The NYC Fringe kicked off this weekend and is now in full swing. The annual festival is a massive undertaking, bringing over 200 productions to dozens of downtown New York City venues in a two and a half week period. The shows come from around the world and across the nation and they span every category possible – solo shows, plays, classics, musicals, revivals, experimental theater, dance shows, comedies, puppet theater, children’s shows, and theatrical pieces too unique to be found in any other setting. There’s truly something for everybody. Granted, the Fringe is a gamble – there is always some truly terrible theater in the festival – but it’s really wonderful when you unearth that special theatrical gem. And the price is right at $15 per ticket. If you’re a true theater explorer, pay $500 and see as many shows as you can cram in with an aptly named Lunatic Pass. FringeNYC runs through August 30.
The limited engagement of the play Mary Stuart, which began at the Donmar Warehouse in London, concluded its run on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre today. The acclaimed production starred British thespians Janet McTeer and Harriet Walker (both nominated for Tony Awards for their turns as Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I, respectively), alongside a cast of actors who frequently appear on Broadway, including John Benjamin Hickey, Robert Stanton, Chandler Williams, and Brian Murray. This production of the historical-political drama, written by German dramatist Friedrich Schiller over 200 years ago, featured an adaptation by Peter Oswald and direction by Mamma Mia helmer Phyllida Lloyd.
A Liberty Helicopter Sightseeing Tours helicopter and a small plane that took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey collided midair above the Hudson River on August 8, killing nine with no survivors. All bodies and wreckage have since been recovered from the river. The passengers taking a tour of New York City on the helicopter were five Italian tourists.
The accident occurred in a busy corridor over the Hudson in which pilots are free to decide their route, as long as they stay under 1,000 feet and don’t get too close to skyscrapers. Despite the tragic accident, tourists have remained unfazed and took to the skies for tours the very next day after the accident. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has even encouraged helicopter tours to continue, and that “there’s no reason why having helicopter tours shouldn’t be safe … I certainly don’t think that we should ban them.” A city councilwoman is pressing to ban tourist helicopter rides over Manhattan.
Taking in a birds-eye view from a helicopter is an increasingly popular tourism attraction in New York City and a thriving business despite the risk and high cost. Liberty Helicopter Tours offers a Lady Liberty tour costing $135 for 6 to 8 minutes, Big Apple tour of Manhattan landmarks for $165, a 16 to 20 minute tour of all five boroughs for $230, and a romantic private ride around Manhattan at night for $1,010.
If you like your theater to be a walk on the wild side instead of a plush third-row seat, or if you’re just feeling daring and in need of something offbeat to do, The New York International Fringe festival starts today (Friday, August 14) and runs through Sunday, August 30.
More than 200 companies from around the world perform at what is billed as the biggest multi-arts festival in North America; it was founded in 1997. Let’s keep those numbers coming: That’s 16 days, 20 performance venues (mostly in lower Manhattan), and more than 1300 performances to look forward to, for those of you who were wondering. Shows are chosen through a jury-based selection process.
Performances run from 2pm to midnight on weekdays, and noon to midnight on weekends.
Shows include “Selfplex,” which focuses on a 40-year-old writer who assumes the identity of a transgendered teenager; “6 Seconds in Charlak,” a contemporary romance told from the male point of view; and “666,” about four death-row convicts.
The festival also includes educational events (FringeU); and art-based events (FringeArt).
So it’s not “Oklahoma,” but isn’t that kind of the point?
For more information, call (212) 279-4488; or log on to fringenyc.org
A new alternative to rock climbing at the usual New York City health club and Chelsea Piers has opened: a venue solely dedicated to indoor rock climbing. Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor rock climbing gym that is said to be a first for the borough, opened in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn on August 5 and is already a hit with locals.
The gym is co-owned by Jeremy Balboni, 26, and Steven Spaeth, 25, who did all of the construction of the walls and padded floors themselves along with employees of Spaeth’s family’s design marketing firm (that also happens to design Macy’s holiday windows.) The 18,000-square-foot former Daily News warehouse at Degraw Street and Third Avenue has thirty-foot ceilings and tasteful graffiti art and cartoons decorating portions of the wall where there aren’t nylon climbing grips. Climbing walls are tilted from just under vertical to totally horizontal for the most advanced. A scalable mock-up of a tower of the Brooklyn Bridge is a focal point in the gym.
