe’s review goes even further than Tonya on recommending “Phantom Thread,” you can read it here.
The most striking element of opening night at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was the diversity of the audience and the connection that was made by people of all colors that evening.
In a world where the media seem to barrage people everyday with negativity around race relations in this country, the congeniality and shared excitement for the evening was the prevailing sentiment among the crowd. The performances by the cast of “The Color Purple” were filled with raw emotion, and the audience responded enthusiastically. Strong and natural yet controlled, the actors spun a powerful version of Walker’s story that was more upbeat and positive and less focused on the horrific treatment suffered by these southern African-American women during the 1920s and 30s because of their race and culture.
Moving quickly through the story, the vocal capabilities of the lead actresses, Adrianna Hicks in the starring role of Cecie, and Carla Stewart as Shug Avery, were worth the trip alone. The arts play an ever more important role in bringing people together and encouraging them to find common ground in the things they love. This is the message that Americans need to hear and for a few hours that magical evening all agendas were checked at the door, making opening night’s achievement truly worth the standing ovation it received.
Tickets are on sale now at the Boch Center Box Office, bochcenter.org, or by calling (866) 348-9738.
San Diego: Kumail Nanjiani is receiving lots of applause for his writing and acting in the new indie movie The Big Sick, and was among a handful of Hollywood celebrities honored at the 16th annual San Diego International Film Festival‘s Tribute to the Stars. Hosted by Variety magazine and held in the ballroom of the smart, new Pendry San Diego hotel, the glittering gala included Nanjiani, who won the Auteur award, and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the script based on the true story of their relationship. (Actress Zoe Kazan played Emily in the film.)
SDIFF’s top honor went to Sir Patrick Stewart, who accepted The Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in Film, and was presented by Peck’s daughter, Cecilia Peck. (Last year’s recipient was actress Annette Bening.) Other awardees include Heather Graham, who brought her glam game on to accept the Virtuoso Award and Blake Jenner, who walked away with the Rising Star Award. The Chris Brinker award, given to a promising new director and inspired by the late director Chris Brinker, went to Manny Rodriquez Jr for Butterfly Caught.
One of the premier festivals in the region, SDIFF opened with the screening of Marshall at the iconic Balboa Park Theatre and was followed by four days of screenings, panels and parties. Executive and Artistic Director Tonya Mantooth and her team deserve a big round of applause for continuing to bring quality films to the arts and film communities of southern California. For more coverage see the links below.
Fox 5 covers Variety Night of the Stars
A researcher plays David to a seagoing Goliath at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Imagine you are walking into a 12-foot cube with reflective mirrors on all sides and a music score begins, transporting you underwater, where you are surrounded by light radiating off the tiny organisms, and you can imagine what it looks and feels like to be a deep-sea diver who weaves in and out of its radiance.
At Birch Aquarium at Scripps in San Diego, part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD, this cube will soon exist. The installation is called the Infiniti Cube and is being created by a Scripps scientist who studies bioluminescence, a renowned London artist in residence at Scripps Oceanography and a New York musician and composer who teaches math.
Scheduled to open soon, the Infiniti Cube is just one example of how Birch Director Harry Helling is adapting to the times. The priorities for public engagement at the aquarium have changed along with the urgency of understanding and protecting the planet, so his focus is on education, conservation and engagement in the community, which Birch has served for the last 100-plus years.
“When I finally did this thing,” Flavin said, “it was a wake up call to me. I had loved these poems and the lyrical connection. I started writing them, and I loved doing them. I loved the Red Sox all my life. I tell people I was born a Red Sox fan and baptized a Catholic.”
Flavin, a 22-year veteran of Boston television, recited some poems and told more than a few stories about the Red Sox and the game he loves as part of a City Club of San Diego event at Michelle and Bill Lerach’s beautiful La Jolla Farms estate.
