<![CDATA[NBC New York - The Scene]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 30 May 2015 15:00:37 -0400 Sat, 30 May 2015 15:00:37 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA["On the Town" Star Tony Yazbeck Feels "Lucky To Be Me" ]]> Fri, 29 May 2015 15:42:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/resevoir.jpg

Tony Yazbeck received his first Tony nomination this season for his role as Gabey in the critically-acclaimed revival of “On the Town.” And to celebrate, the Broadway veteran took to the streets of New York City in a new music video to let the city know he feels “Lucky To Be Me.”

The video, directed by Mark Rosenberg and filmed entirely on an iPhone 6, comes a few weeks after it was announced that Yazbeck would take his performance as Gabey on the road, in a 2016-2017 “On the Town” national tour.

Watch the Tony-nominated Tony take on the Bernstein, Comeden and Green classic as he makes his way from the Bronx to the Battery in this new video from the “On the Town” team.



Photo Credit: On the Town
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<![CDATA[Darren Criss to Co-Host Online Tony Red Carpet Special]]> Fri, 29 May 2015 11:20:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/85494883.jpg

Want to see all the celebs and fashion walking the red carpet on Broadway’s biggest night? Well you’re in luck.

For the first time ever, the Tony Awards will present a live red carpet special, hosted by "Glee" alum and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” star Darren Criss and two-time Tony nominee Laura Osnes (“Cinderella”).

The 2 1/2-hour special will air at 5:30 p.m. June 7, simultaneously streaming on TonyAwards.com, Playbill.com, TimeOut.com and CBS.com.

Criss and Osnes will be joined by some of Broadway’s best, including “Star Trek” star George Takei (“Allegiance”), who will serve as the evening’s official fan correspondent. “Rock of Ages” star Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Facebook founder Mark), will join as the evening’s tech/social correspondent.

Playbill Editor-in-Chief Blake Ross will also join as the evening’s theater correspondent. “Project Runway” alum and Tony-nominated costume designer Emilio Sosa (“Porgy and Bess”), who will provide fashion commentary.

The live-stream will also feature behind-the-scenes features showcasing the shows and awards nominated for the awards.



Photo Credit: Mike Coppola | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Jim Parsons in "An Act of God"]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 16:51:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/210*120/ActofGodMain.jpg

From George Burns to Alanis Morissette, pop culture has put many a human face on the Almighty. Now, we can add to that divine directory Jim Parsons, the appealing actor who plays physicist (and, heh, atheist) Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.”

As Parsons insinuates early in “An Act of God,” his latest Broadway outing, it’s a useful TV credit to have on your CV if you’re going to step into God’s shoes (God’s shoes here, incidentally? Pragmatic orange sneakers, contrasting vividly with a white robe).

“An Act of God” is a 90-minute diversion, as often amusing as it is trifling, that has Parsons “inhabited” by the Supreme Being. That puts Parsons-as-God in a position to acknowledge what a genial fellow Parsons-the-actor is: “My depthless profundities will be aided by his offbeat charm.” Given Parsons’s charisma, it’s a buy-in we’ll make.

One-time “Daily Show” honcho David Javerbaum has adapted “An Act of God” from his social media feed and accompanying book. It’s not his first time at Broadway’s rodeo: Javerbaum was also one of the writers of the 2008 blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Broadway musical “Cry Baby.” Parsons’s “Normal Heart” co-star Joe Mantello directs.

Parsons’s God is like Sheldon Cooper after a few double espressos—snide and sarcastic, and now with the power to turn you into a pillar of salt.

The set-up has the actor seated on a white sofa delivering some new-ish commandments: “Thou Shalt Not Tell Others Whom to Fornicate,” and so on. A cheerful, “Family Feud”-style “ding!” cues us as we move down the list. Each is followed by a riff.

If you follow Javerbaum’s Twitter account, you know his deity is a sappy and progressive liberal straight out of central casting. To acknowledge the recent same-sex marriage vote in Ireland, “God” tweeted a photo of a rainbow over Dublin. The material here is uniformly in keeping with that vibe.

Parsons nails the material when it’s fresh (a Holocaust one-liner is the most daring thing in the play) and rises above it when it’s mediocre (a ringing cell phone gag is cringe-worthy, as is a story about “Adam and Steve”).

A bit about the Quran is timely and well-handled ("at the request of the producers, that is the last you’ll be hearing about Islam tonight”). Barbs aimed at audience latecomers and meant to seem spontaneous are written in to the script (“You’re lucky I’m God, and not Patti LuPone”) and are the sort of thing that was done more effectively in “Hedwig.”

God is assisted by two archangels, Gabriel (Tim Kazurinsky, a one-time “SNL” cast member) and Michael (Christopher Fitzgerald, of “Young Frankenstein”). They share a breezy chemistry with their boss, especially poor Fitzgerald, whose curiosity about the mysterious ways in which the Lord works may prove his undoing.

Though there’s no real story, Javerbaum sometimes succeeds in using his pulpit for Big Ideas, particularly the refrain that we’ve been using religion to justify horrors since the beginning of time. I appreciated his explanation of how Noah chose the animals in his ark, with its coda that belief and faith are no excuses for abandoning sound judgment.

The ending is tacked on and hokey, in spite of nifty effects. There was no easy way Javerbaum was going to tidily wrap this holy stand-up routine, and I wish he hadn’t tried. Neither heavenly nor hellish, “An Act of God” is primarily for fans of Jim Parsons. They are justifiably legion, and they will get their share of “bazingas” out of his work here.

“An Act of God,” through Aug. 2 at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St. Tickets: $55-$149. Call Telecharge at 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Merriam-Webster Adds 1,700 Words, Including "Jeggings," "NSFW"]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 06:46:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/27167011.jpg

The Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary has included new words that will have some people saying “WTF.”

The company announced Tuesday it has added 1,700 new terms, many of which are influenced by the internet and social media.

Such entries include meme, NSFW, emoji, clickbait, and photobomb.

Others refer to popular culture, such as jeggings, photobomb, twerk and vocal fry.

For a word to be included, it has to be “used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time,” according to Merriam-Webster. “Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.”

Here are some other new entries:

Net Neutrality (Noun)

Definition: the idea, principle or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source or destination.

Clickbait (Noun)

Definition: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.

Sriracha (Noun)

Definition: a pungent sauce that is made from hot peppers pureed with usually garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar and that is typically used as a condiment.

Slendro (Noun)

Definition: a pentatonic tuning employed for Javanese gamelans that divides the octave into five roughly similar internals.

Dark Money (Noun)

Definition: money contributed to nonprofit organizations that is used to fund political campaigns without disclosure of the donors' identities.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Broadway Season Breaks Records]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 18:00:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Kara+Lindsay+and+Caroline+Bowman+in+WICKED+photo+by+Joan+Marcus+NY0130.jpg

The 2014-2015 Broadway season, which began May 26, 2014 and ended May 24, 2015, broke records, proving to be the highest grossing and best attended Broadway season in history, according to numbers reported by The Broadway League on Tuesday.

Thirty seven productions opened during the 2014-15 season, with total attendance reaching 13,104,078 million -- up 7.3 percent from last season and 13.3 percent from two seasons ago.

To put that in perspective, Broadway attendance topped those of the ten professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined by over 2.6 million attendances.

The 2014-15 season brought in $1,365,232,182 billion in grosses, up 7.6% from last season.

The total number of production weeks for all new and continuing productions also increased, by 8.7%. Now up to 1,626 playing weeks, it made this, as the League called it, “Broadway’s healthiest season”



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Jessica Lange Bringing O’Neill Classic Back to Broadway]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 15:56:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/543864497JA00073_Variety_s_.jpg

Academy and Emmy Award winner Jessica Lange will return to Broadway in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

Previews for the limited engagement production will begin March 31, 2016, with an April 19 opening at the American Airlines Theatre.

Joining Lange in the Jonathan Kent-directed production will be Tony nominee Gabriel Byrne (TV’s “In Treatment”) and Tony winner John Gallagher Jr. (“Spring Awakening”). The three make up the fictional Tyrone family, who reveal a sea of family secrets on an ordinary summer’s day.

It’s Lange second time with the material, after playing the role of Tyrone matriarch Mary in an acclaimed production in London’s West End in 2000.

"Long Day’s Journey Into Night" will be part of Roundabout Theater Company’s 50th season, which also includes Keira Knightley and Clive Owen making their Broadway debuts in two new productions, an Andrea Martin-lead “Noises Off” revival and “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor alongside Tony-winner Laura Benanti in a revival of “She Loves Me.”

Lange’s longtime ‘American Horror Story’ collaborator Ryan Murphy will also co-produce the revival alongside the Roundabout Theater Company.



Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici]]>
<![CDATA["Game of Thrones" Inspires "Yarnbombing"]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 18:20:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Daenerys-Targaryen-yarn.jpg

A "yarnbomber" in the West Village had the proper answer this week for the person who took down her "Game of Thrones"-inspired dragon made of yarn: Daenerys Targaryen.

London Kaye, a street artist who started crocheting when she was 13, festooned a 20-foot fence in front of a lot on 14th Street with a fire-breathing dragon last month.  But someone didn't like her "yarnbombing," a form of guerrilla street art using yarns and fibers that are knit or crocheted in public places for both protest and whimsy, and took down the colorful creation.

First, the dragon was removed. Then, the rest of the flames. For a couple of days, little ribbons were tied onto the fence asking "where's the dragon?"

