Urban Waves Summer Shorts

Urban Waves Has The Bronx Simmering With It’s Summer Shorts

The unofficial start of summer is here and Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant is raising the temperature uptown with their Summer Short Play Festival. The three day festival begins on June 6 and ends on June 8.  The plays participating in this festival are  The Three Joys of Mary, Heat of the Moment, Last Exit in New York, Billboard’s Greatest Hits and Fire.

Founded by Luis Cardenas, Sarah Rosenberg (stars of the Showtime documentary Shakespeare High) and Deborah Pautler, Open Hydrant’s mission is to vitalize the Arts and Theater scene in the Bronx. Their wish is to create an ensemble based company of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and artists to better serve the cultural invigoration of the South Bronx. The creative spirit of New York City doesn’t just reside in Manhattan.  As the Bronx’s first professional AEA ensemble theater company, Open Hydrant is determined to make the BX a destination for citizens of all five boroughs and the tri-state area. Urban Waves, a subset of Open Hydrant, explores material that contain edgier themes.

Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant Summer Short Play Festival will be held at The Point, located at 940 Garrison Avenue.   Advance tickets can be purchased for$12 online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com.  The ticket price also includes one drink.  Don’t be afraid to haul your cookies to SoBro to view  good theater.  Open Hydrant and Urban Waves are the best thing to come out of the Bronx since hip hop!

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Under My Skin Provides A Healthy Dose of Laughter

I don’t think there is a person alive that hasn’t heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  As for myself, I prefer “Laughter is the best medicine.”  Laughter may not have the ability to cure all ailments, but it definitely heals the soul.  And a prescription filled with laughs is what the members of the audience at The Little Shubert Theatre will receive when they view Under My Skin. 

6.200106Taking cues from Switch, Big and Freaky Friday, Under My Skin adds a whole new chapter to the old body exchange tale. So here’s the story… Mr.  Harrison Badish III is the CEO of Amalgamated Healthcare, the nation’s leading healthcare provider.  He’s a cold, shrewd business man who cares more about making money for the company than making a difference or knowing his employees, one of whom is Melody Dent.  Melody is a single mom from Staten Island who works part-time at Amalgamated with her best friend Nanette.  Both she and Nanette had a problem being seen by Badish until one fateful day when a cup of coffee sets off a chain of events that leads to Melody and Harrison coming face to face with an angel.  The angel, compassionate to their pleas, decides to bring them back to life, but there is a catch, their souls are placed into the wrong bodies.   And while the pair waits for the angel to switch them back, they discover what life is really like for each other and learn more about the trials and tribulations of the opposite sex. By the time Melody and Harrison are themselves again, they realize they can’t live without each other.

6.200111Cheeky and chock full of humor, Under My Skin lodges itself directly into the marrow of the audience’s funny bone.  Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser harmoniously weave comedy and social commentary with this production.  The good ole “make ‘em laugh” approach is a tried and true method of slipping in points of view that require introspection.   Along with adding new layers to the age old battle of the sexes debate, they also weigh in on the state of healthcare, or lack thereof, in our nation and how it affects the everyday, working American.

6.200112The neon lights of Broadway do burn bright. But sometimes they shine even brighter Off-Broadway. Under My Skin is one of the most dynamic shows I’ve seen in a while.  If you find yourself on 42nd Street, take a walk down to The Little Shubert Theatre for an thoroughly enjoyable 90-minute laugh-fest.