The well-attended event was organized by San Diego native George Mitrovich, president of the City Club and the Denver Forum and chair of the Red Sox & Great Fenway Park Writers Series. Mitrovitch invited Red Sox fans young and old to hear Flavin do what he does best — humorously recite his favorite poems as he weaves the history and emotion of the game throughout the words.
The 224-page book is published by HarperCollins.
“When I was in the third grade,” Flavin said at an interview at the La Valencia Hotel before his appearance, “I made a discovery. It was a poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer called ‘Casey at the Bat.’ I loved the story of it, and it was about baseball. I loved the music of it as the words took you inexorably to the conclusion. I loved hearing and saying it more than reading it. I learned the poem on my own. It became part of my act, and I would recite it for anyone who would listen.”
That iconic poem was the inspiration for the poetry Flavin would write about the Red Sox and baseball for the next 15 years.
Ted Williams, a native of San Diego and in Flavin’s opinion the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, had an important influence on Flavin, as is evident by the number of poems and stories around him. Flavin got to know Williams through his pals on the team – centerfielder Dom DiMaggio, a hero of Flavin’s and to whom the book is dedicated, and player-manager Johnny Pesky.
“I’m taking the road trip of a lifetime,” Flavin begins, “and I’m with Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky. We all drove down to Florida to visit with Ted, who was gravely ill. I had to do something to justify my presence among these mythic heroes of my boyhood. So we’re in Ted’s living room, and I do a rewrite in my head of ‘Casey at the Bat.’ I made it about Ted, and the Red Sox and recited it for the three of them. I knew ‘Casey at the Bat’ cold, so it was easy to do. Ted loved it, and every time he saw me, he asked me to do ‘Teddy at the Bat.’”
Flavin also has a deep admiration for “the man with the vision,” as he refers to Larry Lucchino, former Red Sox CEO and a longtime La Jolla resident. Lucchino, who is mentioned often in the book, led the efforts to restore Fenway Park to more than its original grandeur, modernized it and brought it back to life, giving a great gift to the community of Boston. But Flavin considers Lucchino’s impact on baseball to be far greater than just one park.
“Larry’s great legacy to the game,” he explained, “is what he’s done for ballparks. Baltimore is a perfect example of that. He studied what it was about the older parks that people loved and folded that into Camden Yards. He built a retro modern park that has all the bells and whistles but also the traditional aspect to it as well.
“Larry came to San Diego and built Petco Park, a beautiful facility that would not have been built without Larry. They were all Larry Lucchino’s doing. Those three ballparks and what he has done for the community in those three places, Baltimore, San Diego and Boston, should put him in the Hall of Fame as an executive.”
It was Lucchino who asked Flavin to be the poet laureate of the Red Sox, the only team to have one. Even with the season completed — and long after the Sox were in contention — Flavin is still high on the game he loves and preparing for next season.
“When you love something the way fans love baseball,” he said, “you don’t stop just when your team isn’t winning. Baseball is still being played, and I’m still watching. I’ll be ready for spring training, like all baseball fans. We can’t help ourselves.”
As executive producer and founder of Spy Pond Productions, Eric Stange has produced, directed and written a dizzying array of work, mostly telling unique, often lost stories of American history. His work, which also covers science, has been broadcast on PBS, The Discovery Channel, and the BBC. Before becoming a filmmaker he wrote about art and culture for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. Eric has been the recipient of a Harvard University Charles Warren Fellowship in American History. He’s on the board of Common-Place, a website devoted to early American history, and writes a column about media and history for American Heritage magazine. “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” stars Denis O’Hare as Poe, and was shot on location in Boston. A screening will be held on Saturday, April 29, 1:30 p.m., at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square as part of the Independent Film Festival of Boston (http://iffboston.org), and will be broadcast nationally next fall on the PBS series American Masters.
What was it like working with Denis O’Hare?
