Tag Archives: Off Broadway

The Best Wedding Ever

by Leslie, Concierge

tonyntina2Everyone loves a wedding and I am no exception! Tony and Tina’s wedding is the best one I have ever attended, real or fake, and I have been a bridesmaid seven times. This one of a kind theater experience breaks all the rules of traditional shows, allowing every guest to participate in the wedding, reception, and all the other antics created by the hilarious cast.

Tony and Tina are the dream couple in love and their wedding has all the pomp and circumstance required for a memorable event! From the brides overly fluffed dress to the grooms bright white tux every detail for a real wedding is present and in excess!    However, Tony and Tina’s wedding is not all champagne and Taffeta, when their Italian-American family and friends get involved and create mischief throughout the three hour event.

As soon as you arrive at the wedding ceremony the show has begun. Actors are in the lobby and in character welcoming guests and taking care of last minute details. Each guest exchanges their ticket for an invitation and is then shown to their seats by ushers or the wedding party.   Cast members are great with the audience, every actor is dressed to impress and comes with their own storyline for the evening. The family drama that ensues might remind you of your own domestic squabbles but Tony and tonyntinaTina’s family arguments are so outlandish you will be giddy with laughter.

Throughout the night you will have plenty of time to mix and mingle with all of the cast members and even gossip and play a part in the crazy capers. I personally became friends with a Nun named Teri. She is a hilarious comic, talented actress and downright adorable. Throughout the night Teri the Nun and I checked in with each other to see how the night was going, danced to Lady Gaga and sang Britney Spears. Teri the Nun isn’t the only gem in the cast, all of the actors are personable including The Best Man who asked my husband’s name once and remembered him all night. He even posted a picture of them together on Instagram during the show. In fact, Social Media is encouraged throughout the show and makes the night even more fun. Pictures taken and posted on social media are projected onto the wall by the main dance floor (yes, there is a dance floor and yes, you will be in a conga line at some point.) Tony and Tina have even purchased Wi-Fi for the night making internet access quick and easy.

tonyntina3The reception takes place in a large private room at Guy’s American Kitchen where the wedding guests enjoy delicious pasta and salad for dinner and of course a slice of wedding cake. Drinks can also be purchased for a reasonable price if you would like a few spirits to help you during the conga. A DJ hosts the reception and also preforms throughout the evening. Even the waiters and waitresses are actors and they take part in the reception drama all through the night. Tony and Tina’s wedding is the only thing you need to do this spring. Get your tickets today and join in the festive celebration of true love, family and all the hilarious drama that accompanies it!

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Peter & the Starcatcher Still Flies Off Broadway

peternew2This spring Peter and the Starcatcher moved from the Brooks Atkinson Theater to the excellent Off Broadway venue, New World Stages. This play has been the subject of a number of blogs in the past, and we’re happy to say it is still the absolute best! Concierge Laura experienced the show for the first time recently, read about her experience below!

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on a novel of similar name by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and the play provides a backstory for the character of Peter Pan.

I recently went to see Peter and the Starcatcher, and I must admit, it was surprising! It wasn’t like any other show I had seen before! This show invites you to let your imagination fly far, far away, and you have to have your mind and imagination open so you can fully understand the show.

peternew3It also brought me back to my childhood; who hasn’t watched Peter Pan? From the moment when you sit down in your seat at the theater you enjoy every second of it. Also, let’s not forget the marvelous acting that keeps you laughing at all the hilarious moments (many of the characters are sailors, and sailors are funny!), but it also has subtle layers of humor that doesn’t let anyone –anyone who is paying attention- stay indifferent. Captain “Black Stache” (played by Rick Holmes) is one of the highlights of the play; you feel like making fun of him, or even better, you have fun with him: the actor does a magnificent job portraying him, with such passion and emphasis. Another wonderful comic character, Mrs. Bumbrake (Jon Patrick Walker), is portrayed a male actor, and who doesn’t enjoy looking at a man playing the role of a women, not hiding that he is a man and despite his feminine behavior? Every time he would talk he would crack me up.

peternew1Children and adults will enjoy this play. For a child, there is the whole new discovering-your-imagination part, (like at the time on the play when they show you a little wooden ship and ask you to believe that they are actually in it). Adults can practice the same exercise, as sometimes we forget to let our imagination go.

The interesting part is: Peter Pan expresses all through the play why he doesn’t want to grow up, and hey, his reasoning is not bad at all, that is a face of Peter Pan that you usually don’t really get to see.

