THE OUTING

The Outing Is Coming OUT This Summer

Ten years ago playwright Afrika Brown decided to use an assignment to take a decade’s worth of experiences and combine them into a one-act play, thus THE OUTING was born.  After 10 years, THE OUTING made its premiere this spring at Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Spring 2014 Short Festival in the Bronx.   But the coming out party for this one-act drama hasn’t stopped there.   THE OUTING is taking Manhattan by storm, first playing at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest this month and in August THE OUTING will appear in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.

In THE OUTING Afrika Brown poses one question: 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 OUTING aims 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.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest is located at 303 West 42 Street, 6th Floor.  Performance Dates and Times for are as follows:  Wednesday June 18 at 7 pm, Friday June 20 at 7 pm, Saturday June 21 at 7 p.m.  Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at MRTRESERVE@GMAIL.COM.

The Strawberry Festival will play at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46 Street. Performance Date and Time for the festival is:  August 24 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.therianttheatre.com.

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Delicious Eats Await At The Derby

In a city where neighborhoods reinvent themselves with same speed as Madonna, hearing that a new restaurant has sprung is just par for the course.  The Lower East Side is just one of many NYC neighborhoods that is shedding the skin of its past, and I just got the scoop on a new place that you and your peeps will want to make your “old haunt” very fast.

20140521_161810The name is The Derby and it opened a little over a month ago.  Located at 167 Orchard Street this eatery specializes in biscuits and bourbon and southern cuisine standards such as cheddar grits, chicken fried steak and baked macaroni and cheese.   The music creates a cool eclectic, vibe.   The décor is a mash-up between bar at Churchill Downs and a scene from The Great Gatsby with a speakeasy located in the basement – a great setting for a private get together.

20140521_161824I know what you’re thinking, the vintage furnishings sound nice, but how is the food?  Well FAMERS…the food is scrumptious.  I suggest the fried chicken, if you’re looking to have a cheat day on your diet.  The pieces are fried to golden perfection and the meat is juicy.  It comes with a side of fried okra and let me tell you, any place that can get me to like okra gets high marks in my book.

20140521_161954If this place was running in the upcoming Belmont Stakes, I would put my money down on The Derby.  It’s a shoo-in and a cool place to have a bite to eat in the summertime.  And if you do, say hello to Gabe, the restaurant’s manager.   He’s very personable and a definite added attraction.  Good food, good vibe, good people, good prices…there is nothing not to like about The Derby.

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