<![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 Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:12:31 -0400 Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:12:31 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Misty Copeland Debuts in 'On the Town']]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:22:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-485224106.jpg

After making history as the first black woman to be named principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland conquered the Great White Way on Tuesday night, making her Broadway debut in the acclaimed revival of “On the Town.”

She’ll be with the show for just 12 performances, through its closing at the Lyric Theatre on Sept. 6.

Copeland’s performance was met with thunderous applause from the enthusiastic audience, which included celebrities like Grammy-winner Josh Groban, Tony-winner Phylicia Rashad, NBC’s own Al Roker (“Today”) and Tamara Tunie (“Law & Order: SVU”).

Also in the audience? Ninety-year-old dancer Billie Allen, the first black woman to perform in “On the Town” back in the show’s original 1944 production.

“As somebody with Broadway ambitions myself, to see Misty up there and making her Broadway debut was spectacular,” Groban told NBC New York. “Her dancing is transcendent, and to see her technique within a musical was a wonderful experience for everybody involved.”

Copeland plays Ivy Smith in the show, an inspiring performer and the current winner of the monthly “Miss Turnstile” competition. Smith becomes the object of affection for sailor Gabey (Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck), who, with the help of friends Chip (Jay Armstrong Johnson) and Ozzie (Clyde Alves), sets, out to find her while on 24-hour shore leave in New York City.

The musical, which features music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is based on Jerome Robbin’s 1944 ballet “Fancy Free.” Many of the show’s biggest dance numbers — choreographed in this production by Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse — feature Copeland’s character.

That includes the “Presentation of Miss Turnstiles,” in which we first meet Ivy. The dance paints the picture of a day in the life of Miss Turnstiles, and has Copeland pirouetting from photo shoots to night clubs to taking care of her fictional husband in her home.

You can watch Copeland perform the number here. As you’ll see, it’s a much more lighthearted dance than Copeland typically performs at the American Ballet Theatre. And yet she feels completely at home in it, punching up the humor of the piece and moving comfortably through the numbers more complicated movements.

Copeland is equally at home during the show’s book scenes. Her Ivy is more bubbly and bold than her predecessor Megan Fairchild’s, creating a sweet dynamic between Ivy and Gabey that puts their enthusiasm, nervousness and affection for one another on equal playing ground. 

We see a more traditional, romantic movement from Copeland during the show's stunning "The Real Coney Island" ballet. Copeland moves through the dance with poise and grace, leaving a trail of elegant lines and effortless flips behind her.

Her tenderness is perfectly matched with Yazbeck's rustic, masculine strength. The two are a dynamic pair, and when they hit that final pose at the piece's conclusion, you'll be left breathless.

“We really made that dance our own,” Yazbeck explained to NBC New York. “She was so collaborative and professional. We only rehearsed for a half hour one day, and then did two run-throughs the next day. And that was it. She’s the real deal.”

“I’m pretty much jealous of any other man who gets to partner with her in the future,” Yazbeck added. “Because she’s pretty incredible.”

Copeland's jeté into “On the Town” is the latest move in a history-making year for the 32-year-old. In addition to dancing leads in productions of “The Nutcracker,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Swan Lake,” she’s also been featured on TV’s “60 Minutes” and on the cover of Time Magazine as one of their “100 Most Influential People in 2015.”

In a lovely coincidence, her first performance also happened to land on the birthday of Leonard Bernstein, who composed “On the Town” when he was only 26. Act II opened with the cast and audience paying tribute to the late composer with a rendition of a song he didn’t write: “Happy Birthday.”

For tickets to “On the Town” more information, visit onthetownbroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Forest Whitaker to Make Broadway Debut]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:57:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-463136059+%281%29.jpg

This spring, Eugene O’Neill’s 1964 drama “Hughie” will once again return to New York for its third Broadway revival, this time starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker.

“The Last King of Scotland” star will make his Broadway debut as small-time gambler Erie Smith, who spends a drunken evening chatting with a Manhattan hotel’s night clerk and reminiscing over the clerk’s now-deceased predecessor.

Whitaker’s role was last played on Broadway in 1996 by another Oscar winner: Al Pacino.

Michael Grandage (“Frost/Nixon”) will direct the new production, reuniting with the creative team of set and costume designer Christopher Oram, lighting designer Neil Austin and sound designer Adam Cork -- all of whom worked together on the 2010 Broadway production of “Red.”

Casting for the role of the hotel clerk, opening dates and the official theater have yet to be announced.

Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Dances to Cheer Up Sick Child ]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 06:47:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/173*120/breakdance.PNG

Officer Joe Marte knows how to put a smile on your face.

The San Francisco Police Department officer busted some serious moves to cheer up Colren Guerra, a cancer patient at UC Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco.

Marte's uniform didn't stop him from taking on the break dance challenge, right after Guerra showed off his skills. He came in on his day off to entertain Colten, who's a huge Incredible Hulk fan.

The 5-year-old from Brentwood has a 2.75 inch tumor in his kidney and doctors at UCSF diagnosed him with Stage 4 Neurblastoma Cancer that has spread to his hips, one leg, spine, kidney, some ribs, and shoulders.

Doctors started agressive chemotherapy on Feb. 14 and are hopeful of beating the cancer.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Colten "Hulk" Guerra and his family with "medical expenses, daily expenses, and just love."

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<![CDATA[Rude Restaurant Server on Video]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:17:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/11137110_10152876011048299_1762192408383809822_n.jpg

Most Chicagoans know that when you go to the restaurant Ed Debevic’s you shouldn’t expect the nicest servers. In fact, you should prepare for incredibly rude ones.

But it appears that one exceptionally rude server at the restaurant has reached Internet stardom in a viral video posted to social media last week.

According to the video’s caption, a group of people in town for the Younique Convention decided to dine at the “interesting” restaurant, which they knew was known for its rudeness.

In the video, posted on Aug. 10 by LaNetta Limb Maxfield, a server is heard telling the group that she’d likely get fired if she was nice to them and called the patrons cheap.

“You know what grandpa, if I was nice to you, I’d get canned,” she said. “If you want good service, you go somewhere else. I know Hooters is probably more your speed, but you came here on purpose.”

The server is also heard telling a woman who ordered a Diet Coke, “I’d love to get you one, if it’ll shut you up.”

While the scene is a common one at the Chicago staple, the video has since been shared more than 82,600 times and received more than 4.4 million views.

Photo Credit: Ed Debevic's
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<![CDATA[Cirque du Soleil Creates New Show for Broadway]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 13:16:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/553056265EM071_Rock_In_Rio_.jpg

Canadian acrobatics troupe Cirque du Soleil have created their first show specifically for Broadway -- and they’re going to bring it to the Great White Way this spring.

“Paramour” will begin previews at the Lyric Theatre on April 16, 2016 with an opening set for June 2.

The musical blends Cirque’s signature style with elements beloved on Broadway, including live musicians, professional actors, and a book-driven love story narrative. The show will be set in Hollywood’s golden age, and follow a young poet forced to choose between love and art.

No casting for the 38-member company has been announced, but direction will come from French stage director and choreographer Philippe Decouflé, under the artistic guidance of Jean-François Bouchard.

Tickets for “Paramour” are now on sale via Ticketmaster. For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/paramour. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Hedwig and the Angry Inch' to Close on Broadway]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 13:17:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3787.jpg

The Tony-winning revival of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” will play its final Broadway performance at the Belasco Theatre on Sept. 13.