If you like plays, and you are looking into watching a different type of play, Peter and the Starcatcher is the play to see. You will have fun, you will be amazed by the intelligence of the show and you will probably want to see it again, so you can reminisce on the details that you think you might have forgotten the first time, as this exquisite play is full, full of details. You will be surprised of what can come from a play that basically only uses a rope and a ladder for almost two hours and a half. As I advised, just let your imagination go and you will have the best time.

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It’s All in the Timing…and the time is now!

by Louise, Director of Operations

The new production of All in the Timing, a collection of short plays by David Ives (also  the playwright of the recent Broadway hit Venus in Fur) just officially opened at Primary Stages on Tuesday. This is a 20th anniversary production – the collection first premiered in the fall of 1993. I remember going to see it then with my family, and even though I now realize that I probably was too young for the vast majority of the jokes, I have very fond memories of seeing it (over and over again) and we have been quoting it on a regular basis for the past two decades.

AITT1

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

These six short plays share common themes: timing (as implied by the name), language and communication. In my favorite of the plays, The Universal Language, an entirely new language (called Unamunda) is spoken by the characters, consisting mostly of onomatopoeia and re-purposed words. Even though it’s essentially gibberish, you can understand pretty much everything the characters are saying anyway, if you’re not laughing too hard to listen. I can also pretty much guarantee that something from this play will find its way into your regular vocabulary. I’ve been saying “off corset” for “of course” and “corngranulations” for “congratulations” for most of my life without even remembering that they were Unamunda.

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

The other two plays in the first half of the show focus on language as well. In Sure Thing, a man and woman meet and re-start or move a few lines back in their conversation over and over again until they are headed in the right direction (the right direction being love, of course), as though life were a video game where you had infinite chances to get it right. And wouldn’t that be nice? In Words, Words, Words, three monkeys are unwillingly taking part in an experiment at Columbia University with the hypothesis that if they are left alone with typewriters they will eventually produce Hamlet purely by chance. In Ives’s particular version of reality, the monkeys are well aware of what they are expected to do (although they don’t know what Halmet is, which is somewhat of a stumbling block) and have a lengthy (amazing, philosophical, hilarious) discussion about their circumstances.

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

Photo Credit James Leynse, Playbill.com

The plays of the second act are (to my mind, anyway) more existential. Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread is basically just that, and I don’t know how else to describe it to you except to say its completely surreal and even if you don’t know who Philip Glass is, you will still laugh. The second play, Philadelphia, suggests that how your day is going speaks to a metaphysical location – in this case, the main character, while physically in New York City, has woken up “in a Philadelphia” which turns out to mean that he can’t get anything he wants (no real offense intended to Philly, I’m sure). In the final play of the evening, Variations on the Death of Trotsky, Leon Trotsky has a chance to reflect on his own death before it happens. While this play has a healthy dose of silliness, like all the others, it also has the most serious tone, including the haunting line spoken by Trotsky when he accepts that August 21st is the day he is going to die: “And to think I’ve gone over so many August 21st’s in my life, like a man walking over his own grave.” Gives you shivers, doesn’t it?

The cast of this new production is so wonderful and tirelessly energetic that by the end of the play I was tearing up just from their sheer joy at performing it. Carson Elrod (who was performing in another show while rehearsing for this one which just blows my mind) is particularly amazing; he appears in 5 of the 6 plays, transitioning quickly and brilliantly from character to character and hitting every note in exactly the way I would have wished him to as a (nearly) lifelong lover of these plays. Matthew Saldivar, Liv Rooth, Jenn Harris, and Eric Clem make up the rest of the ensemble, and every one of them is phenomenal. It’s always such a delight to see a group of actors meshing together so perfectly and really seem to be having a wonderful time. Even on the transitions between plays the actors are on stage, bringing us through the transitions in character. Every moment is absolutely delightful.

Right now All in the Timing is scheduled to run only through March 17th, though I hope it is eligible to be extended. I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t find his or herself gasping with laughter at every play. You need to go. YOU. Need. To. Go. I mean it. Email me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com to plan a trip including tickets!

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Money, mitzvah, and the music of Neil Diamond

By Kelly, Group Sales & Services Manager

Let me begin by saying that if I received a check for $56,000 addressed to me in the mail, there would be no question about whether or not to deposit it – just questions on how to spend it.

Clearly, I am not as morally noble (or – depending on who you ask – racked with Jewish guilt) as Josh Cohen, who is faced with this dilemma in the delightfully funny and charming Off-Broadway production of “The Other Josh Cohen,” now playing at the SoHo Playhouse.

