This play floods me with very strong memories and emotions. It was one of the first plays I saw when I moved to New York City. I had seen Part One: Millennium Approaches in 1993 when I was visiting from Los Angeles where I was living at the time it opened. But I saw Part Two: Perestroika when I finally moved to New York City in the spring of 1994. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes was something quite beyond belief. The original cast included Ron Leibman, Stephen Spinella, Kathleen Chalfant, (the spectacular) Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Wright, Ellen McLaughlin, David Marshall Grant and Joe Mantello. It was a play about AIDS and homosexuality in America that demanded to be heard and taken seriously. It was revolutionary, theatrical, and dramatic while also being entirely human. It forced itself inside you and stayed. Anyone who saw it on Broadway can instantly bring forth the memory of that magnificent Angel descending from the heavens. That particular image will forever be embedded in our collective mind, with no possibility of escape. And why would anyone want to?
My fellow theatre-junkie and I were a bit cautious when we arrived at BAM Rose Cinemas on the 20th of July. We were there to see the National Theatre Live’s screening of Part One of Angels in America, the acclaimed production currently on stage at the National in London. Would the medium be able to transport us back to New York City, circa 1985/86 and into the minds and hearts of all those strange and wonderful characters? On stage, it is something to behold, but on staged show on a movie screen, I wasn’t so sure. The place it was always meant to be seen and heard is the stage, with all strings and mechanicals showing. On one very long Sunday in 2010 at the Signature Theatre, my same friend and I took in the marathon day of both parts of a revival. Tony Kushner’s play confirmed it’s place in my soul that day, with a stellar production and a talented cast that included: Christian Borle as Prior, Zachary Quinto as Louis, Billy Porter as Belize, Bill Heck as Joe, Zoe Kazan as Harper, Robin Bartlett as Hannah, Frank Wood as Roy, and Robin Weigert as the angel, directed by Michael Greif.
With the monumental HBO production, Angels in America could not be minimized or squashed, even on that small screen. It didn’t hurt that the cast was made up of super stars perfectly cast in their roles: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright (repeating his Tony-winning Broadway role), Justin Kirk, Ben Shenkman, Patrick Wilson, and Mary-Louise Parker. It was sublime and epic. A powerful piece of writing and a strong statement for the world to see. A statement that seems as relevant today as any time before it.
“History is about to crack wide open. Millennium Approaches.”
Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches
From a taping at the Lyttleton Theatre in London, Part One: Millennium Approaches is by far the most beautiful and far reaching introduction to a place and time representing the History of Gay America in the 1980’s. Magnificently directed by Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse), the opening monologue, a speech by an old Jewish rabbi, played effortlessly by Susan Brown (National Theatre’s Husbands & Sons) mysteriously tells us all we need to know. Not in terms of the old Jewish woman laying in the coffin, which he does do, but about the world and people we are about to embrace. It’s such a sly and wonderful piece of writing that sneaks into our soul, and sets us up on almost all levels for what is in store. It’s about death, love, life, but it’s also about pain, suffering, guilt, and abandonment. One thing you can say about Kushner and his writing of Part One, is that there isn’t a moment of excess or a wasted scene that could be edited out. Every word seems meaningful in this over three hour beginning.
Russell Tovey, who was masterful in Broadway’s The View from the Bridge, is sublime once again as the confused Morman, Joe. The battle that plays out inside his head ricochets throughout the theatre and into our hearts. Denise Gough (National Theatre’s People, Places and Things – a play I NEED to see with her in it – it’s coming to St. Ann’s Warehouse) as Joe’s tortured and torturing wife, Harper tackles maybe one of the hardest parts in this complex play and triumphs against all odds (Marcia Gay Harden and Mary Louise Parker must be giving her virtual standing ovations nightly). The scene when Harper and Prior connect for the first time is electric and emotionally engaging, making tears flow down my face before I knew what even was happening. The thin hair of connecting tissue between these two are what holds this piece together. The way they can see inside the other and know their pain, is what adds weight and meaning to the whole.
