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How Are We Coping With Self Isolation: Insight From Around the Country And The World With Katy Mikelle

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Katy Mikelle is a singer, dancer, actress, pianist, and writer born in San Jose, CA. She has performed in over 35 plays, many with TheatreWorks, and San Jose Repertory Theatre. Her favorite roles include Hellen Keller in The Miracle Worker, and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.

Katy won creative writing awards throughout grade school and at Mills College as a Theater Arts major. She recently finished directing her first musical The Circle of Eyes for NYWinterfest which received the awards for Best Musical, Choreography, Set Design, Originality, and Costumes. She also just released her first album “Phantom of a Dollhouse” on Spotify, & Itunes.

T2C: How are you dealing with home containment in LA?

Katy Mikelle: Normally I am a homebody, and I prefer to spend most of my time by myself. Before this pandemic, my social interactions were mostly going to work, working in Theater, and classes (dance/fitness/music, etc).
While quarantined, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the technology that allows us to take piano lessons over Skype, watch/give concerts on a live stream platform, or teach fitness classes online. As much as I have had negative feelings about how modern technology has become a major problem (everyone is always staring at their phones and artistic authenticity is fading away..) I’ve realized how much we now all need our devices in order to cope and connect with one another while we are in forced isolation. Reading new books, Skype music lessons, piano, writing, cooking, photography, dancing in my living room, and spending more time in nature: This is how I’ve been keeping sane and as healthy as I can during this lockdown.

T2C: What would you say is the difference of being in self lockdown between NY and LA?

Katy Mikelle: I cannot speak for those in NY, as I have been in LA since the Pandemic hit. I was extremely lucky to have completed NY Winterfest and to have flown back to LA just in time before the outbreak. I can imagine that if I was stuck in a tiny airbnb or apartment in NY alone during this time, it would have been much more difficult emotionally and probably financially than being quarantined here in LA with a beautiful backyard full of trees, in a quiet neighborhood, and a less populated location with less chance of becoming infected.

www.instagram.com/Katy_Mikelle

T2C: What have you been able to accomplish in this time?

Katy Mikelle: I am halfway through writing the children’s book format of my play “The Circle of Eyes.” I have read 4 books on Child Development and adult survivors of traumatic childhoods, and I have begun to write my own book, a story about my personal experiences.

Katy Mikelle

I have been working on lyrics and melodies for 2 new songs for my play, and I’ve continued to study music over Skype from my amazing teacher and mentor Daniel Alexander. I’ve taught fitness classes and private contortion/stretching classes online, and I’m working on some custom acrylic paintings for friends.

Katy Mikelle

T2C: What has this time stopped you from accomplishing?

Katy Mikelle: I am unable to have steady work due to Covid-19, and therefore I am unable to raise the finances that I would need to produce my musical in LA. Because of Covid-19, all of the artists that I know are struggling to make ends meet. In such a scary time of desperation and uncertainty, it is exceedingly difficult to find that spark of creative inspiration, artistic freedom, and it is even harder to accomplish goals when we have no idea where our next paycheck will be coming from, or how we will pay our bills.

Katy’s designs from “A Circle of Eyes”

T2C: What kind of emotions does this time bring out of you?

Katy Mikelle: Spending so many hours in isolation, hardly able to make ends meet, sitting alone with my thoughts day after day, night after night, is exposing many more emotions than I anticipated. I think that most of us lead such busy lives, for better or for worse, that we’ve never even had the time to sit down and face our inner demons, or greatest fears, traumas from our past, our regrets, our insecurities, questions we’ve never been brave enough to ask, etc. Up until now, for me personally, even if I’ve thought about these things before, work, classes, and the activities of my busy life have always taken priority. I think I may not be alone in saying that many of us are, in a way, are forced to face these thoughts and feelings like we never have before. What is most important? Health? Family? Friends? Career? Art? Money? Love? How did this planet become so destroyed? What did we do wrong? What did I do wrong? How can I help? Am I happy with my life and if not, why? What do I miss the most? Who do I miss? Did I take things for granted? How can I be a better person? What changes will I make when we are finally “set free?” These are the thoughts that have been keeping me awake every night.

T2C: If you were to equate this time to a song or song cycle what would it be?

Katy Mikelle: I didn’t have to think about this one for very long. The song immediately popped into my head, even though I haven’t heard it in quite awhile: “Everyone’s Waiting” by Missy Higgins (my favorite female Australian singer, musician, writer, and composer of all time)

Katy Mikelle

There’s a line in this song that goes “I hear that answers appear when we just stand still.” I feel like the whole world is forced to stand still for a moment, all of us together, while mother nature, or the universe is saying “Everyone just stop. Stop and look around. Things need to change.”