Denis is one of the most talented actors in the business. Virtually everyone has seen him in his many TV or movie roles (“American Horror Story,” “The Good Wife,” “True Blood, Dallas Buyer’s Club”), but like a lot of great character actors he isn’t a household name. He should be.
What sold us on casting Denis was that he spent a whole season of “American Horror Story” playing a leading character who’s mute. Our film doesn’t have a lot of dialogue—Poe is often alone and silent, though very expressive. When we saw that Denis did an entire season of episodic TV without saying a word —we knew he could be our Poe.
In addition, it turns out Denis had studied a lot of poetry in college, so he did a wonderful job reciting Poe’s poems. And we didn’t even realize until we started with hair and make-up how much he actually looks like Poe!
Edgar Allan Poe is already a well-known figure, is there new information about Poe revealed in the film?
One of the reasons I made the film is because I came to realize Poe is a hugely misunderstood figure. Most people think of him in a one-dimensional way —as a brooding, mad, perhaps opium-addled denizen of the dark. Until I started researching this project I didn’t know that Poe was an important literary critic, and an influential magazine editor. He was a powerful player in the literary scene of the 1830s and ’40s—a tastemaker—one of the glitterati of his time. He helped define what American literature would be in the early decades of our nation.
I knew Poe had written detective stories. What I didn’t realize is that Poe invented the detective story as we know it today, with all the conventions we’re used to. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, said he had modeled his stories on Poe. And virtually every detective writer since has followed suit.
Poe is one of those iconic figures who appears in popular culture decade after decade. Even people who haven’t read his works know his face. Why?
Yes it’s amazing how often Poe pops up. He’s in “The Simpsons,” on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and on and on.
Poe himself is partly responsible for his enduring image in pop culture. He knew that to sell his stories in a competitive marketplace he needed more than just good writing—he needed a public persona that would give him an edge. He was a fan of the English bad-boy poet Lord Byron, and he saw how a reputation—even a dark one —could help sell literature.
So he had daguerreotypes made that portrayed him a certain way, and he wrote falsified biographical materials that made him seem a more adventurous and romantic figure than he really was.
But what really cemented his reputation—and in a bad way—was the first obituary after Poe’s untimely death at age 40 in 1849. His literary enemy, Rufus Griswold, wrote the obit, and he described Poe in all the negative ways people still think of him today. So Griswold’s negative portrayal, along with Poe’s own self-mythologizing, have played a big role in keeping Poe famous —or rather infamous.
What’s the real story? Was Poe just a regular guy who was terribly misunderstood or is there some truth to the dark, Halloween-figure side of Poe?
Well, like any complicated person, it’s a bit of both. If Poe were my buddy, I’d think twice when I saw him come up on caller ID. He could be a terrible friend, and a worse enemy. He was dead broke and in debt most of his life. He had a terrible time with alcohol, though he could be sober for long periods. At the same time, he was brilliant, witty, had lots of friends and was a loving husband, most of the time. Though he married his 13-year-old cousin when he was 26!
One thing I discovered is that practically anything you say about Poe, the opposite is also true. That’s part of what made the film challenging, and fun!
Why the title: “Buried Alive”?
Poe was fascinated —maybe even obsessed—with stories of people who were buried alive by mistake, which happened fairly frequently in the early 19th century. Medicine hadn’t figured out how to determine death with certainty, and particularly during epidemics there was a lot of pressure to get corpses underground quickly. One of his most famous stories is “The Premature Burial.”
I also love the metaphorical meanings. Poe lived his life under a constant cloud of grief —virtually all the women he loved died young. He struggled with a mountain of debt, and even before he died his bad reputation had begun to overshadow the reality of his life. And then, of course, there’s the never-ending mystery of his death. For all those reasons, it feels like an appropriate title.
Mystery of his death?
You have to see the movie.
For The Pendry hotel and Downtown San Diego, it is all about the millennials.
