Come Hungry, Eat Hearty During New York’s Restaurant Week

Fish Dish During Restaurant WeekFeeling hungry…for someone else’s cooking? Longing for a nice meal…with somebody not related to you to wash the dishes? Well, grab your penny jar and head out, because it’s Restaurant Week in New York City.
The event, which began yesterday and runs through Feb. 7, offers three-course, prix-fixe lunches for $24.07, and dinners for $35 at some of the city’s top eateries. On the list: 21, Aquavit and Asia de Cuba; Blue Smoke, Butter, and Capsouto Freres. Down at the other end of the alphabet, you can dine at Orsay, The Palm, Rosa Mexicano and The Water Club. Several websites have additional information and ways to make reservations; check out nycgo.com.
While the restaurants don’t always bring their A game—expect a lot of chicken and fish–it’s still a chance to enjoy a meal in some of New York’s most famous dining establishments.
But even if you don’t feel like setting foot inside, say, Tribeca Grill, you can still enjoy soup from a roving Restaurant Week Truck. Hungry New Yorkers can find offerings from twenty-four restaurants at three street corners (Broadway between 50th and 51st from Jan. 25-29; Fifth Avenue between 18th and 19th from Feb. 1-3; and Greenwich Street, between Warren and Murray Streets, from Feb, 4-5.) The trucks, new this time around, will generally be there between 11 am and 2 pm, and will offer such soul-warming goodies as City Crab’s New England clam chowder, and gingered sweet potato and lobster bisque from The Sea Grill.
And if you need more incentive, $1 from every $6 truck purchase will go towards The Haiti Relief Fund.
Eat well; help others. A win-win deal all around.

20at20 Program Offers Big Off-Broadway Discounts

Awesome 80s Prom Off-Broadway ShowOff-Broadway fans take note, the 20at20 program is back, now through February 7. Nowadays, when even Off-Broadway show prices are skyrocketing, this seasonal offer is a godsend for theater lovers who want to see exciting New York plays and musicals for a mere $20. How it works is that you go to the box office for any participating Off-Broadway show at 20 minutes until show time, and they will sell any remaining tickets for just twenty dollars. This means that in the event that a show is actually sold out by that time, or if fellow bargain hunters beat you to the punch, you won’t be able to get tickets. So it might be wise to make a short list of the Off-Broadway shows that you are most interested in, and if the first one you go to is without tickets, then run over to the next theater on your list. There are dozens of participating shows, including The Awesome ’80s Prom, Black Angels Over Tuskegee, Dear Edwina, Fuerzabruta, Naked Boys Singing!, Perfect Crime, The Fantasticks, Venus in Fur, and Zero Hour. For a complete list and more info, visit www.20at20.com.

Watch Your Step: Picasso Gets Tripped Up

Picasso's The ActorArt has its perils—at least if you were a visitor to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street) on Friday.
A visitor–Overenthusiastic? Awkward? Cursed?–lost her balance and fell into the Picasso painting “The Actor,” valued at $80 million.
The visitor tore a six-inch gash in the lower right-hand corner of the painting, unusual in part for its large size—6 feet by 4 feet. The work is also important in that it signaled a move from Picasso’s “Blue Period,” in which he used mainly shades of blue, to a rose period. Picasso painted “The Actor” in the winter of 1904-05. It was donated to the Met in 1952 by automobile heiress Thelma Chrysler Foy, and has hung in a second-floor gallery since then. The painting shows a stick-thin figure in a pink stage costume, and is displayed with some of Picasso’s other early works.
The woman who damaged the painting was participating in an adult education class in the afternoon, and somehow stumbled and fell.
A Museum statement says that the damage can be fully repaired, and that the hole was not made in a focal point of the painting.
The painting, which was removed from the gallery, will supposedly be repaired in time to be displayed in an exhibit of 250 Picasso works entitled “Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art” that opens April 27 and runs through August 1.
Considering the sheer numbers of people that move through the Museum each day, if not each hour, it’s actually a wonder that more accidents don’t happen more often.

Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie Goes Bye-Bye

The Roundabout Theatre Company production of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, the first-ever Broadway revival of this regional and amateur theater mainstay, is closing at the newly refurbished Henry Miller’s Theatre today. Starring John Stamos (Full House on TV, Cabaret on Broadway), Gina Gershon, and Bill Irwin, Bye Bye Birdie was disliked by the critics but managed to do good enough ticket sales early in the run to merit an extension. Initially, the production was selling tickets through to April, but, presumably due to low ticket sales or to a failure to get suitable replacements for Stamos and Gershon when their contracts expired, Roundabout moved up the show’s closing date to January 24. The Dame Edna/Michael Feinstein show All About Me will take up residence at the Henry Miller’s Theatre following Birdie‘s departure.

What Lurks Beneath? Open the Manhole Cover and Find Out

Atlantic Avenue Tunnel ToursOf all the urban legends about New York, one of the greatest and most prevalent has to be what prowls under the city streets. Well, now is your chance to find out, sort of. The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel tours are running this weekend, as well as on Saturday, January 30, and many folk will get the chance to hop on board. Or, rather, to descend under the yawning bowels of the city and see what lurks beneath.
The tours are part of openhousenewyork, an organization that take visitors behind the scenes to see some of the inner working of the design and architecture of the city. In October, for instance, free tours that showcase some of New York’s startling design innovations are offered. (ohny.org for information).
This time around, the organization, along with the Brooklyn Historical Railway Association, offers a guided tour of the world’s oldest subway system. It was constructed, amazingly, using only basic hand tools—in just seven months. Bob Diamond, who rediscovered the tunnels in 1980, leads the tours. He will set off twice each day though the half-mile space. (Tours fill up very quickly.) It works sort of like a secret society–meeting times and so forth are given to you after you’ve purchased your tickets; go to the website for info.
All sorts of caveats exist, apart from the obvious (no high heels, duh.)
The tunnel entrance is a manhole cover in the middle of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. (How Secret Agent!)
Even if you don’t go, isn’t it kind of cool to know that such a thing exists?

Spice Girls Musical Now In the Works

Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer will soon be seeing if she can do for The Spice Girls what she did for ABBA. Craymer has worked out an agreement with American Idol creator Simon Fuller and The Spice Girls themselves that is to result in the creation of a brand new musical based on the song catalog and the personalities of the five-woman “girl power” pop band The Spice Girls. No creative team has yet been announced, but the show’s tentative title is Viva Forever. The Spice Girls’ biggest hit was the single “Wannabe,” and they also had a hit film called Spice World. Although the quintet will be involved in the development of Viva Forever, they will not actually be in the musical.

The Economy May be Hairy, But "Hair" Helped with a Food Drive

Food Drive in New YorkWith many raises cut, jobs in question, and unemployment up in New York, donations to food pantries and shelters are down in this less-than-stellar economy. So the New York Daily News/City Harvest food drive found a unique way to chip in yesterday—aspiring performers auditioning at an open casting call of the musical “Hair” were asked to bring canned goods along with their resumes.
Glossy headshots, pages of sheet music and cans of baked bean, soup and other staples were a common sight at the Public Theater on Friday, where the tryouts were held. By 8:30 am, more than 960 actors had already lined up for their chance to belt out 16 bars of a song and hand over their cans.
But New York, don’t despair if your singing chops weren’t up to par and you weren’t possessed by that renegade-counterculture hippie spirit—you can still donate food.
Donations are accepted at all police and fire stations across the city; Modell’s sporting-goods stores across the five boroughs; and the lobby of The New York Daily News (450 West 33rd Street in Manhattan).
The latest incarnation of “Hair” opens on Broadway on March 9.
So come on, New York, grab a can of pasta fagioli or black bean soup, and get yourself to your nearest police or fire station. Or combine a trip to buy sneakers for little Bobby with a drop-off that’s seriously needed.
Hair, hair!

