While New York City is the biggest theater destination there is, it is easy to get caught up in the glamour that is Broadway. Unbeknownst to many, there is a world beyond pricey shows and it takes place Off-Broadway. With so many happenings going on each and every day it can be hard to know where to even start looking. Lucky for you, we are in the know and have rounded up some of the best up and coming acts out there. Check em out!
If per chance you’re in search of a rooftop experience equipped with cobblestone, a firepit, an antique car, and a 14th Century vibe, boy do we have the place for you. Above the interactive Shakespearian production, Sleep No More is the company’s newest addition, Gallow Green.
For those who aren’t familiar, Sleep No More is a performance inspired by Romeo and Juliet/Macbeth/Alfred Hitchcock and takes place in its intricately designed 100-room building, the fictitious “McKittrick Hotel.” In hopes of providing a more relaxed environment for before shows, after shows, or just in general, Gallow Green supplies a unique setting to enjoy some fruity cocktails.
Booze and literature are steadfast companions—a symbiotic union of sorts that has fueled the creative germs of countless scribes. Whether it be through Kerouac’s manic search for the ephemeral “IT," Fitzgerald’s rapid collapse in the face of his own virility, or even the many tortured souls of the Bard’s creation—alcohol is a vehicle, both in literature and reality, that resonates throughout time.
What better way to celebrate this age old union than through a literary pub crawl! “Shakesbeer," an annual celebration put on by the New York Shakespeare Exchange, strives to meld the literary with the debaucherous. In their mission to “explore what happens when contemporary culture is infused with Shakespearean poetry and themes in unexpected ways," the NYSX has fashioned a 4 bar/ 4 scene ode to the evisceration of love—aptly entitled the “V-Day Detox."
“After grad school at The Old Globe, I moved to NYC, and Nat followed a year later. We were in a lot of shows together, and one day we s tarted talking about how we’d like to start something on our own. We realized that a lot of actors want to create their own thing. It’s hard- especially when you’re starting out in New York to do different plays and sometimes you can’t choose what you want to do. So we decided to take matters into our own hands and started a company called The Outfit with nine founding members.”
Unlike most actors, this dynamic duo knew they wanted to skew away from the Shakespeare norm, but they knew they had to make it appealing to popular culture. After forming The Outfit, a theater company full of graduates of the Old Globe in San Diego, it was time to brainstorm thoughts and combinations that would be creative yet relatable.
“We were initially inspired by this wild improvisational production of Hamlet by a London-based company called The Factory,” said Henckel. “They would pick the cast on the spot, do the show in non-traditional venues, and encoura ge people to bring their own props – you could bring a rubber balloon and somehow they’d work it in. Then we stumbled upon Point Break LIVE! and thought we’d do something similar with Top Gun, but less ridiculous. You know – sans water guns.”
Ultimately they chose the 80s classic . “As soon as we started talking about Top Gun, we found gold,” he continued. “First, it’s a movie we both love, and second, it touches on something about our country – this cockiness, this competitive attitude, it’s funny to look back and see how ridiculous it was. Once we started going through the lines, we realized that Top Gun fits Shakespeare perfectly. It’s been two years and I’m so excited that Jester’s Dead has really taken on a life of its own.”
With the economy in free fall upon their arrival in New York, and established actors booking even the smallest roles to get by, it meant an unusually steep uphill battle for Henckel and McIntyre as they were starting out. "It’s always hard,” said Henckel, “and when we got here it was maybe the worst time to be an actor in New York City. I think t was hard to get work anywhere, really, but that’s what really drove us to start this.” Henckel and McIntyre worked with three directors and nearly twenty actors, some of whom are members of The Outfit, over two years crafting their script for this first major New York City run of Jester’s Dead.
“When we initially conceived The Outfit we were definitely inspired by The Factory in London. We saw it as an opportunity to create a home for artists where they could create great work in theater in NY. The people making the work are so passionate and personal and that’s what’s going to drive us,” said Henckel. “Our company is young but I think we’re pretty fortunate to have some good DNA.” For tickets and showtimes for Jester's Dead visit Jestersdead.org
New York City may be called the Concrete Jungle, but, of course, that’s not the whole truth. Stretching over two miles between 59th and 110th st is Central Park, an 843-acre public park in Manhattan that has become a model for city parks around the world.
The park is managed by the Central Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization that contributes 85% of the Park’s $37.4 million annual budget! The conservancy is a perfect model of giving and receiving; founded in 1980 by a group of philanthropic leaders, Central Park is a space that depends on its community and foundations in order to thrive, while providing countless activities and services to its visitors, including concerts, tours, sports, and volunteer opportunities!
Nothing's been easy for the headliner of the new show, Divas Las Vegas. This year marks the 25th year as a Vegas headliner for the person who has been called "the hardest-working showgirl on the Strip." Those 25 years make for over half of 45 year-old Frank Marino's life spent entertaining Las Vegas audiences in drag. And as you can probably guess, being the Queen of Vegas is a whole lotta work.
