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


big chocolate

Resorts World Casino
110-00 Rockaway Blvd.
September 20-22, $15 – $188

Chocolate is king in Queens this weekend, as the Big Chocolate Show comes to Resorts World Casino for three days of tastings, demos, workshops, book signings, classes, and more. Among the participants are chef and author Kathryn Gordon, cake designer Kate Sullivan, chef/owner Zach Golper, chef and culinary historian Maricel Prescilla, pastry chefs Alexander Zecena, Samantha Benjamin, Gale Gand, and Lindsey Farr, Hugo Orozcooof La Slowteria, Peter Botros of the Stone House, Jonathan Pogash the Cocktail Guru, Penny Stankiewicz of Sugar Couture, and Michelle Tampakis of Whipped Pastry Boutique. Classes include Coffee & Chocolate – Understanding the Roast, Tequila and Truffles, Bourbon & Bon Bons, and Gluten Free Chocolate Brunch. Admission is $15-$30 for children and $75-$188 for adults and various packages, with part of the proceeds benefiting Cookies for Kids Cancer. The festivities begin Friday night with Legends of Chocolate and Decadent Evening of Chocolate & Cocktails, so come hungry.


(photo © Chad Batka)

Oberon (Ryan Wuestewald) looks down on his kingdom in unique take on Shakespearean dinner theater (photo © Chad Batka)

Café Fae
829 Broadway between Twelfth & Thirteenth Sts.
Monday - Saturday through September 7, $75-$200

To twist a Shakespeare phrase, “If food be the music of life, play on.” The Twelfth Night quote applies to Food of Love Productions, which last year scored a hit with Shake & Bake: Love’s Labor’s Lost, an interactive presentation of the Bard comedy that was first staged in an apartment, then in a repurposed vacant storefront on Gansevoort St., where multiple dishes were served during the show. Food of Love has now teamed up with immersive specialists Third Rail Projects, the company behind such innovative shows as Then She Fell and Ghost Light, on Midsummer: A Banquet, a delicious expansion on the idea of dinner theater, taking place in a reinvented space by Union Square Park that has been turned into the lavishly decorated Café Fae. (The name refers to the fairy world in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as, if you say it fast, a famous twitter word posted by the current president.)

(photo © Chad Batka)

A group of fairies toast Puck (Lauren Walker) in Midsummer: A Banquet (photo © Chad Batka)

The central room evokes an 1890s Paris café, filled with small, round tables, a bar, long banquettes, and tiny half tables that seem to require fairies to hold your food, as they offer almost nowhere to put your feet or plates. (These demi-tables are to be avoided unless being physically uncomfortable for two and a half hours is your thing.) The exuberant cast moves through the narrow space in the middle and on and around white pillars, one transformed into a tree stump. As they relate Shakespeare’s beloved tale of one fantastical summer’s evening, the actors occasionally turn into waitstaff, bringing food to you, including a forest picnic of harvest grains and market vegetables, fairy kebabs of applewood-smoked veggie skewers, and love bundles of fruit. There’s also wine and cheese, Prosecco, crudités, and dessert, but be careful when buying your tickets, because some seats don’t come with everything.

The play has been liberally streamlined by director and choreographer Zach Morris, the co-artistic director of Third Rail, and actress Victoria Rae Sook, the founder of Shake & Bake, focusing on the key moments of love gone wrong amid mistaken identity. “Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth,” Theseus (Ryan Wuestewald) tells the Philostrate (Lauren Walker). Theseus, the duke of Athens, is preparing to marry Hippolyta (Sook), queen of the Amazons. Egeus (Charles Osborne) comes to Theseus, insisting that his daughter, Hermia (Caroline Amos), marry Demetrius (Joshua Gonzales), but she wants to wed only her true love, Lysander (Alex J. Gould). And Helena (Adrienne Paquin) is madly in love with Demetrius, who brutally shuns her.

(photo © Chad Batka)

Theseus (Ryan Wuestewald) and Hippolyta (Victoria Rae Sook) are hunting for love in tasty take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream (photo © Chad Batka)

Hermia and Lysander run away into the forest, where fairy king Oberon (Wuestewald) rules with his queen, Titania (Sook). Messing with the power of love, Oberon asks Robin Goodfellow (Walker), better known as Puck, to use magic to make Demetrius love Helena, but things go awry and soon both Demetrius and Lysander are chasing Hermia, and Titania wakes up next to donkey-faced weaver Nick Bottom (Osborne), part of the Rude Mechanicals theater troupe that is putting on the tragicomic Pyramus and Thisbe with the tinker Snout (Gonzales), the bellows mender Flute (Gould), the joiner Snug (Amos), the tailor Robin Starveling (Walker), and the carpenter Peter Quince (Paquin).

