Posts Tagged ‘off broadway’

It’s Your Last Chance to See Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Stage 42 — Closing November 4

It’s your last chance to catch the joyous off-Broadway revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller, the all-new incarnation of the record-breaking Broadway hit. The revue, which was originally produced on Broadway in 1995 and was the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, closes Sunday, November 4. Information at www.smokeyjoescafemusical.com,  Stage 42, 422 West 42nd Street.

John Edwards, Jelani Remy, Dwayne Cooper and Kyle Taylor Parker Photo credit: Julia Russell

You know the bluesy rock ‘n roll songs and ballads, and I defy you not to tap your feet as the nine-member ensemble led by director choreographer Joshua Bergasse sing more than 30 classic songs like “Stand by Me,” “I’m a Woman,” “Hound Dog,” “Fools Fall In Love,” “On Broadway,” “Yakety Yak,” “Pearl’s a Singer,” “Treat Me Nice,” “There Goes My Baby,” “Love Potion #9,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Spanish Harlem.”

Emma Degerstedt with Jelani Remy, Shavey Brown, Dwayne Cooper and Max Sangerman Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The show’s stars bring a mix of Broadway and Off-Broadway musical expertise to Smokey Joe’s Café. Dwayne Cooper (Motown, Hairspray), Emma Degerstedt (Desperate Measures Off-Broadway), John Edwards (Jersey Boys), Dionne D. Figgins (Hot Feet, Memphis), Nicole Vanessa Ortiz (Spamilton Off-Broadway), Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Jelani Remy (Disney’s The Lion King), Max Sangerman (Blue Man Group Off-Broadway), and Alysha Umphress (On The Town, American Idiot) stand out with their renditions of the classic Leiber & Stoller tunes. Music fans will also recognize the duo as the writers of songs for such legends as Elvis Presley, Ben E. King, The Coasters and The Drifters.

Kyle Taylor Parker, Dwayne Cooper, John Edwards and Jelani Remy Photo credit: Gary Ng

Smokey Joe’s Café has a playlist that keeps the audience rocking, with a wide range of tunes from joyous anthems (“Saved”) to comedic romps (“Charlie Brown”) to songs of yearning (“I Who Have Nothing”). The storytelling and community-building aspects of the songs celebrate the humor, passion, and heartbreak that infuse everyday lives. Bringing to life moments of friendship and unity, the revue is just what we need to bring our very-divided country together. The songs’ messages and emotions resonate today, perhaps with more power than ever.

Dionne D. Figgins and Dwayne Cooper Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Smokey Joe’s Cafe is directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse and features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Alejo Vietti, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, original vocal arrangements by Chapman Roberts, additional original vocal arrangements by Louis St. Louis, music direction by Matt Oestreicher and orchestrations by Sonny Paladino and Steve Margoshes. Music Supervision and new arrangements are also by Mr. Paladino. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting. The show was co-conceived by Stephen Helper and Jack Viertel. It is produced by Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Tom Viertel, who also produced the show’s original Broadway engagement.

Off-Broadway Week: 2-for-1 Tickets Starting September 24 on Sale Now

Off-Broadway fans will love NYC & Company’s 10th Off-Broadway Week, from September 24 through October 7.  Tickets are now on sale at 2-for -1 pricing for 38 productions. If you’ve never seen an Off-Broadway show, this is the time to try out something new. Theater in NYC is much more than blockbuster musicals and long-running plays on Broadway – there’s much to love about the creative productions often set in much smaller, more intimate theaters. And the values are terrific.

Some of the shows offered include critically acclaimed musical Avenue Q, formerly on Broadway, Drunk Shakespeare, revivals of Jersey Boys and Smokey Joe’s Café, and fan favorites Gazillion Bubble Show, Puffs and STOMP.

All tickets are subject to availability, so hurry to purchase yours now. Tickets for the 10th NYC Off-Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/off-broadway-week.

