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Theatre News: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Linda Purl, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bingo and On The Stage

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Ellen’s Stardust Diner owes $618,459.22 in unpaid rent at West 51st Street, between 7th Avenue and Broadway. A notice, was posted on the property if the rent is not paid by August 7th the restaurant will close. Doughnut Plant who was to come into Times Square, closed all seven of its NYC locations. They had re-opened some of their stores in May and June to do takeout and delivery but escalating costs got the better of them. New York had an eviction moratorium that ends August 20th. With Broadway shut down and restaurants in limbo, one has to wonder what happens to all those who came to New York seeking their dreams?

Stage and screen star, Linda Purl, is presenting a benefit performance for The Actors Fund on July 29th – August 2. The performance is based on Joan Didion’s National Book Award-winning memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking”. This is a remarkable story of loss, journey, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. Please consider making an additional donation to help support The Actors Fund. For more information about Actors Fund go to: www.actorsfund.org. Thank you for your support!

Williamstown Theatre Festival (Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director) is pleased to announce its 2020 Artists-in-Residence: Obie Award winner Trip Cullman (Before The Meeting), Drama Desk Award winner Joshua Harmon (Admissions), Pulitzer Prize winner and 2017 WTF Playwright-in-Residence Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), L. Arnold Weissberger Award winner and Jay Harris Commissionee Sylvia Khoury (Selling Kabul), Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok (Cost of Living), and Drama Desk Award nominee Tyne Rafaeli (Usual Girls). 

Williamstown Theatre Festival is also pleased to announce that James Anthony Tyler has been named a Community Works Engagement Artist; Maya Davis, in addition to being named a Community WorksEngagement Artist, is also named the Boris Sagal Directing Fellow; Tyler Thomas is the Bill Foeller Directing Fellow; and Charlie Barnett IV, the J. Michael Friedman Fellow.

“The enduring spirit of innovation that has been an inexorable quality of Williamstown Theatre Festival for 66 years guides us through the current moment,” Greenfield said. “We feel fortunate to reach a global audience through our collaboration with Audible while also nurturing our local community through our continued Community Works initiative and now, with our summer 2020 Artists-in-Residence program. We are excited to work with and provide resources to support all of these talented artists and fellows, including our 2020 fellowship recipients, as they develop work for Williamstown Theatre Festival and beyond.”

Through the Artists-in-Residence program, Williamstown Theatre Festival will populate its Massachusetts home this summer with Cullman, Harmon, Jackson, Khoury, Majok, and Rafaeli as generative artists seeking physical and mental space to write, collaborate, and create, far from the pressures of New York City while maintaining proper social distancing and health protocols. 

Davis and Tyler join the Community Works program, which reaches and engages an expanding group of local Berkshire residents and, this summer, continues on a virtual platform.

WTF will engage fellowship recipients Barnett, Davis, and Thomas in an artistic track that deepens the Festival’s relationship with them and highlights their work and accomplishments, even in these unprecedented times. Each will be given space and time in a New York City rehearsal studio (when allowed by local and state guidelines) to work on a project of their choosing. Each also will be featured on a dedicated webpage on the WTF website. As part of the unprecedented collaboration between WTF and Audible, each will have the opportunity to join a WTF Season on Audible production as assistant director. 

In addition to producing the Festival season on Audible and supporting Artists-in-Residence and fellowship recipients, WTF continues to commission and develop work from stellar, diverse playwrights and composers through its New Play and Musical Development Initiative. 

Drag and New York Nightlife Superstar Marti Gould Cummings is hosting a virtual fundraiser on August 6th at 7:00p Eastern for the community initiative helpNYC.  The monies raised will go directly to advancing the initiative’s efforts connecting New Yorkers in need to services that can help them.

helpNYC, founded by stage manager, publicist, and entertainment vetran Josh Parkin-Ring, connects New Yorkers that are experiencing mental health concerns; financial, housing, food, and medical insecurities; and other concerns connect to services and organizations that can help them through their website at www.helpNYC.info.