“We could feel the shift in luxury,” said Michael Fuerstman, co-founder and creative director of The Pendry hotel brand. “We were looking to expand our parent company, Montage Resorts, so we took a step back and looked at the new wave of luxury customer.
“The target age for us is the 30-something guest, one who is exceptionally well traveled,” Fuerstman said. “They have an appreciation for art and architecture, cultural and creative programming, and are looking for something in between a lifestyle hotel and a luxury hotel.”
By 2020, millennials — those born roughly between 1982 and 2004 — will make up more than 50 percent of San Diego’s workforce.
Unlike baby boomers, millennials don’t necessarily want to own something; they want experiences, where luxury and lifestyle are seamlessly intertwined. As a rule, they consider wealth a very important attribute, enjoy living and working in urban areas, and have become in many ways the prototype for the unprecedented revitalization that is happening in Downtown.
The Pendry, located at 550 J St., is slated to open its doors this month — January 2017 — and is one of the first of several new residential and commercial projects planned for Downtown. Also in the mix is the millennial-driven WeWork, at 600 B St., a newly opened co-working office space that consists of six floors and 90,000 square feet of a contemporary character.
“Millennials want highly amenitized workplaces, homes, condos and apartments, so on the experience side, The Pendry is probably at the top of what they would want to see, “said Kris Michell, CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP), the member-based, nonprofit organization that advocates for the economic growth and vitality of San Diego. “The Pendry and Montage Resorts chose San Diego to debut its first lifestyle hotel. This represents a tipping point for us, as it’s illustrative of San Diego’s emergence on the world stage as a cultural influencer.”
Other projects for the area that have been approved include: 7th and Market, a 39-story retail, hotel and condominium complex; Maker’s Quarter, a five-block urban district in the East Village with street-level retail, 800 residential units and 1 million-square-feet of creative office space; and, Manchester Pacific Gateway, a combination of commercial, retail, Navy offices and two hotels located at the former Broadway Navy Complex.
The number of residential and commercial developments on the horizon is good news for San Diego and North County residents looking for more lifestyle options, according to DSDP. That’s also why The Pendry team tapped Clique Hospitality and its San Diego-based founder, Andy Masi, to run the dining and entertainment venues.
“We recognized the opportunity to be a real cultural, entertainment and culinary hub within the city, and collaboration with local partners and brands was very important to us,” Fuerstman said. “Andy lives and breathes San Diego but also brings worldly exposure from outside of the market. Clique has years of experience in Las Vegas running upscale restaurants, lounges and nightclubs. He understands what works here and is pushing the bar forward to bring in an element and interesting things that aren’t here yet.”
Each restaurant in the new hotel is located on the street with separate entrances that make them feel as though they are their own individual brands.
The Pendry’s signature restaurant, Lionfish, will have local award-winning chef JoJo Ruiz in the kitchen, with a focus on modern coastal cuisine.
Nason’s, at the corner of Sixth and J avenues, promises to be an authentic beer hall, which will highlight the numerous craft beer makers for which San Diego is known. Located just a 5-minute walk to Petco Park, Nason’s will feature signature keg tappings, local brewers, pretzels, sausage and bratwurst along with special events.
In addition, the Oxford Social Club, an underground club located next to Lionfish, is a play on the ultra lounge scene of 10 to 15 years ago, with a DJ booth and soft, moveable seating that gives it a communal feel. A lobby bar, spa and outdoor rooftop pool deck are included in the amenities.
Montage Resorts, which currently operates six luxury hotels, are known in the industry for their service culture and Pendry General Manager Michael O’Donohue, with his more than 22 years of experience in luxury hotel management, hopes that this will set The Pendry apart.
The 12-story hotel offers 317 contemporary guest rooms and 36 suites, all with an elegant but comfortable modern design. The intent of the staff is to make the experience for the guest a seamless transition from outside to in, and that includes guests who travel with their pets. The Pendry is a pet-friendly hotel where man’s best friend is more than welcome.