"This must have been done by someone in the neighborhood," Kaye told NBC 4 New York. "It touched me so much that it inspired my next piece.....I felt like people loved the dragon so much that I wanted to do something more."

Yesterday, London Kaye installed her new creation on that same fence, making a yarn picture of Daenerys Targaryen the so-called "Mother of Dragons" from the HBO hit series. Targaryen, dressed in her queen garb, blonde hair cascading down, is holding a sign echoing the cry of the neighborhood: "Have You Seen My Dragon?"



Photo Credit: Janet Paist]]>
<![CDATA[Tommy Tune Surprises Cast of "It's Only a Play"]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 19:50:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/tommy+tune+micah+stock.JPG

For months, nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune has merely been a reference by the coat check boy in the Broadway show "It's Only a Play" -- until this week, when Tune made an unexpected appearance during the curtain call.

The show stars Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing and Broadway newbie Micah Stock. Stock plays the scene-stealing coat boy at a glittering opening night party who brings up the coats of celebrities we never see: "It's the cast of Rock of Ages!" "It's Lady Gaga!" "Liza."

Then he brings up a fur coat that only a 6-and-a-half-foot tall actor would wear: ""Don’t tell me, let me guess: Tommy Tune’s!”

It was a poignant moment at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre when Tune surprised Stock onstage during the curtain call to celebrate Stock's Tony nomination for featured actor in a play, offering support and encouragement to the actor just beginning his Broadway career.

Tune is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award this year, making it his 10th Tony.

"It's Only a Play" runs through June 7th.

]]>
<![CDATA[Jesse Tyler Ferguson Reuniting With “Spelling Bee” Cast]]> Wed, 20 May 2015 18:28:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/552837207AA00001_The_30th_A.jpg

The original cast members of Broadway’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will reunite to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Tony-winning musical in a benefit concert on Monday, July 6 at Town Hall.

The “Spelling Bee” cast includes “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, three-time Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger (“The Glass Menagerie,” “Peter and the Starcatcher”), “It Shoulda Been You” star Lisa Howard and Dan Fogler, who won a Tony for his role in the 2005 show.

Derrick Baskin, Deborah S. Craig, Jose Llana, Jay Reiss and Sarah Saltzberg make up the rest of the nine-person cast. James Lapine and Darren Katz, the Broadway production’s Director and Resident Director, will direct the benefit concert.

Celebrity guest spellers will also be on hand to try their best at the bee.

“I’m very close with all my former Spelling Bee classmates,” Ferguson told NBC New York at the Lucille Lortel Awards. “We’ll be getting together real soon,” he added, hinting at the reunion.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” tells the tale of a bundle of socially awkward youngsters, as they find joy, heartache and purpose by competing at a regional spelling bee. Based on an original play by The Farm called “C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E,” the musical features a score by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, as well as additional material by Jay Reiss.

“Spelling Bee” first premiered off Broadway, with sold-out runs at the Barrington Stage Company and the Second Stage Theatre. The show opened on Broadway on May 2, 2005, and closed after 1,136 performances on Jan. 20, 2008. It was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

All proceeds from the reunion concert will go on to benefit The Actors Fund’s Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative. The one-night only event is being presented in memory of “Spelling Bee” production stage manager Andrea “Spook” Testani Gordon, who died, following a battle with cancer, on November 30, 2014.

Tickets, priced from $50 to $500 premium seating (which includes an invitation to the private post-performance reception with the cast and creative team), are available at Ticketmaster.com.



Photo Credit: Andrew Toth]]>
<![CDATA[NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” Holding Open Casting Call for Dorothy]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 10:08:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/134870884AS017_THE_WIZARD_O.jpg

NBC is looking for a newcomer to ease on down the yellow brick road in their upcoming production of Charlie Smalls’ “The Wiz,” which will air live on Dec. 3.

The open casting call will be presented by casting agency Telsey & Company at 311 W. 43rd St., 10th floor on June 6, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Sign in begins at 9 a..m.

The role of Dorothy is being described as: “Female, African American, must be 18 years-of-age or older. Must have an extraordinary voice that can still tell a story, and maturity with a youthful energy.”

Auditioners should come with a headshot and resume with full contact information. They should also be prepared to sing a few a cappella bars of “Home,” “Ease on Down the Road” or “Be a Lion” -- all of which appear in “The Wiz.”

Actress Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy when “The Wiz” premiered on Broadway in 1975, has already been cast as Auntie Em.

“The Wiz Live!”, which retells L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all-black cast set in a fantasy version of New York City, will follow in the footsteps of 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and last year’s “Peter Pan Live!”

Like those two productions, “The Wiz Live!” will be produced by Craig Zaden and Neil Meron. But unlike previous years, NBC will transfer its revival of “The Wiz” on Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) will stage both productions, with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein providing additional material to William F. Brown’s original Broadway book.

Cirque du Soleil will co-produce alongside Zaden and Meron, meaning there’s a good chance our residents of the Land of Oz will be performing some high-flying circus acts.



Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["SNL" Alum Ana Gasteyer Joins "A New Brain" ]]> Tue, 19 May 2015 17:38:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/546183527CO00019_Gigi_Broad.jpg

“Saturday night Live” alum Ana Gasteyer will join “Looking” star Jonathan Groff in the Encores! Off-Center production of “A New Brain,” which will play New York City Center from June 24 through June 27.

The musical, which will be directed by James Lapine (“Into the Woods,” “Sunday in the Park with George”), tells the story of a struggling composer (Groff), who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Gasteyer, who has had Broadway runs in “Wicked” and “The Royal Family,” will play his overbearing mother.

They’ll be joined by Dan Fogler, who won a Tony for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” as well as Josh Lamon (“Finding Neverland”) and Aaron Lazar (“The Last Ship”).

“A New Brain” originally opened at the Lincoln Center Theater in 1998, running for 78 performances. The show features music and lyrics by William Finn, and a book by Finn and Lapine.

For tickets and more information, visit www.nycitycenter.org.



Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Home to Nation's Top 3 Burgers: Foursquare]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 11:50:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Gourmet-Burger-Generic.jpg

Thursday is International Burger Day, and New Yorkers looking to celebrate won't have to venture more than a few subway stops for some of the nation's tastiest hamburgers.

A whopping 16 restaurants were listed among the top 50 burger joints in America, according to the social media network Foursquare. Big Apple restaurants claimed each of the top three spots and four out of the top five, according to Foursquare's list. 

Minetta Tavern, the venerable Greenwich Village steakhouse, took the top spot in the rankings. Burger Joint, in midtown, was named the country's second-best burger, while Shake Shack took the third spot.

Several other popular Manhattan burger joints, including Corner Bistro and The Spotted Pig, made the list. DuMont Burger, in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, and Bareburger's location in Queens, were also among the top 50 burgers in the country. 

The rankings listed the top-rated locations for burger chains across the country using Foursquare data.

Restaurants like Shake Shack and Five Napkin Burger were included in the rankings, but only each chain's top-rated location. 

The full list below:

Rank       Burger Joint                                    Location

1              Minetta Tavern                                 NY, NY

2              Burger Joint                                      NY, NY

3              Shake Shack                                    NY, NY

4              Gordon Ramsay BurGR                  Las Vegas, NV

5              J.G.Melon                                         NY, NY

6              Kuma's Corner                                Chicago, IL

7              AJ Bombers                                     Milwaukee, WI

8              5 Napkin Burger                               NY, NY

9              The Spotted Pig                               NY, NY

10            Hopdoddy Burger Bar                      Austin, TX

11            Corner Bistro                                    NY, NY

12            Umami Burger                                  NY, NY

13            The Breslin Bar & Dining Room       NY, NY

14            Father's Office                                 Los Angeles, CA

15            Super Duper Burger                        San Francisco, CA

16            Au Cheval                                        Chicago, IL

17            The Vortex Bar & Grill                      Atlanta, GA

18            DMK Burger Bar                              Chicago, IL

19            Holstein's                                         Las Vegas, NV

20            The Cherry Cricket                          Denver, CO

21            The Pharmacy                                 Nashville, TN

22            Good Stuff Eatery                            Washington D.C.

23            Burger Bar                                       Las Vegas, NV

24            B&B Winepub (Burger & Barrel)      NY, NY

25            Casino El Camino                            Austin, TX

26            Hodad's                                           San Diego, CA

27            Port of Call                                      New Orleans, LA

28            Tasty Burger                                   Boston, MA

29            PYT                                                 Philadelphia, PA

30            Yo Mama's Bar & Grill                     New Orleans, LA

31            P.J. Clarke's                                    NY, NY

32            Bill's Bar & Burger                           NY, NY

33            FLiP Burger Boutique                      Atlanta, GA

34            YEAH! Burger                                  Atlanta, GA

35            In-n-Out Burger                                Hollywood, CA

36            Gott's Roadside                               San Francisco, CA

37            The Apple Pan                                 Los Angeles, CA

38            Burger & Beer Joint (B&B)               Miami Beach, FL

39            Bareburger                                       Astoria, NY

40            Ruby's Cafe                                      NY, NY

41          DuMont Burger                                 Brooklyn, NY

42            Village Whiskey                                Philadelphia, PA

43            Abbey Burger Bistro                         Baltimore, MD

44            Roam Artisan Burgers                      San Francisco, CA

45            The Counter                                     NY, NY

46            Sobelman's Pub & Grill                    Milwaukee, WI

47            Grindhouse Killer Burgers                Atlanta, GA

48            Casper & Runyon's Nook                Saint Paul, MN

49            Burger Bar                                        Chicago, IL

50            Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage           Cambridge, MA

]]>
<![CDATA[Taye Diggs Is Broadway’s Next "Hedwig"]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 17:53:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/524043857AW049_2014_CNN_Her.jpg

Taye Diggs will return to Broadway this summer, starring as the title character in the hit revival of “Hedwig in the Angry Inch.”

