08/23/16 11:07am

Photo: Al Rodriguez Photography

Even your wildest adventures in New York City apartment hunting won’t prepare you for the tour of House 17 in Nolan Park on Governors Island that is The Enchanted Realm of René Magritte. Conceived, produced, and directed by Exquisite Corpse Company, this site-specific play is a skillfully envisioned interactive piece of theatre that invites you into the life, the loves, the art and the home of the iconic surrealist painter.

We meet René (and his bowler hat) just a few minutes in, as he explains that he’s trying sell his childhood home following the death of his father. René (played delightfully by Max Henry Schloner, who manages to combine near-perfect strokes of charm and neurosis) doesn’t just want to leave his home; he wants to tear himself away from the ghastly clutches of his memories, which include hallucinations of his suicidal mother (Blair O’Leary, wet-haired and wild-eyed, terrifying and wonderfully effective), and a mysterious gentleman named Mr. Fish (superbly comedic Lee Collins), who may or may not be a fragment of René’s consciousness. (more…)

11/05/15 11:09am
Following an ambitious capital campaign and restoration of the historic Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO, St. Anne's Warehouse is beginning its inaugural season in the new space on Friday, Nov. 6. Photo: St. Ann's Warehouse

Following an ambitious capital campaign and restoration of the historic Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO, St. Ann’s Warehouse is beginning its inaugural season in the new space on Friday, Nov. 6. Photo: St. Ann’s Warehouse

When St. Ann’s, already a robust producing organization in Brooklyn Heights, first dove down to Water Street in DUMBO to be reborn as St. Ann’s Warehouse in October of 2001, the move was a bold one. In a neighborhood where the trains weren’t close and the streets didn’t match, and the waterfront looked out over the still broken ruins of post 9/11 Manhattan, a lesser theater could have withered and died, but St. Ann’s Warehouse stood up to the challenges that it had set itself.

The lobby was a perfect example of the everything-wrong-is-right aesthetic. It was impossibly high. It was dimly lit, accessed by a single door, and had no visibility to or from the street. This gave it a speakeasy glamor of inaccessibility, confusion, and clubbiness that was both awkward and simultaneously enchanting. Even when a theatergoer became very familiar with the space, it felt unknowable–it was never quite clear where the curtains would open to admit the faithful into the latest configuration. From the basic proscenium design that housed most of the shows, the enormous space could open up in all directions, from the maze of Les Freres Corbusier’s Hell House to the long open arena of the National Theater of Scotland’s Black Watch.

Times change, though, real estate does its thing, and the old spice milling warehouse that housed St. Ann’s was torn down to make room for glitzy condos and a school. But its latest, and hopefully permanent home across the street at 45 Water Street, in the historic Tobacco Warehouse, has been worth the wait. In the new space, which begins its inaugural season tomorrow, the industrial-chic signature of St. Ann’s Warehouse is reborn. (more…)

12/18/14 12:00pm

Image-1It’s not just the holiday season in New York, with all those lights, elaborate window displays and ill-advised third (or fourth or fifth) servings of mulled wine, it’s also something of a peak to the cultural season. Lots of plays and art exhibits open in early fall, with runs that last through early January, while Hollywood hoards all non-summer blockbuster films until November and December, so a slew of movies for Oscar consideration come out this time of year. The end result being that there’s suddenly a glut of great stuff watch, see and do, with the added pressure that many of these shows will soon close. Here’s how to treat yourself to a cultural holiday in New York City over the next few weeks, with a few especially-for-the-season picks thrown in. And, for an extensive selection of live concerts, check out our year-end live music round-up. (more…)

07/17/14 10:05am
A Shakespearean play set around a wedding is the perfect pick for outdoor theater. Catch Smith Street Stage's rendition in Carroll Gardens, starting July 23. Photo: Chris Montgomery

A Shakespearean play set around a wedding, like “Much Ad About Nothing,” is the perfect pick for outdoor theater. Catch Smith Street Stage’s rendition in Carroll Gardens, starting July 23. Photo: Chris Montgomery

The Public Theatre’s free Shakespeare performances in Central Park are some of summer’s most celebrated shows, and while we definitely think seeing John Lithgow as King Lear for free is a once in a lifetime experience, we balk at standing in line at 6am to do so. Fortunately, there are two other chances to see new productions of the Bard’s work outdoors for free this summer, neither of which require 12 tips for making the wait for tickets more bearable. (more…)

