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Art is meant to move people – to inspire them to find the beauty in life and the good of mankind. Actress Tamela D’Amico knows this and more from her latest project One Little Finger.

The movng film that consumed her life for the better part of two years unexpectedly taught her so much about people and purpose. Due to be released November 16th on all platforms, One Little Finger possesses a strong message of ability in disability.

Released November 16th, a national day of tolerance, One Little Finger will surely captivate the world with India’s vibrant visuals, a stellar soundtrack, phenomenal acting, and a message that umbrellas all of these aspects. Showing the world that people are not defined by their disability, One Little Finger employs actors who prove their abilities far outshine those of others.

With a cast of many talented actors, Sayomdeb Mukherjee and Abhinaya are just two who made the story come to life, working side by side with D’Amico. Additionally, One Little Finger employed over 80 people with disabilities, many of these being student musicians. D’Amico adds, “These amazing people studied their lines for six months and learned how to be real actors before we got there to film.  All of them were so happy to be there and to work. They were truly an inspiration to everyone.”

Filmed in India and the US, One Little Finger was written and directed by Rupam Sarmah and produced by Sarmah, in association with RJ Productions International and maZumba Media & Entertainment. One Little Finger also boasts some pretty impressive musical talent in addition to the phenomenal acting. The soundtrack line-up features the legendary Quincy Jones, Julian Lennon, and Siedah Garrett, just to name a few. And the title track “One Little Finger” is being considered for a Grammy.

While One Little Finger will certainly entertain an audience, D’Amico says it will also educate people about the abilities of those with disabilities. The film’s content and theme speaks to every vein of education. Music teachers will love it to reinforce that music is a universal language that brings people together. Regular education teachers will use it to enhance their inclusion, equity, and equality efforts. Social workers and special education teachers will gravitate to the message of ability in disability. And they will use the film to inspire their students to outperform their disability the way the student-actors do in the movie.

D’Amico, playing the role of Raina —  an American Neurologist researching music therapy in India —  had nearly the same revelations as her character while working on the film. Both were mesmerized by India’s brilliant hues and scenery and amazed by the true grit and talent of the actors with disabilities. Identifying with her character was essential; however, not even D’Amico knew the scope of its repercussions. It didn’t take long for her to realize that every aspect of One Little Finger had become ingrained in her. The result — her life would never be the same.

D’Amico’s participation in the project has quite a backstory worthy of sharing because it shows this film was her true calling. Before she even knew anything about the film, D’Amico experienced a vision she now believes was one of those unexpected events that shaped her life. While meditating with a friend at Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, CA, D’Amico received a colorful image of India’s gorgeous landscapes. After completing the meditation session, she told her friend she wanted to go to India. Two weeks later, D’Amico landed the role of Raina and was about to embark on one of the most wonderful experiences of her life.

Before landing this role, D’Amico cut quite a swath in the music and film industries. A jazz recording artist, D’Amico is heard on over 140 national radio and cable outlets. While music is still in her blood, she takes more time these days to hone her acting, directing, and producing skills.

Her formal education began at the prestigious Florida State University Film School, where only 16 students worldwide are admitted each year. D’Amico continued her studies at The Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles, where she was the first to build and shoot in their sound stage. After her schooling, D’Amico jumped right into the Hollywood life, working feverishly in all aspects of her talents, all while writing and shooting her own short films and web serials, racking-up Film Festival awards.

Even with One Little Finger nearly monopolizing two years of her life, D’Amico maintained other projects. You can find her acting in a slew of venues, including feature films such as Walt Before Mickey, a movie about the life of Walt Disney streaming now on Netflix. Now streaming on Amazon, she stars in the award-winning series Englishman in L.A., for which she was awarded “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Web Series” by LA WEB FEST. D’Amico also stars in the Disney+ seriesBest Friends Whenever and a collection of upcoming independent films.

