<![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 Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:11:04 -0500 Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:11:04 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Diane Lane Back on Stage in LCT's "Love & Sex"]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:55:40 -0500 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 11:12:41 -0500 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 04:29:53 -0500 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 11:34:02 -0500 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 12:13:21 -0500 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 10:58:16 -0500 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 08:33:51 -0500 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 15:34:47 -0500 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]]> Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:45:51 -0500 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 17:36:11 -0500 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 16:41:15 -0500 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.

NASA Love

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.

Wildflower 

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 06:53:45 -0500 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 19:51:52 -0500 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 11:45:03 -0500 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 07:12:09 -0500 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 17:07:37 -0500 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
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<![CDATA[George Takei’s Broadway Debut and More]]> Sun, 08 Feb 2015 16:34:03 -0500 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 20:10:24 -0500 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 05:32:53 -0500 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 14:38:20 -0500 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 04:02:34 -0500 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 12:17:06 -0500 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 22:36:23 -0500 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)]]>
<![CDATA[Shakespeare in the Park’s 2015 Season Set]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:44:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/513517165VM018_The_Rape_Fou.jpg

The Public Theater will take on two of Shakespeare’s last romances in this year's Shakespeare in the Park season, continuing the 53-year tradition of free theater in Central Park.

"The Tempest" will play a five-week run at the Park’s Delacorte Theater, from May 27 through July 5. Leading that production will be "Newsroom" star Sam Waterston, who will be marking his 13th Shakespearean production at The Public. Tony nominee Michael Greif ("Rent," "Next to Normal") will direct.

"Cymbeline" is up next, with a production that runs from July 27 through Aug. 23. Tony winner Daniel Sullivan ("The Country House") will direct the fairy tale about a princess whose fidelity is put to the test when her soul mate is banished by her disapproving father.

"The Tempest" was first staged at the Delacorte in 1962, during Shakespeare in the Park’s inaugural season."Cymbeline," in 1971 -- in a production that coincidentally starred Sam Waterston.

As always, tickets to The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park productions are free and distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on the day of the show.

Once again, The Public Theater will offer free tickets through a Virtual Ticketing lottery on the day of the show. Those wishing to participate can register at www.shakespeareinthepark.org.



Photo Credit: Valerie Macon | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Ugh! That Newsweek Cover": Silicon Valley Women Respond]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:22:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/newsweekmain.jpg

Newsweek's latest cover on "What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women" sparked a firestorm Thursday —  on Twitter and in Silicon Valley — with some accusing the magazine of taking on sexism with a sexist cover.

The clip-art cover shows a woman in red heels holding a laptop, while a cursor lifts up her red dress.

“It's going to take a revolution to change the sordid and systemic sexism in Silicon Valley,” was how Newsweek tweeted out its cover story, which delves into scandals and controversies that have rocked the valley — from tech entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal who was accused of attacking his girlfriend to the sexual harassment lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins to startup “bro culture.”

"Well, Newsweek, the revolution's not going to start like this," feminist site Jezebel fired off on Twitter.

"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media and News.

“It’s kind of like doing a story about rape and having the cover image be a cartoon with a victim handcuffed to a bed,” tweeted Carmel DeAmicis, a reporter for Gigaom.

But it wasn’t just social media pundits and journalists lashing out.

The cover also got a lot of buzz at the Tech Superwoman Summit in San Francisco Thursday.

"Yikes," "What the heck," "This is the actual cover?" ... "Well interesting" — female software engineers and excecutives chimed in.

“I don’t know if I would have gone with that graphic,” said Cathryn Posey, founder of Tech Superwoman.

“It’s unfortunate, parents will tell their girls ‘don’t go into the tech industry,' when that’s only part of the story,” said Julie Elberfeld, an MVP at Capital One.

The Newsweek article itself points out that despite running tech giants such as Yahoo and HP, women are still under-represented in tech, something conference attendees didn't disagree with. Google, Facebook and Apple recently released gender breakdowns for its employees, and the numbers don’t look too good for women.

“I also think it’s our biggest opportunity — with this data, now that we know what’s going on, we can all partner to solve it, so I think it’s a transcendental moment for the industry if we can come together on it,” Posey said.

“We are actively hiring and recruiting right now, and we are looking to bring in a good balance of men and women,” said Julie Giannini of New Relic.

Newsweek’s editor James Impoco responded to the backlash, telling The Daily Beast: “We came up with an image that we felt represented what that story said about Silicon Valley. If people get angry, they should be angry.”

