This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Who: “Captain” Kirk Douglas, Kool & the Gang, Gary Clark Jr., Robert Randolph, Ray Chew, Michael McDonald, Lil Buck & Jon Boogz, Keb Mo, Celisse Henderson, Infinity’s Song, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Warren Haynes, Celisse Henderson, Ziggy Marley, Vernon Reid, DJ Reborn, DJ D-NICE, Dionne Warwick, Doug E. Fresh, Roy Wood Jr. and the 125th St. neighborhood
What: Virtual benefit concert to support the historic Apollo Theater
Where: The Apollo Theater website and Facebook page
When: Thursday, June 4, free with advance RSVP (donations accepted), 7:30
Why: The virtual Apollo Theater gala benefit was supposed to take place June 2, but it was delayed because of Blackout Tuesday, the music industry’s response to the government’s mishandling of the George Floyd protests and police brutality. Opened in 1934 on West 125th St. as a place where black musicians could play to black audiences, the Apollo is a landmark in African American history. In moving the date of the gala, the institution explained, “The Apollo Theater stands with #TheShowMustBePaused. In observance of Blackout Tuesday and in solidarity with our artists, neighbors, and the global community, our benefit — Let’s Stay (IN) Together — has been rescheduled from June 2 to June 4.” On Thursday night, the virtual celebration will have even more to say about the state of race in America; among the performers are “Captain” Kirk Douglas of the Roots, Kool & the Gang, Gary Clark Jr., Robert Randolph, Ray Chew, Michael McDonald, Lil Buck & Jon Boogz, Keb Mo, Celisse Henderson, Infinity’s Song, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Warren Haynes, Celisse Henderson, Ziggy Marley, Vernon Reid, DJ Reborn, and DJ D-NICE, along with appearances by Dionne Warwick, Doug E. Fresh, and Roy Wood Jr. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted, with proceeds going not only to the theater but to local merchants and small businesses. And as the Apollo states on its website, “Love Black People Like You Love Their Culture.”


tori amos

Who: Tori Amos, Jeff Gordinier
What: Online book launch
Where: 92nd St. Y online
When: Thursday, June 4, $10, 5:00
Why: On the back cover of her new book, Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage (Atria, May 2020, $26), North Carolina Music Hall of Famer Tori Amos writes, “What follows in this book is my journey to engage, examine, and then reassess the artist’s role in society and, by doing so, to create a way forward for us as we commit to resist those dark forces that would wish to subjugate us instead of lifting us up and giving a voice to be the best in us. . . Join me on the path of resistance — of the art that will set us free.” Resistance has come to mean a whole lot more during this pandemic and the George Floyd protests, so it should be fascinating to hear Amos, an activist whose albums include Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele, and Native Invader, talk about that with Esquire’s Jeff Gordinier on June 4 at 5:00, bringing together the personal and the political as part of the continuing 92nd St. Y at Home programming. Registration is ten dollars, with proceeds going to 92nd St. Y’s Help Now campaign.




Who: Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, Jerry Craft, Raul the Third, Renée Watson, Christopher Myers, K. A. Holt, more
What: Children’s book community call to action
Where: Facebook Live and Zoom
When: Thursday, June 4, free, 7:00
Why: In another part of my life, I work for a major children’s book publisher. During the pandemic, many parents, teachers, and children have turned to books more than ever, not just reading them at home but watching authors, celebrities, and others read stories online. The industry has also been a strong leader in the diversity movement, and on June 4 at 7:00, members of the kids’ book community will gather for a virtual call to action and rally for black lives. Hosted online by the Brown Bookshelf, which “is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers,” the #KidLit Rally for Black Lives is organized by Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jason Reynolds, who will be joined by Gene Luen Yang, Jerry Craft, Raul the Third, Renée Watson, Christopher Myers, K. A. Holt, and others. At 7:00, there will be a live discussion with young people, followed at 7:45 by a talk with parents, educators, and librarians. As the Brown Bookshelf explains, “People around the nation are hurting. This is a time to come together and stand up. Our kids need us, and we are here for them.”


Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place

Who: Admiral Grey, Bizzy Barefoot, Brandt Adams, Irene Hsi, James (Face) Yu, Julienne Marié, Karen Grenke, Mark Lindberg, Robin Kurtz, Stacia French
What: Virtual reimagining of 2011 interactive performance at Brookfield Place
Where: Arts Brookfield website
When: Live each Wednesday in June, replayed Sundays in June, free, noon - 6:00
Why: In May 2011, the Nerve Tank presented the three-day performance installation The Attendants at the World Financial Center Winter Garden, an interactive work in which the audience could text barefoot actors in dark suits, gloves, and sunglasses moving inside and around a large transparent plexiglass cube; you can see clips from the show, in which the actors respond to the texts with only their body, here. The New York City-based Nerve Tank is teaming up again with Arts Brookfield for The Attendants 2020, which will take place in the small rectangular box of the internet instead of a large cube in a spacious, lovely atrium, a different kind of confinement. Part of the #BFPLatHome program, The Attendants 2020 will be performed live every Wednesday in June (June 3, 10, 17, 24) from noon to 6:00 and will be replayed every Sunday (June 7, 14, 21, 28) at the same time. Chance Muehleck conceived the piece and wrote the lyrics; the director and choreographer is Melanie S. Armer, while Stephan Moore composed the score and designed the sound. The prerecorded voices are Annie Dorsen and Jonathan Vandenberg; the cast features original Attendants Karen Grenke, Bizzy Barefoot, Stacia French, James (Face) Yu, Robin Kurtz, Mark Lindberg, and Irene Hsi in addition to Admiral Grey, Brandt Adams, and Julienne Marié, responding from wherever they are sheltering in place, prepared to address current issues that have the whole world on edge.


Songs for Our City

A wide ranger of performers will participate in “Songs for Our City” coronavirus response challenge online in June

Who: Alice Ripley, Ethan Slater, Rob Rokicki, Drew Gasparini, Molly and the Memphis Thunder, Starbird & the Phoenix, many more
What: Specially commissioned songs performed live online
Where: Times Square Alliance Facebook and YouTube
When: Tuesdays & Wednesdays through June 17, final concert June 21, free, 7:05
Why: Shortly after recovering from a serious bout with Covid-19, Broadway superstar Brian Stokes Mitchell started sticking his head out the window of his apartment at Ninety-Eighth and Broadway at 7:05, following the 7:00 clap honoring health-care and other essential workers, and singing “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha — he played Cervantes/Quixote in the 2002 Great White Way revival. He began doing it to strengthen his voice but eventually had to stop because he was creating too large a crowd that was not social distancing and not paying attention to vehicular traffic. The Times Square Alliance has combined the idea behind that popular tribute with its annual Broadway Buskers outdoor concert series to inaugurate “Songs for Our City,” a virtual songwriting challenge in which performers will sing original commissions responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The event will take place at 7:05 on the first three Tuesdays and Wednesdays in June, culminating in a grand finale on June 21 as part of the Make Music New York festival.

Both a competitive challenge in which winners will receive cash prizes (everyone is invited to vote online) and a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, “Songs for Our City” features an impressive lineup of guest singer-songwriters, who will be focusing on the theme of community: Lauren Elder, Donnie Kehr, Anthony Norman, Rob Rokicki, and Starbird & the Phoenix on June 2, Leslie Becker, Max Sangerman, Heath Saunders, and Ethan Slater on June 3, Jaime Cepero, F. Michael Haynie, Alice Ripley, Will Van Dyke & Jeff Talbott, and Tim Young on June 9, Drew Gasparini, Molly and the Memphis Thunder, Will Taylor, and Joel Waggoner on June 10, John Arthur Greene, Marcus Paul James, Janet Krupin, and Alexander Sage Oyen on June 16, and John Krause, Jennifer Sánchez, Dru Serkes, and Mike Wartella on June 17. “As the entity responsible for taking care of and celebrating the Theater District, this is a symbolic and simple way for us to continue to showcase and support Broadway performers who create their own original work throughout June,” Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins said in a statement.


