<![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 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:18:00 -0400 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:18:00 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jason Alexander To Replace Larry David in “Fish in the Dark”]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:38:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/59683657.jpg

"Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander will return to Broadway after a 25 year absence -- and it’s thanks to the person who took him away from the stage in the first place.

Alexander will replace “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David in “Fish in the Dark” -- David’s sold-out comedy about two brothers struggling to accept the death of their father while arguing over who will take on the burden of caring for their widowed mother.

The play, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, was scheduled to end its limited run on June 7. It will now continue performances through June 19. Alexander makes his debut in the show on June 9.

"I left Broadway 25 years ago because Larry David co-created the show that would change my life and career,” Alexander said. “It is totally amazing that he also created the show that would bring me back to Broadway... It is quite simply more fun than any bald man should have."

David, who also created and starred in HBO’s hit comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” responded to the news with his signature self-deprecating wit. “I was thrilled when I heard [Alexander] was replacing me in ‘Fish in the Dark.’” he said. “Finally I can enjoy the show.”

“Fish in the Dark,” which features a 15-person cast that also includes Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez and Jayne Houdyshell, has been something of a Broadway blockbuster.

Despite mixed reviews from critics, the show has been playing to sold-out houses since beginning performances Feb. 2 -- a rare feat these days for any Broadway show. The top price for tickets according to numbers reported by the Broadway League? $497.

Alexander’s last Broadway appearance was 1990’s “Accomplice.” He made his Broadway debut in 1981, in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along.” In 1989, Alexander won a Tony for his role in “Jerome Robbins Broadway.”

For ticket information on “Fish in the Dark,” visit fishinthedark.com.

Photo Credit: Jason Merritt | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Starbucks Frappucino Flavor]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:31:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Birthday_Cake_Frappuccino_%283%29.jpg

Get it while it’s… cold?

Starbucks’ popular frappuccino has turned 20 and to honor the beverage's big birthday, the company has debuted a new specialty drink—the Birthday Cake Frappuccino.

The limited-time beverage, a vanilla bean and hazelnut mixture topped with raspberry-infused whipped cream, will be available at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada from Thursday to Monday.

The iconic drink was first released in the summer of 1995 with coffee and mocha flavors available. The drinks was initially made without whipped cream.

“The first week of launch we were tracking sales, and it was something like 200,000 drinks the first week – when we were hoping for 100,000,” Dan Moore, director of brand management at Starbucks, said in a statement. “The next week it was 400,000 and the next it was 800,000. We had figured it would do well in Southern California – but it sold just as well in Chicago, Vancouver B.C. and Boston. It was huge.”

The drink changed the company’s customer base, giving them a way to bring in people who weren’t typically coffee drinkers.

In 1999, Starbucks released the Caramel Frappuccino, complete with the now-typical “dome lid” for whipped cream.

“At the time, domed lids were radical thinking, so was the idea of adding whipped cream,” said Dina Campion of Starbucks’ Digital Team. “But for our customers it represented a momentary break – an escape in their day.”

In 2002, came the Blended Crème beverage, followed by the Frappuccino Light. By 2010, customers could customize their frappuccinos to be made with milk or soy, various coffee types and their preferred syrups and toppings.

The blended beverages are now available in 66 countries with more than 36,000 different drink combinations.

Other countries have unique flavors like the Coffee Jelly Frappuccino and Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino in Asia, the Algarrobina Frappuccino in Peru or the chocolate Brigadeiro Frappuccino in Brazil. 

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[Record-Breaking Show "The Fantasticks" to Close in May]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:40:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FantITW.jpg

The off-Broadway phenomenon "The Fantasticks" will pack away its confetti and cardboard moon this summer, ending a record-breaking, fantastic run that started when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

Producers of the stalwart, low-tech show said Wednesday that the musical will close on May 3, the 55th anniversary of the show's opening in 1960. It will have run 20,672 performances in two city venues, with a gap of four years when it went silent.

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. It's as much about a love affair as it is a nod to the magic of theater itself.

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." 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 Tom 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[Brandy’s Broadway Debut ]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:39:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/474235167SH00018_45th_NAACP.jpg

Brandy Norwood — the Grammy-winning singer known for her hits like “The Boy Is Mine” and “Almost Doesn’t Count” — will make her Broadway debut this April in the Tony-winning hit musical “Chicago.”

Norwood will step into the murderous shoes of Roxie Hart beginning April 28. Her eight-week limited engagement is set through June 21.

In addition to selling more than 40 million albums worldwide, Norwood is also an accomplished actress. She spent six seasons in the title role of the hit sitcom “Moesha,” and was recently awarded a 2014 NAACP Image Award for her role as Chardonnay on BET’s “The Game.”

“Chicago” also isn’t Norwood’s first musical. She starred opposite Whitney Houston in the 1997 TV adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”

For tickets and showtimes to see Brandy in “Chicago,” visit ChicagoTheMusical.com.

Photo Credit: Jesse Grant | Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Elisabeth Moss in "The Heidi Chronicles"]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:33:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HeidiMain.jpg

Does it seem “dated”? That’s what seems to be on the minds of theatergoers headed to the Music Box, where Elisabeth Moss is headlining the first Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s award-winning drama “The Heidi Chronicles.”

My answer: How could it? “Heidi” asks the same important questions, and provides the same uncomfortable answers, as it did a quarter-century ago, when it so captured the zeitgeist that it suggested the title for the pilot episode of a new NBC sitcom, “The Seinfeld Chronicles.”

Pam MacKinnon (“A Delicate Balance”) snappily steers a story that tracks Heidi Holland, a stand-in for the playwright, from her high school years through adulthood. The central question of Wasserstein’s play, as Heidi grows from a budding feminist into a successful art historian, is: Can this woman have it all: love, career and motherhood?

In Heidi’s case, career is more easily attained than love, and it’s a decision she’s satisfied with … at least until, as a more jaded adult, she begins to feel “stranded.”

“I thought the point was we were all in this together,” Heidi says to the alums of “Miss Crain’s School,” decades after graduation, in a famous “meltdown” monologue that is dynamic and affecting here, thanks to the lead actress, a star of TV’s “Mad Men.”

Moss, who has won a legion of fans as secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson on the AMC series, here plays a privileged heroine a generation younger than her TV character, and just as much of a glass ceiling-breaker.

Moss is an excellent actress with an accessible warmth. The discussions Heidi has with the friends in her life, about how trapped they are by gender roles, have an air of familiarity --  I think about all the women in my own life, and it’s easy to imagine many of these conflicts still playing out.

The biggest surprise here is Bryce Pinkham, the charismatic actor who originated the title role in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and who is just marvelous as Peter, Wendy’s gay confidante. Peter is acidic and serious, yet soft-hearted enough that he eventually becomes head of a hospital pediatric clinic.

The way Pinkham “reads” Moss’s Heidi at their first encounter felt perfectly true.

I went in expecting to dislike Scoop Rosenbaum, the other central male figure in “Heidi,” an arrogant editor with a crass habit of grading everything from potato chips to women. But Jason Biggs, the stage actor and “American Pie” star, like Pinkham, doesn’t take the easy road.

His Scoop already seems to understand he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and Biggs gives us a guy who knows he’s following a script that he didn’t write. If anything, I felt sympathetic toward Scoop, in spite of his sexist tendencies. (It’s Scoop who provides the counter-balance to Heidi’s feminist optimism: “You ‘quality time’ girls are going to be one generation of disappointed women. Interesting, exemplary, even sexy, but basically unhappy—the ones who open doors usually are.”)

Ali Ahn and Tracee Chimo (the latter in four roles) provide excellent support. Ahn’s aggressive TV executive, in a scene set at a trendy city restaurant in 1984, is a comic high point.

MacKinnon makes each of nearly a dozen settings, from an Ann Arbor church basement to a conference podium at the Plaza Hotel, seem like of-the-moment intellectual hot spots. Few are more electric than the TV studio where Chimo’s independent, if shallow, “Hello, New York” host talks up an appearance by Heidi, Scoop and Peter, but then only focuses on the men during the interview.

Pop culture images and music (Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”; later, John Lennon’s “Imagine”) are seen and heard ahead of each scene, a device that helps us snap quickly to the vibe of a certain time and place.

Heidi’s inevitable choice to have a child on her own is well-known, and certainly not the brash move it may have been in the 1980s. Still, "The Heidi Chronicles" never feels like a time capsule memento. The subject matter is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.

“The Heidi Chronicles,” a limited engagement at The Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. Tickets: $59-$139. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA["Hunchback," at Paper Mill, Has Some Kinks to Work Out]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:31:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/HunchbackMain.jpg

Paper Mill’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame” transports us to 15th-century Paris, with the kind of solid and stately set -- a moody cathedral bell tower -- we’d expect from deep-pocketed benefactor Disney Theatricals.

But there’s much about “Hunchback,” inspired by the Victor Hugo novel and based on the animated musical, that isn’t very Disney-ish. The hero is deformed, and won’t be turning into a prince anytime soon. He falls in love with an outcast gypsy. And both are stymied by a religious figure whose climactic ultimatum to the woman is “love me, or I’ll kill you.”

“Newsies,” this isn’t.

“Hunchback” is a love story about sexual obsession, and the much-anticipated joint production from the New Jersey regional theater and California’s La Jolla Playhouse -- it continues through April 5 -- truly embraces its darkness. Ultimately, there’s a little too-much narrative “tell,” and not quite enough “show” to consistently hold attention for two-and-a-half hours.