]]>
<![CDATA[CSC's "A Month in the Country"]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:31:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CountryMain.jpg

Love is out of reach for everyone in the Classic Stage Company’s first-rate revival of “A Month in the Country,” the mid-19th century Ivan Turgenev play that’s equal parts comedy and heartbreak.

Taylor Schilling, of TV’s “Orange is the New Black,” heads a cast of recognizable small-screen talents as Natalya Petrovna, the wife of a neglectful land baron who finds herself drawn to a young tutor she’s hired to care for her son. Harboring years of unrequited feelings for Natalya is her best friend, Mikhail (Peter Dinklage, of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”).

The leads are surrounded by a gaggle of supporting characters, including a nudgnik doctor and Natalya’s teenage ward, Vera, who becomes her romantic rival.

Schilling, making her New York stage debut, is excellent as a woman who surprises herself with the lengths she’ll go to in order to attract handsome instructor Aleksey (Mike Faist of “Newsies”), who appears immune to her charms.

As the friend-zoned pal, Dinklage brings frustration and insight to the stage, such as when he recognizes Natalya’s budding infatuation before even she does: “Recently, you have been in a state of constant irritability. Even you are confused by it ….”

Anyone who’s even been in Mikhail’s shoes will find him relatable.

Faist is effective as the tutor straddling the line between boyhood and manhood, painfully concerned with the impact he has on others, while unaware he’s the source of the frustration. Megan West (murdered student Lila Standard on TV’s “How to Get Away with Murder”) is well-matched as Vera, a vulnerable yet self-aware young woman learning she can’t trust her caretaker. (The pair are pictured below.)

It was most fun to watch Thomas Jay Ryan (“The Temperamentals”) as Shpigelsky, the by his-own-counts mediocre doctor who sets out to marry off Vera to a local buffoon for his own selfish gains. Ryan is exceptionally well cast as a character who gets what he wants without concern for how foolish he looks in the process.

Anthony Edwards, of TV’s “ER,” is appropriately clueless as Natalya’s husband, Arkady, though the part doesn’t give him much of a chance to stretch. It’s also lovely to see Annabella Sciorra (Tony’s one-time girlfriend on “The Sopranos”) and Elizabeth Franz (a Tony winner for 1999’s “Death of a Salesman”), both of whom are delightful in supporting roles.

Erica Schmidt, wife of actor Dinklage, directs the production, which comes in at just over two hours. “A Month in the Country” uses the CSC’s narrow confines to advantage. A gray overhand suspended from the ceiling keeps the action tightly framed.

Turgenev’s play, adapted here by John Christopher Jones, has a Chekhovian sense of form -- nothing is very fair, and those looking for tidy resolutions should turn their attentions elsewhere. Ultimately, as Arkady observes, everyone who is wounded takes off “like a flight of starlings, and all because they’re good, honorable people.” You won’t know whether to laugh or cry as they run away from their feelings, but it’s sure a treat to watch them flee.

“A Month in the Country,” through Feb. 21 at Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St. Tickets: $75. Call 212-352-3101.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Blizzard Stops Broadway]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:09:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/461081559SP022_WINTER_SNOW_.jpg

The show won’t go on Jan. 26 on Broadway as all performances have been canceled due to the blizzard.

Only three Broadway productions had previously scheduled performances on Monday evening: “Chicago,” “Mamma Mia!” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” 

Ticketholders should contact their point of purchase for information about exchanges.

It is unclear whether similar cancellations will occur on Tuesday, Jan. 27. An official announcement will be made by the Broadway League Tuesday morning. 

Disney Theatrical Productions aren’t taking any chances, though. Performances of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” have already been canceled for Jan. 27. Disney is offering complimentary ticket exchanges for performances, information of which can be found at aladdinthemusical.com/weather and lionking.com/weather, respectively.

Off Broadway productions and nightlife venues, such as Birdland Jazz Club, have also canceled performances for Jan. 26. Broadway's supper club 54 Below has also canceled performances for Jan. 27. 



Photo Credit: Spencer Platt | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Emma Stone and Anna Chlumsky in Their Broadway Debuts]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:50:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/StoneChlumsky.png

It happens all the time on Broadway: the actor who originates a role leaves the production, and another one steps in to replace him or her. Usually, said replacement doesn’t get much buzz. But with the surge of celebrity-lead productions these days, celebrity replacements are becoming more of a regular thing. And can often lead to longer runs (See: Martin Short stepping in for Nathan Lane in “It’s Only a Play”).

