Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Tour of Big Night Entertainment Group properties at Foxwoods

 We start with the Scorpion Bar in the busy entertainment district of Foxwoods Resort Casino. At night, dancers gyrate on a long table in center, but before that there's Mexican food and Gothic elements. One of the company's founders found the above cattle heads out West and ordered several for the bar area.
 Above right near the bar is a wheel that is spun during the evening to create a special such as $4 tacquitos or $5 chicken quesadillas.
 Another design element: Above the patio door, apparently more artistic than religious, are 100 crosses.
Chips and guacamole at the bar, which includes distinctive furniture including custom wooden stools.
 On to Red Lantern, which sits atop the dark/late-night-pounding club atmosphere (with bottle service) of the nightclub Shrine at Foxwoods. BNEG's Shrine features more "club" music where Scorpion Bar's vibe is more fun tunes (also played loud of course). Red Lantern offers Asian food and fun drinks (above, with several straws this day) and a tasty sushi sampler platter below. Mai tais are very good, and the lobster rangoon is a must.

  The High Rollers casino bowling restaurant offers a very good time, whether you order from the bar in the central lobby or get table service to one of the tony lanes. All the BNEG properties have specials depending on the day. Below, a finger food sampler sits in front of a few lush desserts as bowling takes place on the intimate lanes.
BNEG's Boston properties are Red Lantern Boston, Gem and Empire.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

NHSO Pops concerts coming in Hamden, Shelton

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Criss Angel, Carlos Mencia, Rev. Run, DJ Ruckus, DJ Riz, Steve Aoki at Foxwoods last week

From the folks at  Big Night Entertainment Group, which runs four entertainment/food places at Foxwoods Resort Casino, on Friday night's festivities there:
MASHANTUCKET -- Magic icon Criss Angel (with DJ Ruckus, a cousin of Lenny Kravitz, above) hit Shrine nightclub at Foxwoods for three nights over the weekend. On Thursday night, he partied at Shrine for their Little Black Dress Party. Angel took pics with fans, handed out $100 bills to tip the staff, and made sure his whole crew had fun. 

On Friday night, Criss was joined at Shrine by comedian Carlos Mencia for Rev. Run’s 50th birthday party. Rev. Run (performing in photo below) enjoyed a custom-designed birthday cake handcrafted by Chef Joe Intreiri and adorned with the Run-DMC logo. After blowing out the candles with the crowd and being showered with confetti, Run’s son Diggy Simmons premiered his new song “Ain’t ‘Bout to Do,” which features French Montana. DJ Ruckus, who is Lenny Kravitz’ cousin, DJ’d the party while Run emceed and performed some of his hits, including “It’s Tricky,” “Rock Box” and the Aerosmith collab “Walk This Way."

On Saturday night, Criss Angel was back at Shrine with his cast for Crooklyn Clan’s DJ Riz. Foxwoods CEO Felix Rappaport was among the party-goers. Criss sipped Patron with Sprite all weekend and dined all three nights at The Scorpion Bar, including one night with his mom.
Also on Saturday night, Big Night Entertainment Group’s Randy Greenstein dined with superstar L.A. DJ Steve Aoki at Red Lantern at Foxwoods.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ibero American Film Fest satisfies on opening night

The New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema opened Tuesday night with a large crowd and a stirring showing of the Cuban movie "Behavior" at Arts Hall in ACES Educational Center for the Arts.
The English-subtitled movie was well-written, acted and photographed, enthralling even a group of teen students from New Haven schools.
Subtitled in English, the film is the story of an pre-teen boy who cares for his drug-addicted mother by raising pigeons and fighting dogs, and who forms a close bond with his teacher (who has to fight system bureaucrats pushing her to retire).
The film festival moves to the Whitney  Humanities Center (at Wall and Church streets) through Sunday. It is free to attend.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Precision, young talent, pictures make electricity at Shubert for NHSO

