<![CDATA[NBC New York - The Scene]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 06 Feb 2016 16:03:02 -0500 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 16:03:02 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[McDonald's Salad Fat vs. Big Mac]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 13:40:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/McDonalds2.png

McDonald’s has put a lot of marketing dollars behind revamping their image to become a “healthy” fast food option, but one of their newest “simple” and “fresh” options for clean-eaters will do more caloric damage than a Big Mac, according to the chain's nutrition information.

The fast-food giant recently unveiled a new line of salad bowls that contain kale, a leafy “superfood” that has become a sensation for its nutritional value and being packed-full of vitamins.

“A salad so delicious, it might be hard to stay calm,” McDonald’s website reads of the new menu item, the “Keep Calm, Caesar On” salad. But dieters might have a hard time keeping calm after finding their bowl of greens has more fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium than most of the other items on the entire menu.

McDonald’s promotes the salad with crispy chicken as “a nutrient-rich lettuce blend with baby kale, delicately topped with delicious crispy bacon, real parmesan petals and roasted garlic focaccia croutons.”

Although McDonald’s leaves out the dressing the salad comes with in its initial calculation of nutritional information listed online, all-in-all this is the how the new “Keep Calm, Caesar On” salad with crispy chicken stacks up against other popular meals:

Kale Caesar Salad Crispy Chicken
730 calories (with dressing)
10g saturated fat
100mg cholesterol
1140 mg sodium

Bacon McDouble Sandwich
420 calories
9g saturated fat
70mg cholesterol
1050mg sodium

Big Mac
520 calories
10g saturated fat
70mg cholesterol
950mg sodium

10-Piece Chicken Nugget
460 calories
5g saturated fat
70mg cholesterol
820mg sodium

Large French Fries
560 calories
3.5g saturated fat
0mg cholesterol
420mg sodium

Regular Oreo McFlurry
560 calories
12g saturated fat
45mg cholesterol
390mg sodium

Swapping out the “crispy” chicken for grilled is an option, but will only save you 160 calories. The American Heart Association recommends eating just 2,000 milligrams of sodium and 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.

McDonald's does offer other salad options that are not as hard-hitting to the waistline. McDonald's Southwest Salad only contains 280 calories and 490 milligrams of sodium, CNBC points out, which includes a creamy southwest dressing. A side salad without dressing is only 15 calories and 10 milligrams of sodium.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: McDonald's Corp.]]>
<![CDATA[Snoop Dogg, Super Bowl Reporter]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 12:13:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/snoop5.jpg

Rapper Snoop Dogg turned into a Super Bowl 50 “reporter” during the Broncos and Panthers press conference in Santa Clara Thursday, chatting up Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and telling Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis to “go to work” with a broken arm.

"That's your spirit. Go to work. And when you get a sack, dab with your broken one, for me," he told Davis, referring to the "dab" dance move newly popular with football players and other athletes.

The rapper tweeted a photo of him shaking hands with Manning: “Legend. #TurfdUp,” he wrote, referring in the hashtag to his YouTube sports show. His next tweet was a selfie, followed by a photo of himself acting as a reporter for DirectTV's "The Rich Eisen Show."

Snoop also sent out a couple of tweets promoting Merry Jane, his Marijuana lifestyle platform he hopes will act as an icebreaker for people who take pride in their love for marijuana.

One said: “ganja proving 2 help athletes with sports related injuries,” with a photo of a rolled up ball of weed.

The tweets were removed from his timeline after some time. It wasn’t immediately clear why the rapper took the tweets down.

The NFL has a strict drug policy, but many question whether it is out of date. According to media reports, marijuana is coveted by NFL players as an invaluable painkiller, and for younger players, smoking weed is normal.

"There are so many people in the closet, and we are giving them an opportunity to come out of the closet and just admit they like to smoke," Snoop said at the Merry Jane launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in September. "I’m a smoker, my name is Snoop Dogg, and I’m a stoner."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Subway's $5 Footlong Now Costs $6]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 07:12:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-493636850.jpg

So long to the catchy “$5 footlong” jingle, because Subway's iconic deal just got a dollar more expensive.

Customers will now have to shell out $6 for "ALL of your favorite classic footlongs," the restaurant chain announced on Twitter Tuesday.

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Not surprisingly, fans of the sandwich chain were not happy. The news prompted an immediate outcry on social media. Subway responded to displeased customers in another tweet, defending the increase on rising food costs.

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The new price takes effect on Thursday in Subway restaurants nationwide.

Subway has been reeling from bad PR after its former spokesman, Jared Fogle, was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison for child pornography and sex charges. Fogle helped fuel sales for nearly 15 years after shedding 200 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwichs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cat Gets Head Stuck in Vase, Becomes Internet Sensation]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:53:39 -0500

A Reddit user this week posted a photo of a cat looking like an Egyptian goddess, but the shiny collar in the photo was not supposed to be around the cat's neck.

The cat, which is doing fine, got the accessory the hard way - by sticking its head in a vase, according to TODAY.

The cat is doing fine, and its misadventure sparked some pun-filled fun on the Internet.

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<![CDATA['Hamilton' Cast Will Perform at Grammy Awards]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 11:30:04 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hamilton1517rR.jpg

For those who haven’t yet had a chance to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sold-out musical “Hamilton,” you’ll finally get a glimpse when the cast of the hip-hip historical performs at the Grammy Awards.

The “Hamilton” performance will be streamed live into the ceremony from its home at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway.

"We're going to do the opening number, scream with joy, and then celebrate the fact that we were just on the Grammys,” Manuel told USA Today. “Best night ever."

To clarify -- that opening number will be the musical's opening number, "Alexander Hamilton," not the Grammy telecast's opening number.

This will be the first performance from the hit musical ever to be seen on television.

The cast of “Hamilton” will join previously announced performers including Adele, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga.

Musical theater productions have been featured on the Grammy before — eight times, in fact. The last came from the cast of 2010’s “American Idiot,” who sang “21 Guns” alongside Green Day.

“Hamilton” is nominated for a Grammy this year, for best musical theater album alongside the original cast recordings for “An American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” Something Rotten” and “The King and I."

The Grammys will air on CBS on Feb. 15.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Mary Louise Parker Going Back to Broadway]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:04:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3657.jpg

"Weeds" star Mary-Louise Parker will be heading back to Broadway this fall as her critically acclaimed two-man show transfers to the Great White Way. 

Parker, who won a Tony Award in 2001 for her role in "Proof", will star alongside "The Practice" star Denis Arndt in "Heisenberg," which just wrapped up a successful off-Broadway run starring both actors at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Studio at Stage II.

Previews will begin Sept. 20, with an opening set for Oct. 13 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Written by Tony winner Simon Stephens (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and directed by Mark Brokaw (“Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella”), “Heisenberg” tells the story of an electric May/December romance, and the impact each have on one another.

Parker previously worked with the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000’s “Proof,” which also premiered Off-Broadway and won Parker a Tony after that production’s Broadway transfer.

“Heisenberg” will be presented as part of MTC’s 2016-2017 season , which also includes Qui Nguyen’s new play “Vietgone” and a new play written and performed by Sarah Jones.

For tickets and further information, visit www.manhattantheatreclub.com.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[James Corden to Host the 2016 Tony Awards]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 11:28:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-146146071.jpg

James Corden, host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” will emcee the 2016 Tony Awards.

The actor and comedian has an extensive theater background, having won the 2012 Tony Award for best actor in a play for his turn in “One Man, Two Guvnors.” He made his Broadway debut in 2006’s “The History Boys” – a role he would reprise in the film adaptation.

Corden also starred as the Baker in 2014’s "Into the Woods" film.

Corden took over as host of "The Late Late Show" in 2015 after Craig Ferguson left the show. Several of his segments have been hits online – particularly his "carpool karaoke" bits with singers and actors.

He's also been known to reference his theater career, including in a recent video in which he appeared in a touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be hosting the Tony Awards," Corden said in a statement. "It's going to be fun; I can't wait to dust off my tap shoes!"

The 70th annual Tony Awards will air live on CBS from the Beacon Theatre on June 12.

Nominations will be announced on May 3 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Mike Coppola]]>
<![CDATA['Grease: Live' Raises the Bar on Live TV Musicals ]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 11:38:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/IMG_1494_hires1.jpg

“Grease: Live,” which aired Sunday on Fox, raised the bar for live TV musicals. The energetic, youthful production of the classic Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey comedy felt more like the MTV Video Music Awards than any live musical we’ve seen on TV before.

