Upon purchase of your ticket, you are invited to one of Jay Gatsby’s infamous parties. As invites go, this is the hottest ticket in town. A world of red-hot rhythms, bootleg liquor, and pure jazz age self-indulgence awaits. Spend the evening dancing, gossiping and clinking glasses with Nick Carraway, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson, and the perfect host, Mr. Jay Gatsby himself. The champagne flows and the drama unfolds. Dress to the nines and join this heart racing, immersive theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale direct from London after 7 years of sold-out performances.
The Great Gatsby is finally coming to its spiritual home in New York. Dark, hedonistic, literary, and theatrical, this immersive telling of one of the world’s greatest novels brings audiences closer to Jay Gatsby’s opulent world than ever before.
Following a record-breaking seven year run in the UK, Immersive Everywhere’s critically acclaimed immersive production of The Great Gatsby, will make its New York debut at The Gatsby Mansion at the Park Central Hotel New York (870 Seventh Avenue).
The party starts as soon as you arrive.
The Gatsby Mansion at the Park Central Hotel New York space has been transformed into a new interactive theatrical venue. With its own separate entrance on 55th Street and Seventh Avenue, visitors will enter immediately into Gatsby’s Mansion. A complete renovation covering over 16,000 square feet of the Park Central Hotel New York ballroom space will deliver audiences into a fully immersive and enthralling world of music, darks stories and wonder from the world of Jay Gatsby.
“Immersive” means that the environment is designed to deliver an all-encompassing experience; from the moment you enter Gatsby’s Mansion, you will feel like you have been transported back to the roaring 1920’s. You may have the opportunity to follow the other guests into smaller rooms and spaces, with Mr. Gatsby himself, if you are so lucky! You need only interact as much as you are comfortable to – if you prefer to observe from the side-lines, please do. In fact, Mr. Gatsby often enjoys doing exactly that himself! 1920s dress code is encouraged but not compulsory.
Tickets are $99 plus tax and you can get them here.
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Melissa Etherridge My Window A Rock Goddess Spiritual Journey
Oscar and Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge’s autobiographical musical My Window is an informative, riveting, raw, intimate and musically thrilling alsmost 3 hours of entertainment. With 22 albums to her name, Etheridge is a female rock goddess and is on par with Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ann Wilson, Grace Slick, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and the incomparable Janis Joplin.
I originally saw this show when it opened at New World Stages almost a year ago and Etheridge’s theatrical solo show has only gotten better and tighter. She invites theatergoers into an exhilarating evening of storytelling and music. Starting with her birth, we learn about her childhood in Kansas, groundbreaking career highlights, coming out, her lovers, the drugs she has taken, her spiritual journey, her wives, her kids, cancer and what makes Melissa who she is. She is charming, revealing, illuminating as she bares her heart & soul to all who attend.
In between learning about this bluesy warrior are her confessional lyrics, the raspy, smoky vocals and classics numbers like “Like The Way I Do,” “Twisted Off To Paradise,”“I’m the Only One,” “Come to My Window,” “I Want to Come Over”.
Winning a tiny trophy gave way to winning a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocalist in 1998 and again in 1995. Before that in 1993 Etheridge came out publicly, early on in her career. In 2005 Etheridge took the Grammy stage after having cancer to join in a tribute to Janis Joplin. She appeared hairless. Etheridge also won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007 for “I Need To Wake Up” for the film “An Inconvenient Truth.”
It turns out Etheridge has always loved musical theatre, as she treated us to a wonderful rendition of “On Broadway.” She did make her Broadway debut in a weeklong stint as St. Jimmy in Green Day’s American Idiot in 2011, but she doesn’t talk about that.
Melissa Etheridge My Window, is wonderfully is written by Etheridge with additional material by Linda Wallem-Etheridge (“Nurse Jackie” showrunner, “That ’70s Show”). The direction by Amy Tinkham is succent and well done.
Everything about this production is well done from the scenic design by Bruce Rodgers, lighting design by Abigail Rosen Holmes, fabulous projection design by Olivia Sebesky and the sound design by Shannon Salmon, which keeps this show clear and clean.
This is a must see show for anyone LGBTQIA. The message is positive and life affirming. This is a women who owns her talent, charisma and choices, which makes this a joy to watch.
Melissa Etheridge My Window: Circle In The Square, 235 West 50th Street. Closes November 19th.
