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What to Watch: July 17

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All-Asian American production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder until July 22nd. Donations for StopAAPIHate.org are now being accepted and tickets for the virtual show are now available. CollaborAzian’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will be helmed by theatre and television director Alan Muraoka, who has played Alan, the owner of Hooper’s Store on Sesame Street for the past 23 years. He most recently played Iago in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, and starred as the Engineer in Miss Saigon. The all-Asian American cast will star Cindy Cheung (13 Reasons Why), Karl Josef Co (Pacific Overtures), Ali Ewoldt (The Phantom of the Opera), Diane Phelan (School of Rock), and Thom Sesma (Sweeney Todd). Steven Cuevas (Once On This Island) serves as music director.

2021 Jimmy AwardsThis national talent showcase celebrates high school students from across the country and features dynamic ensemble and solo performances. Presented by the Broadway League Foundation, 20 scholarships are set to be awarded at this year’s show. Available through July 18.

3 and 8:30pm: Goodman Theatre’s I Hate It Here Goodman Theatre’s streaming-in-real-time Live series concludes with I Hate It Here by Ike Holter. Streaming through July 18. There’s one thing Americans can agree on: it’s that 2020 was not the best way to begin a new decade. With guts and humor, punctuated with story and song, the play asks who we are in a world on the brink explosion.

The cast features Patrick Agada, Jayson Brooks, Sydney Charles, Behzad Debu, Kirsten Fitzgerald, and Gabriel Ruiz. Lili-Anne Brown directs.

Bay Area Playwrights Festival One of the nation’s oldest and most successful new play development programs, Bay Area Playwrights Festival will introduce five new works to streaming audiences this year.

The 2021 BAPF features ten readings of five new works, including Jaisey Bates’ Real Time remix, a new selection of short works in which four storytellers crisscross paths across dimensions; Miyoko Conley’s Human Museum, a wildly imaginative drama depicting a future where a human museum is curated by robots; Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin’s Tiger Beat, a coming of age story about pop stardom in the 2000s; Sam Hamashima’s Supposed Home, a time-bending anime adventure investigating the lasting effects of the Japanese American Concentration Camps; and Johnny G. Lloyd’s The Problem with Magic, Is:, a magical exploration of family, gentrification, and a spell gone wrong. Until July 25.

7:30pm: Puccini’s La Rondine Goaded by a group of Austrian directors to create a Viennese operetta in the style of Léhar, and inspired in no small part by the recent success of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Puccini delivered his lightest opera—though not without including a suitably melancholy ending. At least the central courtesan, impossibly in love with a debt-strapped playboy, doesn’t die. The composer gussies up his tale with a chic setting—Paris and the French Riviera—and a menagerie of unforgettable tunes, including the Act I “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta.”

8pm: Stars in the House Desperate Housewives (and hubbies!) Encore

Until the Flood AllArts.org Dael Orlandersmith performs her play based on interviews she conducted with the residents of Ferguson, Missouri, in the months following the shooting of Michael Brown. Filmed Off-Broadway at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in 2018.

TheWoosterGroup.org adaptation of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s film Town Bloody Hall, documenting a raucous 1971 debate on Women’s Liberation held at Town Hall in New York City. Filmed in 2017 at The Performing Garage in New York and on tour. Until the 26th.

Lines in the Dust Streaming on demand through August 8. New Normal Rep presents Lines in the Dust by Pulitzer Prize-nominated and Obie Award-winning playwright Nikkole Salter.

2010, Essex County, NJ.  When Denitra loses the charter school lottery for her daughter, she must find another way to escape from their underperforming neighborhood school. The answer seems like a risk well worth taking, but may end up requiring a bigger sacrifice than she ever could have imagined. Set over a half-century after Brown Versus The Board of Education, Lines in the Dust questions how far we’ve come and more importantly, where we go from here.