You can hear my music here.

Katy Mikelle

T2C: What message would you like to give the world right now?

Katy Mikelle: It’s okay to not be productive every day during quarantine. It’s okay to have “writers block” when you’re not supposed to. It’s okay to gain weight, or lose money, or spend all

Katy Mikelle

day in bed grieving, or daydreaming. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to reach out for help. It’s okay to be angry and sad and feel everything all at once. We are not alone in this. My message to the world right now would be a message that I need to tell myself once in awhile: You’re stronger than you know. You are not alone. You are here for a reason, so don’t give up.
Artists: Don’t create because you feel pressured to prove you are being productive. Create because it feeds your soul and it heals you. Then share your art to help heal others. This is how we’re going to make it through.

Katy Mikelle

T2C: What is the first thing you will do when we are no longer self quarantined?

Katy Mikelle: I will grab some friends, head to the beach, and dive into the ocean.

T2C: What are the things that are getting you through this time?

Katy Mikelle: Art. Music, piano, writing, reading, studying, working towards my goal of working with children, and getting outside. Nature.

Katy Mikelle

T2C: What haven’t we asked you that you would like to say?

Katy Mikelle: To those children and adults who have been stuck in quarantine in a mentally or physically dangerous home: Don’t give up. This will end. There IS hope for a better life.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Dance

Get Scottish and Join in The Celebrations With The Tartan Day Parade

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NY has been celebrating Scotlands heritage and culture with Tartan Week. This festival runs till the 7th with the Tartan Day Parade, which is held on Saturday, April 6 from 2-4pm on Sixth Avenue between 44th and 55th St.

Before the parade you can get Kilt Fittings with Geoffrey Tailor and 21st Century Kilts. Appointments required. Email howie@21stcenturykilts.com to schedule.

On April 6 @ 10:00 am11:00 am Kick-off Parade Day with the Kirkin o’ the Tartan service and pre-parade brunch. The service is a pan-denominational Christian blessing of the tartans of the clans, celebrating Scotland and Scots in America. A time-honored free event for the entire family. The Service will be followed by the pre-parade brunch. Afterwards, all are welcome to march. The Brick Presbyterian Church 1140 Park Avenue.

From 10:30 am12:45 pm Pipes and Drums on the Fountain Terrace at Bryant Park Fountain Terrace. Hear the sound of some of our leading Pipe Bands as they prepare for the 26th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade. This event is free for all to enjoy.

 NYC Tartan Day Parade, 6th Avenue 6th Avenue. The 26th annual NYC Tartan Day Parade on Saturday, April 6, 2024 – NYC’s biggest annual display of Scottish culture.For over 25 years, NYC Tartan Week has been celebrating Scottish-American heritage by providing meaningful connections through the celebration of Scottish heritage in NYC.
 NYC Tartan Week Sunday Brunch at The Tailor Public House 505 8th Avenue. Join the New York Caledonian Club on the final day of NYC Tartan Week 2024 for their annual Sunday Scottish fry!

This year’s parade will be led by Scottish actor of Mission: Impossible fame, Dougray Scott. The NYC Tartan Day Parade is the largest annual Scottish gathering in NYC. See 3,000 bagpipers, Highland dancers, clans, and Scottish dogs march up Sixth Avenue in this free celebration.

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Dance

The Boy Band Project Brings a Great Show and Brings Back Nostalgia Of a Simpler Time

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Having interviewed The Boy Band Project, I went to see their show at City Winery, where they have a residency. I had heard they were good, but was happily surprised at how good. The Boy Band Project transports you back to a time when the boy band phenomenon dominated pop culture. For 90 minutes you get unsurpassed vocals, synchronized choreography, and chart-topping hits by NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Jonas Brothers, One Direction, and more of the popular guy groups from the ‘90s.

Each boy band memeber is an archetype with founder, producer and choreographer Travis Nesbitt as “The Boy Next Door”

Travis Nesbitt

Chris Messina as “The Sporty One”

Chris Messina

Jason JP Johnson as “The Sensitive One”

Jason JP Johnson

Jason JP Johnson

and Jesse Corbin as “The Bad Boy”

Jesse Corbin

They all give their heart and soul with tongue-in-cheek humor, flawless harmonies, high octane moves, bulging muscles, tight ends and Broadway caliber talent. These boys will have you remembering a time when life was all so much simpler.

