Amtrak is on the Move–to the Post Office

James A. Farley Post OfficeAll aboard: Amtrak will most likely be chugging into a new home…across the street. New York City’s main post office will house Amtrak’s ticketing, boarding, and waiting areas, which will move from Penn Station to the James A. Farley Post Office directly across the street; a date for the move has not been set. The new station will be named after Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who died in 2003. Moynihan was inspired by the impressive former Penn Station, which stood above ground but was demolished in 1963.
Amtrak originally pulled out of the project several years ago, citing the enormous costs associated with the move. Under the new proposal, which was arrived at after six months of negotiations, Amtrak will have the opportunity to share revenue from retail outlets in the new space, and will also have a voice in some design changes. As part of the move, a splashy new entrance will be built for Penn Station, and capacity will be expanded. New tracks will also be built for the railway’s high-speed trains.
The project, estimated at more than $1 billion, still has a way to go—most of the money still needs to be raised. At the moment, more than $200 million in federal funds has been designated for the project, and stimulus funds are a possibility–but that still leaves a lot of money to be found.
Higher train fares, anyone?

A New Chapter for Tavern on the Green, But Maybe Not the One You Expected

Tavern on the GreenNew York City’s legendary Tavern on the Green restaurant was ready to enter a new chapter this coming January when it switched to new ownership—but one chapter people might not have been anticipating was Chapter 11: The current owner, Jennifer LeRoy, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
LeRoy’s family has operated Tavern on the Green for almost 35 years. She blames the bankruptcy filing on the current recession, as well as the city’s decision to give the restaurant’s license to new owners. The 75-year-old restaurant is due to pass into the hands of Dean Poll, who also runs Central Park’s Boathouse restaurant, in four months.
Twenty creditors and the money owed to them are listed in the federal bankruptcy filing: they include some that might be expected, such as almost $80,000 owed to American Express and close to $2 million owed to the New York Hotel Trades Council. There are other debts, however, that show that just as the rich are different from you and me; clearly, high-end restaurants are as well: More than $53,000 is owed to Atlanta’s Buckhead Beef, and (wait for it) $26,299 is due to Urbani Truffles.
In a somewhat ironic footnote, the public might be interested to know that the 19th- century building originally housed sheep. The Sheep Meadow was originally called “The Green,” so the restaurant, when it originally opened in 1934 (yes,the sheep had left by then), was christened “Tavern on the Green.”

Despite Troubles, Spiderman Musical Still Selling Tickets

Spiderman Turn Off the Dark Broadway ShowThe last few months have been trying times for the people behind the new Spider-man Turn Off the Dark musical. Delays, major money woes, and work stoppages have plagued the highly anticipated Broadway production directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King). However, optimistic fans take note – tickets are nonetheless still on sale for Spiderman through Ticketmaster. The show is still in the midst of its AmEx presale period, so you do have to have an American Express card to purchase tickets. You don’t, however, have to have a presale password to get the tickets. For American Express Premium or American Express Preferred seats you do have to have a password, but providing you don’t have your heart set on either of those options, you can still get regular tickets. Just go to Ticketmaster, search for Spider-man Turn Off the Dark to find the Spiderman page, request the number of tickets you want, and then when you get to the pay page, you’ll see that the only type of credit card you are allowed to select is American Express, so make sure you or a willing friend or family member has one on hand that you can use. Though there is still some doubt that the Spiderman musical (with a score penned by U2′s Bono and The Edge) will actually open on Broadway, assuming that the production does open at the Hilton Theatre in early 2010 as currently planned, it will likely be the hot ticket of the spring. In which case it may be advantageous to have your tickets in advance. In the event that the production is ultimately canceled, Ticketmaster will issue refunds to Spiderman ticket holders.

Jujamcyn Theaters Have New President

Jordan RothNew York’s Jujamcyn Company, which owns and operates five Broadway theaters, has a new president. Broadway producer Jordan Roth is taking over as president of the theaters following the resignation of Rocco Landesman, who, after nearly 22 years in the job, will become chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts.
The 33-year-old Roth was formerly vice-president of the theater company, which, incidentally, was named for the three children of founder James Binger: Judith, James and Cynthia.
Roth helped bring the recent productions of “Spring Awakening” and “Hair” to the Broadway stage, as well as the not-so-successful Harvey Fierstein vehicle “A Catered Affair.” The Princeton-educated Roth clearly has great hopes for the company: he also purchased a share in it.
The theaters owned by the Jujamcyn Company currently house such shows as “Hair” (the Al Hirschfeld Theatre) and “Jersey Boys,” currently residing in the August Wilson Theatre.
In the upcoming season, revivals of “Finian’s Rainbow” and Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” will be housed in Jujamcyn Theaters as well, as will the new musical “Fela,” a look at Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Roth has said in interviews that he’s an admirer of the business strategy behind premium-priced tickets (read: higher-priced tickets) that are available to segments of the population willing to pay over-the-top prices; but he also claims that the company will continue to help theatergoers have easier access to tickets and information, as well as to have a top-of-the-line theater experience.
Theater is clearly in Roth’s DNA: His mother, Daryl Roth, produced six Pultizer-Prize winning plays.