The promise of a score by the power-duo of Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked” and “Pippin”) is enough to spur most musical theater fans into this belfry. Their music is rich and complex, but Menken and Schwartz are missing support: Peter Parnell’s book is scattershot, and the direction by Scott Schwartz, the lyricist’s son, is lacking confidence when it’s needed most, at the musical’s climax.

A rousing opening number, “The Bells of Notre Dame,” provides necessary backstory, explaining how Frollo (Patrick Page, returning to the villainous form of “Spider-Man”) came to reluctantly care for his nephew, Quasimodo (Michael Arden, in a terrific performance). As “Hunchback” unfolds (songs from the movie remain; new ones have been added), we meet gypsy Esmeralda (Ciara Renee), and one more suitor, a soldier (Andrew Samonsky) who has just returned from war.

The talented actors are the best things about “Hunchback.” Arden, the leading man recently lauded for directing “Spring Awakening” with L.A.’s Deaf West Theatre, dons his makeup onstage, transforming into the hunchback before our eyes, much as Bradley Cooper did in “The Elephant Man.” Songs-of-desire, such as the heart-tugging, “Out There,” seem custom-built for Arden’s well-tuned pipes.

Page makes for an imposing Frollo, with an equally stunning voice suited to the chilling “Hellfire,” which has him confronting his own feelings for Esmeralda. We never discover enough about Esmeralda to develop a strong attachment, though Renee, who was featured as the witch in Broadway’s “Big Fish” and recently co-starred in “Pippin,” is a beautiful singer.

Supporting actors play a variety of characters, including the gargoyles who’ve kept Quasimodo occupied during his lonely life. Some 32 talented choir members from New Jersey’s Continuo Arts Symphonic Chorus serve as the onstage ensemble.

A second-act curtain-raiser featuring a performance by a beheaded statue holds promise, but the overwrought finale, which has Quasimodo rushing in to rescue Esmeralda, was anticlimactic—a fabric curtain doubling for molten lead is a theatrical device that seems jarring on the heels of so much naturalism. I thought Alexander Dodge’s set, with bells descending from the fly loft above stage and dark rafters suggesting the sanctified tower of the Parisian landmark, was just fantastic.

The production here is licensed for regional runs, only. Could a Broadway run eventually happen? Anything’s possible, but there are some kinks to work out, first.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” through April 5 at Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, N.J. Tickets: $28-$99. Visit PaperMill.org, or call 973-376-4343.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[Free Dairy Queen Cones, and More Free Treats]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:15:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

Spring is right around the corner, and what tastier way to start it than with ice cream — or Italian ice?

Dairy Queen is giving away free ice cream cones Monday to celebrate its 75th anniversary Monday, just a few days before spring officially begins.

Customers can stop at any participating location to get a small vanilla soft-serve cone with the signature curl on the top. The ice cream chain is also asking for donations for kids at children's hospitals during its free cone day.

Then, on Friday, Rita's Italian Ice will kick off the first day of spring with an Italian ice giveaway — a tradition that has been going on for 23 years.

The company says it gave away more than 1.2 million cups of its Italian ice last year. Click here to find the nearest location.

And next month, Ben & Jerry's will be giving away ice cream on its Free Cone Day on April 14. Find the nearest franchise here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dairy Queen Free Cone Day]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:41:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/dairyqueenfreeconedaymarch16.jpg

So many intriguing mysteries surround a certain longtime purveyor of cold treats that we hardly know where to begin our story.

1. Does Dairy Queen have an actual throne, castle, and courtiers who wear velvet breeches and play trumpets?

2. How does one get to be known far and wide by just their initials -- in Dairy Queen's case, the snappy and now-iconic "DQ" -- in a world flooded by attention-catching foodstuffs and restaurant choices?

3. What will the founded-in-Illinois company do for its big 75th, which falls in 2015?

We know the answer to that one, as do the people you'll see queuing up at participating Dairy Queens across the land on Monday, March 16. The frozen treat shop, founded in 1940 near Chicago, will celebrate by handing out soft-serve vanilla cones on Free Cone Day at all participating Dairy Queens.

There are more fun things to come during Dairy Queen's diamond anniversary year, but bet Free Cone Day will be mighty popular, especially around Southern California, where a March heat wave is putting ice cream lovers in an ice cream state of mind.

Oh, we jest; true ice cream lovers maintain a permanent second address in that state.

So is there a hashtag for all of this frosty fun? It wouldn't be #2015 if there wasn't: #conewithme is your go-to, social media enjoyers.

Is there a limit on how many cones you can pick up? Of course there is: You may have one. You'd cock an eyebrow at the person leaving with twenty free cones in front of you, wouldn't you? Fairness is best in all things, including Free Cone Day.

And one more mystery we'd like to solve while we're delving into all things DQ: How does the vanilla soft-serve cone get that perfect little twirl on the top? And how does one recreate that in a hairstyle? Asking, of course, for a friend.

Photo Credit: Dairy Queen]]>
<![CDATA[Chenoweth Boards the "Twentieth Century"]]> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 21:51:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20thMain.jpg

Gee, those folks are having fun up there. That was my major takeaway from “On the Twentieth Century,” the madcap musical—it’s by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Cy Coleman—now enjoying its first Broadway revival, at the American Airlines Theatre.

A talented cast of Broadway vets make a predictable farce and let’s-agree-to-call-it divisive score feel like a first-class ride. The rush comes not just from above-the-title stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher, but from other unexpected places, including rousing tap dance numbers and a screwball turn by the actor most recently seen as Broadway’s “Rocky.”

Set in the 1930s, “Twentieth Century” unfolds aboard a luxury coach en route from Chicago to New York. Oscar Jaffee, a bankrupt theater producer (Gallagher), has finagled a drawing room next to Lily Garland, a Hollywood leading lady (Chenoweth) who happens to be his ex-flame. Oscar’s motive? To cajole the starlet into signing on for his next big show … which doesn’t yet exist.

It’s 37 years since “On the Twentieth Century” has been seen on Broadway, in a production that starred an often-absent Madeline Kahn, who left after nine weeks and is blamed by some for what they consider its stunted tenure. (The musical counts among its source materials the play “Twentieth Century,” last revived with Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche just over a decade ago in the same space.)

Chenoweth, the big-voiced star of “Wicked” and more recent fare, such as “The Apple Tree” and “Promises, Promises,” makes her entrance during a fantasy sequence that has Oscar recalling their first encounter. Back then, Lily was Mildred Poltka, a piano accompanist from the Bronx, who bowled over the producer with her fiery talk and pixieish ways.

Mildred, we see during this imagined sequence, is shortly transformed into Lily, who makes it big as the busty and risque leading lady of Oscar’s “Veronique,” a musical about a French street singer who spurs a war (the big number, pictured below, gives us our first glimpse of William Ivey Long’s lush costumes).

“Veronique” is the first of several stand-alone interludes in which Chenoweth defines Lily as a provocative narcissist—you can argue her entire performance is a tribute to the late Ms. Kahn. “Babette,” during the second act, is yet one more opportunity for the Oklahoman’s rock ’em-sock ’em cords to fill every nook of the theater.

If Peter Gallagher has been ill—a sinus infection nearly derailed this stint for the actor, who back-in-the-day was lauded as Sky Masterson opposite Nathan Lane in “Guys and Dolls”—there’s zero trace of it in his solid performance. Is there now an extra layer of subtext when Gallagher sings “I Rise Again” early in the first act, alongside his press agent and company manager (Michael McGrath and Mark Linn-Baker, both on point)?

Andy Karl does a 180-degree spin from his earnest “Rocky,” offering up a splendidly buffoonish Bruce Granit, the egomaniacal movie star who is Oscar’s rival for Lily’s affections. He and Chenoweth have a thoroughly delightful beauty-and-the-beast sort of camaraderie.

Mary Louise Wilson, the “Grey Gardens” Tony winner, is on board as Letitia Peabody Primrose, who may just be the great arts patron Oscar and his pals need to get their plans off the ground—or is she? Wilson is clearly a crowd-favorite.

Director Scott Ellis, who most recently helmed “The Elephant Man,” stages the old-fashioned musical with consistent diesel-fueled movement, notable during “She’s a Nut,” which has Wilson’s Primrose trying to outrun the folks who’ve come to lock her up. Also exceptionally pleasing are the four members of the “Pullman Porter Quartet,” who commandingly chug-chug their way through enjoyable-enough melodies such as “Life Is Like a Train.”

Theatergoers get pretty passionate about Cy Coleman’s score. I’m not one of them—this isn’t really one of those shows with songs that you leave the theater humming. That said, a slew of polished comic turns and some stellar staging make it a shrewd move to hop aboard this train.

“On the 20th Century,” through July 5 at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. Tickets: $67-$147. Call 212-719-1300.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Raunchy Game Cards Against Humanity Hits the Web With Free App]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 12:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/51RD-Lha01L._SL1023_.jpg

Oh the humanity! Cards Against Humanity has gone digital.

A new website called CardsAgainstOriginality.com offers a free version of the game on all web browsers on computers and mobile devices, though it wasn't made by the card game's original creators.

The Cards Against Originality app was created by Canadian designer Dawson Whitfield, who used the card game’s Creative Commons license to make a digital version.