Amanda Lawrence and Susan Brown have the joy and the difficulty of playing numerous roles spanning from a nurse, a Mormon neighbor, a male doctor, Joe’s mother, a homeless woman, Ethel Rosenberg, to a Rabbi and an angel. Gough also has the opportunity to showcase her skills playing a smarmy male friend of Roy Cohn. All with an ease that makes it look effortless. Nathan Lane (Broadway’s The Front Page), as the closeted Roy Cohn is the biggest surprise of the evening. The comedian that has charmed us all and made us laugh in shows like The Producers has proven once again, that to be a brilliant and true comedian, one must almost also be a smart and intense actor. His Roy Cohn is as layered and fiery as one could hope for, funny but devastating, cruel but desperate for connection. It’s a magnificent performance and one I hope to witness again. He, and the others bring the humor to the front without distancing themselves from the pain and suffering that surrounds. I only hope that the rumor is true and that this production will be coming to Broadway next season.
“I want the voice, it’s wonderful. It’s all that’s keeping me alive.”
But Kushner spoke often about Angels in America‘s need to be seen as artificial in a theatrical manner, with all strings and artifice showing itself. And in that stance, the National Theatre’s grand and intimate production succeeds gloriously. The set by Ian MacNeil, with expert lighting by Paule Constable and perfect costuming by Nicky Gillibrand expands and highlights all aspects of this play (choreography and movement by Robby Graham, music by Adrian Sutton, sound by Ian Dickinson). It effortlessly transitions and blends from one moment to another, emotionally and visually. The intimacy is palpable, especially in the intricate revolves. It pulls us in to the tremendously engaging story of the AIDS crisis in America, a conservative Reagan administration doing nothing to help these strange and wonderful New Yorkers who are grappling with life and death, love and sex, and most importantly of all, heaven and hell. I look forward to what is next to come. I will prepare for the arrival.
“Greetings, Prophet. The Great Work Begins. The Messenger Has Arrived.”
And we are back. At the BAM Rose Cinemas to see the most theatrical of stage shows on screen, Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, and I am thrilled. My nervousness and concern are no more after last week’s powerful and touching introduction to NTLive’s theatre presentation, and I’m ready for more.
One of the striking things about this tale is just how epic and large Kushner’s stroke is as he paints his canvas. He will open with the oldest living Russian Bolshevik (Susan Brown) give a speech about revolution, passion, and theory, and it’s captivating in its word play, but sometimes, it’s a bit difficult to see the point. In reflection though, it has deep psychological meaning about living life and moving forward. Not just for Russians, or persons with AIDS but for humanity as a whole. He spins words and ideas that are sometimes overwhelming in the moment but are never without passion and heavy meaning on the bigger canvas.
That being said, a lot of the real magic of the second half lies in the hands of the two women who feel like supporting roles in Part One. Brown is not only magnificent at the Mormon mother breaking the stereotypical mold, but is equally mesmerizing as the Bolshevik and as Ethel Rosenberg watching over the magnificent Lane on his death bed. Amanda Lawrence (Young Vic’s Government Inspector) also carries a ton of the weight of this colorful canvas on her magical wings. As the angel that descends from the heavens, the actress, and a fantastically assist from the team of players that manipulate the winged creature (puppetry designers: Nick Barnes, Finn Caldwell; puppetry director and movement: Finn Caldwell; illusions: Chris Fisher; aerial direction: Gwen Hales; fight director: Kate Waters) create something together that is stupendously theatrical and out-of-this-world. It’s beauty and it’s resplendent majesty resonates beyond the dramatics, especially when taken to the extremes with in the heavenly scene up above. It hits us deep, much deeper than one might expect.
There is that beautiful moment when Prior leaves Heaven for the real world, choosing life over freedom from suffering. It’s inexplicably emotional, resonating down into our animalistic urges for survival. The magic of the theatrical design is breathtaking in Prior’s Heavenly ascendancy and even more so in his descent, and the humor and care that is found upon his return makes the heart break more real and powerful than one can imagine.
“This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and will struggle on with the living and we are not going away.”
(Still) A Gay Fantasia on National Themes both Past and Present
“We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.”