As with Shake & Bake: Love’s Labor’s Lost, there is much merriment to be had, and much good food, curated by Emilie Baltz. The quarters are designed by Jason Simms with an Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha flair, while Tyler M. Holland’s costumes are sweet and dainty. There is live music by sound designer Sean Hagerty before and during the show, played by several cast members, most prominently Paquin on guitar. The acting can be hit or miss — Amos, Paquin, Wuestewald, and Walker excel, while Osborne chews up scenery faster than the audience munches away — but Midsummer: A Banquet is more about the experience as a whole, and it’s a tasty one to be savored.


Josephine, Peckham, 1995

Liz Johnson Artur, Josephine, Peckham, chromogenic photograph, 1995 (courtesy of the artist / © Liz Johnson Artur)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, August 3, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum gets ready for the West Indian American Day Carnival on Labor Day in the August edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Los Habaneros, DJ I.M., DJ TYGAPAW, and Noise Cans; a hands-on workshop in which participants can make Caribbean carnival masks; a Flag Fête workshop and performance with Haitian choreographer and dance instructor Charnice Charmant and Afrobeat dancers; teen pop-up gallery talks on “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha”; a screening of Khalik Allah’s Black Mother, followed by a talkback with Allah and curator Drew Sawyer; Likkle Bites with food from Caribbean-owned Brooklyn businesses Greedi Vegan and Island Pops; an artist talk with Liz Johnson Artur; and the discussion “Yoruba in Pop Culture” with Grammy winner Chief Ayanda Clarke, presented by the Fadara Group. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Garry Winogrand: Color,” “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room,” “Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha,” “One: Egúngún,” “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” “Infinite Blue,” “Rembrandt to Picasso: Five Centuries of European Works on Paper,” and more.


Harlem Week kicks off July 29 with A Great Day in Harlem

Harlem Week kicks off July 28 with the annual celebration “A Great Day in Harlem”

U.S. Grant National Memorial Park
Wes 122nd St. & Riverside Dr.
Sunday, July 28, free, 12 noon - 8:30 pm
Festival runs July 28 - August 31

Tens of thousands of people are expected to converge in U.S. Grant National Memorial Park on July 28 for the beloved Great Day in Harlem festival, part of the forty-fifth annual summer Harlem Week celebration. This year’s theme is “Our Local History Creates a Global Impact,” focusing on Harlem’s cultural influence around the world, while the music theme is Bill Withers’s classic “Lovely Day.” A Great Day in Harlem will feature an International Vendors Village from 12 noon to 8:00, the Artz, Rootz, and Rhythm International Cultural Showcase at 1:00, the Regional Gospel Caravan at 3:00 with Bishop Hezekiah Walker, the McDonald’s Gospel Super Choir, Kirk Franklin, and a tribute to Dr. Bobby Jones, a Fashion Fusion Showcase at 4:30 honoring the Black Fashion Museum, and “A Concert under the Stars” at 6:00 with Nicole Bus, Harlem Week music director Ray Chew, and more paying tribute to Spike Lee and the thirtieth anniversary of Do the Right Thing and Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & the Gang in honor of the group’s fiftieth anniversary. Harlem Week continues through August 31 with such other events as the Youth S.T.E.A.M. Hackathon on August 1, New York City Economic Development Day on August 8, Summer in the City on August 17, Harlem Day on August 18, and Harlem Restaurant Week beginning August 19.


power play

Rubin Museum of Art
West 17th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Sunday, July 21, free (including free museum admission all day), 1:00 - 4:00

The Rubin Museum’s yearlong exploration of “Power: Within and Between Us” is at the center of its sixth annual block party, taking place July 21. From 1:00 to 4:00, there will be live performances by Building Beats, Fogo Azul Brazilian Women’s Drumline, and Power Painting Jam, food from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, People’s Pops, Yanni’s Coffee, Cafe Serai, Sweetface Snoballs, and the Commons Chelsea, and activities led by Grassroots Movement in Nepal, Siddhartha School, Tibetan Community of NY/NJ, YindaYin Coaching, Nepal Hip Hop Foundation, and others. “Power begins within us and flows between us. How can we tap into this potential?” the museum asks. The block party also features the art workshops Power Down (in which you can create their own stress balls), Power On (make a portable lamp), and Power Objects (inspired by the Tibetan Namkha). In addition, you can participate in Flower Power (a collaborative floral feast), Power Couple (tracing hands), Power Nap (a guided meditation), Power Poles (scientific experiments with magnets and metallic sand), Power Trip (learn about Himalayan constellations), Net Walk (study movement in unison with artist Milcah Bassel), Playgami (an AR experience with origami artist Uttam Grandhi), and Power Forward (create wind-powered messages with artist Kyung-Jin Kim). As an extra bonus, there will be free admission to the museum all day (11:00 am – 6:00 pm), so you can check out the exhibits “Charged with Buddha’s Blessings: Relics from an Ancient Stupa,” “Masterworks of Himalayan Art,” “The Power of Intention,” “Reinventing the (Prayer) Wheel,” “The Wheel of Intentions,” “Shrine Room Projects: Wishes and Offerings,” and “The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room.”


