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Ominous Men True To It’s Title

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Gus Scharr, Johnny Rivera and Russell Jordan Photo by John Quailty

MultiStages, the multicultural, multidisciplinary theatre company under the artistic direction of Lorca Peress, held their world premiere of Desi Moreno-Penson’s Ominous Men, at the 14th Street Y. This new dark play about race, poverty, drugs, misogyny and violence in America, is told through a gothic horror and magic realism lens. The production directed by Ms. Peress continues its run through Sunday, November 3rd at The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street in Manhattan. 

Howard Pinhasik haunts Gus Scharr in Ominous Men Photo by John Quilty

So that’s blurb. Here’s the skinny. Amazing! See it before it disappears like a ghost in the night.

Gabrielle Lee portrays the ghost haunting Russell Jordan in Ominous Men Photo by John Quailty

Three men are confronted by their ferocious pasts in the derelict Bronx Concourse Plaza Hotel basement on July 13, 1977: Butch (Johnny Rivera), the Nuyorican caretaker has been digging a pit looking for buried treasure with his nervous cousin Goyo (Gus Scharr), and Butch’s drug sponsor and ex-Black Panther Yancy (Russell Jordan). This night of drinking, camaraderie and bones (dominoes) turns violent when the blackout hits. When a stranger (Renoly Santiago) climbs out of the pit, and the ghost of a Holocaust survivor (Howard Pinshasik) and murdered woman (Gabrielle Lee) appear, all hell breaks loose.

Once you have been drawn in to this basement, of this cavernous, historic, old and spooky space, seeing and more importantly believing that ghost do exist is not hard as the ghosts appear and disappear in such incredible fashion. 

Renoly Santiago Photo by John Quailty

Renoly Santiago shines as the first ghost to climb out of the hole in the floor. The actors display such an amazing range of emotion and physicality. This ghost acts as a mentor of sorts to the the three bones playing characters and the other two ghost. Mr. Santiago’s performance was simply a wonderful spectacle to behold. 

Renoly Santiago Photo by John Quailty

Ms. Peress keeps this show moving in a direction you hadn’t thought of. Desi Moreno-Penson characters, could use more flushing out. 

The scenic design by Jennifer Varbalow recreates the basement of a dilapidated and abandon hotel that was once grand and glamorous. Along with the projection designer Jan Hartley; lighting design by Kia Rogers and costumes by Lisa Renee Jordan, they accurately recreated not only the place, but the time as well, New York City, summer of 77. The sound design by Sun Hee Kil captures the heartbeat of time at hand.

This play is wroth the trip, as it is intimate, deep, thought provoking, and frightening all at the same time. A roller coaster of emotions tied together. Ominous Men is perfectly timed and well told ghost story. 

The cast of Desi Moreno-Penson’s Ominous Men, take a curtain call. Photo by John Quailty

Ominous Men: MultiStages at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th St. until November 3rd.

Brian Hester is a New York City based freelance photographer covering any nature of event including but not limited to; breaking news, sports, entertainment, fashion, nature and whatever may catch his wandering eye. Since 2011 Brian, has been covering community events and high school sports for North Jersey Media Group and their successor Gannett USA Today. His clients include Rutgers University and Monmouth Athletics. ​You can see more of his work at www.brianbehindthelens.com

Events

Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and More To Perform at TheaterWorksUSA Spring Gala

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TheaterWorksUSA, currently presenting the hit family show Dog Man The Musical at New World Stages, will host its annual Spring Gala on Monday, April 24 (cocktails begin at 6 PM) at The Current at Chelsea Piers.

100% of the net proceeds from the event will support our mission to create exceptional, transformative theatrical experiences that are accessible to young and family audiences in diverse communities across New York City and North America.

This year TWUSA will honor Lisa Chanel (TWUSA Board Chair 2019-2022), Andréa Burns  (Award-winning Broadway actress & educator), Peter Flynn (TWUSA alumnus and award-winning director, writer, and educator), and Holly McGhee (Founder and Creator of Pippin Properties, New York Times best selling author). The event will feature appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Kevin Del Aguila, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and more.

On behalf of TheaterWorksUSA’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled to celebrate the people who have generously supported our mission, making it possible for us to bring high-quality theater to young audiences of all backgrounds throughout the country. We look forward to recognizing Lisa, Andréa, Peter, and Holly publicly at this very special event. – Tracy A. Stein, Board Chair

It’s a privilege to honor these individuals for playing such an important role in the work we do. Their vision, creativity, and ongoing commitment to our mission is truly something to celebrate. They are very much a part of our TheaterworksUSA family.- Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director

TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art—and theater, in particular—is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney’s Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). WWW.TWUSA.ORG

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Broadway

Theatre News: Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, Parade, The Shubert Organization Donates to ECF and Millennials Are Killing Musicals,

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Tovah Feldshuh, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton at Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Bruce Glikas

The curtain was raised last night at The Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street) as Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, the American showbusiness legend’s landmark musical tribute to the artform that defined his life, opened on Broadway 45 years after the original smash-hit production premiered. The production’s direction and musical staging is by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento, one of the stars of the original Broadway production, and is produced in cooperation with Nicole Fosse.