Josh, your typical 30-something “everyman,” is perpetually down on his luck.  Traumatized by Valentines Days past, unlucky in everything (especially love), and most recently robbed of all his worldly possessions (except for one CD – Neil Diamond III – which he got for free), Josh Cohen wonders if fate has finally stopped dumping on his life when he receives a check addressed to him in the mail for $56,000 from an Irma Cohen.  This check poses both incredible opportunity and immediate anxiety – though this money could help finally change Josh’s life for the better – will his nagging conscience allow him to actually use it, or will fate be fickle as usual?  With the assistance of a Darth Vader phone (a gift from Josh’s neighbors), he seeks out anyone who can help fill in the blanks – his parents, his sister, and 12 rings later, Irma Cohen herself.

As Josh seeks answers, the audience is presented with Josh’s story told by two reliable sources – current-day “Narrator Josh,” and “Real Josh,” who re-enacts the events that took place one year prior as he interacts with his future self.  Glimpses into Josh’s traumatic romantic life, questionable Jewish lineage, and unfulfilled dreams of being a writer are interspersed with the discovery of the true recipient of the check – and how Josh’s hilarious response to hitting even lower than his usual rock-bottom miraculously lead him to a happy ending where fate finally affords him the ultimate payoff.

David Rossmer and Steve Rosen (who play Narrator Josh and Real Josh respectively), are not only the stars of this wild tale, they are also the playwrights, lyricists and composers of the piece.  No strangers to the Broadway world, Rossmer recently left the cast of the fantastic “Peter and the Starcatcher,” where he played loveable and always-hungry orphan Ted, and Rosen has previously been seen in shows such as “Spamalot” and the recent revival of “Guys & Dolls.”  Both are extremely likeable and devilishly funny as Josh Cohen (past and present), and play well opposite one another.  Special mention must be made of Rossmer’s well-rounded musical skills – the combination of his singing voice, guitar playing, and well-placed injection of 4 violin notes made him even more endearing…if that’s possible.

The delightful duo of Josh & Josh are complemented by a background of shape-shifting ensemble actors – Vadim Feichtner (who also serves as music director), Hannah Elless, and Ken Triwush – who not only round out the cast of craziness with ease, but double as onstage band members and backup singers.  Also featured is Kate Wetherhead, whose powerful comedic presence enriches the story ten-fold.  Playing a myriad of roles including Josh’s mother, sister, lesbian neighbor, and more (she is billed as “A Lot of People” – rightly so), Wetherhead is a bright spot in an already delightfully sunny production, and is a rising comedic star to keep an eye out for in the future.  (Admittedly, one of my main reasons for wanting to see this show in the first place was Wetherhead, as I am a huge fan of the web series she stars in and co-created/co-writes with Andrew Keenan-Bolger (currently in Newsies) called “Submissions Only,” a tongue-in-cheek view into the lives of theatre actors in New York City.  Be sure to check it out at http://submissionsonly.com/.)

Josh Cohen’s world is brought to life with expert ease by the show’s director Ted Sperling, whose use of the intimate setting of the SoHo playhouse was masterfully done.  The show’s score is fun and fresh, with witty lyrics that will have you laughing out loud while enjoying the nod to Neil Diamond’s infectious style.  The plot is based on a true story, which just adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience.  All in all, it was a remarkable evening of laughter and heart – and a show I would happily see again.  So – do nice guys ever really finish first?  They do if they’re Josh Cohen…and no one could be happier for his first-place finish than me.

“The Other Josh Cohen” is in a limited run until November 11th at the SoHo Playhouse located at 15 Vandam St., so snatch up your tickets now while there’s still time!  If you’d like assistance with tickets, you can contact me at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com, or call the New York Guest office at 212-302-4019.

 

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Dogfight – or, extolling the virtues of Off Broadway

by Louise, Community Manager

The instinct when you come to New York is to head right for the Great White Way, sit in a 1,000 seat theater and watch a big show, right? And I definitely support that instinct – you SHOULD go to a Broadway show. You should go to five Broadway shows, if you want my honest opinion. But I have been reminded several times recently how important it is to not forget about some of the amazing things that are happening Off Broadway.

More than anything, the 2012 Tony’s brought this into perspective. The two top Tony winners in 2012 were Once with 8 Tony Awards and Peter & the Starcatcher with 5. Both of these shows transferred to Broadway from Off Broadway runs. Those who explore the Off Broadway offerings saw both these shows before they were sensations. It’s now nearly impossible to see Once for less than $160 per ticket, while those in the know enjoyed it for less than $100 a ticket during its Off Broadway run. Explore Off Broadway during your visit to NYC and you never know when you could be seeing the next big thing.

Why am I rambling about this today? Because last night, my colleague Kelly and I ventured Off Broadway to see the new musical Dogfight at Second Stage, and it was as good or better as any new show I’ve seen on Broadway this year.

