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3 Tech Innovations Elevating Our Digital Entertainment Experience

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From a silent film that captivated audiences on silver screens to live broadcasts connecting us across continents, technology has been the maestro orchestrating the symphony of entertainment evolution. Consider the advent of colour television, which paints our viewing experiences with a vibrant palette, or streaming services like Netflix, Disney Prime, and Hulu. Such trends, amongst several others, are indeed groundbreaking tech innovations that brought a sea change to traditional amusement landscapes. As we stand on the cusp of another transformation, this article sheds light on the innovations amplifying our digital experiences.

Join us as we delve into the multifaceted world of tomorrow’s entertainment.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality introduces digital elements into our tangible world, enhancing visual and auditory sensations. Think of it like those Snapchat filters that superimpose dog ears or dancing animations onto a user’s face but in a more sophisticated manner. On the other hand, Virtual Reality transports users into fabricated realms, allowing for a total escape. It’s as if you put on a headset and instantly find yourself standing atop a mountain or wandering in a mythical land, fully immersed in that setting.

Pokemon Go’s rise demonstrated the potential of blending virtual characters with real-world locations, turning neighbourhoods into arenas of discovery. While capturing creatures is one facet, the real magic lies in changing our perspective of our environment. On the immersive spectrum’s other end, Oculus Rift provides participants with unprecedented experiences, from epic quests to captivating tales.

So, what places AR and VR at the forefront of entertainment’s technical evolution? They bridge the gap between digital narratives and human perception. Everyday settings become dynamic stages with Augmented Reality, transforming a stroll in the park into a quest or adventure. Meanwhile, Virtual Reality crafts doorways to spaces once restricted to dreams – places and activities like taking a walk on the moon or diving deep under the sea without leaving your couch. That’s the charm of VR. Their inherent immersive quality heightens engagement and ensures a deep emotional resonance that lingers.

Peering into the future, the horizon for these platforms in leisure is pretty expansive. Picture theatre performances enhanced with holographic sequences or narratives where observers evolve into protagonists. As tools grow and innovators push boundaries, they promise profound shifts in entertainment dynamics.

Artificial Intelligence’s  (AI) Multifaceted Role in Personalizing Digital Experiences

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the architects behind the curtain of digital content recommendation, meticulously crafting user experiences across various platforms. Services like Netflix and Spotify harness these technologies to analyse user behaviour, capturing nuances in preferences to suggest films or music, thereby creating a bespoke entertainment journey for each user.

In the online casino world, AI suggestions can adapt to each player’s actions, the games they frequent, the stakes they wager, as well as other in-game decisions. As time passes, akin to an expert dealer familiar with patrons’ preferences, the system refines its recommendations, ensuring the games it proposes align with the player’s past choices and patterns, thus advancing the online casino experience to unprecedented personalised levels.

This personalisation gets further elevated when AI converges with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, especially in live casinos. Much like AI curates a movie or a music playlist for you, it enhances the gaming experience, with OCR acting as its visual conduit. Together, they forge a dynamic gaming environment where players can enjoy live dealer titles or play keno online, with suggestions that adapt to their in-game decisions. OCR technology diligently captures each shuffle and spin, converting these physical actions into digital data.

Digital Wallets

With the digital landscape evolving swiftly, the need for user-centric technologies has never been more precise. Digital wallets, in particular, are changing the dynamics of online transactions.

They act as virtual storehouses crafted to consolidate an individual’s financial details, signifying the forthcoming phase in the evolution of monetary exchanges. Through them, users can swiftly manage, transfer, and receive funds without the traditional hindrances of physical currency or banking delays.

Diving deeper into their world, let’s explore some of their pivotal features and impacts:

  • Unmatched Convenience:
    • Eliminates manual card input.
    • Streamlines purchasing and subscription processes.
    • Transforms minutes-long tasks into instant actions.
  • Robust Security:
    • Prioritises financial and personal data protection.
    • Employs state-of-the-art encryption and authentication.
    • Offers biometric checks to fortify user safety.
  • Efficient Cross-Border Transactions:
    • Facilitates immediate international payments.
    • Reduces wait times associated with bank transfers.
    • Cuts down on hefty international transaction fees.
    • Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

Off Broadway

Jonah Off-Broadway at Roundabout Cracks Wide Open Trauma and Repair

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The story that is being told is a complete page-turner. Back and forth, up and around, and deep within, flipping from now to back then in a light flash of repeated verbal moment and some lightning cracks in the time continuum. It’s a fantastically compelling unpacking, these articulate moments of disturbing wonder, playing with frameworks and fantasies that gnaw at our stressful hearts and imagination. We are pulled, sweetly, at first, into the world of Ana, played to perfection by the magnificently detailed Gabby Beans (LCT’s The Skin of Our Teeth), completely and within an instant, wanting and waiting for this tender kind of interaction to blossom, but also realizing she walks too fast and too forward. We want to hold on to this cautious, overly emotional tingling, and gigantically charming awkward fumbling. It can make a young man cry. Or a young woman lean in with hope and faith.