Photos: Joan Marcus

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The Cripple of Inishmaan Is Straight-Up Funny

What do you think would be funny about a cripple orphan, a remote town in Ireland and a Hollywood documentary?  If you’re thinking how I was thinking, then you’re answer is probably not very much.  But like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that my first thought was totally off the mark.   Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a total laugh riot.

top-7-largeMcDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark, delightful comedy, think of Peyton Place with razor blade roads.  This play is as twisted as Forrest Gump’s back before the braces.  Set in the small community of Inis Meáin off the western coast of Ireland circa 1934, McDonagh uses the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran as the foundation of the play.   A Hollywood film crew arrives in the neighboring town of Inis Mór to make a film about life on the islands.   The news, carried by town gossip Johnnypateenmike, sets the town ablaze and gives Billy Claven or “Cripple Billy” as he is called by the townsfolk, the idea to finally escape the place that treats him like a poor orphaned outcast.  Billy finds out that local bully Helen McCormick has finagled Babbybobby Bennett, a boatman, to sail her and her henpecked brother Bartley over to Inis Mór for an audition. Billy conjures a heartbreaking tale to secure a seat on the voyage and winds up getting the opportunity to take part in a film in California.  Billy’s sudden departure puts his adopted aunts Kate and Eileen Osbourne into a tailspin.  Kate begins talking to a stone and Eileen devours all the sweets in their shop to try to avoid worrying about the fate of Billy.  But you know what they say about the grass being greener, missing home Cripple Billy returns to face the place he tried run from, the hurt that was left in his wake and the secrets that have haunted him no matter where he traveled.

top-4-largeThe Cripple of Inishmaan first opened December 12, 1996 at London’s Royal National Theatre.  In 1998 the play opened in NYC and L.A.  The play returned to London’s West End in 2013 with Michael Grandage at the helm directing and Daniel Radcliffe as Cripple Billy.  The production was a hit and fresh off the heels of its sold-out run across the pond, The Cripple of Inishmaan opened at the Cort Theatre on April 20 for a limited 14-week engagement.  And this is one engagement that is not to be missed.  This play is may be about a cripple, but there is nothing deficient about this production.  Daniel Radcliffe truly shines in this revival.  The more he sheds his Harry Potter skin the more we are able to witness how his talent has matured.  He is a wonder to watch live, whether he is singing and dancing or using a crutch, Mr. Radcliffe is rad!  In fact, the whole cast is exceptional.   An awesome ensemble, they authentically project the intimate bonds that are created in a small town.  Sarah Greene is a terror as Helen McCormick, but as frightening as she is, she is equally as charming.  Pádraic Delany radiates brooding appeal as Babbybobby.  Ingrid Craigie and Gillian Hanna are equally delightful as Cripple Bobby’s smothering adopted aunts. The zingers delivered by June Watson and Pat Shortt, who play Johnnypateenmike and his alcoholic mom, are absolutely scandalous and some of the best shade (insult throwing for those of you who don’t know) that I’ve heard on stage in a long time.  The scene and costume designs created by Christopher Oram transported the audience to that 1930’s Ireland and aided in projecting a close-knit community aesthetic.

top-1-largeIrreverent in all the right ways, The Cripple of Inishmaan is a winner and with the support of a great cast, this production stands with the best that Broadway has to offer this season.

Photos: Johan Persson

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Under My Skin Ticket Giveaway

That’s right FAMERS, it’s contest time!

F.A.M.E NYC is giving away a pair of tickets for Under My Skin, the new comedy in previews at The Little Shubert Theatre.  This production takes the battle of the sexes to new heights.  And one of you FAMERS could be the lucky winner if you can answer this question…

What iconic blue-eyed singer from Hoboken N.J. recorded a rendition of “I’ve Got You under My Skin?”

 The winner will be announced on Good Friday at 5 p.m.

Happy spring and good luck!

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Bullets Over Broadway Is A Shot To the Funny Bone

Woody Allen has been known to make a good film…or two…or three.  In fact, Cate Blanchet just snagged herself an Oscar playing the tragic protagonist in a Woody Allen film.  In 1994, Allen and Douglas McGrath penned a crime-comedy film titled Bullets Over Broadway.  The film starred John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly with Allen sitting in the director’s chair.  Bullets Over Broadway garnered seven Academy Awards; Wiest won for Best Supporting Actress, the second Academy Award win for her under Allen’s direction.