The show was the first of its kind in recent memory to incorporate a live audience into its production, adding an extra jolt of excitement to the evening.

Broadway star Aaron Tveit (“Catch Me if You Can”) and “Dancing with the Stars” judge Julianne Hough led the principal cast of T-Birds, Pink Ladies and Rydell High students as lovebirds Danny and Sandy, effortlessly singing and dancing their way through iconic “Grease” songs like “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want.”

In perhaps the most emotional moment of the evening, “High School Musical” alum Vanessa Hudgens, as the no-nonsense Pink Ladies-leader Rizzo, stunned with her captivating performance of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” Hudgens' father had died from cancer just hours before the production.

She said after the show she dedicated the performance to him

“Tonight, I do the show in his honor,” Hudgens tweeted, while the broadcast’s end credits provided a dedication to the memory of her father.

Look to director Thomas Kail (of Broadway’s smash-hit “Hamilton”) as the reason “Grease: Live” worked on so many levels. With co-director Alex Rudzinski (“Dancing with the Stars”), Kail staged a live musical that managed to feel both nostalgic and new. The three-hour broadcast was like a party you never wanted to end.

The musical opened with a Steadicam shot of singer Jessie J performing the title song made famous by Frankie Valli, walking through the massive “Grease: Live” set and interacting with members of the cast, crew and 650-person audience.

It was as if this “Grease” was the first self-aware live musical, insisting: “We all know we’re putting on a play, and we’re having the best time doing it.”

Nowhere was that clearer than in the show’s final number, “We Go Together,” where the cast drove golf carts through the Warner Bros. backlot in Los Angeles, arriving at a spectacular carnival dance party. With the audience dancing alongside, this was a celebration for all.

Choreographer Zach Woodlee (“Glee”) also turned “Greased Lightin’” and “Born to Hand Jive” (below, with Sam Clark and Hudgens) into show-stopping numbers built for the digital age. Layered with so many tricks and intricate moves, “Grease: Live” will be reexamined in online video clips for years to come.

Part of what made the television event so successful was the many homages to the 1978 film made along the way. While the plot mostly followed the original 1972 stage production, songs from the film (“Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Sandy,” “Grease”), scenes from the film (the climactic drag race) and sets from the film (by “Hamilton” designer David Korins) were integrated into the story.

Even Didi Conn and Barry Pearl, who played Frenchy and Doody in the film, made cameos, Conn in the most full-circle role as Vi, the waitress who advises Frenchy (played here by “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen) when she’s at her lowest moment.

Jepsen sang “All I Need is An Angel,” one of two new songs for the broadcast written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Broadway’s “Next to Normal”). The song fit effortlessly into the story, recrafted by Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary, and helped introduce Grammy-winners Boyz II Men as a trio of Teen Angels harmonizing throughout “Beauty School Drop Out.”

“Scream Queens” star Keke Palmer (Marty) and Disney Channel’s Jordan Fisher (Doody) had star-making turns in the production, giving life to songs from the stage show (“Freddy My Love” and “Those Magic Changes”) that might otherwise have been snooze-inducing. Extra props to six-time Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long, whose signature quick changes were on display in both numbers.

“Grease” has never been a show that had much of a message, but if Fox was out to say anything with this latest incarnation of the theater favorite, it was that the live TV musical is meant to be fun. Wah-oooh yeah! 

Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada/Fox]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Inhibitions (and Clothes) Fall Away in "Paradise"]]> Sun, 31 Jan 2016 18:12:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/ParadiseMain.jpg

Welcome to Fantasy Island—which, it turns out, is located in a Bushwick warehouse. Forget “Da plane! Da plane!” To get here, you need the L train.

It’s in this converted space where Third Rail Projects, the immersive and experiential dance-theater company behind the long-running hit “Then She Fell,” has set up its latest piece, “The Grand Paradise," about one repressed family’s trip to a tropical resort in the late 1970s.

During the two-hour performance, much of which audiences spend shuffling between rooms, we follow the goings-on of the nuclear quintet, who have arrived with vague notions of wanting to cut loose and party. Theatergoers are alternately voyeurs and participants in the family’s dark or erotic altercations.

Arrivals “checking in” at 383 Troutman St. are greeted in a foyer by polyester-clad flight attendants and handed a boarding pass for a flight on “Finis Air.” In groups of 10 or so, we watch a video, with an oily host who warns us not just to turn off our phones, but to avoid “inappropriate” behavior while mingling with members of the troupe.

“Inappropriate” behavior? During “The Grand Paradise,” I was lured into a pillow fight with one towel-wrapped performer, who then lured me into bed. We cuddled.

No theatergoers experience the same show. Some, after the show ended, spoke of having received massages. At one point, my wrists were dabbed with lavender perfume … then I was sealed in a coffin. My companion, separated from me for half the evening, instead participated in someone else’s funeral.

Early on, audience members (30 or 40, in all) were free to wander around spaces at the makeshift resort, which include a bar and a nightclub. After a while, the actors steered us assertively into certain rooms, in smaller groups.

At the bar, I had my first extended one-on-one interaction with an actor, “the dad” (Erik Abbott-Main, at the performance I attended). He motioned me over to an adjacent stool and was soon showing off photos of earlier family vacations, to Disneyland and Hawaii. The actor was quick-witted when I asked what year he’d gotten married: “1965,” he said.

The performers (some, veterans of Punchdrunk’s interactive “Sleep No More”) are clearly prepared to deal with extroverts or introverts. You can, I suppose, go through “The Grand Paradise” without uttering a word to an actor. But what would be the fun in that?

As the evening progressed, several parallel storylines played out. “Dad” became occupied with a couple of gorgeous sprites, who seduced him into a bath. “Mom” (here, Tori Sparks) explored inklings of lesbian feelings, exchanging clothes with a cabaret singer.

A young man, the boyfriend of one of their daughters, has a perceived sexual encounter with a cabana boy—we witness it from behind wooden shutters in a cabana, where we’re with one other random audience member … and gee, that can get weird for a dozen reasons.

The Third Rail team has gone to extreme effort to evoke the time during which the production is set. One room had an Atari, a collection of Tom of Finland postcards and some LPs: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” and “The Best of Dolly Parton.”


Actors’ monologues generally revolve around the idea of fate, the passage of time, and whether we’re using our own finite lives to the fullest. The idea comes across more potently in some of the set dance pieces, rather than in the participatory parts of the evening.

Ticket prices range from $95-$150, probably too steep for experimental theater of this sort, though one can only guess at the permitting and design costs involved. (Some of the budget was raised off a Kickstarter campaign.) These things generally go off better with a bit of liquor; that didn’t transpire.

I had a good time at “The Grand Paradise,” hokey and heavy-handed though it could sometimes be. The Third Rail team is admirably skilled at provoking you to a reaction, even if what you remember most is feeling vaguely uncomfortable and insecure.

“The Grand Paradise,” at 383 Troutman St., Brooklyn. Tickets, $95-$150, are currently on sale through March 16. Visit TheGrandParadise.com.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Third Rail Projects]]>
<![CDATA[Shakespeare in the Park’s 2016 Season Set]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 18:10:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-465810646.jpg

The Public Theater will will celebrate the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death during this year's Shakespeare in the Park season, continuing the 54-year tradition of free theater in Central Park.

“The Taming of the Shrew” will kick off the season, playing a five-week run at the Park’s Delecorte Theatre from May 24 through June 26. Director Phyllida Lloyd will offer a bold take on the classic comedy, with an all-female cast lead by Cush Jumbo (TV’s “The Good Wife”) as Katherina and Tony winner Janet McTeer (“Mary Stuart”) as Petruchio.

Beginning July 19, The Public will tackle one of Shakespeare’s most rarely produced plays, “Troilus and Cressida.” Tony winner Daniel Sullivan (“Sylvia“) will direct. The tragedy spins off from a plotline in “The Iliad,” following two lovers during the later years of the Trojan War. The play closes on Aug. 24.

In addition to the two-show season, The Public will present a musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night” in early September, with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah. The Public’s Mobile Unit will also tour “Rome & Juliet” around all five boroughs, culminating in a three-week run at The Public's Astor Place location, from April 11 through May 1.

As always, tickets to 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.

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

For more information and additional ticket information, visit www.thepublictheater.org.

Photo Credit: Ilya S. Savenok]]>
<![CDATA[ Sandy Duncan Finds "Neverland"]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 17:30:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-83616511.jpg

Sandy Duncan was Tony-nominated for her role as the high-flying boy-who-won't-grow-up in the 1979 revival of "Peter Pan." And now, almost 37 years later, Duncan will return to Pan's world in the Broadway musical "Finding Neverland."