Previously, users needed to either purchase the game for $25 from the Cards Against Humanity Website, or download and print their own deck for free (plus the cost of ink and paper). Fans can also purchase desired expansion packs on the game's website, and those cards are also featured in the new app.

"I built it because there were too many times that I wished I had brought my CAH deck. During lunch at work, at the bar, in the car," Whitfield said in an email. "Once I had the idea to build it, I had to build it out of frustration that no one had done it,"

According to Cards Against Humanity's website, the game's content can be used "to make whatever," but the game needs to be given credit and the user can't profit from using its content.

“Cards Against Humanity is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. That means you can use, remix, and share the game for free, but you can’t sell it without our permission. Please do not steal our name or we will smash you,” the game’s website reads.

Cards Against Humanity, described as a “party game for horrible people,” involves a group of players using raunchy and often expletive-filled white cards to answer questions or fill in the blanks of a single black card. The funniest answer is then picked by a fellow player acting as the judge, or “Card Czar.”

Like with the physical deck, you must be in the same room as your friends to play together on the digital version.

Whitfield said the response to his app was better than he expected — the rush to play even created some problems for the new product.

"I didn't expect it to take off like this and my servers couldn't handle the traffic," he told NBCChicago in an email. "I had it on a measly server for my friends and I to play on, which crumbled under the traffic."

Whitefield said he has since moved the game to new servers and the site is back up and running, though it may take time for the change to appear "everywhere around the world." 

Now, with a new name and the same vulgar cards, the (horribly inappropriate) party can begin online. 

<![CDATA[Review: Mirren in "The Audience"]]> Sun, 08 Mar 2015 19:44:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AudienceMain.jpg

Helen Mirren, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth on screen nearly a decade ago, revisits the enigmatic head-of-state in another exquisite interpretation, this time on stage in “The Audience” at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

Directed by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”), “The Audience” was first produced on the West End in 2013, earning Mirren an Olivier to go along with her Oscar for “The Queen.”

While “The Queen” focused on the days and weeks after the death of Princess Diana, “The Audience” paints with a broader stroke, depicting Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in imagined private conversations with the prime ministers who have served during her incredible life, from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. In all, we meet eight of the even dozen.

As a Royal Navy officer explains to theatergoers in a preamble to Peter Morgan’s drama—Morgan, author of “Frost/Nixon,” also wrote “The Queen”—it’s tradition for the monarch to have a weekly private audience with her Prime Minister. The meeting takes place in a room on the first floor of Buckingham Palace, and topics of discussion are understood to be confidential, even from spouses.

Most of the subdued “action” in “The Audience” transpires in this setting, though we detour in the second act to Balmoral, the royals’ summer residence, where the sovereign entertains Harold Wilson (Richard McCabe, with Mirren below). McCabe, also an Olivier winner for the same role, gives one of the most endearing turns of the season, in no part thanks to his animated and antiquated Polaroid photo-op with her royal highness.

Polished visual images aside, we have less a personal sense of Queen Elizabeth than we do so many members of American political “royalty.” How often do we ever even hear Elizabeth’s voice? Through a variety of often workaday anecdotes over two-plus hours, Mirren fills in the blanks, crafting a portrait of a tough and empathetic woman who has survived thanks to personal warmth, good humor and a profound sense of duty.

“The Audience” bounces around chronologically, beginning with a conversation between her majesty and John Major (Dylan Baker, of “The Good Wife”). Later, Mirren is at her most magnetic as she responds emotionally to a suggestion from Major that she decommission the royal yacht Britannia in order to stem a tide of resentment against the free-spending royals.

Morgan creates a sharp contrast between the politicians who glide through the revolving door at 10 Downing Street and the stoic constant of Buckingham Palace.

In discussion with Tony Blair (Rufus Wright, doing double duty later as David Cameron) about the impending invasion of Iraq, the queen pleads for a diplomatic resolution to the strife. Later in the play, in a scene set earlier in her lifetime, she makes nearly the exact same plea to Sir Anthony Eden, in regards to the Eisenhower-era Suez crisis.

“That's what happens if you stick round long enough,” she says to Blair. “The same people, the same ideas come round again and again—wearing a different colored tie.”

An icy tete-a-tete with Margaret Thatcher (the great Judith Ivey, to my mind conjuring as much Ann Richards as the Iron Lady) is a highlight of the second act.

Throughout, Mirren plays scenes opposite her younger self (Elizabeth Teeter, at the press performance I attended), which showcase the fragile peace she made as a girl with her preordained identity. Teeter and Mirren have a nice dynamic, mirroring each other’s particular physical movements.

The costume changes are engagingly “Cinderella”-esque, and make Mirren’s Elizabeth believable on both ends of a 50-year spectrum. Morgan’s script makes for a great history lesson, especially for those of us with trouble remembering U.K. politics before Thatcher. Some of the meetings may not be exactly scintillating, but they make you consider the grace with which Queen Elizabeth has endured the passing parade.

“The Audience,” through June 28 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. Tickets: $75-$145. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Love Peeps? New Milk Line Inspired by Marshmallow Treats ]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:00:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Peep+Milk+Flavors.jpg

Now you can eat your Peeps and drink them, too.

Prairie Farms, a dairy company in Illinois, has teamed up with the sugary treat maker to deliver Peeps-flavored milk.

The milk comes in three different flavors: Chocolate Marshmallow Milk, Marshmallow Milk and Easter Egg Nog. Both marshmallow milks can be purchased in reduced-fat varieties, and the calories for each milk range from 190 to 250 calories, according to Prairie Farms' website

According to a press release, Peeps is the No. 1 non-chocolate candy brand at Easter. Prairie Farm said that given that fact, “creating a line of flavors that joins the two strong brands was an obvious choice.”

The "PEEP-tastic" milk hits retail outlet shelves in the Midwest this week. But Peep-lovers will have to act fast to get their fix.

“The milk is seasonal for Easter, so depending on the store it should be available until early April,” Rebecca Leinenbach, vice president of marketing and communications for Prairie Farms, told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The Peeps milk closely follows a wider trend of enchanced offerings in the dairy industry. Coca-Cola’s new milk line called Fairlife includes flavored versions and adds 50 percent more natural protein and calcium than regular milk.

Photo Credit: Prairie Farms ]]>
<![CDATA[Larry David's "Fish" Leaves an Aftertaste]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:25:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/FishMain.jpg

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" followers paying north of $300 a pop to see Larry David's Broadway debut will get what they're expecting with the absurd and erratic "Fish in the Dark,” which has just opened at the Cort Theatre, bringing with it record-breaking ticket sales.

Translation: It’s a pret-tay, pret-tay good time for some, but too much of nothing for others. What plays well on the small screen occasionally generates honest laughs on stage, though “Fish” becomes ponderous and ultimately feels like a sitcom episode tenuously stretched over two-plus hours.

Here, David plays Norman Drexel, who along with his too-slick brother (Ben Shenkman, of TV’s “Royal Pains”) is trying to accept the death of his father. Both a first-time Broadway actor and writer, the “Seinfeld” co-creator and HBO star came to the plot after attending the real-life funeral of a friend’s dad.

Directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who most recently led the cast of “This Is Our Youth,” the large ensemble also includes Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez and Jerry Adler.

A voiceover prelude ahead of the action sets the tone for what's to come with a predictable bit about masturbation. Then, we open on a scene in an L.A. hospital, where the extended members of the Drexel family are gathered to bid adieu to family patriarch Sidney (Adler, of "The Good Wife). “We have zero ventilator experience,” Norman admits to his dad’s straight-man physician, in that unmistakable nasal, punctuated comedic voice.

The scene sets up the comedy’s central quandary: the brothers have to figure out who’s going to take care of Gloria, their widowed mother (“Well” and “Follies” star Jayne Houdyshell). Dad was unclear about his wishes, and neither son wants the burden. Can you guess who ends up taking in mom?

The humor is vintage David, and you either find it appealing or you don’t; I thought a lot of the writing was lazy or boorish.

On learning that his bedridden father has inappropriately touched a buxom visitor (Jenn Lyon, evoking Madeline Kahn in the best of ways), Norman breaks into just the riff you’d expect: “What kind of pressure was applied?” and so forth. When he discusses the fairer sex with brother Arthur, the repartee has the rhythm of well-worn ethnic shtick: “Have you ever been with two women?” Arthur asks. Comes David’s reply: “I once sat between two women in coach.”

Like David’s semi-fictional “Curb” character, Norman says and does things few would ever say—at a gathering after the funeral, Norman accuses his 14-year-old niece (Rachel Resheff, below) of plagiarizing her eulogy, reducing the girl to tears—but is down deep a guy trying to do right by the people in his life. That sometimes doesn’t sit well with wife Brenda (Wilson, giving a generally stiff performance), who threatens to up-and-leave if Norman allows mom to move in.

This “Fish” has a tendency to meander. More than once I felt as if the comedy was hitting a brick wall, only to be jarred out of my stupor by a set-up that could only come from David’s sharp, Sheepshead Bay-cultivated mind. Those moments are too rare.