Maybe it doesn’t feel as true as it did when I first heard those words thirty years ago. Or where I thought this nation was even one year ago, but we have to believe, I guess, in the bigger picture of civilization. We need to look beyond what we are stuck with now, just like these complex characters had to do. So we shall. We can’t stand still. We will #Resist and move forward.
“Bye now, you are fabulous each and every one and I bless you. More life, the great work begins.”
So for more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Serving Up Smiles for enCourage Kids Foundation Returns to Raise Funds in New York City
On October 16, the enCourage Kids Foundation will host Serving Up Smiles, a premier tasting extravaganza that will include decadent food from world-renowned chefs and top named restaurants in NYC, VIP Lounge, world-class wines, spirits, and incredible auction items at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Red Carpet & Door 6:30pm-9:30pm.
ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field will emcee the evening alongside Chef Ralph Scamardella (Chef & Partner TAO Group Hospitality) who is the Culinary Chair for this event. DJ CHEF will keep guests dancing as they enjoy the fine cuisine at the beautiful waterfront venue.
Invited guests include Charles Oakley (NBA All-Star/Coach/Chef), Malik Yoba (Actor – Empire & NY Undercover), Erik Coleman (Former NFL Safety & MSG Commentator of Odds with Ends), Howard Cross (NY Giants Super Bowl Champion & YES Network Commentator), Tony Richardson (NFL Legend & Sports Commentator), Matt Brust (Former NBA Forward & ), to name a few.
Participating Restaurants include Beauty & Essex, Be B.I.O. Café, Bryant Park Grill, Cardinali Bakery, Dolce Bella, F. Ottomanelli By The Water, Hunt & Fish Club, LAVO New York, Ocean Prime, Robert, Sfoglia, TAO Downtown, The Curry Blossom.
Participating Beverages include Dr. Perricone Hydrogen Water, Fever-Tree, FIJI Water, Gelston’s Irish Whiskey, Jade Sparkling Wine, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery and Landmark Vineyards, Newburgh Brewing Company, Owl’s Brew, Whitley Neill Gin, and Zyr Vodka.
Gold Sponsors include Ark Restaurants Corp, Cougar Capital & The Donut Pub, Feil Family Foundation, Flagstar Bank, and GFP Real Estate. Silver Sponsors include Lucy and David Ball and Segal Mc Cambridge.
Photo Booth Sponsors Emerson Entertainment and Goldberg Weprin and Giveaway Item Sponsor Buchbinder & Warren.
Restaurant Workers Discount with Industry Table & New York City Wine & Food Festival
The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One returns to celebrate 16 years this October 12-15 with more than 80+ events featuring over 500+ chefs from around the world who come together with God’s Love We Deliver to support New Yorkers affected by severe illness. The Festival is proud to announce that for the first time, it will be offering discounted tickets to restaurant workers through a new partnership with The Industry Table.
This new initiative invites restaurant workers to dine at select events from the Festival’s Intimate Dinner and Lunch Series at 50% off the ticket price. These intimate dining experiences will feature one-time-only menu collaborations between world-renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud, Alain Allegretti, Phet Schwader, Scott Conant, Tiffany Faison, Vijay Kumar and more. The menus will be perfectly paired with wine and spirits from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits portfolio. A full list of available dinners can be viewed here.
“The New York City Wine & Food Festival is a celebration of the entire hospitality industry, and it’s important to us to make it as inclusive as possible,” said Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager. “We’re honored to partner with Chef John Fraser and The Industry Table to offer these coveted seats exclusively to restaurant workers and help celebrate the very people who are the backbone of our industry.”
Launched in March 2023 by Chef John Fraser, The Industry Table offers a table every night of service for hospitality workers to dine at cost across his portfolio nationwide, including IRIS, La Marchande, North Fork Table & Inn, The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens at The Times Square EDITION, Ardor at The West Hollywood EDITION and Lilac at the Tampa EDITION. To date, there have been nearly 500 seatings.
“We launched The Industry Table to foster community amongst hospitality workers by gathering around the table and making dining out accessible,” said Chef John Fraser. “We’re thrilled to team up with the New York City Wine & Food Festival to further expand the mission and spur camaraderie.”