"The Hogan Family"-star will play Madame du Maurier in the production -- the role originated by Carolee Carmello, beginning Feb. 9. Her run, opposite Kelsey Grammer and Tony Yazbeck, will conclude March 27.

Duncan's casting is a bit of a full-circle moment, as both 1979's "Peter Pan" and "Finding Neverland" call the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre home.

"It’s surreal being back," Duncan said, in a statement. "There’s a real sense of nostalgia for me in joining this company. I’m looking forward to being a part of the story from a different angle."

Adapted from the 2004 Oscar-winning film of the same name by bookwriter James Graham, "Finding Neverland" features a score from Take That's Gary Barlow and Grammy-winner Eliot Kennedy. "So You Think You Can Dance" Emmy-winner Mia Michaels choreographs.

For tickets and more information, please visit www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com.

Photo Credit: Charley Gallay]]>
<![CDATA[Trade Old Baby Items for Discounts at Toys 'R' Us]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 09:13:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/062411+toys+r+us+generic+store.jpg

Anyone looking for an excuse to rid their home of old and unsafe baby items could stand to benefit from Toys "R" Us's annual Great Trade-In event.

Since 2009 the children's toy company has provided shoppers with the opportunity to discard old and unsafe baby gear — such as cribs, car seats, strollers and more — in exchange for a 25 percent discount on a purchase of select new items. The year shoppers can drop off gear from Feb.1 through Feb. 29 and those with "R" Us credit cards also receive an additional five percent off. The event applies at both Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us.

"As we strive to help parents make the best possible choices as they care for their babies, we look forward to once again hosting this program at our stores nationwide. We strongly encourage parents to use this time to check their baby gear and trade in old items for new ones that meet or exceed current safety standards," said Reg McLay, Senior Vice President of Babies "R" Us, in a statement.

The benefits aren't reserved for just those who bring in old items as even shoppers without an item to trade in can take advantage of a 15 percent discount in-store and online with a coupon at Babiesrus.com/GreatTradeIn.

Over 1.1 millions items have been turned in since the inception of the Great Trade-In. Several brands including Graco, Sorelle, Baby Trend and more have signed on to support the cause and help decrease unsafe childcare items from circulation. Items can include bassinets, infant swings, bouncers, travel systems, walkers, entertainers, play yard, and toddler beds.

Organizations and child care centers can exchange items in bulk but should contact their local Toys "R" Us store. There is no trade-in limit for the the number of items a customer can bring.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teens Too Tall for Costumes?]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:00:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Too-Tall-for-Costumes-Disney.jpg

Two San Diego County teens were left disappointed after being turned away from a "Frozen" Disney on Ice show at Valley View Casino for an unlikely and seemingly bizarre reason: they were too tall to be wearing costumes.

Say what?

The girls said security staff told them they could be confused with the performers.

"Honestly, more than anything, it was just disappointing," Jessica Mcroskey said.

The two friends who attend Francis Parker High School, Mcroskey and Jennifer Wineholt, were decked out in "Frozen" attire for the event last Friday – only to be turned away because they were too tall, they told NBC 7. After the girls showed their IDs, proving they weren’t adults, they were given this reason:

“They came back later and said that 'Yes, you’re under 18, but you’re too tall ... people would actually think that you’re one of the characters,' and I guess there’s an issue with them taking pictures with us or something,” McRoskey said.

The teens said they looked again at the fine print on their tickets: Nowhere did it say on the tickets nor the event's website that costumes weren't allowed.

When reached for comment, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the promoter of the event, told NBC 7 the company doesn’t have a policy against costumes. He said there appeared to be a miscommunication with security guards.

The company has offered the girls tickets to a later event.

The two best friends are heading to college on opposite coasts next year.

"We just want to have as much fun together as we can before we leave, and that was a night we'd been looking forward to for awhile," Wineholt said. "It's definitely a night we won't be able to get back."

<![CDATA[Cate Blanchett Set to Make Broadway Debut]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:18:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-497588624.jpg

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, whose role in the film “Carol” earned her a nomination in the best actress category again this year, will return to the New York stage this winter to make her Broadway debut in "The Present," Andrew Upton’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play “Platonov.”

Joining Blanchett is fellow Aussie Richard Roxburgh, known for his role in the Australian TV series “Rake.” Roxburgh will also be making his Broadway debut in the production.

No opening dates, theatre or additional casting has been announced yet. John Crowley will direct.

“The Present” tells the story of a group of friends who gather at an old country house in the mid 1990s to celebrate the birthday of widow AnnaPetrovna (Blanchett). Tensions boil between AnnaPetrovna and Platonov (Roxburgh) with whom she shares, according to the release, “20 years of denial, regret and thwarted desire.”

The production transfers following a critically acclaimed, sold-out engagement in Sydney, Australia. It will be presented by the Sydney Theatre Company, of which Blanchett and Upton once served as co-Artistic Directors.

Previously, Blanchett and Roxburugh appeared together in a Sydney Theater Company’s production of “Uncle Vanya” at New York City Center, which was presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Blanchett has also brought Sydney Theatre Company’s productions of “Hedda Gabler,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Maids” to New York — though never to Broadway.

Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['SpongeBob Musical' to Feature New Bowie Song]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:01:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/SPONGEBOBkeyart.jpg

A song written by David Bowie will be featured in SpongeBob Squarepants’ first stage musical, which makes its world premiere in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre on June 7 ahead of a Broadway run in the upcoming later this year.

“The SpongeBob Musical” will feature of score made up of a dozen of original songs penned by some of music's biggest stars, including Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, John Legend, Plain White T’s, Panic! at the Disco, Lady Antebellum, T.I., They Might be Giants, The Flaming Lips and “Kinky Boots” composer Cyndi Lauper.

Putting it all together will be composer Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”), who will serve as the musical's music supervisor. Steppenwolf member Tina Landau co-conceived the project, and will also direct.

The original story, by playwright Kyle Jarrow, will follow SpongeBob as he sets out to rescue his underwater town of Bikini Bottom from the eruption of a volcano named Mount Humongous.

Playing the optimistic sea sponge will be newcomer Ethan Slater, while “Spring Awakening” alum Lilli Cooper will play deep sea-diving squirrel Sandy Cheeks. Other principal roles, including Patrick Star, Squidward and Mr. Krabs, will be announced shortly.

And don’t expect to see SpongeBob like you see him walking around Times Square. Characters in “The SpongeBob Musical” will be depicted in a non-literal, human fashion, with a suggestive character design applied.

Created by Steve Hillenburg, “SpongeBob SquarePants” premiered on Nickelodeon in July 1999, and spent 13 consecutive years as the most-watched animated program for kids. It’s currently seen in over 185 countries, and translated in more than 50 languages.

For more information and tickets, visit thespongebobmusical.com.

Photo Credit: The SpongeBob Musical]]>
<![CDATA[BroadwayCon Attracts Nearly 6,000 Theater Fans]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 17:46:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-506449006.jpg

Nearly 6,000 people from around the world attended BroadwayCon, the inaugural convention for theater fans that took over the New York Hilton Midtown this weekend.

While Broadway matinee and evening performances were canceled this weekend in the wake of the historic blizzard, BroadwayCon went on, turning its mainstage ballroom into a giant slumber party.

To make up for the absence of Darren Criss, Jeremy Jordan and other high-profile celebrities who couldn’t attend the event due to travel delays, organizers set up a “Broadway Party Line.” Co-organizer Anthony Rapp, gossip columnist Michael Riedel and Playbill Editor-in-Chief Blake Ross cold-called celebrity talent, chatting -- on speakerphone and FaceTime -- with Patti LuPone, Joel Grey, Audra McDonald, Betty Buckley, Laura Benanti, Criss, Jordan and more.

“In spite of the weather and what really could have been a big mess, they covered for each other and made the best of it” said Barbara Feldman, a 69-year-old retired theater educator from Jacksonville, Fla. “It may have been a storm outside, but you really didn’t feel it in here.”

Feldman traveled to BroadwayCon from Jacksonville with fellow theater-fan Pat Gorman, 68. The duo saw two Broadway shows while in town -- “Something Rotten” and “Noises Off” -- and plan to come back next year to see more.

Feldman and Gorman weren’t the only two out-of-towners who traveled into New York City for BroadwayCon. 15-year-old Lucy Swinson, of Oakland, Calif., flew in for the convention with her father, Ian. Lucy had never seen a show on Broadway until seeing “Something Rotten” this weekend -- though the aspiring actress has been in 14 local theater productions herself.