"The only that that came naturally for me in this job is that I was born with a small foot, so I fit in a woman's shoe and I can buy one anywhere."
"Everything else is hard. I'm Italian, so I have that blue-black beard I get 5 o'clock shadow in 15 minutes."
Too keep up his feminine appearances, Marino has spent the past quarter of a century shaving his face up to four times a day, keeping his family jewels well protected from searching eyes, and donning nails, wigs, gowns, and sexy high heels.
The effort it takes for Marino to transform into his stage persona can be a totally drag (get it?) when it comes to making appearances out of his nightly gig.
"I mean, it's not as easy as just calling Lance Burton and he shows up with some doves up his sleeve. You call Clint Holmes, he gets dressed nice at home, he goes, does the function, and then he can continue his day. I wish I could just show up like Clint. People don't understand that this takes hours and hours."
Marino spent nearly 24-year as ringmistress of An Evening at La Cage at the Riviera, but the show was unexpectedly cancelled last year. After briefly considering retirement, a nice option kept open by Marino's conservative budgeting, he decided that his reign as a Vegas queen wasn't over yet. Unfortunately, it wasn't all glitter and sunshine coming back.
"You're gone five minutes, they forget who you are. I didn't have to get Botox and a nose job-the door hit me in the face so many times it would have flattened itself out."
Then, fate struck. While at Terry Fator's opening night, Marino met Harrah's president Don Marrandino who eventually set it up so that Marino did a one-off performance over Labor Day weekend. The show went so well, it was decided that Divas would be the late show at the Imperial Palace, after Matsuri and Human Nature.
Divas Las Vegas includes many drag impersonations of celebrity icons including Celine, Cher, Beyonce, and Diana. Though, Marino prefers not to play the impersonator himself. He does open the show as the MC, doing a sharp Joan Rivers impression-one for which Rivers sued him for $5 million in $1986.
"Thank God she settled," Marino jokes, "'cause I was about $80 short."
Marino believes that Las Vegas is probably the only city where a drag show like his could be successful on this large of a scale. He does say that his audience is more varied than would be assumed.
"Here's what happens. The men come in, reluctantly, with their wives who have seen me on Oprah or some talk show. You see him holding her hand very tightly. By the time Britney and Cher come out, he's let go of her hand, and by the end of the show his wife is hitting him on the shoulder, saying ‘you're paying too much attention to these performers!'
"I'm not selling audiences a lifestyle. I'm selling a form of entertainment, an art form that goes way back to Kabuki and Shakespeare and Milton Berle and Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire."
Unlike Robin Williams, Marino doesn't just stick to using drag as a comedy shtick. Divas ends with a powerful ballad of Charles Aznavours "What Makes A Man a Man?" while a drag entertainer removes his makeup and regales the audience with tales of his banal offstage life.
Marino's life offstage in reality is also pretty mundane. Though his working wardrobe includes more than 1,000 gowns, including 50-or-so custom-designed outfits by Bob Mackie, Marino's real life wardrobe is strictly removed of flash.
"In my house, there's not one piece of drag. There's not an eyelash, a nail or a feather. If a robber broke into my house to steal something, they would think they were at Elton John's house. I have so many boy clothes. I get in different moods."
After a long, sleep-deprived week, I was readying myself last night for a well-deserved night’s rest before another day of journalistic prosperity here at the joonbug offices. I predicated my slumber with the positive, reinforcing words of Henry Rollins’ spoken word performances; a new personal obsession which, I feel, brings hope and assurance to my often bleak view of everyday life. As my eyes began to involuntarily close, I decided to close-out my session of “youtube-ery” with a video from the site’s side-bar suggestions, namely, a musical performance. I saw the name of a performer I was unfamiliar with and thought, “Why not?” as I clicked on the less-than encumbered thumbnail. In a clip from the former hardcore-singer’s talk-show on cable’s IFC, I saw an exceptionally overweight, middle-aged man in sweat-pants and what looked like a hand-Sharpied t-shirt timidly fist-strumming mangled chords on an acoustic guitar. When he opened his mouth, his nasal, slightly off-key voice began singing a song of love by way of poetic despair that made the world around me float away until all that was left was the music pouring from my computer speakers and my heart that was breaking with each word the man spoke. I replayed the song over and over again, mesmerized at the aural magnetism of the song despite its apparent simplicity. Hours and hours later, early into the morning, I found myself lying on my bed, unable to get to sleep, weeping uncontrollably at the beauty of Daniel Johnston’s music.
Whatever your thoughts of Jude Law are, or of Michael Grandage’s decision to cast him as the brooding Prince of Denmark, one thing is for sure; the man breeds controversy. For years his career has been peppered with positive and negative reviews, often arguing over the same piece of work.
Despite being best-known for his cinematic performances, Law’s acting career began with the National Youth Music Theatre back in 1987. His work had him nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award, and has won him several outstanding newcomer awards.