Let’s see how three of them — Anna Chlumsky, Richard Thomas and Emma Stone — are are doing:

Anna Chlumsky and Richard Thomas, “You Can’t Take It With You

On “Veep,” Anna Chlumsky plays the Vice President’s long-suffering Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer — a quick-talking, foul-mouthed problem-solver, constantly forced to throw herself under the bus to save the day.

Chlumsky is showing a different side in her Broadway debut, stepping in to the role of Alice Sycamore in the hit revival of Kaufman and Hart’s “You Can’t Take It With You.” She’s lost the sarcasm and upped the level of stress, as Alice tries (and fails) to conceal her unconventional, wacky family from her straight-laced, soon-to-be in-laws (Byron Jennings and Johanna Day, perfectly paired and perfectly square).

On the surface, Alice appears to be the only normal member in a family of playwrights, painters, ballet dancers, musicians and firework-makers. But the play doesn’t really work if there isn’t a little bit of crazy inside Alice, too. After all, that carefree attitude might just be genetic.

Luckily, director Scott Ellis gets that, and allows Chlumsky to explore Alice’s manic side. As the night unravels, so too does Alice. Chlumsky gets goofy and frantic, finding physically comic moments that Rose Byrne, who originated Alice in this production, never had. Moreover, Chlumsky’s natural chemistry with Fran Kranz, who plays Alice’s fiance Kirby, brings a warmth and sweetness to Alice that you can’t help but fall for.

Chlumsky isn’t the only addition to the “You Can’t Take It With You” family. Emmy-winner Richard Thomas (“The Waltons”), last on Broadway in 2012’s “An Enemy of the People,” also has joined the cast as Paul Sycamore, Alice’s inventor father. It’s harder for Thomas to stand out among the chaos of the Sycamores, and he appears far more restrained than Mark Linn-Baker was in the role before him. But he still captures Paul’s childlike enthusiasm to get the character’s biggest laughs. John-Boy would be proud.

“You Can’t Take It With You,” through Feb. 22 at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St. Tickets: $37-$152. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Emma Stone, “Cabaret

When Roundabout Theatre Company originally planned to remount Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 revival of “Cabaret,” they hoped Oscar-nominated actress Emma Stone would be their Sally Bowles. Scheduling conflicts got in the way (damn you, Spider-Man), and the part instead went to another Oscar-nominee: Michelle Williams.

Williams gave a nuanced and heartbreaking portrayal of Bowles. Fragile and afraid, she played Bowles like a wannabe star with little talent and a big personality who prostituted herself to the mainstage of the Kit Kat Club. Like Roxie Heart in “Chicago,” Williams’ Bowles got wrapped up in all that jazz and just couldn’t escape.

Stone plays the part very differently, and in turn, gives the show a whole new energy. Her Bowles is not nearly as breakable. But in turn, she’s not nearly as lost. This isn’t a scared little girl, begging to be rescued. This is a strong young woman, who feels in control of her actions even when there’s no control to be had. In Stone’s hands, Bowles’ manic behavior in the book scenes come off as an adaptable woman who knows how to survive.

She can sing, too, and dance just as well — both on display in her energetic opening number “Don’t Tell Mama” and the commanding “Mein Herr.” Stone’s voice is sweet and full, with the actress’ signature husky tone all but vanished. She turns “Maybe This Time” into a tender ballad, reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. With Stone’s talent, you get the feeling that if the circumstances were right, this Sally Bowles actually could have been a star.

That makes her take on the title number “Cabaret” all the more heartbreaking. Because she’s not just giving up her chance at a happy life with Cliff (Bill Heck) — she’s giving up her chance at a successful life on the stage. Here’s hoping Stone herself doesn’t follow suit — this is one performer Broadway needs to see more of.

Emma Stone is in “Cabaret” through Feb. 15. The production closes March 29 at Studio 54, 254 W. 54nd St. Tickets: $47-$162. Call 212-719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org for tickets.



Photo Credit: Jason Merritt | Andrew H. Walker]]>
<![CDATA[Anne Hathaway Books One-Woman Play at The Public]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:08:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/531158771PH00045_15th_Annua.jpg

Oscar winner Anne Hathaway will star in George Brant’s “Grounded” at the Public Theater this spring, in a limited engagement that begins April 7 and ends May 17. Opening night is set for April 23.