The 38 shows participating in NYC Off-Broadway Week Fall 2018 are:

  • Apologia
  • Avenue Q
  • Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson
  • Blue Man Group
  • The Book of Merman
  • Desperate Measures
  • Drunk Shakespeare
  • El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba
  • Final Follies
  • Gazillion Bubble Show
  • Gloria: A Life
  • I Was Most Alive with You
  • The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
  • India Pale Ale
  • Jersey Boys
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes
  • Midnight at The Never Get
  • Monday Night Magic
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • NEWSical The Musical
  • Neurosis: A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • On Beckett
  • Perfect Crime
  • Popcorn Falls
  • Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic

An Insider’s Guide to Broadway and Off-Broadway: What to See, What to Do, Where to Eat

No visit to New York City is complete without sampling two things: theater and restaurants. You may consider yourself a world traveler, and you may have dabbled in international cuisine and some touring shows, but nothing compares to the bright lights and shiny plates of the Big Apple.

A trip down Manhattan’s Great White Way offers up a confusing and varied selection of musicals and plays, some veteran productions that are now crisscrossing the US and others seen only in Manhattan.  My advice is to skip “Kinky Boots” and “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” (you’ve probably already seen them this year), or “Phantom of the Opera” (it’s now in its 31st  year on Broadway) and go for the newer shows that theater divas rave about.

I Want to Hear Some Singing

Come from Away

Among musicals, two should be on your “don’t miss” list. “Come from Away,” a 100-minute jewel box of a show, wins the hearts of theatergoers every performance with its touchingly humanitarian story of travelers stranded outside of the US in the days following 9/11. Cast members play multiple roles, the songs are memorable, and the story strikes a chord. The equally captivating “Dear Evan Hansen” is a narrative about a topic that resonates with many families. Written by director Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen will have you remembering just how important musicals can be in building awareness of difficult topics. TONY winners “Once on This Island” (best musical revival, 2018) and “The Band’s Visit” (best new musical, 2018) should also be on your go-to list. For a night of pure fun, “Mean Girls” does the trick.

But Drama is What I Prefer

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It’s filled with magic and the characters that you love, so don’t delay in sourcing a ticket to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the two-part spectacular that was an enormous hit in the West End and is currently wowing audiences on Broadway. It’s a drama that the entire family will appreciate, especially if they’ve read all the books.  Do you love farce?  Then you absolutely have to see “The Play That Goes Wrong,” another British import that will have you laughing until your sides hurt.  Seriously.  You may want to see it twice, just to catch all the lines that you miss in this rapid-fire silly show.

There’s More to Broadway than Broadway

Jersey Boys

Off-Broadway refers to a number of smaller theaters located minutes away from traditional Broadway houses or in other parts of the city. The shows in these alternative venues may have stripped-down sets or may function as tryout spaces for future Broadway runs. This is where current Broadway mega-hits like “Hamilton” and “The Band’s Visit” started, and, if you see a director, story or cast member that appeals, it’s a great chance to explore. It’s also the place where larger-scale, popular Broadway shows sometimes return for a second incarnation. If you loved “Avenue Q,” “Jersey Boys,” or “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,”  here’s a chance to see them again, refreshed.

Off-Broadway shows usually have limited runs and are announced periodically. Check online for performances at the Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company and Vineyard Theatre among others to see what’s playing when you plan to visit. Then check the reviews – it’s good to experiment!

So, Where Should We Eat?

If the show has an early curtain (7pm instead of 8pm), or a runtime of 90 minutes (instead of 2 ½ hours), you’re probably safe dining after the show. If the thought of eating at 10pm after a longish play makes you queasy, then consider one of the quicker pre-theater options that locals enjoy instead of the overcrowded (and bland) choices that fill Times Square.

Obao

My recommendation is to head to the small, ethnic restaurants on Ninth Avenue.  Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to walk from the theater to these, and you won’t be disappointed.  From 42nd Street to the low 50s, an array of ethnic options offers authentic international dining, the antithesis to Epcot Center. Among the many Thai restaurants, two-story Obao is a standout, offering reasonably priced pan-Asian choices in a casual setting with quick, attentive service. Nearby upscale Marseilles satisfies with lovely French cuisine in a pretty room – the bouillabaisse is an instant ticket to the South of France. Italian Bocca di Bacco will please any oenophile. Other choices are the aptly named Turkish Cuisine and Five Napkin Burger for terrific Istanbul and American dining.