Since the onset of the Coronavirus Crisis in New York City, helpNYC has been working with their listing partners like established food pantries and community kitchens to make sure they have the resources they need to keep their doors open.  In addition to helpNYC’s normal operation, they have started the Food Assistance Collective of New York that helps connect the people providing organizational and technical support to New Yorkers who are food insecure.

“For the past two years, New Yorkers in need have depended on helpNYC to get information about low-barrier services through our listing partners in New York.  We have seen an increase in need since the onset of COVID-19 with over 1,600 new users, and traffic to our website is up 87%.  We provide accurate, critical information to those who need help, and that is important to us.  Information is knowledge.  Knowledge is power.  And when you have power, anything is possible.” Josh Parkin, founder of helpNYC, said recently about the work he has been doing recently.

Josh continues, “This fundraiser will be a great time for the whole family.  Marti is a Superstar when it comes to entertainment and is dedicated to his community through events like ours to raise money.  I hope everyone will join us!”

August 6th at 7:00p virtually on Zoom.  Tickets start at $25.00 and are available now at www.helpNYC.info and http://bingowithmarti.eventbrite.com.  For more information please contact helpNYC by email at hello@helpNYC.info.

On The Stage, the arts tech company founded by Tony Award-winning Producer Hunter Arnold (Hadestown, The Inheritance, Little Shop of Horrors) who launched the free remote production platform Play It Forward this spring, has announced exciting new expanded capabilities for the user-friendly platform.  Designed to provide theater makers with easy-to-use tools and resources to create and collaboratively live-stream productions — from first audition to final ‘virtual’ bow — the beta program has now been developed into a full-service producing, marketing, ticketing, and performance platform. Named On The Stage Streaming, the expanded program now offers the flexibility to create, promote and stream productions of any kind – live, remote, or pre-recorded – using one single system.

Created out of a desire to continue fostering creativity, community, and connection during this challenging time for live performances, the hugely successful beta launch of Play It Forward in April 2020 helped theater makers from 21 states host over 100 virtual productions for nationwide audiences – all for free.  Now, with the increasing clarity that theater operations will be coming back in different ways and on different timelines based on location, the On The Stage team developed this new platform expansion to provide artists with the flexibility to create and share their work online in accordance with their organization’s unique goals and local safety guidelines.  Whatever the ‘new normal’ may become for the live arts industry, Arnold felt it would be vital to have streaming technology that truly supports all aspects and versions of production – whether completely live with an audience, fully-isolated, pre-taped, or remote. It’s not just technology, though, that will be required to help theater makers move into this new era — On The Stage has also compiled a full suite of how-to-material, live seminar tutorials, best practice exchanges and resources to ensure that artists have everything they need to create the best possible experience for performers and audiences.

On The Stage Streaming provides users with: support in acquiring works from an extensive library of acclaimed, licensed plays and musicals approved for streaming use; a built-in, user-friendly framework for virtually auditioning and rehearsing the show; a secure, custom-branded production website to promote the production, sell tickets and merchandise, or accept donations; software to record the performance (whether on-screen virtual capture or on-stage live filming); and finally, a secure viewing platform for broadcasting the production to your audience. Throughout the entire process, technical support is provided by the On The Stage team to ensure a seamless experience for all.  Although this program was created with community theaters, schools, and non-profit organizations in mind, it is a service available to anyone with the desire to put on a show – all for free to the producing organization: 100% of the program’s fees (which are among the lowest in the ticketing industry) can be incorporated into the ticket price at the online box office.

“On The Stage has developed a platform that takes the stress out of the technology part of the process,” says Sarah Kane, Drama teacher at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, CA, the fate of whose season was thrown into uncertainty when COVID-19 hit. “From sending invitation and reminder emails about rehearsals, to having real people on call to answer questions, I felt completely supported in making the transition to digital performance. I was able to focus on the text since the tech was taken care of.”