“As a dad, the one thing I want to do is give her opportunity to fulfil her passion,” said Ian. “Seeing her enjoy it, experience it and be inspired by so many women role models involved in theater has been amazing.”

Barbara Feldman, of Woodmere, Long Island, said she also felt "inspired" about seeing the convention through the eyes of her 13-year-old son, Andrew -- who has performed in “about 65 shows” since seeing “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway.

For Andrew, BroadwayCon gave him a chance to connect with other people who have the same passion as he does. “Theater is all about community,” he said, “It’s been amazing to feel the sense of community with the people that we admire so much.”

“This is an opportunity for the walls between artists and audience members to be broken down,” Anthony Rapp said. “As much as we’re living on our screens, we learned this weekend that people want to be together in person. Watching everyone share in the celebration of that, learn about what makes Broadway tick and what makes it meaningful has made this a success.”

Rapp and organizers of BroadwayCon say they hope to restage the event next year -- possibly even moving to a larger location, like the Javits Center. Of the 30 people NBC 4 New York spoke to for this piece, all said they would return another year.

Photo Credit: Eugene Gologursky]]>
<![CDATA[BroadwayCon Brings Stars and Fans Together]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 22:50:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BC16_FB_Default-Share.jpg

BroadwayCon, the first convention for Broadway fans, will take over the New York Hilton Midtown hotel from Friday to Sunday for a weekend of one-of-a-kind panels, performances and workshops sure to satisfy any theater lover.

Over 150 of Broadway’s best actors and creatives are expected to appear, including Jeremy Jordan (“Newsies”), Krysta Rodriguez (“Spring Awakening”) and Darren Criss (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”).

The convention was co-created by Anthony Rapp (“If/Then”) who says he wanted an event to spend quality time with those who love Broadway most. “This is the convention that this community deserves,” Rapp wrote.

Rapp and other original cast members of “Rent” will reunite to discuss the creation of the Tony-winning musical, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. 

“Hamilton” will be well-represented, with a mainstage panel including Lin-Manuel Miranda Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff -- all on hand to discuss the musical’s history-making run.

Panels will include everything from discussions about diversity on Broadway to behind-the-scenes looks at shows like “Fun Home,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The King and I.” There are also a number technical conversations around sound design, choreography, theater criticism and non-profit theater.

Ticket buyers can partake in free autograph and picture sessions, sing-alongs and purchase one-of-a-kind merchandise and collectables. A portion of all proceeds will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

For more information and tickets, visit broadwaycon.com.

Photo Credit: BroadwayCon]]>
<![CDATA[Claire Danes Set for The Public's “Dry Powder” ]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:52:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/504030698.jpg

“Homeland” star Claire Danes, “The Simpsons” funnyman Hank Azaria and Broadway's "War Horse" actor Sanjit De Silva have joined the cast of Sarah Burgess’s “Dry Powder,” which makes its world premiere at The Public Theater this spring.

Danes and Azaria will join previously announced star John Krasinski (NBC’s “The Office”) in the play, about a group of people “shaping and skewing the American economy.”

Previews begin on March 1, with an official opening set for March 22. The limited run is currently scheduled through April 24.

Direction will come from Thomas Kail, who also directed “Hamilton” at The Public last season before its Broadway transfer.

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

Photo Credit: Jason Merritt]]>
<![CDATA[Jimmy Fallon Channels David Bowie and More for "Hamilton" Song]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 09:27:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LinManuelMirandaJimmyFallon.png

With the $10 ticket lottery for the smash musical “Hamilton” gone digital, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has also moved his pre-lottery “Ham4Ham” show to the web.

And in his Dec. 21 installment, he enlisted the help of “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon.  

Fallon adapted his popular “Wheel of Impressions” bit for Miranda, singing the “Hamilton” song “You’ll Be Back” as some of music’s biggest stars, including Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and the late David Bowie.

Miranda and "Tonight Show" drummer Questlove -- who also produced the "Hamilton" cast recording -- helped moderate, shouting artist suggestions for Fallon along the way. 

Watch the video:

To enter the “Hamilton” digital lottery, visit lottery.broadwaydirect.com.

Photo Credit: Douglas Gornstein
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<![CDATA['Cats' Revival Heading to Broadway]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:22:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/99854176.jpg

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-winning musical “Cats” will return to Broadway this season, 15 years after wrapping up its record-breaking original run.

The first U.S. revival will begin performances at the Neil Simon Theatre on July 14, with an official opening set for Aug. 2.

Featuring a score by Lloyd Webber with lyrics by T.S. Eliot, Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe, “Cats” is based on Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” telling the story of a pack of "Jellicle cats."

Original director Trevor Nunn and scenic and costume designer John Napier will return to the production. New to the team is choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (“Hamilton”), who will base his design on Gillian Lynne's original choreography and associate direction.

While no casting has been announced, former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger led a 2014 West End revival, and Lloyd Webber has said he hopes she’ll lead the New York production.

“Cats” opened on Broadway in 1982, and went on to play 7,485 performances. It holds the title as the second longest running Broadway show of all time (Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" holds the top spot). Since its 1981 premiere in London, “Cats” has been presented in over 30 countries, translated into 15 languages and been seen by more than 73 million people worldwide.

Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Linda Lavin in 'Our Mother's Brief Affair']]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 13:32:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BriefAffairMain.jpg

Linda Lavin is alternately sardonic and fragile in the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg’s drama “Our Mother’s Brief Affair.” Above all, the Tony winner and sitcom star wittily rules the stage at the MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where “Affair” has just opened.

Greenberg’s imperfect 2009 play hinges on a mother’s deathbed confession to her grown children—the affair of the title. The notion of “legacy” weighs heavily in the drama, which touches on themes such as the suburban dream, and the desire, when one’s life is nearing its end, “to be known.”

Lavin’s Anna has twins, Seth and Abby (Greg Keller and Kate Arrington). Greg is a gay obituary writer in New York, and the one who takes care of mom, with her now-routine hospital visits. Abby lives with her partner and daughter in California, but flies in each time it looks as if mom may not pull through.

In flashbacks, Anna tells her kids about an extra-marital relationship she had during an autumn 30 years prior, when Seth was reluctantly studying at Juilliard. It’s routine theater fodder, until the first act skids to a halt, lights come up and the kids break the fourth wall to explain that, to the best of their knowledge, the man their mother was caught up with was of some historical significance.

Theatergoers under, oh, 40 or so, may not make the connection instantly, so make use of your cell phone during intermission and run the fellow's name through Wikipedia. As “Affair” picks back up (MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow is in firm command of the reins) another key point emerges: Anna’s story may or may not be true.

Lavin, acerbic to the point of caricature in more recent appearances (“The Lyons”), paints a balanced portrait here, as a Long Island mom who dutifully raised two kids despite being in a marriage that was never romantic.

By no means self-sparing, Anna confesses to her new lover the guilt she feels over a decades-ago action involving a family member. We’re even led to wonder if Anna has remained in her marriage as some self-inflicted punishment for this long-past sin. Yet Anna never reads as bitter; more, she’s a woman on the brink of death trying to make peace with the life she’s lived, in unapologetically human fashion. (Anna and her kids, blessedly, seem to have long-ago processed through the gay stuff.)

Keller, an exasperated but formidable foil to his mother, narrates most of the story. Arrington (“The Qualms”) is believable as the adult daughter who long ago understood she was not mom’s favorite, but her character barely seems essential. John Procaccino (Signature’s chilling “Incident at Vichy”) is very good, doing double-duty as both the secretive lover wooing Anna in the park, and Anna’s crotchety husband.

“Affair” takes the generic, and I daresay hardly earth-shaking knowledge that a parent had an affair, and throws it up against a specific political event. Whether the affair happened or not is irrelevant, and indeed, it's intentionally left ambiguous. Anna believes it did.

Greenberg (“Take Me Out,” etc.) is making a point about “scale,” that some loads we carry through life—the burdens that bring us shame—are worse than others, and that after a point we must forgive ourselves. It’s a point I'd gander he might have made more elegantly without the plot twist, but nonetheless, with Lavin leading the cast, it’s a beautifully performed play.

“Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” through March 6, 2016 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. Tickets: $70-$140. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn 

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Wantanabe Returning to 'King and I' ]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 12:31:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/KenWantanabeTheKingAndI.jpg

Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe will return to the role of the King of Siam in the Tony-winning revival of “The King and I,” now playing at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater.

Watanabe, who was nominated for a best actor in a musical Tony for his performance in the role, will return opposite Kelli O’Hara’s Anna on March 1. His return engagement will last seven weeks, through April 17.