Initially announced as a 16-week limited engagement, “Hedwig” will have played 22 previews and 506 regular performances over 76 weeks at the time of its closing.

Six actors have donned the Hedwig wig over the shows running -- starting with Neil Patrick Harris, who won a Tony for the role.

Other Hedwigs included Andrew Rannels (“Girls”), Michael C. Hall (“Six Feet Under”), original Hedwig John Cameron Mitchell, Darren Criss (“Glee”) and Taye Diggs, who is currently playing the role.

A national tour will launch in Oct. 2016, with productions of “Hedwig” also being planning for London’s West End and Australia.

For tickets and more information, visit hedwigbroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Darren Criss Creates 'Coachella for Showtunes']]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 16:58:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/454451297AP00037_TrevorLIVE.jpg

On Sept. 27, some of Broadway’s biggest and brightest will join together at JBL Live at Pier 97 for “Elsie Fest,” a one-day outdoor music festival celebrating show tunes from stage and screen.

The brainchild of “Glee” alum Darren Criss, Broadway producer Jordan Roth and talent manager Ricky Rollins, the event will be presented with sponsorship from LiveNation and iHeartRadio.

Joining Criss in performance will be Tony winner Lea Salonga (“Allegiance”), Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Hamilton”), Laura Osnes (“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”), Aaron Tveit (“Catch Me If You Can”), YouTube sensation StarKid and radio host Seth Rudetsky.

““I was at Coachella and thought, Let's do this for showtunes,’” Criss said. “Musical theater has been going through a wonderful shift in the past few years. Why not shake up people’s ideas of where to watch the performers they love?”

Tickets go on sale Aug. 21 via Ticketmaster.com, and cost $49 for general admission and $250 for VIP seating. There are also meet and greet packages available.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

“Elsie Fest,” which takes its name from Sally Bowles’ roommate in “Cabaret,” will be hosted by Rudetsky and 106.7 LiteFM personalities Christina Nagy and Helen Little. With food trucks and a beer garden on hand, the festivities will run from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m..

For more information, visit elsiefest.com.

Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks to Offer Wine, Macaroni and Cheese ]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:54:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/starbucks.jpg

Starbucks will now include an "evening menu" in addition to the breakfast and snack options that made it famous.

The menu will feature craft beer, wine, truffle macaroni and cheese and flatbread among other items.

Starbucks said its customers are twice as likely to prefer craft beer. Also, 70 percent of Starbucks customers drink wine as opposed to 30 percent of the general population, according to Mintel Insights for Wine, January 2014 and Mintel Insights for Craft Beer, June 2014.

Starbucks first launched the evening menu in a Seattle location five years ago, and will expand to 70 stores this week.

The menu varies region to region to reflect local tastes and traditions.

Click here to find out which stores will have the evening menu.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/National Geographic]]>
<![CDATA[Ne-Yo, Common Round Out 'The Wiz Live!' Casting]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:19:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TheWizFinalCasting.png

NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” has added two more Grammy winners to its star-studded cast, network president Bob Greenblatt announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

R&B singer Ne-Yo (“Closer”) will play the Tin Man, the former woodsman out to find a new heart.

Rapper Common, who also picked up an Oscar for last year’s best original song “Glory” from “Selma,” will play a non-singing part: Bouncer, the gatekeeper to the entrance to the Emerald City.

The live production of Charlie Small’s musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” will air on NBC on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m..

Ne-Yo and Common join previously announced stars Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch of the West; Queen Latifah as the Wiz; Uzo Aduba as the Good Witch of the South; Amber Riley as the Good Witch of the North; and David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion.

Elijah Kelley, who starred in the film adaptation of the musical “Hairspray,” is also on board, reuniting with his “Hairspray” mom Queen Latifah and executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. He’ll star as the Scarecrow, the role made famous by Michael Jackson in the 1978 film.

New Jersey native Shanice Williams has been cast in the lead role of Dorothy. Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production, will be on hand to lend her support in the role of Auntie Em.

“The Wiz Live!” will be directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) and Matthew Diamond, with Harvey Fierstein (“Hairspray”) providing new materials to William F. Brown’s original book.

NBC plans to transfer the production to Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

Photo Credit: Gary Gershoff | Frazer Harrison | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sara Bareilles Bringing 'Waitress' to Broadway]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:19:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/464712181TM00299_56th_GRAMM.jpg

A new musical based on the late Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 movie “Waitress” is coming to Broadway this spring, featuring a score by five-time Grammy-nominee Bareilles (“Brave”).

The show tells the story of Jenna (played by Kerri Russell in the film), a small town pie maker who enters a baking contest in hopes for a chance to escape her mundane life and her loveless marriage.

No official Broadway theater, dates or casting have been announced, but the musical is currently being workshopped at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Tony winner Jessie Mueller ("Beautiful") starring as Jenna.

Direction will come from Tony-winner Diane Paulus (“Finding Neverland,” “Pippin”), with a new book by Jessie Nelson.

Bareilles most recently served as a judge on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” This will be the first Broadway musical she has composed.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne Brady Steps Into 'Kinky Boots']]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 14:47:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/493263885JN00120_2014_Tony_.jpg

Two-time Emmy-winning comedian Wayne Brady (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) will return to Broadway on Nov. 21 to star in the Tony-winning musical “Kinky Boots.”

Brady, who made his Broadway debut in “Chicago” in 2004, will star as Lola, the cabaret performer who helps a young shoe factory owner turn around his failing business by producing a line of high-heeled boots for drag queens.

Billy Porter, who originated the role of Lola and won both the Tony and the Grammy for “Kinky Boots,” will remain in the role through Nov. 20 before moving on to the Broadway revival of "Shuffle Along." At the time of his departure, he will have played more than 800 performances as Lola.

“I'm thrilled to join the Kinky Boots family and unleash my inner Lola,” Brady said in a statement.  "I'm ready to jump in with both feet!”

“Kinky Boots” is currently playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, and features music by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Harvey Fierstein and direction and choreography from Jerry Mitchell.

For more information, visit kinkybootsthemusical.com.

Photo Credit: Theo Wargo]]>
<![CDATA[Review: 'John,' from Annie Baker]]> Tue, 11 Aug 2015 16:05:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/JohnMain.jpg

A pair of Brooklynites on the cusp of a break-up spend a couple of days in a suffocating Gettysburg, Pa., bed-and-breakfast in “John,” the first show of Annie Baker’s Signature Center residency.

If you’ve seen Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “The Flick” -- it’s still running down on Barrow Street -- you’ll be at ease with the naturalistic dialogue here, which is just as memorable. Directed by frequent collaborator Sam Gold (“Fun Home”), “John” comes in at over three hours, with two intermissions … and plenty of painfully human awkward pauses.

“John” is notable as well for its marvelously quirky performance by Georgia Engel, who is best known for her role as the good-natured Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and who has guest-starred more recently on “The Office” and on “Hot in Cleveland,” opposite her one-time “MTM” co-star Betty White.

In “John,” Engel stars as Kitty, the owner of a B&B that once served as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. Designer Mimi Lien has crammed the living room with miniature houses and American Girl dolls. Every surface, from the walls to the seating, seems to be covered in a busy floral print.