Among the fresher things about David’s comedy is the endearing performance by newcomer Jake Cannavale, teen offspring of Broadway vet Bobby (and grandson of “Dog Day Afternoon” director Sidney Lumet), as the son of longtime Drexel-family maid Fabiana (Rosie Perez, playing a familiar version of Rosie Perez). The young man makes the most of his big moment in the second act, holding his own against seasoned pro Houdyshell in a scene that is classic squeam-inducing Larry David

Scene changes are broken up by a death certificate imposed on a screen, in lieu of a curtain. The type on the certificate is animated, dancing around and filling in details of Sidney's life. It doesn't serve much purpose to the story, but is probably keeping a few graphic designers in egg salad.

The title—minor spoiler alert—refers to a story family matriarch Gloria tells about a meal she was served by Wilson’s Brenda a dozen years earlier: the lights were dim, and husband Sidney nearly choked on a fish bone. Gloria's never forgiven her daughter-in-law for serving … you get it.

"Curb" devotees are rewarded with the occasional nod to the series, which ran eight seasons and has admirers clamoring for still more—listen closely for the aside Norman makes to his aunt’s husband about “those big balls,” as he’s exiting the hospital room. 

Hardcore Larry David fans will get a kick out of seeing the comic live on stage. Most theatergoers, though, will be better off throwing this one back in the river.

“Fish in the Dark,” through June 7 at the Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St. Tickets: $49-$155. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Bruce Willis to Star in Stephen King's "Misery" on Broadway]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 00:31:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/505558273SH00176_Premiere_O.jpg

Stephen King’s 1987 novel "Misery," about a novelist who is rescued from a car crash and held captive by his “number one fan” is coming to the Broadway stage this fall.

Bruce Willis will make his Broadway debut as novelist Paul Sheldon -- the role made famous by James Caan in the Oscar-winning 1990 film adaptation.

Willis will be joined by Elizabeth Marvel ("Other Desert Cities," Netflix’s "House of Cards"), who will play superfan Annie Wilkes -- the role which earned Kathy Bates an Academy Award for Best Actress.

The limited engagement production will be directed by Will Frears ("Omnium Gatherum"), who also directed the world premiere of "Misery" at the Bucks County Playhouse in the fall of 2012.

Two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman ("The Princess Bride," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), who wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, will pen the stage adaptation as well.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Actor Clive Owen to Make Broadway Debut]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:16:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/531158691PH00128_15th_Annua.jpg

Clive Owen will star in a revival of Harold Pinter’s “Old Times” to kick off the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 50th anniversary season.

It will be Owen’s Broadway debut, though the English actor — known for roles in “Children of Men” and TV’s “The Knick” — has extensive stage experience in the U.K.

Owen starred in the world premiere production of Patrick Marber’s "Closer" at the Royal National Theater, as well as the play’s film adaptation, for which he won a Golden Globe and received an Oscar nomination.

Direction for "Old Times" will come from Douglas Hodge, who won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in 2010’s acclaimed revival of “La Cage aux Folles.”

"Old Times" will be Hodge’s Broadway directorial debut.

The Roundabout has a long relationship with Pinter. The company has put on 10 Pinter productions since 1971, including 1991’s “The Homecoming,” which marked the start of their first Broadway season.

Previews for “Old Times” begin on Sept. 17, with an Oct. 15 opening.

Photo Credit: Jason Merritt | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[IHOP Celebrates National Pancake Day]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:44:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/national+pancake+day1.jpg

Grab your fork and knife!

Tuesday is National Pancake Day at IHOP. Diners can enjoy a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. In exchange, customers will be asked to consider making a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

Since starting National Pancake Day 10 years ago, IHOP has raised nearly $16 million for community charities. This year's goal is to raise $3.5 million, according to the IHOP website.

Check here to look up the closest IHOP.

<![CDATA[Diane Lane Back on Stage in LCT's "Love & Sex"]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:55:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/MysteryMain.jpg

Oscar nominee Diane Lane makes a rare New York stage appearance in “The Mystery of Love & Sex,” a complex and gratifying family drama that illustrates the fallout of following a misguided path but promises it’s never too late to turn back and start over.

The show just opened at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

Action in the four-character play by Bathsheba Doran (“Kin”) begins during a dorm room dinner that college students and childhood pals Charlotte and Jonny are throwing for her parents, a native southerner (Lane, the big-screen star of “Unfaithful”) and tightly wound transplanted Jewish New Yorker (Tony Shalhoub, the Tony nominee and star of TV’s “Monk”).

The kids (Gayle Rankin and Mamoudou Athie) have set out salad, wine and plain bread, which is fine with doting mom Lucinda, or “Lula,” but dad Howard won’t be satisfied until there’s butter, so he goads eager-to-please Jonny into running out to the store.

“If he’s a contender for son-in-law, I will whip him into shape,” Howard insists, before his piqued wife and daughter.

Charlotte is a white Jewish girl and Jonny is a black Baptist boy, making their way in this unnamed southern city. Friends since age 9, they’re hosting dinner to let mom and dad in on a secret -- they’re a couple -- or at least, they may be. Charlotte is confused about her sexuality. As the play progresses (the second act unfolds five years after the first), we glimpse Lula and Howard’s misguided sacrifices and humble regrets, even as Charlotte and Jonny chart their own jagged course.

Doran addresses an array of themes in the two-and-a-half hour piece, directed by Sam Gold (“The Real Thing” and “Fun Home”), among them racism, homophobia, religion and presumed differences between North and South. At times during the overstuffed first act, you’ll wonder if the playwright will be able to tie together the dissonant themes.

Lane embodies confidence and fragility in such a singular package that she seems to have arrived here from a Tennessee Williams play. (In fact, Lane’s stage return after a quarter-century absence came in 2012, in a Chicago production of “Sweet Bird of Youth.”)

Lula, a southerner, may be 50, but that doesn’t stop her from sneaking off to puff on a joint, or to contemplate joining the peace corps, now that her sexless marriage to Howard is falling apart. Lula can ask Charlotte whether her bed is getting "much action" or gossip with her daughter over pedicures, and it’s possible to see the multifaceted actress as a rebellious girl and protective mama bear, even in the same scene.

Shalhoub treads this territory with remarkable ease (could it be that his character, a successful serializer of detective fiction, bears a passing resemblance to his well-known TV persona?). Howard fancies himself an open-minded liberal, even though --  as Jonny has slowly discerned -- he’s not quite one. Like Lula, Howard has a troubled relationship with “the older regime” in his family, and though he perceives himself as progressive, he proves to be his own father’s son. 


Athie (with Rankin, above) is marvelous as a young man shedding the burden of his own familial expectations. Jonny must reconcile his view of Howard as a father figure with his fermenting belief that the older man's fiction is racist at its core. The two have a second act confrontation that is gripping and well-executed.

The talented Rankin allows us to see her as both a naive girl, convinced her bond with Jonny makes them "a model of how the world should be," and a more jaded adult.

Doran ultimately sketches a warm portrait of four people intent on carving out their own identities, though it means they crash into each other from time to time. A climax set on the eve of a wedding brings the group and their differences into stark contrast, even as we see them as parts of one wholly functional modern family.

“The Mystery of Love & Sex,” through April 26 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 W. 65th St. Tickets: $77-$87. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Bakery's Recipes Stolen]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:12:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0227-2015-Cruffin.jpg

Binders containing hundreds of sweet recipes mysteriously disappeared overnight from Mr. Holmes Bakeshop, a three-month-old start-up in San Francisco's Tenderloin that's growing in popularity.

In fact, on a typical weekday 7 a.m. opening, most goods are sold by 11.

Word got out to the shop's loyal following, and customers were worried those famous "cruffins" -- a croissant and muffin hybrid -- were history.

Fortunately, the shop's recipes were all backed up on a computer.

"Some people were calling up through the day, like 'Hey, if they stole the cruffin recipe, are you going to have cruffins tomorrow? Because if not, we might not come!'" said Ry Stephen, a co-owner of the bakery.

Stephen suspects a copycat may be the culprit.

"There's a sense of competitiveness in pastry just like in a sport or in writing," Stephen said.

No equipment or cash were taken from the bakery. While there were no signs of forced entry, the owners insist this was not an inside job.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[KFC to Serve Edible Coffee Cups in U.K.]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:29:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/178*120/kfc+edible+coffee+cup+scoff-ee.jpg

Chicken lovers in the United Kingdom have a new treat to try — edible coffee cups that will be served at KFC restaurants in Britain.

A one-of-a-kind cookie, lined with heat-resistant white chocolate and covered with sugar paper, make up the consumable drink holder — known  as "scoff-ee cup," according to a news release from the Kentucky-based poultry chain.

"We have been experimenting with edible packaging to see if it could be a feasible product to bring to market...and thought that if our customers occasionally like to have their cake and eat it, why wouldn't they want [to] have their cup and eat it instead," said Jocelyn Bynoe of KFC.

Colonel Sanders' team partnered with food scientists at The Robin Collective to develop the new product, which was created to celebrate the launch of Seattle's Best Coffee in its restaurants.

"We've infused different cups with a variety of ambient aromas including coconut sun cream, freshly cut grass and wild flowers, said Brandy Wright, a designer at Robin Collective.

French vanilla and mocha are yummy and popular coffee flavors, but we'll have to wait and see how Brits react to java that puts a hint of mowed lawn on the palette.

The item has not yet been added to British stores' menus and a KFC U.K. spokeswoman told NBC they have no date set for the scoff-ee cup's launch.

A stateside KFC spokesman said their are no current plans to bring edible cups to the United States.