Because D’Amico’s talents have depth, she also remains active in the music industry. You can hear her singing the theme song “Love and the Gun” in both English and Italian for the feature film Rob the Mob, streaming now on all platforms. Besides her work in the film and music industries, D’Amico is a brand ambassador and content creator to many International brands, thanks to her social media influence.

And for Tamela D’Amico — her experiences while working on the film were one-of-a-kind and life-changing. As D’Amico moves on in her career to star in and direct many more films, she’ll probably never see the likes of another that hits right to the heart the way One Little Finger has done.

Photo Courtesy One Little Finger

ElizaBeth Taylor is a journalist for Times Square Chronicles and is a frequent guest at film, fashion and art events throughout New York City and Los Angeles due to her stature as The Sensible Socialite.Passionate about people ElizaBeth spent many years working as a travel reporter and television producer after graduating with high honors from University of Southern California. The work has afforded her the opportunity to explore Europe, Russia, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. It has greatly influenced the way in which ElizaBeth sees a story and has created a heightened awareness for the way people around the world live today.

Entertainment

Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe celebrates 101 Year Old Princess Yuriko of Japan: Age has no limits!

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Princess Yuriko of Japan

Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe Royal Diary 

Happy Birthday, Your Imperial Highness Princess Yuriko of Japan ! 101 is a wonderful number. And most important: Age is Just a Number. Because it is most important to embrace life at every stage and time. Age, should not be ever seen as a defining factor in our lives, is merely a numerical representation of the time we’ve spent on this Earth. It does not dictate our capabilities, passions, or potential for growth. In fact, embracing life at every stage, regardless of age, can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful existence. And Princess Yuriko is the best example of a fabulous and celebrated Royal with her century of resilience and grace.

In my family, the Princely House of Schaumburg-Lippe, we also had a very special Princess of a great generation who was beloved and admired for her service, charities and accomplishments called Her Most Serene Highness Princess Helga-Lee zu Schaumburg-Lippe. She was born 1911, loved the great Princess Yuriko and lived 94 years long. Princess Helga-Lee, the aunt of my father Prince Waldemar, was the most popular and beloved of all the German Princesses in her era. Many say because of her American spirit due to her American mother Claude Lennox Miller, a governors and admirals daughter from Maryland.

Her Most Serene Highness Princess Helga-Lee zu Schaumburg-Lippe the aunt of Prince Mario-Max father Prince Waldemar lived 94 years.

Princess Yuriko, the widow of Prince Mikasa, is also a very famous figure in the Japanese imperial family. Born on June 4, 1923, she is the oldest living member of the imperial family and has witnessed a century of significant historical events and transformations in Japanese society.

Princess Yuriko, born as Yuriko Takagi, was the second daughter of Viscount Masanari Takagi. In 1941, at the age of 18, she married Prince Mikasa, the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito (posthumously known as Emperor Shōwa). The couple had five children – three sons and two daughters.

As Princess Mikasa, Yuriko dedicated herself to public service and represented the imperial family at various events and ceremonies. She was known for her elegance, intelligence, and warm personality. She actively participated in charitable organizations and supported causes related to education, health, and cultural preservation.

Princess Yuriko faced personal challenges throughout her life, including the loss of all three of her sons. However, she displayed remarkable resilience and strength in the face of adversity. Her unwavering spirit and dedication to her duties earned her the respect and admiration of the Japanese people.

Princess Yuriko has lived through significant historical events, including World War II, the post-war reconstruction of Japan, and the country’s rise as a global economic power. Her experiences and insights provide a unique perspective on the transformations that Japan has undergone throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

In recent years, Princess Yuriko has faced health challenges and has been hospitalized several times. Despite these setbacks, she celebrated her 101st birthday in June 2024, marking a significant milestone as the oldest living member of the imperial family.

Princess Yuriko’s legacy is one of resilience, grace, and unwavering dedication to public service. Her long life and experiences serve as a living testament to the history and traditions of the Japanese imperial family. She continues to be a source of inspiration and admiration for the Japanese people, who celebrate her as a symbol of longevity, wisdom, and unwavering spirit.

