To celebrate Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s thirtieth anniversary of its New York debut at BAM — the German company presented Rite of Spring, 1980, Cafe Muller, and Bluebeard back in June 1984 — the innovative, influential, and highly entertaining troupe is bringing back one of its most famous works October 23 – November 2 at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House as part of the 2014 Next Wave Festival. First performed at BAM in October 1985, Kontakthof (“Courtyard of Contact”) is a playful look at the world of dance itself, as well-dressed men and women battle it out in an intensely physical competition with plenty of fun humor. The work, which includes music by Charlie Chaplin, Anton Karas, Nino Rota, Jean Sibelius, and Juan Llossas and costume and set design by Rolf Borzik, has been performed by teenagers and senior citizens since its premiere in 1978; at BAM, the current company will take the stage, led by such familiar mainstays as Rainer Behr, Dominique Mercy, Eddie Martinez, Julie Anne Stanzak, Franko Schmidt, Cristiana Morganti, Andrey Berezin, and the inimitable Nazareth Panadero. The company is continuing on following Bausch’s death in 2009 at the age of fifty-eight, with longtime TW dancer Lutz Förster as artistic director. It’s always an event when they come to Brooklyn, having dazzled dance-theater lovers with such thrilling productions as Vollmond (Full Moon), “...como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si...” (Like moss on a stone), Danzón, Nefés, Masurca Fogo, and so many others over these last thirty years. If you’ve never seen this fabulous company in person, stop what you’re doing right now and pick up some tickets while they’re still left; you won’t be disappointed. You can also check out Wim Wenders’s Oscar-nominated Pina on Netflix to get a taste of what you’re in for. In conjunction with Kontakthof, on October 25 at 12 noon BAM and Dance Umbrella will present a free live stream of “Politics of Participation,” a cross-Atlantic panel discussion at King’s College with Penny Woolcock, Matt Fenton, Kenrick “H2O” Sandy, and Michael “Mikey J” Asante and at BAM with Stanzak and Simon Dove, moderated by Dr. Daniel Glaser. And on October 27 at 7:30, BAMcinématek will screen Dancing Dreams: Teenagers Dance Pina Bausch’s “Contact Zone,” followed by a Q&A with longtime Tanztheater Wuppertal members Bénédicte Billiet and Mercy, moderated by Marina Harss.
Wednesday night’s primo CMJ Music Marathon gig is taking place at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, the Panache Booking Showcase with Reigning Sound, White Fence, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Shonen Knife, Guy Blakeslee, Ice Balloons, and Ultimate Painting, beginning at 7:30 ($15). This year’s thirty-fourth annual festival features more than thirteen hundred performers at more than eighty venues October 21-25; below are some more recommendations for the second day.
The Color of Noise (Eric Robel, 2014), followed by a Q&A with Robel and Amphetamine Reptile Records founder Tom Hazelmyer, NYU Kimmel Center, Room 802 Shorin, 2:00
Radical Dads, Piano’s upstairs, 7:00
Lia Mice, Santos Party House, 8:10, and Piano’s upstairs, 10:45
Poor Young Things, Hotel Chantelle, 9:00
Archie Powell & the Exports, Bar Matchless, 10:25
Line & Circle, the Studio @ Webster Hall, 10:45
Gringo Star, Niagara, 11:00
Dead Leaf Echo, Palisades, 1:00 am
THE BLOODY BEGINNING
102 Norfolk St.
Saturday, October 25, $55, 5:00
For three years, Cynthia von Buhler’s participatory Speakeasy Dollhouse has been charming audiences on the Lower East Side, involving everyone in the lurid tale of the mysterious murder of her grandfather Frank Spano. As has become tradition, the immersive show will take a little detour for Halloween; instead of ticket holders showing up in period garb, on October 25 they can choose which side they want to be on: vampires, werewolves, or zombies. (VIP unicorns are already sold out.) The more you put into Speakeasy Dollhouse, the more you’ll get out of it, so just go crazy at this special Halloween edition.