Photo Credit: Oliver Dixon/KFC]]>
<![CDATA[“Hamilton” Moving to Broadway]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:34:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HamiltonBroadway.jpg

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed new musical “Hamilton,” which is now enjoying a sold-out limited run at The Public Theater, will move to Broadway this summer.

“Hamilton,” which tells the story of one of history’s founding fathers and features book, music and lyrics by Miranda and direction from Thomas Kail (“In the Heights”), will begin previews July 13 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Opening date is set for Aug. 6.

It’s a full circle moment for Miranda, who made his Broadway debut at the Richard Rodgers with “In the Heights.”

“The relationship between the audience and the stage at the Richard Rodgers is the best I’ve ever had,” he told NBC New York. “You can see every face, you can communicate with everyone. It feels like a conversation, not like you’re doing a show for people.”

Miranda also told NBC New York why he thought “Hamilton” has been resonating with critics and audiences:

"We deify the founding fathers, and with good reason,” Miranda said. “But they were people. And ‘Hamilton’ is a reminder that they were human beings. And they were brilliant but they were flawed. But the fights they had crept into the recipe that made America. We’re all still having those same discussions and those same debates today.”

“Hamilton” will be the second show The Public has transferred to Broadway this year, following Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's “Fun Home,” which begins performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre on March 27.

“We have produced two shows that are radically different from one another in every way, except they truthfully speak to the time in an extraordinary fashion,” The Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis told NBC New York. “They are of our moment in an amazing way. And one of them is about a lesbian cartoonist and her suicidal father, and the other is about the founding of the United States, but they’re both big, open hearted, innovative, experimental musicals that touch a mainstream audience.”

Tickets for the Broadway engagement of “Hamilton” go on sale March 8 via Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Announces 2-for-1 Off-Broadway Sale]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:13:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/blue+man+getty.jpg

New York City's tourism agency is announcing a two-for-one deal on tickets to 40 off-Broadway shows.

NYC & Company says the promotion starts Monday and goes through March 8.

Participating shows include "Avenue Q," ''Blue Man Group," ''STOMP" and the satirical "50 Shades! The Musical."

Full-price tickets to the shows can range up to $100 or more.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Chicken Selects Returns]]> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:58:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+chicken+selects.jpg

Watch out, Chicken McNuggets. Soon there will be a new breaded chicken dish in the house.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's announced Wednesday that Chicken Selects will return to menus nationwide next month.

"The Chicken Selects will make a national return in early March and be sold as an order with three pieces. We look forward to bringing back this customer favorite made with chicken tenderloin," Terri Hickey, a McDonald's spokesperson, said.

McDonald's describes Chicken Selects as "crispy strips of all white chicken breast, premium dipping sauces...this is luxury lunching."

The menu item will only be available nationally for a limited time, but markets will have the option to keep them on the menu if they want, Hickey said.

Chicken Selects were first introduced in 1998 and were pulled from the menu in February 2013.

The menu item previously came with a variety of dipping sauces to choose from, including chipotle barbeque, creamy ranch, hot habanero, honey mustard, hot mustard, spicy buffalo, sweet chili, sweet 'n sour, honey and tangy barbeque.

The fast food company's announcement comes just two months after company officials said they were planning on trimming their menus. This decision was prompted by a decline in U.S. sales that many attribute to McDonald's unhealthy image and an increasingly health conscious society.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lin-Manuel Miranda Makes History With “Hamilton” ]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 09:33:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hamilton1499rR.jpg

All the buzz you’ve heard about "In the Heights" scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical “Hamilton,” which just opened at The Public Theater and has sold out nearly all of its limited run, is completely justified.

“Hamilton” is by far the most exciting new musical of the year, with its infectious score, powerhouse performances and fresh take on a seemingly stale subject. 

Like Michael Friedman’s critically acclaimed rock musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” before it, “Hamilton” effectively uses the music of another generation — hip-hop — to tell the story of one of the history’s underappreciated heroes.

This time, it’s Alexander Hamilton (played by Miranda himself), a founding father of the United States. Among Hamilton’s many accomplishments? Instituting the nation’s financial system. Establishing our national bank and system of tariffs. Serving as chief staff aide to General George Washington during the revolutionary war. And shaping economic policies as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

That doesn’t even scratch that surface of what Hamilton achieved, all while being “a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman / dropped in the middle of a forgotten / spot in the caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor.” They don’t just put anyone on the $10 bill, after all.

It would be very easy for a historical musical to feel like a three-hour sung Wikipedia page. But Miranda avoids any of those cliches by creating a story focused much more on character than timeline. This is an intimate study of a man driven by his convictions — a constant underdog who worked tirelessly to make his world a better place.

It’s also a story that’s entirely sung-through, which is a rare thing to find in musical theater these days (think more “Les Misérables” and less “Mamma Mia!”). This approach makes Miranda’s lyrics and score all that more important. (Miranda’s also credited with writing the show’s book, which is inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography “Alexander Hamilton”).

Miranda’s a genius with words and melody, and each song in “Hamilton” is rich with emotion and wit. His layered arrangements (created with "Heights" musical director Alex Lacamoire) will draw you in, and his clever lyrics will leave you hanging on every word. Many of the songs — especially those infused with a hip-hop or R&B beat — sound like they could live at the top of today’s music charts, easily with Ne-Yo or Pharrell behind them.

Trust: you’ll want a cast recording halfway through the first act.

Of all of his talents, though, acting is probably Miranda’s weak point (though he’s grown a lot since “Heights”). Miranda gives Hamilton genuine charisma and boundless energy, but in moments of vulnerability, he’s still shaky in his convictions.

That’s barely noticeable due to the strong supporting cast surrounding Miranda, lead by Leslie Odom, Jr. (TV’s “Smash”) as Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s greatest foe. Burr is a conservative strategist, who rarely fights a battle he doesn't think he can win. This often puts him at direct opposition of our hero. “If you stand for nothing Burr," Hamilton asks him, "What do you fall for?” 

It would be easy for Odom to play Burr as an outright villain. He instead makes us care for Burr — makes us understand Burr, right up until the end. Odom’s especially strong in the second act, where he turns the sly, dangerous song “The Room Where It Happens” into a show-stealing number.

Odom and Miranda aren't the only actors of color playing our white founding fathers. Only one white actor is cast in a principal role, and that's "Something Rotten" star Brian d'Arcy James as King George. If that diversity doesn’t say something about how America has evolved or lived up to its potential as first envisioned by the founding fathers, than what does?

Miranda’s “Heights” co-star Christopher Jackson (“Holler If Ya Hear Me”) is winning in a grown-up role as Hamilton’s mentor George Washington. Daveed Diggs find the fun in two roles: Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. Phillipa Soo ("Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812") and Renée Elise Goldsberry (TV’s “The Good Wife”) both bring poise and strength to their roles as sisters Eliza and Angelica, who each fall for Hamilton in very different ways. 

“Hamilton” is brilliantly staged by director Thomas Kail and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who, like Lacamoire, reunite with Miranda after working together on “In the Heights.” The group proves to be an formidable team, creating polished and inventive moments that perfectly sync with story and song.

Tickets for “Hamilton” are going to be nearly impossible to get your hands on. The show is only playing through May 3, and every date is sold out. There are options (The Public offers a number of seats up for a $20 in-person lotto and a $10 virtual lotto through TodayTix), and I would be shocked if “Hamilton” didn’t extend or transfer to Broadway soon. So keep an eye out. You’ll want to see his story told.

“Hamilton,” through May 3 at The Public Theater, Newman Theater, 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets for non-members starting at $120. Visit www.publictheater.org.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Darren Criss Is Broadway’s New "Hedwig"]]> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:34:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/454451297AP00037_TrevorLIVE.jpg

“Glee" star Darren Criss made his Broadway debut in 2012 in the revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" -- and now he’ll return to Broadway in another hit revival, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Criss, who plays Blaine Anderson on the FOX series, will play the title role of Hedwig for a 12-week run beginning April 29.

He’ll replace “Hedwig” co-creator and original off-Broadway star John Cameron Mitchell, who joined the Broadway production at the end of January and will remain with the show through April 26.

Mitchell is currently out of Hedwig’s heels, recovering from a knee injury. He’s been covered by Michael C. Hall, who played the role on Broadway prior to Mitchell’s stint. Mitchell returns to “Hedwig” on Feb. 24.

"I've got a grin plastered on my face that Darren is joining the brotherhood of Hedwigs," Mitchell said in a statement. "I LOVED him in ‘How to Succeed.’ His stage presence is electrifying, his rock and roll credentials and comic timing impeccable and I'm thrilled to be working with him to create a brand-new Hedwig!"

Criss' three-week run in "How to Succeed" was completely sold out, bringing in more than $4 million at the box office and proving to be the highest-grossing three weeks of the revival's 11-month run.

Lena Hall, who won a 2014 Tony for her portrayal of Hedwig's husband, Yitzhak, will remain with “Hedwig” through Criss’ run. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Flash Mob Tango's in LAX]]> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 00:45:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Terminal-Tango-021515.JPG

There's probably no other dance that conveys the message of romance and passion better than the tango.

To help spread the love, a group of 40 local dancers took the Argentine tango to a SoCal airport terminal on Sunday.