Skip Age Sterotypes: Society often imposes stereotypes based on age, limiting our perception of what we can achieve at different stages of life. Some manipulative media bombards us with messages that suggest certain activities, careers, or even emotions are only suitable for specific age groups. However, these stereotypes are often unfounded and can hold us back from exploring new possibilities. Age does not matter ! And Never Stop Moving as Entertainment icon Luigi from Luigi Jazz always said. And he came up with this lines in New York City. Of course NYC, where else…

* H.H. Dr. Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe is a working European Royal, German Prince and son of His Highness Prince Waldemar and Her Highness Dr. Princess Antonia zu Schaumburg-Lippe. Their family founded Hamburg, Luebeck and Kiel in Germany and his Grandmother is HRH Princess Feodora of Denmark married Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe.

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Events

Comic-Con Museum Presents Julien’s Auctions & TCM 2024 Spotlight Series: Harry Potter & Other Heroes

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On July 28th Comic-Con Museum Presents Julien’s Auctions & TCM 2024 Spotlight Series: Harry Potter & Other Heroes. William Shatner “Captain James T. Kirk” Long-Lost Legendary Phaser and Iconic Communicator from Star Trek Original TV Series Unveiled for the First Time in 50 Years at the Comic-Con Museum. Ryan Reynolds Deadpool & Wolverine Film Worn Shirt Crashes the Party. Collection of Iconic Character Wands Used by Daniel Radcliffe “Harry Potter,” Ralph Fiennes “Lord Voldemort,” Michael Gambon “Albus Dumbledore,” Plus, Gary Oldman “Sirius Black” Shackle Props, Slytherin House Robe & More. Chris Evans “Captain America” Original USO Shield Prop, X2 Storyboard Illustrations and Life-Size “Spider-Man” Madame Tussaud Display Figure. (Balboa Park) 2131 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA Stunt Grapple Gun Prop, Batarang Prop, and Unused Cowl Prop


Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the ultimate destination for Hollywood memorabilia, are heading to the world’s greatest pop culture convention for their first co-branded event with the San Diego Comic Convention (Comic-Con International) / Comic-Con Museum! “Comic-Con Museum Presents Julien’s Auctions & TCM 2024 Spotlight Series: Harry Potter & Other Heroes” kicks off today with an exclusive two-week exhibition featuring a collection of the most instantly recognizable props, production material and memorabilia from the epic sagas of the Harry Potter, Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Comics franchises that will be offered at a live and online auction presented by Julien’s Auctions Sunday, July 28th at Comic-Con Museum. Adding to the excitement of this exhibition will be the appearance of two extraordinary and important artifacts from Star Trek history long forgotten and believed to have been lost: William Shatner’s legendary phaser and communicator used in his iconic role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek television series. Both props (conservative estimate: $100,000-$200,000 each) will be heading to Julien’s and TCM’s Hollywood auction this fall where they are expected to break world records at auction. They will make their first appearance to the public in over 50 years at this exclusive exhibition at the Comic-Con Museum. Crashing this party of heroes will be Ryan Reynolds “Ryan Gosling” button down shirt worn by the Hollywood legend in his iconic role as Deadpool/Wade Wilson in the highly anticipated blockbuster of the summer, Marvel’s Deadpool & Wolverine.

Comic-Con Museum,  is a division of San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation organized for charitable purposes and dedicated to creating the general public’s awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, including participation in and support of public presentations, conventions, exhibits, museums, and other public outreach activities which celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture. In addition to its San Diego convention each summer, Comic-Con (the premier comics convention of its kind in the world), SDCC organizes the Anaheim-based WonderCon each spring and the SAM: Storytelling Across Media symposium in the fall. On the web: comic-conmuseum.org, Facebook.com/ComicConMuseum, and follow us on X (@ComicConMuseum) and Instagram (@comicconmuseum).