06/17/14 3:42pm
Fri June 20, 2014
Thornton Wilder's classic, "Our Town," is getting a site-specific restaging at Green-Wood Cemetary, complete with a cast of modern-day Brooklynites in place of its original New Englanders. Photo: Hunter Canning

Thornton Wilder’s classic, “Our Town,” is getting a site-specific restaging at Green-Wood Cemetery, complete with a cast of modern-day Brooklynites in place of its original New Englanders. Photo: Hunter Canning

If it has been a while since you’ve seen Our Town performed–and I’m betting it has–a few things will likely come back to you as I jog your memory. The set is minimal, the Stage Manager breaks the fourth wall, and a good bit of the time we spend with Emily Webb and George Gibbs in Grover’s Corners takes place in a cemetery. While part of the beauty of the play is the amount of imagining it asks of its audience—to see George and Emily perched on ladders and understand they’re really talking through their bedroom windows, for instance—having it set within Green-Wood Cemetery is a choice you could imagine Thornton Wilder would approve of, even if it breaks his no scenery rule. Award-winning director and playwright James Presson, founder of the Less Than Rent Theatre, along with its executive director,  Nora McNally (24 Hour Plays on Broadway) are taking a few more liberties with Wilder’s timeless classic about the cycle of life, setting the play to music from this century and substituting the usual New England cast for a cast of typical Brooklynites, including Amanda Brooklyn as Emily (yes, Brooklyn is her real last name). Catch it Wednesdays through Saturdays before it closes June 28, and if you want to up the creepiness factor, go to one of the midnight shows on Saturdays. Tickets are $30 (in advance) to $40 for midnight shows, available here.

05/26/14 11:22am
Thu May 29, 2014
See what the professional puppeteers at St. Ann's Warehouse have been up to over the past year during the 16th annual Labapalooza! Photo: St. Ann's

See what the professional puppeteers at St. Ann’s Warehouse have been up to over the past year during the 16th annual Labapalooza! Photo: St. Ann’s

For 16 years, the Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse has been a haven for puppetry that’s more War Horse than Sesame Street. For nine months artists get together to develop projects, discuss and share ideas, create plots and narratives and participate in moderated discussions, and then every spring St. Ann’s presents Labapalooza!, a showcase of that work. From this Thursday to Sunday the mini-festival will be in full effect, featuring artists from all walks of life–writers, filmmakers, designers, architects, even marine biologists. Catch some primo puppet theater including Maiko Kikuchi’s Pink Bunny, Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane’s Rock Paper Scissors and Studio Reynard’s Fox vs. KingdomTickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

05/19/14 4:00pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Killer-square-webExpense is a major caveat for most millennials when it comes to taking advantage of the wealth of cultural activities that abound in New York City. It’s fair to say the attendance rates for 18- to 30-year-olds are inversely proportionate to ticket prices (at least for the good seats), the exception being special occasions, like when your parents come to visit and you want to impress them with tickets to a Broadway show you undoubtably selected because they were the cheapest at the TKTS counter. Theatre for a New Audience, however, offers $20 tickets anytime to anyone age 30 and under, as well as students of any age. All you have to do is show a valid photo I.D. The third and final show of the theatre’s inaugural season is now in previews. It’s a newly translated version of Eugène Ionesco’s The Killer, starring Michael Shannon, who you might recognize as Nelson Van Alden, the former FBI agent turned freelance muscle for the mob on Boardwalk Empire. The $20 ticket special is called The New Deal and is available at the box office. I tried out The New Deal discount last night. The play was absurdly funny and equally as dark at times, and I was able to appreciate all of it from sixth-row center in the orchestra–a seat that definitely didn’t suck. –JG

03/03/14 11:00am
Wed March 5, 2014
Ensemble for the Romantic Century is staging a tale about Tchaikovsky and his sugar mama, Madame von Meck, beginning March 5 at BAM Fisher. Photo: BAM

Ensemble for the Romantic Century is staging a tale about Tchaikovsky and his sugar mama, Madame von Meck, beginning March 5 at BAM Fisher. Photo: BAM

If you’re hungry for more Russian fanfare following the closing ceremony in Sochi, the Ensemble for the Romantic Century has your craving covered. From Wednesday to Sunday, the ERC will perform Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart at the Fishman Space inside BAM Fisher. The production, brought to you by writer Eve Wolf and director Donald T. Sanders, tells the story of the beloved Russian composer and his unconventional, 16-year, letter-filled relationship with Madame von Meck performed by Simon Fortin and Ariel Bock of Shakespeare & Company. The show will feature live chamber and vocal music from violinist Rachel Lee Priday, cellist Adrian Daurov, tenor Blake Friedman and Wolf on the piano. Tickets start at $70.