On a snowy night the weekend after Thanksgiving, Elias (Christopher Abbott, of HBO’s “Girls”) and Jenny (Hong Chau, of “Inherent Vice”) arrive at the B&B on their way home from Ohio. He’s a Civil War buff, which is why they’ve made this detour. But here, they’re going to be forced into pleasantries with their hostess, even as their relationship is collapsing under its own weight.

The passage of time is a recurring theme in “John,” and Baker and Gold leave Engel to do the heavy lifting. She manually closes the theater’s heavy curtain at the end of each act. During each scene change, she advances the hours on the grandfather clock in the center of the living room, a process that sometimes feels long and drawn out. The lighting cools or glows in sync with her actions.

While Baker and Gold are surely capitalizing on our affection for the perpetually smiling Engel, there’s something mysterious brimming just beneath Kitty’s surface. She is someone who utters genteel aphorisms to indicate surprise (“I’ll be dipped”), yet she speaks often about an ill husband who lives on the premises, but whom we never see. Is he even there?

And why does she react so strangely when Elias picks up the journal in which she claims to be writing only about the Gettysburg sunsets?

Abbott and Chau, both excellent, make for familiar urban types. He’s loud and pushy, trying to wean himself off antidepressants and encouraging Jenny to be more verbal about her feelings. She’s polite and less comfortable talking about her emotions. Their push-and-pull throughout “John” is real, and often painful to experience. (The two are pictured, below.)

The fourth character is Genevieve (Lois Smith, of “True Blood”), who is blind and, many decades after the split from her husband -- one of two men named “John” in the play whom we never meet -- is still deeply affected by their relationship. Smith’s performance is interesting and eccentric, primarily because she’s just coherent enough to comment on her own insanity.

Like Genevieve, Jenny also has a man named John in her past. And like Genevieve, Jenny would like to think she’s left her “John” behind, though it becomes terribly evident that she has not.

“John” is full of attempts by lonely characters to relate to one another, just like “The Flick.” Ultimately, “John” is a darker story, one that leaves audiences grappling with questions about how much they trust the people with whom they’re most intimate. It’s worth it, if the idea of such a meaty and drawn out story doesn’t frighten you.

“John,” through Sept. 6 at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St. Tickets: $25-$55. Call 212-244-7529.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[Review: 'Cymbeline' at the Delacorte]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:27:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/CymbelineMain.jpg

The royals have a plan for succession, but darn if the king’s daughter is going to make things easy for them in the Public’s antic production of “Cymbeline,” the second of this season’s free Shakespeare in the Park productions, now at the Delacorte.

Daffier than those of other period romances, its complex plot is kept comprehensible thanks to a sure-footed cast that includes Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater as the put-upon lovers Imogen and Posthumus; Patrick Page and Kate Burton as Cymbeline, ruler of Britain, and his queen; and Raul Esparza as Iachimo, the rogue womanizer whose actions set most of the story in motion.

I’m partial to Rabe, who also acted alongside Linklater last summer in “Much Ado.” The two share an on-stage chemistry that’s clearly informed by their offstage relationship. (The duo first appeared onstage together at SITP in 2010’s “The Merchant of Venice.”)

Rabe’s Imogen, here, is endearing: before the play has even begun, she’s married the man she loved and assumed he’d become her king. She soon learns that he thinks that she’s been adulterous—which causes her so much pain that she covets a swift death. But in the end, Imogen discovers reserves she didn’t know she had, and that strength serves her well.

Linklater, as Posthumus Leonatus, is well-suited as Imogen’s leading man, an orphan brought up in the court who fell in love with the king’s daughter. But Posthumus is young and easily swayed, and when Esparza’s Iachimo starts to goad him, he takes the bait, with nearly tragic results. (In fact, the tragic consequences ultimately befall Posthumus’s alter ego, Cloten—Linklater, again—the queen’s son by a former husband.)

Linklater manages to locate Cloten’s buffoonish core, in the same way he keeps Posthumus full of virtue and swagger. (Rabe and Esparza are pictured, below.)

As the patriotic Cymbeline, Page (“Casa Valentina”) seems regal, without pushing himself into histrionics, and even manages something like humility as the convoluted plot begins to wrap up at the end of the second act.

Burton gives a sly performance, surreptitiously passing along poison through a chain of characters in the hope it will infect someone she wishes dead … which is pretty much everyone, except Cloten. With a permanent sneer and her red hair formed into a disconcerting triangle, Burton seems a ringer for “Bloody” Mary, Elizabeth Tudor’s infamous elder sister.

We see Burton again in less duplicitous (and more appealing) form as an old hunter who lives in a cave with two boys who think they’re her sons, though in reality they’re Cymbeline’s children.

Broadway vet Esparza is the best thing about “Cymbeline,” as the villain who dupes Posthumus into thinking Imogen has been unfaithful. Iachimo seems here to represent decadent Italian fun, which explains why Esparza is dressed as if he’d just walked out of a Rat Pack movie. (This isn’t one of those SITP productions that relocate events from time and place, but it does employ the occasional anachronism to help us get a fast handle on a character’s emotional significance.)

In “Cymbeline,” Shakespeare dips deep into his bag of tricks. There are poisoned lovers; disguises and mistaken identities; and the weight of parental expectations—as employed just last month by Sam Waterston in “The Tempest.” It’s all resolved in an intricate final scene, and somehow everyone ends up dancing and relatively content … except, of course, for poor Cloten.

“Cymbeline,” through Aug. 23 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Tickets are free and are distributed two per person (age 5+) at the theater beginning at noon on the day of each performance. See shakespeareinthepark.org.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA[Brian Stokes Mitchell Joins Audra McDonald in 'Shuffle Along']]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 14:09:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BrianStokesMitchellAudraMcDonald.png

Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, who co-starred in the original 1998 Broadway production of “Ragtime," will reunite in the musical “Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”

The drama, about the people who brought the 1921 musical “Shuffle Along” to life, will begin performances on March 14, 2016 at the Music Box Theatre. Opening night is set for April 21.

In “Shuffle Along,” Mitchell and McDonald will be joined by a slew of Tony winners and nominees, including Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots”), Joshua Henry (“Violet”) and Brandon Victor Dixon (“The Color Purple”).

“Shuffle Along” was one of the first all-black Broadway musicals written by black writers. The 1921 Broadway production played 504 performances and featured the talents of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson and Lottie Gee.

McDonald will play Gee in the show. Porter and Mitchell will play the show’s bookwriters Aubrey Lyles and F.E. Miller, with Henry and Dixon playing the songwriting team of Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle.

Blake and Sissle’s original score will be featured in the show, with a new book by George C. Wolfe, who will also direct the production.

Savion Glover will choreograph. It’ll be the first time Glover and Wolfe have collaborated since 1996’s “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” for which they both received Tony awards.

Photo Credit: :Ben Gabbe | Dimitrios Kambouris | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Hamilton' Opening Night Brings A-List, Fireworks]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 10:52:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/568757195AP00024_Hamilton_B.jpg

Some of Hollywood and Broadway’s biggest stars turned out Thursday night for the opening gala celebration of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed new musical “Hamilton.”

The event at Pier 60 in Chelsea included a bright, 12-minute fireworks display at Hudson River Park and a surprise performance from the Grammy-winning group and "Tonight Show" house band  The Roots.

Among the many stars in attendance cheering on the “Hamilton” cast Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, Lucy Liu, Peter Dinklage, Mariska Hargitay and Yvette Nicole Brown (NBC's “Community”).

