Prince Harry Reveals How Prince Charles Reacted When Asked To Walk Meghan Markle Down The Aisle

Prince Harry is grateful for his father’s support. In the new BBC One documentary “Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70,” the Duke of Sussex recalled the moment he asked Prince Charles to escort his then-bride-to-be, Meghan Markle, down the aisle in her own father’s absence. Find out what Charles told his son when presented with the request.


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Prince Harry Reveals What Happened When He Asked Prince Charles to Walk Meghan Markle Down the Aisle

Meghan Markle, Prince Charles, Royal WeddingMeghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding was a day to remember for all members of the family.
In BBC One’s documentary called Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70, Prince…


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Meghan Markle’s Father, Who Has Never Met Prince Harry, Will Walk Her Down The Aisle

Her mom will have another role in the ceremony, according to the palace.
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Aisle View: ‘Dada’ in the Nursery

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John Benjamin Hickey and Patrick Breen
in
Dada Woof Papa Hot. Photo: Joan Marcus

Peter Parnell’s enigmatically-titled Dada Woof Papa Hot — the new Lincoln Center Theater production at the Mitzi Newhouse — turns out to be yet another one of those upper-middle-class-New-Yorkers-with-kids-in-preschool plays which turn up occasionally nowadays, one in which (no surprise) a parent from Couple A has an affair with a parent from Couple B. The difference, here, is that the four parents in question are all men.

“A topical gimmick?” you might ask, “just another variation on the same old tale?” Well, no; while a play of this sort could be contrived by taking a dusty comedy from thirty years back and changing the gender of the two moms, that is not what Parnell has done. The dynamics of the couples — as well as the actions and choices of the straying partners — are very different than they would be in one of those heterosexual-adultery plays. Thanks in part to an especially well-drawn central couple — and a typically excellent performance by John Benjamin Hickey in the main role — Parnell (of Romance Language) has given us a provocative and enjoyable topical comedy for today.

Struggling novelist Alan (Hickey) and breadwinner/psychiatrist Rob (Patrick Breen) — with their heard-but-not-seen three-year-old Nicola, offstage — find their social circle enlarged by parents of other preschoolers. The action begins as they have dinner with another such couple, corporate raider Scott (Stephen Plunkett) and painter Jason (Alex Hurt). While the friendship is child-based, there are clear undertones — from the start — of sex. This, naturally enough, plays out over the course of an hour-and-a-half. Parnell also gives us a third couple, Michael (John Pankow) and Serena (Kelli Overbey); Michael is a composer in a tailspin, having just suffered through a major Broadway flop. (How refreshing, and perhaps drawn from personal experience: Parnell’s one Broadway musical was the misguided, gender-mangled libretto for the 2011 Harry Connick, Jr. revisal of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.)

Michael, on the heterosexual side, goes off to have an affair with yet another parent, TV actress Julia (Tammy Blanchard); her unseen photographer husband — not surprisingly, given the setup – -turns out to be gay. All through this, mind you, everybody keeps talking about their kids; you know how those upper-middle-class-New-Yorkers-with-kids-in-preschool are.

Parnell brings our attention to another, relatively new source of potential parental friction. There are plays by the dozens — or more likely hundreds — in which the husband thinks that he is not really the baby’s father, or knows that he is not really the baby’s father; or has been told he is not really the baby’s father when he actually is, or has been told that he is when he actually isn’t. In Dada Woof Papa Hot, Alan knows he is not the biological father, having been convinced that Rob likely had healthier genes. Parnell gives us a father who thus feels apart from his child — or more properly, feels that the child senses that he is not the real papa/dada. (“Dada woof papa hot” signify Nicola’s first words, which make sense from a toddler but don’t work quite so well as a play title). This adds yet another layer of confused anguish to Alan’s conundrum, one that is well illustrated by Mr. Hickey; and one that, he comes to realize, is in his mind, not the child’s.

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Alex Hurt, John Benjamin Hickey, Stephen Plunkett and Patrick Breen
in
Dada Woof Papa Hot. Photo: Joan Marcus

Hickey — a Tony winner for The Normal Heart — is paired with Breen (who also appeared in The Normal Heart) as the more fatherly of the couple. Standing out among the others is Pankow, as the normal (i.e. straight), philandering musical comedy composer. Scott Ellis, a Roundabout regular, does his most impressive job of direction since Twelve Angry Men back in 2004. There is also a highly effective set — consisting of many moving parts, on interlocking platforms which slide on and off in different wedge-like combinations — by John Lee Beatty.