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Topdog/Underdog Fires Up the Ring Magnificently for Canadian Stage Toronto
Round one begins with a ringing that transcends the boxing ring apartment over in the corner of Canadian Stage‘s spirited and raw revival of Topdog/Underdog now playing at their Berkeley Street Complex. “Follow the card,” we are told, numerous times (maybe a few too many, to be honest), yet whether it’s the red or the black card that is the winner, this play is most definitively the medicine we all need that doesn’t come in a bottle. Written most dynamically by the legendary Suzan-Lori Parks (Public’s Plays for the Plague Year; White Noise); the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama unsurprisingly for this 2001 play, this vibrant exploration of sibling rivalry and resentment feels as powerful, tense, and engaging as ever. Even after seeing it brought to life most dynamically in the celebrated Broadway production last year. It’s still timely and explosive, particularly as we watch the world we inhabit uncomfortably gripped inside an increasingly violent war of hate and fear layered within the political landscape. Even here in Canada.
The play feels as ripe and raw with meaning as it must have felt some twenty years ago when it first hit the stage at the Public Theater in New York City. Maybe even more. Filled with energy and insight, the Canadian Stage production, directed with a serious intent for unpacking by Tawiah M’Carthy (Obsidian/Canadian Stage’s Fairview), unleashes numerous rounds of difficult troubling interactions between two brothers, fascinatingly (and cruelly) named Lincoln, solidly and magnetically portrayed by an upright Sébastien Heins (Outside the March’s No Save Points), and Booth, captivating and angrily embodied by Mazin Elsadig (Soulpepper’s Pipeline). Their given names send forth a profound message of conflict, both captivating and telling, that plays out a complicated and combative history before our very eyes. It’s a violent conflict in the making, unraveling a replay for us all to see, in close quarters, roped in without any support from the outside world. Especially their abandoning parents, long gone, yet painted with folklore and fantasy.
Heins’ Lincoln, the older of the two, sits straight, framed in a hat befitting his name, finding himself colliding with and crashing into and on his younger brother’s recliner, in need but without a lot of faith in the future. He is newly discarded; tense and separated from the wife we only hear about in a sideways kind of way. He goes to work daily and unapologetically, to a sit-down job with benefits that fits on his impressively tight frame as uncomfortably as that outfit he is made to wear for it. His brother, Booth; handsome, strong, and virile, steals his way through an existence that keeps him combustible, trapped in this rundown room with no running water and a single bed propped up with old porn magazines. Aching for something more grand, he exists, wanting more, even if it is through a con and a lie. And that’s only how the first card is played.
Designed with clarity by Rachel Forbes (Canadian Stage’s Choir Boy), the whole small roomed scenario seems lopsided and uncomfortable; delirious but without hope, shoved a little too claustrophobically in the far corner, when maybe a thrusting forward on an angle would have suited the intimacy more. Yet, Topdog/Underdog still radiates with a tense, angry energy that refuses to go down without a count of ten. With perfectly formulated costuming by Joyce Padua (Factory’s Vierge), detailed lighting by Jareth Li (Factory’s Trojan Girls & The Outhouse of Atreus), and a strong bell-ringing sound design by Stephen Surlin (Outside the March’s No Save Points), the room speaks volumes quietly as is unpacks itself before us. Determined and cluttered, it looks like a boxing-ring firetrap just waiting to be knocked out, and it is, in a way. The energy within this production is of a fight brewing, waiting and wanting, tightened by hardship and ignited jealous rage, and as written by Parks, sparks fly quickly as the two engage in a battle for who will sit on top at the end of the day. And who will be knocked out. Throwing cards in hopes of something more fulfilling, or more exciting, we are riveted and hypnotized by their historic reimagining, even as the play continues to repeat itself again and again. But we are never given an easy out, never quite sure where and when the sparks will land. And who will be counted out by an always-watching, invisible referee.
“We’d clean up bro,” Booth says to the other, hoping Link will return to the cards and they will team up, “ranking in the money” but if history, their joke-namesake set-up, and Lincoln’s white-faced day job are any indication at all, the elder’s days are numbered, at the boardwalk arcade and beyond. Every day he sits down at his job, dressed up like Abraham Lincoln so tourists can walk in and shoot him in the back with toy cap guns. And we can’t help but feel the discomfort and the internalized shame that Link must feel with every trigger pulled. The idea, although historically accurate, feels just so messed up and complicated to comprehend. So it’s no surprise that the future looks dark and bleak to this man. Layoffs or not. And we can most definitely feel it in Heins’ very textured, magnificently tense, tight performance and frame.