“I feel relieved,” Miranda told NBC 4 New York at the party. “It’s pencils up. The show is done, I don’t have to change a single word, and I’m thrilled to be on this side of it. I’m 100 pounds lighter.”

The Roots performed an hour-long set of some of their best hits, including “The Seed.” Miranda joined them on stage for a bit of freestyling, mixing the show’s line “I am not throwing away my shot” with The Roots’ beat.

It won’t be the last time they collaborate either. Questlove and fellow Roots member Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter will produce a two-disc “Hamilton” original cast recording -- set for a Sept. 25 release on Atlantic Records.

“It’s a night for all of us,” “Hamilton” star Phillipa Soo said.” “Not just the cast, not just our show, but for the American theater. I hope that more beautiful art becomes created from it. I hope it perpetuates itself and brings forth many different minds that are just like Lin-Manuel’s.”

Celebrity DJs AndrewAndrew kept the dance floor going until 2 a.m., where the cast and crew grooved alongside producers, friends and celebrity talent.

Many members of the cast of “Orange Is the New Black” were there, including Lea DeLaria, Laverne Cox, Samira Wiley, Selenis Leyva and Danielle Brooks -- herself getting ready to make her Broadway debut in the revival of “The Color Purple.”

“I am so excited,” Brooks said. “Sitting in the audience tonight, I couldn’t help but envision myself up there. I can’t wait.”

Tony winner Alex Sharp (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) was also among the celebrity crowd. He told NBC New York he’s been keeping his award in his bedroom. “What, am I supposed to?” he asked. “Display it?”

Meanwhile, Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart (“Aladdin”), a longtime friend of Miranda and many of the “Hamilton” cast, praised its scribe for his lyrical genius:

“Everybody says they can rap, but most people aren’t great lyricists,” Iglehart explained to NBC 4 New York. “And to be a lyrical mic master like Lin-Manuel is, it takes a whole different working of your mind. Most people use rap to brag about themselves. But Lin’s able to put rhymes together and syllables together to tell a great story. Not many people can do that.”

As for Miranda, he said he credits the show for not letting himself get carried away with the hype: “If I space out for a second in this show, I’m going to get hit by a chair. Or a dancer. Or a turntable. So the show demands your attention and your focus. And that’s great, because it keeps you humble, honest and grounded.”

For tickets and more information about "Hamilton," visit HamiltonBroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sophie Okonedo Will Lead 'Crucible' Revival ]]> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 12:24:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/493264001BG00014_2014_Tony_.jpg

An Oscar nominee and Tony winner will lead a 20-week revival of a Broadway classic about the Salem witch trials.

Sophie Okonedo will star in the revival of "The Crucible, set to open on April 7 at a theater to be announced. Previews begin Feb. 29.

Okonedo, who received an Oscar nomination for 2005’s “Hotel Rwanda” and appeared in "The Secret Lives of Bees, will star as Elizabeth Proctor, whose witchcraft accusation sets the plays drama in motion.

She also won a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Ruth Younger in the 2014 revival of "A Raisin in the Sun." 

“Skyfall” star Ben Whishaw will play her husband, John Proctor, while Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan (“inAtonement”) will star her accuser, Abigail Williams.

The play is directed by Ivo van Hove.

Among the rest of the cast? “Game of Thrones” star Ciarán Hinds (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”), Tony winner Jim Norton (“Of Mice and Men”), Rookie Magazine founder Tavi Gevinson (“This Is Our Youth”), Bill Camp (“Death of a Salesman”) and Jason Butler Harner (“The Coast of Utopia”).

Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['On the Town' Will Say Goodbye To New York, New York ]]> Sat, 08 Aug 2015 14:32:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/869947.jpg

The critically acclaimed revival of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s “On the Town" will end its run at the Lyric Theater on Sept. 6.

At the time of its closing, “On the Town” will have played 28 previews and 368 regular performances.

"On the Town" stars Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Clyde Alves as three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York City. The musical features several classic numbers, including "Lucky to Be Me," "Lonely Town," "I Can Cook Too" and the energetic opener, "New York, New York"

Misty Copeland, principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, will join the cast for two weeks -- and only 12 performances -- beginning on Aug. 25.

Directed by John Rando and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, “On the Town” was nominated for four 2015 Tony Awards, including best revival.

For tickets, visit onthetownbroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda's Majestic 'Hamilton']]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:02:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/HamiltonMain.jpg

When “Hamilton” debuted at the Public Theater early this year, plenty of us viewed it through the prism of color. Here was a multiracial band of performers, led by composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who couldn’t look more dissimilar from the lily white Founding Fathers they were portraying.

The casting was an implicit statement that America was always meant to be inclusive. If you didn’t get the point at first, you certainly did when Miranda, as the title character, met eye-to-eye with French aristocrat-cum-soldier Marquis de Lafayette after a victory over the British: “Immigrants. We get the job done.”

By the time I saw “Hamilton” again this week -- it’s just opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with an advance that I imagine would thrill the founder of the nation’s banking system -- issues of ethnicity, for me, had by-and-large faded into the background.

Instead, Miranda’s sweeping, largely sung-through musical about Alexander Hamilton, an orphan who became George Washington’s right-hand man, took on a second life as a master class in musical theater creation.

The pastiche of musicians to influence the score is blink-or-you’ll-miss-it beguiling: Notorious B.I.G., Gilbert & Sullivan, even Jason Robert Brown, whose “The Last Five Years” gets a nod (“Nobody needs to know…”) when Hamilton is ensnared in a sex scandal. (It was Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Hamilton that first set Miranda’s gears churning on the book.)

With its original creative team and cast largely intact (Jonathan Groff inherits King George’s crown, first worn by Brian d’Arcy James) in a larger and more solid space, “Hamilton” arrives burnished and proud, though two performances struck me as having evolved considerably from the musical’s debut.

The first is Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr, the slick and spasmodic narrator who early in their relationship advises Hamilton: “Talk less. Smile more. Fools who run their mouths off wind up dead.”

Odom’s Burr is a stop-at-nothing climber obsessed with relevancy, fully exposed when he raps about wanting to be in “The Room Where It Happens.” Yet somehow, the kinetic Odom makes Burr’s admiration for his lifelong rival come through in every scene. Odom is just magnetic here.

Enchanting, as well, is Phillipa Soo, already a Drama Desk Award-recipient for her role, as Eliza, Alexander’s wife, one of the three Schuyler sisters, who have fairly earned comparisons to a revolutionary version of Destiny’s Child. Her siblings are the marvelous Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones. (The three are pictured below, with Goldsberry out front and Soo at left.)

Daveed Diggs, doing double duty as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, is a hyper-caffeinated and charismatic White Rabbit, by way of Willy Wonka. Christopher Jackson’s Washington is confident and good-humored. Groff has the crowd on his side and hits all the right notes, even if he appears more of a prince than a king. Anthony Ramos is endearing as Alexander’s son, Philip.

And of course, there’s Miranda, whose performance complements his work behind-the-scenes. His Hamilton is an astute, painfully flawed free-thinker whose efforts in war and peace inevitably prop up the people in his midst, though his failures are profound on the homefront.

David Korins’s turntable set helps keep the nearly three-hour musical moving swiftly and is used to great effect in the climactic moments between Hamilton and Burr (telegraphed stunningly during the first act in a song called “Duel Commandments,” which takes its beats from Biggie’s “The Ten Crack Commandments”).

