Since May 2001, twi-ny has been recommending cool things to do throughout the five boroughs, popular and under-the-radar events that draw people out of their homes to experience film, theater, dance, art, literature, music, food, comedy, and more as part of a live audience in the most vibrant community on Earth.
With the spread of Covid-19 and the closing of all cultural institutions, sports venues, bars, and restaurants (for dining in), we feel it is our duty to prioritize the health and well-being of our loyal readers. So, for the next several weeks at least, we won’t be covering any public events in which men, women, and children must congregate in groups, a more unlikely scenario day by day anyway.
That said, as George Bernard Shaw once noted, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
Some parks are still open, great places to breathe in fresh air, feel the sunshine, and watch the changing of winter into spring. We will occasionally be pointing out various statues, sculptures, and installations, but check them out only if you are already going outside and will happen to be nearby.
You don’t have to shut yourself away completely for the next weeks and months — for now, you can still go grocery shopping and pick up takeout — but do think of others as you go about your daily life, which is going to be very different for a while. We want each and every one of you to take care of yourselves and your families, follow the guidelines for social distancing, and consider the health and well-being of those around you.
We look forward to seeing you indoors and at festivals and major outdoor events as soon as possible, once New York, America, and the rest of the planet are ready to get back to business. Until then, you can find us every so often under the sun, moon, clouds, and stars, finding respite in this amazing city now in crisis.
383 Troutman St., Bushwick
Wednesday - Sunday through October 31, $95 - $265
Company XIV founder and artistic director Austin McCormick outdoes himself with his latest baroque burlesque sensation, the decadently delightful Seven Sins. It’s so tailor-made for the extremely talented troupe that the only question is, what took them so long?
The company has previously staged outré cabaret adaptations of such fairy tales as Pinocchio, Cinderella, Snow White, and Queen of Hearts in addition to Paris! and the seasonal favorite Nutcracker Rouge. They now turn their attention to the original fairy tale itself, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Serving as host for the evening is the Devil (a fab Amy Jo Jackson), all glammed out in horns, sequins, and heels. Shortly after Adam (portrayed alternately by Scott Schneider or Cemiyon Barber; I saw the former) arrives on Earth, he is joined by Eve (Danielle Gordon or Emily Stockwell; I saw Gordon) through a bit of magic, leading to a lovely duet that incorporates contemporary dance and classical ballet to Dean Martin’s rendition of “If You Were the Only Girl in the World.” Temptation threatens in the form of a long snake carried aloft by several performers; Adam and Eve are offered a glittering red apple, feel shame in their (near-)nakedness, and cover their naughty bits with fig leaves to Paul Anka singing “Adam and Eve.”
In the next two acts, they encounter Vanity, Wrath, Lust, Jealousy, Sloth, Greed, and ultimately Gluttony, each sin getting its own scene involving dance, acrobatics, and/or song, all bursting with an intense sexuality and a wicked sense of humor. The music includes original songs by Lexxe along with classical instrumentals, opera, and tunes by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Nancy Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Florence and the Machine, Cardi B, the Beatles, and others. Pretty Lamé lets loose with a pair of gorgeous arias, while the awe-inspiring Marcy Richardson struts her stuff in an aerial cage and on a swinging pole and Troy Lingelbach and Nolan McKew dangle over the audience on a double lyra.
There are multiple ways to see the show, which is staged in Théâtre XIV in Bushwick, where the sexy baroque motif extends to the two bars and every nook and cranny. There are bar chairs, petite chairs, couches, small tables, and deluxe tables where patrons are served food and drink by the performers within the narrative. The set and costumes are by the awesomely inventive Zane Pihlström, with sensual lighting by Jeanette Yew and mischievous makeup by Sarah Cimino. Conceived, choreographed, and directed by McCormick, who also curated the special cocktail menu, Seven Sins encompasses all the best parts of Company XIV, immersing the audience in a lush and lascivious fantasy world where anything can happen. It does lose a bit of its momentum with two intermissions — the total running time is about two hours and fifteen minutes — and there are no bawdy vaudeville-like acts during the breaks, as there have been at previous shows of theirs. But let him/her/them who is without sin cast the first stone. And don’t be surprised if you experience all seven sins yourself during this fantabulous evening.
The McKittrick Hotel
530 West 27th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Wednesday - Monday through April 19, $85
A few months ago, I finally gave in and saw The Perfect Crime, the mystery that’s been running in Manhattan since 1987 and features Catherine Russell; having racked up more than thirteen thousand performances in the same role, she’s now in the Guinness Book of World Records. Yet there was nothing special about it that made me understand its longevity. So it was with both trepidation and curiosity that I went to the New York premiere of The Woman in Black, which has been playing in London’s West End continuously since 1989. The two-act, 130-minute show is being staged in the McKittrick Hotel’s Club Car, the previous home of the National Theatre of Scotland’s fun, immersive drama The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, among other presentations.
Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from Susan Hill’s Gothic novel and directed by Robin Herford, The Woman in Black gets off to a slow start, establishing a play-within-a-play format that could use a jump to get things going. A finicky old man named Arthur Kipps (David Acton) has hired an actor (Ben Porter) to punch up a ghost story he has written, based on events that happened to him. “I recalled that the way to banish an old ghost that continues its hauntings is to exorcise it,” Kipps says. “Well, then. Mine should be exorcised. I should tell my tale. I should set it down on paper, with every care and in every detail. I would write my own ghost story, and then, that my family might know and that I might be forever purged of it, relive it through the telling. The first part, the writing, I have done. Now comes the telling. I pray for God’s protection on us all.”
The first act introduces the audience to the setup: The old man has no sense of drama and repeatedly proclaims that he is not a performer, which is why he needs the Actor. (As in the script, Porter will heretofore be called Kipps, and Acton will be Actor.) In reciting the tale, the actor takes on the persona of Kipps as a young man, while Kipps juggles all the other roles, including a lawyer, a dapper gentleman with a dog, a landlord, a legal agent, and a carriage driver. Michael Holt’s set is spare, with a chair, a large wicker basket, and a curtain in the back that later reveals covered furniture behind it. Anshuman Bhatia’s lighting and Sebastian Frost’s sound play key parts in giving the show a bigger feel. Guests sit in chairs lined up in long rows; the bar features such cocktails as Woman in Black Punch, the Old McKittrick, and Mr Kipps. You can also have “Pie & a Pint”: a beer and a pub platter, pie & mash, or duck shepherd’s pie. A full dinner is available before the show.
The story that Kipps wants the Actor to tell is about himself as a young lawyer, as he travels to the end of nowhere, Eel Marsh House, for the funeral of a longtime client of his firm, the very much not-beloved Mrs Alice Drablow; in addition, he is to go through her papers to make sure her accounts are in order. As Kipps and the Actor play out the scenes, the latter often interrupts, concerned about how certain elements will be brought to life onstage. “There are so many things we cannot represent. How do we represent the dog, the sea, the causeway? How the pony and trap?” he asks. Kipps responds, “With imagination, Mr Kipps. Ours, and our audience’s.” He also notes that the unseen Mr Bunce will be using sound effects to further enhance the telling. The closer Kipps gets to Eel Marsh House, the creepier people act when they learn where he is going. And beware the Woman in Black, who’s liable to make you jump out of your skin.
The first act’s meta-discussion of stagecraft is repetitive and stodgy, but the show finally finds its groove in the second act, once Kipps arrives at his destination and dives into his research — and wonders what’s behind the locked door. After a bumpy beginning, the Actor settles into his responsibilities portraying numerous characters quite well while experiencing those long-gone days all over again. “I have a horror of it,” he tells Kipps. “Watching you, it is as if I relive it all, moment by moment . . . though you, of course, will never suffer as I did — I must always tell myself that.” Such is the nature of theater, which merely attempts to re-create and capture a sense of reality. There are plenty of scares as the denouement approaches; we were fortunate to have a screamer next to us, which was a bonus. Acton and Porter, who have performed the play in the West End, have an amiable camaraderie; Herford likes to keep things fresh, so he changes the cast in London every nine months (which is a far cry from the situation in The Perfect Crime). The Woman in Black is scheduled to run through March 8, but shows have a habit of extending at the McKittrick; Sleep No More has been playing there since 2011. [Ed. note: The Woman in Black has now been extended through April 19.] Of course, it looks like nothing will ever top The Mousetrap, the Agatha Christie show that has been running in the West End since 1952. Perhaps most important, The Woman in Black feels right at home in the Club Car, providing plenty of chills and thrills once the exposition gets out of the way.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (LÅT DEN RÄTTE KOMMA IN) (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Nitehawk Cinema Prospect Park
188 Prospect Park West
Tuesday, January 21, $95, 7:15
If you have a taste for the ghoulish, you’re likely to get sucked in by Nitehawk’s latest Film Feast, in which a multicourse meal accompanies a movie for the cinematic gourmand. On January 21, Nitehawk’s Prospect Park branch will be serving up a delicious gem, the original Swedish thriller Let the Right One In, a chilling yet tender coming-of-age story about friendship and the meaning of family. In a snow-covered Stockholm suburb, twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is severely bullied by Conny (Patrik Rydmark), Andreas (Johan Sömnes), and Martin (Mikael Erhardsson). The frail, blond Oskar dreams of getting even, but he always backs down. But then he meets the dark-haired, somewhat feral Eli (Lina Leandersson, dubbed by Elif Ceylan), who has moved in next door in their apartment complex. While Oskar lives with his divorced mother (Karin Bergquist) — his father (Henrik Dahl) has moved out to the country — Eli lives with Håkan (Per Ragnar), an older father figure who goes out to gather what Eli needs to survive: blood. But the aging Håkan begins encountering difficulties, forcing Eli to go out and hunt down her own food. As people start to go missing in the small community, Eli and Oskar’s friendship begins to blossom, two outsiders coming to terms with who they are. But when Oskar suddenly strikes back, Conny’s older brother, Jimmy (Rasmus Luthander), gets involved, and the steaks, er, stakes, get a whole lot higher.