8.198889If you haven’t seen the film, the gist of the plot goes like this…set in the roaring twenties, a young, struggling playwright named David Shayne gets the break of a lifetime. His play will be produced on Broadway and he will direct it ensuring his vision will come to fruition.  Only problem is producer Julian Marx receives the funds to front the production from gangster Nick Valenti, and to get the money Valenti’s girlfriend, Olive Neal, must be cast in one of the roles.  Olive is no more than a second rate line dancer, but David casts her in the role of the psychiatrist in order secure the funds.  Also, he convinces Helen Sinclair, a legendary stage actress and lush, to play lead role and gets compulsive eater Warner Purcell to be the leading man.  Soon David realizes that getting a play on stage as its director isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  He also learns that he isn’t the great artist he thought he was as all his re-writes, which the cast adore, are written by Cheech, Olive’s bodyguard and Valenti’s hitman.

5.198890In 2012, plans for a musical adaptation were announced.  Allen adapted the film into a book and used songs from the American songbook for the musical numbers.  Susan Stroman was brought on as the director and choreographer.  The cast included Zach Braff as David Shayne, Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair, Vincent Pastore as Nick Valenti, Helen Yorke as Olive Neal and Nick Cordero as Cheech.

5.198888The minute the curtain rose at the St. James Theater and I saw the title being shot into the set I thought, “Well this is starting off with a bang, I hope it ends with one.”  What I would come to learn is that Bullets Over Broadway doesn’t overshoot in the laughs department.  It’s a cute comedy that lends itself to a family night at the theater.  The biggest laughs and smiles were delivered by Nick Cordero, Helen Yorke, Brooks Ahsmanskas, who played Warner Purnell and Mr. Woofles, the sweetest little pooch since Toto.  Marin Mazzie offered a good rendition of Helen Sinclair.  I’m sure any members of the audience who had seen the film were just anticipating her saying, “Don’t speak.”  That classic line didn’t fall into the silence of the air. Like the film, it was a hilarious bull’s-eye.

4.198885My complaint with most new musicals as of late is that they are all song and lack dance.  With Bullets Over Broadway, my gripe was the opposite.  Although the songs used in this musical were standards, the use of tunes were flat and was absent of the pop I like to hear, but the choreography, under the leadership of Susan Stroman, assisted in placing the musical numbers on an even-keel.

It seems as if Woody Allen has struck again.  If you want to a good giggle and some good hoofing then Bullets Over Broadway is musical for you.

Photos: Paul Kolnik

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Under My Skin Is On Stage at The Little Shubert Theatre

They say, and John Gray Ph.D. wrote, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  But how do we know that for sure unless we are willing to take a visit to each other’s planet, or to borrow another famous idiom, “walk a mile in someone shoes” or stilettos.

Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser add another chapter to this ongoing debate with Under My Skin.  Sternin and Fraser are no strangers to the subject of the male/female relationship conundrum with shows like “Three’s Company” and “Who’s The Boss?” under their belts; Under My Skin takes that enigma and turns it into an out-of-body experience.

The prescription for this new comedy involves a CEO of America’s leading healthcare provider, a single mom from Staten Island and one big outrageous twist of fate.  Under My Skin is directed by Kristen Sanderson and stars Kerry Butler and Matt Walton.  Under My Skin began previews at The Little Shubert Theatre, located at 422 West 42nd Street, on April 5 and is scheduled to open on May 15. FAMERS be on the lookout for a ticket giveaway coming soon!

To learn more about the play click, www.undermyskintheplay.com.  Or click below to meet the cast!

 

Photo and video courtesy of Serino Coyne

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The Browning of The American Dream

The Lower East Side is known for being home to famous Latino artists such as poet Miguel Pinero, artist George Lee Quiñones and poet and activist Clemente Soto Vélez.  Soto Vélez was known for mentoring many generations of artists in Puerto Rico and NYC.  His legacy impacted the cultural, social and economic lives of Latinos worldwide.  So it’s befitting that an exhibit that questions the Latino’s role in achieving the American Dream, and even pokes fun at it, should premier at the center bearing his name.