After its splendid first concert of the season doing a spirited Beethoven's Fifth, two pops concerts with new conductor Chelsea Tipton and Thursday's "American Rhapsody" concert gem at the Shubert Theatre, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra is on a roll, aided last week by the brilliant talent of a 13-year-old girl.
Piano soloist Emily Bear (center above) and guest conductor Christopher Jahnke had a packed house, in the reopened Shubert Theatre in New Haven, spellbound with George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and a few other treats, including Bumble Bear Boogie.
Bear was mostly spectacular, playing difficult pieces hand over hand without seeming to miss a note. Even the talented orchestra members were fighting the urge to just watch her work.
After an intermission that saw fans crowd around a table in the renovated lobby to meet Bear and buy her CD, maestro William Boughton acknowledged the difficult task of following that standing-ovation first half, but then rolled out a sublime second half with Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (just horns and percussion on stage); Letter from Home and Appalachian Spring.
Not that symphonies need gimmicks, costumes, flamboyant soloists or audio-visual pyrotechnics in this era of social media, texting and 300-channel cable TV packages, but  WQXR DJ Elliott Forrest's projected images on a screen/wall behind the symphony added to the entertaining Copland portion.
Forrest produced a montage of photographs from the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, which he choreographed live to accompany the music. And during "Letter From Home," local photos of servicemen were included, signaling NHSO's overdue effort to engage and groom more classical music fans through social media.
Classical symphonies need to try anything and everything these days to make converts and keep their aging fan base at the same time. This one, aided by move away from spartan Woolsey Hall, worked on several levels.
NHSO should keep pulling out all the stops, and it should book the stellar young Bear any chance it gets. (The concert was repeated Sunday in Clinton.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

'Holiday Inn' hits all the right notes at Goodspeed

EAST HADDAM -- "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" isn't a lot of things that are popular today. It's not modern or ironic, it's not profane, it's not intellectually deep, it's not dark and it's not a zombie show.
But the music-filled production about an entertainer who buys a Connecticut farmhouse does so much well that it's a three-hour smile (and a chuckle and a big laugh or two).
With considerable skill in cast and crew, producer Michael Price's "Holiday Inn" is great entertainment.
Who goes to the theater for joy anymore? Well, possibly Goodspeed's well-aged crowd (packed to its scenic rafters on press night after weeks of previews). But an older audience is too simple an answer.
And it's also too simple to say that the musical is in this reviewer's wheelhouse since I'm in my late 50s. After all, my generation was more interested in "Hair," The Rolling Stones and Neil Young than old-school musicals with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby.
I don't even like some of that era's classic musicals, such as "South Pacific." ("Happy Talk" makes me want to hurl.) But Goodspeed's tuneful version of "Holiday Inn"can really make you appreciate this art form, this 1930s-1950s song-and-dance spectacular about a romance, show biz and some mid-century American characters and values.
With earnest effort and skill, the musical (extended through Dec. 21) makes us appreciate Goodspeed's role in preserving, celebrating and presenting this genre of musical theater.
The casting is nearly perfect: Noah Racey (from left above) plays smooth hoofer Ted Hanover, Hayley Podschun plays his blonde dance partner, Patti Murin plays the ex-dancer whose family owned the farm and Tally Sessions works up a sweat and earns his big applause as Jim Hardy, who buys the farm (a lesser joke in the show) and is convinced to put on shows there during holidays. Danny Rutigliano, Noah Marlowe and (especially) Susan Mosher are scene-stealers who keep the audience laughing -- Mosher as the theatrical mashup version (with a hilarious twist) of Carol on "The Bob Newhart Show," Alice on "The Brady Bunch" and Andrea Martin on "SCTV."

Holiday Inn features music by Irving Berlin and a new book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, with some well-landing references to Connecticut. Greenberg directs the Goodspeed production with Michael O'Flaherty as musical director of a the roughly eight-piece band. Choreography, also good, is by Denis Jones. 
 Curtain times for the show are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (with select performances at 2:00 p.m.), Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. (with select performances at 6:30 p.m.). The Thanksgiving week schedule will be 11/24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., 11/28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., 11/29 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and 11/30 at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.                              
Tickets (starting at $27) are available through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Last week at the CT casinos: Chazz and the mixed martial arts shows

Last week at the casinos in CT:
Chazz Palminteri put on a great show of "A Bronx Tale," which he originally wrote for the theater based on his own life. I wrote about it in the Register last week, including the emotional part about his co-star in the film, Lillo Brancato.
The show was probably a little more than half-full, which is surprising for such a big star in a state with so many Italian-Americans. The ticket price ($75) might have been too high in a continuing tight economy for many. But Chazz earned yet another standing ovation as he acted out the entire movie.
Last week was notable at the casinos because both had MMA fighting events that were televised on cable and Mohegan's Bellator MMA show drew 7,100 people, a strong show considering the more established UFC at Foxwoods on the same night.
A Mohegan spokesman said TV ratings were close, too, with Mohegan's on Spike and Foxwoods' event on Fox Sports 1.
Here's a couple of photos from the Mohegan event. Photo 2 is former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes and MMA fighter and former NFL pro RB Herschel Walker.