• Tonight WNET launches Theater Close-Up, a weekly series of plays taped in performance at off-Broadway theaters, with the Mint Theater Company’s revival of John Van Druten’s London Wall, about which I raved earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal:
This witty, glisteningly crafted tale of a quartet of working women and the benighted men for whom they work has a distinctly contemporary flavor, enough that you’ll come away wondering whether Van Druten might deserve credit for inventing the workplace comedy decades before it found favor on TV.
London Wall starts at nine p.m. on Channel 13, with a repeat broadcast on Sunday. Subsequent episodes will start at ten p.m. each Thursday. In addition, Channel 21 will air Theater Close-Up on Mondays at ten-thirty p.m.
No matter when you decide to tune in, I strongly recommend this show.
• I had warm things to say about The Great City, Hilary Gardner’s debut album, when she released it independently last year:
Gardner has a cool, smooth-surfaced voice, one whose clarinet-like timbre is tinged with a quiet note of knowing wryness. She swings effortlessly without making a big deal of it, and she has a knack for hunting down off-center tunes like Tom Waits’ “Drunk on the Moon” and Nellie McKay’s “Manhattan Avenue.” Yet she’s just as adept at making something fresh and surprising out of an oft-heard chestnut like “Autumn in New York” (performed here, needless to say, with the rarely sung verse). The band is outstanding–I was much taken with the discreet but telling use of Jon Cowherd’s Hammond organ and Randy Napoleon’s guitar–and the uncredited charts set off Gardner’s vocals to lovely effect.
Now The Great City has been commercially released by Sunnyside Records, and if you didn’t buy it when I first wrote about Gardner a year ago, you should definitely do so now. Go here to order a copy.