parkland rising

Who: The Black Eyed Peas, Pearl Jam, Katie Couric,, Manuel Oliver, Greg Kahn, Cheryl Horner McDonough, Manju Bangalore, Rebecca Boldrick Hogg, Kevin Hogg, Jammal Lemy, John E. Rosenthal, Meghna Chakrabarti
What: Livestreamed movie premieres and panel discussions
Where: Parkland Rising YouTube and Facebook
When: Tuesday, June 2, free with RSVP, 8:00, and Wednesday, June 5, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: June 2 marks the sixth National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which started in 2015 to call attention to the rash of school shootings and do something about it; just because there is no in-person school across the country right now, resulting in no recent mass murders at educational institutions, doesn’t mean we still don’t have a horrific problem in America. And what happens when schools reopen? This June 2, the day will be honored and the victims remembered with the livestream premiere of Cheryl Horner McDonough’s 2019 documentary Parkland Rising, which examines the February 14, 2018, shooting that killed seventeen students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The film features interviews with David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Matt and Ryan Deitsch, Emma Gonzalez, Fred Guttenberg, Cameron Kasky, Patricia Padauy-Oliver, and Manuel Oliver. “We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again,” Gonzalez says in the film. The event is hosted by the Black Eyed Peas and Pearl Jam; executive producer Katie Couric will introduce the film and moderate a postscreening conversation, which brings together executive producer, Change the Ref founder Manuel Oliver, Gun Safety Alliance co-lead Greg Kahn, former March for Our Lives LA chapter co-lead Manju Bangalore, and two-time Emmy winner McDonough.

Three days later, June 5, is Wear Orange Day, a tribute to Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in a Chicago park in 2013 at the age of fifteen, a week after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration parade. At 7:00, Parkland Rising will have an encore Wear Orange screening, followed by a discussion with Marjory Stoneman Douglas student and parent activists Corin, Oliver, Padauy-Oliver, Rebecca Boldrick Hogg, Kevin Hogg, Jammal Lemy, and Stop Handgun Violence cofounder John E. Rosenthal, moderated by WBUR host Meghna Chakrabarti. Guttenberg, the father of shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, said in a statement, “Since the coronavirus outbreak began, gun sales have skyrocketed to an all-time high in the US, potentially putting millions of new deadly weapons into unlicensed, untrained, unsafe hands. Now more than ever, we must take action on the issue of gun violence to prevent the kind of tragedy my family experienced in Parkland. I’m glad this powerful film will be available for all American voters to learn what we went through and to inspire more people to join the fight for change.”


S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson will inaugurate New Federal Theatre online initiative

S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson will inaugurate New Federal Theatre online initiative

Who: S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Howard Craft, Petronia Paley, Larry Muhammad, Tyler Fauntleroy, Kim Sullivan, André DeShields, Chuck Smith, Ron Bobb-Semple, Joyce Sylvester, Clinton Turner Davis
What: Live play readings and theater discussions
Where: New Federal Theatre Facebook page
When: Tuesdays in June, June 2-30, free with advance registration, 3:00 and/or 7:00
Why: Woodie King Jr. founded the New Federal Theatre in 1970 to highlight and focus on minority drama. Its fiftieth anniversary is being celebrated virtually, the latest initiative being “Tuesdays in June 2020: Rapping with the Artists & Play Readings.” The five-week program brings together actors, directors, and playwrights to continue NFT’s mission: “to integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theatre by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences — plays which evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves.” The schedule is below; admission is free (although donations are welcome) with advance registration here.

Tuesday, June 2
Rapping with the Artists: S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson discuss their artistic journeys, 3:00

Tuesday, June 9
Rapping with the Artists: Actor J. Alphonse Nicholson and book writer Howard L. Craft discuss the theatrical realization of the play Freight: the Five Incarnations of Abel Green, which ran at the Castillo Theatre in fall 2017, 3:00

Tuesday, June 16
Rapping with the Artists: Director Petronia Paley and playwright Larry Muhammad on the birth of the production Looking for Leroy, which ran at the Castillo Theatre in March 2019, 3:00

Play Reading: Looking for Leroy, featuring Tyler Fauntleroy and Kim Sullivan, directed by Petronia Paley, 7:00

Tuesday, June 23
Rapping with the Artists: Playwright Bill Harris, actor Denise Burse-Fernandez, and bluesman Guy Davis discuss their collaboration on the play Trick the Devil and more, 3:00

Tuesday, June 30
Rapping with the Artists: Actor André DeShields and director Chuck Smith talk about creating theater centered around historical figures, including Knock Me a Kiss about W. E. B. Du Bois and The Gospel According to James about James Cameron and Mary Ball, 3:00

Play Reading: Trevor Rhone’s Two Can Play, which was running at the Castillo Theatre when the lockdown came, with Ron Bobb-Semple and Joyce Sylvester, directed by Clinton Turner Davis, 7:00