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents classic films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting “Where Then Meets Now.” TCM features insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With three decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials and Reframed along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through popular events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood and the TCM Classic Cruise. In addition, TCM produces the wildly successful podcast “The Plot Thickens,” which has had more than 9 million downloads to date. TCM hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a classic movie experience on the TCM hub on Max.

Julien’s, exist to bring those moments back into your life through iconic artifacts and one-of-a-kind collections. Whether collaborating directly with artists, partnering with legendary estates, or working closely with discerning collectors, our auctions make culture pop with the promise of discovery and reconnection. From Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Ringo Starr to Lady Gaga, Banksy, and Kurt Cobain-from LA to the world, we are where originals find their kind.

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Broadway

Broadway in Bryant Park And You Are There With Hell’s Kitchen, Water For Elephants, The Wiz and More

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July 11, 106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park kicked off its 2024 program, bringing the best of Broadway back together for free performances, every Thursday in July.

From AMDA College of the Performing Arts-Kyle Taylor Parker

From AMDA College of the Performing Arts-Kyle Taylor Parker, Charity Arianna , Destiny David, Ailadis Hernandez De Leon, Nyjair Wilkerson and Jackson Bateman

This week’s performances included: a preshow featuring students from AMDA

Ali Louis Bourzgui

Bobby Conte and Ali Louis Bourzgui

Bobby Conte, Ali Louis Bourzgui and Adam Jacobs

Ali Louis Bourzgui, Bobby Conte,

Lily Kren, Alexandra Matteo, Daniel Quadrino, Jenna Nicole Schoen, Nathan Lucrezio, Reagan Pender, Bobby Conte, Tyler James Eisenreich, Mark Mitrano, Haley Gustafson, Afra Hines, Dee Tomasetta, Adam Jacobs, Ali Louis Bourzgui, David Paul Kidder, Jeremiah Alsop, Andrew Tufano and Ronnie Bowman, Jr.

The Who’s Tommy (Ali Louis Bourzgui, Adam Jacobs, Bobby Conte, Haley Gustafson and more)

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Ken Wulf Clark

Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Ken Wulf Clark, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Ken Wulf Clark, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Ken Wulf Clark, Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Isabella McCalla

Water for Elephants (Isabelle McCalla, Ken Wulf Clark, Asa Somers, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul)

Avery Wilson

Kyle Ramar Freeman and Nichelle Lewis

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Melody A. Betts

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Nichelle Lewis

Nichelle Lewis, Kyle Ramar Freeman, Avery Wilson and Polanco Jones Jr.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Avery Wilson and Polanco Jones Jr.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Polanco Jones Jr., Nichelle Lewis, Melody A. Betts and Avery Wilson

The Wiz (Avery Wilson, Kyle Ramar Freeman, Melody A. Betts, Nichelle Lewis, Polanco Jones Jr.)

Jelani Remy

JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith, Katie Laduca, JJ Niemann and Aaron Alcaraz

Hannah Kevitt and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith, JJ Niemann, Jelani Remy and The Cast of Back To The Future that includes Hannah Kevitt, Cixtoria Byrd, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessie Peltier, Gregory Carl Banks Jr., Katie Laduca, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson and Aaron Alcaraz

Evan Alexander Smith, JJ Niemann, Jelani Remy, Hannah Kevitt, Cixtoria Byrd, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessie Peltier, Gregory Carl Banks Jr., Katie Laduca, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson and Aaron Alcaraz

Back to the Future (Jelani Remy, JJ Niemann, Evan Alexander Smith)

Gianna Harris and Lamont Walker II

Lamont Walker II

Jade Milan, Jackie Leon and Gianna Harris

Jade Milan, Jackie Leon and Gianna Harris

Donna Vivino

Donna Vivino

Donna Vivino, Gianna Harris, Lamont Walker II, Jade Milan and Jackie Leon and Jackie Leon

and Hell’s Kitchen (Gianna Harris, Vanessa Ferguson, Jackie Leon, Donna Vivino, Lamont Walker II)

106.7 Lite FM’s Helen Little

106.7 Lite FM’s Helen Little is joined by Co Host Kyle Ramar Freeman

with host Helen Little and co-host Kyle Ramar Freeman.

