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Off Broadway

There’s Moonlight Over Brooklyn With Romeo and Bernadette A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn

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Anna Kostakis, Zach Schanne Photo by Russ Rowland

Thanks to a Brooklyn guy (Michael Notardonato) wanting to get into a Brooklyn girls pants (Ari Raskin), he tells her the story of how Romeo (Nikita Burshteyn) time traveled to 1960 and in Verona met a Brooklyn Girl on vacation named Bernadette (Anna Kostakis), who he believed is his Juliet. This foulmouthed mobster’s (Carlos Lopez ) daughter is crass, foul mouthed, self indulgent and beautiful. Ms. Kostakis has the “it” factor in spades, but more on that later.

Nikita Burshteyn, Michael Notardonato Photo by Russ Rowland

This bada bing bada boom tale titled Romeo & Bernadette A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn is like Moonstruck mixed with The Soprano’s and is laugh out loud funny thanks to Mark Saltzman’s book and lyrics. The most clever part of this whole piece is the songs are all adapted from classic Italian melodies and arranged with panache thanks to Steve Orich.

Anna Kostakis, Viet Vo, Nikita Burshteyn Photo by Russ Rowland

Director and choreographer Justin Ross Cohen breathes life into what could have been an absurdist idea and has made it fun, making over the top Italian stereotypes lovable thanks to his stellar cast that is fresh and uber talented.

Michael Notardonato, Michael Marotta, Nikita Burshteyn, Photo by Russ Rowland

As we follow Romeo (Nikita Burshteyn) to Bensonhurst, we meet two warring crime families, the Del Cantos and the Penzas. Romeo, protects Dino Del Canto (Notardonato) when Bernadette’s fiancé, Tito Titone (Zach Schanne) tries to take him out. Bernadette’s father explains “Non La Famigl” when he hears of the blunder, but Tito is hot headed and abusive to Bernadette. When the soft spoken, Shakespeare speaking Romeo hears this, he has Don Del Canto (Michael Marotta), who has taken him in like a son help him in his pursuit not knowing that Bernadette is the daughter of the rival family.

Michael Notardonato, Nikita Burshteyn, Michael Marotta, Carlos Lopez, Zach Schanne, and Viet Vo Photo by Russ Rowland Photo by Russ Rowland

Bernadette’s mother, Camille, (Judy McLane), helps Romeo when she learns he is from Verona, as she is from Veronese descent. She sings the wonderful “Farewell, Verona,” and almost brings down the house. The opera singing Lips (Viet Vo) protects Bernadette and the Penza family. Bernadette’s best friend Donna (Ari Raskin), falls for Dino (Michael Notardonato) and in the end Romeo gets his Bernadette.

Ari Raskin, Anna Kostakis Photo by Russ Rowland

Troy Valjean Rucker’s wonderful voice makes this show a showcase for his talent, as he takes on several roles. Notardonato shines with his suave crooning style and stellar acting. This whole cast is really fabulous, but it is newcomer Anna Kostakis who just got off the bus and landed this role, that had me saying this is a girl to watch. Looking a little like Marisa Tomei, she has the “it factor in spades”.

Anna Kostakis, Nikita Burshteyn Photo by Russ Rowland

The four-member band, led by music director Aaron Gandy, sounds flushed out and this cast can sing like the caneries.

The set designed by Walt Spangler uses white scaffolding and light up boxes that are rather ingenuous. Simple, yet highly effective. I loved Fabio Toblini and Joseph Shrope’s costumes for the women and Ken Billington’s lighting was sublime.

If you want a fun romantic night at theatre with laughs galore head on down to see Romeo & Bernadette A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn

Judy McLane, Carlos Lopez, Michael Notardonato, Ari Raskin, Anna Kostakis, Nikita Burshteyn, Zach Schanne, and Viet Vo in Romeo & Bernadette.
Judy McLane, Carlos Lopez, Michael Notardonato, Ari Raskin, Anna Kostakis, Nikita Burshteyn, Zach Schanne, and Viet Vo Photo by Russ Rowland

Romeo & Bernadette A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn: AMAS Musical Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 W 53rd St. until Feb 16th.