The one-woman show tackles the struggles of wartime vets adjusting to everyday life, with Hathaway playing a fighter pilot who is reassigned to remote-controlled drones after the birth of her son.

Direction will come from two-time Tony winner Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”) -- who last worked on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Brooklyn Theater in 2013.

“Grounded” first premiered in New York in January 2014 at TriBeCa’s Walkerspace, with actress Hannah Cabell in the leading role. Prior to that, it won a slew of honors in London, including the Smith Prize for Political Theater.



Photo Credit: Kevin Winter]]>
<![CDATA[Target Launches New Plus-Size Line]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:51:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/240*120/AVA+VIV+Header.jpg

Target has announced plans to unveil a new clothing line designed specifically for plus-size women.

The line, expected to arrive in mid-February, was designed by Target's in-house design team and features "stylish basics along with trend-driven statement pieces that fashionistas will love," the company said in a release Wednesday.

Similar to Target’s other apparel line, the new AVA & VIV clothing will be updated monthly, with prices ranging from $10 to $79.99.

“Target is synonymous with great design, and with the launch of AVA & VIV, we’re stepping up our fashion game for our Plus-size guests,” Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of merchandising, apparel and accessories at Target said in a statement. “From stylish original prints to the attention to detail and fit, this line is meant to impress and we can’t wait to share it with our guests.”

As part of their latest line launch, the Minneapolis-based retailer enlisted the help of a blogger who once called for a boycott of the company. Chastity Garner, along with fellow plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, were hired to help promote the line and give feedback on the newest collection.

Last August, Garner announced she was boycotting Target after the company released their Altuzarra for Target collection.

"Year after year, season after season, you put out these gorgeous designer collections and you almost never include a plus range. Every time each of these collections is about to be released it feels like a slap in the face," Garner wrote. “You may ask, ‘Is there any way I will take you back?’ I will take you back, when and only when, you include true plus sizes in your designer range collaborations. Until then, I will take my money elsewhere."

The line will be available on Target.com on Feb. 22 and will arrive in stores mid-February through March, the company said.



Photo Credit: Target
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<![CDATA["Into the Woods," Off the Big Screen]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:21:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/WoodsMain.jpg

These "Woods" have been defoliated.

There are just 10 actors and one major set piece—a piano—in the Fiasco Theater’s inventive Off-Broadway take on "Into the Woods," the favorite Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, now open at the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre.

While this latest revival surely stands to benefit from Disney’s recent moment with the parable, it also stands in razor-sharp contrast to the box office hit, which boasts a lush CGI beanstalk and a towering, village-crushing giantess.

There’s nothing towering or gigantic about this production of the “after happily ever after” musical, first presented at Princeton’s McCarter Theater in 2013 (and arriving in New York with the same cast). To create the image of a giant in the story’s climactic moments, a Fiasco company member merely shines a handheld downstage spotlight onto an actress, whose shadow looms large onto a curtain behind her.

The innovations drop like golden eggs from a goose during the 2-hour and 40-minute performance, co-directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, who appear respectively as the Wolf and the Baker. Brody’s Wolf arrives on stage clutching the mounted head of a lupine, as it might have been prepared by the local taxidermist (take that, Johnny Depp).

A dressmaker’s mannequin does stand-in as the tree at the grave of Cinderella’s mother. Folded paper transforms into the birds who assist her in their endeavors. That goose and the golden egg? It’s a feather duster and a glittery Christmas ornament. And so on.

The tricks serve to create a distilled, acoustic “Into the Woods” that forces us to focus on the bare bones of the story: we have our fairy tales, but this here, in the second act, is how life really is. The performances, particularly Emily Young’s winking Little Red, assume an intimate knowledge of the story (Young doubles as Rapunzel). This production will be most appreciated by theatergoers already familiar with the material.

You could not ask for a more interesting Milky White, who comes off as sullen, yet remarkably human thanks to a winning interpretation by Andy Grotelueschen, who “Moos!” and rings his cowbell at all the right moments—there’s no costume here.

I was equally taken with regional theater vet Claire Karpen’s crystalline-voiced Cinderella. Jennifer Mudge, last seen as Adrian’s confident pal in Broadway’s “Rocky,” makes for an imposing witch (in spite of the grandmotherly knit shmata on her shoulders), while co-helmer Steinfeld is an even-keeled Baker.

All the action transpires against a set framed by a surrealist’s landscape of piano keys, harps and other instrument parts. As in John Doyle’s far glitzier Sondheim revivals, the actors here double as musicians, playing cello or bassoon, though usually off to one side of the stage. The piano proves to be an excellent makeshift cliff for the climactic death of the Baker’s Wife (the appealing Jessie Austrian).