“The most critical part of our success will be the service, taking what Montage is known for and bringing that to San Diego,” O’Donohue said. “It’s in their DNA. From a citywide perspective, we are seeing record levels of growth both this year and next. We believe that San Diego is on the rise and we’re hitting it at the right time.”
For more information, visit pendryhotels.com/san-diego.
—Terri Stanley is the creator, producer and host of the Emmy award-winning Boston lifestyle show styleboston and former executive editor of Boston Common magazine. Since moving to the San Diego area, she freelances as a lifestyle writer and short film producer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no mistaking when Mario Frangoulis takes the stage. The only thing that is crisper than his clothes is his remarkable voice. A sterling tenor that has taken this singer-actor to some of the world’s greatest stages and allowed him to perform in opera, classical theater and popular West End musicals. Born in Africa and raised in Greece, Frangoulis was trained at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was discovered by legendary Broadway creator Sir Cameron Mackintosh. His “Mario Frangoulis: Sing Me An Angel” tour launches on Saturday, March 25th at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in Cambridge. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available. (https://www.mariofrangoulis.com/concerts)
STYLEBOSTON: Classical performers, particularly tenors, are known for being put together (tux, tails), but traditionally haven’t been known as fashion-forward trendsetters (those tux, tails). And then there’s you. You have made headlines for your “style.” Where does your sense of style come from?
MARIO: I have always cared about fashion and how it is influenced by the various changes in our society, the political climate, the style of music and the arts. In so many ways, styling itself gives an “identity” to an artist, “signature” clothes, and one’s own style. I have been extremely lucky to meet great designers at such a young age in my life and career. Donna Karan, for example, dressed me on my first album “Sometimes I Dream.” Valentino designed my first tuxedos early on in my career and let me launch his Red Label tuxedos. Giorgio Armani designed all of the suits, costumes and clothes for the movie “De Lovely” starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd in which I wore a great Shakespearean period costume designed by Armani himself! He was also a very cool person to meet. Lately I have been dressed exclusively by Ermenegildo Zegna.
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite designer? A favorite piece in your wardrobe?
MARIO: I had the chance to meet the unique Ralph Lauren at an exclusive party at Bloomingdales and I have to admit that his casual-wear clothes are the best! Very comfortable and all time classic. I have many jackets by Ralph Lauren that I also wear with jeans for press conferences and casual smart occasions. One of my very favorite designers these days is Tom Ford. His tuxedos are incredible —especially the great thick and old-fashioned but contemporary lapels. Tom Ford’s tuxedo has to be my favorite piece in my entire wardrobe!
STYLEBOSTON: Just as you have made an impression for your style, you are known for your versatility on stage. Do you prefer traditional opera over Broadway or West End musicals? How does traditional Greek music fit into your repertoire?
MARIO: Opera is my first love. West End musicals, however, especially “Les Miserables” was my first big adventure on stage. The costumes were actually designed by the Greek-Cypriot English costume and Tony Award-winning designer Andreane Neofitou. Playing Marius, the romantic lead, gives me so much theatrical and stage experience.
As you said in your question, I truly enjoy being versatile on stage, and this really represents who I am. I enjoy being different in every role I play: from Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera” to Tony in “West Side Story” at Teatro Alla Scala to the King in “The King and I” and so many leading roles in ancient Greek drama, like “Prometheus Bound,” a Titan who defies the gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Achilles was a great role for me in the ancient theatre in Epidaurus in the year of the Olympic games in 2004. It was the first time this great Ancient Greek play was presented after 2,500 years. It is a trilogy by the great dramatist Aeschylus and was so full of great adventures, heroic battles and fate itself which one cannot escape from. Dionysus, however in “The Bacchae” was the most challenging of all roles. Dionysus, the protagonist of Euripides, “Bacchae,” is one big contradiction. The character embodies many of the dualities that we see throughout the play. First of all, in some ways he represents both human and god. Dionysus definitely has all the powers of a god. He summons earthquakes, lightning, and has a knack for getting into people’s heads, driving them insane!