Awoye Timpo (The Loophole at The Public Theater) directs a cast including Jeffrey Bean (Amadeus), Melissa Joyner (Maids Door, the FX Original Series Mrs. America), and Lisa Rosetta Strum (She Gon’ Learn at the Emerging Artist Theatre Festival at TADA!, and United Solo Festival on Theatre Row).

Myths and Hymns: Faith Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore and Anthony Roth Costanzo star in the final installment of Adam Guettel’s song cycle.

The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles Antaeus Theatre Company highlights the culture and history of six additional Los Angeles neighborhoods with Season 2 of its popular The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles podcast series.

The latest installments will introduce audiences to the geographically, historically and culturally diverse locales of Echo Park (90026), West Hollywood (90069), Inglewood (90303), Pacoima (91331), North Hollywood (91601) and Monterey Park (91754). 

The Destruction of Jane Edgar Rice Burroughs will be spinning in his grave this spring. A new seven-part miniseries, inspired by the infamous film Tarzan the Ape Man, debuts this month.

The Destruction of Jane is an unauthorized parody of the King of the Jungle is told from the point of view of Miss Jane Parker. 

Weekly installments premiere on Thursdays.  

The miniseries stars stars Paul Pecorino and Rob Eco as Jane and Tarzan, respectively, and features special cameo appearances by Mario Cantone and Randy Rainbow. The show is written by Paul Pecorino and directed by Drue Pennella.

Set in the current COVID-19 pandemic, this comedy follows Jane to the African jungle where she meets and falls in love with the spectacular specimen we all know as the legendary Tarzan. The 1981 Tarzan film became a massive financial hit due to its dizzyingly unintentional bad taste, and screenwriter Paul Pecorino has set out to push these offensively vulgar boundaries even further.

The creative team includes director of photography Erik Paulsen, composers Drew Fornarola and David Nehls, musical arranger Paul Doust; costumes & wigs designer David Mitsch; makeup & wig styling designer Vera Stromsted and Donanyely Mejia and Marty Thomas; and specialty costumes designer Gail Baldoni. The Destruction of Jane is presented by Pure Motion Pictures.

Back to the Future: From Screen to Stage Ahead of the Back to the Future musical opening in the Adelphi Theatre on August 20, BFI at Home presents an online discussion with members of the cast and crew about how the hit film became a full-fledged stage musical.

The Woman’s Party Clubbed Thumb presents the world premiere of The Woman’s Party. Originally slated to premiere as part of the 2020 Summerworks Festival, the piece will now premiere virtually.

Written by Rinne B. Groff and directed by Tara Ahmadinejad, The Woman’s Party has been divided into three 30-minute episodes.

1947 is the year that the savvy politicos of the National Woman’s Party will finally get the ERA passed once they quash that insurgency—or oust the old guard. The Woman’s Party takes place 27 years after the ratification of women’s suffrage, when the Equal Rights Amendment was poised for passage. 

The cast includes Rosalyn Coleman, Alma Cuervo, Laura Esterman, Marga Gomez, Marceline Hugot, Emily Kuroda, Lizan Mitchell, Socorro Santiago, Rebecca Schull, and Connie Winston.

Shadow/Land Michelle Wilson, Te’Era Coleman, Lizan Mitchell, Lance E. Nichols, Lori Elizabeth Parquet and Sunni Patterson star in the world premiere of Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s audio play. The drama is set amidst the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and is part of the Public Theater’s digital stage.

The Thanksgiving Play Spotlight on Plays returns with Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, directed by Leigh Silverman. The cast features Tony nominees Heidi Schreck and Bobby Cannavale, along with Keanu Reeves and Alia Shawkat.

Romeo y Julieta Lupita Nyong’o and Juan Castano star in this free bilingual audioplay of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, presented by the Public Theater and WNYC Studios.

