Trish Nelson is BanterGirl. Photo: Mindy Tucker
For Trish Nelson, stand-up comedian, actor, and producer, a serious career epiphany came covered in mashed potatoes.
She had been ensconced in the New York comedy scene for five years, doing stand-up, producing live shows at Joe’s Pub (including Women of Letters), 2A, and the Ace Hotel, and working in the restaurant industry to pay the bills. One sweltering summer night three years ago, the restaurant she managed was selling food at an event on the Williamsburg waterfront and Nelson found herself, she says, “serving chicken in waffle cones, covered in mashed potatoes and truth be told not pleased, looking at my life thinking, Is this it? Is this the choice that I’ve made?”
One of her customers however, turned out to be an AEG Live executive, and the chance meeting transformed a moment of despair into an opportunity, leading Nelson to an internship, a new position, a crash course in producing live events (including Amy Schumer’s and the Broad City’s national tours), and eventually, to BanterGirl. (more…)
The newly restored facade of the Kings Theatre. Photo: Kings Theatre
Yes, there’s been a sad trend lately in which beloved live venues shut down because of lease problems and rent hikes–the latest casualty being Glasslands in Williamsburg. There is however, a flip side to all that. As The New York Times recently reported, the historic Kings Theatre, a once-grand movie palace located in Flatbush that has been closed for nearly 40 years, is making a comeback. On Feb. 3, the Kings Theatre will reopen with an already sold-out inaugural concert by Diana Ross. and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this Friday, Jan. 23, followed by a free performance on Jan. 27 featuring the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. (Scroll down for a full list of scheduled performances.)
The Kings Theatre was restored with its original interior color scheme. Photo: Matt Lambros
There’s been a good deal of ink devoted to the city’s nearly $95 million restoration of the theatre–but what kind of venue will this be? With 3,000 seats it’s nearly a third bigger than BAM’s 2,090-seat Howard Gilman Opera House. (For further reference, there are about 18,000 seats at Barclays Center, though not all are in use during musical performances due to the dead zone behind the stage.) The theatre has been restored to its original color palette and the carpeting and light fixtures that once lined its aisles and walls have been recreated. The venue has also been upgraded for the 21st century with the expansion of the theatre’s footprint from 86,000 square feet to 93,000 square feet–along with improved sight lines, lighting and acoustics. While the architectural elements are all vintage or painstaking recreations, the sound and lighting systems and backstage facilities for staging productions are all state-of-the-art, and designed to attract world-class performers.
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This year’s Best of NYC 2013 issue of the Village Voice featured a hefty offering of new restaurants to try, stores to patronize and places to visit, and as a literary enthusiast, I felt both proud and and a bit smug about the Voice naming the Franklin Park Reading Series as NYC’s Best Reading Series. Booklynites have long known the delight of writer Penina Roth’s brainchild, but in the past two years, the event has become hard to ignore for anyone in New York City who loves books. From Sam Lipsyte, to Justin Taylor to Colson Whitehead, all across the fiction and non-fiction spectrum, the series has been a veritable guide to what’s happening in the book world. Meanwhile, Roth herself has become a stalwart supportor of literary scene in Brooklyn, keeping herself ever-aware of new books, upcoming authors and book news, and tirelessly spreading the word. Beyond the reading series, Roth works hard to help new voices find an audience, and to keep like-minded people connected.
The Franklin Park Reading Series is proof that the literary scene still lives and thrives and New York City, only now, it’s just over the bridge. We caught up with Penina Roth to gather some insight into how the series was born and how it grew to be the city’s best reading series. Warning: your to-read list is about to be filled through 2015.
How did Franklin Park Reading Series start? Tell me about the first one. How did you find your location?
As a longtime Crown Heights resident and community news reporter, I was very attuned to the neighborhood’s transition, beginning in 2007. In researching articles on local real estate and culture, I talked to many merchants and residents, old and new, and decided it would be fun to host an entertaining and enlightening community-wide event that could bring different groups together, including new transplants, Caribbean Americans and Hasidim. A big part of my research involved hanging out in Franklin Park’s courtyard, talking to the patrons and learning about their interests and backgrounds. It turned out that many of them were lit enthusiasts like me, and I thought there’d be an audience for a literary event. Since I’d profiled Franklin Park for a Styles piece in the Times, I was friendly with the owners and they let me use their large bar room for free, for what was supposed to be a one-off event. At the time I only had three friends who’d published books–Matthue Roth, Liza Monroy and David Goodwillie–and I thought the reading could be a showcase for them. Forty people showed up at our first reading in March 2009 and bought a lot of beer, so the owners were happy and asked me to make it a monthly happening.
Tue September 17, 2013
Like the life it imitates, the opera about Anna Nicole Smith, opening at BAM Sept. 17, promises to be over the top. Photo: Pari Dukovic
Did you ever look at the Anna Nicole Smith debacle from the sidelines and think to yourself, This would make a great piece of high art tragedy? If so, you were evidently not the only one, because someone has gone and written an opera about the tumultuous life of the playmate-turned-heiress-turned-incoherent reality star. Not just any opera either: Anna Nicole was commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London and has been called “engrossing, outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving” by the New York Times. Also, librettist Richard Thomas already earned some serious celebrity catastrophe cred when he penned an opera about everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure from college, Jerry Springer. On Tuesday night, Anna Nicole will make its U.S. premiere and begin a seven-date run at BAM. Unfortunately, the $25 balcony tickets are sold out across the board, but you can still score a pricier seat for this unprecedented cultural phenomenon here.