He’ll be the sixth actor -- and the first black actor -- to play the role on Broadway since the Tony-winning revival opened in April 2014. Diggs follows lead performances in the role from Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, John Cameron Mitchell and current Hedwig Darren Criss.

Criss will remain with the production through July 19. Diggs will begin his 12-week limited engagement with the production beginning July 22. His last performance will be on October 11..

Earlier this year, Diggs and "Frozen" star Idina Menzel finalized their divorce, after 10 years of marriage. The two famously met in the original 1996 production of “Rent,” in which Diggs originated the role of Benny.

Diggs, who has also appeared in “Chicago” and “Wicked,” made his Broadway debut in the 1994 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel.’ “Hedwig” will be his first New York stage role in 10 years, after the 2005 revival of “A Soldier’s Play” at off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre.

Diggs’ many film and television appearances include “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “The Best Man,” “The Best Man Holiday” and the ABC drama “Private Practice.” This June, Diggs can also be seen in the second season of TNT’s crime drama “Murder in the First.”

Rebecca Naomi Jones (“American Idiot”), who replaced Tony-winner Lena Hall in the role of Yitzhak this April, will remain in the role alongside Diggs.

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which features a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, is playing at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre. Direction comes from Michael Mayer.

For tickets and information, visit hedwigbroadway.com.



Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Pulitzer Winner "The Flick"]]> Mon, 18 May 2015 15:08:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FlickMain.jpg

“The Flick” is long. Peter Jackson long. James Cameron long. Even if three-plus hours doesn’t sound that long, “The Flick” feels long. Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is filled with pauses; sometimes, audiences are asked to watch an actor mop the floors and pick up trash. Also, very little happens.

A handful of patrons at the performance I recently attended abandoned ship after the first act, a phenomenon that also was observed among Playwrights Horizons subscribers when “The Flick” premiered there in 2013. (It’s now enjoying, for want of a better word, a second life at the Barrow Street Theatre.)

Sold? Nah? Well, hold on.

The tediously natural two-act drama, directed by Sam Gold (“Fun Home,” etc.), is aimed squarely at film “appreciators.” Not you, ahem, amateurs who can spout Woody Allen dialogue or quote “Goodfellas.” I’m talking hardcore cinephiles, who can play six-degrees-of-movie-separation between Michael J. Fox and Britney Spears while tossing back stale popcorn.

It also feels like a remarkably genuine depiction of what we often hear tossed around as “the human condition."

Our setting is a decrepit movie theater in central Massachusetts, where three underpaid lost souls coo over one of the last 35-millimeter film projectors in the state. Business is lousy; there hasn’t been a sold-out house since “Slumdog Millionaire.”

We, in the audience, face the theater’s main room, with its chairs that clearly haven’t been reupholstered since “Mannequin” was in its first run (if you have to ask … well, ask these guys). So, with rows of chairs facing ahead at more rows of chairs, we could practically be staring at a mirror image of ourselves.

Sam (Matthew Maher) has a shaved head and a Red Sox cap. This job is as far as he’ll go. Rose (Louisa Krause) is beautiful, but unkempt. She’s the only employee allowed to work the projector. Avery (Aaron Clifton Moten, below, with his co-stars) is the newest hire. He’s African-American, and the most sophisticated cinephile of the group. (All the actors appeared in the original run.)

There are continuing dialogues about Sam’s retarded brother; “dinner money,” which is what the three employees call the cash they skim off of ticket sales to boost their salaries; and Avery’s parents, who are recently separated. There is, as well, background noise about a potential sale of the independent theater to one of the large corporate chains.

All the characters are self-serving, with Rose the worst of the trio. Each is eventually let down by the others. You can smell the funk of hopelessness on all of them … it doesn’t hurt that much of the dialogue is scatological in nature, or involves vomit, or in one case a single, smelly old shoe a patron leaves behind after a screening.

Maher, in particular, gives a beguilingly layered performance -- on the surface, his Sam could be a 30-something-year-old loser who still lives in his parents’ attic, but what claws through is an unabiding peace he seems to have made with his lot in life.

Climatically, Avery pens a letter to the theater’s suitor, urging him to forsake the digital revolution. It will make you think of every plea you’ve ever made to someone who couldn’t give a damn about your feelings. The best thing these guys have going for them? At least every few hours the lights dim, and they’re promised one more hit of escapism from their lives.

“The Flick,” through Aug. 30 at Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St. Tickets: $55-$95. Call 212-868-4444.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: A.R. Gurney's "What I Did Last Summer"]]> Sun, 17 May 2015 21:53:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Summer-Main.jpg

A.R. Gurney’s “What I Did Last Summer” is a good-natured coming of age story set in a Lake Erie vacation colony, just as World War II is drawing to an end. It was first produced in 1981 and is now enjoying a revival at Signature Center, staged as the second play of Gurney’s residency.

Charlie (Noah Galvin) has joined his mom and sister on the Canadian side of the lake. Through a drugstore want ad for a jack-of-all-trades—the boy is eminently unqualified to do anything—Charlie meets Anna Trumbull, a Bohemian artist the condescending locals call “the pig woman,” because her cottage was once a pigsty.

Over a summer, Charlie comes to realize he faces two paths: he can devote himself to being dutiful to the people around him—especially his WASPish mother, Grace (Carolyn McCormick)—or take his cue from Anna (Kristine Nielsen), and focus on realizing his “potential,” a word that hangs over Gurney’s comedic-drama like so much August humidity.

Charlie, a stand-in for Gurney, is played by expressive young actor Noah Galvin, who will be seen soon in the Dan Savage-produced TV sitcom “The Real O’Neals.” Galvin is constantly in motion, swinging his arms, shouting and shuffling his feet (presumably on the instruction of director Jim Simpson of Downtown’s Flea Theater, which often produces Gurney’s works).

The result is that Charlie comes across as a restless and annoying 14-year-old. It’s easy to see how Galvin will be suited to a broad TV comedy, and he’s certainly the center of the action here (that honorific seems up-for-grabs throughout much of “Summer”: “Sometimes, I think this play is about me,” or some variant thereof, is a line dashed off by most every character in the two-acter).

As Anna, Nielsen (a Tony nominee for “Vanya and Sonia …”) is purposefully theatrical about her own eccentricities. It’s easy to imagine how a teen would find Anna a semi-magical presence, even though Anna’s reality is the “saddest” of all the characters populating these shores.

Galvin and Nielsen are both excellent actors, though at times their chemistry feels forced—they’re both so involved with themselves, quirks, tics and all, that I never quite figured out whether each understood the other. Their bond is never fully cemented, and that creates problems for the play’s climax.

I had an easier time with the excellent McCormick (of Will Eno’s “The Open House”), who effectively conveys the isolation of a mother unsure when (or whether) her solider husband is coming home. From her, we get a sense that what an adult says isn’t necessarily what an adult does.

Pico Alexander, Kate McGonigle (with McCormick, above) and Juliet Brett are the other young people in Charlie’s orbit. Brett, as a teenage girl starting to understand the power of her sexuality, seems most to exist in 1945, the way she rearranges her legs and bats her eyelashes.

An on-stage drummer underscores much of the action. Most exchanges take place between characters on a bench or the floor, with stage direction imposed behind them on a screen, a thicket of sometimes indecipherable words and sentences.

I didn’t enjoy “Summer” as much as “The Wayside Motor Inn,” the first production of Gurney’s residency, but the playwright’s rhythmic dialogue is easy to fall into step with. Gurney never tries to convince us that Grace or Anna has the right moves in mind for Charlie—by summer's end, it’s clear everyone’s angle comes with a dark side. Charlie? At least he can grow up and write a play about it all.

“What I Did Last Summer,” through June 7 at Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St. Tickets: 25. Call 212-244-7529.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[New Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s Burger Includes Hot Dog, Chips]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 10:25:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Carl%27s-Jr.jpg

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are cramming a summer cookout into one burger.

The upcoming menu item is made with a beef patty that is topped with a split hot dog. The meaty duo sits on a layer of Lay’s potato chips between hamburger buns. Ketchup, mustard, tomato, red onion, pickles and American cheese will be thrown in, too. The burger will have 1,030 calories and 64 grams of fat.

“The hot dog is like a smoked meat product, so it’s not unlike bacon,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of CKE Restaurants, the owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Fast food chains have been trying to outdo each other with outrageous menu items to stand out. Wendy’s, for example, offered a cheeseburger topped with pulled pork last year.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are calling their new burger the "Most American Thickburger." It goes on sale at both locations on May 20.

“We’ve had this idea, believe it or not, for a long time,” Haley said.

The Most American Thickburger will use kettle-cooked Lay’s chips, which are thicker than regular chips, to prevent them from getting soggy.

The burger will cost $5.79 alone or $8.29 for a combo, which comes with fries and a drink.

CKE Restaurants has experimented with meat-on-meat burgers before. It previously sold a burger topped with pastrami at Carl’s Jr., and sold a burger smothered with thinly sliced steak, called the Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger, at Hardee’s.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Expand All-Day Breakfast Test]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 19:54:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MCDonalds-Breakfast-SanDiego.jpg

McDonald’s will reportedly expand its test of an all-day breakfast menu.

