Los Angeles is difficult to navigate in general, but for an international model desperately seeking to secure her US citizenship, trusting the mob’s assistance is par for the course. This comedic feature film “LA Superheroes- Illegal in Hollywood” is loosely based on actual events and stars the brilliantly realistic writer/director/producer Yelena Popovic as model Helena, along with her sidekick Auto- a rad musician and pizza delivery guy hilariously played by Alexander Zisiades. Can they outsmart the system with super human persistence?
Winner of the “Audience Award for Best Feature” in the NY International Film Festival, (Los Angeles 2013 edition), this independent movie features a heavy hitting cast including many members of the esteemed Actors Studio.
TJ Castronovo, (you may remember him as Tommy the bartender in “Taxi”), not only co-produces, but is the quintessential wise guy who offers Helena “help” with a few strings attached, (if you know what I mean). Adding to Helena’s plight is
her meddling modeling agent, deftly played by rising star Cindy Marinangel, (www.cindymarinangel.com). Fantastic director Alexandros Potter joins Brian Foyster in producing this self-proclaimed “immigration fairy tale”.
“LA Superheroes- Illegal in Hollywood” screens November 8 -14 in New York City at The Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, NY, NY 10011. Showtimes are 1:10, 3:10, 5:30, 7:30 & 9:45 PM.
There will be a special Q&A with lead actors Yelena Popovic and Alexander Zisiades along with celebrity host Richard Skipper on Friday November 8 after the 7:30 PM showing.
Tickets available at www.lasuperheroesthemovie.com.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: A Dolls House: Arian Moayed and Jessica Chastain
I went with T2C’s editor to A Dolls House, which inspired this caricature. You can read Suzanna’s review of the show here.
Events In April Bring Easter, Spring and Flowers Galore.
Photograph: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.
Join the Judy Garland and Fred Astaire tradition with the Easter Bonnet Parade on Fifth Avenue. There is also the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden or right at home the flower show at Macy’s. On select Fridays every month, you can enjoy Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum between 5 pm and 9 pm.
Until 4/9: Macy’s Flower Show. The show includes beautiful, bright floral arrangements, special events including live music, and kids’ activities.
until 4/23: This is The Orchid Show‘s 20th year. Reconnect with nature while experiencing the picture-perfect beauty of the orchids. On select nights, adults can experience the exhibition through Orchid Nights, with music, cash bars, and food available for purchase.
4/1-30: Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival, hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, celebrates Japanese culture and the arrival of spring. It features a variety of cultural performances and activities, as well as a small flea market, tea ceremonies, and crafts. The highlight is the magnificent display of cherry blossom trees, with over 200 trees in full bloom. Visitors can admire the pink and white blooms and enjoy a traditional Japanese atmosphere. Tickets are usually around $40 for adults, though seniors and students get a reduced rate of $35.
4/7-16th: The New York International Auto Show. The first new york Auto Show took place in 1900, for over 120 years now they have been sharing what’s new and interesting in the auto industry.
4/9: The Easter Parade starts near St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 10am. The tradition dates back to the 1870s, where elaborate bonnets and fashion galore is full frontal.
4/9: “Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time,” comes to MoMA.
4/15: The Tartan Day Parade is an NYC tradition that offers attendees a unique way to celebrate and honor Scottish culture. For the 25th year, there will be bagpipes, dancers, and even Scottish dogs marching in the parade. Attendance is free and open to the public. In addition to the parade, expect a whole week of Scottish-themed events and festivities.
4/15: Pillow Fight in the Park at Washington Square Park.
4/15: The New York Restoration Project is giving out 3,500 free trees to New Yorkers across all five boroughs. To get one of the 3,500 free trees that will be given away, register in advance on this website, where you’ll also get to browse through the current list of distribution dates, times and locations.
4/15 and 29: f the likes of udon, yakitori, ramen, and taiyaki make your mouth water, then mark your calendar for Japan Fes in Chelsea. The event will be held from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is considered a paradise for Japanese foodies and cultural enthusiasts.
4/16: Holi in The City demands food, music, dance, and fun while embracing people and organizations from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
4/22: Earth Day celebrated in NYC with a festive, family-friendly outdoor fair in Union Square. There will be dozens of exhibitors, interactive displays, a green-vehicle show, family activities, music, and entertainment. 12-6pm.
4/27: Attend The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience
4/27- 30: Antiquarian Book Fair now in its 63rd year, this festival for book collectors at Park Avenue Armory for a full weekend of first editions, maps, manuscripts and other treasures from literary epochs past from nearly 200 exhibitors.