Expect to hear NSYNC’s “Tearin Up My Heart”, “This I Promise You,” and of course “Bye Bye Bye”, Backstreet Boys’s “Everybody,” “I Want It that Way,” “Quit Playing Games” and “All I Have to Give”,  New Kids on the Block’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and “Step by Step,” BBMak’s “Back Here”, Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Story of My Life”

The vocals were stellar, but what really makes this show is the choreography, which uses jumps, spins, turns, kicks, back bends, pelvic grinds, crotch attention and lying and crawling all over tables with wildly applauding fans of all genres, ages and genders.

Never having been into this craze, if I had known how hot and sensual it was, I would have paid more attention.

The Boys will be back at City Winery, 25 11th Avenue (Pier 57),  April 20 and 27, May 11 and 25, June 15 and 29th.

All video and pictures by Magda Katz

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Dance

Illinoise: A Joyous Dance of Yearning, Loss, and Acceptance

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A theatre/dance production based on Sufjan Stevens‘ 2015 album has opened up at the Park Avenue Armory and plays through March 23. Making this music come excitingly alive is director, choreographer and co-writer, Justin Peck, along with co-writer Jackie Sibblies Drury with phenomenal musical direction and supervision from Nathan Koci, music arrangements and orchestration by Timo Andres, sound design by Garth MacAleavey.

As you enter the theatre, you notice the upside-down pine trees and realize nothing is the way we will perceive it. Perched on top of a graffiti-covered wall, above the stage are an eclectic mix of instrumentalists, who double as vocalists, along with three exceptional singers (keyboardist Elijah Lyons and electric guitarists Shara Nova and Tasha Viets-VanLear) whom I cannot say enough about. Their smokey vocals’ raspy qualities are otherworldly. The scenic design by Adam Rigg and lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker, let us know where we are and where we are going. This is a tale of yearning, loss, and acceptance.

There is no dialogue, so the language is the dance and the lyrics and the rhythms of the songs.

The story follows Henry (Ricky Ubeda), who leaves his boyfriend Douglas (Ahmad Simmons) in the middle of the night and ends up. in what looks like a writers retreat with a camp fire. At the bonfire, those who are there share their stories.

Byron Tittle and Robbie Fairchild Photo Stephanie Berger

As the group gets ready “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” we get with two notably winning performances. First of jazz by Rachel Lockhart and the Byron Tittle taps to perfection and almost steals a show that hasn’t;t even truly begun.

In “Jacksonville” Jo (Jeannette Delgado), comes face-to-face with Christopher Columbus, Ronald Reagan, Jerry Falwell, and others, as she battles the undead. The masks by Julian Crouch were haunting.

Next was another haunting piece entitled “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” danced by Alejandro Vargas and cast. The lyrics will have you quietly wondering what is behind people’s eyes. “And in my best behavior/I am really just like him/Look beneath the floor boards/For the secrets I have hid.”

Then “The Man of Metropolis” had the brilliant Robbie Fairchild as Clark Kent i.e, Superman. Clark and the entire ensemble had shirts with the famous “S,” flapping in the breeze.

Ricky Ubeda, and Ben Cook Photo Stephanie Berger

Finally, Henry tells his story “Decatur.” Here we meet his best friends Carl (Ben Cook) and Shelby (Gaby Diaz). Henry is secretly in love with Carl but Carl loves Shelby. Henry and Carl go on a road trip from Chicago to New York until Carl finds out she has bone cancer and they dance a duet to “Casimir Pulaski Day”. The choreography is so effective at communicating the devastation as Shelby eventually fades. Peck’s ability to transform movement into language is heartbreaking and joyous from moment to moment.

Ricky Ubeda, and Ben Cook Photo Stephanie Berger

Carl is tormented with suicidal thoughts until he leaps into darkness.

Henry learns of his friend’s death, and we are back at the beginning as Henry is leaving for the campfire.  As the other participants console Henry his boyfriend, Douglas, appears and joins the group. At that point everyone celebrates the beauty of life.

Also dancing were Kara Chan, Christine Flores, Rachel Lockhart, Zachary Gonder and Craig Salstein.

Illinoise is 90 minutes if truly remarkable music, dance and storytelling. I highly recommend trying to see it, if you get the chance.

Sufjan released a fantastic new album, Javelin, in October.