In Dada Woof Papa Hot, Parnell combines characters we know pretty well — and a situation we know pretty well — in a manner which makes it all seem fresh, involving and convincing. And enjoyable.

Dada Woof Papa Hot opened November 9, 2015 and continues through January 3, 2016 at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse

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London Aisle View: Kidman and Rylance, Stage Door Neighbors

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Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51. Photo: Johan Persson

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) was a British crystallographer who, in a laboratory at King’s College in London, was able to capture the key to DNA on an x-ray. This led directly to the discovery of the double helix and, ultimately, a Nobel Prize. But not for Franklin; it seems that the telltale x-ray (“Photograph 51”) was more or less pilfered by Franklin’s research partner Maurice Wilkins. He ultimately shared the Nobel with James Watson and Francis Crick, while the contribution of Franklin–who by that point had died of ovarian cancer–was more or less left in the dust.

The second-biggest surprise of Anna Ziegler’s new play, Photograph 51, is that Ziegler has managed to take this drily historic tale and turn it into an engrossing scientific whodunit, or rather who’lldoit. Ziegler is an American playwright, whose A Delicate Ship was well-received in August in an off-Broadway production by the Playwrights Realm. In Photograph 51–produced and directed by Michael Grandage, of Frost/Nixon and Red–the drama more or less bristles.

Franklin’s failing, in Ziegler’s telling, was not so much that she was Jewish and she was a woman, but that she didn’t play well with others; said others being white male Christians who see no impropriety in taking the fruits of her labor and would think nothing of sending her to the back of the lab to make a pot of tea.

The biggest surprise in Photograph 51, though, is the performance of Nicole Kidman as the fair Rosalind. Kidman has had an impressive film career, including a 2003 Oscar for “The Hours,” but I–not having seen her on stage (and, literally, in the flesh) since David Hare’s overhyped but underwhelming Blue Room in 1998–was not prepared for the Kidman now on the stage of the Noël Coward. She carries the play, seemingly effortlessly; Rosalind–as drawn by Ziegler–stands out as the victor in a world of men, and Kidman does the same. We never, for a moment, doubt the character’s strength; and Kidman’s great strength in Photograph 51 is that we see and believe in Franklin all through without the distraction that can intrude when–in mid-performance–the folks in the audience remember that that’s a movie star up there.

Grandage’s compelling work is no surprise, nor are the contributions of his frequent designer Christopher Oram (of Frost/Nixon, Red and Wolf Hall). Stephen Campbell Moore makes a perfect foil as Rosalind’s lab partner Wilkins, with amusing turns by Will Attenborough as Watson (with upstanding hair that looks like it was permanently jolted over in the electrics lab) and Patrick Kennedy (as a young colleague from America). But it’s Kidman who brings life to Ziegler’s Photograph 51.

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Mark Rylance in Farinelli and the King. Photo: Simon Annand

Another electric performance is on view down the block at the Duke of York’s. No present-day theatergoer will be surprised by this; given that it’s Mark Rylance on the boards, the surprise would be if the performance were not commanding.

Renaissance music expert Claire van Kampen might not be familiar by name, although anyone who attended Rylance’s 2013 Twelfth Night/Richard III at the Belasco will attest to her abilities as composer and musical director. She is a long-time artistic associate of Rylance, and wife as well. Her musical interests no doubt brought her attention to the strange tale of King Philippe V of Spain–grandson of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France–and the internationally-famous Italian castrato, Farinelli (Carlo Broschi). In 1737, Farinelli visited the court of the bipolar Philippe, and his golden voice seemed to lift the King out of his depression. So much so, that the singer spent an extended period with Philippe in Madrid and the Spanish countryside.

Van Kampen has turned the tale into a full-scale drama, loaded with selections by Handel. In Philippe–who begins the action infirmly sprawled on his bed, fishing for goldfish in a fishbowl–she has contrived a perfect role for Rylance. He is well matched by Sam Crane as Farinelli and Melody Grove as Philippe’s Queen Isabella. The three stars are joined by Iestyn Davies, who sings the role of Farinelli. Van Kampen and Dove simply have him stand onstage beside Crane, in identical costume, and sing like a falsetto canary–and this works extremely well.