The breakfast test will expand to Nashville this summer, the company announced during a webcast with franchisees, the Wall Street Journal reports. They also revealed plans to shorten drive-through menus and release new, mid-priced menu options.

McDonald’s had been testing the all-day breakfast option at select restaurants in its San Diego market, the company confirmed to NBCChicago in March

"We know our customers love McDonald’s breakfast and they tell us they’d like to enjoy it beyond the morning hours," the company said in an earlier statement. "We look forward to learning from this test, and it’s premature to speculate on any outcomes. We’re excited to serve our customers in this area some of McDonald’s great-tasting breakfast sandwiches, hash browns and other favorites all day long."

McDonald’s breakfast currently ends at 10:30 a.m. in most markets.

The reported move comes as CEO Steve Easterbrook revealed plans to turnaround the fast food chain’s struggling business. It also comes as the company works to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

McDonald's has long been the fast-food leader in the mornings, with its popular Sausage Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items pulling in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales. But the chain has faced stiffer competition in recent years, with competitors such as Starbucks and Subway rolling out breakfast sandwiches as well.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has also said it plans to step up its marketing of breakfast as it faces intensifying competition.

As for extending its breakfast hours, the world's largest hamburger chain is known for treading extremely carefully when discussing any tests or potential changes. Such matters are considered sensitive in large part because they would require the support of the company's network of franchisees.

McDonald's did not immediately return NBCChicago's request for comment. 
 

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<![CDATA[Stephanie Mills Will Play Auntie Em in NBC’s “The Wiz Live!”]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 12:39:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/81016456NB015_Victoria_Rowe.jpg

Actress Stephanie Mills has been cast as Auntie Em in NBC’s “The Wiz Live!,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said during Monday’s NBC upfronts.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Mills, who played Dorothy when “The Wiz” premiered on Broadway in 1975.

Casting has just begun for “The Wiz”, which retells L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all-black cast set in a fantasy version of New York City.

Greenblatt said they plan to seek "new talent" for the role of Dorothy. 

The musical will air on NBC on Dec. 3 -- following in the footsteps of 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and last year’s “Peter Pan Live!”

Like those two productions, “The Wiz Live!” will be produced by Craig Zaden and Neil Meron. But unlike previous years, NBC will transfer its revival of “The Wiz” to Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) will stage both productions, with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein providing additional material to William F. Brown’s original Broadway book.

Cirque du Soleil will co-produce alongside Zaden and Meron, meaning there’s a good chance our residents of the Land of Oz will be performing some high-flying circus acts.

With music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, “The Wiz” features some of Broadway’s most iconic songs, including “Ease on Down the Road,” “Home” and “Brand New Day.” The hit 1978 film version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson as Dorothy and the Scarecrow, respectively.



Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[“Hamilton” Sweeps at Lucille Lortel Awards]]> Mon, 11 May 2015 09:27:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/553378667CO00046_The_30th_A.jpg

“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed musical about our nation’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, picked up a record-breaking ten honors out of ten nominations Sunday night at the 30th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, which recognizes the best off-Broadway works.

Among the awards The Public Theater’s “Hamilton” received was an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical prize for Miranda, statues for lead actress Phillipa Soo, featured actress Renée Elise Goldsberry, featured actor Daveed Diggs and the night’s top honor, Outstanding Musical.

Miranda, while accepting the Outstanding Musical prize, rapped his speech, giving praise to The Public’s founder Joseph Papp and the legacy of shows produced at the famed venue before “Hamilton.”

“Joe Papp rewrote the road map,” Miranda rapped. “He burst in with Bernie Gersten / He first introduced Shakespeare to a city already thirstin’ for more / ‘Give us some more of what we’ve never seen before’ / said the sounds of New York to a downtown score / ‘Let the sun shine in’ / “Got I hope I get it” / Where Stew passed strange / Where Savion Glover hit it / From Hamlish to Swados to the queen Tesori / We are thrilled to be part of The Public’s story.”

“Between Riverside and Crazy,” which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, was named Outstanding Play. Lead actor Stephen McKinley Henderson (pictured above) and featured actress Liza Colón-Zayas were also awarded prizes for their work in Stephen Adly Guirgis' dark comedy.

The Fiasco Theatre’s stripped-down revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods” was named Outstanding Revival. Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, in association with McCarter Theatre Center, the inventive production featured just 10 actors and one major set piece -- a piano.

Jennifer Mudge, who was nominated for her leading role as the Witch in “In the Woods,” admitted to NBC 4 New York on the red carpet that she still hadn’t seen Rob Marshall’s hit 2014 film version. “I did it before Meryl [Streep], so I didn’t want to watch it while I was doing it because I thought I might be influenced,” she said. “I did have Bernadette [Peters] in my head, though, because I grew up watching her!”

Tonya Pinkins picked up her third Lortel Award, for her role in The New Group’s “Rasheeda Speaking.” The drama, directed by Cynthia Nixon, was filmed by WNET, Pinkins told NBC 4 New York, and it will be broadcasted for the local PBS stations four times.

“The off-Broadway community is really where the best work happens,” Pinkins also told us. “Broadway is really committed to commercialism and capitalism. off-Broadway people do really challenging work, they do it for very little money, and I see the most exciting things ever off-Broadway.”

In addition to “Hamilton,” two other shows produced by The Public Theater received honors: Cush Jumbo’s “Josephine and I” (Outstanding Solo Show) and “Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” (Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, for Jacob Ming-Trent).

New York Theater Workshop's “Scenes From a Marriage” was also celebrated, for Jan Versweyveld’s scenic design.

“Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who can be seen in The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “The Tempest” this summer, and “Veep” star Anna Chlumsky, who did double duty this season on Broadway in “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Living on Love,” hosted the evening (pictured above), from NYU’s Skirball Center.

“My favorite artistic experiences have been off-Broadway,” Ferguson told NBC New York. “We’re always looking towards Broadway and the Tonys. But it happens here first. There’s so much stuff off-Broadway that needs to be paid attention to.”

The show opened with a tribute performance to the off-Broadway smash “Nunsense,” which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The Lortel Awards named playwright Terrence McNally (“The Visit,” “It’s Only a Play”) the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award, and general manager Nagel Gibbs (“Wicked”) the recipient of the Edith Oliver Service to off-Broadway Award.

“Fun Home” composer Jeanine Tesori became the first female composer to be inducted into the famed Playwrights’ Sidewalk.

For more information on the winners, visit www.lortelaward.com



Photo Credit: Andrew Toth | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New York City Center's 2016 Encores! Season Features Rare Sondheim Musical]]> Sun, 10 May 2015 14:09:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/517159235ZD013_The_New_York.jpg

There’s good news for audiences hungry for another musical about the founding fathers after seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.”

“1776,” Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s classic musical about the early days of the Continental Congress, will return to the the Big Apple, as part of New York City Center’s 2016 Encores! season.

The Tony-winning show, which opened on Broadway in 1969 and was turned into a 1972 film, will run March 30 through April 3, 2016.

“We felt it would be an especially enjoyable moment to look at this wonderful show,” said Encores! artistic director Jack Viertel. “It may also start a few conversations, which, in the theater, we always hope to do.”

“1776” will be the second show of the 2016 Encores! season. The 1940 musical “Cabin in the Sky” will kick off the season, running from Feb. 10 through Feb. 14, 2016. Featuring music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by John La Touche and a book by Lynn Root, the musical, which tells a fable-like tale of a battle between good and evil, is known for celebrating the African American experience in music and dance.

One of Stephen Sondheim’s first musicals, “Do I Hear a Waltz?,” will close out the Encores! season. The only collaboration between Sondheim (lyrics), and Richard Rodgers (music), has not bee seen on a large New York stage since its original Broadway run in 1965.

Based on the Arthur Laurents play “The Time of the Cuckoo,” “Do I Hear a Waltz?” follows an American woman who finds love on a trip to Venice. It will run at City Center from May 11 through May 15, 2016.

Subscriptions to New York City Center’s Encores! program go on sale July 17. Individual tickets go on sale to the general public Oct. 5. Visit www.NYCityCenter.org for more information.



Photo Credit: Thos Robinson | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[“Flash” Star Carlos Valdes Sings in “Zorba!”]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 13:32:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/524892013JB005_Special_Scre.jpg

Carlos Valdes is known to many as the loveable Cisco Ramon on The CW’s hit series “The Flash.” But before Valdes played the nerdy fanboy sidekick to the speedster superhero, he honed his acting skills right here on Broadway.

That’s right, Valdes is a musical theater kid at heart -- something he shares in common with “Flash” star Grant Gustin (“Glee”) and Jesse L. Martin (“Rent”). “Jesse and Grant are always tap dancing [on set],” Valdes explains. “I find myself tap dancing a lot, and don’t even notice it! We do all sorts of singing and impressions to keep ourselves entertained.”

While we might not get to see that side of Valdes on “The Flash” anytime soon, fans can see Valdes in a musical this weekend. He stars alongside “Transformers” actor John Turturro and “Frozen” baddie Santino Fontana in New York City Center Encores! production of Kander & Ebb’s 1968 musical “Zorba!”

We chatted with Valdes about “Zorba!,” “The Flash” and his time on the Great White Way.

NBC4NY: I was surprised to learn about your theater background. I’m embarrassed because I completely missed your Broadway debut in “Once.”
CARLOS VALDES: “Once” worked out pretty perfectly for me. I’m a multi-instrumentalist -- I play bass, guitar, piano, some percussion, ukelele -- in addition to being a singer. But when I first saw “Once” at New York Theater Workshop before it went to Broadway, it was kind of a bummer for me. I was so moved by the show, and I was like “I would love to be a part of this. It’s just a shame there are no parts for brown people in the show!” So I initially resigned myself to that. But eventually the replacement casting call came out, and they saw what I had to offer, and it all worked out. That show changed my life.