 Illinoise: Park Ave Armory, 67 and Park, through March 23

Updated news:  Illinoise is moving to Broadway on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 2PM at the St. James Theatre. This will be a strictly limited engagement through Saturday, August 10, 2024

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Cabaret

You Didn’t Have To Drag Me To Drag Me to Joanne’s Where Drag Queens Strut Their Stuff

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Drag Me to Joanne’s has beautiful Drag Queens performing for just the cost of dinner, drinks and tips. Located in Joanne Trattoria, (70 West 68th. This is the family-owned restaurant by Lady Gaga’s parents Joe and Cynthia Germanotta. The space is like a old Italian neighborhood hangout with pictures on the wall.

The bar is right there as you enter.

This leads to the first dinning room which is where I was sat.

This was my table

The second room is a little wider and holds big parties.

Not only will you find hearty, soul warming food, but high kicks, flirty dance moves and double jumping splits that will amaze.

I had Mom’s Lemon Artichoke Chicken ($35.95), which easily could have been shared.

My guest had the Pasta w/ White Truffle Alfredo (33.95) which was flavorful and satisfying.

Jupiter Genesis

Right now on Wednesdays there are two performances. The first starts at 5:30pm and the second performance starts at 7:30pm. Drag Me to Joanne’s entertains the diners for tips. The shows are about 1 hour and a 1/2 with each performer doing two sets. The show is hosted by the double jointed, balletic and welcoming Jupiter Genesis. Jupiter made her Broadway debut at 12 in the Broadway revival of Godspell with the “Godspell cast of 2032.” Her welcoming persona got the whole room going and feeling that they were in for something special. Her songs “Mambo Italiano” and Lady Gaga’s “Yoü And I,” Right after the first set there is a Gaga trivia contest where the winners take home a gift bag of prizes.

Essence

Every Wednesday you will find two new artists who are just as amazing. For my performers, I was given the highly animated and expressive Essence, who wormed her body like an exotic snake, and the gorgeous fashionista Jazmine. Each one was a star in her own right. Flexible, flirty, with moves that take real dancers to perform.

Jazmine

You can see all 3 perform here.

The show was packed out and I can see why. Where else in New York can you get dinner and a show for just the price of dinner, drinks and tips?

I went on a rainy night and was miserable before I walked in, but left satisfied and happily entertained.

Drag Me To Joanne’s plays every Wednesday, with two performance, 5:30pm and  7:30pm. This is a great place to have a birthday party, bachelorette party and definitely a place to celebrate pride.

Drag Me to Joanne’s at Joanne Trattoria,(70 West 68th.

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Dance

Auditions Are Open For Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Boot Camp

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An open casting call for students currently in grades 8-12 will take place now through March 15, via video audition submissions for the ninth annual Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Boot Camp, to be held in person at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. This year Ms. Chenoweth and her team of A-list Broadway professionals will collaborate with the students, offering insight into the world of performing arts for aspiring entertainers.

“Last year auditions from all over the world poured in from incredible students who are looking to expand their performing arts talents with some of the most renowned theatrical experts from across the nation,” said Kim Vento, director of the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center. “Each year, the camp just gets bigger and better, and this year will be no exception. I encourage anyone who has a heart for musical theatre to apply.”

Auditions must be submitted through the virtual application link by 5:00 PM CST on March 15, 2024.  Students who are currently in grades 8-12 (2023-2024 school year) are eligible to audition. A limited number of slots are available and the cost to attend the camp is $1100. Students must prepare 2 one-minute vocal musical theatre pieces, a dance combination, as well as a one-minute dramatic monologue for the audition. A performance resume and headshot are also required.

“Ms. Chenoweth has a heart for arts in education, as cemented with the formation of the Kristin Chenoweth Arts & Education Fund,” said Vento, Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center director.“For this camp, we will create a unique opportunity for many high school students to further their creative arts aspirations with these amazing industry professionals.”

Camp will take place July 17-27, 2024, at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center. During the camp, students will participate in a variety of hands-on activities including acting, dance, staging, singing and will experience incredible team-building opportunities. The week will end with an amazing student-faculty performance called the Kristi Awards.

“I just can’t wait to announce who will be directing our camp, as well as our faculty and some exciting surprises in store for all campers this year,” said Chenoweth. “My most important mission in this life is to inspire–always inspire. And I can promise you that is what we are going to do once again at camp this summer. We are going to inspire ourselves, inspire each other, and inspire others to be better.”

Last year’s camp saw students from five countries and 21 states, learning all about musical theatre while interacting with Broadway professionals powerful small group sessions.

The application will be available online at www.kcbbc.camp and must be submitted by 5:00 PM, March 15, 2024. Information is also available for scholarship opportunities and a link for donors to sponsor a student.  For more information, visit the website or call 918-259-5723.

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