02/17/14 11:00am
Sat February 22, 2014
"The Legend of Yauna," which follows the mystical journey of a young Zimbabwean woman trying to reconnect with her family, makes its world premiere at BAM this week. Photo: BAM

“The Legend of Yauna,” which follows the mystical journey of a young Zimbabwean woman trying to reconnect with her family, makes its world premiere at BAM this week. Photo: BAM

Bask in the glory that is song and dance as The Legend of Yauna premieres at BAM Fisher this weekend. The production, which celebrates a 12,000-year-old story of Yauna and the indigenous Bana Kuma ceremonies of Zimbabwe, is brought to you by the talented trio of Grammy award-winning composer Chris Berry, choreographer Maija Garcia (FELA!) and Afro-European vocalist Marie Daulne (lead singer of Zap Mama). The two-hour production promises mind-bending fantasy and mystic exploration–not to mention amazing  music, as it features seven musicians on non-traditional instruments (such as the Shona mbira), as well as a nine-member theatrical ensemble. Get your ticket ($35) here.

01/23/14 9:43am
Frank Langella's turn as King Lear in BAM's staging of the classic Shakespeare play is a highlight of Brooklyn's current theater offerings. Photo: Richard Termine

Frank Langella’s turn as King Lear in BAM’s staging of the classic Shakespeare play is a highlight of Brooklyn’s current theater offerings. Photo: Richard Termine

Brooklyn saw the opening of some major new players in its theater scene in 2013: Theatre for a New Audience and BRIC opened shiny new spaces as part of the development project known as the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. And this year, newcomers as well as stalwarts like St. Ann’s Warehouse and BAM and tireless indies like The Bushwick Starr and The Brick Theater are producing exciting new pieces and staging plays that haven’t seen the light of day for far too long. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the lineup this season.

BAM
BAM got their winter season underway early, but there’s still time to catch Frank Langella as King Lear. A winter play if there ever was one, any good production of “King Lear” will take everything an audience member has, and rumor has it this one is worth the emotional disembowelment. In collaboration with the Chichester Festival Theater of England. (Through Feb. 9, Tickets $25—125.)

Isabella Rosselini’s “Green Porno” has closed, but you can catch all the videos here.

Composer Benjamin Britten would be 100 years old this year, and BAM is celebrating his work with a short run of his nautical opera “Billy Budd,” based on the Melville novella, with libretto by E.M. Forster and Eric Crozier. Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s gorgeous-looking production (Feb. 7-13, Tickets $30-185) features the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The most interesting piece of BAM’s spring season doesn’t come until summer, in the form of Robert Wilson’s “The Old Woman,” starring Willem Dafoe and Mikhail Barishnykov (June 22-29, Tickets $25-125). I have no idea what exactly this one will entail, but the combination of those two performers, Wilson’s brand of gestural strange, and some recently re-discovered absurdist Russian drama sounds like fun. Disturbing fun.

Theater for a New Audience
There’s a new classical theater in Brooklyn (the first built in NYC since the Vivian Beaumont in the 1960s). TFANA’s inaugural season at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center on Ashland Place started strong with Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and continues in March with director Arin Arbus’ “King Lear,” starring Michael Pennington. Two King Lears in one season on practically the same block? Why the hell not? Bring it on—dueling high-quality classical theater companies should be the worst of our problems, and each Lear is its own world. Note that the British import at BAM is starring an American and TFANA is featuring a Brit. (March 14-May 4, Tickets $65-75, 866-811-411)

BRIC House
Rounding out the scene on that little corner between Fulton and Lafayette is the newly opened BRIC House (647 Fulton at Rockland), a multi-disciplinary arts and media center (complete with café) built to facilitate the making of art in the borough, through rehearsal spaces, long-range residencies, labs, collaborative spaces, and more. The most talked about upcoming performance is “Wow,” a real-time opera about the rise and tragic fall of Milli Vanilli, using the German pop duo’s four major videos to take us through their journey, literally, as the audience moves throughout BRIC’s performance spaces and galleries. With a libretto comprised of press conference transcripts, and a score that mixes Wagner with electronic skips and loops, this will be far more memorable than any VH1 special. The work-in-progress runs this weekend Jan. 24-25, Jan. 30 and Feb. 1-2 (Tickets $15 adv.-$18, 718-683-5600). (more…)

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