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Off Broadway

The Journals of Adam and Eve The World’s First Love Story Starring Hal Linden and Marilu Henner

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photo by Paul Aphisit

“Some day we’ll look back on this and laugh.”

The Journals of Adam and Eve The World’s First Love Story starring Hal Linden and Marilu Henner is a master class in acting. Created by Emmy-winning comedy writer Ed Weinberger (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, The Cosby Show), the show is very reminiscent of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve. Ultimately an endearing love story, the  show records the couple’s initial ambivalence to growth within themselves and in love.

Done like a reading, the actors are in black street clothes. They refer to their scripts from adjoining music stands. There is water on small tables and a chair for each.

Hal Linden and Marilu Henner are very amusing and powerful storytellers. Linden’s journey as Adam, starts off with “Much to my amazement, I was born a full-grown man,” to “It wasn’t the Garden of Eden. Not by a long shot.” We meet and see a man who is flawed, childlike in full blown ego to a man content with the journey. It is truly funny to see Mr. Linden recall his favorite herb. “A few swallows of the bud and I soon found myself wolfing down handfuls of figs drenched in honey and sprinkled with crunchy chili peppers. It also made me giggle when I counted my fingers.”

Henner commands the stage squeezing every laugh out of goading Adam, flirting in a way that is subtle and innocent. When he tries to rule over her she states; “Well, it just so happens that this living thing that ‘moveth’ is not one of your birds, fishes, or any other animal you have dominion over. So maybe you and this God ought to have another little talk about who is whoest and what is whateth.”

As the mysteries of life and love are explored desire, discoveries, temptation, lust, being the world’s first parents, joys, sorrows, separation and contentment in their twilight years all are explained and shown in a way that makes you think.

This thought-provoking comedy’s makes you wonder did we ever really know the first couple, that in a strange way has influenced all of our lives?

Amy Anders Corcoran’s direction is simple, yet effective and you will leave the theatre more satisfied than Adama dn Eve after they bit that apple.

The Journals of Adam and Eve: The Sheen Center, Loreto Theater, 18 Bleecker Street, until July 28th

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Off Broadway

Cats – The Jellical Ball at PAC NYC Death Drops Deliriously Divine and Feline-Free

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This is a ball darling, emote!” and with the glitter dust blown off an iconic album, this Jellicle Ball reimaging eyes the runway in classic form, giving a nod to the old, but radically restructuring this new version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats with divine aplomb. The shadow ballet to the overture, as directed by Zhailon Levingston (Broadway’s Chicken and Biscuits) and Bill Rauch (LCT’s The Great Society) with choreography by Arturo Lyons (Madonna’s Celebration Tour) and Omari Wiles (Les Ballet Afrik), sets fire to the excited crowd that has gathered around the runway at PAC NYC, giving mystical divinity to Gay Pride Saturday. It’s clearly the musical theatrical event of the summer, with nothing else coming close, other than a few shows that are coming to an end after reaping the awards of a Post-Tony upswing. And I couldn’t feel more blessed as I took my seat right behind the two special guests who were seated on each side of an empty throne. So prepare yourselves, kittens, for what is about to come, because it’s not what you remember. Not at all. It’s something very different, and magically magnificent in ways I could never have imagined before this construction. It has meaning, deeper than when it first crawled in from the streets, and a unifying sense of community that registers far beyond what one could have anticipated, culturally and emotionally.