Brooklyn Boulders is open to memberships. A day pass is $20/day with your own gear, or $30/day with provided gear and instruction. A yearly membership is $600 and a lifetime membership can be purchased for $5,000. It can be hard for gyms to survive on membership revenue alone, so to help Brooklyn Boulders survive, it’s available for corporate team-building, private special events and birthday parties.
The hours are irregular as the finishing touches are being made. Brooklyn Boulders is currently open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays with classes taking place at a few different times. Visit www.brooklynboulders.com for more information.
As it goes into its final month on Broadway, the soon-to-be-closing musical comedy Avenue Q makes a few local appearances on New York City TV shows. The hilarious puppet musical will appear on the morning of August 13 on the Fox television program Good Day New York, with cast members Ann Harada and Jennifer Barnhart chatting with the hosts and performing “The More You Ruv Someone”. Later that night, the Avenue Q cast will be on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing audience favorite “The Internet Is For Porn,” marking the first time that the number has been done on national television. The long-running Avenue Q recently celebrated its sixth anniversary on Broadway, but unfortunately it will be ending its run at the John Golden Theatre on September 13, so get tickets to see it in person while you still can!
Those of us who find it tiring to even watch the New York City marathon, or walk to a good vantage point, may take heart in this Sunday’s Half-Marathon, (August 16, starting at 7:00 am).
Beginning at Central Park’s East Drive, the course makes a clockwise loop around the park, continues to the south end of the park, and veers onto Seventh Avenue. Runners then head south to Times Square and along the Hudson River waterfront to lower Manhattan. The race, sponsored by The New York Road Runners Club, ends on West Street near Rector Street and Battery Park.
If watching the runners isn’t enough for you, entertainment will be provided throughout the course. It might be worth joining the crowd at Times Square just to say you were part of the Times Square Sing-Along—-lyrics to classic songs will be projected on an enormous video screen, while Broadway performers lead the festivities. Both runners and viewers are welcome to join in, but if the runners have enough breath to sing ”Hello, Dolly,” they aren’t doing their job.
Other entertainment activities include Samba New York! at 42nd Street and the West Side Highway; The Creamsicles, a band that will play funk, surf rock and gypsy punk (No, we don’t know what that means either); and the “Corridor of Sound,” five DJ Stations near the finish along the West Side Highway, with–wait for it–a variety of city sounds. Yes, you could probably step outside and hear the same thing, but what fun would that be?
Headliners of the New York Comedy Festival have officially been announced as Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg and 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan, joining the bill of an already stellar line-up of the country’s best comedians. The diverse group of performers include actor/comedian Dane Cook, British comedian Ricky Gervais, “Howard Stern Show” regular Artie Lange, actor/comedian Mike Epps, and comedian/television show host/author/political commentator Bill Maher. This is the sixth installment of the festival, with an estimated 150 comedians expected to perform. It will take place over the course of November 4 through 8 in New York City.
If a certain presidential election distracted you from the festival last November, then there is no excuse for not attending the festival this year. The comedy acts will be held at various locations throughout the city, at about 10 different venues, like Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Town Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and the Beacon Theatre. The festival is presented in association with Comedy Central. Panel discussions will also be held at the Paley Center for Media. The line-up of panelists is yet to be announced.
November 4 kicks off with “Stand Up For Heroes,” a special benefit presented by New York Comedy Festival and the Bob Woodruff Foundation at Town Hall. For more information and tickets, visit www.nycomedyfestival.com
While you’re roaming around New York City’s Rockefeller Center, admiring the maze-like layout, becoming immersed in the hustle and bustle, looking for the perfect gift at one of the many shops, or gazing up at the famous statue of Atlas near the entrance, your mind is probably not on buying fresh-picked apples or perhaps a bushel of nectarines.
Perhaps you didn’t even know that such foodstuffs were available at Rockefeller Center, except perhaps tossed in with some exotic ingredients at one of the many area restaurants.
But wait! New York’s lively and well-known Greenmarket sets up shop at Rockefeller Center every Wednesday-Friday from now through September 4 (it started July 29), selling flowers, baked goods and of course, fresh fruits and vegetables, all sourced locally.
The Farmer’s Market, sponsored by Ocean Spray, is free and open to the public; it’s located at 50th street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
While you’re there, check out the underground concourse replete with stores and restaurants and pedestrian passageways. You can also find your inner nature child at the lush Channel Gardens; separating the British and French Empire buildings, they were named after the English Channel.
Of course, you can also just have a seat and munch on some fresh produce and have everyone stare at you enviously.