Tuesday, November 6, 2018

New York: Theater, Off-Broadway Buzz, FALL 2018

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (New York, NY)
Friendly Reminder: Off- and Off-Off Broadway shows have limited runs, so get tickets right away.

Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St; Until Nov. 25, 2018
Written by Larissa FastHorse; Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel; Starring: Jennifer Bareilles, Jeffrey Bean, Greg Keller, Margo Seibert

(photo: Joan  Marcus)  

Just in time for Turkey Day, a Lakota Indian has written a Thanksgiving Day farce: a group of white, liberal-minded educators at an elementary school bungle their way through the process of creating a Thanksgiving pageant to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. While the well-meaning-but-clueless bunch try to get their (the) act together, mayhem ensues. They hire a Native American actor who turns out not to be. To create culturally-sensitive scenes, they improv politically-incorrect sketches. Their due-diligence research--instead of unearthing cozy tales of Pilgrim-Indian meal sharing--reveals all the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples. Beneath the high jinx and belly laughs, playwright Larissa FastHorse, a member of the Sicangu Lakota nation of South Dakota, lays bare the sorry truth: indigenous peoples have rarely been included in history, at the table, or on stage.

Ars Nova, 511 West 54th St; arsnovanyc.com; Until Nov.10, 2018
RAGS' cast (photo: Ben Arons Photography)

Book, Music & Lyrics by: Andrew R. Butler; Directed by Jordan Fein; Starring: Andrew R. Butler (Rags Parkland), Stacey Sargeant (Beaux Weathers), Rick Burkhardt (Rick), Tony Jarvis (Gill), Jessie Linden (Devo), & Debbie Christine Tjong (Ess Pinvint)
There seems to be a trend of musicians creating performance art pieces and calling it theater. First, The Bengsons; now, the multi-talented Andrew R. Butler with RAGS PARKLAND. While the music is wonderful and there is a storyline--about life in a dystopian future--it's not what would be traditionally referred to as "theater." So, if you're looking for character development, plot arcs, and dramatic denouement, you'll be disappointed. But, if you’re open to an evening of spirited folk-rock tunes sung by an engaging group of performers, you'll have a great time at this disarmingly-charming show.
Ars Nova presents an amazing array of groovy productions. Their mission is to support unique theater, music, and comedy artists in developing surprising new work. If Ars Nova is not on your entertainment radar, it should be!

For Adults
A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya
122CC, Second Floor Theater, 150 First Ave (at 9th St); Until Oct.14, 2018

Written by Stefano Massini (Translation by Paula Wing); Directed by Lee Sunday Evans; Starring: Nadine Malouf, Nicole Shalhoub & Stacey Yen
Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist, whose nerves of steel, compelled her to report on the atrocities of the war in Chechnya, coupled with Soviet government suppression. For these acts of bravery, she was murdered in Moscow in 2006. While Russia tried to silence her with death, her words live on.
INTRACTABLE WOMAN is playwright Stefano Massini's effort to give her back her voice. 
Anna's story is brought to life by three young, commanding performers: Nadine Malouf, Nicole Shalhoub, and Stacey Yen. Speaking truth to power is always risky, but in some places in this world, it's also life threatening. It's especially perilous for journalists working to uncover corruption in oppressive regimes. Yet, reporters continue to investigate, feeling duty--and perhaps morally--bound to reveal the depravity and dishonesty. 
The Play Company (PlayCo) presents way-cool, international plays with unique points of view and out-of-the-ordinary stagings, expanding theatrical horizons. Theater lovers check out this show as well as PlayCo's other fascinating, upcoming productions.

IAC, 553 West 51st St (near 11th Ave); Until Oct. 21, 2018
Written & Performed by Mikel Murfi

If you'd like to travel to a quaint, Irish village without leaving New York, here's your chance. With these one-man shows, acclaimed Irish writer and performer Mikel Murfi brings an entire Irish parish to life--townsfolk and farm animals alike--revealing their joyful and bittersweet daily existence. While the characters are a tad stereotypical--you almost expert Murfi to start chatting with a Leprechaun--they are charmingly so. You'll be pining for a pint of Guinness by the end of the show. These companion plays, The Man in the Woman’s Shoes & I Hear You and Rejoice, are performed in repertory. The plays stand alone, so you could see either one. But, if you'd like to see both, I'd recommend starting with Shoes.
Irish Arts Center (IAC) is a treasure-trove of Irish cultural activities. Throughout the year attend plays, concerts, dance performances, films, lectures and readings. 

