Saturday, January 22, 2011

REWIND: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex (NYC, 2009)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC entrance on Mercer Street in Soho.
It's been one year since the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's New York City Annex closed in January 2010 after opening a year earlier in 2009. Reports indicate the attraction fell victim to the economy and a down year for city tourism. But in a city with an extensive rock heritage, it appears some fault may be in the creation of the museum.

Banners above the entrance.
After a visit in June 2009, the experience was underwhelming especially at the cost of $26.50 for an adult ticket. Unlike other tourist attractions located as close to Times Square as possible, the museum was located on a quiet street in Soho in the basement that used to house an Old Navy store. The entrance wasn't particularly inviting.

The experience included a holding room where hundreds of plaques with autographs of music legends filled the walls as their music played. Then in a small auditorium a short feature about the history of rock and roll was screened. After that was the exhibition of memorabilia. Among them was Elvis Presley's motorcycle jacket, a handwritten note from Jim Morrison, John Lennon's Record Plant Piano and Bruce Springsteen's 1957 Chevy. It was unfortunate that photography was not allowed. The ubiquitous gift shop at the end lacked any enticing merchandise to commemorate the visit.

The $9 million cost of the 25,000-foot-annex was not obvious. Depending on visitor interest in the museum displays, it's likely most would be able to see the exhibit in an hour. I'm a fan of pop music artists spanning different decades and was even a devoted listener of the American Top 40 on radio for over 20 years. But after an equally unimpressive visit to the British Music Experience at the O2 in London in 2010, it may appear the genre of music and one as expansive as rock and roll may be too difficult to encapsulate in a museum visit.

For more information about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, visit Opportunities for a tour that would bring artifacts to audiences around the world was being explored at the time of closing of the annex.

Some of the memorabilia on display (image: broadwayworld)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dress Circle Event with Alfie Boe

"Bring Him Home" by Alfie Boe features 12 tracks.
The series of in-person events continues at Dress Circle in London, England with the star of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert Live at the O2: Alfie Boe who played Jean Valjean at the event. Last month, his latest CD titled "Bring Him Home" was released and his first to feature songs from musicals.

Boe at Dress Circle
(all Dress Circle images: Roy Tan)
Guest artists on the CD include Matt Lucas who played Thenardier alongside Boe at the Les Mis Concert and Kerry Ellis who recently starred in the revival of 'Oliver' and was featured in the concert production of "Chess" with Josh Groban at the Royal Albert Hall. Boe duets with Lucas on "The Impossible Dream" and with Ellis on "Come What May" from the film "Moulin Rouge".

Dress Circle has been one of my one favorite stops when in London and is located in the heart of the West End. But unlike my visit in September to meet the cast of the Les Miserables UK Tour, this time I was not at the store. Instead Dress Circle sold pre-orders of the CD which would be autographed by Boe at the store event on Janunary 7, 2011 before shipping. Above is the copy I got in the mail.

The line at the Jan 7, 2011 store event featuring Boe.
Visit for news about the shop or to find out which stars of the West End stage may be making an in-store appearance next. Autograph CDs from past in-store events are available in limited supply and can be ordered online.

One popular event from last fall featured the London cast of 'Legally Blonde'. Visit these related links about the shop:
Meet the Cast of the 25th Anniversary Touring Production of 'Les Miserables'
Dress Circle - No Tickets Required

Other related links:
'Legally Blonde' Colors the Savoy - The Review
Review: 'Les Miserables' The 25th Anniversary Concert in Cinemas

Sheridan Smith (Elle) and Duncan James (Warner) stars of
London production of 'Legally Blonde' at Dress Circle.
The line waiting of fans at the 'Legally Blonde' event.
The stars of the 25th Anniversary UK Tour of 'Les Miserables' at
Dress Circle. l to r: Gareth Gates (Marius), Madalena Alberto (Fantine),
John Owen-Jones (Valjean) & Earl Carpenter (Valjean).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vdara Hotel Death Ray in Las Vegas

Vdara pool (image credit: MGM)
Interesting article about the 'Vdara death ray' when news broke of the phenomenon last fall. Let's hope the hotel has solved the issue before summer returns to the Las Vegas strip.

Vdara hotel (image: lvrj)
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The tall, sleek, curving Vdara Hotel at CityCenter on the Strip is a thing of beauty.

But the south-facing tower is also a collector and bouncer of sun rays, which -- if you're at the hotel's swimming pool at the wrong time of day and season -- can singe your hair and melt your plastic drink cups and shopping bags.

Hotel pool employees call the phenomenon the "Vdara death ray."

(image: lvrj)
A spokesman for MGM Resorts International, which owns Vdara, said he prefers the term "hot spot" or "solar convergence" to describe it. He went on to say that designers are already working with resort staff to come up with solutions.

Designers foresaw the issue, and thought they had solved it by installing a high-tech film on the south-facing glass panes, according to Gordon Absher, the MGM spokesman. The film scatters more than 70 percent of reflected rays. But that's not enough, Absher acknowledged, as some pool guests are still uncomfortable.

Viewed from above, the Vdara tower resembles a crescent. The crescent's southern-facing side is concave. There is no tall building farther south to block the sun's hot afternoon rays, so Vdara receives the full brunt. Its pool lies at the center of this southern-facing wall, on top of a low-rise building that is three stories tall.

A plastic bag melted by the "Vdara death ray". (image: lvrj)

A new building's first season of operation always uncovers glitches, Absher also said. Vdara solutions under review include adding more foliage to the pool deck, offering larger sun umbrellas and building a shade structure. But the challenge of constructing shade is that the sun, and the reflection, are moving targets.

CityCenter's Vdara isn't the first high-profile structure to reflect brightly. In Las Vegas, both the AdventureDome at Circus Circus and the Mandalay Bay have reflection issues, Absher noted. In early spring, he added, some pool guests at Mandalay Bay even seek out the hot spots, because they are more comfortable for sunning.

Click here for the complete article or visit the Las Vegas Review-Journal website at For more info about the hotel, visit

Sunday, January 16, 2011

VIDEO: 'Les Miserables' US 25th Anniversary Tour

Video from NJN's State of the Arts about the premiere of the 'Les Miserables' 25th Anniversary Tour opening at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. See the previous post for a complete list of tour dates and excerpts from the New York Times review.

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