NBC4NY: How so?
VALDES: Having gone to school for musical theater, Broadway tends to play as a pinnacle of your training and educational experience. It was crazy to be reaching that point so early on in my life. I sort of expected a longer trajectory. It was surreal in that sense. There’s such a great sense of community when doing theater in NY, and that’s the part I really miss about it.

NBC4NY: Is that what drew you to “Zorba!”?
VALDES: Yes. I’ve always wanted to work with Encores! Their whole model is based on taking these obscure scores and giving them the treatment they deserve, with a full orchestra. And I’ve always been attracted to Kander & Ebb’s body of work. So I thought this would be pretty ideal.

NBC4NY: Was John Kander involved in the rehearsal process at all?
VALDES: The first time we got to listen to our amazing 30-piece orchestra play the score, John Kander was there, modifying the arrangements. It was really funny having him there. We were watching him have these real-time reactions to music he hadn’t really been a part of for years. There were times that he actually remarked about not even remembering he wrote that song! So it was very interesting to be a part of John Kander’s memory process.

NBC4NY: Did he give you any insight into the character?
VALDES: He asked in the middle of the day, “Who’s the one who plays the kid who dies?” and I was like “That’s me! That’s me!” We talked a little bit about the character. It was a very amazing experience to be able to shake his hand and be there with him as we take on this show.

NBC4NY: You were born in Colombia. Were you able to make any cultural connections to the Greek world of “Zorba!”?
VALDES: Every culture has their own things that make it distinct and rich in its own unique history. But underneath it all, every culture shares the importance of family and community and belonging. My character, unfortunately, suffers from a lack of that. His father and his uncle are terribly ashamed of him. When he loses touch with his family -- loses the most important thing in his culture -- the only thing he has is this obsession with this widow that he can’t explain. And when that falters, he has nothing left.

NBC4NY: “The Flash” has been a total breakout smash hit. What's that ride been like?
VALDES: It’s been very similar in many ways to the “Once” experience -- it’s totally rocked my world, and allowed me to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. And that’s always a humbling and educational experience. One of the most amazing things has been seeing and interacting with the people who are directly touched by this show and love it so much. The fans are so supportive and positive and faithful. It’s so nice to see them celebrate the things we do.

“Zorba!,” through May 10 at New York City Center, 130 West 56th Street. Tickets: $30-$130. Call (212) 581-1212 or visit NYCityCenter.org.



Photo Credit: Joshua Blanchard | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Alfie Boe Returning to “Les Misérables” ]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 13:33:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/2.173376.jpg

Actor and singer Alfie Boe, who received a special Tony Award in 2003 for his performance in Baz Luhrmann’s “La Boheme,” will return to the Great White Way this September, playing Jean Valjean in Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s “Les Misérables.”

This isn’t Boe’s first time as Prisoner 24601. He played Valjean in the “Les Miserables” 25th Anniversary Concert at London’s O2 Arena in 2010, and also played the role in the West End production of the show.

Boe replaces Ramin Karimloo, who received a Tony nomination for his take on Valjean in the reimagined Broadway production. Karimloo’s final performance will be Aug. 30. Roe begins performances Sept. 1.

While somewhat unknown to U.S. audiences, Boe is a very successful recording artist in the U.K., with eight albums under his belt. He recently appeared on-screen in PBS’ “Mr. Selfridge.”

Directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor, “Les Misérables” is playing at the Imperial Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit LesMiz.com/Broadway.



Photo Credit: Matt Crockett]]>
<![CDATA[Mother's Day DIY Gift Ideas]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 16:29:32 -0400 A Pumpkin and a Princess has an easy-to-follow guide on how to make Lavender Chamomile Tea Soaps.]]> A Pumpkin and a Princess has an easy-to-follow guide on how to make Lavender Chamomile Tea Soaps.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIY-Lavender-Chamomile-Tea-Soap1.jpg Your mom will appreciate these creative, easy-to-make gifts.

Photo Credit: A Pumpkin and a Princess]]>
<![CDATA[Fast-Food Cinco de Mayo: Free Biscuit Tacos, DIY Guac]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 07:45:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/biscuit-taco-bell.jpg

Free breakfast tacos and a coveted guacamole recipe could bode for a festive Cinco de Mayo.

Taco Bell is giving away free biscuit tacos from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday in honor of the holiday celebrating Mexican cultural pride.

They'll give one sausage or bacon biscuit taco to each person between those hours, as the fast-food chain tries to boost its new breakfast menu.

But if it's something closer to authentic Mexican you're craving, and if you want to get DIY about making it, Chipotle has you covered.

The chain has shared its recipe for its beloved guacamole, adapted for normal home cooks. What you'll need: avocados, a lime, some cilantro, a red onion, a jalapeno and some salt — that's it.

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<![CDATA[Cinco de Mayo: 10 Authentic Mexican Spots Across U.S.]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 19:06:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/472092370_Dancers.jpg

If you live in a major city, chances are you can find a little taste of Mexico for Cinco de Mayo this year, whether you're looking for tampiqueña, mariachi music, or cultural murals. Here are a few of the most authentic Mexican corners across the country.

1. Chicago’s Pilsen Neighborhood: Known for its Mexican cultural murals, musical history and religious imagery, the Pilsen neighborhood is located in the southwest corner of Chicago. If you are looking for a place to spend time wit the family over some amazing Mexican food, this is the place.

2. New York’s Spanish Harlem: There’s a thriving Puerto Rican community inside Manhattan’s 103rd street to the south and Lexington Avenue to the west, where you’ll find street art, small eateries, ethnic stores and holistic shops. In the last few years, a strong Mexican presence has been taking hold in the neighborhood as well.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth's El Ranchito Restaurant: One of the most emblematic Mexican restaurants in the DFW area is El Ranchito. If you want to enjoy a mouthwatering Tampico club style steak (known as a tampiqueña), green enchiladas, or a variety of Mexican style grilled meats (parillada), you’ll want to go here. You can also enjoy some handmade tortillas. Don’t be surprised to see mariachis playing here.

4. San Antonio’s Alamo Street: Alamo Street, which runs between Hemisfair Plaza to the convention center, is one of San Antonio’s most touristy spots in the center of the city. Here, you’ll find authentic Mexican stores, restaurants and bars.

5. San Antonio’s Market Square: This market is in a commercial area that represents Mexican culture. From Alameda Museum to the Pico de Gallo restaurant, Market Square offers a little piece of Mexico.

6. Talavera Restaurant: Talavera Restaurant is one of the most representative restaurants of Mexican cuisine in the Miami area, decorated with large vases made in the traditional Puebla ceramic style that were popular during colonial times. Here, you can find traditional and modern interpretations of Mexican food, plus dishes from different regions of Mexico.

7. Houston Casa Ramírez: At this Mexican artisanal store in Houston, you’ll find regional folklore pieces, from Mexican-style skulls to religious candles. Every season is on display here, including elaborate altars for the Day of the Dead and piñatas for Christmas.

8. Old Town San Diego: Old Town is an area that seems to have been stuck in time when San Diego was still a part of Mexico. You’ll find details from a different period, with dirt roads and people dressed in the style of that era. The historic park and the surrounding areas are very popular with tourists because of its Mexican restaurants.

9. Plaza del Mariachi: Located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA is Plaza del Mariachi, the equivalent of Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. Since the 1930s, mariachis would congregate on this corner to offer their services to whoever needed them, a well-known tradition in Plaza Garibaldi. Today, you’ll only find mariachis on weekend.

10. Placita Olvera: Situated right in the heart of LA and known as the birthplace of the city is La Placita Olvera, which was made in the style of the plazuelas of Sonora. Within Olvera Street there are 27 historic buildings. In 1930s the street was closed and converted into an outdoor market. Today, the plaza is used by the city and the Hispanic community for celebrations, musical events and dancing, including Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Where will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?



Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[What's Behind the Kentucky Derby's Trademark Hats?]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 08:48:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kd488034839.jpg

The Kentucky Derby may be the greatest two minutes in sports, but at Churchill Downs on Saturday, the competition parading in the stands could give the thoroughbreds a run for their money.

From towering hat designs festooned with ribbons to delicate fascinators, the modern taste for the Derby's trademark accessory has spawned contests at parties, and given business a boost for milliners.

Although the annual battle for the Derby's most eye-catching hat has taken on a life of its own in recent decades, the tradition of wearing one to the race traces back to day one, says Kentucky Derby Museum curator Chris Goodlett.

When Meriweather Lewis Clark Jr., the grandson of legendary explorer William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, founded the Kentucky Derby, he wanted to bring elegance and class to American horse racing, inspired by the grand races of London and Paris.

Defying social norms that excluded women from places men were gambling, he marketed his race to the fashionable upper crust. That meant women appeared front and center at the races, dressed in stylish clothes, shoes and — the centerpiece of the wardrobe — a dashing hat.

"The presence of ladies in the grandstand added great splendor to the racing scene," Goodlett said. "News articles in 1875 make reference to the dress of the ladies, with specific mention of hats."

Eventually, in the 1960s, women began wearing larger and more extravagant hats, the better to be seen in the stands on television. What began as an elite custom morphed into a grand show of symbolic reverence, as the Derby played host to some of the most diverse displays of head wear worldwide.