Unlike other streaming platforms in the theatre space, On The Stage has no exclusivity agreements in place to limit producers’ options for content. Hunter Arnold said, “Our core mission with streaming is to partner with as many publishers and vendors as possible — to enable clients to make the best theatre they can, and to create a truly egalitarian environment for playwrights, bookwriters, composers and lyricists.  Organizations don’t want to have to switch platforms based on which show they wish to produce; not only is it bad for audience development – which is vital in this unprecedented time of suspension for live arts – but when an artist’s work is only available on certain platforms, they lose valuable income in a moment when value for their work can be vital.  At On The Stage, we’ve worked tirelessly to not only create the best technology, but the best environment where we can serve the ENTIRE community, where all work can thrive.”

OnStage will be hosting free live information and Q&A sessions on Thursday, July 23 at 5:00PM EST and Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00PM EST. For more information, visit www.onthestage.com/streaming.

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

Off Broadway

Despite Its Ambiguous Title the Play N/A Is Very Applicable for Today

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N/A A New Play at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater makes current political discourse interesting and fun. Don’t worry this is neither a preachy lecture or harangue about what’s wrong with the world nor is it a one-sided political commentary; but a lively discussion between two women who represent different generations, experiences and methods of how to get a job done. Very clearly based on the real-life Nancy Pelosi (N) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (A); we see how two passionate women have similar goals for America, but very different ways of achieving them. Holland Taylor, who previously became Ann Richards on stage, again plays a powerhouse woman as N. She delivers the dialogue in Mario Correa’s well-paced new play with strength, passion and wit. N, the experienced legislator wants change and progress for the country; but, after forty years in the political arena knows how the fight is fought.

Ana Villafane is A, a newcomer to Congress and a worthy opponent to N (A is in fact the youngest woman ever to be elected at the age of 29).  Ms Villafane previously seen as Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet proves she can do more than sing as she is a wonderful sparring partner with Ms Taylor. Being young and new to Congress, A thinks that the system doesn’t work and will do what she feels is right to not only change the world but also break the system – two causes that can defeat each other in the long and short term.

Conflict between the two could have been a dull slog to watch but thanks to the wit of Mr Correa’s writing, Diane Paulus’ seamless directing and these two wonderful actors the 80 minutes flies by. The show, however, will stay with you for days. It is a play that all generations should see not just to for the political story but to create a better understanding of each other regardless of when we were born. The “Baby Boomers” had their causes when they were young and they wanted change ‘NOW!’ just as Gen Z feels today. But those in position know through years of experience, triumphs and defeats that change takes time and it is not just the opposition to ideas that have to be overcome but also the system, consensus and tradition that need to bend slowly without causing irreparable cracks.

Mr Correa, who was a Congresswoman’s aide prior to becoming a playwright, knows of what he writes which makes the dialogue flow so easily. Myung Hee Cho’s basic yet effective set allows Ms Paulus to move from scene to scene quickly to keep the story moving (and special shout out to that unmistakable liquid red lipstick she has for A). Ms Holland and Ms Villafane are both terrific and not to be missed.

If we want to sum up the lesson of this evening in two letters as the title does I will say P/P. Passion and Patience – have passion for change but also be patient for that change to occur and also be patient with those who don’t know how long it takes for that change to happen.

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Events

Sail On Sail On Great Ship Titanic To Broadway

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It has been forever since I have bought tickets for a show, however I believe in the Encore series and Titanic holds a special place in my heart. New York City Center production of the Tony-winning 1997 musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Broadway’s Nine), reminded me why I love musicals and what is sorely lacking in musicals now.

First there is Yeston’s magnificent score that sails, soars and captures you in its powerful cadence. Music Director Rob Berman, and the full orchestra brought the nuanced score to life from the depths, filling the theater with a powerful emotional tug.


The cast was the best Broadway has to offer. standing out was Ramin Karimloo ( Broadway’s Funny Girl) as the ship’s stoker whose solo’s were heartfelt and sung in perfect voice. His duet with Harold Bride played by Alex Joseph Grayson (Encores!/Broadway’s Parade) brought out what makes Titanic so tragic, the feelings of love, hope, and desire that will never be fulfilled.