Ahoy, New York: It’s the New York Boat Show

New York Boat ShowStop anchoring yourself to your couch, New York, and sail off for the Javits Center. Yup, you guessed it–the annual New York Boat show has arrived. The 105th show, at the Javits Center through Sunday, Jan. 24, is the Holy Grail to boat aficionados. The world’s longest-running boat show is in port from 10 am to 10 pm today and Saturday, and from 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. (The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is at 655 West 34th Street; the main entrance is on 11th Avenue and 35th Street; 212 216-2000.)
The show primarily features boats and marine gear for sale. Perhaps with a nod to the economy, it includes an “Affordability Pavilion” (their phrase), with boats costing less than $250 a month. Also in store: boaters (or those who love talk) can enter the “Fish Tales” contest: Share your best fishing tale, and if the judges deem you triumphant, you could win a Fishfinder/Chartplotter. Isn’t fishing lingo the best?
New this year: A traveling Nature and Maritime Museum on Wheels. Yes, mom, when dad gets that fanatical gleam in his eyes, you and the kids can slink off to this exhibit. The space is designed to feel like a boat (surprise, surprise) with some pirate-ship-like features thrown in. Nautical artifacts, interactive exhibits, educational displays, and other exhibits designed to highlight ocean and estuary life take center stage.
And clearly, someone over at the Boat Center has a sense of humor; because here are some of the seminars you can attend: “Don’t Wake for Me!” (Basic Rules of the Road, Safety, and Navigational Aids) and “What Knot to Know” (Basic knot tying and uses).
It’s all shipshape over there, so cast away!

The 39 Steps To Re-Open Off-Broadway in March

The 39 Steps Off-Broadway ShowWhat was only speculated a couple months ago is now final: The 39 Steps, which recently enjoyed a two-year run on Broadway before closing at the Helen Hayes Theatre on January 10, will re-open Off-Broadway at New World Stages. The new production, which has yet to be cast, will start performances on March 25. In making this move, The 39 Steps has copied the route recently taken by Avenue Q, the popular musical that had a long Broadway run and then, very shortly after closing its Broadway production, moved to New World Stages Off-Broadway. The theory is that shows like these, which have relatively low production costs (because of small casts and simple sets) and still have some selling power (just not enough to fill an entire Broadway theater), can prolong their New York life by transferring to a smaller Off-Broadway theater where running costs are lower. When Avenue Q made the move, it appeared to be a fluke. But now that The 39 Steps is attempting the same strategy, Broadway wags think it could be a trend.

Like Your Thrill Rides Nausea-Inducing? You’ll be in Luck at Coney Island

Coney Island AstrolandIf you live for over-the-top thrill rides, daring drops, nauseating spins, and stomach-churning twists, then New York’s Coney Island is the place for you this coming summer. As part of the amusement park’s major renovation, Zamperla USA has won the right to bring their wares to a 7-acre parcel of land; it includes the now-defunct Astroland. Zamperla USA runs the very popular Victorian Gardens Amusement Park in Manhattan’s Central Park each summer. They were competing with other vendors such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Steel Pier. Zamperla could have the rights for the next 10 years; after that, a permanent developer is expected to turn Coney Island into a year-round entertainment and retail spot.
The city hopes that at least some of the rides will be ready by Memorial Day weekend, but a final agreement has not yet been reached.
Proposals were submitted by all the competing companies, which had to put forward plans for development of at least one of the three available areas of land. Zamperla’s proposal covered all three areas.
The company won’t reveal which rides will be unveiled this summer, but a list of their most popular attractions include The Disk-O-Coaster, a mix of a spinning ride and roller coaster that spins in circles while going over tracks (why not just pump riders’ stomachs while they’re at it?); and The Vertical Swing, a swing ride 125 feet in the air that moves at dizzying speeds. Also a hit with riders: The Giant Discovery, which flips riders from a giant pendulum and turns them upside down; and The Flash Tower, offering freefalls from 120 feet.
Please–no hot dogs beforehand.