Parks is a known admirer of Abraham Lincoln and writes about the legacy of the man and the meaning to those who descend from slaves. Topdog/Underdog, through the unpacking of complicated brotherly love and family identity, tries to explain that legacy inside the complicated textured story of two African-American brothers struggling to stay above water. Heins’ Lincoln lives with eyes stone cold, still but filled with unspoken discomfort, taking a job that is as disturbing as life must be for this man in that single room with no running water, reclining and waiting for something to save him from his situation. It’s clear he got the job because he accepted less than what the white man before him would take. And all one can say, watching the weight of that legacy on his frame is: “This shit is hard” to swallow, like the Chinese food he unpacks on a makeshift table for his angry brother and him to ingest. But Parks does not judge the legacy of Lincoln in this epic play but rather believes the man and his death have somehow “created an opening with that hole in his head.” She enjoys, through her poetic pulsating rhythm, pushing forth the discomfort into her rapt audience through her own Booth and Lincoln, challenging us to see what lies ahead and take note (and maybe some action).
In a way, we all have to pass through that historic hole in Lincoln’s head to understand the quest that lies ahead for us all as we watch world politics, particularly America’s, do collective damage to our psyche. Living large in their small slowly tightening story, the play drives forward, sometimes intensely, while other times, in between rounds, the energy gets stalled. I kept wanting the gathering tension to move forward more succinctly and tightly, like Tom Stoppard’s magnificent Leopoldstadt, gathering tension with each moment and each scene. Like a boxing match, never giving in to the need for too much rest for the boxers in between bells. Topdog/Underdog keeps giving us a bit too much space to fill in, losing its momentum here and there, allowing us the space to disconnect, during intermission and during those intuitive moments inside many of the scenes. But when it does aim its gun sharply, inward, upward, and with continued energy, the bullet, and the internal fire, find their form, sometimes in the beauty of music and guitar, scorching the ropes that surround this decrepit room with a heat that can’t be denied.
The two actors dominate the ring, taking full control of the scripted energy and tensions that enslave them, even if the play sometimes de-evolves into repetitive reenactments a bit too often. The actors play with the cards dealt, and pour out the medicine and morality that lives and breaths inside them with a level of uncomfortable anger that lingers. The messiness and jealousy carry the play forward, born out of their upbringing and family history with magnetic resonance. It’s a sharply constructed interaction, that stuffs dreams and love underneath the bed with such determination. It collides strongly with all that violence and unfairness that lives outside the door, including the Three-Card love and desire that will destroy them all. Reenacting that emotionally charged moment in history at Ford’s Theatre, Topdog/Underdog teases the dream of some sort of better connection for these brothers, but also gives rise to other darker conflicts that were born when a mother shoved her life into plastic bags and left. Inheritance or not, Topdog/Underdog illuminates a shift in position, resurrecting a larger sad family history that is forever steeped in abandonment and pain, that will never release them from its heavy burden. No matter how hard he tries to strut with confidence.
Haunted by a past that refuses to let go, the playing card poetry of the play lives and ignites a flame inside Lincoln’s legacy and his country’s enduring struggle with racism that hangs on the side curtains with a dangerous weight. Topdog/Underdog, brought to life by Parks twenty years ago and finds new life inside Canadian Stage’s Marilyn & Charles Baillie Theatre, raises all of those complex ideas that hang in the background waiting to engulf our world. Take notice of this production and this play, and find your way in so that it may live on inside you as intensely as it was intended. That flame burns strong in American politics and in our collective hearts these days, filling us with dread and fear of a possible chaotic future in the world at large. This play’s presence is needed here, and its legacy, with all the cards played, should not be forgotten or ignored.