I don’t think “Hamilton”—which, like Miranda’s “In the Heights,” is directed by Thomas Kail—has changed much en route to Broadway. More likely, Miranda’s music and lyrics are too textured to be absorbed in one sitting. Turns out, once you’ve gotten over the first wow, there’s plenty more wow to be uncovered.

Bank on it.

“Hamilton,” with an open-ended run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St. Tickets: $65.75-$156.75. Call 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA['Orange Is the New Black' Star Joins 'The Wiz Live!' Cast]]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 15:57:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/UzoAmber.png

An "Orange Is the New Black" favorite and a "Dancing With the Stars" winner will be joining "The Wiz Live!," NBC announced.

Uzo Aduba, known for her role as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren in the hit Netflix show, and "Glee" star Amber Riley were both cast in the live musical set to air on NBC on Dec. 3.

Aduba, who appeared on Broadway's 2011 revival of "Godspell," will play Glinda the Good Witch of the South.

Riley, meanwhile, will play Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, who points Dorothy down the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City.

They join previously announced stars Queen Latifah, who will play the Wiz, Mary J. Blige, who will play the Wicked Witch of the West, and David Allen Grier, who was cast as the Cowardly Lion.

Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production, will take on the role of Auntie Em, while New Jersey native Shanice Williams will star as Dorothy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Frank Langella Will Be Back on the Boards in New Play ]]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 10:18:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/76665479.jpg

Three-time Tony winner and Academy Award nominee Frank Langella will return to Broadway this spring in the American premiere of a new play by French novelist Florian Zeller called “The Father.”

The drama offers an honest look at dementia, with Langella playing an elderly man struggling to put the pieces of his life back together and connect with his caretaker daughter.

Presented as part of Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2015-2016 Broadway season, “The Father” begins its limited engagement at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on March 22, 2016, with an April 12 opening night.

Tony winner Doug Hughes (“Doubt”) will direct, reuniting with Langella after previously collaborating for the 2008 revival of “A Man for All Seasons.”

“The Father” previously won France’s highest honor for a new work in theatre, the Molière Award. Two-time Tony winner Christopher Hampton (“God of Carnage”) will translate Zeller’s play for Broadway.

Photo Credit: Stuart C. Wilson | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” Finds Its Dorothy ]]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 21:50:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NUP_170343_0052.JPG.jpg

Meet Shanice Williams -- the star of NBC's upcoming live TV adaptation of the Broadway classic "The Wiz."

The 18-year-old New Jersey native was tapped for the lead role of Dorothy in the December TV production, which will retell L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all-black cast set in a fantasy version of New York City.

Williams beat out thousands of hopefuls and big-named stars for the role -- with only a few local musical productions under her belt, including “West Side Story” and “Pippin.”

The young actress joins previously announced stars Queen Latifah, who will play the Wiz, Mary J. Blige, who will play the Wicked Witch of the West, and David Allen Grier, who was cast as the Cowardly Lion. Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production, will take on the role of Auntie Em..

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

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

It's not clear if any of NBC’s cast will reprise their roles on Broadway.

It’ll be the first time Grammy winners Blige and Latifah have appeared in a live musical, despite both having background in movie musicals.

Blige appeared alongside Tom Cruise in 2012’s “Rock of Ages,” while Latifah starred in 2007’s “Hairspray” and 2002’s “Chicago,” for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

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

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

With music and lyrics by Smalls, “The Wiz” features some of Broadway’s most iconic songs, including “Ease on Down the Road,” “Home” and “Brand New Day.”

The hit 1978 film version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson as Dorothy and the Scarecrow, respectively.

Photo Credit: Jeff Riedel / NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Behind the Scenes of Ruthless! The Musical]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 16:42:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/NY+LIVE_RUTHLESS.jpg Raina Seitel chats with the cast of Ruthless! The Musical and finds out what it takes to make it Off-Broadway.

Photo Credit: New York Live]]>
<![CDATA[Stevie Wonder to Play Short Set at SummerStage]]> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:37:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-stevie-wonder-ama.jpg

Stevie Wonder will play a surprise, free show at Central Park SummerStage tonight.

The two- to three-song set will be the third "Wonder Moment" the living legend performed along the East Coast on Monday.  Wonder played a surprise set at the Armory Mall in Washington this morning and at a park in Philadelphia this afternoon. 

The short performances come as Wonder is announcing a Fall 2015 leg of his "Songs in the Key of Life Performance" tour which will return to Madison Square Garden and the Prudential Center in Newark this fall. 

Tickets are required for the SummerStage performance,   The tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance  will be released at 4:30 p.m.  Find more information about the tickets here.

Photo Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Utah Embraces 'The Book of Mormon']]> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:27:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/first-national-tour-cast.jpg

“The Book of Mormon,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical satire about the Mormon church, has been breaking box office records on Broadway since opening in 2011. But this week, the Tony-winning musical did something it’s never done before: it opened in Salt Lake City, Utah.

That’s right -- “The Book of Mormon” hit the heart of the Mormon church for the first time since its national tour launched in 2012, for a two-week, sold out run at the The Capitol Theatre. And according to reports, the foul-mouthed comedy’s first performance was met with a rousing reception from a mixed audience of non-Mormons, ex-Mormons and practicing Mormons.

No protesters or mass walkouts occurred on opening night, and audiences laughed loudly, even during some of the show’s more biting moments. Standing ovations were given. The production’s program even included three advertisements from the Mormon church, whose temple was just two blocks away from the theater.

Actor Billy Tighe, who plays Elder Price in the touring production, called the Salt Lake City opening an “epic evening.” “I’ve never experience an audience so eager to share a laugh,” he said. “Truly one of the most memorable nights of my life.”

Creators Parker and Stone weren’t there, but told the Associated Press that having the show there felt like a full-circle moment. “It just feels very much like it’s coming home,” Stone said. "It's like playing 'Fiddler on the Roof' to a bunch of Jews," Parker added.

Neither Parker nor Stone have ever received blowback The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose leaders have stuck with one statement about the show over the years.

It reads: "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

For more information about “The Book of Mormon” and its tour, visit bookofmormonbroadway.com.

Photo Credit: bookofmormonbroadway.com]]>
<![CDATA[Lupita Nyong’o and 'Walking Dead' Star Team for New Play]]> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:12:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/479920655KI00263_Marie_Clai.jpg

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) will make her New York stage debut this fall in a new play from Danai Gurira, best known to audiences as Michonne in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

A drama about the Liberian Civil War, “Eclipsed” begins previews at The Public Theater on Sept. 29, with a limited engagement running through Nov. 8. The play officially opens Oct. 14.

“Eclipsed” tells the story of a fragile community of captive wives during the war, who band together as a means for survival, until a new girl arrives and threatens to upset their balance.

South African born Liesl Tommy will direct. She previously directed “The Good Negro” and “The Urban Retreat” at The Public.

Tickets are now available for members. Single tickets, starting at $80, will be available to the general public starting Aug. 6. Visit www.publictheater.org for more information.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Leibson| Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rare Blue Moon to Appear in Sky Friday]]> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 09:14:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/blue+moon+over+ny.jpg

Be sure to set your gaze skyward Friday to catch a glimpse of the rare blue moon.