108 East 15th St. at Irving Pl.
Tuesday - Sunday through November 23, $79-$100
During his more-than-half-century career in show business, writer, director, producer, and actor Garry Marshall has been behind some of the oddest, most beloved couplings on television, including Mork & Mindy, Laverne and Shirley, Me and the Chimp (well, maybe not so beloved, but certainly odd), and, well, The Odd Couple. Now the Bronx-born director of such films as The Flamingo Kid, Pretty Woman, and Beaches is back in New York with the sitcom-y Hollywood-set show Billy & Ray, about the tense, difficult collaboration between bombastic Viennese writer-director Billy Wilder (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser) and hardboiled-detective author Raymond Chandler (Casa Valentina’s Larry Pine). Having broken up with his previous writing partner, Charlie Brackett, with whom he wrote Ninotchka, Hold Back the Dawn, and Ball of Fire, each of which was nominated for a screenplay Oscar, Wilder decides to go with the little-known Chandler, who turns out to be a mild-mannered, soft-spoken married professorial type who doesn’t like Wilder’s cursing, shouting, drinking, and womanizing but sneaks sips of whiskey while claiming to be a teetotaler. The two eventually dive into James M. Cain’s novel, which Chandler calls “creaky, melodramatic nonsense,” attempting to get the lurid story about lust, greed, and murder past Joseph Breen and the ridiculously stringent Motion Picture Production Code. Ambitious young producer Joseph Sistrom (Drew Gehling) tries to navigate the murky waters with the code office and the studio while Wilder’s dedicated assistant, Helen Hernandez (Sophie von Haselberg), does whatever’s necessary to keep it all from falling apart.
Although not quite the screwball comedy Marshall and playwright Mike Bencivenga (Single Bullet Theory, Happy Hour) want it to be, Billy & Ray is an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the creation of one of the greatest works in film noir history, a seminal, genre-redefining movie whose overall effect and influence had repercussions throughout Hollywood and the world. Pine is gentle and calm as Chandler, a henpecked writer initially in it just to make a buck, while a miscast Kartheiser overplays the unpredictable, iconoclastic Wilder, who fights the system despite being part of it. Gehling (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Jersey Boys) and von Haselberg, in her New York theater debut, offer solid support, playing their parts with an energizing gusto that serves as a much-needed break from the conflicts between the two protagonists. (If von Haselberg reminds you of Bette Midler, that’s no surprise, because she’s the daughter of the Divine Miss M; her only film appearance came as a five-year-old in Marshall’s Frankie and Johnny.) Charlie Corcoran’s set is so charming and welcoming, it’s worth checking out the model in the downstairs lobby, near some archival photographs of stills from deleted scenes from the film. (The Vineyard has also re-created part of the office with a typewriter, suitcase, and other related ephemera.) Though not nearly as taut and literate as James Lapine’s Tony-nominated Act One, the recent Broadway play about the first collaboration between Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, Billy & Ray is a treat especially for fans of Double Indemnity, as the play reveals what went into some of the key moments of the classic noir. However, after Chandler and Wilder discuss changing the ending of the movie by cutting a scene, the play concludes with a wholly unnecessary coda that is a disturbing departure from the trusting relationship that had been built between the actors and the audience and will hopefully wind up on the cutting-room floor.
New York City zoos are celebrating Halloween with their annual Boo at the Zoo events, with special family-friendly weekend programs (as well as on Halloween itself at some locations). At the Bronx Zoo, you’ll encounter the Jack O’Lantern Illumination — Creatures of the Night in Somba Village, the Carnival of Extraordinary Animals puppet shows at the Asia Plaza Theater, 3-D carved pumpkin displays in Dancing Crane Plaza, costume parades led by the Alice Farley Dance Company, Creepy Crafts Workshops, such Creature Chats as “Birds of Halloween: Owls and Vultures” and “Batty About Bats,” magic shows in the tent at Grizzly Corner, a Music for Aardvarks Halloween sing-along at the Terrace Café, Broadway at Boo presentations by cast members of On the Town and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a hay maze, treat stations, a dinosaur safari, and more. At the Prospect Park Zoo, there will be a scavenger hunt, Wildlife Witch magic shows, animal meet-and-greets, pumpkin treats for dingoes and baboons, costumed characters, storytelling, a Spooky Barn, and a parade and dance party. And at the Queens Zoo, Boo at the Zoo takes place October 31 – November 2, with trick-or-treat stations, costumed animal characters, a haunted habitat, pumpkin picking, face painting, arts and crafts, enrichment classes about pumas and Andean bears, and Halloween critter meetings. (Note: The Staten Island Zoo’s Spooktacular took place October 18-19, and nothing is scheduled for the Central Park Zoo and New York Aquarium.)