Avenue Q To Return To Off-Broadway!

Avenue Q Broadway MusicalIt appears that we may have eulogized Avenue Q too soon. At the closing performance at the John Golden Theatre on September 13, the show’s producers announced that though the beloved puppet musical may be leaving Broadway, it won’t be leaving New York City. The show will re-open on October 9 at the Off-Broadway theater complex New World Stages. So Avenue Q fans need only walk five blocks north to see their favorite Sesame Street-inspired satirical musical now. This kind of move, taking a show from Broadway to Off-Broadway, is highly unusual, but actually makes a lot of sense for this particular show. Avenue Q already proved that it can do well Off-Broadway with its pre-Broadway Vineyard Theatre run, and even the long-running Broadway production never completely ran out of steam – the show still has many fans and still draws a fair number of tourists. Moving Avenue Q to a smaller Off-Broadway space, which will be easier to fill and likely has far cheaper rent, could be a very smart, innovative move. It will be interesting to see if any other smaller Broadway shows might try the same strategy in the future. Casting for the Off-Broadway production has not been announced yet, but tickets are already on sale.

Avenue Q Ends Lengthy Broadway Run Today

Avenue Q Broadway ShowThe little show that could, Avenue Q, finally ran out of steam today, ending its six-year Broadway run at the John Golden Theatre today. Although the puppet musical eventually succumbed to the lowering ticket sales that inevitably bedevil most long-running shows, it remains a great Broadway success story. The modest one-set musical comedy began with a hit run at Off-Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre, surprising many when it made the move to Broadway in 2003. Naysayers didn’t think that a hip and snarky little musical like Avenue Q, which is a kind of satirical post-college take on Sesame Street, would fit in on big-and-glittery Broadway. But the show won over audiences of all ages, who were too busy laughing at songs like “If You Were Gay” and “The Internet Is For Porn” to be concerned about the fact that it didn’t have big sets or big stars. Empowered by its popularity, Avenue Q launched a major campaign to win the Best Musical Tony Award, and it ultimately nabbed the trophy, beating mega-musical Wicked. At its closing, Avenue Q played over 2,500 performances for Broadway audiences.

Hamlet Starring Jude Law Begins On Broadway

The new production of Hamlet starring Jude Law began performances at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway this evening. The Donmar Warehouse production, directed by Michael Grandage, enjoyed sold-out runs in London’s West End and at Kronberg Castle in Elsinore (where the legendary Shakespearean tragedy takes place) earlier this year. This Broadway run will be a limited engagement playing through December 6, so Jude Law fans had best get their tickets before they sell out. This production of Hamlet marks Law’s first time on Broadway since he appeared in Indiscretions in 1995 (a role that earned him a Tony nod). Though he is no stranger to the stage, Law is best known as an international movie star, with notable films including The Talented Mr. Ripley, Alfie, Cold Mountain, and the upcoming Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie.

Jude Law Returns To Broadway In Hamlet

Hamlet Broadway PlayThe new production of Hamlet starring Jude Law began performances at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway this evening. The Donmar Warehouse production, directed by Michael Grandage, enjoyed sold-out runs in London’s West End and at Kronberg Castle in Elsinore (where the legendary Shakespearean tragedy takes place) earlier this year. This Broadway run will be a limited engagement playing through December 6, so Jude Law fans had best get their tickets before they sell out. This production of Hamlet marks Law’s first time on Broadway since he appeared in Indiscretions in 1995 (a role that earned him a Tony nod). Though he is no stranger to the stage, Law is best known as an international movie star, with notable films including The Talented Mr. Ripley, Alfie, Cold Mountain, and the upcoming Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie.

Sept. 11 Commemorated with Memorial Events

September 11 Tower of LightAmericans across the country gather today to remember the events of September 11, 2001. In New York City, the names of all the victims of the terrorist attacks were read aloud this morning, and four moments of silence were observed: two at the times the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, and two when the towers fell.
Tonight, two searchlights will be turned on at 6:00 PM for the “Tower of Light,” and remain lit, pointing upward, until 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. Commemorating the two towers, the lights will remain static.
For Americans who want something concrete to do, September 11 was recently designated a day of National Service and Remembrance; everyone is being urged to find ways to get out and help in their communities.
At Trinity Church on Wall Street, an all-night vigil and walk was held; a service will take place this afternoon starting at 12:30 PM.
In addition, a number of other September 11 initiatives are underway. The Port Authority is offering World Trade Center debris to be used in memorials around the country–about 2,000 pieces are available; they are currently being stored at JFK airport.
And a new website (911history.org) is asking for personal stories about the attacks to be featured as part of a series of remembrances at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, slated to open in 2012. Visitors will descend 70 feet under Ground Zero, where they can view images of the attacks and hear stories from families and friends of the victims.
Because many of the images will be very graphic, ranging from people jumping out of the towers to human remains, a warning will be in place for visitors.