Booking is available in sets of two tickets, and at least one guest must be currently employed in the restaurant industry. Reservations can be made by filling out The Industry Table form on https://www.jfrestaurants.com/
100% of the Festival’s net proceeds support their mission to EAT. DRINK. FEED NYC. through God’s Love We Deliver, the New York City metropolitan area’s only provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling for individuals living with severe illness. To purchase tickets, visit www.nycwff.org.
Stay up to date by following the conversation all year long on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @NYCWFF/#NYCWFF and on TikTok at @NYCWineFoodFestival.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
On Friday, October 27 the opening day of Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park will be kicking off the 22nd season of NYC’s favorite holiday destination. This event features an expansive free-admission skating rink, unmatched holiday market, and a festive bar and food hall. Partnering with Bank of America for the 11th year, Bryant Park is thrilled to be welcoming back one of NYC’s most popular winter attractions.
- The Rink is the largest free-admission ice skating rink in New York City. Skate time and rentals through November 29 can be reserved in advance online. New skate reservation dates will be released throughout the season.
- The Lodge is a rinkside, après skate-escape where visitors can cozy up with a festive cocktail, enjoy delicious food from local restaurants, and watch the ice skaters or admire the tree.
- This season’s Holiday Shops by Urbanspace Markets will feature over 180+ new and returning merchants in an open-air holiday market, including the Small Business Spotlight presented by Bank of America, where four New York City minority-owned small businesses, with annual revenues of $1 million or less, will showcase and sell their products in a rent-free shop for approximately two weeks each. Featured businesses will be announced in the coming days.
Visitors are invited to Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park to enjoy the holidays and the broader winter season. The Rink and The Lodge will be open daily beginning October 27, 2023 through March 3, 2024. The Holiday Shops by Urbanspace Markets will be open daily from October 27, 2023, through January 2, 2024. Visit wintervillage.org for hours and details.
The entrance is between 40th Street and 42nd Street on 6th Avenue
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Elevates Javits Center with Street Art for Mankind
This was a project with passion that we can get behind!
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey and Street Art for Mankind worked with artist, Carlos Alberto, to create the mural this fall that aims to inspire the community to become agents of environmental change. A hub for artists, New York is the ideal location for a mural of this size and importance. The mural was unveiled during Climate Week NYC.
“The growth of our partnership with American Forests over the past three years is a testament to our commitment to creating real change,” said Jesse Damashek, Senior Vice President of Whiskies & Liqueurs at Diageo. “The Tree Equity plantings we do are extremely impactful and important to the local communities we serve, and with Street Art for Mankind, we’re able to bring critical attention to these efforts, and the broader need for global Ecosystem Restoration. The Ecosystem Restoration murals that Street Art creates do a masterful job of promoting this important work, as well as inspiring people to be drivers of environmental change.”
In support of the United Nations Environment Programme, a part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, Street Art for Mankind created the Ecosystem Restoration Murals Project. Through this project, Bulleit is supporting the creation of five ecosystem restoration murals across the US. To create the mural in New York City, Street Art for Mankind partnered with Carlos Alberto. A street artist from Mexico, Carlos loves nature and using 3D effects to bring his art to life.
On the side of the city’s largest convention center, the Javits Center, Carlos created the mural in only 10 days. Carlos explained that his design features a woman hugging a tree to signify that she wants there to be more of them in her neighborhood. The woman is surrounded by the jungle, reminding viewers that, even in the “concrete jungle,” communities need trees and nature.
The mural also makes a reference to biodiversity with plants and animals from New York state, and from around the world. On the left you will find extinct and endangered plants and animals, and on the right you can see recovering species, reflecting the challenge and the hope that comes from global ecosystem restoration efforts. Kicking-off Climate Week NYC, this mural will serve as a vivid reminder of the critical need for global ecosystem restoration.
The public can scan the mural for an audio guide using a free mobile app called “Behind the Wall®”, published by SAM on Playstore and the Appstore. The app allows people to discover the story behind Ecosystem Restoration, hear officials talk about the issue, and listen to Carlos talk about his creation.