La Femme Theatre Productions: The Night of the Iguana The show will feature Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Dylan McDermott (Netflix’s “Hollywood”) as Reverend Shannon, Emmy nominee and Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad  (Broadway’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) as Maxine, Roberta Maxwell (Broadway’s Summer and Smoke) as Judith Fellowes, Tony nominee, Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Austin Pendleton (Broadway’s Choir Boy) as Nonno, and Jean Lichty (Off-Broadway’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, The Traveling Lady) as Hannah, with Keith Randolph Smith (Broadway’s Jitney, American Psycho) as Jake, Carmen Berkeley (Off-Broadway’s Our Dear Dead Drug Lord) as Charlotte, Eliud Kauffman (Roundabout Theatre’s 72 Miles to Go) as Hank, Julio Macias (Netflix’s “On My Block”) as Pancho, Stephanie Schmiderer (No Exit, The Human Voice) as Frau Fahrenkopf, Bradley James Tejeda (Broadway’s The Inheritance) as Pedro, and John Hans Tester (Amazon’s ”Hunters” ) as Herr Fahrenkopf.

Waiting for Godot Directed by Scott Elliott, the classic features Tony nominee Ethan Hawke as Vladimir, Tony recipient John Leguizamo as Estragon, Wallace Shawn as Lucky, rapper Tarik Trotter as Pozzo, and Drake Bradshaw as Boy.

In Waiting for Godot two wanderers wait by a lonely tree, to meet up with Mr. Godot, who they hope will change their lives for the better. Instead, another couple of eccentric travelers arrive, one man on the end of the other’s rope.

The creative team also includes production designer Derek McLane, costume designer Qween Jean, sound designer Justin Ellington, director of photography Kramer Morgenthau, editor Yonatan Weinstein, and associate director Monet.

The New York Pops Up Festival a thousand in-person performances throughout the state from now through June. Most events associated with NY PopsUp will be unannounced (and unticketed) and will be designed so that New Yorkers happen upon them in their everyday lives. (Since we can’t have large gatherings right now, we want to bring a lot of small things to the public where they are) NY PopsUp is a surprise that you happen upon, rather than an event or concert you are alerted to via a notification or a schedule.

Julius Caesar, Starring Patrick Page By Shakespeare@ Tony nominee Patrick Page (Hadestown) stars in the title role with Jordan Barbour (The Inheritance) as Brutus and Keith Hamilton Cobb (American Moor) as Cassius. West End Harry Potter and the Cursed Child performers Jamie Ballard and James Howard co-star as Mark Antony and Metellus Cimber, respectively. 

The production is also be available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.

Produced by Jersey City’s Shakespeare@, this audio production is the third installment of the season, produced and adapted by Artistic Director Sean Hagerty.

Hagerty has crafted the production into four weekly parts and partnered with the Emmy-winning team at Sonic Designs to capture the lost art and thrill of radio drama all without leaving the confines of quarantine.

Julius Caesar features original music composed by Joan Melton with sound design by the Emmy-winning team of Dan Gerhard and Ellen Fitton of Sonic Designs. Justin Goldner is the music producer and supervisor, and casting is by Robin Carus. Sydney Steele serves as the associate producer. 

Assassins Reunion: Original Off-Broadway Cast The original cast and creative team of the 1991 Off-Broadway debut of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Tony-winning Assassins will reunite virtually to celebrate the musical’s 30th anniversary.

The free online event is part of the Studio Tenn Talks: Conversations with Patrick Cassidy series and will feature Studio Tenn Artistic Director Cassidy as well as other original cast members Victor Garber, Greg Germann, Annie Golden, Lyn Greene, Jonathan Hadary, Eddie Korbich, Terrence Mann, Debra Monk, William Parry, and Lee Wilkof plus Sondheim and Weidman, director Jerry Zaks, musical director Paul Gemignani, and orchestrator Michael Starobin.

The Things Are Against Us Susan Soon He Stanton’s The Things Are Against Us will be the next production in MCC’s LiveLab one-act digital reading series. Ellie Heyman directs the cast, which includes Juan Castano, Emily Davis, Susannah Flood, Babak Tafti, and Danny Wolohan, in tthe play set in a mysterious house with a mind of its own. 

