Scarlet Johansson Gets A View From The Bridge

Movie actress Scarlet Johansson (Lost in Translation, Match Point) is going to be making her Broadway debut later this year in a new revival of the Arthur Miller drama A View From the Bridge. She will be co-starring alongside Broadway regular Liev Schreiber (a Tony winner for Glengarry Glen Ross), who will play her working class Brooklyn uncle, Eddie. The production, directed by Gregory Mosher, will begin performances at the Cort Theatre on December 28, 2009, with an official Broadway opening scheduled for January 24, 2010. A View From the Bridge will be a strictly limited engagement, playing only 14 weeks.

Got God? Maybe Not on the New York City Subway System

QAtheist suway adIf you’re used to seeing ads for community colleges, lurid best bestsellers, and video game systems on the New York City subway system, get ready for something completely different: Ads for a coalition of eight atheist organizations start running today, October 26.
About a dozen subway stations across the city will start running the ads, which bear the tagline: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” The words appear over a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.
The Big Apple Coalition for Reason decided that putting up the ads in the subway provided the most potential viewership—and since the New York City subway system serves more than 5 million riders per day, they’re probably right. The groups in the coalition include the Secular Humanist Society of New York and the New York Center for Inquiry.
The campaign came about when The United Coalition of Reason, a national organization, approached the New York atheist associations over the summer. An anonymous source had offered to help pay for the subway campaign, and thus were the ads born.
Will we see a backlash? In a city that regularly sees ads for strip clubs and escort services splashed across public areas, is religion the last taboo?
Well, an American Religious Identification Survey released earlier this year showed a shift in religious identity in this country: Those checking “none” for religion rose from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008.
We’ll see if atheist-themed blue skies or bedroom-eyed blondes cause more of a ruckus.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spiralling Legacy: The Guggenheim Turns 50

The Guggenheim MuseumNew York’s legendary, can’t-miss-it, doesn’t-look-like-anything-else-in-the-world Guggenheim Museum turned 50 last week. If you missed the glowing red lights on top of the Empire State Building in honor of the event, don’t worry–great stuff is happening all year long.
For starters, the Guggenheim highlights the paintings of Vasily Kandinsky, whose work has been an intrinsic part of the Museum’s history. Kandinsky’s work, which focuses on non-objective painting, represents a kind of abstraction in which no recognizable imagery can be seen; before the Guggenheim was, well, the Guggenheim, it was The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, in large part due to its focus on Kandinsky’s work.
As you travel up and down the famous spiral ramp in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, you can also catch a sculptural installation by Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor, who has had a profound impact on modern sculpture with his fresh approach to material, color and scale. “Memory,” which was commissioned by the museum, is on view through March 28.
While you’re there, take a moment to stand on the ramp and gaze upwards at the extraordinary views and use of space. Wright was not a fan of New York or cities in general, so the museum was built near Central Park to take advantage of its proximity to nature. We can only be glad that it was.
The museum is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. Call 212- 423-3500 for more information.

Brighton Beach Memoirs Opens at the Nederlander

Brighton Beach Memoirs Broadway ShowThe revival of the Neil Simon comedy Brighton Beach Memoirs opens at the Nederlander Theatre tonight. The production will be playing in rep with another Neil Simon play, Broadway Bound, scheduled to open on December 10. Both plays are part of what is known as Simon’s semi-autobiographical “Eugene Morris Jerome trilogy,” three plays that follow a young man named Eugene Jerome from his youth in Brooklyn (Brighton Beach Memoirs) to his time spent in the army (Biloxi Blues) and on to his developing career as a comedy writer (Broadway Bound); however, Biloxi Blues is not part of this revival. Noah Robbins plays Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, and also starring in the David Cromer-directed production is Laurie Metcalf (TV’s Roseanne, Broadway’s November) and Santino Fontana (Billy Elliot).

The Tent is Up and the Trapeze is Swinging: The Big Apple Circus is Back

Big Apple CircusWe’ve had three-ring circuses, new-wave circuses, and backyard circuses–but for many of us, the most charming has to be the one-ring show, as exemplified by The Big Apple Circus; it has just set up shop in New York City for a three-month run, through Jan. 17.
The familiar big tent behind Lincoln Center plays host to this season’s incarnation, “Bello is Back,” and for many New Yorkers, that’s big news. The legendary performer with the sky-high hair defected for a while to the Ringling Bros. Circus, but has returned to perform his feats of derring-do in an arena where no seat is more than 50 feet away from the action. For those who follow such things, “Time” Magazine recently named him “America’s Best Clown.”
This year, the performers include juggler Picasso Jr. from Spain; the Russian Aniskan troupe (trampoline and trapeze); and perennial favorite Grandma the Clown. (Thank goodness, no scary, leering clowns at this circus). And all the action takes place in one ring, so no one in the audience is frantically trying to see the pink poodles and the guy on the tiny bike at the same time. (No, thankfully, this circus actually has neither.)
The Big Apple Circus, FYI, also manages some stellar community programs throughout the city, going into schools and hospitals. Big-name performers; even bigger hearts.
To order tickets, call 888-541-3750; to enter the big tent, go to 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.
You can’t miss it.

