New York Culture: Smart Ways to Kick Off 2016

By Troy Segal

Here at Thought Gallery we love all our listings (would we steer you towards anything but the best?), but some strike our fancy in a special way, reflecting a lifelong fascination, or a topic we’ve recently wanted to explore, or—okay, sometimes it’s a thing that just sounds cool. Here’s a roster of what we’re looking forward to early in 2016—talks, activities and performances guaranteed to beat the post-holiday blues.


Golden-Haired Girl Goes Underground: A contemporary illustrator (he does the Fancy Nancy series) explains our 150 years’ fascination with Alice in Wonderland, and how the characters have subtly changed over the years—specifically, Alice and the Mad Hatter (she gets older, and he gets younger). Morbid Anatomy Museum, Wednesday, Jan. 6.


Good Night, Sweet and Sexy Prince: It took only slightly longer than a New York minute for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet to sell out in London this past autumn. If you missed it—sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more: You can get your BC fix with the next best thing, a filmed version of one of the live performances, all 200 minutes’ worth. Symphony Space, Jan. 9 & 31, & Feb. 12.

she loves

Oldest Living Lyricist Tells All!: A year before their mega-hit Fiddler on the Roof, the songwriting team of Bock & Harnick opened another show on Broadway: She Loves Me, a sweet little piece about two feuding co-workers who unknowingly are amorous pen pals (the movie You’ve Got Mail was based on the same source). A half-century along, a new production is about to open on the Great White Way, sparking a gathering of the cast, 91-year-old lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and Barbara Cook (who starred in the original) to swap stories. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Monday, Jan. 11.


Everyone’s Favorite Amazon: Making her debut in late 1941, Wonder Woman (“beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, and stronger than Hercules,” as an early comic book burbled) stands not only as the first super-heroine, but also as one of the longest-running comic book heroes of all time. Harvard University Professor of American History Jill Lepore, who’s written The Secret History of Wonder Woman, lectures on the lady, and the rather offbeat life of the man who created her. New-York Historical Society, Thursday, Jan. 14.


By The Numbers: Ever wonder why New York City grew on a grid system, with its crosshatch of numbered streets and avenues? Did they run out of names? Was it a temporary measure, or intended to be permanent? This talk traces the plan, including the major feats of engineering needed to put the town on the grid, and the moral imperative behind them. 92nd Street Y, Wednesday, Jan. 20.

George Takei and Lea Salonga in a scene from "Allegiance" (c) Matthew Murphy

George Takei and Lea Salonga in a scene from “Allegiance” (c) Matthew Murphy

Renaissance Man: George Takei has had many lives. He first came to the attention of most of us as Sulu from Star Trek. Then he became a social media super-nova, then a gay rights’ spokesman. And now he’s starring in a musical based on his own experiences as a child living in an American internment camp set up for the Japanese during World War II. He discusses his life and times, then partakes of a reception, at Japan Society, Monday, Jan. 25.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842). Self-portrait, 1790. Oil on canvas; 100 x 81 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Corridoio Vasariano, Florence (1905)

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842). Self-portrait, 1790. Oil on canvas; 100 x 81 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Corridoio Vasariano, Florence (1905)

Portrait of a Lady: Not enough people know about Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, one of France’s leading 18th-century painters—in fact, one of Europe’s leading painters, period. That’s about to change, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art is mounting a major exhibit (Feb. 15-May 15) of the artist (portraits her specialty) who consorted with queens and survived the French Revolution. A docent-led gallery talk happens on Friday, Feb. 26.

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