For anyone of a certain age, this musical, Cats, which started out in the West End at the New London Theatre in May 1981, was a phenomenon that was unparalleled at the time. Interesting fact: Judi Dench was originally cast to play the glamour cat but tore her Achilles tendon during rehearsal and was replaced by Elaine Paige.  Later, it opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1982 with Buckley as Grizabella. Her 1983 Tony-winning performance has etched itself firmly into our collective theatrical minds with all of its pain, beauty, and power. I was not lucky enough to have seen either Buckley or Paige as Grizabella, but I did see Cats for the first time at the newly opened historic Elgin Theatre in Toronto in 1985.  It was a big deal for me and the city when this famous show ushered in a new period of theatrical renewal for Toronto, and I, as a university student studying Theatre Design at York University, could not wait to see it.

André De Shields in Cats – The Jellicle Ball at PAC NYC. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

I had worn out my record (or was it a cassette tape?) listening to all of those unique and exciting songs over and over again. I cannot tell you who played the part in the Canadian production for this two-and-a-half-year run (if you can tell me, I’d love to know) but I can honestly admit that I loved the experience. An idea that both tells you the state of theatre at the time, and how this musical, even if it has gained a certain level of disdain and unpopularity in the modern theatrical world, ignited something in our collective consciousness that hadn’t been seen on stage before it purred its way forward. It was revolutionary, even as we look back at it down our more enlightened noses.

When I saw the 2016 Cats revival, directed again by Trevor Nunn, it was like revisiting an old magician friend, but one that I had hoped would have tried a few new tricks, and maybe given us a bit different twist.  Cats, to be frank, is a ridiculously silly show in terms of modern-day musical theatre, but I do recognize that at the time, back in 1985, it was historic. Cats started a theatrical trend or model, whether you like it or not, for producers to create what was to be called the ‘megamusical’ phenomenon. It quickly established a global market for musical theatre, focusing the industry towards establishing big-budget blockbusters, as well as creating a theatrical entertainment landscape devoted to family and tourist-friendly shows. The musical’s profound but polarising influence also reshaped the aesthetic, technology, and marketing of the medium for the better, or maybe the worse for the industry today.  It changed what musicals were allowed to be.  And I get that.  But some shows don’t age so well.  Don’t get me wrong, Cats is not a bad show in any way but it was running out of lives, and needed viewing through a completely different lens.

The cast of Cats – The Jellicle Ball at PAC NYC. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.
But who could have guessed it would be reborn most brilliantly on the runway of Harlem Ballroom; a culture made iconic in shows like 2018’s “Pose“, as well as in the video for Malcolm McLaren’s “Deep in Vogue“, released in 1989, and Madonna’s “Vogue“, released in 1990, one year before the ground-breaking documentary “Paris Is Burning“, which really brought the iconic framework into our cultural sensibilities. They all did in their own ways, but co-directors Levingston and Rauch (artistic director of PAC NYC) took on this dusty ALW musical, that was famously inspired by “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot, and sent it swirling and voguing itself into an astounding new Heaviside Layer (the Cats version of heaven), reforming and rebirthing these former felines into something very different, and absolutely earth-shakeringly fabulous.
Their new Cats has been reborn and redesigned, throwing itself into the competitive Ballroom Scene with a confident power that is intoxicating and electrifying. Played out on a long runway space running from the windows to the judges’ table, designed with a spirited sense by Rachel Hauck (Broadway’s Hadestown; MCC’s The Wrong Man), the newly formed megamusical delivers its mega reframing with an African-American and Latino underground LGBTQ+ subcultural slant, rolled out with pride and self-assurance. The retooling has nothing to do with the four-legged feline. These ‘cats’ are performative alter-ego contestants; magnificent and creative, competing in a captivating, integrated competition that has its historic soul coming from drag balls of the mid-19th Century. And those balls, in response to increasing racism and homophobia, evolved in the 20th Century into house Ballroom Competitions, where Black and Latino participants would ‘walk’ the runway in a variety of categories, resulting in the awarding of trophies and cash prizes. The framework is perfection for these personality introductions, and these ‘cats’ are ready to revel and death-drop dip into these historic roots like no one could have ever imagined possible.The newly formed framing works its magic throughout, creating community within the Cats clan of chosen names and chosen family. Adam Honoré (Broadway’s Ain’t No Mo’) delivers a spectacle in lights alongside the solid sound design by Kai Harada (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo), as does the recreated iconic projections by Brittany Bland (Public’s A Raisin in the Sun) that honor, enhance, and elevate. But like any ballroom competition, memorable magic is forever created in the costumes designed masterfully by Qween Jean (TNG’s Black No More) and the wigs created by Nikiya Mathis (Broadway’s Home), and neither let this ball drop.