For Kids
New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St); Until Nov. 11, 2018, For ages 6 & up

Presented by New International Encounter (NIE) with Cambridge Junction & Tobacco Factory Theatres; Directed by Alex Byrne; Starring: Martin Bonger (The Beast), Sara Lessore (Isabella), Elliot Davis & Samantha Sutherland (Anastasia & Latrice), Ben Tolley (Maurice Le Grange)
You may have taken your children to see Beauty and The Beast before, but this pared-down staging is so enchanting and delightful, it puts other versions to shame. The re-telling of this now famous tale is done with such giddy glee by this engaging, energetic troupe of actors/musicians that children and their parents will be utterly enthralled.
Editor's Note: In addition to this wonderful stage version, introduce your children to Jean Cocteau's fabulous film, La Belle et la Bête (1946), far better than Disney's.

New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St); Until Oct. 20, 2018, For ages 4-7

Nobody does a better job than The New Vic at introducing kids to all types of performances--plays, musicals, circus, etc.--and familiarizing them with different cultures from around the world. Up now is Tinga Tinga Tales, a lively and colorful musical from Kenya. Your kids can sing- and dance-along to upbeat African rhythms as they meet a very friendly bunch of jungle animals--all with great singing voices--who recount some tall, African folk tales. The show is based on the popular books and international cartoon series. If you're a parent with young children, get a family subscription to all The New Vic's amazing shows.

CMX CinéBistro Movie Theatre
400 East 62nd St; www.cmxcinemas.com (Opens in NYC on Oct. 18, 2018)

You've been to the movies before, but not like this! CMX CinéBistro is the newest, coolest concept for movie fans--offering a luxurious dinner-and-a-movie experience--that's perfect for date night or any night. First, the six movie auditoriums range from an intimate 50 to 60 seats like being in your own private projection room. The oversized, reclining seats have foot/leg rests and private tray tables like traveling first-class in an airplane! The look and sound of the films is sharp and crisp. The theater’s tasty menu, designed by chef Isaac Stewart, has everything from a simple salad and sandwich to interesting appetizers such as Duck Machaca to delicious entrées like Shrimp Fried Rice or Pan Seared Salmon, followed by creamy desserts. There's an assortment of fine wines and handcrafted cocktails. And, yes, popcorn and candy. All of these items are brought right to your seat by very friendly and professional servers. This is such a delightful, movie-going experience, you won't want to leave at the end of the film. But, you can head to the lounge for a drink!
The Lowdown: Go to the CMX website, pick & pay for your film and seat selection. Arrive 30 minutes before showtime to order & enjoy the in-theatre dining experience. Here's another great feature: No kids allowed at evening screenings; must be 21+ to get in after 6pm. (Ticket Cost: Daytime, $17; Week Nights, $20; Weekends, $25)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hudson Valley: 10+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in Beacon, New York

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Hudson River from Beacon (photo: JCarnegie)

Art and nature lovers, Beacon, NY--overlooking the magnificent Hudson River--is a great spot for a day trip or weekend get-away. Located in the Hudson Valley's Dutchess County, it's an easy train ride from New York City.


Dia: Beacon (photo: Laura Asaibene)

3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY; Tel: 845 440 0100; www.diaart.org
In a beautifully-renovated, 1920's factory building, the Dia Art Foundation’s minimalist art collection, from the 1960's to the present, takes center stage in wide-open galleries with huge, beautiful windows and skylights. On display are works by such renowned modern artists as Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, and Louise Bourgeois. There are changing exhibitions, gallery talks, and other special events (also a café).

Kunsthalle Beacon (KuBe)

Isaac Aden, Rm 300, KuBe
211 Fishkill Ave; https://bit.ly/2Mr0dxi (Open: Thurs-Sun, 12pm-7pm & 2nd Saturday) - The galerist Ethan Cohen has turned a huge, former high school into a wonderful space to promote art and culture with galleries and studio spaces for local and international artists. There are also occasional lectures, performances, and film screenings.

Second Saturday (https://bit.ly/2MpCkX4) - Each month on the 2nd Saturday, art galleries and shops stay open until 9pm. There are gallery openings, artist receptions, tastings, and other special events. Beacon Open Studios (April) - Check out all the local talent.

Any day of the week, stroll along Main Street to check out the selection of really nice cafés, shops, and galleries
Dining: Try some of Ethan Cohen's favorites: Kitchen Sink (157 Main St; www.kitchensinkny.com) - Creative gourmet food; Meyer's Old Dutch (184 Main St; www.meyersoldedutch.com) - Sophisticated comfort food; Homespun Foods (232 Main St; homespunfoods.com) - Wonderful, organic comfort food, also the café at Dia; Isamu (240 Main St; isamubeaconny.com) - Great Japanese & Chinese food. 
Shopping: Ethan recommends starting at RiverWinds Gallery (172 Main St; www.riverwindsgallery.com) - Featuring the work of Hudson Valley artists: paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, fiber arts, etc. Next, pop into Scarborough Fare for gourmet specialties. Then, stroll leisurely along Main Street to browse in antiques and vintage shops such as Blackbird Attic, Dickinson's Antiques & Vintage:Beacon.
Farmer's Market

Weekend Extras: Beacon gets even livelier on weekends with a Sunday Farmer's Market (on Veterans Place next to the post office) and a Flea Market (April-Nov; behind the post office in the Henry St parking lot).
Festivals: Strawberry Festival (June), Corn Festival (Aug), & Pumpkin Festival (Oct).
Music: Towne Crier Cafe (379 Main St; townecrier.com) - Renowned for presenting American roots, jazz, and world music, plus great food. Quinn's (330 Main St; https://bit.ly/2LdkReL) - Live music & good Japanese food.