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Iestyn Davies, Mark Rylance and Sam Crane in Farinelli and the King.
Photo: Simon Annand

At times, the triangle and all that music make us think that van Kampen was somehow thinking–consciously or un–of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. There are also moments, I’m afraid, where you might feel maybe you’d rather be watching Rylance in Shaffer’s Amadeus.

Even so, van Kampen and Rylance have given us a juicy, bounteously musical evening. John Dove has directed the production, which originated at Shakespeare’s Globe, and it is sumptuously designed by Jonathan Fensom. The musicians adorn a balcony overlooking the action; a couple dozen ticketbuyers are seated in onstage boxes; and the action spills out into the auditorium. There is also an arresting sequence in which the singing Farinelli flies, in this historic playhouse which hosted the original 1904 production of Peter Pan.

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Photograph 51, by Anna Ziegler, opened September 14, 2015 and continues through November 21 at the Noël Coward Theatre. Farinelli and the King, by Claire van Kampen, opened September 29, 2015 and continues through December 5 at the Duke of York’s Theatre

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Bride’s Dad Stops Wedding So Stepdad Can Walk Down The Aisle Too

When Todd Bachman’s daughter got married last weekend, he wanted to make sure that her stepfather was recognized at the wedding in some way. After all, her stepdad had helped raise her.  

So when it came time to walk his daughter Brittany down the aisle, Bachman did something completely unexpected: He stopped the procession, ran to the front row and grabbed her stepdad Todd Cendrosky in order to share the honor of walking their daughter down the aisle.

The beautiful moment was captured by Ohio-based wedding photographer Delia D Blackburn, whose Facebook album of the Elyria, Ohio wedding has received more than one million “likes.” 

“It was one of the most compassionate gestures toward a stepparent I’ve ever seen,” Blackburn told The Huffington Post. “The bride was in tears and overcome with emotion.” 

As the photos show, Cendrosky was as well. 

In an interview with local news station WKYC-TV, the stepdad said he was totally taken aback by Bachman’s kind gesture. 

“[He] came and grabbed my hand and said: ‘You worked as hard as I have. You’ll help us walk our daughter down the aisle,'” Cendrosky recalled. “I got weak in the knees and lost it. Nothing better in my life, the most impactful moment in my life.”

In the same interview with WKYC-TV, Bachman admitted he and Cendrosky hadn’t always gotten along. But extending the honor at the wedding just made sense. 

 

“For me to thank him for all the years of helping raise our daughter wouldn’t be enough,” the biological dad said. “There is no better way to thank somebody than to assist me walking her down the aisle.” 

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Aisle View: Fall from Grace

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Josh Young in Amazing Grace. Photo: Joan Marcus

Let us start by enumerating the positive aspects of Amazing Grace, the new Broadway musical at the Nederlander. The authors and producers seem to be very much in earnest in this anti-slavery, pro-faith tale of the mid-18th century. They provide something of a history lesson, based on the life, adventures and religious conversion of slave trader John Newton (1725-1807).

Josh Young, best known hereabouts for his appearance as Judas in the 2012 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, gives an admirable-under-the-circumstances performance as the cruel and vicious hero. Erin Mackey (Chaplin), in the underwritten role of Mary Catlett, The Girl Who Loves Him Anyway, is even better; whenever she comes on, the proceedings brighten. The most impressive performances come from Chuck Cooper (a Tony-winner for The Life) and Laiona Michelle. Both play faithful servants, from childhood, of John and Mary; both, in the second act, find themselves stripped of their genteel respectability and brutally treated as the slaves they are. This gives them the chance to sing big, grand solos that would stop most other shows.

At the press preview attended, both numbers received a standing ovation–from one audience member. This fellow–an investor or one of the creators, perhaps?–offered the same response four times over the course of the evening. I’ve seen many a play, from either side of the footlights, but never a performance which received four, one-man standing ovations. The late Charles Lowe regularly enhanced ovations when Mrs. Lowe (AKA Carol Channing) was onstage, but he never comprised a cheering section of one.