Today, the annual Run for the Roses can be the backbone of many milliners', or women's hatmakers, shops every year, with business booming in the April run-up to the big event. 

"When I first opened the boutique, I made one or two hats for the Derby," said milliner Linda Pagan, who owns The Hat Shop in New York and has been creating one-of-a-kind Derby hats for close to 20 years. "Now, it is the biggest month of our year."

The process of custom-making a hat is labor-intensive, and a Derby hat can take weeks to create. Many of Pagan’s clients start shopping for the perfect Derby hat as early as January, especially those who plan on wearing a grandiose wide-brim headpiece.

Celebrating the Derby in style doesn't have to mean an enormous hat, though. There's also the fascinator, a sort of cross between a miniature hat and a hair accessory, embellished with feathers, flowers, beads or lace and perched on the side of a woman's head, in a style that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has made unmistakable.

Philip Treacy, the famed Irish milliner who designed 36 hats for the royal wedding (including the infamous "Teletubby" one) and almost single-handedly revived the fascinator, has pronounced the style dead, to his delight, but it still has its fans at races stateside. The Louisville Courier-Journal's fashion editor Christine Fellingham estimates that a third of Derby-goers now wear fascinators.

They're stylish, sure, but Pagan points out that they're also easy to wear, and transport.

"Once upon a time, airlines use to have special sections on-board for storing hat boxes," Pagan notes. Now, due to ever-tougher luggage restrictions, "wild horse" shoppers who wait until the last stretch to score a hat may have to settle for a humble cocktail hat or fascinator.

That modern-day practical consideration could keep fascinators a popular choice for the Derby's hat-donning ladies, just as wide-brimmed hats once were for Derby-goers hoping not to burn their fair skin in the blazing sun of the grandstands.

Whatever hat a Derby fan chooses — whether it's off the rack or custom-made, awe-inspiringly elegant or gruesomely garish — Pagan says there's a key to finding the perfect one: "Confidence."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Living on Love" Sets Early Closing ]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 16:40:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3561.jpg

“Living on Love,” the new comedy starring opera soprano Renée Fleming, will play its final performance Sunday, May 3 at the Longacre Theatre.

At the time of its closing, it will have played just 21 previews and 16 regular performances, having only opened April 20.

The play, written by Joe DiPietro and based on Garson Kanin’s “Peccadillo,” was snubbed in Tuesday’s 2015 Tony nominations. According to numbers reported by The Broadway League, the production only brought in $170,833 last week -- a mere 16 percent of its $957,048 gross potential.

Douglas Sills stars alongside Fleming’s soprano, playing her hothead, womanizing maestro husband. The two get into a competition to see who can complete their respective memoirs first, with Jerry O’Connell and “Veep” star Anna Chlumsky playing their frustrated ghostwriters.

Kathleen Marshall, who worked with Joe DiPietro a few seasons back on “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” directs.

Customers who purchased tickets to “Living on Love” after May 3 can contact their point of purchase for exchanges and refunds.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Don't Skimp on Mint: How to Throw a Derby Party ]]> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:51:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/181162826_MintJulep.jpg

Can't make it to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby this year? You can still join in the fun by throwing your own Derby party, with the help of hats, bourbon and a lot of mint.

Here are some tips — courtesy of a veteran hostess and a professional party planner — on tapping into the Derby's Southern tradition to thrill guests at your own Derby bash.

Mint juleps are just the beginning.

Southern-inspired fare can help give your soiree an authentic Kentucky Derby feel. Louisiana crawfish and beet salad, sweet potato hash and bourbon-glazed short ribs are just a few of the recipes shared on the Derby's official website.

And of course, mint juleps are a must-serve drink. Marion Rogers, 96, who hosted Kentucky Derby parties for 30 years in her St. James, New York, home, served each of her parties' roughly two dozen guests mint julep in one of the official Kentucky Derby glasses she had collected over the years.

Party planners Seri Kertzner and Michelle Bachman, who together style parties in New York and the Hamptons with Little Miss Party Planner, suggest doubling down on the mint theme by serving crudites out of mint julep cups.

Dress up your home, and your head.

The mint need not end with the juleps. You might as well use them as your decor, too, to save on costs, suggests Kertzner.

“Instead of buying flowers, decorate your home with mint. It will look pretty and smell pretty,” she said.

But maybe the most important decor for any Derby party takes place on everybody's heads, with the Derby's trademark whimsical hats.

That could make an outdoor party especially welcome, at least while you're not gathered inside to watch the race itself on TV. If you go that route, try bringing a portable radio outside so people can listen to the race, in a throwback to Derby races of yore.

“Ladies can put their hats to good use while enjoying the sun and warm air,” Kerzner said.

Get competitive, and loud.

You can bring some of the competition set to happen on the track in Louisville into your own home with Derby-inspired party games. Give your guests a reason to watch the race with your own betting pool — no knowledge of horse racing required!

Ask each guest to bring a small entry fee and to draw a slip of paper with a horse and its odds of winning. Whoever has the the horse that takes the prize gets to take home all the money in the bag. At Marion's parties, where guests would bring $2 each, the winnings would be about $40.

If your guests prefer style over the sport, tell them to come dressed to impress, and host a "best hat" contest. The tradition of wearing fashion-forward hats to the Derby is thought to bring good luck, according to race organizers.

Flowers, feathers and bows are staples of the often oversize headpieces, which can range from classy to wild. Kerzner suggests picking up figurine horses from a craft store and spray-painting them gold, then using them as trophies in categories like best or biggest hat.

And whether your guests are cheering for horses or for hats, be prepared for them to make some noise. It's tradition that everyone stands to sing "My Old Kentucky Home" as the horses make their way to the track. Once the race begins, expect spirited cheering to break out.

"People would hollar and scream during the race," Marion Rogers' daughter, also named Marion, recalled of her mother's decades of parties, "but at least one person could hear who won."



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[30 Hollywood Actors Snubbed for 2015 Tony Nominations]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 12:07:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/JakeGyllenhaalJoanMarcus.jpg These A-listers may have starred on the Great White Way, but they were nowhere to be found on Tony nominations day.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[2015 Tony Nominations Announced, Hollywood's Elite Snubbed ]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 16:53:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Fun_Home_4159-_Judy_Kuhn__Sydney_Lucas_-_Photo_Credit_Jenny_Anderson.jpg

Fun Home,” the biographical musical about the life of graphic artist Alison Bechdel, and “An American in Paris,” the stage adaptation of the 1951 MGM musical, each earned 12 Tony nominations Tuesday morning, including honors for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.

Close behind with 10 nominations was “Something Rotten,” the musical comedy about the (fictional) creation of the world’s first musical. It’ll also compete for the coveted Best Musical title, alongside “The Visit” -- the last musical from the celebrated songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb (“Chicago,” “Cabaret”).

The musical adaption of “Finding Neverland,” from first-time Broadway producer Harvey Weinstein, was completely shut out of the race -- a first for Weinstein, whose films usually dominate awards season. Several other new musicals that received positive reviews, including the David Hyde Pierce-directed “It Shoulda Been You” and Jason Robert Brown’s “Honeymoon in Vegas,” were also ignored.

The Tony nominating committee also chose to keep the category of Best Revival of a Musical to only three nominees: “The King and I,” “On the Town” and “On the 20th Century.” The Vanessa Hudgens-led “Gigi” and critically-acclaimed “Side Show” revival were left in the dark.

Four new works earned nominations for Best Play: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” (click for behind-the-scenes look) “Hand to God,” “Wolf Hall: Parts One and Two” and “Disgraced” -- the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama.

Four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper received his first Tony nomination for “The Elephant Man.” His co-stars in “The Elephant Man,” Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola, were also nominated for acting awards, in the featured category.

“The Elephant Man” itself picked up a nomination for Best Revival of a Play. It’ll compete against “Skylight” and two other revivals that, like “The Elephant Man,” are no longer running on Broadway: “This Is Our Youth” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Film stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, who lead the “Skylight” revival, both nabbed leading acting nominations for their respective roles. Nighy will go up against Cooper, Steven Boyer (“Hand to God”), Ben Miles (“Wolf Hall Parts One & Two”) and Alex Sharp (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”)

Mulligan’s nomination comes in a category crowded with Hollywood A-listers, including Oscar-winner Helen Mirren (“The Audience”), Golden Globe-winner Ruth Wilson (“Constellations”) and Golden Globe-winner Elisabeth Moss (“The Heidi Chronicles”). Broadway newcomer Geneva Carr (“Hand to God”) joins them.

Kelli O’Hara, who has never won a Tony, received her sixth nomination for acting, this time for Lincoln Center’s acclaimed revival of “The King and I.” She’ll compete in the best leading actress in a musical category alongside this year’s Tony host Kristin Chenoweth (“On the 20th Century”), Royal Ballet School alumna Leanne Cope (“An American in Paris”) and Broadway veteran Chita Rivera (“The Visit”).

All three of the actresses who portray Alison Bechdel in “Fun Home” -- Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas and Emily Seggs -- were nominated for separate acting awards. Malone will compete in the leading actress category with O’Hara and company, while Lucas and Seggs will compete (alongside “Fun Home” matriarch Judy Kuhn) in featured.

The patriarch of the “Fun Home” family -- Michael Cerveris -- also received a nomination, for leading actor in a musical. He’ll duke it out with Robert Fairchild (“An American in Paris”), Brian d’Arcy James (“Something Rotten!”), Tony Yazbeck (“On the Town”) and Oscar-nominee Ken Watanabe (“The King and I”).