"Tango is symbolic of Valentine's, of relationships, of love, of passion, of everything that is joy in your life," said dance instructor and event organizer Ilona Glinarsky.  "We wanted to bring a little bit of joy and maybe a little love to a place that seems to be a little dry and a little stressful at times."

Although it was the day after Valentine’s, the group of dancers from Living Tango dance studio in El Segundo put on quite a show in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Men and women dressed in red and black performed the highly improvisational dance.

The first few bars of the song were choreographed, but the rest of the performance was completely improvised, Glinarsky told NBC4.

In addition to a free show, the Living Tango dancers treated travelers to Valentine’s candy.

Photo Credit: Joel Cooke ]]>
<![CDATA[Lane, Dennehy in "The Iceman Cometh"]]> Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:36:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/IcemanMain.jpg

There’s almost always someone face down on a table in the bleak and beautiful revival of Eugene O’Neill’s drama “The Iceman Cometh,” now settled into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater for a six-week run.

Nathan Lane as middle-aged salesman Theodore “Hickey” Hickman and Brian Dennehy as ex-anarchist Larry Slade lead an 18-actor ensemble in the nearly five-hour play, which in its current incarnation premiered three years ago at Chicago’s Goodman Theater. This “Iceman” is helmed by Robert Falls, the Goodman’s artistic director, who previously led Dennehy—then, as Hickey—in “Iceman” a quarter-century ago.

The production design throughout these four acts is as dark and soiled as O’Neill’s message about the futility of our aspirations, with Dennehy bathed in a barely perceptible glow as the play begins, his slumped-over companions becoming more visible as the light spreads.

“Iceman” is O’Neill’s despairing story about the denizens of Harry Hope’s west side saloon, a surly lot watching any promise of fulfillment slip beyond the horizon. The patrons (and the saloon’s owner, who hasn’t ventured outside since the death of his wife, 20 years earlier) await the fast-talking Hickey’s semi-annual revelries with the anticipation of a drunk expecting a generous pour from a bartender.

Everyone in this bar believes redemption is just around the corner. Agoraphobe Harry (an acidic and unpredictable Stephen Ouimette, with Lane, below) has vowed to finally venture out into the sunlight. Former war correspondent “Jimmy Tomorrow” (James Harms, fragile and earnest) swears this will be the day he reclaims the newsman’s job he lost. Ed Mosher, Harry’s brother in law (a slick Larry Neumann Jr.), is sure he can earn a fast buck if he gets back in the circus game.

These are all just pipe dreams, as O’Neill reminds us some three-dozen times throughout “Iceman,” though they are relentlessly encouraged by Lane’s Hickey, who arrives at the end of the first act tossing a handful of bills in the air like a mad carny preacher. It’s rewarding to see Lane, the comic treasure, venturing again into darker territory, as he did in “The Nance.” His Hickey is full of empty promises, and hiding more darkness than anyone else in the bar.

Dennehy, slouching and scowling and awaiting the “fine long sleep of death,” conserves his energy, so that when his passions are unleashed—mostly in confrontation with Don Parritt (Patrick Andrews, a powder keg), the son of his imprisoned girlfriend—they resonate even more. Parritt’s mother and Hickey’s dead wife, Evelyn, are the two unseen women whose presence hovers in the bar’s air like so much stale smoke.

Salvatore Inzerillo is hulking and fearsome as night bartender Rocky, a pimp by any other name. Respected New York stage actor John Douglas Thompson is wonderful as Joe Mott, the black man who once ran a gambling house and dreams of reopening it.

With its runtime (there are three intermissions) “The Iceman Cometh” is a serious commitment. Once you’re invested in it—and it’s difficult to not be—it’s the sort of overwhelmingly sad production likely to leave you examining your own unfulfilled promises.

“The Iceman Cometh,” through March 15 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St. Tickets: $35-$180. Call 718-636-4100.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Termine ]]>
<![CDATA[True Love, Caught on Camera: Creative Public Proposals Go Viral]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 17:41:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ellen+proposal.jpg

In the mood for everlasting love as Valentine's Day approaches? Here's a look at public marriage proposals over the past year that are sure to get the waterworks (of joy) going.

Epic Proposal from 26 Countries, 4 Years in the Making 

"I'm going to marry this girl eventually," is what Jack Hyer says he wrote in his travel journal shortly after his first date with his girlfriend Becca. Over the next four years of the relationship, he filmed himself singing 1980s hit "I'm Gonna Be" as he traveled the world, with clips from places as far as China, Tanzania and Thailand. He used the reel to propose to her, also on camera in a restaurant, and posted the entire feat on YouTube.

Man Chases Love with 5K Proposal

This finish line was extra sweet for one runner who finished the Phillies Charities 5K, when her boyfriend pulled off what the sponsoring baseball team says was the first-ever proposal at the end of the event.


Talk about a lift off! This man taped himself proposing in front of Pad39 A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which he notes on YouTube was "where we sent Apollo to the moon and Space Shuttles launched." You can't hear the words, but he says he wooed his wife-to-be with,"Some of mankind's greatest journeys started right here - I want to start my next journey with you -- will you marry me?"

On Bended Knee on "Ellen"

Is there any better place to propose than in front of a studio audience with Ellen on hand? There must be dancing after a life changing event like this. 

Sometimes You Have to Say Yes on the Subway

Subway trains can be gross, slow and crowded, but the chance to witness a proposal on board the train is sure to put your commute (and day) on the right track. Robert Waters told Gothamist that he planned to propose to girlfriend Carley Frese on the train, complete with a hired gospel choir, because "wanted to make it a special place for her the way that it is for me." 

A Musical Flash Mob 

The message was clear: "Who cares baby, I think I want to marry you." The groom-to-be surprised his future bride with a dancing flash mob proposal at Tivoli Village in Las Vegas, according to the videographer who captured the special moment.


After surviving the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Bonnie Kate was proposed to by her filmmaker boyfriend inside a movie theater. He told Today.com that he decided to stage the elaborate proposal, complete with a video documenting the ups and downs of their relationship, because he  "had to in some way shine light on the darkness."

 Rose Bowl Proposal Spectacular

This proposal took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where the couple met years before. But that was far from the only special detail of the event. Her boyfriend surprised his wife-to-be with a scavenger hunt that included pampering, lunch with friends, shopping spree and a meeting of the future in-laws before popping the question, according to the film company that captured the event.

Surprise Scavenger Hunt Engagement 

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel helped stage a proposal by selecting a "random" audience member to go on a scavenger hunt. The woman comes back with Elmo, but this was no joke. The man under the mask was her future husband. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Runs Away From Home, Tracks Down Owner With Cancer in Hospital]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:53:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_hospitaldog0212001_700x394.jpg A miniature Schnauzer ran away from its Iowa home to track down its owner, who was recovering from cancer in a nearby hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.]]> <![CDATA["Death Star" is Legoland's Latest Mega Addition]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 20:51:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Death+Star+Legoland.JPG

Legoland’s latest attraction is made up of more than 500,000 Lego pieces, weighs more than 1,900 pounds and took a crew of construction workers to assemble.

Rest your eyes on the Death Star, the planet-shaped model that’s the latest addition to the LEGO Star Wars Miniland. You can check it out for yourself starting March 5.

Workers used a fork lift to perch the Death Star above the Star Wars display, which was no small task, as the model is 8-feet wide and 13-feet high.

The Death Star is inspired by Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which featured the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker steered his X-wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.

The opening of the Death Star is a precursor to the Star Wars Days even on March 7 and 8, which will include various activities centering Star Wars.

<![CDATA[NoCal City's Humorous Traffic Signs]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 12:45:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/signs2.jpg

A Northern California city is using humor to get drivers to slow down and pedestrians to pay attention.

The City of Hayward has placed traffic signs along a downhill boulevard that read "35 — It's a speed limit, not a suggestion'' and "Heads up! Cross the street, then update Facebook.'' Another sign warns: "Downhill: Use eyes, brakes, brain.''

The Oakland Tribune reports city workers installed the offbeat traffic signs in January along Hayward Boulevard, which is known for cars zipping down from the hills.

City spokesman Frank Holland says authorities hope using humor will get people to do a double-take and be careful on the hill.

A recent survey found speeding was a top concern for residents in the area.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Ben & Jerry's Newest "SNL" Ice Cream: Wayne'Swirled]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:12:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/229*120/wayneswirled.jpg

Party time! Excellent!!

Ice cream lovers and "Saturday Night Live" fans, rejoice! Ben & Jerry's has unveiled its final "SNL"-inspired flavor, Wayne'Swirled — a caramel- and fudge-laden homage to sketch comedy's favorite metalheads.

Wayne'Swirled's blend of dark caramel and vanilla ice creams with fudge and caramel swirls is, the creamery says, "an ode to the yin and yang that are Wayne and Garth."

It's currently available only in Ben & Jerry's ice cream shops.

Wayne'Swirled marks the final installment in a line of four flavors marking the landmark NBC sketch comedy show's upcoming 40th anniversary.

Last year, Ben & Jerry's offered up Two Wild & Crazy Pies, a pie-heavy tribute to the classic recurring Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd sketch about two overeager Czech brothers' antics.

Before that came two others: Lazy Sunday, full of cupcakes and frosting, and Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch, with caramel clusters, fudge-covered almonds and a marshmallow swirl.

The three-hour "SNL" 40th Anniversary Special will air live Sunday at 8/7c on NBC.