“Lost” alum Daniel Dae Kim will replace Watanabe in the role upon his departure, from May 3 through June 26. Kim, who currently stars in CBS's “Hawaii Five-0,” has played the role before, in a 2009 London production. This will be Kim’s Broadway debut.

Joe Llana will step into the role from April 19 through May 1, during the two weeks between Watanabe’s and Kim’s run.

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

Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik]]>
<![CDATA[Review: 'Mother Courage and Her Children']]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 20:05:59 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CourageMain.jpg

The Classic Stage Company made news for the wrong reasons at the turn of the year when Tonya Pinkins, who was to star in the upcoming “Mother Courage and Her Children,” departed the production during previews after clashing with longtime CSC artistic director Brian Kulick.

Pinkins (“Jelly’s Last Jam”) publicly argued that the famous role in Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war drama about a canteen woman determined to make her living in the midst of the Thirty Years' War, had been “neutered” by CSC, after being created through “the filter of the white gaze.”

An untruncated version of the Tony winner’s unusual statement can be found here.

Few of us are privy to changes that may have been made behind the scenes in the intervening few weeks, but I found the “Mother Courage” that finally opens tonight at CSC—with five days left before it closes—to be a realistic story of an opportunistic woman trying to balance the needs of her family against the unknowable travails of life in wartime.

Broadway actress Kecia Lewis, who succeeded Pinkins in the role, certainly doesn’t read as “delusional.” "Delusional" is the word Pinkins and Kulick hit an impasse over. Pinkins said she opposed the director's view of Brecht's heroine as "a delusional woman trying to do the impossible." "Why must the black Mother Courage be delusional?" wrote Pinkins, who described the canteen woman as "the epitome of every ... immigrant woman hustling to provide for her family.”

Kulick acknowledged using the "strong" word to characterize a "potential end point" for Mother Courage, observing that Brecht's own notes say "the point of 'Mother Courage' is that she does not learn from the events of the play." As these things sometimes go, star and director attempted to rework the ending of the drama, but compromise proved unattainable, leading to the surreal string of developments that now has "Mother Courage" opening just as it's preparing to close.

Lewis, as I was saying, is not delivering a performance anyone would characterize as "delusional." She is, rather, frantic and resigned, yet somehow still hopeful she will find safety in an environment where it can’t possibly be found.

Despite its 17th-century setting, "Mother Courage" is considered a response by Brecht to the rise of Nazism. Kulick’s version, for purposes unclear, relocates the play’s action to a generic version of present-day Congo. The change in setting, without sufficient explanation, also was among the reasons Pinkins cited for her departure (she called the decision a "decorative motif").

With the modernization, Courage’s famous canteen wagon, in which she drags along items to sell to revolutionaries, has become the back half of a motorized Jeep.

There’s profit to be made in war, and Mother Courage knows it, but her pursuit of some means by which she can feed her family will be her family’s undoing, and her own. What is “delusional” about Mother Courage—that is, any company's "Mother Courage"—is that the protagonist thinks she can make money from war without suffering consequences.

Lewis originated the role of Asaka in 1990’s “Once on This Island,” and also has had a recurring role as a judge on “Law & Order: SVU.” Producers warned that the actress, with little time to prepare, might be working from a script in some scenes and requesting lines in others. She did both at a performance this weekend, though not to exceptionally distracting effect. By my count, Lewis called for a line five or six times.

What I saw, beyond that issue, was a performer of tremendous confidence, taking on a role with a sharp perspective on her character. Let’s acknowledge the fortitude it takes for an actress to step into a classic and fraught leading role with less than two weeks to prepare, shall we?

Lewis, with her performance, exhibits a hardness few mothers could muster. More than anything, she’s a realist. A powerless realist.

We meet Mother Courage’s three children, Eilif, “Swiss Cheese” and the mute Kattrin (Curtis Cook Jr., Deandre Sevon and Mirirai Sithole), and watch as each is lost over years to wars old and new. Among the more chilling scenes is one when Lewis’s Courage attempts to barter with a solider for the return of Swiss Cheese, but bungles her negotiation, sending the boy to his death in the process.

All three actors playing Courage’s children have a keen and focused take on their roles, though none is more effective than Sithole as the speechless Kattrin, who gives her life trying to warn villagers in a town too far away of an impending invasion. The villagers could not possibly hear her distant grunts, but it doesn't keep the girl from trying.

Kevin Mambo, of “Fela!,” gives a warm portrayal of the cook, who does battle with Courage but holds a sweet spot for her in his hard heart.

Some back story and commentary about war have been hacked away to keep the runtime to barely more than 2 hours. We are abruptly moved forward years at a time with announcements blared over a prison-style loudspeaker system.

Duncan Sheik, who in fact really is everywhere right now (“Spring Awakening,” “American Psycho”), has contributed the bare bones of a score to the bold, discomforting and well-performed proceedings.

“Mother Courage and Her Children,” through Jan. 24 at the Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St. Tickets: $61-$126. Call 212-677-4210.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Beware of Counterfeit 'Hamilton' Tickets ]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 09:21:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hamilton0044rScam.jpg

Buyer beware: While tickets to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical musical “Hamilton” are among the hottest in town, buying tickets from resellers over the internet might be a costly decision.

The New York Times reports that more and more theatergoers are falling prey to ticket forgers, who are selling fake “Hamilton” tickets on popular sites like Craigslist.org.

One man profiled in the Times’ story, named Jason, purchased two tickets for $600 from a seller on Craigslist. Jason met the seller, who said he had already seen the show and had received the tickets after as a Christmas gift, outside the 14th Street Urban Outfitters. The ticket ad appeared genuine and the asking price, reasonable.

Jason only found out the tickets were fake when he and his wife showed up at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Jan. 2.

Another woman profiled in the piece, named Christina, found herself in a similar bind, after buying two tickets from a woman on an Upper East Side corner earlier that day.

Fred Santore Jr., the box office treasurer at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, told the Times that since the show opened in August, he’s seen counterfeit tickets “about five times a week.”

“Hamilton” isn’t the first Broadway show to fall victim to counterfeiters. Theatergoers buying tickets to “The Book of Mormon” and “The Producers” have also been targeted in the past.

Those waiting for “Hamilton” tickets can get a little closer to the hit musical, however, on PBS. The Public Broadcasting Service will air a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the musical this fall, as part of its acclaimed Great Performances lineup.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA['Pita Rats' Battle for Flatbread in NYC Subway]]> Sat, 16 Jan 2016 19:57:43 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-97348933-subway-rat-generic.jpg

First New York's "pizza rat" had to compete for the internet's attention with a 'za-loving raccoon. Then, a bagel-wearing pigeon challenged the rodent for viral views.

But now, pizza rat is being challenged by two of its own species with a penchant for Mediterranean food.

CNN reports that a pair of "pita rats" were spotted trying to drag a flatbread up the stairs at the Herald Square station earlier this week.

The two appear to be competing to take the whole pita home, with the victor eventually dragging the bread up the platform stairs.

Last year, social media users were fascinated by the now-famous pizza rat, which was caught on camera dragging a slice of pizza down a set of subway stairs. Video of the rat garnered more than 8 million views on YouTube.

Photo Credit: File -- NY Daily News via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Devon Still Got His Strength From Leah in Cancer Fight]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 18:58:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/487634272.jpg

Devon Still happily announced earlier this week that his daughter Leah was done with her final cancer treatment, but it was a day he initially feared might never come.

"When we first started off, it seemed so far away,'' Still told TODAY.com. "When she received her first treatment and it didn't work, that was the scariest moment. I thought I would end up losing my daughter."

Leah, 5, has been an inspiration in the fight against pediatric cancer since she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in June 2014 and given a 50-50 chance to survive by doctors. Devon, a defensive lineman with the Houston Texans, documented her battle on Instagram, which gave him a chance to reflect this week on how far she has come since that scary time 18 months ago.

"I looked through all the different pictures from when we started until the end, and I feel very blessed that we were able to make it through this,'' he said. "Social media really helped a lot during the dark times."

Photo Credit: File -- FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Jobs, Bill Gates Musical Heading to Broadway]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:39:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SteveJobsBillGates.png

One of the biggest rivalries in the tech industry is jumping from the Silicon Valley to the Great White Way.

“Nerds,” the new musical satire which chronicles the nerds-to-riches journey of Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs, will begin performances at the Longacre Theater on March 31, prior to an official opening April 21.

Music comes from Hal Goldberg (“The Children”), with book and lyrics from TV’s “Robot Chicken” team Jordan Allen-Dutton and Erik Weiner. Casey Hushion (associate resident director, “Aladdin”) will direct.