Winners of the 2015 Tony Awards will be announced Sunday, June 7, in a ceremony airing on CBS. To read a full list of nominees, head to www.tonyawards.com.

Be sure to visit NBC 4 New York's In the Wings section for more Broadway reviews and behind-the-scenes looks, including Martin Short's return to the stage in "It's Only a Play."



Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson]]>
<![CDATA[Cumming, Chenoweth to Host 2015 Tony Awards]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:28:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TonyHosts2015.jpg

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth will co-host the 2015 Tony Awards, which will air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7 at 8pm.

Cumming, who stars on CBS' "The Good Wife," hosts the Awards having completed his celebrated return to Broadway as the Emcee in the Roundabout's remounting of "Cabaret" -- a role which won him a Tony in 1998.

Chenoweth is currently starring on Broadway in the Roundabout's revival of "On the 20th Century" -- a role which earned her a Tony nomination this year.

She previously won the award in 1999 for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

The Tony Awards will be presented from Radio City Music Hall. 



Photo Credit: Bryan Bedder | Pascal Le Segretain | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Did Jimmy Fallon Steal Fran Lebowitz's Apartment?]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 08:59:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Fallon+Fran+Lebowitz.JPG Fran Lebowitz confronts Jimmy Fallon about him making an offer on an apartment she really wanted and stealing her name for his baby.

Photo Credit: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[How to Make a Mint Julep, Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 12:08:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/how-to-make-mint-julep-final.jpg

Each year, over the course of one spring weekend in May, nearly 120,000 mint juleps are sipped, slurped and supped at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky. It’s been that way for nearly a century, since the julep became the event's official drink, thanks to the influence of Colonel Matt J. Winn, according to the Churchill Downs website

Winn, who grew up watching the derby from a seat in his father’s grocery wagon, became the track’s vice president in 1902. When he took that role, Churchill Downs had been facing some financial troubles. Winn is credited with coming up with a number of now-famous derby traditions, including the garlands of flowers worn around winners’ necks, playing the song "My Old Kentucky Home," and the mint julep glasses, which Winn designed.

Watch the video above to learn how to make the drink at home.

]]>
<![CDATA[National Zoo Wants You to See This Panda Inseminated]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 14:28:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/national-zoo-460948863.jpg

It's time for another round of "Is she or isn't she?"

The National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang, has been artificially inseminated twice in the past two days, in hopes of bringing another beyond-adorable cub into the world.

And the pandas, or perhaps their zookeepers, really, really want us to know about it.

Since if it didn't happen on social media, it didn't really happen, the zoo livestreamed portions of the first insemination procedure on Twitter and live-posted to Instagram using the hashtag #pandastory. (At least one other attempt in recent years was live-tweeted.)

A little background: Mei Xiang's cub Bao Bao will celebrate her second birthday this year. Scientists skipped out on conception attempts last year as Mei Xiang was still attentively mothering her wee one.

Now, though, it's time to try again. Mei was inseminated Sunday evening and again around 7:30 a.m. Monday after daily hormone reports showed that her progesterone levels peaked Sunday morning, the National Zoo said. An earlier Instagram video also showed Mei Xiang bleating at male giant panda Tian Tian through a fence, another sign that she was almost ready. (Our advice to you: If you watch the video on headphones, make sure your volume is NOT turned all the way up.)

Mei Xiang was put under general anesthesia for the insemination procedures, which took about an hour.

Scientists used semen from two giant pandas: Tian Tian, the National Zoo's resident male panda, who is the father of Mei Xiang's previous cubs, and also from Hui Hui, a giant panda living at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China.

The zoo said Hui Hui was determined to be one of the best genetic matches for Mei Xiang.

If a new cub is born, scientists will use a DNA test to determine which male panda is the father.

Scientists also used semen from two different pandas back when Mei Xiang became pregnant with Bao Bao and her stillborn twin in 2013. After their delivery, tests determined that Tian Tian was the father of both cubs.

Mei Xiang also gave birth to a female cub in 2012, but the cub died after a week.

Mei's only other surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born at the National Zoo in 2005. But they grow up so fast these days, and he was sent to live in China in early 2010.

Panda pregnancies, on average, take three to six months, and pandas really know how to keep the suspense going -- there's often no way to tell a little one is on the way until they're born.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Broadway Play "The Fantasticks" Offered a Lifeline]]> Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:52:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FantITW.jpg

The off-Broadway phenomenon "The Fantasticks" won't be closing next month after all — thanks to a pair of fantastic fans.

Producer Catherine Russell said Saturday that two donors have stepped up and pledged to keep the stalwart, low-tech show open. Plans had been revealed for the show to close on May 3, the 55th anniversary of the show's opening in 1960. The donors prefer to remain anonymous.

The tale, a mock version of "Romeo and Juliet," concerns a young girl and boy, secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters, including a rakish narrator, an old actor, an Indian named Mortimer and a mute.

Scores of actors have appeared in the show, from the opening cast that included Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner, to stars such as Ricardo Montalban and Kristin Chenoweth to Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham.

For nearly 42 years the show chugged along at the 153-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, finally closing in 2002 after 17,162 performances — a victim both of a destroyed downtown after 9/11 and a new post-terrorism, edgy mood.

In 2006, "The Fantasticks" found a new home in The Snapple Theater Center, an off-Broadway complex in the heart of Times Square. The show is cheap to run — with a cast of eight, two musicians, and guy who sprinkles confetti — but it has always struggled to stay filled in the shadow of Broadway houses.

Composer Harvey Schmidt's melodies are hypnotic, from "Try to Remember" to "Soon It's Gonna Rain" to the haunting "They Were You." Tom Jones' lyrics are equally accomplished. "Without a hurt, the heart is hollow" sums up the show's theme. The book, lyrics and direction were by Jones, who also acting in the original cast.

It long ago won the title of world's longest-running musical. "The Phantom of the Opera," by comparison, is Broadway's longest-running show with some 11,000 shows. The only rival to "The Fantasticks" is the play "The Mousetrap" in London, which is the longest- running show in the world, having passed 25,000 performances.

But when "The Fantasticks" first opened, the reviews were decidedly mixed, with the New York Herald Tribune critic only liking Act 2. The New York Times grudgingly enjoyed just Act 1 and its critic, Brooks Atkinson, sniffed that the show was "the sort of thing that loses magic the longer it endures."

In a 2013 interview to mark the show reaching 20,000 performances, Jones was philosophical about a little musical he put on in 1960. "So many people have come, and this thing stays the same — the platform, the wooden box, the cardboard moon," he said. "We just come and do our little thing and then we pass on."



Photo Credit: Graham Dougherty ]]>
<![CDATA[Review: "Airline Highway"]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:30:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AirlineMain.jpg

The misfit hookers, strippers and drug addicts of MTC’s “Airline Highway” spend their days along the famous road leading to the New Orleans airport, but none of them are going anywhere anytime soon.

A loose-limbed character study by Lisa D’Amour—her last piece, the anxiety-laden “Detroit,” mined similarly despairing territory—“Airline Highway” arrives via Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and is directed by Joe Mantello. It’s just opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Drifting in and out of the crumbling Humming Bird Motel are a half-dozen friends, including Tanya, a prostitute (Tony winner Julie White); Wayne, who manages the place (Scott Jaeck); and Krista, a stripper who can no longer afford the rent on one of the dilapidated rooms (Caroline Neff).

They’ve assembled in the motel parking lot for the funeral of Miss Ruby, a renowned burlesque parlor owner many of them hold dear. Miss Ruby isn’t dead, but she’s being monitored by hospice and a wish was to be around for her own farewell. (Scott Pask’s vibrant set effectively sets the mood.)

The arrival of “Bait Boy” (Joe Tippett), who seems to have escaped the misery of the Humming Bird, serves as a catalyst. Greg, who earned his nickname because of his fondness for underage women (Krista was one of them), is now a kept man who shows up with the 16-year-old daughter of his latest girlfriend.

For Tanya, who gave up her own biological children for adoption, the Humming Bird family has become an outlet for nurturing instincts, and White (with Jaeck, below) is just lovely as a woman who can’t face the decisions of her own past. “Airline Highway” also includes an excellent turn from K. Todd Freeman as Sissy Na Na, a trans bartender who is the play’s requisite voice of spiritual wisdom.

The raucous party organized by Tanya brings with it much of the energy we associate with the freewheeling city, and allows Bait Boy’s teenage charge (Carolyn Braver) to probe the stories of the motel dwellers in the guise of a high school project about “subcultures.”

In a climactic monologue, a fiery Ruby (Judith Roberts, of “Orange Is the New Black”) is carried down from her room on a gurney and makes an impassioned speech, opining that all the people who came into her orbit had a gift for sensuality, but have made lousy decisions with their lives—they’re sexually liberated, she’s saying, but nothing else about them is truly free.

Miss Ruby would tell Tanya and the lot that they have more strength than they realize, and they need to stop letting their weaknesses drag them down. There aren’t any sort of tidy resolutions in “Airline Highway,” and we never get the feeling these has-beens at the Humming Bird will pay Miss Ruby any due. They’re stuck, but at least they’re having a swell time.

“Airline Highway,” through June 14 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St. Tickets: $67-$130. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Chita Rivera in Kander & Ebb's "The Visit"]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:25:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TheVisitMain2.jpg

Never trust a woman who travels with her own coffin. That's one big takeaway from “The Visit,” the thought-provoking and—there’s no other word for the experience—bizarre musical starring Chita Rivera as the richest woman in the world. It’s just opened at The Lyceum Theatre.