The Manic Monologues Current Slave Play Tony nominee Ato Blankson-Wood, Rent Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Accidentally Brave playwright Maddie Corman, and more stage favorites will explore mental health this winter in a new digital production from the McCarter Theatre Center.

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

Broadway

James Monroe Iglehart At The Drama Desk and A Rap For A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical

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T2C was at the Drama Desk Awards and talked to our friend James Monroe Iglehart. Years ago I learned that James could make up raps instantaneously, so I had him do one at the Hamilton opening night for Lin Manuel Miranda. Since James is opening up in October in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical, I ask him to do a rap to pug his show. This is the result.

James’s new musical is about the life and loves of Louis Armstrong and Tony Award® winner James Monroe Iglehart is the legendary American icon. A Wonderful World charts Armstrong’s incredible journey from the birth of jazz in his native New Orleans through his international stardom. It features beloved songs recorded and made popular by Armstrong, including favorites like “What a Wonderful World” and “When You’re Smiling,” among many other standard favorites.

The show is conceived by Tony Award® nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Christopher Renshaw (Broadway’s The King and I, Taboo), and novelist Andrew Delaplaine. Book by Aurin Squire (“This is Us,” “The Good Fight”). Directed by Renshaw, with choreography by Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer for Broadway’s Hell’s Kitchen, Once on This Island, and Choir Boy). Featuring classic songs from Armstrong’s catalogue.

We look forward to seeing James and this new musical.

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Jill Zarin’s Luxury Luncheon Set for Hamptons Return

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TV Personality Jill Zarin is happy to announce the return of her invitation only event, MEND Skincare Presents Jill Zarin’s Luxury Luncheon by Laifen & Ticket2Events, will take place this again in Southampton, NY.

The event will be produced by Sean Koski and Brian Kelly, celebrity event planners and co- founders of Ticket2Events, and will feature a red carpet, VIP entrance to their curated showcase of the greatest companies in categories such as fashion, spirits, home decor, beauty, technology, and tourism, all in support of Cancer Research and to honor Jill’s late husband Bobby Zarin.

The one-of-a-kind luncheon experience presented by MEND Skincare will treat invited guests to a day of complimentary on-site activations performed by top tier brands. Amongst the activations will be a gifting suite, known as the beauty bar, where giveaways from brands such as Mend Skincare, a luxury new skincare that blurs the line between science fiction and skincare, Laifen Technologies, who’s blow-dry bar will keep guests hair perfect, Oneisall, Coola, Corckcicle, Hanky Panky, Colleen Rothschild & so much more. The Beauty Bar will also feature on-demand wellness services from Laifen & MEND skincare, complimentary consultation with celebrity injector to the stars, Jennifer Anne Di Landro of Dolce Aesthetics NY, hair accessories from Teleties, Beachwaver and more.

Pop-up shops at the event will grant guests a one-on-one shopping experience with designers from places who are normally online only like chic furniture by CHITA, paw friendly gifts from Oneisall & Glow Pups, Derek Lam, Modus Rio & Jewelry by KC Chic Designs. Friends of Jill Zarin and Ticket2Events, Heather Rouffe at Atlas Event Rentals will be making the travel from Palm Beach to The Hamptons to showcase the event rentals for the entire event and GLASS HOUSE BOCA Raton, a modern luxury residence by Douglas Elliman will share an exclusive look at what’s in store for buyers interested in the booming South Florida market.

To keep guests cool Ticket2Events curated beyond just a rosé bar with a premier lounge featuring Gin Cocktails by Dillons Small Batch Distillers a hydration station that will feature LaCroix, Vida Life Science and ZEN WTR and even a temperature regulating device from Embr labs – the Ember Wave will be the official wristband for VIPS. A taste of the Hamptons will be available this time around too and is slated to feature fare from Shrimpy’s Burrito Bar, Suja Organic, OWYN and more.