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

Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 now in the conference room at the Hotel Edison.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle. Jana Robbins is starring in A Final Toast, which opens at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street #3rd Floor, this Friday. Her performance this Thursday, which is an invited dress is dedicated to the memory of her beloved mother Edythe Elaine Eisenberg May 16, 1922 – Oct. 24, 2022.

Tim Tuttle, wrote the book, music and lyrics for 44 Lights: The Musical that opened last night at the AMT Theatre, 354 W 45th StreetTuttle worked as a trader on Wall Street, until September 11th, 2001. He turned to music to heal. 44 Lights is a chance for Tim to tell his story, to remember the many who didn’t come home, and find a way to keep their memories alive forever.

We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.
I am so grateful to my guests Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle.

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News just named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, PodcastsThe company we are in, has made us so humbled, grateful and motivated to continue.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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Off Broadway

TBTB’s I Ought to Be in Pictures Zings Out One Liners Solidly

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When you think of snappy one-liners or biting comebacks, there is one playwright that comes to mind. That is the one and only Neil Simon who has a writing credit of almost 50 plays. Probably his most well-known is The Odd Couple. It was revived recently on Broadway with an all-star cast. Now one of Simon’s plays that has not been seen on or off Broadway since the early eighties is back. I Ought to Be in Pictures, produced by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, is playing at Theater Row on 42nd Street starring Makenzie Morgan Gomez (Off-Broadway Debut) as Libby, Pamela Sabaugh (Off-Broadway’s Richard III) as Steffy and Chris Thorn (Off-Broadway’s Pride and Prejudice) as Herb.

Makenzie Morgan Gomez and Chris Thorn Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

The play begins as aspiring actress Libby shows up at screenwriter Herb’s door and announces that she is his daughter whom he abandoned 16 years ago and she wants him to help her get into “pictures.” Hair/make-up artist Steffy is Herb’s one-night-a-week girlfriend for the past two years.

Makenzie Morgan Gomez, Pamela Sabaugh, and Chris Thorn Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Thorn seems to embody Herb, the talented and once successful writer, mired in the lonely world of self-doubt who can’t trust his craft, his ideas, or his ability to keep pushing in the competitive “younger” world of the entertainment business. His anger has turned to resignation as his confidence has faded. Thorn can join in the quick and cutting war of words in the Simon script and still carry that heavy weight of failure that’s dragging him down. As Libby, Gomez is like a haboob that has swirled into Herb’s life. Her rapid-fire delivery gives the daughter the edge keeping anyone from reeling her in or rearranging her plan.

Gomez plays Libby a bit young for someone who has crossed the country traveling with a bus ticket and the rest with her thumb (think the 1970s) to get into the “pictures”, an industry she knows nothing about. But Gomez is up to the task.  Her monologues are spot on even though she can get a bit high-pitched in the excitement and her scenes with Herb ring true. Pamela Sabaugh’s Steffy is right on point. You can see her affection for both Libby and Herb and you can feel her desire to see her relationship with Herb grow. Having Libby meet Herb’s “girlfriend on Tuesdays” at the door gives Steffy some added weight in the plot and Sabaugh takes it in and runs with it.

Directed by Nicholas Vitelli (TBTB’s God of Carnage)I Ought to Be in Pictureshas a real feel for its characters and their environment, moving them around the drab living space of the dad’s small West Hollywood apartment in the late 1970s. Scenic and lighting designer Bert Scott (TBTB’s Brecht on Brecht) gives the tired apartment touches that show how Herb sees himself, tumbling on the way down; old appliances, and smudges around cabinet pulls and light switches emphasize the decline.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) production of  I Ought to Be in Pictures is a funny and touching comedy, hitting all the right notes with a cast that fits together seamlessly. What we have here is vintage Neil Simon giving us his classic verbal sparing that has the audience continually holding their breath waiting for the next one to zing in. TBTB is “dedicated to advancing and celebrating the work of professional artists with disabilities.” The performance included an audio description of the set and characters before the performance began and script text during the play.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

The Outer Critics Circle Winners: Stereophonic and Suffs Take The Lead

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The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), has just announced the winners of the 2024 Outer Critics Circle Awards, honoring the 2023-2024 Broadway and Off-Broadway season.