“I Want To Be A Lady’s Maid” sung by sung by the 3rd class passengers and the three Kate’s Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet, Irish lasses who all dreams of lives in America that will never be attained, as more than 1,517 and out of the 710 in 3rd class, only 174 survived.

Outher key players who made this show their own were Jose Llama as the architect Andrews. Brandon Uranowitz (Tony winner in Broadway’s Leopoldstadt) as Ismay, the villainous owner of the shipping line. Chuck Cooper (Tony winner Broadway’s The Life), as the Captain of what should have been an unsinkable ship.

As the social climbing 2nd Class passenger Alice Beane, who feels she should not be deterred from hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Bonnie Milligan (Broadway Kimberley Akimbo) brings comic relief. Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Almost Famous) is her husband who can not see his wife’s vision of a new society where classes do not exist.

As the owners of Macy’s department store Chip Zien (Harmony) and Judy Kuhn portray Isidor and Ida Straus whose love keeps Ida staying to go down with her husband. There duet “Still” proves love can always conquer all.

We know the iceberg is coming but the haunting melodic “No Moon” makes it that much more sobering.

Anne Kauffman direction is seamlessly and she brings out the comedy, passion, and horror of Peter Stone’s words. Paul Tate Depot III (Broadway’s The Great Gatsby) is one of the best scenic designers around and his simple design is effective. The costumes by Márion Talán de la Rosa (Off-Broadway’s The Connector) keep us in the time frame.

City Center Encores! Titanic needs to be resurrected and come to Broadway. It is sure to be triumph, at least it was last night.

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Off Broadway

Empire A New Musical Meets The Press

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One of the shows opening up this summer is Empire: The Musical, premiering off Broadway in July.

Empire: The Musical is created by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull


Directed by Tony Award winner Cady Huffman.

Inspired by the history of the Empire State Building, the show centers on the people who saw the skyscraper’s construction through in desperate times and when it seemed impossible. The story jumps between three time periods: the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the Bicentennial Year of 1976.


The Empire: The Musical cast includes Danny Iktomi Bevins, Monique Candelaria, Devin Cortez, Morgan Cowling, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joel Douglas, Joseph Fierberg, Alexandra Frohlinger, Matt Gibson, Albert Guerzon, Julia Louise Hosack, Kiana Kabeary, Howard Kaye, TJ Newton, April Ortiz, Kennedy Perez, Jessica Ranville, Paul Salvatoriello, J Savage, Robbie Serrano, and Ethan Saviet.

The show also features choreography by Lorna Ventura

scenic design by Walt Spangler, costume design by Tina McCartney, lighting design by Jamie Roderick, sound design by Shannon Slaton, music supervision and orchestrations by Lena Gabrielle, arrangements by Hull and Gabrielle, music direction by Gillian Berkowitz, and props design by Brendan McCann.

Performances begin July 1st with a July 11th opening night at New World Stages, for 12 weeks only.

 

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Entertainment

New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment & Learning Center Opens at American Dream

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Dedicated to encouraging people to find their heroes and achieve their best, the New Jersey Hall of Fame unveiled its Entertainment and Learning Center today at American Dream before a crowd of supporters, inductees, and elected officials, including Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy opened to the public on June 28th.

“We are incredibly excited that America’s first state-focused Entertainment and Learning Center will be right here in the Garden State,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Located at American Dream, the space will embrace our rich history and celebrate the achievements of over 230 outstanding New Jerseyans. This Center will serve as a testament to our one-of-a-kind entertainment culture and supply knowledge and inspiration for generations to come.”