The Jill & Ally brand is expected to showcase their latest products, which will include Pickle Ball paddles, home decor, and the latest scents from their stellar candle collection.

Jill Zarin’s Luxury Luncheon will also treat guests to the most talked about gift bag that is now valued up to $5,000 made by Quilted Koala and will include all of summer’s “must have” products noticed in newly launched Hamptons Storyboard magazine which was transported from Palm Beach to the Hamptons with the help of Roadway Moving. Anticipated products include items from Safely,,MEND skincare, Hanky Panky, GDFEY shoes, ALOAH collection, SkinMedica, Grande Lash, Nutrafol, V-Spot, Beachwaver, Jill & Ally, Foot Petals, Flat Socks, TONGO, LMNT, Manta Sleep, Bloom Essentials, Colleen Rothschild, Big Mouth floats and SO much more!

Invited guest include, but are not limited to; Real Housewives of New York Jill Zarin, Kristen Taekman, Ramona Singer, Luann de Lesseps, Real Housewives of New Jersey Margaret Josephs, Real Housewives of Atlanta Cynthia Bailey, Real Housewives of Miami Marysol Patton, Alexia Echevarria, Real Housewives of Potomac Gizelle Bryant, Real Housewives of Dallas LeeAnne Locken, Real Housewives of Dubai Caroline Brooks, Real Housewives of Dubai Caroline Standsbury, Real Housewives of Dubai Taleen Marie Real Housewive of Toronto Kara Alloway, Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Phaedra Parks as well as additional notables such as Ally Shapiro, Joey Sasso (The Circle), Kristen Doute (Vanderpump Rules), Hannaher Berner (Comedian), JoJo Fletcher ( ABC’s The Bachelorette) Food God, Dina Lohan, Wendell Holland (Survivor), Patti Stanger (Millionaire Matchmaker), Carl Radke & Jason Cameron (Summer House), Chrissy Monroe ( Love & Hip Hop) Tayshia Adams (The Bachelorette), Shannon St. Claire (Netflix’s Love Island) Paola Mayfield ( Amazon Prime & 90 day fiancé) & So much more

 

 

 

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Tribeca Festival Celebrates ‘Between the Temples’

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Roxstar Entertainment’s popular Cinema Center continued it’d Tribeca Festival run with a VIP hosted premiere party for Sony Pictures Classics’ film “Between the Temples” last night at Little Sister Lounge in the East Village.   Nathan’s film showcases comedic performances by the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Carol Kane, Robert Smigel, Celia Weston, and Dolly De Leon. With C. Mason Wells he wrote the funnhy written script which is the ultimate vehicle for this pitch-perfect ensemble to lovingly needle the conventions of religion, family and relationships.

The event was hosted by Sony Pictures Classics Co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who celebrated with filmmakers and cast for the film “Between the Temples” including cast Carol Kane, Jason Schwartzman, Robert Smigel, and Director, Nathan Silver.Guests enjoyed a gourmet selection of canapes including lobster rolls, spring rolls, wagyu sliders, and spicy tuna crisps, as well as featured cocktails by Hendrick’s Gin including the Hendrick’s Cucumber lemonade and Grapefruit Collins.

The Cinema Center will cap off the series with the closing night festival film “Satisfied” held Saturday night celebrating the 10-year anniversary Broadway debut of “Hamilton” with the original cast including Ariana Dubois. Lin Manuel, and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

“Roxstar Entertainment is pleased to continue to support independent filmmakers and distributors especially in its mission to get movie fans back into their true intended viewing medium, the movie theaters.  We are so grateful to be able to work with like-minded companies to sponsor and support the events and help drive the promotion and celebration for the films, filmmakers, and respective casts,” says David Manning, Roxstar Entertainment’s Executive Producer of the Cinema Center.