20140403_182437On April 3 Make ‘Em All Mexican debuted at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center.   Conceptualized by L.A. based artist Linda Vallejo, MEAM is her satirical solution to a familiar question: “Where do I fit into the American Dream?”  Vallejo’s answer is a comedic, yet thought provoking look at American iconography from a Chicano point of view.  She takes old photographs, figurines and dolls and gives them a tan shellacking thereby providing them a new purpose, new meaning.

Just imagine…John, Paul, George and Ringo with brown faces and how that drastic change in skin color would’ve affected their role in history and pop culture.  Or the Flintstones…how would different would Bedrock be if Fred and Barney had brown skin, with Barney’s skin being a couple shades darker than Fred’s once again questioning how skin color plays a role within one’s ethnicity.  These are the types of scenarios that are explored through Vallejo’s work.

20140403_183324Over 30 pieces are displayed in the exhibit, some making the literal transformation to brown while others, like The Empire State Building glazed in a cocoa tint, are more esoteric in its challenge of The American Dream.  Aristocrats, founding fathers, Norman Rockwell, even John Belushi doesn’t get spared in Vallejo’s recoloring of American/pop imagery.  Looking at the Superman bust all glistening in candy coated caramel made him appear more animated.

While I had seen photographs of the work, the pieces were extremely dynamic in person.  When displayed together, I felt as if I had stepped into a surreal universe; one that was actually closer to the world I lived in.  As I walked around the room, I began to realize why the work fascinated me.  When I was a girl my father, an avid collector of antiques, brought home two lawn jockeys, only these jockeys didn’t have the traditional jockey outfit, these boys were barefoot slaves.  I asked my dad what he was going to do with them.  He simply said, “I’m going to paint them.”  He told me the history of these boys, how they were a symbol of the racism that is embedded in the core of this country.  Slowly, I watched these slave boys transform.  With primer and a few coats of paint to their skin, I began to see their features more clearly.  I saw their personalities bloom in the colors my father chose for their clothing. The lanterns were replaced with flags.  The sepia-skinned boy held the red, black and green colors of the Black Liberation flag.   The dark-skinned statue held the flag of The African National Congress.  Through this makeover these boys had a new purpose; they were the embodiment of pride.  They instilled pride in me as well.

20140403_192515Growing up watching those boys in my backyard, from my bedroom window gave me a constant reminder of my roots.  It also made me realize that “The American Dream” also belonged to me, that it came in multiple hues, not just red, white and blue.  It is my belief that Make ‘Em All Mexican will do the same for Latinos.  Make ‘Em All Mexican is on display until April 27.  FAMERS get down to The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center and get yourself a good dose of brown.

 

The Outing Urban Waves

Meet the Cast of The Outing

This Friday “The Outing” premiers at Open Hydrant’s Urban Waves Short Play Festival.  We thought our FAMERS would like to get the chance to know a little more about the actor playing Salome, the lead character, and the rest of the cast.

joebrondoJoe Brondo (Salome) is proud to be working with the Open Hydrant Theater Company.  Previous credits include “In The Next Room” or “The Vibrator Play” (HITfest), “Macbeth” (Round Table Theatre Company), “Sex, Relationships, & Sometimes Love” (Michael Chekhov Theatre Company), “A Chorus Line”, “Not About Nightingales and Follies” (Southampton Players), among others. He sends his love to his wife Jennifer.   F.A.M.E NYC had the opportunity to ask Joe a few questions about himself and the character he is playing in “The Outing.”
1.  What made you want to become an artist?

Being an actor allows me to be myself in more ways than I possibly could in real life.

2.  How has living in New York City shaped your journey as an artist?

I wish I lived in NYC! Right now when I am not in the city working on projects, I’m living and spending my time with my beautiful wife in East Hampton.   I love New York City for the incredible amount of varied opportunities available for creativity and collaboration – and the food!