Roundabout Theatre Company‘s Jonah, a new play most vitally and inquisitively written by Rachel Bonds (Goodnight Noboby; The Lonely Few), asks us to follow in the quick footsteps of Ana, begging us to keep up, but falling through doorways with abstract oblivion at a moment’s notice. It’s the tenderest of beginnings, with a crack that opens up a world of problematic trauma and complex formulations. Those trapped constructs, and those “deep deep sick” feelings, sneak inside our senses and leave us wondering where we are moment to moment, and what should we believe.

As directed with clarity and vision by Danya Taymor (Broadway’s Pass Over), the effect is deliberately destabilizing, giving you tenderness and discomfort within moments of each other, with the changing of the guard brought upon by sharp cracks and seizures in the universe. The titular character, Jonah, delicately and dynamically portrayed by the sweetest of creatures, Hagan Oliveras (“American Horror Stories“; Players Theatre’s The Trouble with Dead Boyfriends), runs in pursuit of the electric energy of Ana, trying hard to keep up with this fantastical creature. What is she running to? Or from? It’s the most engaging of beginnings, drawing us forward with awkward longing and a supersonic unseared outreach. We couldn’t want this union more as we say “yeah, yeah, yeah” to their cross-legged flirtation with love and understanding, but there is something that just doesn’t feel real, or maybe right, in their outreach. And an uneasiness starts to sink in.

I like you,” he says, with utter sincerity, and our hearts shimmer open a wee bit more. Jonah plays with our sensibilities and our own longing for this kind of thoughtful spring awakening, until that lighting crack and skipping occurs. Much like on an old-fashioned record player, courtesy of the stellar work of set designer Wilson Chin (MTC’s Cost of Living), lighting by Amith Chandrashaker (MTC’s Prayer for the French Republic), and sound design by Kate Marvin (MCC’s Wolf Play), a fracture comes into play, and we are thrown. Or is it he that is thrown? We are no longer in her dorm room, cozy and awkward, retelling our intricate fantasizes to a wide-eyed young man in love, but somewhere else, trying to survive the brutal hard world of before alongside her stepbrother Danny, played powerfully by Samuel H. Levine (Broadway’s The Inheritance). It doesn’t carry with it that same sense of authentic innocence and safety. It’s dangerous, and uncomfortable, even in the care and protective stance of her stepbrother.

Gabby Beans and Samuel H. Levine in RTC’s Jonah. Photo by Joan Marcus.

I do what I want,” is a refrain the young Ana keeps repeating to the lovestruck Jonah, and at first we believe in the bravado, until we see a different aspect of Ana’s existence, a parallel universe, in a way, where the trap has been set, not by her, but by the world of ‘have and have not’; ‘need and hunger’. “She just got trapped,” she says of her mother, “afraid of what he might do.” She knows this caged framework in a way that few of us can understand, yet maybe the third man that comes knocking on that door, later, in a different place and time, can ask the right question from the correct category of topics; the one that is now fixated on the flame of Ana; the very tall Steven, played to itchy delight by John Zdrojeski (Broadway’s Good Night, Oscar).

It is there in the third where something shifts, where protection and need come together, collide, and shatter on the floor. Ana is working hard to find something that resembles her fantasy, or push the thought away behind her writing and a closed door. But also, maybe she can discover at least a pathway for the opening up and the healing to begin. It’s the cleverest of constructs, looking at trauma and pain from a number of angles and vantage points, all at once, from up above, back and forward, and within such a detailed and unique lyrical unwrapping. Beans is absolutely ingenious in her complicated approach to the parallels, giving us a character worthy of the fixation. Jonah is the key, the ointment to stop the itch, and the pathway to healing.

John Zdrojeski and Gabby Beans in Roundabout Theatre Company’s .Jonah. Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more info and tickets, click here.

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Cabaret

Moonlight and Love Songs 

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And so promised Steve Ross in his new show at Birdland, and he delivered both with his customary style, wit, and superb interpretations. This fabled music room takes on the hush of a cathedral when Steve performs there, evidenced by the silent reverence of the audience throughout his performance. Sporting his subtle homage to Cole Porter—a red carnation—Steve began the evening with tunes that described being on the brink of that most coveted of falls, and as the inevitable approached, his carefully curated selections become more tantalizing. Never has “On a Slow Boat to China” been more inviting– sign me up now! A few moon-titled songs followed, including one written by Steve himself. His guest star, Nina Wachenfeld, sang in German and seemed to conjure up Marlene as a bonus.    