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Lin Manuel and The Miranda Family Honored by The Jazz Power Initiative

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Lin-Manuel greeting Jazz Power Initiative’s Eli Yamin, Co-Founder, Managing and Creative Director at 20th anniversary celebration where The Miranda Family were honored. Photo by Ttsiana Kulesh

On a rainy New York evening it was all sunshine, joy and music at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue, where the 20th floor, location of TD Bank’s Conference Center, had been transformed for the 20th anniversary celebration of Jazz Power Initiative, an organization founded by two friends: writer/educator Clifford Carlson, and jazz musician/educator Dr. Eli Yamin.  Over the last two decades, under the leadership of Dr. Yamin who is now managing and artistic director, the organization has become an influential part of the NYC arts education community.


Through the power of Jazz and the Afro-Latin rhythms that have contributed to the growth of this truly American music genre, and the inclusion of original jazz musicals, written by Clifford Carlson and Eli Yamin for the children, the organization has transformed the lives of young people from Upper Manhattan, Washington Heights, and the Bronx.  Engaging young people in music, theatre, and dance programs, that are taught by award-winning professional artists, helping them find their creative voice, fostering positive self-expression, and building community – is what JPI does so well.

Lin-Manuel greeting Jazz Power Initiative’s Eli Yamin, Co-Founder, Managing and Creative Director at 20th anniversary celebration where The Miranda Family were honored. Photo by Ttsiana Kulesh

This year the organization was delighted to honor three unwavering supporters who have helped them achieve incredible success and growth, and who have been there continuously.  The staunch support of people and organizations over the past 20 years – including the leadership of those being honored – has helped Jazz Power Initiative to achieve its mission in Northern Manhattan.  They have been able to serve thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually – including students, teachers, artists, families, and general audiences ages 6-80, to build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, arts education, and performance.

The Honorees

Tanya LeMelle, an executive with TD Bank, and a Jazz Power Initiative board member talked about the corporate giant’s investment in the communities they serve.  “TD Bank is a long-standing supporter of the Jazz Power Initiative and our community focused efforts, which closely align with the bank’s own work to support and create dialogues in arts and culture that reflect diverse voices.”

The organization was the recipient of the Corporate Social Responsibility award presented to TD Bank and accepted by Ralph Bumbaca, TD Bank’s Market President-Commercial for the New York City Market, who echoed the sentiments expressed by his colleague.

The extraordinary, award-winning founder of The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, leader of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, an educator, composer – Arturo O’Farrill took the podium to introduce his friends, The Mirandas.  His remarks began with the words, “Jazz is sacred music!” And it proved to be just that when the young Zah! group took the stage that night. He went on to list the contributions made over the past 40-years, by The Mirandas, as champions of community activism, and their support of institutions like Jazz Power Initiative that have “uplifted underserved populations in upper Manhattan, including those across New York City, across the country and in Puerto Rico.  And their continued commitment and advocacy for education in the arts and social justice.”

Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda, the matriarch of the family, flanked by members of her family, Lucecita Miranda-Crespo, Lin-Manuel and Miguel Towns were all on hand to receive the inaugural Philanthropy Award.  “Music is very important to our family,” she began. “When Luis and I met, one of our many connections was around our shared love of music.”  She spoke about the importance of music and the arts in teaching and imbuing young people with empathy.

The youngest member of the family, Miguel Towns spoke about the power of music and quoted Stevie Wonder, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.”  He went on to explain what music represents, “…it is the only art which is experienced through sound and lets us experience or convey emotions with one another, in a way unique to the human experience.”

Miguel was followed by Lin-Manuel who was exuberant about being on-hand to receive the inaugural Philanthropy Award, on behalf of his family.  “Thank you all for being here, and thank you for this tremendous honor,” he said, before reminding his friend Arturo, that one of the great moments of his life as a composer, was having Arturo do an arrangement of Piragua, from In The Heights.   He went on to reflect on “how much Eli and Jazz Power” have been a part of his life and childhood community. “I come not just as a musician, but as a product of the privilege of a wonderful public-school arts education, which underscores the importance of what Jazz Power does.”