Photo Credit: Ben & Jerry's]]>
<![CDATA[Say "I Love You" With Your Smartphone This Valentine's Day]]> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 18:07:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/valentines-chocolate-469002943.jpg

Want to make your Valentine feel extra special? Skip the traditional pharmacy greeting card and instead create a one-of-a-kind Valentine's Day message online. These easy-to-use apps offer fun and unique ways to personalize your message from the comfort of your smartphone.

Video Greeting Creator (A1 Brains Infotech)

Create a video message with a Valentine's Day border (10 frames) and choose music from your own music library to go along with your own personal recorded message. More here.

Postagram (Sincerely Inc.)

Use this free app to make your own photo postcard on your phone and then mail it for 99 cents within the United States and $1.99 outside the U.S. Write your own sweet VDay message and include any photo directly from your iPhone or Android device. The postcard is printed on thick, glossy paper. More here.

 Ink (Sincerely Inc.)

Never miss a holiday or other important date with this app, which allows you to customize free eCards with a choice of 2,000 layouts, photos from Facebook, a personal message and a variety of colors. You can order printed paper cards of your creation, too. The app, available for iPhone, iPad or Android, can be used beyond Valentine's Day, too — just link it to your Facebook to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and more. More here.

Someecards (Someecards, Inc.)

The witty (and sometimes raunchy) e-cards freqently get laughs and likes on Facebook, and its Valentine's Day collection is no exception. Those who celebrate Single’s Awareness Day might take a liking to these cards as well. Share through email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. More here.

Love Poems (Mario Guenther-Bruns)

If you are lost for words, this free iPhone app has a collection of romantic writings, from Shakespeare to Edgar Allen Poe. Use the self-described "app to fall in love with" to send your love a poem through Facebook, Twitter or via email. More here.

GoodFor Coupons & IOU Cards (SnipSnap)

If you forgot a Valentine's Day gift in the past, this free iPhone app will keep you out of trouble. Choose from designed backgrounds or a photo from your phone and send your significant other an "IOU a 30 minute massage" or a coupon that's "Good for a night on the town." The chronicly late can make sure a gift arrives on time even if you don't for date night. More here.

A Flower Email (Boo Kim)

Can't afford splurging on sending a bouquet of red roses to your lover's door? With this 99-cent app you can send your Valentine some virtual flowers through email. The iPhone app offers hundreds of different e-arrangements. More here.

Cupid Booth (John Temple Group Pty Ltd.)

Love selfies? This one is for you. This free iPhone app lets you take a photo or select one from your phone and dress it up with speech bubbles, hearts, hats, kisses and your own written messages. Text it or share it on social media for your friends to see. More here.

Talking Panda Mime Love Letters (StartApp)

Send an animated panda "Pandamime" to declare his love for your beloved.

This free iPhone app captures your facial expressions and records a message that plays back via a cartoon panda which you can send through email or Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. More here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[George Takei’s Broadway Debut and More]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 17:34:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/491803633BB002_18th_Annual_.jpg

While you were watching the Super Bowl (or the Super Bowl commercials), here’s what was happening this week “In the Wings.”

George Takei will make his Broadway debut this fall in “Allegiance.” The new musical tells the story of an often-ignored time in American history, when tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps by President Roosevelt from 1942 to 1946. The “Star Trek” star has a connection to the material, having spent four years of his childhood in two camps. Music and lyrics come from Jay Kuo, with a book by Marc Acito. Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Tell Leung (“Godspell”) are in negotiations to join the cast, after starring alongside Takei in a 2012 production of “Allegiance” at the Old Globe. “Allegiance” will begin performances Oct. 6, with an opening night set for Nov. 8. [More info]

“Falsettos” is returning to Broadway. The landmark musical, which features a score by William Finn (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) and a book by Finn and James Lapine (“Into the Woods”), will return to the Great White Way next spring in a new revival directed by Lapine himself. “Falsettos” takes place in the early years of the AIDS crisis, and tells the story of a man who leaves his wife and son to be with another man, and the family they form together. [More info]

The first ever Broadway fan convention set for 2016. “BroadwayCon” will gather Broadway fans and stars together for a three-day convention of “panels, performances, workshops, keynotes, autograph and photo opportunities, concerts, meet-and-greets, Q&As and more” “BroadwayCon” will take place Jan. 22-24, 2016 at the New York Hilton Midtown. “Rent” star Anthony Rapp co-created the event, alongside Melissa Anelli and Stephanie Dornhelm. Tickets go on sale March 15. [More info]

Ben Rimalower’s “Patti Issues” will swing back to NYC. The critically acclaimed solo show, which explored Rimalower’s obsession with Patti LuPone, will return to The Duplex, Wednesdays through April 29. “Patti Issues” will be performed in repertory with Rimalower’s newest play, “Bad With Money” - which tackles the actor’s spending problems. Both show are directed by Aaron Mark. [More Info]

“Hee Haw” is getting the musical treatment. The classic TV series will come to the stage in “Moonshine: The Hee Haw Musical,” which will have its World Premiere this fall at the Dallas Theater Center. Loosely inspired by the show, “Moonshine” features a score by the 2015 “Best New Artist” Grammy nominee Brandy Clark. Direction comes from Gary Griffin (“Honeymoon in Vegas”), with a book by “13” scribe Robert Horn. [More info]

Photo Credit: Brad Barket | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: "The Lion," at Lynn Redgrave Theatre]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 21:10:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/LionMain.jpg

“Clothing becomes armor,” singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer notes toward the end of “The Lion,” his bittersweet solo show about the barrage of generally unfair occurrences that characterized his teens and 20s. “I am literally dying. The only thing I have any control over at all is what I wear.”

Scheuer is discussing the things we do to maintain a sense of control over our lives when chaos rules the day. One way this young man coped with illness in his late 20s was by starting to dress as if he’d stepped out of a Brooks Brothers catalog.

It’s difficult to reconcile the story of loss that transpires over 75 minutes with the exuberant, suspender-clad fellow who walks onto stage at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, where “The Lion” has just opened following a lauded run last year in a Manhattan Theater Club production at City Center (it subsequently played London’s St. James Theatre).

Scheuer shares a simple space with a couple of chairs and a half-dozen mostly acoustic guitars, intermittently weaving folk-rockish songs into a tale that moves from event-to-event like Tarzan tree-hopping on jungle vines: We stop momentarily on themes of boyhood, young love, familial estrangement and disease, settling ultimately on some sort of reconciliation to circumstance.

Scheuer’s story begins benignly enough, with the young man recounting an early memory of his mathematician father, who once made him a banjo out of a cookie-tin lid and rubber band strings. “Cookie Tin Banjo,” which opens and closes the piece, is a song so chipper and good-natured you might think you’ve stumbled into Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree.

Matters turn dark in short order, though, as we learn more about Ben’s hard-to-please dad, an erratic man whose conflicts with teenage Ben are the focal point of the musical’s first half. We also meet Ben’s mom, a Brit, and his two younger brothers, later characterized as the “cubs” Ben will learn to watch over.

Scheuer’s voice is powerful and strong, his manner charismatic, and his songwriting easy to become lost in. “I’ll Bet Loving You Would Be Easy” is a story about a bit of normalcy, his first love affair, which interrupted the so-far gnarled bookends of his life. “A Surprising Phone Call” is a poignant and unexpected piece imagining an impossible exchange between his parents.

The songs in “The Lion” originally were part of an album Scheuer recorded with his band, Escapist Papers. Director Sean Daniels, who here handles difficult subject matter with enormous care, later helped shape the material into this play, with its appropriately metaphorical title (the imaginative animated video for the musical’s eponymous penultimate number can be seen here).

As the evening goes on, Scheuer’s tie is loosened, and his shoes and socks come off. What’s revealed is a confident performer opening himself in ways that few solo performers ever do.

Scheuer brings not a trace of self-pity to his tale, but this kind of zest for life could only originate from a man at peace with his lack of control over the universe. When Scheuer sings “Inside my gentle paws, I’ve got some devastating claws … and I’m learning what it means to really roar,” we realize it right along with him—he’s got the might and mane to carry on.

“The Lion,” through March 29 at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, 45 Bleecker St. Tickets: $26-$75. Call 866-811-4111.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[No Winner for Powerball, Jackpot Rises to $360 Million]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 06:32:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/1757444901.jpg

Lottery officials say no jackpot winner was selected in the latest $317 million Powerball drawing.

Sue Dooley is the senior drawing manager for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees Powerball. She says there will be another drawing Saturday after no one matched Wednesday's winning numbers.

Each drawing without a winner rolls the jackpot over and makes it more lucrative. The Powerball website shows the current estimated haul for the next drawing is $360 million.

Until Wednesday's drawing, there had been something of a big-time prize drought, with nearly a year passing since a jackpot above $300 million.

Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The odds of matching all six numbers in the game are 1 in about 175 million.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Q&A: “Lady Be Good” Stars Colin Donnell and Patti Murin]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:38:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ColinPatti.jpg

George and Ira Gershwin’s first Broadway collaboration is the musical “Lady Be Good.” The comedy, which starred Fred and Adele Astaire, first opened on Broadway in 1924, but hasn’t seen a grand-scale New York City production since.

All that will change on Feb. 4, when “Lady Be Good” opens at New York City Center, kicking off the 2015 Encores! season. Nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune (and his red tap shoes) stars in the limited run, which closes Feb. 8.