The 10,000-square-foot Entertainment and Learning Center, now the permanent home for New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, boasts state-of-the-art exhibits. These include a simulated space ride called “Fly Me to the Moon,” where visitors can experience the thrill of space travel. For music enthusiasts, there’s a karaoke stage where they can sing alongside holograms of Tommy James, Gloria Gaynor, Wyclef Jean, Frankie Valli, and other musical legends. Also, for those interested in the arts, visitors can interview holograms of Tommy James, Danny DeVito, Jason Alexander, Connie Chung, Laurie Hernandez, and other notable Jersey greats in the “Late Night Jersey” Television Studio.

“Through education and entertainment, we are inspiring people to realize their dreams by becoming their best,” added Jon F. Hanson, Chairman of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. “So, there’s no better place to be than here at American Dream!”

“The State of New Jersey boasts a rich history full of iconic moments and legendary heroes, which will now be celebrated for the world to see at American Dream,” notes Don Ghermezian, CEO of American Dream. “We are excited to inspire our guests with leading entertainers, athletes, and influential individuals from the arts, education, science, and public service sectors at this one-of-a-kind Entertainment and Learning Center.”

Added President Steve Edwards, “The soul of the New Jersey Hall of Fame mission is based on the concept of Areté, Ancient Greek wisdom that means the act of actualizing one’s highest and best sense of self, with a moral excellence of character, and for the greater good. Our inductees have indeed realized their Areté, and are heroes who inspire others to do the same.”

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) honors citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society, the State of New Jersey, and the world beyond. Since 2008, the NJHOF has hosted 15 ceremonies for more than 230 notable individuals and groups in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The NJHOF endeavors to present school children with significant and impactful role models to show that they can, and should, strive for excellence. The NJHOF is thankful for the support of its many sponsors, including Hackensack Meridian Health, without which none of our endeavors would be possible.

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Entertainment

Midnight Moment Our Islands 11°16’58.4 N 123°45’07.0 E

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From July 1–31st starting at 11:57pm – 12am Martha Atienza reimagines a yearly local parade from her native Philippines by staging it on the floor of the Visayan Sea. The film’s performers are underwater compressor divers from Bantayan Island, who specialize in a dangerous form of fishing necessitated by the devastating impact of illegal and commercial fishing, industrialization, and climate change in the archipelago. The exact coordinates for the dreamlike underwater procession were chosen by the divers themselves according to the tide, current, and time of day. As they trudge across the seabed, Atienza’s cast of characters and choice of setting not only present a critical and humorous take on society and culture in the Philippines, but also allude to the threat of climate collapse to which Southeast Asia is increasingly exposed.

Part of her continuing series to establish art as an open source for ideas, Atienza’s moving diorama under the sea is a collaboration with the local community, with whom she creates work to empower and amplify seldom-heard voices. In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

The original version of Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2017 and acquired by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2021, with previous screenings across Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Martha Atienza is a Philippines-based artist whose video work documents issues of the environment, community, and development within her island home. Her observational lens takes on both ecological and sociological concerns as she studies the intricate interplay between local traditions, human subjectivity, and the natural world. By deeply examining the patterns within her immediate surroundings, Atienza explores the potential that the video medium holds as a catalyst for societal transformation. She was twice awarded the Ateneo Art Awards in Manila (2012/2016) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award (2015). Recent biennials and triennials include the 2nd Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Riyadh (2024); 17th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2022); Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok (2020); Honolulu Biennial, Oahu, Hawaii (2019); and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018).

In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology utilized to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

Silverlens is an international gallery with locations in Manila and New York. Through its artist representation, institutional partnerships, art consultancy, and exhibition programming including art fairs and gallery collaborations, Silverlens aims to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue. Its continuing efforts to transcend borders across art communities in Asia have earned it recognition as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia.

Silverlens was founded in Manila by Isa Lorenzo in 2004, and in 2007 she was joined by co-director Rachel Rillo. In September 2022, the gallery opened its doors in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, broadening its international scope and bringing its diverse roster of artists to a new global audience. In 2024, Silverlens commemorates its 20th anniversary, marking a significant milestone for the global gallery and its dedication to championing diasporic artists.

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