Rivera’s vital performance as Claire Zacahanassian, a woman who has married both well and often, is just one reason “The Visit” is notable, here at the end of a crowded theater season.

The two-dozen songs briskly presented in a single 100-minute act represent the final collaboration between John Kander and Fred Ebb, the legendary duo behind “Cabaret.” The story, based on a 1950s German play about greed and vengeance, is by Terrence McNally. And “The Visit” is directed by John Doyle, the noted Sondheim interpreter.

The people of Brachen, Switzerland, are destitute but have cause for optimism when the mayor gets a telegram from wealthy Claire, who announces she’s coming home to the village where she was born. Claire arrives with dozens of bags in tow, a creepy butler, and two even creepier eunuchs … in white face makeup, with bowler hats. Also, she’s brought that coffin.

Claire can revitalize Brachen’s economy, but there’s a big catch—she’ll only do so in exchange for the life of Anton Schell (the ever-magnificent Roger Rees), who broke her heart as a young girl. “The Visit” focuses on the feelings Claire’s proposition raises among the townspeople, Anton’s family (his wife is played with icy glee by Mary Beth Peil, of “The Good Wife”) and indeed, Anton himself.

Rivera is provocative as Claire. The venerable actress is on stage for most of the production, and gets in a few chorus line kicks here and there (I’m not being ageist: Claire is a woman with a false leg and a false arm, lost in separate incidents: “I’m unkillable,” she avers, earning one of the evening’s sparingly doled-out laughs).

The two-time Tony winner has an entrance, in billowy white fur coat and hat, that’s as thrilling as you’d want it to be. Moreso, it’s chilling to realize how at peace she is with her request.

Rees, as Anton, doesn’t have a death wish, but he’s an older man and he knows an interesting offer when he hears one. Anton doesn’t have much ground to stand on in terms of challenging Claire’s anger—he was a louse (Claire’s butler and odd companions factor in to their terrible history), and he knows there’s a price to pay.

He’s just not sure how steep that price should be, and of course, neither is anyone on stage (if only “AFV”-style polling had been available for the audience). Rivera is solid, but it’s the melancholy and soulfulness in Rees’s performance that holds back “The Visit” from any risk of sliding into a parody of itself (the eunuchs are ripe for satire).

The operetta-like Kander and Ebb score haunts, notably “Yellow Shoes,” in which the townspeople sing of the material pleasures they’ve been denied. It’s staged so the audience focuses on the new possessions so many of the residents acquire on credit, as they wait for a decision about Anton. As the lights focus on the footwear and everything else fades to darkness, the whole thing comes off as a grisly live-action filtered Instagram photo.

I’m still thinking about it, and may burn my Amex.

The superb supporting cast includes Jason Danieley (“Next to Normal”) as the town’s schoolmaster, and David Garrison (TV’s “Married with Children”) as the mayor, who will have to justify whatever decisions are made about Claire’s proposal. John Riddle and Michelle Veintimilla (below) are lovely as the young version of the two protagonists; they begin the musical performing a balet in which an overtly sexual act is mimed—it certainly set the tone for the evening.

“The Visit” was due on Broadway in 2001 with Angela Lansbury starring. But a confluence of personal events in Lansbury’s life and, later, changing attitudes about entertainment in the wake of 9/11, scuttled plans. It got a new life, with Rivera starring, in 2008 at The Signature Theatre outside Washington, D.C. The one-act production with many members of this cast was performed last year at Williamstown.

Do everything in your powers to avoid having the ending spoiled. It will be bliss to sit through “The Visit” asking the question that’s clearly supposed to be on our minds: What would we do if we were one of those people in Brachen? I think we’ve established what they are, and now we’re just trying to put a price on it.

“The Visit,” with an open-ended run at The Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St. Tickets: $29-$149. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Thom Kaine; Joan Marcus, below]]>
<![CDATA[Eat Like The Louisville Locals Do]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.49.06+PM.png Chef Edward Lee gives us a tour of some authentic Kentucky Derby food and drink. We visit Wagner's Pharmacy, Muth's Candy and Milkwood Restaurant.]]> <![CDATA[Review: Easygoing "Something Rotten!"]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:21:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RottenMain.jpg

Shakespeare is a charismatic and conniving copycat who wears skin-tight leather pants in the new musical comedy “Something Rotten!” An easygoing effort from the director of “The Book of Mormon,” the real brains—and heart—of “Rotten!” belong to the Bottom Brothers, a pair of aspiring writers who challenge the Bard on his own turf.

Now open at the St. James Theatre, “Rotten!” delivers the same sort of accessible and over-the-top laughs as “Mormon.” Both stem from the talents of Casey Nicholaw, the director and choreographer who here teams with brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick (one is a songwriter; the other helped pen “Chicken Run”).

“Rotten!” is set in Elizabethan-era London. Shakespeare (Christian Borle) and Nick Bottom (Brian d’Arcy James) once performed in the same acting troupe, but while the former has gone on to success, the latter, along with sibling Nigel (John Cariani), struggles to make a name: “Why is he the Bard? … He’s just one of the bards,” Nick insists.

Everything is turned around when Nick consults an out-of-synch soothsayer named Thomas Nostradamus (Brad Oscar)—perhaps you’ve heard of his uncle?—who convinces him the future of theater lies in one direction: singing. Nick doesn’t quite get the gist, producing a cheerful, upbeat production number called “The Black Death.”

A generous sampling of Shakespearean conventions helps elevate an otherwise-thin and double entendre-laden plot.

While Borle’s role is flashier, it’s d’arcy James, last seen as a Brit chastising Colonials in “Hamilton,” who does the heavy-lifting. He’s the closest thing “Something Rotten!” has to a serious character, and he’s under pressure, not just from his lender, Shylock (yep, they go there), but also his pregnant wife (Heidi Blickenstaff, of “[title of show]”).

Tony-winner Borle (TV’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher”) is clearly beside himself with glee at the chance to play the preening rock-star scribe who throws parties in the park. A cute moment has obsessive fans holding up candles to display their adulation, since Bic lighters were still a few centuries off. (Pockets apparently were a ways off, too: costumes worn by male characters all have codpieces evoking “Spamalot.”)

John Cariani (“Fiddler on the Roof”), with his weak stomach and insecurities, is the underdog we cheer for, an ink-stained wretch who actually comes up with the lines we today credit to Shakespeare, but who focuses his energies on pursuing passion with the equally sonnet-minded Portia (Kate Reinders). (Cariani is below left, with d'Arcy James and Blickenstaff.)

Oscar, of “The Producers,” gets all the Nazi jokes one mass-appeal entertainment can provide, plus a mighty first-act showstopper, “A Musical.” Delivered with feigned-surprise and some phenomenal tap-dancing, it foreshadows the entertainment that will go on to please audiences years from now. Look for references to “Annie,” “Fiddler,” “Les Miz,” “A Chorus Line,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Lion King” and “Chicago,” plus “Chess,” for the insiders. This one’s pure genius.

Brooks Ashmanskas is on hand as the Puritan Jeremiah, Portia’s father, who is saddled with too much stock dialogue. The ensemble is particularly strong, notably Michael James Scott, as the minstrel who opens the show with the catchy scene-setter “Welcome to the Renaissance.”

“Rotten!” paints musical theater culture in the same broad strokes that the “The Book of Mormon” used to satirize religion—everyone gets to be in on the joke. This new musical makes us do just enough work that we feel satisfied for picking up on them. Go for the production numbers and the big-hearted turns from the leads, whose enthusiasm ultimately proves even more infectious than the plague.

“Something Rotten!” has an open-ended run at the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th St. Tickets: $37-$142. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson Lead “The Gin Game” ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:34:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/thegingame.png

Tony winners James Earl Jones (“You Can’t Take It With You”) and Cicely Tyson (“The Trip To Bountiful”) will lead a new production of D.L. Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Gin Game” this fall on Broadway.

Directed by Leonard Foglia, the play, about two lonely residents in a nursing home who bond over a game of gin, will begin previews Sept. 21 at the Golden Theatre — where the original 1977 Broadway production began. Opening is set for Oct. 13.

This isn’t the first time Jones and Tyson have shared the Broadway stage before. The two appeared together almost 50 years ago, in 1966’s “A Hand Is On the Gate.” They also worked together off-Broadway, in Jean Genet’s long running-hit “The Blacks.”

“The Gin Game” was last revived on Broadway in 1997, with Charles Durning and Julie Harris. The original 1977 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, featured Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. It also played the Golden Theatre.

There have been a two film versions of the play — most recently a 2003 made-for-TV movie featuring Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.



Photo Credit: John Lamparski | Michael Loccisano | Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Elisabeth Moss-Led Revival of “The Heidi Chronicles” Will Close May 3]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 03:52:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Heidi0153r.jpg

The Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein's “The Heidi Chronicles,” starring Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Jason Biggs (“American Pie”) and Bryce Pinkham (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”), will play its final performance on May 3 at the Music Box Theatre.

The limited-run production, which opened to positive reviews on March 19, was originally scheduled to run through Aug. 9.

According to an interview producer Jeffrey Richards gave to The New York Times, low ticket sales and a busy season forced the production to shutter early.

This was the first Broadway revival for “The Heidi Chronicles” since the original production closed in 1990. The play, which follows 20 years in the life of art historian and feminist icon Heidi Holland (Moss), won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989.

Customers who purchased tickets to “The Heidi Chronicles” after May 3 can contact their point of purchase for exchanges and refunds.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus ]]>