Life is LaBute-iful? Ready to be stuffed ? Thanksgiving is tomorrow-we can’t remember if we’re supposed to allow ourselves to enjoy Thanksgiving or if it’s one of those holidays we should feel ashamed of because of America’s bellicose past -but anyway, the city is clearing out fast and the Brussels sprouts are tumbling in …. If your face already hurts from anticipating the forced smile you’ll have pasted to your face throughout a long afternoon with the relatives tomorrow, why not “queue up,” as the Thanksgiving-averse Brits say, to buy tickets for the new play by Neil LaBute , a man whose vision of humanity is about as light and cheery as week-old yams? … The play, The Mercy Seat , stars Liev Schreiber , the Michael Douglas of the East Village, as a married man cheating on his wife with his older-woman boss (the inspiring Sigourney Weaver ). Don’t groan, but it’s set on the day after Sept. 11. What does the title mean? “It was a Biblical term,” said Mr. LaBute (the mannerly Mormon who gave us those great acid baths In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors , then went Hollywood by directing Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie version of Possession ). “The top of the arc of the covenant, where God is meant to manifest himself, where people can kneel and be given mercy.” Hellfire and brimstone! Did he have any qualms about joining the-well, a polite term would be hordes -writing post–Sept. 11 plays? “I didn’t look at it ‘Wow, that’s great fodder for a play.’ Certainly the catalyst for it is that day, but it’s really more of a relationship play. Both of these characters are in a crossroads of personal crisis, and they’re looking for some way to be merciful , to have a little mercy given to them and to dole out a little bit.”
[Acorn Theater, 410 West 42nd Street, 8 p.m., 279-4200.]
The Mercer seat? Can New Yorkers put their ambition and greed and cynicism on freeze for even a few hours and enjoy the big, wobbly, consumerist spectacle that is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? One highlight: 127 male and female Britney Spears wannabes from Camp Broadway (arts education concern) will belt out the Johnny Mercer classic “Accentuate the Positive” on a big red-white-and-blue float. “We’ve created a very cool, hip, brassy arrangement of it,” said Camp Broadway managing director Lesley Mazzotta. “These are talented kids just itching for experience-singing and dancing in a very modern, fun, fresh way-wearing cool, low-riding jeans …. We were trained by Kroll Securities and they gave us a lot of really great advice on how to keep our kids safe, which is paramount to us.” Just keep Michael Jackson off the viewing platform, toots!
[Parade begins at 77th Street and Central Park West, 9 a.m.]
Chew or choo-choo? Apparently everyone has bought this big retailers’ myth that today is the “biggest shopping day of the year” (actually, it’s the day when tourists begin to maneuver themselves like slow-moving oil tankers in front of all the department store “windows,” not budging till the New Year), because all that’s really happening is a dentists’ convention at the Javits Center and a Holiday Train Show up in da Bronx, with trains running through miniature New York City landmarks fashioned from scads of leaves, twigs, bark, berries, pine cones, gourds, cinnamon sticks, grapevine, lotus-pod seeds, orange slices and pomegranates by Paul Busse and his team, from Applied Imagination of Alexandria, Ky. “Everything is plant material-it’s so exciting that we’re expressing everything toward natural plants,” said the shockingly unqueeny Mr. Busse, “though we’ve learned over the years to avoid stuff like the meat of nuts and things because that can create problems”-which we take to be a euphemism for “vermin.” Oh, and someone just told us tonight is Hanukkah, too- whoops ! Sorry, in-laws!
[Bronx River Parkway, Exit 7W, 10 a.m., 718-817-8700.]
Callin’ all PETA-philes … We’re putting on our circle skirts for the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, the thinking woman’s Fashion Week …. Show organizer David Ornstein promised lots of glamorous dresses with good New Year’s Eve (forthcoming so-unfun-it’s-fun holiday) potential: beaded, sequined, 1930′s-style bias-cut dresses. “A lot of fur-trimmed things are in,” he said. “If I were to tell you what the hottest thing today in the vintage clothing market is , it’s furs. It’s furs . They’re as hot as they could be. Our last show was in September and it was 80 degrees out, and the dealers reported brisk sales of furs. Over at the Piers show over the last two weeks, everybody sold furs , furs . Minks , minks , minks , minks , a lot of fur hats, fox hats, a lot of shearling, a lot of pony .” Not for Gisele, the supermodel recently blitzed by PETA! Memo to self: Purchase new $50 Diana Vreeland biography.