Don't be fooled by the name "blue moon," however. Most likely, the moon will look gray or white as usual, but it will be a full moon. The moon rises in New York Thursday at 7:28 p.m. but sets at 6:05 a.m. Friday, just before it becomes completely full (6:43 a.m). It will appear again in the sky at 8:14 p.m. Friday -- the day of the official "blue moon," though it won't be at its peak. 

Blue moons are not actually defined by their color. Instead, by popular definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a month. The phenomenon only happens every few years, making it a relatively rare occurrence. The first full moon of the month happened July 1 for those in New York.

A moon that appears blue is caused by dust in the atmosphere, according to Larry Ciupik, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. If the atmospheric conditions are just right on Friday, then the blue moon may appear slightly blue in color, but Ciupik says that isn't likely to happen.

The popular definition of a blue moon is as incorrect as the assumption that the moon will actually look blue, however, according to Ciupik. The Farmers' Almanac definition of a blue moon is the third full moon in a calendar season, which is just as rare as the second full moon in a month. The two kinds of blue moons do not usually align, however.

The last blue moon — by popular definition — happened in August 2012, and the next one will not appear until January 2018. The phenomenon can happen any month except February, even during  a Leap Year, because the month does not have enough days, according to Ciupik.

Although Friday's moon may not look any different than any other full moon, Ciupik believes the popularity of the blue moon is due to the general mystery of the moon, including the faces some people see in the orb and the myths that proliferate about full moons causing strange events.

"It's also a kind of romantic thing," Ciupik said. "I think it's kind of primal. You look at the moon, and it's kind of primal. You could be seeing this a thousand years ago, the same thing."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Celebrate National Cheesecake Day With Half-Off Deals]]> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 10:57:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Cheesecake-Generic.jpg

It’s National Cheesecake Day, and eateries around the Big Apple are celebrating by offering deals on the city’s most iconic and decadent treat.

Junior’s Restaurant and Cheesecake is offering slices for half price Thursday for customers who get lunch or dinner at any of its New York City locations or its restaurant at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

You can also score $5 off any cheesecake order from the Junior's website with the code CHEESECAKEDAY15.

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, another venerable New York City pastry-maker, is also offering half-off any cheesecake purchase at its store at 17 Cleveland Place in Manhattan.

If you’re not going to be in the city today, you can still celebrate the occasion with a slice of from Cheesecake Factory for half off.

Diners who snap a selfie with their cheesecake, then post the photo to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SayCheesecake or the restaurant chain’s Facebook page, can win up to $1,000.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grumpy Dog Earl Challenges Grumpy Cat's Reign]]> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 00:23:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/My+Name+is+Earl.jpg

The world’s grouchiest feline has some new competition. Meet “Grumpy Dog.”

Earl, a second-generation puggle with a permanent scowl and sulky expression, is challenging Grumpy Cat’s reign over sour-faced pets of the Internet. 

The 5-month-old beagle-pug quickly rose to fame on Reddit, amassing millions of fans across multiple social media platforms and becoming the subject of some hilarious Internet memes.

Earl’s owner Derek Bloomfield tells Yahoo! News that despite the pooches peeved appearance, he is very friendly and the “most relaxed, content puppy.” 

“The vet said he’s as healthy as any other puppy,” Bloomfield said. “He just looks grumpy because of his underbite, wrinkles, and dark complexion.”

Photo Credit: Derek Bloomfield/Christie Bailey
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Pizzeria Is Best in America, Study Finds]]> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:11:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/juliana+pizzeria+handout.jpg

A Brooklyn pizzeria has been named the top joint for a slice in America, according to a TripAdvisor ranking based on the quality and quantity of reviews and opinions from millions of travelers.

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Juliana's Pizza, on Old Fulton Street in DUMBO, won top honors from TripAdvisor. Opened in 2012 by legendary Brooklyn pizza maker Patsy Grimaldi, this eatery tantalizes taste buds with its thin crust pizza that is charred to perfection under a coal-fired hearth.

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One TripAdvisor reviewer raved, "The main reason why Patsy Grimaldi is an institution is because he does make outstanding pizza! After all these years, the perfect crust, great tomatoes, delicious mozzarella and toppings galore; try them all, you can't go wrong."

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Keste, on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, known for its authentic Neapolitan pizza, came in at No. 4 on the top 10 list. John's Pizzeria, also on Bleecker street, came in at No. 10.

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Overall, New York City was named the second best city in the country for pizza, behind Chicago.

Here is a list of the top 10 pizza restaurants in country, according to TripAdvisor:

1. Juliana's Pizza -- Brooklyn, New York
2. Pizza Time of St. Augustine -- Saint Augustine, Florida
3. Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria -- Anchorage, Alaska
4. Keste -- New York, New York
5. Tony's Pizza Napoletana -- San Francisco, California
6. Pizzeria Regina -- Boston, Massachusetts
7. Antico Pizza Napoletana -- Atlanta, Georgia
8. Bill's Pizza -- Palm Springs, California
9. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana -- New Haven, Connecticut
10. John's Pizzeria – New York, New York

The TripAdvisor ranking of top U.S. pizza restaurants is based on the quantity and quality of reviews for pizza restaurants, giving more weight to reviews written in the past year. Pizza restaurants were identified as those having a majority of reviews mentioning pizza, a minimum of 500 reviews, and at least 10 percent of reviews mentioning "best pizza."

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Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Shannon Joins 'Long Day’s Journey Into Night']]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:20:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/509287471AZ00007_Premieres_.jpg

Michael Shannon (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”) has joined the cast of the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

Shannon will play James Jr, the eldest son of the Tyrone family which already includes Jessica Lange (Mary), Gabriel Byrne (James) and John Gallagher Jr. (Edmund).

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

The show marks Shannon’s return to Broadway after making his debut in 2012’s “Grace” alongside Paul Rudd. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 2008’s “Revolutionary Road.”

Lange’s longtime "American Horror Story" collaborator Ryan Murphy will also co-produce the revival alongside the Roundabout. Jonathan Kent will direct.

Photo Credit: Ian Gavan | Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Part II: Interview With Broadway's Demonic Sock Puppet]]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:16:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000008052877_1200x675_493428803627.jpg A demonic sock puppet is one of Broadway's biggest attractions these days in the quirky show "Hand to God" at the Booth Theatre. He drinks, curses, enjoys carnal relations and did not hold back when he spoke with News 4's Gus Rosendale. Rosendale says it was the most enjoyable yet uncomfortable interview of his career. Don't miss Part I of his interview with the sock puppet star. ]]> <![CDATA[Matthew Broderick Joins 'Sylvia' ]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:19:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/540275525AP00032_Roundabout.jpg

It’s been almost two months since Matthew Broderick was on Broadway. But the two-time Tony winner, last seen in Terrence McNally’s “It’s Only a Play,” will be back on the boards this fall, in the A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia.”

The production begins previews Oct. 2 at Broadway’s Cort Theatre, prior to an Oct. 27 opening.

Broderick will join Julie White (“Airline Highway”) as married couple Greg and Kate, who form a complicated relationship with their dog, Sylvia (Tony-winner Annaleigh Ashford, last seen in “You Can’t Take it With You”).

This will be the first time “Sylvia” has been on Broadway. The comedy opened in 1995 at the Manhattan Theater Club, starring Broderick’s wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, in the title character.

Direction for its Broadway bow will come from Daniel Sullivan (“The Country House”). Robert Sella (“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) will also star.