New York Women in Film & Television Elects New Board Members
The results of its 2023 Board of Directors elections are confirmed. As a non-profit 501c3 public charity, NYWIFT is governed by a board of directors elected by the membership. Board members serve on committees in the areas of Development, Membership, Communications, Programming, Special Events, and Advocacy and Education. Six spots on the board have been filled, with one new member and five returning members:
New Board Member:
- Neyda Martinez: Neyda Martinez is a producer, strategist, writer, and a long-time cultural worker who explores the role of art in public life while centering social justice and cultural equity. Selected in 2023 as a Sundance Woman to Watch x Adobe Fellow, and a Faculty Fellow for the Mellon Initiative for Inclusive Faculty Excellence, her current documentaries in production include Bartolo and A Chasm in Chinatown. Presently, Martinez is an Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies, Director of the Media Management Graduate Program, and Co-Director of the Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative at The New School.
Returning Board Members:
- Sirad Balducci: Sirad Balducci is an independent feature film producer based in New York with over 25 years of experience. As one of the founders of the Give Film Foundation, Balducci strongly believes in the profound power of film to make a social impact. Her award-winning shortfilm Generation Lockdown, which she wrote and directed, sheds light on the traumatic psychological effects experienced by children in the face of the gun epidemic.
- Christina Kiely: Christina Kiely has been producing and directing documentaries for over 25 years. Most recently she has been executive producing #whereisPengShuai for Vice News Documentaries. Other credits include ABC News’ first digital documentary series, A Murder on Orchard Street, and the accompanying hit podcast; the ABC News documentary series NYPD 24/7 (Emmy nomination); In the Jury Room; ABC Primetime Mondays; the A&E Biography of Yo-Yo Ma; Code Blue (TLC); Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television (PBS); and documentaries for the U.N. International Labor Organization.
- Amenya Makuku: Amenya Makuku is an independent producer and the Head of Development and Production for Courtney Lee-Mitchell’s 4th Power Films (FX’s Kindred), with previous tenures at Edward Norton’s Class 5 Films, where she worked from development through physical production on Thanks for Sharing, and FilmNation Entertainment, where she worked on Oscar-nominated Room and Arrival. She just wrapped production on Craig Webster’s Woman in the Cabinet.
- Joyce Pierpoline: Joyce Pierpoline is an award-winning producer and founder of Pierpoline Films based in New York and Paris. Her most recent film, The Listener, starring Tessa Thompson and directed by Steve Buscemi, premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year; other films include The Transfiguration; Sundance award-winning cult favorite Teeth; Happy Tears;Angelica; and the award-winning In the Company of Men. She also serves on the board of BAFTA-North American, where she is Chair of the Film Committee, and she is the co-founder of the Producers Guild of America’s Women’s Impact Network.
- Kuye Youngblood: Kuye Youngblood is an Emmy award-winning producer with experience in scripted, documentary, stand-up comedy, and concert captures with a focus on series, shorts, and features. Formerly the Head of Development and Production, she is currently the General Manager of the BRIC TV network. Her EP work has screened at Tribeca, Sundance, The Lower East Side Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, Hot Docs, ABFF, UrbanWorld, Bentonville, Bushwick Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival, among others.
“We are thrilled to have welcome back this powerhouse group of returning board members to the NYWIFT leadership team, bringing their energy, passion, and insight to drive forward NYWIFT’s mission of equity and inclusion. And we are so excited to welcome new board member Neyda Martinez, whose contributions to New York City’s educational and cultural institutions are unparalleled,” said NYWIFT CEO Cynthia Lopez.
“We are thrilled to welcome back this powerhouse group of returning board members to the NYWIFT leadership team, bringing their energy, passion, and insight to drive forward NYWIFT’s mission of equity and inclusion. And we are so excited to welcome new board member and friend Neyda Martinez, whose contributions to New York City’s educational and cultural institutions are impressive and her creative spirit has been instrumental in helping filmmakers accomplish their goals,” said NYWIFT CEO Cynthia Lopez. “The NYWIFT board made a commitment during a strategic plan more than seven years ago to diversify our board, and we are so proud that the board is now 65% diverse with creative talent from across the documentary, narrative, podcasting, and television industries.”
“This is a critical time in our industry as we face an important moment of reckoning and support our friends and colleagues who are striking for a better, safer, and more equitable working environment. This moment calls for a smart, strategic, and innovative group of industry leaders driving the conversation forward, and it’s exciting to have such dynamic group of NYWIFT Board Members on the team to listen to, guide, and support our members who are working toward positive change,” said NYWIFT Board President Leslie Fields-Cruz.
Learn more about the NYWIFT Board of Directors at nywift.org/about/board-of-directors
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