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Erin Mackey in Amazing Grace. Photo: Joan Marcus

The 18th century costumes come from Toni-Leslie James, frequent collaborator of director George C. Wolfe, and they might be the most successful element of the evening. The shipboard scenery by Eugene Lee and Edward Pierce is stunning at times, although it suffers from the fate of many such unit sets; no matter where we are–in genteel England, in a living room, in the African jungle–it always seems like they are acting on deck. The first act finale, which represents an underwater rescue, offers a remarkably good effect from the set designers, lighting designers Ken Billington and Paul Miller (who also contribute to some effective nautical vistas), and director Gabriel Barre.

On the other hand, alas, we have the rest of it. Amazing Grace earns a place right alongside the Aimee Semple McPherson musical, Scandalous, and the Shroud of Turin musical, Into the Light; not because of the faith-based subject matter, but due to the overall effect. There is nothing wrong with bringing to Broadway a new musical written by a newcomer; both The Music Man and 1776 came from first-timers, although both were professional musicians with pop song hits to their credit (and both had composed incidental music for Broadway plays). In this case, the program bio of Christopher Smith–“the concept creator, composer, lyricist and co-author of the book”–proudly states that this is his “first work of professional writing.” While there is indeed a lightning strike on the stage of Nederlander, it comes courtesy of the electrician.

The big song in the show, if you wish to consider it as such, is “Amazing Grace,” which was written by Mr. Newton in 1779. Well, not precisely; Newton wrote the words in 1779. The hymn was apparently first published with music in 1808, after Newton’s death. The musical setting in use today seems not to have been devised until 1835, in good ol’ Kentucky. The plot itself is not especially accurate, although there’s no reason it need be; let it be noted that while Newton did indeed have a spiritual conversion after his rescue from African savages (don’t ask) in 1748, he continued as a slave ship captain until 1754. Newton didn’t renounce slavery until 1788, when he was 63–a good thirty years after the events onstage.

The “Amazing Grace” song is used as epilogue and curtain call, serving to insistently urge the audience to stand, raise their hands, and sing along. That might indeed be the general reaction to show and song at some performances; in front of a preview audience at the Nederlander the other night, though, a fair portion of the people standing at the end were not singing but streaming towards the exit. One also wonders about the advisability of staging a scene–depicting seven black slaves chained in a cage so small that they can’t sit upright–by cramming seven black Actors’ Equity members into an actual cage. This gets the point across, yes, but I found myself concerned less about the characters and more about the performers.

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Chuck Cooper in Amazing Grace. Photo: Joan Marcus

In speaking of faith-based musicals, it was often stated–and universally proven–that you don’t have to be Jewish to love Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t expect the producers of Amazing Grace will find a happy parallel.
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Amazing Grace opened July 16, 2015 at the Nederlander Theatre

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Aisle Style: 39 Inspired Ways to Decorate Your Wedding Ceremony Space

Before they see you at the top of the aisle, your wedding guests will get a first impression of your wedding based on the ceremony space. Is it flower-filled, bright, and bountiful, or is it…




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Aisle View: Writer’s Block à la Russe

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Nikki M. James, Gabriel Ebert Or Matias and Chris Sarandon
in
Preludes by Dave Malloy. Photo: Kyle Froman

As a long-time admirer of the work of Sergei Rachmaninoff (specifically the Piano Concertos and Symphonies) and as a recent admirer of Dave Malloy (who wrote the score and book of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Preludes — Malloy’s new biographical play-with-music about Rachmaninoff — sounded almost irresistible. The play itself, an LCT3 offering at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow playhouse, turns out to be an intriguing, challenging evening of theatre.

Malloy and director/co-conceiver Rachel Chavkin (also from The Great Comet) have used events of more than one hundred years ago to examine creativity, psyche and the artistic mind. The artistic mind both past and present, that is. The play centers on the writer’s block that the composer suffered in the final years of the nineteenth century. Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) gained instant fame in 1892, at the age of nineteen, with his still-powerful Prelude in C-sharp Minor. (Even today you’d recognize those crashing chords.) His First Symphony — which I find to be pretty nifty — was devastatingly received in 1897, so much so that the still-young composer went into a full-scale depression which lasted three years.

Preludes starts and ends with Rachmaninoff’s pioneering treatment by psychiatrist Nikolai Dahl. While the sessions occurred in 1900, Malloy takes us earlier and later; much later in some cases, as there’s a song about the subway and even an exchange which seems to be a conversation between Rachmaninoff and Malloy himself. (The unnamed character describes growing up listening to his parents’ LP of Van Cliburn playing the Second Piano Concerto, thus imparting to the artist that whatever his problems, his work will indeed be remembered.) With the time period variable, Malloy uses wild anachronisms to make Sergei’s predicament more immediate to current-day audiences.