Based on the 2004 novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is a gripping horror film that is one of the best of the young century. By making the protagonists children with common adolescent problems, Lindqvist, who wrote the screenplay, and director Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Snowman) create a more realistic setting, so the scares are that much more intense. Hedebrant and Leandersson have a magical chemistry, their tentativeness and fears intoxicating. They exist in a world that is meant only for them; all of the adults are essentially peripheral, whether parents, teachers, or community members wondering what is going on, and the other kids are merely in their way. And it’s all about that very moment; they both might be twelve, but Eli is going to be that age forever while Oskar gets older.
The atmosphere is thick and tense throughout, elevated by Hoyte van Hoytema’s inventive cinematography and Johan Söderqvist’s dramatic score, performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. Despite some very memorable scenes involving shocking violence, at its heart Let the Right One In is a sweetly innocent love story, albeit with a few unusual complications. Matt Reeves directed a 2010 English-language remake starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz, and the National Theatre of Scotland staged a terrific theatrical adaptation that played at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2015, but there’s still nothing like the original, a visually stunning and psychologically adept fresh new take on the vampire legend.
The five-course feast, with each dish and cocktail named after a part of the film, consists of “”A Little About Drugs” (black cherry, lemon infused Absolut, clarified lemon juice, black shaved ice) with “Good Job Pig” (caraway scented pork belly, pickled carrots, rosemary parsnip purée); “You Smell Funny” (lingonberry, Swedish punsch, allspice, cinnamon, Absolut, Amaro Pasubio, violets, Laphroaig 10 Yr.) with “the Sled Drag” (blodpudding, celery root, Napa cabbage, lingonberry); “Oskar, Do You Like Me?” (acid adjusted apple juice, dill infused Absolut, pine, Salers, pickled apple) with “I’m Trapped” (Swedish meatballs with pour it yourself Absolut gravy); “Virginia!” (Absolut, banana, cream, walnut, caraway, served ice cold) with “Blood Brothers” (rye bröd, gravlax, apple, dill crème fraîche, beet reduction splatter), and “Thank You” (frozen chocolate and espresso martini, white shaved ice) with a “Bloody Kiss” (Hallongrotta, Absolut Pear whipped cream, powdered sugar). Smaklig måltid!
If you haven’t been to the Shed yet, the entertainment hub at Hudson Yards, this Saturday offers you a pretty good reason to finally head over. From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, admission to the two current art exhibits, “Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” and “Manual Override,” which usually require $10 tickets each, is free. There will also be several special programs as well as food trucks in the McCourt, a photo booth on level six, and music and dance. There will be tours of the wide-ranging Agnes Denes retrospective, which consists of more than 150 works from throughout the career of the eighty-eight-year-old Budapest-born American artist (including newly commissioned pieces), at 2:30 with artists Bahar Behbahani, Tattfoo Tan, Avram Finkelstein, Moko Fukuyama, and Janani Balasubramanian and astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Gosnell, at 3:15 with curatorial assistant Adeze Wilford, at 3:45 with senior curator Emma Enderby, and at 5:00 with John Hatfield and artist Torkwase Dyson. “Manual Override” brings together the work of Morehshin Allahyari, Simon Fujiwara, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sondra Perry, and Martine Syms, which combines social and ethical issues with cutting-edge technology. In addition, DJ Synchro will be spinning in the lobby from 2:00 to 4:00, DJ April Hunt from 4:00 to 6:00, and DJ Bembona from 6:00 to 8:00; Dance Battle: It’s Showtime NYC! vs. the D.R.E.A.M. Ring will get under way in the lobby at 2:15 and 4:30; the two dance teams will be hosting workshops around the building at 3:00 and in the Tisch Skylights at 5:00 and 5:15; and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter J Hoard will perform in the Tisch Skylights at 5:30.
Tuesday, December 24, $50-$75, 9:00 pm - 3:00 am
Free Christmas Eve? The thirty-third annual Matzoball for singles is taking place on December 24 at Capitale on Bowery, a holiday extravaganza running from nine at night to three the next morning. Partnering with the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, the all-night party started primarily for Jewish singles, but now singles of all religions and ethnicities are welcome, as long as they are twenty-one or over. General admission is $50, with the VIP Fast Pass offering front-of-line privileges and a half-hour open bar for $75. There will be a live DJ performance and lots of dancing and mingling; there will also be Matzoballs, which were founded in 1987 by Andrew Rudnick, held Christmas Eve in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, DC, and three Florida cities. And as a bonus, it just happens to be Hanukkah as well.