The musical originally premiered at the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2005. It received the Barrymore Awards for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Original Music in 2007.

Producers have said they are hoping to stage “Nerds” using innovative theater technology, like “holograms, projection mapping, even an in-house app that lets audience members guide the plot.”

For more information, visit NERDSBroadway.com.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan | Spencer Platt | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Roundabout's 'Noises Off']]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 15:00:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NoisesMain.jpg

There are still surprises to be found in “Noises Off,” Michael Frayn’s often-staged comedy about pandemonium behind the scenes at a generic sex farce called “Nothing On.”

Talk about a test of thespian mettle. “Noises Off” requires its cast to do pratfalls, slide around on sardines and -- in a new revival from Roundabout, now open at the American Airlines Theatre -- slam eight doors on a two-story set some 100 times.

An A-list ensemble, led by beloved comedienne Andrea Martin, takes classic scenes and amps them up. So here, an actor doesn’t just fall down a flight of steps -- he flips over a banister with an acrobatic flourish, breaking the handrail right off its balusters.

It’s the sort of commitment that leaves audiences concerned for the well-being of a performer (in this case, the excellent David Furr, playing bumbling "Nothing On" co-star Garry Lejeune). If we’re already familiar with a property, the stakes have to be that much higher to hold our interest.

Wonderful here, Martin conveys that Dotty Otley, leading lady of the show-within-a-show, is essentially a highly paid showgirl talking down to her character.

Torturing every vowel (“saw-dines”), Martin puts her stamp on the script with wiggly-fingered antics, wordlessly trying to warn her director (Campbell Scott) that it may be unwise to carry on affairs at the same time with both his “Nothing On” stage manager (Tracee Chimo, of “Bad Jews”) and leading lady (a hilarious Megan Hilty).

Scott, the Broadway and film vet, imbues Lloyd Dallas with a director’s stereotypical sense of entitlement, exasperatedly bellowing orders toward his clueless cast from the aisles of the American Airlines Theatre.

Of Hilty, as inept ingenue Brooke Ashton, let’s note: You have to be an excellent actress to play a bad actress. Brooke is the least skilled performer in the “Nothing On” cast, so resolutely committed to what she does that, when things go awry, she can’t improvise.

Hilty silently mouths the lines of her co-stars, lest she miss her own cues, underlining every emotion with histrionics: wildly waving her hands on the stairs to indicate “fear,” or striking a cheesecake pose to indicate she’s making a bold point.

Chimo, as Poppy, the stage manager, is good, though we wish the wickedly sharp actress had more opportunity to strut her stuff. As Belinda, the closest thing to a competent performer in the “Nothing On” cast, Kate Jennings Grant takes a boilerplate part, but turns the character into someone likable.

Jeremy Shamos (“Clybourne Park”) runs with his role as Frederick Fellowes, the character actor who takes method acting way too far. Rob McClure, the “Chaplin” star, is charming as the put-upon stagehand, who becomes so terrified when forced into understudying a role that every inch of his body trembles.

Finally, Daniel Davis (he was Niles, the butler, on TV’s “The Nanny”) is on the money as Selsdon Mowbray, the stock booze-swilling actor who nonetheless hits his mark every time.

At the risk of dampening the mood, I don't have warm and fuzzy feelings toward farce in general, and "Noises Off" takes its time building to full-fledged nuttiness. But director Jeremy Herrin ("Wolf Hall") shrewdly pulls off “Off” with one intermission, combining the traditional second and third acts into one. Things here just flow. 

This is the comedy’s third Broadway appearance; a not-so-joyfully received 1992 movie starred Carol Burnett and an astounding line-up of stars, among them John Ritter and Christopher Reeve. If “Noises Off” happens to already be part of your theatrical DNA, can it still offer the shock of surprise laughter?

Here, yes. Even if you know the farce inside-out, this team ensures that some laughs will catch you off guard.

“Noises Off,” through March 6 at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. Tickets: $67-$137. Call 212-719-1300.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA['Lazarus' Cast 'Deeply Saddened' by David Bowie’s Death]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:25:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MichaelCHallLazarus1.jpg

David Bowie’s “Lazarus” opened at Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) last month. And this afternoon, the team behind the sold-out show issued an emotional statement about the musician’s death.

"Everyone at NYTW and ‘Lazarus’ is deeply saddened by the loss of one of the great artists of our time,” Jim Nicola, Artistic Director of NYTW said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Mr. Bowie on his theatrical piece, ‘Lazarus,’ and we look forward to honoring his work onstage as ‘Lazarus’ plays its final performances.”

Bowie had a longstanding relationship with the New York theater community. He made his Broadway debut in “The Elephant Man” back in Sept. 1980, taking over the title role from John Merrick during the show’s original Broadway run. He also toured with the drama, in Chicago and Denver.

“Lazarus” -- Bowie’s first work for the stage -- is billed as a quasi-sequel to Bowie’s 1975-film “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” telling the story of an alien (played by Michael C. Hall) who has spent the past 30 years stranded on the planet Earth.

The musical features a catalog of Bowie classics, including “Changes,” “Heroes,” “Life on Mars?” and “The Man Who Sold the World.” Bowie also contributed new music to the piece, which can be heard on his final album (released Jan. 8) “Blackstar.”

Directed by Ivo van Hove (“A View From the Bridge”), “Lazarus” also stars Cristin Milioti (“Once”) and Michael Esper (“The Last Ship”). It runs at NYTW until Jan 20.

Photo Credit: Jan Versweyveld]]>
<![CDATA[Tony Yazbeck Joins “Finding Neverland” ]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 00:22:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/GettyImages-485224924.jpg

Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck ("On the Town") will replace "Glee" alum Matthew Morrison in the role of "Peter Pan" scribe J.M. Barrie in the musical "Finding Neverland."

Yazbeck will begin performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Jan. 26. Morrison’s final performance in the role he originated on Broadway will be on Jan. 24.

Before he leaves, Morrison will once again get to share the stage with Emmy-winner Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"), who returns from a temporary leave to the show — and the role of Captain Hook — on Jan. 26. Grammer’s run this time in "Neverland" is expected to last seven weeks.

"Tony is a ‘triple threat’ — he can do it all, and this makes him a perfect fit for the demands of the role of J.M. Barrie," director Diane Paulus ("Pippin," "Hair") said in a statement. "I can’t wait to work with him!"

Despite being completely shut out of the 2015 Tony nominations and opening to a mixed critical reception, "Finding Neverland" has remained a box office success, grossing a whopping $1,477,174 in the week ending Jan. 3, according to figures reported by the Broadway League.

Adapted from the 2004 Oscar-winning film of the same name by bookwriter James Graham, "Finding Neverland" features a score from Take That's Gary Barlow and Grammy-winner Eliot Kennedy. "So You Think You Can Dance" Emmy-winner Mia Michaels choreographs.

For tickets to "Finding Neverland," visit www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com.

Photo Credit: Robin Marchant]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Unveils New, Sleek Packaging]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 13:08:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/McDonald%27s+All.png

McDonald’s just got a major makeover.

To start off the New Year on a fresh foot the fast-food giant took on a resolution of its own: to completely overhaul the look and feel of their packaging, opting to go with colors outside of their traditional red and yellow staples for the first time in more than six decades.

This month McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. will begin handing customers brand new carry-out bags, fountain cups and sandwich boxes that they hope reflect the “simple” and “fresh” food the company says they aim to carry. The transition to the new packaging will expand to all 36,000 restaurants worldwide throughout 2016, according the company announcement.

Each day 69 million customers visit McDonald’s, and the company says they wanted to give their customers a noticeable change from the mainstay McDonald's look. They believe the upgraded bright and clean take-out designs are more inline with the company’s vision to be a “modern and progressive” burger company.

“McDonald’s is a fun and modern brand and this was a progressive way to turn our packaging into art and support a community where fashion is an expression,” said Matt Biespiel, McDonald’s senior director of global marketing. “It was fun to join these ideas together and create playful pieces that connect our customers to the brand.”

The company also announced they plan to source all of their fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sources by 2020.

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and initiatives like this are important to our customers who care about the planet,” continued Biespiel in the company’s statement.

Photo Credit: McDonald's
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<![CDATA[George Takei’s ‘Allegiance’ Sets Final Broadway Bow]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 19:11:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AllegianceGeorge.jpg

“Allegiance,” the new musical based on “Star Trek” icon George Takei’s real-life experience in Japanese American imprisonment camps in World War II, will play its final performance at the Longacre Theater on Feb. 14.