The awards ceremony for the winners will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

Founded during the 1949-50 Broadway season by respected theater journalist John Gassner, The Outer Critics Circle is an esteemed association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations, and online news organizations, in America and abroad. Led by its current President David Gordon, the OCC Board of Directors also includes Vice President Richard Ridge, Recording Secretary Joseph Cervelli, Corresponding Secretary Patrick Hoffman, Treasurer David Roberts, Cynthia Allen, Harry Haun, Dan Rubins, Janice Simpson and Doug Strassler. Simon Saltzman is President Emeritus & Board Member (Non-nominating) and Stanley L. Cohen serves as Financial Consultant & Board Member (Non-nominating). Lauren Yarger serves as the Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony executive producer.

Outstanding New Broadway Play: Stereophonic

Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Suffs

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical: Dead Outlaw

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play: Primary Trust

John Gassner Award for New American Play (preferably by a new playwright): Oh, Mary! 

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: I Can Get It for You Wholesale

Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Play: Jessica Lange – Mother Play

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Kara Young – Purlie Victorious

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kelli O’HaraDays of Wine and Roses

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kecia LewisHell’s Kitchen

Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical: Andrew Durand Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical (tie): Judy Kuhn – I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Thom Sesma – Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play (tie): Cole Escola – Oh, Mary!  and
William Jackson Harper – Primary Trust

Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Jay O. Sanders – Primary Trust

Outstanding Solo Performance: Patrick Page – All the Devils are Here

Outstanding Book of a Musical: Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Score Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Orchestrations Marco Paguia – Buena Vista Social Club

Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Jessica Stone – Water for Elephants

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Daniel Aukin – Stereophonic

Outstanding Choreography (Broadway or Off-Broadway):Justin Peck — IllinoiseOutstanding Scenic Design (tie): David ZinnStereophonic and Paul Tate dePoo III – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Costume Design: Linda Cho – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt The Outsiders

Outstanding Sound DesignRyan Rumery – Stereophonic

Outstanding Video/Projections: Peter Nigrini – The Who’s Tommy

Shows with Multiple Award Wins
4: Stereophonic
3: Dead Outlaw, Primary Trust, Suffs
2: The Great Gatsby, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Oh, Mary!

Broadway Productions Considered in FullGrey House, Once Upon a One More Time, The Cottage, Back to the Future, The Shark Is Broken, Purlie Victorious, Melissa Etheridge: My Window, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Gutenberg! The Musical!, I Need That, Monty Python’s Spamalot, How to Dance in Ohio, Appropriate, Days of Wine and Roses, Doubt, The Notebook, An Enemy of the People, Water for Elephants, The Who’s Tommy, The Outsiders, Lempicka, The Wiz, Suffs, Stereophonic, Hell’s Kitchen, Cabaret, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Patriots, Uncle Vanya, The Great Gatsby, Mother Play

Only New Elements of the Following Productions Were Considered: Just for Us, Here Lies Love, Merrily We Roll Along, Harmony, Prayer for the French Republic, Mary Jane

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle

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Our guests this week are Tony and Olivier Award winning Broadway actor and producer Jana Robbins and book, music and lyric writer Tim Tuttle. Join us Wednesday May 8th at 5pm.

Jana Robbins is thrilled to be back on stage with A Final Toast.  As an actor she has appeared in leading roles on Broadway in Good News, I Love My Wife, Crimes of the Heart, Gypsy  – covering Tyne Daly as Mama Rose while playing the “bump it with a trumpet” stripper Mazzeppa – and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife – where she covered both Linda Lavin and Michele Lee and starred opposite Valerie Harper in the National Tour.  Jana has played leading roles across the country in National Tours, as well as many of our well know theaters and repertory companies, including Seattle Rep, The Alliance Theater, Cinncinati Playhouse in the Park, Papermill Playhouse and many more. On TV she has appeared in Cheers, Babylon 5, The Good Wife, Law And Order, SVU, Nurse Jackie and more.  Her favorite film credit was working with Annette Benning and Meg Ryan in The Women. Jana’s Broadway and West End producing credits include Little Women, Ragtime, Company on Broadway and in the West End, (Tony and Olivier Award) and most recently The Shark Is Broken. Off-Broadway, Ms. Robbins was also the lead producer of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish directed by Joel Grey (Drama Desk Award).  As Pinnacle Productions, with producer Haley Swindal, she recently produced Rose at The Ambassadors Theatre (West End), as well as Death Note – The Musical at London’s Palladium and The Lyric Theater.  Just last month, they produced Your Lie In April at The Royal Drury Lane in the West End which transfers to the Harold Pinter Theater in the West End in June. They  also have a Broadway musical revival coming up, to be announced soon.  Jana is a proud recipient of The Jewish National Fund’s “Tree of Life” Award.  www.janarobbinsproductions.com