The message that resonated most during the night, as Lin-Manuel emphasized was the importance of Jazz Power’s contributions – “it brings music to young people at the most important time in their lives; when they are connecting music to their own emotions and how they are feeling.”

Filmmaker, Phil Bertelsen, who received two extraordinary introductions, due to traffic.  Rachel Dretzin, who has worked with Bertelsen on Who Killed Malcom X (Netflix series) and author/educator, Donald Bogel who was supposed to introduce him, but arrived late due to New York traffic congestion, recalled how impressive he was as a student of his at NYU, and how later he hired him to help research a book on Dorothy Dandridge that he was in the midst of writing.

Phil received the Changemaker Award from the organization he has had the pleasure of working with for some time now.  For him, the moment was humbling, “Change is not something that comes easy and it’s not something we do alone.” He acknowledged many of the people who have had a hand in helping him along the way as he made his “avocation, his vocation.” Phil has won numerous awards, among them a Peabody and an Emmy for his work which he considers a way of paying it forward by telling interesting and important stories that make a difference.

What began as an idea in 1998, thanks to a grant from Meet the Composer/New Music for Schools, in tandem with funding from the Louis Armstrong Education Foundation awarded to acclaimed jazz musician and educator Eli Yamin, led to the first iteration of the organization.  In 2003 it incorporated as The Jazz Drama Program, and later underwent another evolutionary transition to become a nonprofit organization in 2004.  Then it rebranded in 2017 as Jazz Power Initiative the organization that has become a permanent fixture in schools and in the communities it services.

In its 20-year existence, under the leadership of a brilliant staff headed by Dr. Eli Yamin – the organization has touched the lives of over 6,000 young people; engaged the knowledge and experience of some 1,000 educators; and cultivated an inclusive audience, of over 100,000, reached through live performance attendance and virtual participation.

Eli summed up the evening and his joy at being at the helm of this important organization as follows – “As a child of the 1960s, born in 1968, I find myself often wondering about that time and how it shaped me through my parents, my mentors, and my friends.  I watched a documentary about Bobby Kennedy and when asked what drove him to do the work he was doing, he said:  ‘What I think is satisfying…what makes it worthwhile is that you feel that you can have an effect and perhaps do some good for other people…that there is the possibility that if you make the right kind of an effort that their lives are going to change and that therefore their whole existence is going to change and therefore, their children’s lives are going to change…’”. Jazz Power Initiative has been changing lives and adding a sense of joy through their various programs:

-Jazz Power Youth – provides vocal, dance and theatre training in culturally diverse environments, to build courage, curiosity, and compassion.
-Jazz Power Community – provides education in jazz music, dance, and theatre to inspire and empower.
-Jazz Power Musicals – through the creation and commission of original jazz musicals that address socially relevant issues, JPI hopes to inspire and unite audiences.
-The Power Pro – offering professional, experiential training to educators and business leaders.
The evening wrapped with a call to action to make the next 20 years of Jazz Power Initiative even better.  Felix Hernandez, WBGO Radio personality and host of Rhythm Revue on Saturdays and Sundays, turned the night into a dynamic party to remember.

If you wish to get more information about the organization, or if you would like to donate to Jazz Power Initiative, please go to www.jazzpower.org.

Jazz Power Initiative (JPI, a dba of The Jazz Drama Program), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003, serves thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually – students, teachers, artists, seniors, and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to promote music education, and build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, theater, dance education, and performance.   