restaurant week

Who: Nearly four hundred restaurants throughout the city
What: Summer Restaurant Week
Where: All five boroughs
When: July 22 - August 16, two-course lunches $26, three-course dinners $42
Why: For more than a quarter of a century, New York City eateries have been offering special deals during Restaurant Week, with a growing number of participants every year. Reservation lines are now open for the immensely popular program, with almost four hundred establishments from across the culinary spectrum offering two-course prix-fixe lunches for $26 and dinners for $42 from July 22 through August 16. (Some restaurants do only lunch or dinner, and others offer the deals only on weekdays.) Most of the prix-fixe menus are available online so you know just what you’re in for. Among the many restaurants are such favorites as ‘21 Club,’ ABC Kitchen, American Cut, Bann, Barbetta, Becco, Burger & Lobster, Casa Lever, Catch NYC, Charlie Palmer Steak, Cipriani, Darbar, DB Bistro Moderne, Delmonico’s, Docks Oyster Bar, Dos Caminos, Estiatorio Milos, Feast, Fish Cheeks, Frankie & Johnnie’s, Glass House Tavern, HanGawi, Haru, Hearth, Inakaya, Indochine, i Trulli, Il Mulino, Lupa Osteria Romana, Lure Fishbar, Mercer Kitchen, Momofuku Nishi, Monkey Bar, the Morgan Dining Room, Nice Matin, Orsay, the Palm Court, Park Avenue Summer, Periyali, Public Kitchen, Quality Eats, Red Rooster, Riverpark, Rosa Mexicano, Rôtisserie Georgette, the Russian Tea Room, Scarpetta, Shun Lee Palace, STK, the Strip House, Tao, Tribeca Grill, the Tuck Room, Untitled, and the Wright.


(photo by David Gonsier)

Cardboard Kayak Race is a highlight of City of Water Day (photo by David Gonsier)

Saturday, July 13, free

“What water is there for us to clean ourselves?” Nietzsche asked in 1882’s Parable of the Madman. If we’re not careful, we won’t have much clean water to do anything in the future, which is why City of Water Day has become such an important event. The twelfth annual celebration of H2O takes place on July 13, with special water-related activities in all five boroughs, with the South Street Seaport Museum as home base. The ever-popular Con Edison Cardboard Kayak Race is set for Brooklyn Bridge Beach on the Manhattan side at 1:30, but you can watch the kayaks being built at Peck Slip beginning at 10:30. The Waterfront Festival at Piers 16 and 17 features food trucks and booths from such organizations as Animal Haven, Billion Oyster Project, BioBoat, Earth Day Initiative, Hudson River Sea Glass, National Museum of the American Indian, NYC Winter Lantern Festival, Oceana, Shore Walkers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Untapped Cities, festival host the Waterfront Alliance, and others. Boat tours (free unless otherwise noted) include NYC Sightseeing Cruises at Pier 15; sails at 1:00 and 4:00 ($20) on the South Street Seaport Museum’s 1885 schooner, Pioneer; one-hour sails aboard the schooners Adirondack and America 2.0 from Pier 62; trips on the Fireboat John J. Harvey from Pier 66; a Lower Harbor Cruise from Pier 82 at 11:00 am; and a Landmark Cruise departing from Pier 83.

Boat tours

Numerous boat tours are part of City of Water Day in all five boroughs

The second annual Jamaica Bay Festival, on Beach 108th St. and Beach Channel Dr., features kayaking, fishing, surfing, hiking, bird watching, art, nature, and more. Among the many other events are Boogie Down to the Sound at SUNY Maritime’s Waterfront Open House, a Bronx River Lake Paddle, Community Rowing and Birding at Hunts Point Riverside Park, a Mile Hike and Talk Along the Harlem River in Roberto Clemente State Park, Low-Tide Nature Discovery at Bushwick Inlet Park, Seining the River Wild at Pier 4 Beach, NOAA’s USS Monitor Trail Marker at the Greenpoint Monitor Museum, Shoreline Clean-Up at Sherman Creek Park, the River Project’s Wetlab at Pier 40, Outrigger Paddling from Pier 66 in Hudson River Park, Harlem River Community Rowing at Muscota Marsh Dock, a Sustainability Scavenger Hunt in Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, the Last Harvest Celebration with Solar One in Stuyvesant Cove Park, a Fishing Clinic in Gantry Plaza State Park, Flushing Creek Rising Sea Tours from the Flushing Bay Boat Ramp, a Hunter’s Point South Park Tour, Evening Kayaking at the Alice Austen House Museum, and a Lighthouses in Danger tent outside the National Lighthouse Museum.