Kurt Weill and his haunting melodies were presented next, with appropriate tribute given to that great American wordsmith, Ogden Nash. Another aspect of the topic of the evening was Steve’s review of a few songs about love at first sight. Messrs, Coward and Porter put their two cents in, with the penultimate and heartbreaking “This Nearly Was Mine” putting a twinge in the heart of everyone as only Rodgers & Hammerstein can. Cole then did what he does best: teased and tickled the memory with his thoughts on the matter. 

Steve’s ability to find new ways to make all these songs new for an audience is part of his wonder. He snapped us out of our dreamy reveries with a joke and then the ever-hilarious “Dolphins” and then encouraged everyone to do what we were aching to do—sing along to some classics from the 1940s. He has an uncanny ability to know what an audience wants and needs and switched the dial to drama with Dietz and Schwartz’s haunting “Dancing in the Dark”.  The charming conclusion to this Valentine was the duet of “Married”. I have tried many times to dissect the magic Steve brings to his music and never quite capture it with words. You just must see it for yourself! A performance by Steve Ross is indeed transformative, as his ever-full audiences will attest.   

In between engagements on both sides of the Atlantic, Steve appears regularly at Birdland. Check his website for future appearances, and possibly even a master class! 

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Broadway

Museum of Broadway Celebrates Black History Month

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Museum of Broadway, 145 W. 45th Street, upcoming February Events

Saturday, February 24th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A History of Minstrelsy with Ben West 

Join musical theatre artist and historian Ben West, author of the upcoming book The American Musical, for a journey into the history of minstrelsy, including its legacy of blackface on Broadway, its trailblazing Black artists, and its impact on the development of the American musical. Note: This talk will involve mature content.

– Event link here

Monday, February 26th | 11:00 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A Conversation with Black Broadway Creatives

Join in celebrating and honoring the lives, careers, and experiences of Black Broadway creatives in the American theater.  Panelists include Ken Hanson, Dante Harrell, Destiny Lilly, Zane Mark, Thelma Pollard and Virginia Woodruff, in-conversation with Erich McMillian-McCall of Project 1 Voice.

– Event link here

Wednesday, February 28th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Mary & Ethel…And Mikey Who? 

Talkback and Book Signing with award-winning author Stephen Cole joined by famed cabaret star Klea Blackhurst and special guest Anita Gillette

– Event link here 

Thursday, February 29th |10:30 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Spotlight on Black Broadway Producers

Join acclaimed award-winning producers Rashad Chambers, Sade Lythcott & Brian Anthony Moreland in-conversation with Merrily We Roll Along’s Krystal Joy Brown

– Event link here

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Music

Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector Is Intelligent, Thought Provoking and Musically Seamless

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“The truth is not about the facts – forgive me. The facts can always be manipulated, arranged, massaged – We are not purveyors of facts, we are tellers of truths.” …..Or are we?

The Connector now playing at at MCC’s Newman Mills Theater space, has twice been extended and in all honesty should move to Broadway this season. If it did it would stands a massive chance of being nominated or winning Best Musical, Best Score, Best Orchestration, Best Direction, Best Lead Actor and many of the technical awards. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the Drama Desk and The Outer Critics Circle Awards come award season.

Set in 1996 at a newspaper called “The Connector”, this unrivaled purveyor of “the truth and nothing but the truth,” is about to be put to the test. Enter Ethan Dobson (the remarkable Ben Levi Ross), fresh out of Princeton who’s arrived with talent, guts and a smarmy style.

Scott Bakula, Ben Levi Ross By Joan Marcus

Ethan has long admired and longs to work for the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Conrad O’Brien (welcome back to the fabulous Scott Bakula), who is being over run by new owners, who care more about circulation and the color turquoise, than facts.

Jessica Molaskey By Joan Marcus

The first person Ethan meets and the voice of a collective conscience is Robin Martinez (normally played by Hannah Cruz, but at my performance Ashley Pérez Flanagan). At first attracted to Ethan, Robin starts to see the cracks, as does fact checker, Muriel (a layered performance by Jessica Molaskey). Right from the start, she does not like or trust Ethan. Nor do we. In a strange way, this almost seems like a musicalized version of “The Talented Mr. Ripley”.

As Conrad takes Ethan under his wing, we see three of his stories, each done in a different musical style. The first is about an eccentric West Village scrabble player (the terrific Max Crumm). With a “Rhythm of Life” feel, Ethan becomes an over night success with circulation increasing and a fan by the name of Mona Bland (a memorable Mylinda Hull) who will end up being his downfall.