Dogfight tells the story of three young marines preparing to be deployed to Vietnam in 1963. It’s their last night stateside and they plan to participate in a “Dogfight” – a party wherein every man brings the ugliest woman he can find, and the man with the ugliest date wins a prize. Eddie Birdlace, one of the “Three B’s” as he and his friends Bernstein and Boland call themselves, ends up asking Rose – a shy and awkward young waitress from a diner where he stops for coffee. Rose’s initial overwhelming excitement over being asked on a date is dashed when she finds out the true nature of the party, and her reaction leads to a life-changing emotional journey for both her and Eddie.

From the opening number where the marines celebrate the start of their night of debauchery to a heart-wrenching final ballad from Eddie, the songs in Dogfight are alternately fun, moving, and gorgeous (or all three). In particular, I loved Rose’s buoyant song following being asked out by Eddie, sung in her bedroom as she decides what to wear and tries to keep herself calm, and Eddie and Rose’s song as they awkwardly stroll down the street together, neither of them really knowing what to say.

Kelly and I were drawn to Dogfight in particular due to leading lady Lindsay Mendez, seen most recently on Broadway in Godspell, one of our top picks from the 2011-2012 season. Mendez is superb in the role of Rose, fully embodying the awkward, shy clumsiness of the character and filling all of Second Stage with her tremendous and beautiful voice. Mendez is joined by Derek Klena, seen most recently in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie, who absolutely blew me away in his moving and heartbreaking portrayal of Eddie. As Eddie’s marine buddies, Nick Blaemire (also most recently seen in Godspell) and Josh Segarra (most recently seen in Lysistrata Jones, another of our 2011-2012 favorites) were fantastic – although we were a little sad to see them playing, for lack of a better word, jerks. The entire supporting cast is excellent, and this is an ensemble that truly seems to enjoy performing together, which for me always brings a show to a whole other level.

Dogfight is playing at Second Stage through August 12th, and with it being somewhat of a lean summer in terms of Broadway offerings, I highly suggest you consider checking it out while you’re in town. There is no predicting what will happen with limited run Off Broadway premiers, but as I mentioned initially, this is how both Once and Peter & the Starcatcher began their journeys towards being two of the most successful productions of the 2011-2012 Broadway season. Come 2013, will we see a big, flashy high budget production take home the top prize, or something smaller and more understated with tons of heart? I don’t know about you, but heart always gets my vote.

Interested in seeing Dogfight or another Off Broadway show on your trip to NYC? E-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com and I’ll be happy to assist you!

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Melba: Fuerza Bruta Review

Hello! My name is Melba Guerrero and I am a New York Guest Hotel Concierge. I was born in New York, raised in Dominican Republic and moved to New Jersey as a teenager. Even though I’m just across the Hudson River, my heart is always in the city which is why I like to stay really close to it. I’ve been working in the hotel business for over 4 years and I love it– even more so now that I am a concierge because I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and help them appreciate New York City as much as I do.

I’m a singer/musician, aiming to get my Music Education degree, and I’m also the musical director for my sorority, which I now do part-time. In school and in other areas, I’ve had the opportunity to perform musically, however, I didn’t experience seeing a professional performance on Broadway and off Broadway until becoming a part of New York Guest. Seeing the shows is part of my job since it helps me learn about the current shows and the great ones from the past.

Last week my mom, my sister and I went to see Fuerza Bruta, an avant-garde off-Broadway show. Prior to arriving, I was not aware that this show does not have chairs and that we were going to have to move around during the performance. I thought it would be fun for me and my sister, but my poor mother can’t stand for too long (luckily they had a couple of benches on the sides) and she didn’t want to miss anything, so she remained standing for the whole show.  In Spanish, Fuerza Bruta means ‘brute force’.   I wondered what I should expect from a “brute force”.  I did see some previews from the website to see how it is, and I thought it was cool and was really looking forward to it. The preview is only a glimpse of what you’re going to see– meaning there is so much more to see than what you expect.

In the beginning of the show I felt as though I was in a 20th century version of a silent film, where the audience is sucked in to it to see it live! I was moving to the beat of the music; at some points it felt like I was in a Brazilian dance club. It was crowded, and the more rhythmic parts can catch you unexpectedly but I didn’t mind. I don’t want to give away too much, but you might get a little wet on purpose from the performers. It was so much fun; I was so happy with the outcome and understood what Fuerza Bruta finally means. The energy of the performers and dancers, the dynamics of the music, the tempo of the rhythm would make that a Fuerza Bruta!  I will definitely go again with close friends and dance dance dance!

Look up!

Let New York Guest help you find some of New York City’s off Broadway treasures like Fuerza Bruta. Just give my colleagues a call at (212) 302-4019 for advice and assistance!

— Melba

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