At times, the sameness of the cast (is it me, or are these woods due for some diversity planting?) was distracting. Because the talented actors seem to be in the same age range and type, including the ones playing Jack (Patrick Mulryan) and Little Red (Young and Brody are pictured, above), the characters aren’t sharply differentiated.

It may not sound like a hindrance, but you notice it during the second act finale, as the Baker and Cinderella are promising to take care of the orphaned children … who are taller than they.

The members of the Fiasco company have the resourcefulness of a community theater in how they land “Into the Woods” on what is surely a modest budget. Sometimes, what they come up with hits the mark—sometimes it doesn’t quite. Still, we’d gladly hand over five magic beans to watch them do their thing.

“Into the Woods,” through March 21 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St. Tickets: $99. Call 212-719-1913.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Sad Monkey Consoled by Pal]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:08:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/012215+comforting+monkeys.jpg

Think you had a bad day? Try trading places with this sad little monkey.

In this adorable clip from Miami's Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Angelica, a capuchin monkey, lands herself in timeout. And clearly, she is heartbroken over it.

Jessica Soto, an assistant with ZWF Miami, tells NBC 6 that Angelica is a 2-year-old capuchin monkey, and Toby is almost 4. Together, the pair were both playing with a Yorkie puppy when Toby pulled on the pup's leg. The two were scolded, and Angelica took off running to hide. As a result, Soto says both monkeys were put in timeout.

In the clip, we can see Angelica inconsolably rest her head in her hands, looking truly heartbroken over her predicament.

Thankfully, her good friend Toby was there to make their time in timeout more bearable. 

In the adorable clip, Toby can be seen putting a caring arm around his pal, offering some friendly chatter, and even giving her a few sweet scratches to the head.

The caption on the @zwfmiami Instagram page says,"Toby consoling Angelica, who's on timeout," along with the hashtag "#almosthuman."

Soto says capuchin monkeys are highly intelligent and are often used as service animals, as is the case with Angelica and Toby who are the service animals of a ZWF guest.

Thankfully, Soto says Angelica was not kept in timeout very long, but just long enough to capture the sweet moment between two friends on video.



Photo Credit: ZWF Miami/Instagram
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<![CDATA[Oreo Dresses Up for Valentine's Day With New Flavor]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:00:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/222*120/oreo+red+velvet+1200.jpg

Oreos are dressing up for Valentine’s Day.

The treat dubbed “milk’s favorite cookie” has a new look and flavor, one that is popular among foodies—Red Velvet. The chocolate cookies are now red and have a creme cheese spread between them.

They will hit stores on February 2 and be around for only six to eight weeks.

Eager Oreo lovers can enter for a chance to win free samples before they hit shelves — 20, 250 people will be selected to try the cake-like treats.

According to a taste test by Today.com, the Red Velvet cookies have garnered mixed reviews. Some call it too sweet while others think they are simply delish. 

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<![CDATA[“She Loves Me” Revival Coming]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 09:22:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RadnorBenanti.png

“How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor and “Nashville” star Laura Benanti will headline a spring 2016 limited engagement Broadway revival of “She Loves Me” for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 50th anniversary season.

The classic musical, which features a score by Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), will be directed by Scott Ellis. He knows a thing or two about directing revivals, having helmed three revivals for Broadway this season alone: “You Can’t Take It With You,” “The Elephant Man” and the upcoming “On the Twentieth Century.”

“She Loves Me” tells the story of Georg (Radnor) and Amalia (Benanti) -- coworkers who clash at the office but accidentally fall in love with one another after anonymously exchanging romantic letters.

Sound familiar? The story, adapted by Joe Masteroff from a play by Miklos Laszlo, was the basis for the 1949 James Stewart film "The Shop Around the Corner" and the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

The revival will mark Josh Radnor’s Broadway musical debut. The actor, currently appearing on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Disgraced,” appeared in a special one-night-only gala reading of “She Loves Me” for the Roundabout back in 2011.

It will be Benanti’s first Broadway role since 2010’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” The Tony-winning actress is currently in rehearsals alongside the Rockettes for Radio City’s “New York Spring Spectacular,” which begins previews March 12 with a March 26 opening.