A New City Service Eliminates a Giant School Headache

New York City school busFile this under the why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-before category.
Want to know if your child is eligible to take the school bus? Wondering if you can sneak a peek at your child’s school data online? Tired of making 387 phone calls with no result?
Wonder and dial endlessly no more. A New York City service will have (just about all the) answers: Calling 311–just ONE phone call–will get parents; prospective students and their families; and the just plain curious up-to-date information about New York City public schools.
No, really.
This round-the-clock service will come as a giant relief to those who had no idea how to access public school information. (Read: Most everybody). Education experts will be on hand to answer questions, without the frustration of being bounced around among endless government agencies and hotlines.
Among the questions most likely to be posed: What time can I expect my child to be dropped off/picked up by the school bus each day? How do I register my child for school? And the ever-popular and always-mind-numbing, “How does the admissions process work for kindergarten/high school/middle school, etc.?
If you have a specific question about your child’s schedule or school, however, parent coordinators are still on hand in each school to answer those questions.
In the meantime, hooray–one less thing to make parents crazy.

Will it Play in Peoria? Shrek the Musical to Close on Broadway


He may have survived any number of obstacles to win the heart of his true love, Princess Fiona, but New York’s Broadway stage seems to have been unconquerable—the announcement was made by the producers yesterday (Oct. 21) that Shrek would be galloping across his swamp no more—“Shrek the Musical” will end its run on Jan, 3, 1010.
The musical, which encapsulates several of the plots about the ogre and his exploits from the “Shrek” movies, will have had 441 performances and 37 previews at the Broadway Theatre when it closes.
The musical received eight Tony Award nominations in 2009 (and won one for Best Costume Design in a Musical). Although it had a very strong holiday season last year, “Shrek” never received either the critical or word-of-mouth encouragement it needed to stay afloat. The musical received only lukewarm reviews, at best, when it opened, and with the economy in freefall, parents are being more discerning about what kind of family entertainment they choose and where to put their dollars.
Insiders–and those who simply read the newspaper–may have figured out recently that something was up–a near frenzy of special promotions have been advertised or hinted at lately.
Is there life for Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and the rest after New York? Maybe Midwesterners will prove to have different tastes: A limited national tour of “Shrek” will run from July 13-Sept. 5, starting at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Shrek To Conclude Its Broadway Run In January

Shrek the musicalIt’s a hard life for an ogre on Broadway. Shrek, the new musical version of the book-turned-film franchise, has been struggling to bring in audiences since it opened to tepid reviews last season. You would think that the fact that the musical is both clever and family-friendly, and a much-needed alternative to Disney on Broadway, would have helped it, but apparently that was not enough – the show has announced that it will be closing up swamp on January 3, 2010. Based on William Steig’s book, the Shrek musical starred Brian d’Arcy as grumpy green ogre Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, and Daniel Breaker as Donkey when it first opened at the Broadway Theatre last year. The show’s book was written by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Fuddy Meers) and features songs by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change, Thoroughly Modern Millie).

Metal, Punk, R&B or Hip Hop: It’s All At the CMJ Music Festival

OMG! It’s CMJ in NYC!
Translation: Wow! The CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival takes over New York City this week as more than 1,200 bands perform at more than 75 venues across the city. Movies have their place as well, including the premiere of The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson.
If you’re used to wandering barefoot across fields in some rural locale to hear the latest cutting-edge bands at a festival, you’ll be happy-–or not–to hear that the farthest you’ll have to go is a subway ride. Never heard of the CMJ festival? In the past, it has famously showcased Green Day, U2, REM and the Killers, among others, before they were mega-names. This year, ‘90s pop rock takes center stage (Why? Not sure) with Vertical Horizon and Spin Doctors’ front man Chris Barron putting in appearances. Not cutting-edge enough for you? Well, you can always check out Tribute Wars, an all-metal tribute to Michael Jackson and The Bee Gees.
The festival runs through Saturday, October 24; before then, you can hear Jersey punk band the Screaming Females at the Mercury Lounge (217 E. Houston Street on October 21, and FYI, only one female is in the band); and the CMJ Showcase at S.O.B.’s (204 Varick Street) on October 22; it features new-wave, R&B and hip-hop acts.
More information can be found at cmj.com.

El Museo del Barrio Reopens to the Public

El Museo del BarrioAfter completing the first phase of extensive ongoing renovations, New York’s El Museo del Barrio has just reopened to the public in the first phase of their ongoing redevelopment. (It’s located at 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street; 212 831-7927.)
The city’s only Latino Institution on Museum Mile (a group of Museums on Upper Fifth Avenue) is also marking its 40th anniversary, with a year-long display of exhibitions, performances and public programming.
The Museum was founded in 1969 by artist/educator Raphael Montanez Ortiz and a group of parents, educators, activists and artists who wanted more focus on Latin artists by mainstream museums. It now houses more than 6,500 objects that span more than 800 years of Caribbean, Latin American and Latino art, including pre-Columbia Taino objects; contemporary prints and photographs; and documentary films and video.
With Phase 1 complete, the Museum showcases its new Carmen Ana Unanue galleries that will host its permanent collection. The next phase will concentrate on the 104th Street lobby of the Heckscher Building as well as work in El Teatro.
The Museum reopens with an exhibition titled “Nexus New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis,” which focuses on the Caribbean and Latin American artists who lived in New York pre-World War 1, and were instrumental in shaping the American avant-garde.