At the time of its closing, “Allegiance” will have played 37 previews and 113 regular performances.

“By its last performance, ‘Allegiance’ will have been seen on Broadway by approximately 120,000 people,” producers said in a statement, “a number that eerily echoes the number of Japanese Americans who were directly impacted by the events that inspired our musical.”

In addition to Takei, who made his Broadway debut in the production, “Allegiance” also stars Tony winner Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung (“Godspell”).

Music and lyrics came from Jay Kuo, with a book by Kuo, Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione.
Stafford Arima directs.

A national tour and international productions are in the works. An Original Cast Recording will be released on Feb. 5.

For more information, visit www.AllegianceMusical.com.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[‘Hamilton’ Digital Lottery Crashes]]> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 17:32:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HamiltonJonathanGroffJoanMarcus.jpg

If you were hoping to win the $10 digital ticket lottery for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash musical “Hamilton” Tuesday, you’re not going to get your shot.

More than 50,000 people entered the lotto, powered by Broadway Direct, crashing the site.

Moreover, "the system sent "you've won" emails to more people than we have seats for," explained Miranda

As a result, “Hamilton” will not award any winners for its lottery Tuesday. And it will return to its usual in-person “Ham4Ham” lottery Jan. 6, as Broadway Direct remedies technical issues.

The tickets held for Tuesday's lottery “will go unsold and unused in an effort to be fair to everyone,” the shows official Twitter account explained.

On Monday, producers of the hip-hop musical announced they were temporarily moving the lottery, which has been known to attract thousands of theater-going hopefuls to the Richards Rodgers Theatre, to the digital space for winter. The hiatus would allow them to find out ways to safely accommodate fans without blocking traffic on West 46th Street.

The in-person lottery hiatus would also allow producers the time to upgrade the sound system, used by Miranda and guests during the pre-lottery “Ham4Ham” performances.

“Think of this as the end of our Off-Bway Ham4Ham run,” Miranda said. “We're gonna take two months and make it better.”

Once the digital lottery is reinstated, regulations are expected to remain as initially announced.

Entries for the digital lottery will begin each day at 9:30 a.m.. Entries for matinee performances will be accepted until 11 a.m., while evening performance entries will go until 4 p.m.. Hopefuls are limited to one entry per person, though entrants can request up to two tickets.

Tickets are for that day’s performance(s) only. Winners will be notified via e-mail shortly after deadline, with a link to purchase tickets. Winners must pick up tickets at the Richard Rodgers Theatre box office, with a valid photo ID that matches the name drawn.

The Ham4Ham lottery is expected to return in the spring.

Photo Credit: Joan Marucs]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Restaurant Sells $100 Doughnut]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 11:43:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-72742667Sufganiyot112515.jpg

In 2016, the cronut is passé. New Yorkers now have another exuberant pastry to sink their teeth into: Manila Social Club’s so-called “Golden Doughnut.”

Since Bjorn DelaCruz, the founder of the recently-opened Filipino restaurant, posted an image of the $100 doughnut to Instagram last week, there’s been buzz about the dish.

DelaCruz spoke to the website First We Feast about the doughnut, which is filled with ube mousse, covered with champagne frosting and topped with 24-karat gold.

“The Golden Cristal Ube Donut came along because there is a brewery in Bushwick called Braven Brewery, and we know the owners…We had a doughnut event where I unveiled a doughnut with icing made with Braven White IPA, dusted with gold. That was the beginning of the golden doughnut [idea].”

DelaCruz went on to tell the website that the ingredients were hand-picked to craft a delicious dish.

“I take pride in this, and to me it’s a piece of art,” he told First We Feast.

“I cook with [those ingredients] because I think they taste good,” he said.

Manila Social Club is located in Williamsburg at 2 Hope Street. It is open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner; Saturday and Sunday for brunch; Monday through Friday for coffee service in the morning.

Photo Credit: File -- Getty Images
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<![CDATA['Hamilton' Lotto Goes Digital]]> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 11:04:59 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/solomon_hamilton_otu.jpg

The popular $10 ticket lottery for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash musical “Hamilton,” which has been known to attract thousands of theater-going hopefuls to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, is taking a winter hiatus.

The “Ham4Ham” lottery, which also features a surprise performance each day from Miranda and guests, will use the winter break to upgrade its sound system and find out ways to safely accommodate fans without blocking traffic on West 46th Street.

“Think of this as the end of our Off-Bway Ham4Ham run,” Miranda tweeted. “We're gonna take two months and make it better.”

While on break, “Hamilton” will offer a new digital lottery, powered by Broadway Direct.

Launching Jan. 5, entries for the digital lottery will begin each day at 9:30 a.m.. Entries for matinee performances will be accepted until 11 a.m., while evening performance entries will go until 4 p.m.. Hopefuls are limited to one entry per person, though entrants can request up to two tickets.

Tickets are for that day’s performance(s) only. Winners will be notified via e-mail shortly after deadline, with a link to purchase tickets. Winners must pick up tickets at the Richard Rodgers Theatre box office, with a valid photo ID that matches the name drawn.

The Ham4Ham lottery is expected to return in the spring.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA['Queen of the Night' Closing]]> Wed, 30 Dec 2015 14:25:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Queen+%28Katherine%29+%281%29.jpg

The interactive dinner theater spectacle “Queen of the Night” will play its final performance at the Diamond Horseshoe club in the basement of the Paramount Hotel on Dec. 31.

The Cirque du Soleil-like experience, which was originally scheduled for a limited run beginning New Year’s Eve in 2013, will finish off its run full-circle, with a New Year’s Eve black-tie event.

Tickets start at $450.

“The show was supposed to be open for only six weeks and lasted for two great years and grossed over $30 million,” a spokeswoman for the show told the New York Post.

The Diamond Horseshoe club will be used for private parties moving forward.

“Queen of the Night” was presented in part by Randy Weiner, who also brought the popular interactive hit “Sleep No More.”

For tickets, visit www.queenofthenightnyc.com

Photo Credit: Queen of the Night]]>
<![CDATA[Tonya Pinkins Exits 'Mother Courage']]> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 17:59:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/MotherCourage0141-1+copy.jpg

Tony winner Tonya Pinkins (“Caroline, or Change”) will depart the Classic Stage Company’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 drama “Mother Courage and Her Children, on January 3, 2016 -- a move that has caused the opening of the production, which was scheduled for Jan. 7, to be delayed.

“Irreconcilable differences” is the term that would probably best describe the reason for Pinkins’s departure from the production. The actress reportedly clashed with the vision Classic Stage Company artistic director Brian Kulick put forward when directing the revival.

Kulick’s production moved the action of the play, which is normally set in the Democratic Republic during the famed Thirty Years War, to the Congo. While the story still followed the title character’s travels with her canteen wagon, portions of Brecht’s play were also cut.

In a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday, Pinkins claimed the part of Mother Courage had been “neutered” and “left speechless and powerless” after being created through “the filter of the white gaze.”

"A black female should have a say in presentation a black female onstage,” Pinkins wrote. “Why, in 2015, in the arts, is there a need to control the creative expression of a black woman? Am I a dog or a slave to be misled so as to be controlled in my artistic expression?”

She also criticized the revival for viewing her heroine as “a delusional woman trying to do the impossible.”

As for the change in setting, Pinkins called it no more than “a decorative motif.”

“My Mother Courage is too big for CSC’s definition,” Pinkins explained. “So it is best that they find someone to ‘fit in,’ because I cannot.”

For his part, Kulick acknowledged he was working with Pinkins on making the character of Mother Courage more of a “survivor.” He also explained that he attempted to conjure the Congo -- though Pinkins’s need for specifics made it so “this question and how to answer it became louder and louder to each of us to a point where I think we couldn't hear each other anymore.”

“I am so sorry that over the course of this production our views on Mother Courage diverged,” Kulick said, adding that he had “great respect” for Pinkins as an artist and activist.

“Mother Courage and Her Children,” which also features a new score by Tony-winning composer Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening,” “American Psycho”), began previews on Dec. 9 -- though a number of early performances were cancelled due to Pinkins’s vocal issues.

More performances, including the Dec. 31 performance, Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 performances, have also been cancelled due to Pinkins’s departure.

A replacement for Pinkins's role has yet to be named, though the company does plan on continuing on with the production.

For more information, visit www.classicstage.org.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Harvey Wishes Everyone a Merry Easter on Christmas]]> Fri, 25 Dec 2015 16:14:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/doble+steve+harvey.jpg

Steve Harvey took to social media on Christmas Day to wish everyone a merry Easter.