Her performance is dedicated to the memory of her beloved mother Edythe Elaine Eisenberg May 16, 1922 – Oct. 24, 2022

Tim Tuttle wrote the book, music and lyrics for 44 Lights: The Musical opening Wednesday nightTuttle spent a decade working as a trader on Wall Street, he moved to the world of commodities at the World Trade Center in the mid 90’s. On September 11th, 2001, everything changed. He got away safely that morning from Ground Zero, but he was forever altered by what he witnessed. The evening of 9/11, he wrote his first song. A song that would attempt to express the pain and loss he was suffering in the aftermath of the most tragic day in modern American history. He sang it to his wife Barbie in the darkness of their apartment. He kept writing as the list of friends and neighbors he knew had not returned home. He turned to music to heal. On the first anniversary of September 11th, he perform a memorial concert called “Music from Ground Zero”. 44 LIGHTS is a chance for Tim to tell his story, to remember the many who didn’t come home, and find a way to keep their memories alive forever.

44 Lights: The Musical, will begin Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 7pm, for a limited engagement through Saturday, May 25, 2024 at AMT Theater (354 West 45th Street – between 8th & 9th Aves). Visit 44Lights.com for more information.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here and our thirteenth episode here.

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Off Broadway

Just Another Day Is A New Play In Defense of Love

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Perhaps the key is remembering past laughter since the present is debilitating….Man

Dan Lauria, Patty McCormack Photo by Russ Rowland

In Just Another Day, a new play written and starring Dan Lauria, a couple meets everyday, just to remember how they know each other. His better half is Patty McCormack. Lauria and McCormack have over 100 years of live theatrical experience, and over 150 credits in TV shows and films and it shows in the banter, the comedic timing and in the warmth of their exchanges underneath the caustic wit. In a not so distant past the man, was a comic, a painter and part of a comedy writing team, the woman a poet, comedy writer and a singer. It is chemistry that draws them together, their love of old films that binds and the obvious biting exchanges that have kept them together.

Dan Lauria Photo by Russ Rowland

I still hear the rhythmic banter of the screwball comedies, and the double entente of film noir, and the passionate cadence of the great love stories, told in such beautiful, strong and clear voices….Man

Lauria’s script is funny, poignant and a love story that keeps getting told over and over again. As long as there is a creative spirit their memories will forever be jogged back into a place of remembrance. Both McCormack and Lauria, know how to get these sentiments out in fresh and clear voices and they make us root for them. When they talk about old films their spirits fly.

Patty McCormack Photo by Russ Rowland

Bettina Bierly costume design is simple but she lets us know who these two people are. Joan Racho-Jansen lighting design and Andy Evan Cohen’s sound design give us the times of day. I also really loved the set but nobody is credited.

Dan Lauria, Patty McCormack Photo by Russ Rowland

Eric Krebs direction make a perfect commentary on aging, memory and what the human spirit is willing to go through to remember those we love. We do however want to know why every time they touch a bell rings or clangs. We completely understand why it is frustrating the hell out of this couple. Is touch the factor that keeps everything in place?

In the end the women recites a poem she has written:

The simple heart tells of what is

The strong heart tells of what matters

The pure heart tells of one true love.

The wise heart tells of learning to love again.

In essence that is what this play says in spades.

Just Another Day: Theater555 (555 West 42nd Street @11th Avenue), through June 30th.

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