Wayne Cilento and Bernadette Peters. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Chita Rivera at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

In attendance on opening night were Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nicole Fosse; original A Chorus Line cast members Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, Priscilla Lopez; Chita Rivera; Erich Bergen; Jordan E. Cooper; Tovah Feldshuh;  J. Harrison Ghee; Jane Krakowski; Adam Lambert; Ralph Macchio; Abby Lee Miller; Audra McDonald; Casey Nicholaw; Justin Peck; Tiler Peck; Bernadette Peters; Tonya Pinkins; Tony Roberts; David Rockwell; Krysta Rodriguez; Christopher Sieber; Jennifer Simard; Will Swenson and more.

A CHORUS LINE original cast members Priscilla Lopez,Donna McKechnie Baayork Lee photo by Bruce Glikas

Priscilla Lopez at Opening Night of DANCIN. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Dancin’is Fosse’s full-throated, full-bodied celebration of dancers and dancing. Utterly reimagined for the 21st century, this Dancin’brims with a level of warmth, emotion, and color seldom seen in modern interpretations of Fosse’s influential style and features some of his most inventive and rarely performed choreography. With New York’s hottest cast performing wall-to-wall dance, including Fosse classics such as “Mr. Bojangles,” and “Sing Sing Sing.” Dancin’ delivers the quintessential Broadway experience for Fosse fans and first-timers alike. You think you’ve seen dancing, but you’ve never seen Dancin’like this.

Cast of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’ Opening Night photo by Emilio Madrid

Curtain call of Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

The cast, consisting of some of the best of Broadway’s elite dancers includes Ioana Alfonso (Hometown: Miami via DR/PR), Yeman Brown (Hometown: Tallahassee, FL), Peter John Chursin (Hometown: San Francisco, CA), Dylis Croman (Hometown: Dallas, TX), Jovan Dansberry (Hometown: St. Louis, MO), Karli Dinardo (Hometown: Melbourne, Australia), Tony d’Alelio (Hometown: Roanoke, VA), Aydin Eyikan (Hometown: Fairfield, CT), Pedro Garza (Hometown: Abilene, Texas), Jacob Guzman (Hometown: Brockton, MA), Manuel Herrera (Hometown: Charlotte, NC), Afra Hines (Hometown: Miami, FL), Gabriel Hyman (Hometown: Chesapeake, VA), Kolton Krouse (Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona), Mattie Love(Hometown: Layton, UT), Krystal Mackie (Hometown: Brooklyn, NY), Yani Marin (Hometown: Miami, FL), Nando Morland (Hometown: Colombia / Denver, CO), Khori Michelle Petinaud (Hometown: Centreville, VA), Ida Saki (Hometown: Dallas, TX), Ron Todorowski (Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA), and Neka Zang (Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ).

Adam Lambert at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Abby Lee Miller at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ is produced by Joey Parnes, Hunter Arnold, Kayla Greenspan, Rodger Hess & Michael Seago, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Bob Boyett, The Shubert Organization, James L. Nederlander, Tim Forbes, Carson Gleberman, Park West Productions, McCabe Ventures, Fran Kirmser & Jodi Kaplan, Greg Young, The Fabulous Invalid, Julie Hess & Tommy Hess, and The Old Globe in cooperation with Nicole Fosse.

Wayne Cilento at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Nicole Fosse at Opening Night of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. Photo by Emilio Madrid

Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ originally opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 27, 1978 and later transferred to the Ambassador Theatre. The production ran for 1,774 performances. Dancin’ was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and brought Fosse his seventh Tony Award for Best Choreography.

Nicole Fosse and Wayne Cilento photo by Emilio Madrid

This production of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ premiered at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre from April 19, 2022, to June 5, 2022.

Interscope Records is proud to announce the cast album for the “brilliant” (Variety) 2023 revival of Parade — Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown’s award-winning musical, which opened on March 16 at New York’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre to rave reviews. Parade (2023 Broadway Cast Recording) features the vocal talents of Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond and conducted by composer Jason Robert Brown, and will be released on Thursday, March 23. Pre-order it HERE.

Leo and Lucille Frank (Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond) are a newlywed Jewish couple struggling to make a life in the old red hills of Georgia. When Leo is accused of an unspeakable crime, it propels them into an unimaginable test of faith, humanity, justice, and devotion. Riveting and gloriously hopeful, Parade reminds us that to love, we must truly see one another.

The current revival of Parade, which is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, has received overwhelming acclaim since its debut. Entertainment Weekly called it “a phenomenal production that feels more poignant and powerful than ever,” while Variety said, “Ben Platt stuns in a powerful Broadway production of an essential American musical.”