Sydney James Harcourt and the cast of Cats – The Jellicle Ball at PAC NYC. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

Competing in an assortment of Ballroom categories like “Butch Queen Realness” and “Old Way vs. New Way” voguing, the cast fly themselves forward, finding authenticity in their irresistibility. It’s powerful exciting and theatrical, while only once purring itself a bit too closely to the actual idea of playing Cats. That moment aside, everyone in the cast is beyond excellent, dipping themselves down into death at the drop of a hat, while playing with the structure and feline concepts most majestically. The incredibly sexy Sydney James Harcourt (Public’s Girl From the North Country) makes an irresistible Rum Tum Tugger, winning his trophy easily, while Emma Sofia (Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Skimbleshanks, loses by a whisker. Antwayn Hopper (Broadway’s A Strange Loop) as Macavity steals the scene in designer labels with tags still attached, while later on, ballroom legend Junior LaBeija delivers a touchingly sweet spiriting as Asparagus, the old theater cat. But it is the long-legged “Magical Mr. Mistoffelees“, embodied by the mega-talented Robert “Silk” Mason (“Into the Colors“), that truly brings all that brilliance to the forefront, and ties it all together with such talent and presence.

But really we are all waiting for the arrival of Old Deuteronomy, knowingly played most deliciously regal by André De Shields (Broadway’s Hadestown) to take his seat on the throne. His entrance and demeanor couldn’t have been more perfect for the part, carrying himself forward like many of the trophies given out by MC Munkustrap, portrayed dutifully well by Dudney Joseph Jr. (Public’s The Harder They Come), to the young contestant kitties vying for Old D’s respectful nod. As in the traditional telling of this tale, a tribe of ‘cats’ called the Jellicles have come before the honorable Old Deuteronomy to make the “Jellicle choice”, deciding which of the many worthy cats assembled will ascend up to the Heaviside Layer and come back to the world in a new life. Here, under the strongly focused eyes of its determined directors, the lens has shifted yet remained tuned into the competitive introductions of ‘cats’ vying for the ultimate award of the night. And the experiment works, better than any of us could have dreamed or hoped for.

André De Shields (center) and the cast of Cats – The Jellicle Ball at PAC NYC. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

It’s a deliciously delivered radical relayering, that completely renders us helpless against the talented ‘cats’ laid out before us, choreographed to the heavens, and performed to energetic perfection by an astounding cast. Anyone familiar with this musical knows we are all waiting for the one who has fallen on hard times, the formally glamorous Grizabella, usually played by “Tempress” Chasity Moore, but on this particular night, understudy Garnet Williams (Parity’s At Hotel MacGuffin) majestically donned the smudged lipstick and ripped coat, delivering the goods with extreme gusto. The other cats pull back and away from her at first, but it’s only a matter of time until Grizabella is given the floor, and Williams, thanks to the strong musical supervision and music direction by William Waldrop (Broadway’s Evita; Cats) and Beats arranger Trevor Holder (Brian Jackson’s Gotta Play; Broadway’s The Wiz), weaves some “Memory” magic all around her, shining radiantly upwards to the Heaviside Layer in shimmering majestic fashion. It’s an exit worthy of the work being done here, and the supreme magic created in this radically magnificent restructuring of Cats – The Jellical Ball. Let’s hope this ‘radical reimagined’ production has a few more lives to live, and runways to walk. Is Circle in the Square its next alley cat Ballroom? Or are the whisperings I hear wrong?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrfstFrQKccTo see the video click here.

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