Another interesting duality is that Dionysus is foreign and Greek at the same time. He was born in Greece, but his religion, for some reason, first spread in Asia. Another contradiction is that Dionysus in some ways represents both male and female. Yes, he is a male god, but the mortal form he takes is said to be quite effeminate. Dionysus also had a strange birth. The play itself is full of dualities and that is what I love about it!
Perhaps the play is trying to say that everything that exists is also its opposite at the very same time—more specifically, that we as human beings are inherently contradicted. We’re all both rational and irrational. All humans are animals, but there’s also something special that undeniably separates us from the rest of Earth’s living creatures.
Though we all (or at least most of us) belong to one gender or another, there are things about all of us that don’t quite fit into the role that society prescribes to specific sexes. Even though everybody is from somewhere, we’re all a foreigner somewhere else. Sometimes we even become foreigners in our own homes. Lastly, even though we’re certainly mortal, maybe, just maybe, some part of us is eternal and divine. It seems to us, that in the character of Dionysus, Euripides captured many of the amazing contradictions that make up every human being.
In music and in theater, I must be flexible, adapting to what’s happening around me, and experimenting with new and unique combinations of music and acting skills—this also translates to my sense of personal style. Life is a mosaic of experiences that make up who we are—there is no one “right” way to do anything…everything I do has to do with my truth, my feelings and my identity. That is why Greek music is always part of my repertoire—not only because of the beauty of the language, but also because it is core to who I am and my identity as a human being. I can’t imagine a performance without Greek music…my style is the same way… in everything I do I strive for simplicity… I was trained to respect simplicity in my voice/singing, I was raised to admire simplicity in my personal life, and my aesthetic reflects this value.
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite stage to perform on or favorite venue to perform in? A favorite performer to appear with? Or, symphony to perform with? (No pressure to say Symphony Hall or the Boston Pops…)
MARIO: I love Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops! Symphony Hall in Boston is an amazing venue and acoustically one of the best in the world. We did an “epic” show there in 2012 that aired on public television across the country and I will never forget it. I have performed in Boston many times. It is one of my favorite cities to perform in. I love the combination of history with young energy (all the students). It has a European feel to it, and it is next to the ocean, which is so beautiful. Of course performing in venues like Milan’s La Scala and my favorite Herod Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens is tough competition! But Boston is certainly up there!
I have had the pleasure of performing with such a huge range of talented artists—from Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to Justin Hayward and Klaus Meine to Lara Fabian and Sarah Brightman to Natalie Cole, Tina Arena and Smokey Robinson. The list goes on and on!
What I have enjoyed so much about Boston are the fantastic young and talented musicians, many of them from Berklee College of Music. I have a passion for supporting young musicians and I love to walk the halls at night when we are rehearsing and feel the energy of all of that great young talent ready to take over the world.
STYLEBOSTON: How did it come to be that Boston was the first location on this US tour?
MARIO: We have been talking with my team for a while about returning to one of my favorite venues in Boston—the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. That theatre is amazing and the acoustics are fantastic. We’ve always performed great shows on that stage full of amazing positive energy. I always get so much energy and love from this city and have many friends here who I can call my family. We decided that since WGBH has been such a supporter over the years, and we got a great date to start the 2017 concert series here, why not “come home” to Boston?
STYLEBOSTON: Do you have any favorite haunts, places or stops in Boston?
MARIO: Of course I love to walk around the Boston Common and Newbury Street; Harvard Square and brunch at the Charles Hotel is always a great favorite! Lobster and crab at Legal Sea Foods on the Harbor is great as well. There is a long list and it, of course, includes Symphony Hall, and also Harvard Yard. I love to walk in Boston. Bostonians have a certain casual sophistication that makes me feel very at ease.
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