[Metropolitan Pavilion, 1 p.m., 125 West 18th Street, 518-434-4312.]
Wilder and Wyler! Welcome to December , the month of puddings and pink cheeks and sudden, whiskey-stoked clutches in the back seats of taxis …. Um, has anyone been to MoMA since they picked up and moved to Queens ? Didn’t think so …. The museum’s film series knew better and today shows a spiffed-up double feature of William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1954), which is excellent except for the-all right, we’ll just say it- gratingly gamin Audrey Hepburn , and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) (did older woman–younger man before Tadpole , The Good Girl , etc.) in the borrowed Gramercy Theatre. Meanwhile, speaking of older gents , what is up with all these white male media fogies fawning over Eminem and calling him the next James Dean? The rapper has the acting range of a sock puppet. Reality check- please !
[127 East 23rd Street, 5 p.m., 706-9847.]
Get out your pelts! Someone is suddenly wishing they hadn’t closed the Russian Tea Room: There’s a big furry “Russian Christmas” benefit at Tavern on the Green for the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra ; honorary chairwoman is Laura Bush , and they’re auctioning off a $3,500 silver fox shawl. “They’re turning it into a dacha , which is a Russian house,” said Roger Webster , publicist. ” Joshua Bell is going to play, and the last piece will be the one that was playing when Rasputin was killed in St. Petersburg, which is cute, I think.” Real cute-and wouldn’t the Bush twins, of whom we haven’t heard nearly enough lately, look real cute in matching muffs (and flasks) ? Meanwhile , novelist Oscar Hijuelos and playwright Wendy Wasserstein -who’s written many a fine play with an eligible furrier in it-buckle up in their evening finery for a MacDowell Colony gala-you know MacDowell, the leafy place in New Hampshire where “creatives” go to work on their masterpieces, i.e., get stoned and swing ….
[American Russian Young Artists Orchestra benefit, Tavern on the Green, Central Park West at 66th and 67th streets, 6 p.m., 956-3727; MacDowell Colony benefit, University Club, 1 West 54th Street, 7 p.m., 535-9690.]
Tenors, anyone? Well, the city is positively teeming with tenors tonight-just walk down any street and you stand a good chance of smacking right into one! You got Michael Amante at Alice Tully ; everyone’s favorite bubbe Mandy Patinkin doing Sondheim in midtown; and at Carnegie, the three Irish tenors – Anthony Kearns, Ronan Tynan and Finbar Wright -descend with their Christmas spectacular. Special Eight-Day Week correspondent Noelle Hancock called Mr. Tynan, 42, and found out that he had both legs amputated below the knee at age 20, has won 18 gold medals and set 14 world records in the Paralympic Games, used to practice medicine, recently published a memoir, and was signed by the Jive record label, which also puts out CD’s by that young musical group the Backstreet Boys. “Sometimes the songs are so sad that people might need Prozac after them,” Mr. Tynan said.
[Michael Amante, Alice Tully Hall, 8 p.m., 875-5050; Mandy Patinkin, Henry Miller Theater, 124 West 43rd Street, 8 p.m.;
Irish Tenors, Carnegie Hall, 154 West 57th Street, 8 p.m., 247-7800.]
Is Perelman nuts? You know how these days when you get on a plane , after you’ve inhaled a handful of Xanax , they give you tasteless cellophane bags of pretzels instead of little foil packets of nourishing peanuts? You can thank the general decline of civilization but also groups like the Food Allergy Initiative …. Tonight, some swank couples ( David and Julia Koch, Ellen Barkin and Ronald Perelman, Robert and Mary Kennedy Jr. ) gather for the F.A.I.’s black-tie ball – no nuts on the menu, of course, but a spy told us there would be “fresh pineapple filled with vanilla-cranberry ice cream and pineapple sorbet, and then for the men it’s chocolate-caramel passion-fruit something …. ” Hmm, since when did desserts become sexist ?
[Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, 7 p.m.]
Beware “bumpers”! Somebody flips a switch on that big, ominous Rockefeller Center tree tonight, and soon the entire town is going to be jinglin’ and janglin’, so while you can , one more Nutcracker alternative: tennis goddess Serena Williams co-chairs the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s gala! And if you’ll excuse
us, we’re off to find us some nice muscle relaxants and a big mistletoe bush ….
[811 Seventh Avenue, 7 p.m., 767-0590.]