Newly engaged actors Colin Donnell (“Violet,” TV’s “The Affair” and “Arrow”) and Patti Murin (“Fly By Night,” “Lysistrata Jones”) also star as two characters who fall for one another despite mistaken identities and zany plots. (Don’t worry — their real-life love story was far less complicated).

In between rehearsals and wedding planning, the two sat down with us to discuss falling in love, on and off stage:

NBC 4 New York: What drew you both to “Lady Be Good”?
COLIN DONNELL: I love classic musical theater and the Encores! program. But really, it was Tommy Tune. I saw him perform in “The Music Man” at The Muney in St. Louis when I was a kid. That always stuck in my brain.
PATTI MURIN: [Tune] was one of those people who even before I knew I wanted to go into musical theater, he was inspiring me. But this sort of came out of the blue a bit. I was just excited to be playing opposite Colin.
DONNELL: This is the first time that we’re really truly playing opposite one another! I’m just so happy it is working out. I feel so honored.

NBC 4 New York: The show features these songs by the Gershwins. These composers are going places, huh?
DONNELL: [Laughs] Give them another 50 years, and they’ll really become something!
MURIN: My first show out of college was at a non-equity theater down in Florida. And I did “Crazy for You.” There’s not many scores as wonderful as that. I’ve done mostly new musicals, and it’s like “Oh... Okay... It’s not Gershwin..”
DONNELL: It’s been really fun to revisit all of their music. It’s a joy, especially with the Encores! orchestra.
MURIN: And the Gershwins are still full of surprises. There are a couple of songs people aren’t going to know. The first song Danny Gardner and I sing, “Hang on to Me,” won’t be very recognizable, but it’s a beautiful Gershwin tune.

NBC 4 New York: You were last together in The Public Theater’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost” back in 2012. Is that where you first met?
MURIN: We actually met 8 years ago at a birthday party. We lived six blocks away from each other, so we became friends and hung out a bit. But nothing was brewing then.
DONNELL: Nothing ever happened until Shakespeare in the Park. It was a long-gestated friendship.
MURIN: We had both come out of relationships. And then I had a party where we got drunk and made out. And the next day I was like ‘Oh no — we start rehearsal tomorrow! I’m going to have to see him every day, what do I do?’ Neither of us were looking for another relationship.
DONNELL: It was great the way it worked. It felt right when it happened.
MURIN: And it felt careful in the right way. It felt like we took it a little bit slow.

NBC 4 New York: Is it hard dating another actor? Does it get competitive?
DONNELL: There’s ups and downs through every career, so without your partner backing you up, there’s a possibility of becoming resentful. We’ve found a great balance of letting each other do our own thing and being supportive. But one of the things we did early on was we banned business talk entirely between us.
MURIN: For like, three months! It really forced us to make sure we were connecting in other ways. A lot of time when you date actors, at the end, all you have left is what you do.
DONNELL: And that’s not to say — I’m a huge fan of Patti Murrin the actress. And I dare say I might be her biggest fan.
MURIN: We are each other’s biggest fans, for sure.
DONNELL: But more so, I’m in love with her as a person, and that’s what makes me happy every day. I wouldn’t be able to have the successes in my career if it weren’t for the happiness in my personal life.
MURIN: I feel the same way.
NBC NY: It’s kind of disgusting.
MURIN: I know it’s gross!

NBC 4 New York: These days, so many actors are traveling back and forth from stage to screen. How do you choose where to go next?
DONNELL: I would love to think of it logically, but it doesn’t work. You’ve got to try and figure out what the next move may be, and then allow for something to completely come in and screw that plan up.
MURIN: Everything that’s ever happened for me has been what I never expected. I agreed to do “Lysistrata Jones” for $250 in a gym downtown because I liked the material, and it lead to my first starring role on Broadway. You have to turn off that logic, which is the hardest thing ever.
DONNELL: Detachment is the name of the game. And just the fact that that opportunity is more available — it’s thanks to the creative powers out there who are looking outside of this one little section of performers that they have. They’re championing this wide pool of actors.

NBC 4 New York: Well we’re glad you’re both back on stage this time around.
DONNELL: The show is pure farcical fun. And I’m going to enjoy sitting in the wings and watching it unravel onstage each night.
MURIN: And just the people that they have!
DONNELL: It’s one of the cool things about doing Encores! It’s these three weeks, so it’s this amazing commitment that they can get Tommy Tune to do it. It’s such a treat for NY Theater. Being at the show, watching people do what they do so well, hearing a full orchestra, and hearing beautiful music? There’s nothing better.

“Lady Be Good,” through Feb. 8 at New York City Center, 130 West 56th Street. Tickets: $30-$130. Call (212) 581-1212 or visit NYCityCenter.org.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Auction of Big Mac Special Sauce Draws 5-Figure Bids]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 05:02:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

A Big Mac may only cost a few dollars at McDonald’s, but when it comes to the fast food chain’s Big Mac Special Sauce, things get pricey fast. 

McDonald’s Australia has apparently decided to auction off the first of 200 bottles of their “legendary” sauce on eBay and bidders are emptying more than just their pockets for a chance to purchase the limited-edition bottle.

“For too long Big Mac Special Sauce has been trapped in a beautiful, delicious burger – now we’ve set it free!” the auction page states. “This bottle is #1 of only 200 being produced worldwide, and they won’t be sold in restaurants.”

By Tuesday morning bids had reached nearly $18,000 with more than seven days left to bid.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, 135 bids had been placed for the 500-milliliter bottle, the highest being $23,100 (AU).

The world’s largest hamburger chain said 100 percent of the auction sale price will go to the Australian branch of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Closed Musicals Hit 54 Below For Final Farewell ]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:17:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/ClosedMusicals54Below.png

Broadway’s supper club 54 Below is giving new life to three critically-acclaimed Broadway shows which recently closed: “The Last Ship,” “Side Show” and “After Midnight.”

The original cast and band of Sting’s “The Last Ship,” which closed Jan. 24, will reunite on March 2 for an evening celebrating seafaring songs.

“The Last Ship” star Michael Esper is expected to appear, alongside Fred Applegate, Sally Ann Triplett, Collin Kelly-Sordelet and Shawna M. Hamic, among others. They’ll be singing cut material from “The Last Ship,” as well as other seafaring songs, like “Beyond the Sea.”

Proceeds for “The Last Ship” concert will go to Wallsend Boys Club -- an youth soccer club in the northern part of England founded by shipbuilders.

Erin Davie and Emily Padgett played conjoined twins in the recent revival of “Side Show,” which closed on Jan. 4. The two starlets will hit the 54 Below stage on March 5 to perform hits from “Side Show” and other favorites from their careers.

A few days later on March 9, Davie and Padgett will reunite with Ryan Silverman, Matthew Hydzik, David St. Louis and other members of the “Side Show” cast for another tribute to the show. Joining them will be “Side Show” lyricist and book writer Bill Russell, who will serve as the evening’s host, and composer Henry Krieger.

Expect to hear popular numbers from the show, as well as material unavailable on the upcoming revival cast recording, such as songs that were cut in out-of-town performances.

After Midnight” was a 2014 Tony nominee for Best Musical, but unexpectedly closed on June 29, 2014. On April 3, the show’s orchestra and cast will reunite for an evening of jazz standards infused with a modern R&B twist.

Carmen Ruby Floyd, Bahiyah Hibah, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Bryonha Marie Parham are just a few of the performers you can expect to see, all singing and dancing to songs by Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and more.

Tickets for all four events are now on sale to the general public. For prices, showtimes and to purchase tickets, visit www.54Below.com.

<![CDATA[New Plays for Jim Parsons and Amanda Seyfried]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:36:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ParsonSeyfried.png

Hollywood stars Jim Parsons and Amanda Seyfried have both been cast in new plays set to premiere in New York this spring.

Jim Parsons, who has won four Emmy awards for his role on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” will return to Broadway in the new comedy “The Act of God” — which begins performances May 5 an officially opens May 28 at Studio 54.

Parsons will play the man upstairs Himself, in the limited engagement play directed by Tony-winner Joe Mantello (“Wicked”). This will be the third show Mantello’s directed on Broadway this season, after “Airline Highway” and “The Last Ship.”

“The Act of God” is based on the popular Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod and corresponding book from 13-time Emmy winner David Javerbaum, and is being billed as “A 90-minute conversation in which I will reveal the mysteries of the Bible and answer some of the greatest existential questions that plague mankind.”

Javerbaum, a head writer and executive producer on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” will transcribe the play -- though God is listed as the show’s official author.

Tickets and further information for “An Act of God” can be found on at www.AnActOfGod.com.

Amanda Seyfried ("Mean Girls") will make her Off-Broadway stage debut alongside Thomas Sadoski (“The Newsroom”) in the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s “The Way We Get By.” The drama, about the morning-after of a hookup between two wedding guests, begins its limited run at the Second Stage Theatre on April 8, with an official opening May 20.

Seyfried, who has starred in the film adaptations of Broadway hits “Les Miserables” and “Mamma Mia!” replaces “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany, whose casting was announced in October. Scheduling conflicts appear to be the reason for Maslany’s departure.

For more information on “The Way We Get By,” visit www.2st.com.

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller | Astrid Stawiarz (Getty Images)]]>