“She Loves Me” has special significance for the Roundabout. Their 1993 production, also directed by Ellis, was the first Broadway musical production in the company’s history. It launched the Musical Theatre Program, which has gone on to produce Tony-winning revivals of “Cabaret,” “Nine,” “Assassins,” The Pajama Game” and “Anything Goes.”



Photo Credit: Cindy Ord | Stephen Lovekin]]>
<![CDATA[Controversial “Phantom of the Opera” Casting]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:25:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/phantom+controversy.jpg

An actor who once served jail time for endangering the welfare of a minor is Broadway’s newest “Phantom”—and there are some people who are extremely unhappy about it.

Last week, James Barbour, 48, was named to succeed actor Norm Lewis --the first black man to play the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical figure on Broadway. A stage veteran, Barbour has appeared in a number of shows before, including “Assassins,” “Urinetown” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

But in 2006, he was indicted on nine counts of engaging in criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child after activity between Barbour and a 15-year-old female fan back in 2001, following a performance of “Jane Eyre.”

Barbour would admit to a judge in 2008 that he fondled the girl in his dressing room before the final curtain call, and engaged in oral sex with her the following month in his Upper West Side apartment.

He plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, which absolved Barbour from having to register as a sex offender. He served a 60-day jail sentence and received three-years probation.

After the casting announcement, fans took to social media to express their outrage.

“The fact that James Barbour was chosen as the new Phantom makes me sick,” wrote Patricia Ferragamo, on Twitter. “There are plenty of talented actors who aren't confessed criminals.”

Aileen McKenna, a reporter and co-founder of the popular theater site The Craptacular, argued that Barbour’s casting alluded to a bigger problem.

“As a woman, I feel uncomfortable with, and alienated by this casting decision,” McKenna wrote. “It makes me wonder if this Broadway -- the one that casts men who confessed to sexual conduct with a minor -- is a Broadway that I personally want to be a part of, or financially support.”

Barbour’s defenders were equally vocal on social media.

“It’s healthy to want people to learn from their mistakes and move forward,” added Katie Lott on Facebook. “I’m sure he’ll do a fabulous job.”

Many wondered why “Phantom” casting was bringing so much controversy this time around. The actor previously appeared, post conviction, in 2008’s “A Tale of Two Cities.”

It could have something to do with the worldwide success of “Phantom” -- the longest running show on Broadway. Or it could be because the character of the Phantom obsesses over a young girl he can’t have.

“The Phantom of the Opera” defended the move, in a statement appearing on the musical’s Facebook page. “James fully accepted the responsibility of what happened 14 years ago,” they said. “While we know some will disagree, we believe James has completely honored the second chance he was given beginning 7 years ago.”

Barbour’s run begins Feb. 9.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[100 Cases of Beer at Your Door? There's an App for That]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:54:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bud+Light+App.jpg

Some Bud Light lovers can now get beer delivered to their door with the tap of a smartphone screen.

With two weeks to go until Super Bowl Sunday, Anheuser-Busch has introduced a new app offering home delivery of Bud Light in less than an hour.

The free app "Bud Light Button" made its debut in Washington, D.C., this week. It provides Bud Light during the legal hours that alcohol is allowed to be sold in the city. The company said a "nominal" delivery fee will be charged, but did not specify the amount.

As of Thursday, D.C. residents of legal drinking age were able to order between one and 100 cases of beer with just the touch of a button.

The app is part of Bud Light’s "Up for Whatever" campaign to encourage customers to have spontaneous fun.

David J. Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam, said the app follows a broader trend of dry counties becoming wet and blue law prohibitions against Sunday sales of alcohol declining.

"I think a lot of people will be willing to pay the extra fee for home delivery. Hopefully it will decrease the number of drinking and driving injuries as well," said Hanson, who has researched alcohol and drinking for more than 40 years.

He hopes to see the app spreading to all 50 states, predicting that it will do well if the company sees people vote with their dollars... or with their pointer fingers. 

The app is currently only available on Android-powered smart phones; an IOS version is coming soon.

For more information on how to download the app, click here.  

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<![CDATA[Review: Tony Danza, in "Honeymoon in Vegas"]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:31:43 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/HoneymoonMain.jpg

Would you bet against Tony Danza? I sure wouldn’t, certainly not in a vehicle as full of cheesy goodness as “Honeymoon in Vegas,” which just opened at the Nederlander Theatre following a well-received world premiere at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse. All the leads are back for the Broadway run.

Adapted from the 1992 film, which it occasionally turns on its head, “Vegas” tells the story of Jack Singer (Rob McClure of “Chaplin”), a Brooklyn fella afraid his marriage will disappoint his mother even though she’s been dead for 10 years.