The talk show and game show host tweeted a photo of himself with a cigar in his mouth and giving a peace sign with the caption “Merry Easter y'all!” followed by three Christmas tree emojis.

The tweet comes after the 58-year-old named the wrong winner during Sunday night’s live broadcast of the annual worldwide Miss Universe pageant.

While he initially announced that Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez-Arvalo would be going home with the largest crown, the honor was meant for Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurztbach.

"I have to apologize," he said. "The first runner-up is Colombia."

He explained to the audience and viewers that he misread the card that held the names of the winners. Colombia was listed as the first runner-up, and he'd been confused with how it was written on the card. He held it up for the camera.

"It is my mistake," he said. "Still, it's a great night. Please don't hold it against the ladies. We feel very badly, but it's still a great night."

Harvey also later tweeted an apology to the women and viewers. "I feel terrible," he wrote. The Miss Universe organization issued an apology on Monday as well.

The incident sparked numerous memes shared widely online.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[New Year's Eve in Times Square: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 18:35:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/child+new+years+eve.jpg

More than 1 million revelers will descend upon Times Square Thursday for the annual New Year celebrations, and the NYPD has released the following advisories for visitors. 

  • Share your New Year's Eve photos on Instagram or Twitter using #NBC4NY for a chance to be featured online or on air! 


Times Square will close to vehicular traffic beginning at 4 a.m. Thursday. At about 11 a.m., police will start directing spectators to gather in separate viewing sections. Each section will be closed once it becomes filled, and newly arriving spectators will be directed to the next viewing section.

Revelers will continue to populate Times Square along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to Central Park. 

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Backpacks, large bags and alcohol are prohibited.

Property may not be left at checkpoints.

Anyone who leaves a viewing area before the ball drops will not be able to gain entry to their original viewing area.

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Police urge visitors to take public transportation since streets will be closed around Times Square and there will be parking restrictions.

From 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, through about 12:15 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1, the N, R and W subway lines will bypass the 49th Street station in both directions, and the northbound 1 train will bypass the 50th Street station. 


On-street parking will be extremely limited in midtown. Both drivers and pedestrians should avoid all cross-town streets from 34th Street through 59th Street, as well as Sixth and Eighth avenues. 

The NYPD is continuing its DWI patrols and checkpoints throughout the city. 

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There will be no parking in the following areas from 12:01 a.m. Thursday through 1 a.m. Friday: 

• All cross-town streets from 33rd to 59th Street between 6th and 8th Avenue;
• West side of 5th Avenue, from 37th to 52nd Streets;
• West side of 6th Avenue, from 34th to 59th Streets;
• Both side of 6th Avenue, from 37th to 52nd Streets;
• Broadway between 34th to 59th Streets
• 7th Avenue between 34th to 59th Streets
• 9th Avenue between 41st to 43rd Streets
• West side of 10th Avenue, from 58th to 59th Streets
• Both side of 11th Avenue, from 34th to 39th Streets
• East side of 11th Avenue, from 58th to 59th Streets
• Both side of 8th Avenue from 34th to 59th Streets;
• 34th Street between 5th and 9th Avenue;
• 34th Street between 11th to 12th Avenues
• 37th Street between 5th and 8th Avenue;
• 38th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 39th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 40th Street between 5th to 9th Avenue
• 41st Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 42nd Street between 1st to 2nd Avenue
• 42nd Street between 5th and 9th Avenue;
• 43rd Street between 5th and 8th Avenue;
• 44th Street between 6th to 9th Avenue
• 45th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 46th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 47th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 48th Street between 5th and 9th Avenue;
• 49th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 50th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• Both side of 51st from 6th to 8th Avenue
• 52nd Street between 5th and 8th Avenue;
• 53rd Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 54th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 55th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 56th Street between 6th to 8th Avenue
• 57th Street between 5th to 9th Avenue
• 58th Street between 5th and 8th Avenue;
• 58th Street between 10th to 11th Avenue
• 59th Street between 10th to 11th Avenue
• 59th Street between 5th Avenue and Columbus Circle.

At approximately 4 a.m. on Thursday, December 31st, the following streets will be closed to all vehicular traffic:
• Seventh Avenue, from 43rd to 48th Streets
• Broadway, from 47th to 48th Streets
• 46th and 47th Streets, from Sixth to Eighth Avenue

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 31st, the following streets will be closed to all vehicular traffic:
• Seventh Avenue, from 41st to 59th Streets
• Broadway, from 47th to 59th Streets
• 43rd to 47th Streets, from Sixth to Eighth Avenue

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 31st, 42nd Street from 6th to Eight Avenue will be closed to traffic.

After 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 31st, the remainder of the traffic closures will be instituted as crowd conditions warrant:
• All cross-town streets from 37th to 41st Streets - Sixth to Eighth Avenues
• All cross-town streets from 49th to 59th Streets - Sixth to Eighth Avenues
• 48th Street, from Fifth to Ninth Avenues
• Cross-town access for emergency vehicles will be available on 42nd, 48th, and 59th Streets

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olive Garden Charges $400 a Head for NYE Dinner: Reports]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2015 12:17:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_06011004944.jpg

Olive Garden and other Times Square restaurants are charging hundreds of dollars or more per person for New Year’s Eve dinner, according to reports.

Restaurant-goers will have to shell out $400 each if they want to ring in 2016 at the Olive Garden’s location at 47th Street and Broadway.

And while there will be a DJ, open bar and buffet there, the views of the ball from the restaurant are “limited,” according to the manager, and none of the famed breadsticks will be served, the New York Post reports.

Dinner is even more expensive at the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant, which at 44th Street and Seventh Avenue is just below the ball. Revelers will have to pay $799 if they want to eat there and maybe catch a glimpse of the ball. 

Ruby Tuesday and The Counter, two blocks south of the ball, are also getting in on the action. At Ruby Tuesday, tickets are $349 per head and $1,699 for a “Couple’s VIP Table.” At The Counter, partiers can pay $449 for mini hamburgers, fries and an open bar. Neither restaurant sports views of the ball drop.

A “couples VIP” dinner of pasta, chicken and salmon at Italian chain eatery Buca di Beppo is $999.

Still, the prices may be worth it to those who don't want to wait out in the cold for 12 hours without food or a bathroom.

<![CDATA[Michelle Obama Joins NORAD's Santa Tracking Effort]]> Fri, 25 Dec 2015 14:26:59 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/michelle-obama-santa-tracker-norad.jpg

Santa Claus made his way around the world and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracked his entire movement. He continued his ride well into Christmas Day, dropping presents off in Hawaii before heading back to the North Pole.

The jolly man in red visited children in countries across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Kyrgyzstan, India, Afghanistan and Yemen, delivering more than six billion gifts. Santa's last destination was Hawaii after visiting mainland United States. He delivered a total of 7,281,439,471 gifts, NORAD said.

First Lady Michelle Obama volunteered with the tracking effort Thursday night, calling children across the country to see if they wanted to know how far along Santa was and asking if they were excited to see what presents he'd bring them.

"I’m probably going to ask my mom if I can take a pill that will help me sleep, because otherwise I’m going to stay up all night," said a boy named Peyton when Obama asked if he would stay up late, according to a White House press release.

But not every child she talked to was keeping up with the sleigh. Obama spoke with a boy named Anthony who told her he was watching television.

"You’re just watching TV?  But it’s Christmas Eve!" Obama said. "Aren’t you excited that Santa is going to be coming in the morning?"

Anthony replied: "Yeah, but I just -- I get to watch TV."

This Christmas Eve was the 60th year that NORAD, which monitors the skies and seas for threats to the U.S., tracked Santa Claus’ journey. The tradition started in 1955 when Colonel Harry Shoup received a phone call from a child expecting to reach Santa Claus.

The misdirected call was the result of the child reversing two numbers of a Santa Line phone number printed in a Sears advertisement, according to the National Archives.

Sixty years later, there are now 1,250 volunteers manning phone lines to answer questions about the trip. NORAD also has a website where people were able to track the trek. The volunteers are a mix of Canadian and American military personnel and Department of Defense civilians.

The Santa Tracker hotline could be reached at 877-446-6723 starting at 5 a.m. EST on December 24th and continuing through 5 a.m. ET on December 25th.

Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores. Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.

Google joined in on the trailing fun with its own tracker

NBC's Asher Klein contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: White House
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<![CDATA[NBC 4 New York's Top 10 Facebook Posts of 2015]]> Wed, 30 Dec 2015 09:30:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/top+facebook+stories.jpg
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