Fergie Philippe, Hannah Cruz, and Ben Levi Ross Photo: Joan Marcus

The next story is about the take down of the mayor of Jersey City, done in rap/ gangland style that gets him a nomination for the prestigious National Magazine Award. As his source Willis, Fergie Philippe gives his all, but the problem we soon find out, is that though the story is sensational, there are gaping holes in the facts, which Muriel, Robin and Mona glaringly see. 

In the end who is Ethan really? What is truth and what is fact? Does the public really care or do they just want sensationalism? Has the world really gotten over its sexism? It’s racialism? Sadly, I don’t think so. Everything becomes the movie of the week and then goes away until the next big scandal.

The Connector was conceived and directed by Daisy Prince, who does a remarkable job and asks some really intelligent questions. She has also gathered a fabulous cast, who makes this show seem real, relevant and up to date.

Ben Levi Ross By Joan Marcus

Ben Levi Ross will remind you of Jessie Einsenburg. He is loaded with talent. Not only does he posses a vocal prowess that is unmatched, his nuances and phenomenal acting choices make him so watchable. He is like an onion slowly peeling away each delicate layer. He is seriously brilliant.


As Robin, I saw the understudy who is about to take over the role, Ashley Pérez Flanagan. She sings and acts well, but lacks some of the nuances that originally made me want to see this show. I fell in love with the song “Cassandra” in 2017 and either Jason Robert Brown rewrote some of the notes or they were different in the production I saw. This song is pivotal to the show, as the lyrics talk about how women writers are written off.

“Half the stories of the world are left unwritten, half the stories have been lost along the way. And so the people of the world will not encounter, anything but one perspective, one reflection, one directive, male and white and unenlightened, every day. It’s easy for you, it’s easy for you and I’m missing it”

These are the lyrics by Jason Robert Brown for “Cassandra”. Not only is his music rich in rhythm and style, but it reaches into your soul to take capture. His lyrics hit at the heart of pain, truth, anger and honesty. Each song is a playlet with character-driven narratives and stand on their own. Smartly his band is electric and musically I could sit through this show every night of the week and hear new emotional tugs. I am so excited to announce the album will be released in late spring by Concord Theatricals Recording, because I want to listen to these songs again and again. A plus is JRB is on the piano playing with his band.

Jonathan Marc Sherman’s book is funny, terrifying and taps on timely issues, however I did want more as to the why’s and psychology of Ethan, but maybe that’s the point, we don’t understand the why’s and never will.

Not only is the show wonderfully done, but the raw masterful set by Beowulf Boritt, lighting by and projection design by Janette Oi-Suk Yew and choreography by Karla Puno Garcia are shear perfection.

You will not be able to stop thinking about this show, that is full of thought provoking ideas on journalistic integrity and the difference between fact and truth. This is a show not to be missed and that’s a fact.

The Connector: MCC Theater Space, 511 W 52nd Street, through March 17th.

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Entertainment

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus Makes Grand Return to New York City This Weekend

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is back in The Big Apple in epic way. For the first time in New York City since 2017, the grand return of The Greatest Show On Earth is running until Feb. 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Feld Entertainment has brilliantly re-imagined this modern take on the well-known show that is something you have to see to believe. It is a bold and beautiful change that children of all ages will love. You have tremendous fun in the moment and the joy created will make sweet memories to last for a lifetime.

The immersive, live, family entertainment experience captivates through thrilling action and high energy music.

Encounter never-before-seen stunts, acrobatic displays, and comedic acts along the way in the new circus format that features amazing details all the way down to a loveable robotic dog. A truly international cast that includes 75 performers hailing from 18 countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Ethiopia, Italy, Mongolia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States will inspire audiences through a variety of unbelievable circus acts.

Traditional circus acts blend perfectly with new awe-inspiring moments such as The Triangular Highwire, led by The Lopez Family, sixth-generation circus artists hailing from Mexico and Chile; as well as The Double Wheel of Destiny which showcases four acrobatic daredevils performing challenging back-and-forth leaps and somersaults atop two simultaneously spinning apparatuses suspended 30 feet above the ground and moving at incredibly high speeds.

The dynamic show is a hit, and you will love it!

SHOW DATES & TIMES: 

Barclays Center  performances will continue to run:

Friday, February 23 – 2:00 PM & 6:00 PM

Saturday, February 24 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

Sunday, February 25 – 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

There are also two upcoming cities close to Manhattan with performances in coming days.

NEWARK, NJ 

Prudential Center – 25 Lafayette Street, Newark, NJ 07102

  • Thursday, February 29 – 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 1 – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, March 2 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, March 3 – 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM

BELMONT PARK, Long Island, NY

UBS Arena – 2400 Hempstead Turnpike, Belmont Park, NY  11003

  • Friday, March 8 – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, March 9 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, March 10 – 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

 

 

 

 

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