Jack summons the nerve to propose to girlfriend Betsy (Brynn O’Malley, last seen as Grace Farrell in “Annie”), but his plans are interrupted on a visit to Sin City, when smooth-talking gambler Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) decides the pretty schoolteacher should be his.

The musical has a book by Andrew Bergman, who also wrote and directed the movie, and a -- ka-ching -- jackpot-winning score by “Bridges” and “Last Five Years” composer Jason Robert Brown.

Danza’s Tommy has the sad wisdom of a man whose heart has been irrevocably broken. Dark Danza is not. Even when Tommy engages in a dirty trick that sets the convoluted plot in motion, it feels oddly forgivable in Danza’s hands; there’s an argument to be made that Tommy should be at least somewhat threatening.

The lovable goofball from “Taxi” and father-figure of “Who’s the Boss” is a guy so darn endearing that he’s drumming up support for the musical comedy by hanging around the TKTS booth in Times Square and telling interested theatergoers they can call him "a bum" afterward if they’re disappointed.

Tony Danza could sucker punch the conductor halfway through the overture and you’d still root for him. He does no such thing in “Vegas,” of course. Rather, the actor, 63 and aging better than most of us will, engages in crowd-pleasing, low-impact tap dancing, strums a ukulele and makes a valiant effort at singing (the show’s big numbers aren’t written with him in mind).

As it is, the most killer thing about Danza is his threads. His performance, eminently enjoyable, at times left me rooting for him to get the girl. That was unexpected -- and frankly I’m on the fence about whether it helps the show’s prospects.

Meanwhile, the hero, a mama’s boy who self-identifies as a “schmuck,” is played by the equally likable McClure, a Tony nominee for his work in the 2012 silent film star bio-musical, who in “Vegas” has the advantage of appearing in a role in which being likable is, at least, an asset.

McClure sells this show every moment he’s on stage, particularly during the climactic scene set on an airplane that’s been chartered by a group of flying Elvis impersonators. 

 

As Betsy, the schoolteacher eager for Jack to put a ring on it already, O’Malley has all the best qualities of a leading lady.

The supporting cast members are stand-outs. Tony nominee Nancy Opel (“Urinetown”), as the ghost of Jack’s shrewish mother, enjoys one of the more eyebrow-raising entrances Broadway’s seen in a while. David Josefsberg does gut-busting work in dual roles as Vegas lounge singer Buddy Rocky and “Flying Elvis” Roy Bacon.

Composer Brown has crafted an exceptional score, particularly in its more morbid incarnations, such as when Danza sings “Out of the Sun,” a delightfully absurd paean to his late wife, who died of skin cancer: “I was a fool—so blind and deaf/I might have saved her with a higher S.P.F.”

“I Love Betsy,” meanwhile, is as charming a curtain-raiser as I’ve seen this millennium, with its instantly recognizable urban homages, down to the D’Agostino delivery cart. Brown’s legion of fans are apt to consider this one of his finer achievements, in spite of the source material’s garish qualities.

The story pings and pongs from Brooklyn to Vegas, then Hawaii and back to Vegas, with video projections doing much of the heavy lifting. Under the zippy direction of Gary Griffin (“The Color Purple”), it comes in at about 2:30, yet doesn’t overstay its welcome. “Vegas” ends up feeling a lot like “Bullets Over Broadway”—it will undoubtedly appeal to the same audience—though at the end of the day this new musical has the benefit of a novel original score.

Danza is such a nice guy that I began to wonder if “Vegas” would turn out differently than a musical like this “should.” The ending may or may not be a foregone conclusion, but I doubt anyone’s shaking down Danza at the stage door and looking for a refund.

“Honeymoon in Vegas,” with an open-ended run at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. Tickets: $77.75-$161.75. Call 866-870-2717.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Man One of Two Passengers on Delta Flight]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:26:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Empty-Plane.jpg

Legroom wasn't an issue for one Brooklyn man who was lucky enough to be one of two passengers on a flight from Cleveland to New York City Monday morning.

Chris O'Leary, editor of beer blog Brew York, tweeted a photo of himself on the otherwise empty plane before the jet turned back to the gate to pick up a second passenger, according to his Twitter feed.

"They rebooked everyone but me on another flight to LGA, so I am literally the only person on this plane," O'Leary said in one tweet.