Food halls are the rage in Manhattan, with one of the newest located in the Theater District. Atop the Row NYC hotel, City Kitchen is an upscale version with a carefully curated variety of stalls. Here, local favorites like Luke’s Lobster (lobster rolls), Whitmans New York (cheesesteaks), and Gabriela’s Taqueria (tacos) let you create a smorgasbord of quick-food choices. Grab a seat in the picnic-like area, eat as quickly or as slowly as you’d like, and then mosey off to your show.

The Marshall

After the curtain falls and you’ve gotten an autograph by the stage door, you can continue stargazing by heading to after-show cast favorites like Joe Allen’s, Orso and The Marshall. Or descend the staircase to subterranean Sake Bar Hagi, an izakaya hideout of the photographer set.

Three Ways to Score the Least Expensive Seats

The TKTS booth at 47th Street in Times Square offers deeply discounted tickets for same-day shows, starting at 10am (matinee days), or 2pm (Tuesday) or 3pm (rest of the week).  Other TKTS locations in Brooklyn, at the South Street Seaport and at Lincoln Center have shorter lines. Check the hours of operation online. https://tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-Overview

Take your chances on where you’ll go with Broadway Roulette. You indicate whether you want a musical or a play, exclude up to six shows that you don’t want to see, and provide your dates. Broadway Roulette selects the show with the best seats.  https://www.broadwayroulette.com/

Book ahead with Today’s Tix, a theater concierge service that has discounted tickets to many shows and delivers them to you outside the theater.  https://www.todaytix.com

The hitch? With these options, you can’t pick your seats.

Love Farce? The Metromaniacs Closes This Weekend

You have only four more chances to see this romp of a literary farce on Broadway. Meter, rhyming, deceit, and fantasy all play into The Metromaniacs whirl of a show where nothing appears as it truly is. Scheming, mistaken identities and assumed personas play into the lovefest where the ultimate goal is to connect with one’s true soulmate. Set in Paris, 1738, verse- and poetry-mania have created an affinity among residents for couplets.

I don’t want to spoil the intrigue but suffice it to say that you’ll need to pay attention to the goings-on here in much the same way as you’d watch a Shakespearean comedy.

If you enjoy fast-paced language-dependent theater, you’ll have a great time. And the interspersing of current language idioms with 18th-century rhyming and cadence adds to the literary witticism and pleasure. Language nuts will have a field day!

Original Baroque music by Adam Wernick. Gorgeous costumes by Murell Horton. And the wonderful script by David Ives (Venus in Fur, The Liar, All in the Timing).

Instead of a pre-show glass of wine, have an espresso and get ready for a literary tour de force.

Tickets on sale at www.Dukeon42.org. The Duke, 229 West 42nd Street.

Six Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows Closing This Month

It’s time to make good on that New Year’s resolution to see more theater this year.  Book now to see these six great shows which will be ending their runs in January.

Brought to you by Fiasco Theater, the classic Shakespearean comedy, Twelfth Night, tells the story of shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian on the island of Illyria. Shakespearean disguises, romance, and humor reign throughout. Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, New York City. Tickets at http://www.classicstage.org/shows/2017/04/twelfth-night/

Two Lincoln Center shows are closing January 7. The first, Junk, is a fast-paced story about markets, drive and intrigue, set in the 80s. Starring Steven Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County). Vivian Beaumont Theatre. 150 West 65th Street, New York City.