Inside the Dazzling Amex Gold & Resy Present: Dip into Gold Dip with Nicole Byer
This event took home the gold medal and more!
Brilliantly re-imagined signature dishes, featuring inventive sauces for guests to drench, drizzle, slather and dunk were grandly showcased during the thrilling night hosted by comedian Nicole Byer.
New York City’s favorite Resy restaurants including Laser Wolf, Foul Witch, Sylvia’s, Seoul Salon, Jacob’s Pickles, and Potluck Club were all on site serving up yummy dishes as special pop-up experiences from Amex Gold Card Dining Credit partners took place by Grubhub, Goldbelly, Wine.com, The Cheesecake Factory, and more.
For the entire affair attendees felt the joy with incredible food, music and epic fun. Chef Romeo Regalli, Executive Chef of Ras Plant, who was serving up his special event dish Injera Nachos, spoke on the importance of the momentous occasion.
“The companies putting this event together gives me a lot of hope businesses in the area. I think what American Express is doing great, especially for me as a small business,” said the chef as guests enjoyed his dish from his exquisite organic vegan Ethiopian eatery.”
Other amazing chefs featured during the party were Chef Mike Mayo of Laser Wolf with French Fries dunked in Tehina Ketchup; Chef Carlo Mirarchi with Foul Witch and Stone Fruit drenched in Leche de Tigre; Chef Marcus Woods of Sylvia’s with Sylvia’s World-Famous BBQ Rib Bites slathered in Sylvia’s Original Sassy Sauce; Chef Eli Sussman of gertrudes with Mini Challah Bite slathered with a Smoke Bluefish Pate, Herbs and Pickled Red Onion; Chef Dave Rizo of Yellow Rose with Corn Fritters with Cream; Chef Carlha Azcona of Shuka with Moroccan Spiced Eggplant; Chef Marc Ellert-Beck of Stretch Pizza with Old Town Square with Mushroom and Pumpernickel; Chef Preston Clark of Lure Fishbar with Lobster and Shrimp Dumpling; and Chef Zhan Chen of Potluck Club with Fried Mantou with Black Sesame Dulce de Leche.
In between splendid culinary discoveries, attendees thrilled in Shake Shack’s Event-Exclusive Gold Sundae: A new sundae featuring vanilla cake, frozen vanilla custard and made with White Truffle Butterscotch Caramel and garnished with roasted hazelnuts and gold flakes; The Basket by Grubhub: Wing tasting with four popular sauces from: Mudville 9, Mable’s Smokehouse, Tacombi, and Insa; Goldbelly Special Delivery: A wall of special Goldbelly boxes are available to choose from, each containing an exclusive Goldbelly takeaway; Wine.com Carts: Exclusive wine sips with Wine.com at various tasting carts throughout Dip Into Gold. The complimentary pours will enhance the bites featured in each unique section; The Cheesecake Factory Photo Booth: Capture your saucy smiles at The Cheesecake Factory photobooth; and to end the perfect night sweet tweets from Milk Bar Milk Truck: a custom-designed milk truck will provide complimentary desserts.
Here is to creating your own golden experience in your own town today with American Express.
Photos by: Jamie Mccarthy, Getty
Broadway4 days ago
Melissa Etheridge My Window A Rock Goddess Spiritual Journey
Ken Fallin's Broadway3 days ago
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Musical Director Ian Niederhoffer
Entertainment3 days ago
Events For October
Off Broadway4 days ago
Let’s Talk to Lindsay Heather Pearce and Jordan Donica Guest Stars of The New Rock Musical, Exorcistic
Broadway1 day ago
Theatre News: Wicked, Kimberly Akimbo, Alice in Neverland and Ballad of Dreams, The Night of the Iguana and Ode To The Wasp Woman
Out of Town4 days ago
Topdog/Underdog Fires Up the Ring Magnificently for Canadian Stage Toronto
Events2 days ago
‘Poor Things’ Thrills at New York Film Festival
Out of Town1 day ago
Totally “Appropriate” (for our time) and Phenomenally Brilliant, Housed and Unpacked by Coal Mine Theatre Toronto