Out of Town
The Unpacking of the First Métis Man of Odesa, An Interview
Punctuate! Theatre is unpacking a love story. A love story about a couple. A love story about Ukraine. And a love story against an unbelievably complicated backdrop. Starting at The Theatre Centre in Toronto, the company is ushering forth the world premiere of First Métis Man of Odesa before it spins itself out on stages across Canada. Spanning continents and set against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Métis playwright and Punctuate! Artistic Director, Matthew MacKenzie (Dora Award-winning playwright for Bears, After the Fire, The Particulars) joins forces with his wife, the award-winning Ukrainian actress Mariya Khomutova (Odesa Film Festival Grand Prix – The Golden Duke award-winner NONNA, Two People), to tell the story of their COVID courtship and share an intimate perspective on the personal impacts of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Drawn from their real-life love story, a story that is ultimately still unfolding to this very day, First Métis Man of Odesa unpacks the journey of Matt and Masha’s love that spans continents where distance and conflicts can’t tame their passionate connection. After meeting on a theatre research trip in Kyiv, a spark is struck, and a romance between a Métis Playwright and a Ukrainian artist is ignited, taking them from the beaches of the Black Sea to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, within the onset of a global pandemic, the eruption of a brutal war, but also the many joyous moments that this union begets, including marriage and the birth of their son.
During the height of the lockdown in 2021, an initial version of this piece was presented as a radio play at Factory Theatre, written by MacKenzie and directed by Nina Lee Aquino. This March, First Métis Man of Odesa, as directed by Lianna Makuch (Pyretic Productions/Punctuate!’s Barvinok), makes its stage debut, offering a compelling continuation of the initial story told in that first radio play. The couple, Matthew MacKenzie and his wife, Mariya Khomutova, sat down with Frontmezzjunkies and thankfully answered a few questions about their incredible journey from that first love-struck connection to its World Premiere at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.
Tell me, how you decided to embark on telling your own story and what the beginning of this creative process looked like for you two?
Initially, Matt wrote an audio play for Factory Theatre about our romance, then getting married and having their son during the pandemic. The plan had been to expand the piece for the stage, a plan that took on much urgency after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Both the pandemic and war have a deeply dehumanizing effect, so our hope in telling our love story is to share the human side of these major world events; a human side that headlines and news clips can’t fully capture.
What aspect of your character, or your involvement with/creation of this play resonates the most powerfully inside you?
For both of us, the opportunity to share all the joy, humour, anger, and frustration we’ve experienced in the past few years is a really therapeutic process. Many of our friends and family only know snippets of what we’ve been through, so the opportunity to tell our story across the country is one we are deeply grateful for.
The phrase “you don’t know what someone is carrying with them” has really hit home over the past couple of years, as we have had to contend with some pretty epic challenges as a couple and as individuals.
Tell me a bit about what it is like to bring your character to the stage? What does mean to you to be telling this story?
We play ourselves in the play, but we very much play versions of ourselves in the play. We had to mine conflict between us out of a few outbursts, as there haven’t actually been a lot of [conflicts] in our relationship so that we could bring the drama of what we are going through to the fore.
Challenges of playing ourselves have included the fact that [Matt] is not a trained actor, while Mariya is. Mariya though comes from a theatre tradition that was almost entirely focused on the classics, so playing herself in a play based on her life is definitely a new and challenging experience!
Tell me a bit more about your development process? Was there a typical ‘first read’ or was it different, given your own story inspired the work…
We were able to conduct several development workshops over a period of six months. There was no shortage of content that we could derive from our lives, so the challenge was determining what to keep and what to let fall away. Even after our first read, we cut 15 pages from our rehearsal draft. Events in our lives and in Ukraine will no doubt continue to necessitate the evolution of our script.
What’s been the most challenging part of this process for you?
For Mariya, it was buying into the idea (that is quite a common one in Canada) that a play about someone’s real life can be art. Seeing Hailey Gillis’s My Ex-boyfriend Yard Sale, really helped her believe this was possible.
For Matt, it met the challenge of performing for the first time in ten years. The last time he performed, he made his friends promise they would never let him perform again, but all agreed it didn’t make much sense for anyone else to play him in this piece.
The most rewarding?
Having already performed several shows in Kamloops, the most rewarding part of this process is sharing this story with refugees from Ukraine. Their responses have been incredible and have really encouraged us to share our story with as many people as possible.
What do you want the audience to get from this play, and from your character?
We want the audience to join us as we relive our sweeping love story, from Odesa to Toronto. We want the audience to see the human side of the conflict in Ukraine. And we want the audience to leave the theatre with the hope that love can and will conquer all.
First Métis Man of Odesa is in Toronto for its world premiere run at the Franco Boni Theatre @ The Theatre Centre from March 30 – April 8, 2023 (opening March 31). Following the world premiere in Toronto, First Métis Man of Odesa will appear at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, The Cultch in Vancouver, and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg. For information and tickets, please visit theatrecentre.org/event/first-metis-man-of-odesa/
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