Platt (Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Mormon) and Diamond’s performances (The Cher Show) were singled out for praise. Deadline gushed “Ben Platt has no trouble reminding us just why he’s become one of Broadway’s most beloved performers. His vocals here are stunning in a pitch-perfect performance,” while The Guardian raved that “Micaela Diamond’s singing voice is luminous.” “Micaela Diamond, as Lucille Frank, breaks your heart with no affectation whatsoever, and a voice directly wired to her emotions,” wrote The New York Times in its Critic’s Pick review. Tickets are available now at www.paradebroadway.com.

Parade (2023 Broadway Cast Recording) showcases their voices, as well as other members of the all-star cast, while capturing the essence of a musical that, Entertainment Weekly writes, “is the most gorgeous production on Broadway.” Viewers will get a special preview of the musical on March 23 when Platt and Diamond perform its signature ballad “This Is Not Over Yet” on NBC’s Today accompanied by Jason Robert Brown on piano.

 

Out of the Box Theatrics (Elizabeth Flemming, Founder and Producing Artistic Director; Ethan Paulini, Associate Artistic Director) is pleased to announce that Grammy and Emmy Award winner Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hansen) will star in the Off-Broadway developmental production of Millennials Are Killing Musicals, written by Drama League songwriting contest and NAMT Challenge winner Nico Juber. The production, to be directed by Ciara Renée(Waitress, Frozen), will play a limited engagement from May 7-28, 2023, at Theatre 71 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament (152 West 71st Street). Opening night is May 15. Tickets are on sale now at Ovation Tix.

Bob Wankel Photo by Natalie Powers

The Entertainment Community Fund, formerly The Actors Fund, the national human services organization supporting the needs of those working in the entertainment and performing arts industry, today announced that The Shubert Organization has made a $5 million gift to the Fund to support expansion of The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, and affordable housing and a community arts center at The Hollywood Arts Collective in Los Angeles.

The $5 million gift will be used to expand doctors’ offices and services at The Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, with additional support to the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, NJ. Funds will also be used to bolster the construction and programs of The Hollywood Arts Collective, a new affordable housing and community arts center located in the heart of Hollywood where the Central Gardens will be named in honor of The Shubert Organization.

The Shubert Organization has long supported the Fund’s ongoing work to help people in performing arts and entertainment. In 2017, The Shubert Organization unveiled The Shubert Pavilion: an expansion to the Actors Fund Home, an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility located in Englewood, New Jersey. The Shubert Pavilion houses a 25-bed short-stay rehabilitation center available to the general public and intended for people who are recovering from illness or surgery, as well as 14 assisted living beds. The facility also includes a fully equipped gym for physical, occupational and speech therapies. 

Robert E. Wankel, Chairman and CEO of The Shubert Organization, also serves as Chair of The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation Board of Directors, a role in which he supports and guides the development of affordable housing for the performing arts and entertainment community to improve lives, create jobs, foster economic development and revitalize communities. In 2022, Wankel received the Entertainment Community Fund’s Medal of Honor, an award presented at the Fund’s annual gala that recognizes individuals who have had a profound impact on the entertainment community.

“The Entertainment Community Fund is honored by the long-standing commitment of The Shubert Organization and the countless ways it supports our work to provide a safety net for people in the performing arts community,” said Fund Board Chair Brian Stokes Mitchell. “A special thank you to Bob Wankel for his continued leadership not only at The Shubert Organization, but also with the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation Board of Directors.”

“The Shubert Organization is proud to strengthen the Entertainment Community Fund’s ability to provide affordable housing, medical care, emergency financial assistance and so much more to those in our industry,” said Robert E. Wankel. “We look forward to all that’s to come in our ongoing collaborations, from Englewood to Times Square to Hollywood and beyond.”

 

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Off Broadway

Asi Wind’s Inner Circle Where Cards Are Magical and Slight of Hand is Astounding

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My guest absolutely loved Asi Wind’s Inner Circle, but if you have been to Speakeasy Magick at The McKittrick Hotel, much of what is here will seem repetitive, though still amazing.

Asi is good looking, charming, amusing and displays a wonderful sleight of hand. The Gym at the Judson has been designed and lit by Adam Blumenthal to make the space warm and inviting. The space only has 100 seats, so you are up-close and personal.

Before the show starts, audience members are asked to write their names and initials on a blank card with red or black sharpies. These are the cards he uses as his deck, so that each night the show is personalized.

Wind is a wonderful storyteller and loves his craft. He is infectious about his passion and so brings his audience in. Each trick is celebrated as he builds his momentum. You will have seen most of these tricks before if you have been to The McKittrick, but Asi makes it fun and exciting.

My guest could not wait to bring her grandson and thoroughly enjoyed the show. That alone made the performance special.

Asi Wind’s Inner Circle: Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, until May 28th.

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