3.  When you summon the creative gods to assist you with your work, who do you pray to?

I am inspired most by my family and friends, and by listening to good music from all genres.  I find that music can be almost as helpful as spending time with a good friend or loved one to inspire me.
4. What aspect about the character you are playing in “The Outing” intrigued you most? 

I am very intrigued by Salome’s strength – I feel very lucky to be allowed to play such a strong, self-confident and positive woman.

5.  If you were asked to describe “The Outing” to someone using three words, which words would you pick?

Don’t Waste Life

Brondo will be participating in a 10 minute play festival with the Abingdon Theater Company on April 7. You can find him on Twitter at @joebrondo.

 

SONY DSCJosephine Pepa (Jizelle) Her credits include: New World Symphony, DATCO (NYC), New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA), touring internationally with Latin Grammy award winning group Orishas and universal recording artist singer Beatriz Luengo.   She is currently singing back up for such programs as “X Factor Mexico”, “Mira Quien Baila”, as well as working on her own material and blogging about her artistic adventures.

 

IMG_6639Ashley Marie Ortiz (Jasmine) is a New York based actress/artist.  She is excited to be a part of Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Short Play Festival. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BFA in Acting, she decided to make the big move to NYC.  She is member of INTAR’s UNIT52, a proud volunteer of The 52nd St Project, and happy to be a part of Amios’ SHOTZ! once a month.

 

photo1KENNY TORRES (Train) is proud to be performing with Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Short Play Festival in his first theatre production. His feature debut in film was in the experimental piece “Liberta” by Edson Poaiti. His screenplay “Emilio” is currently being developed with Enyi Entertainment. Also a poet, his work has been performed at Nuyourican Poets Café in Manhattan.

 

unnamedChristin Eve Cato (Director) is a New York based artist with a background in performing arts and play-writing. She is a member of the Bats, the resident acting company of the Flea Theater, a junior board member for Theater Resources Unlimited, and a member of New York Women in Film & Television. Christin is also co-founder of Manifest Alchemy, a new platform/community for Independent filmmakers to showcase their talents, specializing in Mini-Movies, documentaries, and web shows. She is excited to join Urban Waves team at Open Hydrant in her directorial debut!

Photos provided by cast members

The Outing

Afrika Brown’s The Outing Premieres At Open Hydrant’s Spring 2014 Festival

In 2009 Afrika Brown founded F.A.M.E NYC as a part of her journey as an artist and to tell the stories of NYC’S arts community.  F.A.M.E NYC is proud to announce that our beloved founder and editor will have her one of her plays premiere at Open Hydrant’s Urban Waves Spring 2014 Festival.

Afrika has a question for all FAMERS: What’s the “T”?

What is truth?  Everyone knows what the truth is, but when the truth is revealed….how easy is it to accept?  Can you accept your truth or someone else’s truth when it finally comes out?

“The Outing” is a captivating drama centering on three individuals who reveal a certain truth about themselves and the acceptance or nonacceptance of life outside the closet.   Brief yet penetrating, “The Outingaims to hit the audience straight between the eyes with the speed and power of an Ali punch. As these characters learn to deal with the truth about themselves, the audience is also left to determine how the hidden truths of their life would affect the course of their life if they were to expose them.

Founded by Luis Cardenas, Sarah Rosenberg (stars of the Showtime documentary Shakespeare High) and Deborah Pautler, Open Hydrant’s mission is to vitalize the Arts and Theater scene in the Bronx. Their wish is to create an ensemble based company of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and artists to better serve the cultural invigoration of the South Bronx. The creative spirit of New York City doesn’t just reside in Manhattan.  As the Bronx’s first professional AEA ensemble theater company, Open Hydrant is determined to make the BX a destination for citizens of all five boroughs and the tri-state area.

Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Spring 2014 Short Festival runs from March 28 -30 at The Point, located at 940 Garrison Avenue, Bronx NY.  Showtimes for each day are as follows: March 28th 7:30 pm, March 29th 3:00 pm & 8pm, March 30th 3:00 pm.  Below is the link to pre-order tickets.  If you pre-order them you get $5 off.  Also, each ticket includes a drink.  Now that is definitely worth the price of admission.  Please tell a friend, who knows a friend, who knows a friend!  We hope all FAMERS will support our founder!

http://m.bpt.me/event/605593

 

 

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The Bridges of Madison County Crosses Over With Glorious Soundtrack

The root of the word musical is music.  Everybody knows that.  But the word that stands in the shadows of the root word is good.  Songs crammed into a book does not a musical make.  Fortunately, “The Bridges of Madison County” doesn’t suffer from that problem.

10.196053“The Bridges of Madison County” originated as a novel written by Robert James Waller and published in 1992.  It stayed on the “New York Times” best-seller list for three years.  In 1995, it was adapted to a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep as Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson, the main characters.  The film was equally as commercially successful as the novel garnering an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for Streep.

The plot of “The Bridges of Madison County” centers on two lonely people that find comfort and true love in one another during a four-day long affair that each carries with them for the rest of their lives.  Robert Kincaid is an aloof photojournalist working for “National Geographic.”  Francesca Johnson is an Italian war bride that was looking for an escape when she married her husband Richard and settled with him in a farming town in Iowa.  Richard takes their teenage children, Michael and Carolyn, to a state fair leaving Francesca alone when Robert pulls up in her driveway.  He was sent on assignment to photograph the covered bridges in the area and was lost.  He asks Francesca for directions to the Roseman Covered Bridge. She shows him how to get there and the two hit it off.  The chemistry between them is palpable and after a conversation and dinner the pair begins an affair.  Realizing each other is the love they had been waiting for; they contemplate sharing their lives together.   Francesca decides that she can’t abandon her family, so the two separate and never see each other again.

9.196055 “The Bridges of Madison County” the film is the quintessential chick flick for an evening in with your spouse or a girl’s get together.  The musical adaptation of this story is no exception.  In fact, the music and lyrics of composer Jason Robert Brown only amplifies its beauty.  The longing and vulnerability that Francesca masks is fully exposed in Kelli O’Hara’s performance.  She was joy to watch in “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” the pleasure of seeing her on stage increased triple-fold after seeing her in this production.  Her voice is lovely and the score makes good use of her range.  After seeing Steven Pasquale walk on stage from the audience, I could see why Francesca’s locked desires were released.  He makes for a much sexier Robert Kincaid than Clint Eastwood.  There is no one in the audience that couldn’t understand why Francesca was close to jetting off into the sunset with him.  The synergy O’Hara and Pasquale created onstage was complimented by the score as the two created wonderful harmony together. In this adaptation the music is the third member of this love triangle and the scrumptious singing of O’Hara and Pasquale makes the audience want to root for their romance. Hunter Foster has a sturdiness to him that makes him perfect for the no-nonsense, all-American fellow.  Once again he excels in his portrayal of Bud (Richard).  For me the breakout performance is delivered by Cass Morgan who plays Marge, the nosey neighbor with a heart of gold.  Her solo of “Get Closer” was the hit of the night.

10.196051It’s delightful to see a new musical with a score like this keeping the future of the American musical alive with vibrant energy.  However there are a few components of “The Bridges of Madison County” that fell short.  One was the lack of choreography.  When it comes to musicals I believe music and choreography are what make a musical number and assist in driving the book forward.  There is only one number in this production that has choreography, and while the music is stimulating, the lack of movement makes the entire show somewhat incomplete.  Also, throughout the musical the extras are present on stage, sitting in chairs quietly observing.  But from time to time they are moving about, assisting with moving the set around.  At first I was unsure they were just there to move the set or if their presence had a more artistic meaning.  The optimist in me hopes for the latter, for if not the extras would be an awkward solution to the issue of changing the set and its props.  But these are just minor glitches that can be overlooked when one hears the incredible score and the great chemistry of O’Hara and Pasquale.  All and all “The Bridges of Madison County” is a bridge worth coming to.

Photos:  Joan Marcus