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Gabriel Ebert and Eisa Davis in Preludes by Dave Malloy. Photo: Kyle Froman

If all of this sound interesting but slightly archaic, that is indeed the case. Malloy and Chavkin — working here with their Great Comet designers Mimi Lien (sets), Paloma Young (costumes) and Bradley King (lights) — weave a wondrous world for us. There are at least three sequences in which music, drama and design combine for stunningly dazzling theatre, using sections of the first theme from the first movement of the 2nd Piano Concerto; the second movement of Beethoven’s Sixth; and the second theme from the first movement of the 2nd Piano Concerto. These are almost astonishingly moving, displaying the full potential of Malloy & Chavkin’s vision. These segments are countered, though, by some stretches that are not quite so inviting.

Preludes combines Rachmaninoff’s psychiatric sessions with Dahl (Eisa Davis); his courtship of first cousin Natalya (Nikki M. James), leading to a scene in which they receive dispensation from the Czar to marry; interactions with his pal, the singer Chaliapin (Joseph Keckler); and visits with fellow artists Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Glazunov (all played with a crotchety-old-Russian twinkle by Chris Sarandon). James — well-remembered as Neutrogena, or whatever her name was, in The Book of Mormon — is a supportive but strong presence, providing some pristine singing along the way (including a glorious “Vocalise”). Davis, who played the mother in Passing Strange, is an unlikely choice as the nineteenth century Russian psychiatrist. I suppose, though, this sort of thing is to be expected from Malloy and Chavkin. As it turns out, their instincts are spot-on; Davis-as-analyst brings us right into Rachmaninoff’s story, makes matters clear for us twenty-first centuryites and does a fine job with her songs.

Presiding over it all is Gabriel Ebert, giving an impressively rich performance in the complicated portrayal of the troubled artist. Ebert — who appeared opposite Mary Louise Wilson in the early LCT3 offering 4000 Miles — also did a memorable job as the rubber-legged candy vendor in Brief Encounter, and garnered himself a Tony Award as the brashly objectionable father of poor Matilda. Based on these four bravura and very different performances, one wonders just how wide Ebert’s talent is.

(It is uncommon to find two musical comedy Tony winners like Ebert and James in a non-musical, off off-Broadway play; but, then, Preludes falls under the classification uncommon.)

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Or Matias, Nikki M. James and Gabriel Ebert
in
Preludes by Dave Malloy. Photo: Kyle Froman

Spread throughout are patches of musical excerpts from Rachmaninoff, balanced by contemporary songs by Malloy (some derived from themes by the former, including one called “Natalya” stunningly performed by James). Malloy solves the piano-playing problem by having a second Rachmaninoff — identically dressed, but much shorter — share the stage with Ebert. This is Or Mathias, who was musical director of The Great Comet and turns out to be one helluva piano player on the center-stage Yamaha. He is accompanied by two musicians on synthesizers.

Compelling? Yes. Entirely successful as a play, or as a musical whatnot? Not quite. But Preludes is an exciting experiment, buoyed by Malloy & Chavkin’s unique vision; Ebert’s masterful performance; Orr’s piano playing; and all that Rachmaninoff roaring through the intimate playhouse on the roof of the Vivian Beaumont. Given LCT3’s standard ticket price of $ 30, Preludes earns a high recommendation. Surely, you’re unlikely to see anything quite like it.

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Preludes, by Dave Malloy (inspired by the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff), opened June 15, 2015 and continues through July 19 at the Claire Tow Theater

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Morrissey gave the dark track “Kick the Bride Down the Aisle” its live debut at a recent Boston concert The song’s lyrics are a sarcastically misogynistic warning someone not to marry a Dickensian battle axe with typically Morrissey-ish verses like “Kick the bride down the aisle in a mudslide of…

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New Watters Wedding Dresses: Awesome Aisle Style for Pretty Much Every Bride

Regardless of your style or the vibe of your wedding, your dream wedding dress was probably on the Watters/Wtoo runway this season. There were just so many wedding dresses, for so many different types of…




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