In another tweet, O'Leary said that a second passenger got on the plane just as his plane was about to push back from the gate. The two passengers then departed for New York City.

Several other Twitter users expressed envy at O'Leary's presumably peaceful flight.

"Talk about leg room. No babies crying. And, no fighting over the arm rest. Play the lottery, you're sure to win," tweeted Kesha B.



Photo Credit: Chris O'Leary via Twitter @ohhleary
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<![CDATA[Review: Gyllenhaal, Globe Winner Wilson Brighten Up "Constellations"]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:45:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/ConstellationsMain.jpg

Stories that unfold in multiple universes have undeniable appeal. Who wouldn’t want to think that just because things aren’t so swell here, they’re not better -- or at least different -- on some parallel plane? Cases in point: Broadway’s “If/Then,” David Ives’ comic “Sure Thing,” the films “Sliding Doors” and “Groundhog Day,” and so on.

The “multiverse play” gets an appealing entry with “Constellations,” a two-character drama by young British playwright Nick Payne now having its American premiere, with Jake Gyllenhaal and newly minted Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (Showtime’s “The Affair”) making their Broadway debuts. “Constellations” has just opened at the MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Amid examples of the genre, “Constellations” raises the stakes by introducing a female lead with an academic background in nothing less than quantum mechanics. Wilson’s Marianne studies “theoretical early universe cosmology” at Cambridge University, and believes that at any given moment, several outcomes of any event can co-exist simultaneously.

“In the Quantum Multiverse,” she explains to Gyllenhaal’s wholly rapt Roland, a charming beekeeper, “every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.” (With kudos to the playwright, there’s not a suggestion of classism apparent between the two.)

Payne eases into the material gently: Marianne and Roland meet at a barbecue, where her flirty opening gambit is: “Do you know why it’s impossible to lick the tip of your elbows? They hold the secret to immortality.” Roland, sensing the come-on, shuts her right down: “I’m in a relationship.”

There’s a flash, and then the scene repeats, with Marianne making further inroads. The narrative repeats yet once more, and Roland gradually moves from a position of evasiveness to willingness. Spoiler alert! You will get to see Gyllenhaal and Wilson attempting to lick their elbows…

“Constellations” takes a little more work to follow than, say, “If/Then.” When I first saw the cascade of balloons suspended over the heads of its appealing stars, I’ll admit to a fleeting hope that they would change colors as a visual cue, letting us know when we were in a certain storyline. (In his script, Payne alternates between regular type, bold and italics to make the distinction; theatergoers have no such crutch).

As it turns out, cues aren’t so necessary. That’s partly because “Constellations” forsakes any linear quality for sheer chaos—some dialogue is repeated once or twice; elsewhere, we see variations on an exchange four or five times. It’s also because the actors are so confident and well-paced (and clearly having fun) that you never doubt how they’re playing any moment.

This isn’t Gyllenhaal’s first time at the rodeo with the playwright’s complex dialogue. He made his New York stage debut 2 years ago in Payne’s “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet,” produced by Roundabout. Like “Constellations,” that production was helmed by Michael Longhurst.

The actors give true tour-de-force performances, notably when Roland reaches a moment where he may propose to Marianne. Gyllenhaal, reading from a script Roland has prepared, makes his overture with confidence one time; he does it again in a state of sheer terror, his hands trembling along with the paper on which he has scripted his big speech.

Wilson, a two-time Olivier Award-winner honored on Sunday as best actress in a TV series, duels and parries with her partner to memorable effect, whether she’s a sloppily emotional figure out on a first date, or an academic methodically enchanted by the mysteries of the universe. That’s a tightrope to walk.

Both really have to know this script like a comfortable old sweatshirt, they’re wiggling around in it so much.

The arc of Payne’s story—there are nearly 60 scenes, within 6 or 7 particular “moments” of their relationship—traces the couple’s introduction, that first date, an illness, a surprise reunion at a ballroom dancing class and a fateful decision Marianne must make on her own.

The only real drawback to this kind of story-telling is that it’s something of an effort to ever really attach to Marianne or Roland because, by design, they have so many darn personalities. Payne keeps the conceit to 70 minutes, after which it might have become laborious; as it is, the outcome is pretty muddled, leaving us to wonder if there was a particular social statement the writer was grasping for, but opted at the last moment to back away from.

Not to matter, though. Gyllenhaal and Wilson, with all of their many sides, are a dynamic pairing no matter which direction they're coming at us from.

“Constellations,” through March 15 at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. Tickets: $67-$145. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>