For tickets and information, visit sylviabroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Smash' Star Megan Hilty Books Broadway Return]]> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:43:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/562011823KR00017_Voices_For.jpg

NBC’s “Smash” star Megan Hilty and a set of Broadway vets will join Tony winner Andrea Martin in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s upcoming revival of Michael Frayn’s farcical comedy “Noises Off.”

The limited engagement production, directed by Jeremy Herrin, will begin previews Dec. 1 at the American Airlines Theatre. Opening night is set for Jan. 14, 2016.

Making up the rest of the cast are Rob McClure (“Honeymoon in Vegas”), Tracee Chimo (“The Heidi Chronicles”), Jeremy Shamos (“The Qualms”), Campbell Scott (“Ah, Wilderness!”), Kate Jennings Grant (“The Country House”), Daniel Davis (“La Cage aux Folles”) and David Furr (“The Importance of Being Earnest”).

It will be Megan Hilty’s first Broadway role since her breakout role in NBC’s “Smash.” She last appeared in the 2009 musical adaptation of “9 to 5.”

For tickets and information, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Colin Quinn Tells 'The New York Story']]> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:55:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/ColinQuinnMain.jpg

New Yorkers have become so wary of offending people that we’re afraid to acknowledge our differences, Colin Quinn argues in “The New York Story,” a sage and snappy stand-up outing now on the boards at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

Jerry Seinfeld directs the hour-long tirade against homogeneity, which is based on Quinn’s race relations-themed memoir “The Coloring Book.” Seinfeld also guided the former “SNL” comic in his 2010 Broadway show “Long Story Short.”

Performing on a stage gussied up to look like the stoop of a brownstone, Quinn -- currently featured alongside Amy Schumer in “Trainwreck” -- satirically riffs his way through the history of the city’s settlers beginning with the Dutch, whom he says brought the “abrupt” language still in our system today.

“You see people from other places walking around asking nicely, ‘Excuse me, where’s the museum?’ … But people from New York just accuse you of information: “Where’d you get the ice cream?”

Jews, Germans, Puerto Ricans and more come up for examination, but “The New York Story” is no stream of takedowns: It’s both an affectionate look at stereotypes that are funny because they’re true, and a lament that we tiptoe around things that make us unique.

Who’s too ho-hum for his own good? Mayor de Blasio, for one.

“Koch, whether you liked him or whether you thought the city was a wreck, you knew he had no speechwriters,” Quinn says, segueing into an imitation of the late politician arguing with “yentas” at the Kew Gardens Senior Center: “You’re being rude … I should’ve gone to Rego Park.”

“De Blasio,” he adds, “there’s just no personality.”

Quinn has got sharp observations about the subway, “the great equalizer,” but complains even that has lost its personality. In the gentrifying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, he says, “if you get on the L train at 2 o’clock in the morning, it looks like a ski lift.”

Meanwhile, anyone who has ever stood on the 7 train will admire Quinn’s analysis of predicting seat availability on the line traveling through the polyglot neighborhoods of Queens.

“You go on the 7 train and you can tell by what they’re reading when they’re going to get off. … If someone is reading The Irish Echo, they’ll probably get off at 40th -- stand next to them! … Asian newspaper? Don’t even bother. You aren’t getting a seat.”

In Quinn’s world, the waves of Italians who came to the city bring “the volume,” the Puerto Ricans “the pace” and the blacks “defiance,” “like the Medici coming in to check on Michelangelo.” The Jews? They came in 1880, and “I think it’s safe to say most have not recovered from the boat trip yet.”

Quinn’s monologue is mostly lean and bracing. A closing jab intended to point out the perils of political correctness was a bit too rambling and cute for my taste, but I’m nitpicking. Overall, he makes a really strong point that -- who knows? -- could just embolden some to let down their guards a bit.

“We tell people, ‘Celebrate diversity!’” Quinn says. “But at the same time, be careful not to point out people’s ethnic differences!” Now, he says, “we’re all just, basically, bland.”

“The New York Story,” through Aug. 16 at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St. Tickets: $65. Call 866-811-4111.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Mike Lavoie]]>
<![CDATA[Selfie Sticks Banned at Six Flags Parks Nationwide]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 07:06:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Six+Flags+sign+generic.jpg

Six Flags has joined the growing list of amusement parks across the nation that have banned selfie sticks.

The company implemented the ban Monday at all of its parks across America, according to Katy Enrique, communications manager for Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois.

“We strive to provide the safest possible environment in our parks and these devices pose a safety risk to guests and employees,” Enrique told NBC Chicago in statement.

Enrique did not specify if any incidents involving selfie sticks had taken place, but said the goal is “to prevent such an occurrence.”

“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” she said.

The move comes after news that Disney planned to ban selfie sticks at all four of its theme parks in Orlando along with its water parks and Disney Quest. The company also planned to ban them at Disneyland Resort in California and Disney’s parks in Paris and Hong Kong.

Officials warned that the sticks have become a “growing safety concern.”

The device has already been put on a list of “prohibited items” on Six Flags’ website, alongside monopods and similar devices.

The sticks have been banned at a number of museums, music festivals and sports venues, including Lollapalooza, Comic-Con and the Art Institute of Chicago.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's All-Day Breakfast May Go National: Report ]]> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:03:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4707047541.jpg

McDonald’s could soon dish out all-day breakfast nationwide.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal memo sent to U.S. franchisees and employees Tuesday, reports that the fast food giant could begin offering breakfast all day later this year.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company began testing all-day breakfast in March in its San Diego market. The test was expected to expand to Nashville this summer.

The memo, sent by LeAnn Richards, a franchisee from Arizona who heads a task force studying all-day breakfast, told franchisees to be ready for the potential launch of all-day breakfast as soon as October, WSJ reports.

McDonald’s, however, would only confirm that the company is testing the possibility of all-day breakfast.

“Serving all-day breakfast is likely the number one request we hear from McDonald’s customers,” the company told NBC Chicago in a statement. “We’re testing it out in a few markets to learn more about this possibility. We know your mouth is watering, but there’s no news on this yet.”

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's' 'Secret Menu' Not So Secret Anymore]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:02:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/167*120/51122973.jpg

The mythical “secret menu” at McDonald’s may not be a myth at all.

According to a McDonald’s manager who conducted a recent Reddit AMA, customers can in fact order secret menu items, but the items really aren’t that secret.

Reddit user OrchidHibiscus, who claims to be a manager at a McDonald’s in Glasgow, Scotland, said McDonald’s didn’t specifically develop a secret menu, but menu items can be customized into “grill orders.”

Customers can add or take out ingredients from current menu items to make them into what they want—including something off a so-called “secret menu.”

"Order one and the workers might not know it by name ... but if you explain what it is, and are willing to pay for all the ingredients, it's just another 'grill order' that we can make up," OrchidHibiscus wrote.

The user referred to rumored secret menu items like the Land, Sea and Air Burger, which is a combination of a Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChicken.

A website called #HackTheMenu claims to have a list of “secret menu items” from McDonald's, including an “All American,” a “Big McChicken,” “Biscuits and Gravy,” and a “Chicken McGriddle.”

McDonald’s addresses the possibility of a secret menu on its website saying, “We have no secret menu – or do we?”

“Actually, our customers are pretty clever when it comes to customizing their orders with our menu items, so you may have seen some of their creations online,” the company wrote. “But we have no official secret menu of our own.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlee Matlin to Make Broadway Debut]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:07:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/531287419DF00033_Arianna_Hu.jpg

Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin will make her Broadway debut in the upcoming “Spring Awakening” revival, which is set to opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in September.