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The Musical Titanic Successfully Sails onto the Stage at City Center

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Titanic The Musical proves that the music and story does not need the special effects of a sinking ship to send the audience on an emotional journey. Twenty-five years ago when Titanic opened on Broadway, after reading headlines about the  malfunctioning unsinkable set, I skeptically went to the show; but, those first 18 minutes turned out to be the greatest opening number I had ever seen. The show is currently being performed at City Center in the Encores! Series and this score can stand alone without the trappings usually required to produce a Broadway spectacle. The opening number not only introduced us to the three focal people who each in their own way contributed to the disaster of the iceberg: Captain E.J. Smith (Chuck Cooper), Thomas Andrews (Jose Llana), J. Bruce Ismay (Brandon Uranowitz); but, also the members of all three classes aboard the ship and the crewmembers. As the 32 member cast raises their voices in beautiful harmony to cheer “Sail on, great ship Titanic” the hopes of the third class passengers, the wonder of those in first class and the pride of the crew are all felt by the audience. So moving is this song that we can suspend reality and wish that the maiden voyage of this “floating city” actually successfully makes it to New York.

This is not the Rose and Jack story that fictionalized a love story between a third and first class passenger but an even more beautiful story based on real people who either survived or were left onboard as the ship broke apart.


The music and lyrics by Maury Yeston are thrilling, cheerful, romantic and haunting. The story and book by Peter Stone who had previously done justice to the telling of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 again brings history to the stage with wit and suspense despite knowing the eventual tragedy.

Over twenty songs fill this musical score with a variety of styles and themes. Each one perfectly delivered by this amazing team of actors and singers briskly directed by Anne Kauffman. There is not a bad song in the mix nor a disappointing performer; but, in addition to that opening number I must highlight a few.

Lady’s Maid sung by the 3rd class passengers brings me to tears as three Irish lasses all named Kate start by telling their fellow travelers their dreams for America. Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet play the ‘three Kates’ and are joined by the ensemble all singing their own individual ambitions – to be a constable, engineer, and governess, etc. It fills my heart with pride that America is such a land of opportunity and then it breaks when I realize that some of these dreamers will never make it to their destination.

A pairing of two male singers, Ramin Karimloo and Alex Joseph Grayson, playing coal stoker Barrett and radio operator Bride, respectively sing two love songs one to his fiancé and one about his career choice is a magical duet where each voice is given a chance to shine.

Another example of Yeston’s genius is a song where three voices combine but certainly not in love; the ship’s owner, designer, and captain Blame each other for the inevitable sinking. It is a dramatic song that is rarely seen in such a show but too often seen in human nature.

The real life owner of Macy’s department store was actually onboard the Titanic with his wife. Chip Zien and Judy Kuhn portray the elderly Isidor and Ida Straus whose love proved even stronger than the two youngsters in the James Cameron film. Ida chose not to get on a lifeboat without her life long partner and that love is beautifully sung in their duet Still.

Love, anger, hope and desire are all represented on the stage but it is second class passenger Alice Beane that gives the tension a bit of comic relief. Wonderfully sung and acted by Bonnie Milligan, Mrs Bean dances into the first class salon and in one of the few choreographed numbers brings joy to the festivities. She and her husband Edgar (Drew Gehling) sing I Have Danced – a song that depicts the struggle of a happily married couple when ambitions are not in line.

We know the ship is going to hit the iceberg but as Matthew Scott as the ship entertainment sings the rhythmic tune Autumn coupled with the Company repeating the haunting No Moon the suspense grows as the ship sails in the night.

Anne Kauffman directs the cast seamlessly from scene to scene not only allowing the songs to tell a fantastic story but to bring out the wit and passion of Peter Stone’s words.

Rob Berman, the Encores! Music Director, again conducts this 30 piece orchestra with incredible ease despite the complicated orchestrations created by Johnathn Tunick. With every violin string, trumpet note, drum roll and cymbal clash the music envelops the huge theater yet touches every individual in it.

Encores! Began 30 years ago to honor scores that are not often revived. With minimal rehearsal time for this limited run some actors are still on book but that does not diminish either the music, story or the talent on the stage. Much has been written about the cost of producing on Broadway so a production with this many cast members and musicians may never be transferred to a Broadway theater as Encores other 2024 title, Once Upon a Mattress will be doing so do not hesitate to buy a ticket. Do not be left on the dock waving goodbye to this magnificent creation.

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