Chocolatey Goodness

The Chocolate Show melts the hearts of New Yorkers with a luscious fashion show where all of the models are dressed in mouthwatering chocolate. Includes interviews with models and designers as well as a peek at the delicacies on offer.

When the Night Falls...

Would you challenge American Idol alum Jordin Sparks in karaoke? Here's what she sang at last night's wrap party at the Bryant Park Hotel for her star turn in In the Heights.

A 'Home' Run

Saturday night I was captivated and clapping while watching the premiere of Home Sweet Home, a new production by the Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC).

Now I confess, I don’t really know that much about theater, and I went to the show primarily to high-five and support my friend Lisa Pettersson. Okay, and truth be told, being a flirtatious New Yorker and a
Swedish-American myself, I was curious to check out not only the performances of my friend and fellow countryfolk, but also to scope out the talent in the audience and perhaps to see if there were any good-looking Nordic types to wink at during intermission.

That said, all thoughts of frivolous flirtations quickly went out the window as I immediately became engaged by the riveting performance before me.

Home Sweet Home is an incredibly well-acted psychological drama by Danish playwright Andreas Garfield.  The script deals with the cultural upset created by current conflicts and war in the Middle East. The characters are complex and interesting and the drama that unfolds immediately demands the viewer's interest and attention.

This play reveals the traumatic experience of war and the unsympathetic indifference of home as refracted through a Nordic country.  Actor Albert Bendix, who plays the part of returning soldier Cartsten, gives a riveting performance.

Apart from the excellent acting and great script, this play is a must-see from a production standpoint. The set design was so innovative and interesting... I need to applaud set designer Marte Ekhougen, whose innovative use of the space and integration of film into the show was impressive.

The stage, which is filled with boxes, immediately suggests the baggage each character carries in, and the abstracted distortions created by projecting the film onto an uneven cardboard arrangement alludes to the cracks in the spirit carried in the souls and seen in the desperation of all three characters.

I loved the way the space reflected the disillusionment the characters felt and I really enjoyed the conceptual depth in the way the space was constructed.

One of my favorite aspects of living in New York City is how I am constantly being inspired and impressed by the brilliance of my friends and acquaintances. There are those moments here in town when the talent of those I know surpasses even my biggest expectations for them. Lisa Pettersson, whom I had already come to support, caused me to be awed and applauding with genuine stars in my eyes.  Needless to say, I highly recommend checking out this show while you still can. —Review by New York Insider Annika Connor, an artist whose paintings can be seen here.

Home Sweet Home
will run through November 28th at the 9th Space at PS 122 (150 First Ave. at E. 9th Street). Tickets are $25.


Have YOU Got a Ticket to Ride?

If you've been wondering about those overly large buses that have been navigating the crowded streets of Times Square and Columbus Circle, here's a peek at what goes on both inside and outside The Ride.

Are You Sane?

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart hosts the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C., and New Yorkers come out in force, thanks to the Huffington Post. For slideshow, click here.


For the Dogs

Tonight was to have been one of animal activist Wendy Diamond's biggest and best Howlaween celebrations to date. The annual event is regarded as a must-attend party by dog-lovers and Halloween revelers alike, attracting a celebrity crowd that is beautiful, fun and of course, canine friendly.

This year's venue, brand-new danceteria District 36, on West 36th Street, is one of the fall's most-buzzed-about openings. And yet, the nightclub preview that guests expected to have this evening was simply not to be. Instead, thanks to a negative ruling by the NYC Board of Health concerning dogs and food occupying the same space, guests arrived at District 36 to closed doors plastered with signs redirecting them 20 blocks south, to 14th Street. It was there that another new spot, Snap, owned by Matthew Isaacs, had generously come to the rescue. Coincidentally, Snap was celebrating a low-key friends and family preview before its own opening next week and agreed to host the party at the 11th hour. But no sooner than you could say "Oh, snap," the redirected guests told that here, too, dogs would not be allowed inside. Thank you, New York City Health Department.

With a "show must go on" attitude that only a dynamo like Diamond could muster, she and her longtime friends Sandra DeFeo and Anne-Marie Karash from the Humane Society of New York decided to hold the dog costume contest and judging right on the sidewalk. (Much to the chagrin of the NYPD.) In front of a hastily arranged step and repeat affixed to a plywood construction barricade, celebrity judges Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph and founder of the delightful Candy Bar); high-society gal Tinsley Mortimer (in pigtails); and ubiquitous TV personality Sara Gore, looking glam and Gatsbyesque, presided over a contest that included purebreds and mutts dressed as everthing from Cleopatra to a centipede.

It was most certainly not the sort of night anyone had imagined it would be, and yet, tempers remained calm as the good dog people in attendance mixed and mingled just as they would have in a nightclub. (Albeit sans cocktails and thumping house music.)

Despite the circumstances, every dog did indeed have his day, with multiple prizes awarded before the group went home with tales (and tails!) to tell to loved ones of a crazy New York night.

Want to see who won? Watch for the top dog and his owner to appear with Diamond on the Today show this Friday.


Lovely Rita

Check out New York Insider's episode from last night's Rita Hayworth Gala, featuring am interview Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Ivana Trump, Bryant Gumbel and more!


The Ride of Your Life

Like most New Yorkers, I avoid Times Square like the plague. Even with the Bloomberg-mandated closure of Broadway, the area is a traffic-snarled den of caricature artists, slack-jawed tourists and bad chain restaurants. Were it not for theatre, I wonder whether I'd ever visit this part of town. And yet, it was not always so. I remember my early fascination with Times Square, its bright lights and 24/7 excitement. To me, it represented the pulsing heartbeat of New York, the energy epicenter that gave the city life.

Last night, for 90 minutes, I found myself in love with Times Square all over again.

As a passenger on a new attraction called The Ride, I got to see the city from an atypical vantage point--sideways. The Ride is a coach bus with outward-facing stadium seating for 50. With a floor-to-ceiling view of the cityscape outside, The Ride is deliciously voyeuristic. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Literally, because pedestrians get to gander right back in at you.

With a tight-looped route that that sticks primarly to the West 40s and 50s, The Ride is conducted by two perky, New York-savvy guides. For sardonic comic relief, their commentary aided and abetted by input from the bus, who is given a Knight Rider-style voice and personality.

But the real treat to be experienced aboard The Ride are the pop-up street performances that unfold before passengers' eyes. A UPS delivery guy who drops his packages to do a spontaneous break dance and a sailor and nurse who perfectly recreate Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic image of a couple locked in a never-ending kiss are among the surprise attractions viewers will get to see on their journey. As delightful, if not more, are the stunned reactions of passersby, who have no clue as to what is happening, but who whip out their cameras to film the action faster than you can say iPhone.

It's a great addition to the Great White Way, a wonderful experience for tourists--and believe it or not--locals, too. Tickets from $59. For more info, click here.


More Than He Can Chew?

Chef Spike Mendelsohn makes a dent in a chocolate-covered confection from Street Street Desserts at the New York City Wine & Food Festival this weekend. An ofttime champ of the festival's Burger Bash competition, Mendelsohn may have been licking his wounds after top honors on Friday night went to Shake Shack, and the People's Choice Award went to Bobby Flay. Photo by Seth Browarnik/


The Real Fun Happens After Dark

The NYC Wine & Food Festival gets off to a strong start, with Chelsea Market After Dark bringing out the city's food intelligensia. Among last night's highlights: The chocolatey goodness cooked up by Jacques Torres (below). For slideshow, click here.

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