The revival of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s eight-time Tony-winning musical is a transfer of the critically acclaimed production from the Los Angeles-based Deaf West Theatre and the theater collective Forest of Arden, which retold the 2006 musical using a mix of hearing and deaf performers.

“It’s been 30 years since I had the opportunity to be part of the groundbreaking ‘Children of a Lesser God,’” Matlin said of her award-winning performance in the 1986 film. "I couldn’t be more proud and honored to have been asked to join Deaf West Theatre’s innovative revival of ‘Spring Awakening’ on Broadway."

Marlin will play the two female adult roles in the Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater musical. She’s the first official cast member announced for the Broadway production. Additional casting is expected to be announced shortly.

Michael Arden ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame") will direct. 

Despite being the only deaf performer to win an Academy Award, Marlin’s biggest roles have been on the small screen as of late, with arcs in “Switched at Birth,” “The L Word” and NBC’s “The West Wing.”

She’s also hit the reality circuit, competing on “Dancing with the Stars” and NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice," where she placed second.

For tickets and information, visit springawakeningonbroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Ari Perilstein]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Adorable Pets From Around the U.S. ]]> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:51:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/MurphyBoxerWVIT.jpg Pet owners coast to coast have one thing in common: they love sharing pictures of their furry friends. Here's a look at some cute pets photos shared by NBC Owned TV Station viewers across the country. Help us "Clear the Shelters" on Aug. 15 by adopting a pet of your own to love (and photograph)! ]]> <![CDATA[$125 Caviar Twinkie Sold at SoCal Fair]]> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 17:10:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/203*120/friedcaviartwinkieoc.jpg

Picture this: An ice cream cone and a swirl of cotton candy and some roasted corn and a turkey leg and a funnel cake, all huddled around some conference table in some office building, madly discussing how their games can be upped in the face of the most buzzed-about edible headed for the 2015 OC Fair.

Hints: The foodstuff involves caviar, and it involves a Twinkie, and... there you have it. It's the Caviar Twinkie, and it shall be available at that famous purveyor of offbeat fair treats, Chicken Charlie's, throughout the Costa Mesa extravaganza.

The month-long OC Fair opens on Friday, July 17. 

Naming the Caviar Twinkie's price isn't much of a guessing game, though, if you know what anniversary the fair is celebrating. The midway-bright, animal-sweet spectacular is turning 125, and the Caviar Twinkie created in its happy honor is... wait for it... ding ding ding, you're right: $125.

All proceeds will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Orange County.

"The finest caviar" shall top the golden-sponge Hostess Brands icon, and judging by early photos, there should be a solid amount of the luxury item. The Twinkie, of course, shall come complete with its creamy middle, so perhaps diners will discover a new taste-combo sensation.

Will sponge-cream-salty be the next flavor trio to storm the gourmet world? Will everyone need to scoop the fish egg delicacy with a just-out-of-the-box snack cake?

You never know how trends start.

If the $125 Caviar Twinkie isn't your bite-worthy bag, Chicken Charlie's is also serving a Totally Fried Peanut Butter Pickle and Deep-Fried Slim Fast.

Deep. Fried. Slim. Fast. 

Part of the fun of the fair is not simply daring your friends to try something and then devouring and then returning for more. Surely there's a branch of high-brow philosophy devoted to the study of enjoying something before, during, and well after?

Philosophers, start with the deep-fried treats of the OC Fair, which get fans theorizing well in advance of the fair and long after the treat's been eaten. (During, maybe not so much, since mouths tend to be full.)

And for the Caviar Twinkie overshadowing classics like ice cream and cotton candy? We don't think the fair's tried-and-true favorites need worry; there's always room for a little more when it comes to memorable fair food.

Photo Credit: Chicken Charlie's]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Josh Young, Chuck Cooper in 'Amazing Grace']]> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 17:31:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/208*120/AmazingMain.jpg

A one-time Pennsylvania police officer and Broadway newcomer is the composer and lyricist of “Amazing Grace,” an earnest and well-intentioned original musical about the creation of the famous Christian hymn by British poet John Newton.

More to the point, “Amazing Grace” focuses on Newton as a bratty young man in the 1740s, when he was truly the self-proclaimed “wretch” of that hymn’s first stanza. The spiritual -- recently sung by the president at a eulogy for the Charleston shooting victims -- isn’t heard until the musical’s final moments.

Now open at the Nederlander, “Amazing Grace” stars Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) as Newton and Chuck Cooper (“The Life”) as his slave, Thomas. Christopher Smith is the ambitious cop-turned-playwright who has shepherded “Amazing Grace” through a 7-year journey, including two out-of-town runs.

Young, a charismatic leading man, made Judas Iscariot likable in “Superstar,” and is a fine choice as Newton, another man with dangerous contradictions. John Newton is an anti-hero, whom we meet when he steps in to help his father sell slaves at an auction that’s soon rushed by Abolitionists.

Writer Smith (sharing book credit with Arthur Giron) piles on a lot to explain why John is a rebellious man: His mother died when he was young … His love interest, Mary (the appealing Erin Mackey, of “Chaplin”), comes from a broken family that wants to marry her off to a pompous British major (Chris Hoch).

There is, as well, John’s relationship with his absentee sea captain father (Tom Hewitt, better used here than in “Doctor Zhivago”). After the auction debacle, Captain Newton banishes John to sea for 5 years, a decision that comes with tragic consequences and sets in motion a familiar tale of father-son redemption.

Because most of the relationships are musical theater tropes, they tend to drag on the pacing.

The tone of scenes in the first act oscillates wildly, from striking and severe -- particularly the difficult images of chained slaves being branded -- to overly smug and smirky (Hoch is fun, though he seems to be channeling King George from “Hamilton”). The songs are confident, if not quite memorable -- the best being “Truly Alive,” early on.

Things get more lively at the halfway point, after Thomas helps John survive a shipwreck off the coast of Africa (it’s a swell bit of staging, adeptly handled by director Gabriel Barre). In a racial role reversal, John finds himself held prisoner by a fiery African princess (Harriett D. Foy, electrifying the stage with her cruelty).

As the two-act musical nears its end, Cooper (below) has satisfying moments confronting the young man who has enslaved him his entire life; mostly, though, the slaves aren’t particularly sketched out. I loved Laiona Michelle’s Nanna, Mary’s “maid,” who has made a bitter peace with the loss of her daughter.

Young accomplishes a neat trick, introducing us to a man who is so wounded by his mother’s death that he refuses to believe in a merciful God. His epiphany comes later, after he both spurs and endures more awfulness -- and realizes he has been spared, though he no longer believes he should be.

The idea is that any God who would save him must be a merciful one.

In an epilogue, Cooper steps out of character to explain that John and Mary lived out the rest of their lives as a married couple, and that in 1772 Newton finally finished “Amazing Grace.” Young begins an a cappella version of the song, and is joined by the rest of the cast.

Within a minute, some audience members were standing with an evangelical hand raised to God. The moment is as lump-in-the-throat as it sounds. It seemed disconnected from the rest of the musical, and was the first time during “Amazing Grace” my emotions were truly stirred.

“Amazing Grace,” with an open-ended run at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. Tickets: $65-$139. Call Ticketmaster at 866-870-2717.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>