Tickets at http://bit.ly/2A7VSnv

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The second, The Wolves, is a story of high school girl angst and issues told by a girls’ indoor soccer team during warm-ups and practices. Great performances and creative staging. Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. 150 West 65th Street, New York City Tickets at https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/The-Wolves/Overview.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The Irish Repertory Theatre’s staging of James Joyce’s haunting novella, The Dead, 1904, takes place at a Feast of the Epiphany party over the course of one evening, with conversations, music, dancing and dining. What does it mean to be alive, or to be dead? The play ponders these questions. With a premium ticket, you sit a dinner with the actors. Starring John Treacy Egan. The American Irish Historical Society. 132 West 22nd Street. Closing January 7. Tickets at https://irishrep.org/show/2017-2018-season/the-dead-1904-2/.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

If you haven’t made it to Hamilton, but especially if you have, Spamilton is a must-see. Gerard Alessandrini’s hilarious take-off on Hamilton draws from his Forbidden Broadway background, with satires, spins, and superb talent. With Christine Pedi (Sirius XM). 47th Street Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. 304 West 47th Street, New York. Closing January 7. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2qeF0vF

Willy Wonka will be leaving Broadway on January 14. Starring Christian Borle (Something Rotten, Smash), Emily Padgett, Bed Crawford and Jackie Hoffman. The Broadway adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is all about chocolate, The Candy Man, Oompa-Loompas and a chance to win the Golden Ticket. Catch it before you can only see it on the small screen. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. 205 West 46th Street. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2A7Of0s

Photo By Joan Marcus

The stunning remake of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon will also be flying away on January 14. Don’t miss your  chance to hear “The American Dream” sung by the fabulous Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer, or see Eva Noblezada in the title role made famous by current Once on this Island star Lea Salonga. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, New York. Tickets at https://www.telecharge.com/Broadway/Miss-Saigon/Overview

Oh My Fellow Droogies, This Is a Show for You: A Clockwork Orange Opens Off-Broadway

If you remember seeing the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange and might have possibly read Anthony Burgess’s chilling version of a dystopian society in England, this play should be on your must-view list. You’ll completely understand the plot and be enthralled by the energetic, theatrical treatment given it Off-Broadway at the New World Stages.  If you’re a newbie to the story, you might want to grab a copy of Burgess’s landmark book with its glossary in the back pages and read a bit to prepare you for the play. The experience is somewhat like seeing a Shakespearean play for the first time: it takes you a while to understand what’s being spoken and to follow the story line.

Photo By: Caitlin McNaney

Little Alex and his band of delinquents are committing mayhem throughout England, responsible for a good deal of the “ultra-violence” so prevalent during this time period. In the movie, the establishing shots occur over a much longer time frame than in the play, making it easier to understand the underlying threat to society that this gang poses.  Here, the set-up is quick, and the ensuing events are also fairly quick. The general result is clear, but it will take some paying attention to follow.

Additionally, Burgess has created his own language for droogies Alex, Dim, Georgie and Billy Boy. It’s a mix of Russian and English, morphed into words that Alex frequently uses as verbs, nouns, and situational descriptors. That’s where having some familiarity with the book’s glossary is useful. I speak Russian and could figure out what the words meant, but they will sound like gibberish to most.

Photo By: Caitlin McNaney

The comparisons between the movie and the show are notable, with some exceptions. This version, brought over by director Alexandra Spencer-Jones of London, is even more stylized than the movie (which was already visually arresting and somewhat surreal).  In another creative digression from the movie, the all-male cast takes turns playing various roles, including some female ones, cued by a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes, for instance. Again, concentration is needed to follow these changes and to understand the role of music in the storyline.

Alex is played by a British actor, Jonno Davies, with a background in Shakespeare at London’s West End. Others in the cast hail from the US and include Broadway veterans Matt Doyle (The Book of Mormon, War Horse, Spring Awakening) and Jordon Bondurant (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Mamma Mia!) as two of Alex’s counterparts in crime. The ensemble is also the most physically fit group of performers that I’ve seen together on a stage, using striking choreography to tell significant parts of the tale.

Photo By: Caitlin McNaney

Brush up on your Burgess and get a ticket for this limited-run show playing, through January 6, 2018. New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, 800-447-7400.  www.AClockworkOrangePlay.com. https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/A-Clockwork-Orange-by-Anthony-Burgess/Schedules-Prices

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