The late-great, legendary folk singer, activist, and Beacon resident Pete Seeger, led the charge to clean up the polluted waters of the Hudson River. Here are some ways to enjoy the results. The pier and these riverfront parks are right by Beacon's Metro-North train station:

Clearwater sloop (photo:Anthony Pepitone)
Clearwater (https://bit.ly/1LQFeZY
April thru October) - Go for a sail on the Clearwater sloop or the schooner Mystic Whaler.
Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park (https://bit.ly/2hnZIkc) - Go kayaking, paddleboarding, or rent a bike in this lovely spot.
Pete & Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park - Dare to take a dip in the Hudson (River Pool) or just play volleyball or tennis.

Bannerman’s Castle
Bannerman's Island; Tel: 800/979-3370; www.bannermancastle.org
While in Beacon, explore a picturesque island in the Hudson River. In 1901, Frank Bannerman, a zany Scottish-American munitions dealer, built a quasi-castle and residence for his family on Pollepel Island. Today, thanks to the Bannerman Castle Trust, you can check out the ruins. Pack a picnic and enjoy great views of the Hudson as well as the 20-minute ferry ride there & back. On some Sundays, there's also music. (Reservations required for all tours & special events. The ferry dock for Bannerman's Island is a 5-minute walk from the Beacon train station.) 

Bannerman's (photo: JCarnegie)
Stay: There are a handful of lovely inns and boutique hotels such as The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main St; www.roundhousebeacon.com) - An historic property overlooking a waterfall, plus a nice restaurant with patio dining.
Getting Around: The Beacon Free Loop (https://bit.ly/2Mpm7Rq; Mon-Sat, 6am-9pm) - Free rides from the Beacon train station to popular cultural sites such as Dia:Beacon, Main St., and the Mt Beacon trailhead.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central), take Metro-North (Hudson line) train to Beacon, about an hour and a half. (The museum, ferry dock, riverside parks & Main St. are all in easy walking distance of the train station.)

Monday, August 13, 2018

5 Free Fabulous End-of-Summer Things To Do in New York City

By Jacquelin Carnegie
In August, many cities around the world empty out and all cultural activities come to a halt. But, during the dog days of summer, New York lives up to its reputation as "The City That Never Sleeps." Cool cultural and fun events never stop! Here's a sampling of not-to-be-missed happenings: 

Battery Dance Festival
Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, Battery Park City 
batterydance.org (8/11-18, 2018) 
Battery Dance Fest, Trainor Dance (photo: Steven Pisano)
Every August, this festival gives dance lovers a reason to rejoice. Wonderful international dance companies are showcased in the most beautiful setting in New York City! But, even if you know nothing about dance, it's worth checking out this festival as each night a selection of five dance troupes performs giving you the chance to discover that you're really a dance fan after all. Plus, the Statue of Liberty is in the background!

Summer Concert 
(photo: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera)
All throughout the summer there are wonderful, free outdoor concerts featuring all kinds of music, but this one lasts until September: SummerStage 
(www.summerstage.org; Until Sept. 27, 2018) This music fest has expanded beyond Rumsey Playfield in Central Park to 18 parks in all five boroughs. You'll hear cutting-edge music--everything from Indie to Afrobeat, Latin to Soul, Reggae to Fado, etc.--plus you'll see contemporary dance. All performances are free, except for benefit concerts. For jazz fans, there's the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (8/22-26, 2018). 

Hudson Warehouse’s Shakespeare in Riverside Park
                           In the summertime in New York City, Shakespeare is king! The best-known offering is The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park (until 8/19, 2018) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, but there are also some very-interesting, lesser-known productions such as Shakespeare in the Parking Lot and Hudson Warehouse’s Shakespeare in Riverside Park. Here's a full list.

Have a drive-in experience without a car! Check out all the lovely outdoor locations to watch movies under the stars in the middle of the city from Coney Island Flicks to Rooftop Films. Here's a full list.

Governors Island
New York Harbor, www.govisland.com
Open: May–October; Ferry fee, but free on the weekends before noon.

Governors Island
This glorious getaway, just 5 minutes from Manhattan Island by ferry, was for many years a base for the US Army and Coast Guard. But, the Island has been transformed into an artsy recreational area with lots of interesting events. A wonderful way to get away while staying right in the city.