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


Jenn Colella (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Jenn Colella will Zoom in from home for Broadway Fantasy Camp (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Who: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, Corey Cott, more TBA
What: Broadway Fantasy Camp
Where: Broadway Fantasy Camp Zoom room
When: May 30 - July 1, $25
Why: Broadway Fantasy Camp usually takes place at Sardi’s, where fans can get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars. With the Great White Way dark because of the pandemic, one of the cornerstones of the annual event, now rechristened “Broadway Banter: Safe-at-Home,” has moved online, where you can spend an hour on Zoom with a Broadway star, joined by no more than forty-nine other guests. The performers will talk about their career, from their debut to onstage mishaps to how they are coping during the coronavirus crisis, followed by a Q&A, so have your questions ready. The sessions, which cost a mere $25 each, are scheduled for May 30 to July 1 and feature an impressive roster: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, and Corey Cott. For every twenty-five tickets sold, a free ticket will be donated to a hospital worker. “The Broadway community leads the way in being generous and sensitive to the human condition,” Broadway Fantasy Camp founder and producer Lauren Class Schneider said in a statement. “Broadway Fantasy Camp is humbled to include hospital workers in our audience as they continue to serve on the frontlines across the country and around the world.” Tony nominee Colella added, “I’m looking forward to creating a community through ‘Broadway Banter.’ It’s not just a Q&A session. . . . I want to hear my fans express in their own voices how they are feeling during this time and what they are doing to stay creative. I want us to create a dialogue together to lift one another up in this very strange time. The opportunity to ‘hang out’ with my fans and for them to get to know one another makes my heart soar.”



Unorthodox cocreator and writer Anna Winger will discuss the show during JCC overnight Shavuot celebration

Who: Anna Winger, many more
What: Live Q&A with series creator of Unorthodox
Where: Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
When: Thursday, May 28, free (donations accepted) with advance RSVP, midnight (Shavuot celebration runs May 28 at 9:00 pm to May 29 at 5:00 am)
Why: One of the runaway television hits of the pandemic has been Netflix’s Unorthodox, about a young married Orthodox woman in Brooklyn who runs away to Berlin to escape the suffocating life she is trapped in. The four-part series has led to the breakout success of Israeli actress Shira Haas, who has a smaller but critically significant role in the earlier Israeli series Shtisel, which also involves Orthodox marriage. Unorthodox was inspired by Deborah Feldman’s memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots; while the Brooklyn segments of the show are based on the book, the Berlin sections are fictional. On May 28 at midnight, one of the writers and creators of the show, Anna Winger, who also wrote and created Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86, will participate in a live Q&A during the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Paul Feig z”l Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

The celebration usually occurs overnight at the JCC on Amsterdam and Seventy-Sixth St. but has gone virtual in 2020. Among the dozens of other events, all free, are “Koolulam in Conversation” with Rabbi Joy Levitt at 9:00 pm, “Studying Harry Potter as a Sacred Text” with Casper ter Kuile at 10:00, “Reimaging Life, Loss, and Love during Covid-19: Text, Ritual, and Story to Lift Our Spirit” with Jeannie Blaustein, Rabbi Dr. Jenny Solomon, and Rabbi Sydney Mintz at 11:00, “Idan Raichel: Stories and Songs” at 1:00 am, “Franz Rosenzweig on the Notion of Revelation” with Rabbi Michael Paley at 2:00, “The History of Israeli Fashion: From the Kibbutz to Tel Aviv” with Liraz Cohen Mordechai at 3:00, and “Noa: A Closing Concert for Shavuot” at 4:00.


(photo by Monique Carboni)

The cast of The Hot Wing King will reunite for launch of latest Signature Theatre online initiative (photo by Monique Carboni)

Who: Julia Jordan, Sarah Ruhl, Melissa Crespo, Katori Hall, Steve H. Broadnax III, cast of The Hot Wing King
What: Virtual launch of artist-driven theater publication
Where: Signature Theatre Zoom and Facebook
When: Wednesday, May 27, free with advance RSVP, 6:00
Why: The Signature Theatre continues its online programs with the launch of 3Views, a publication that will focus on shows that had to be shut down, postponed, or canceled because of the pandemic. On May 27 at 6:00, 3Views will do a deep dive on The Hot Wing King, which had to close more than a week before its scheduled date in March. I called Katori Hall’s play “a tantalizingly spicy, robust and savory contemporary comedy that sticks to your ribs like only the best, well, hot wings. . . . The show is not specifically about gay men, or black men, or gay black men; it’s about four friends coming together to reach a goal, attempting to fight off various obstacles that are out of their control.” The discussion will feature 3Views founding members and playwrights Julia Jordan and Sarah Ruhl, Signature resident playwright Hall, Hot Wing King director Steve H. Broadnax III, and the cast of the show (Toussaint Jeanlouis, Korey Jackson, Sheldon Best, Nicco Annan, Eric B. Robinson Jr., and. Cecil Blutcher), moderated by 3Views editor Melissa Crespo. Also coming up at the Signature are a SigSpace Arts Lunch with Margo Seibert on May 29 at noon and a SigSpace Summit on June 3 at 5:00 with Lauren Yee and Chhaya Chhoum.


author dinner

Who: Judy Blume, Natalie Portman, Misty Copeland, Raj Haldar, Marie Lu, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Carmen Maria Machado, Zerlina Maxwell, Joy Harjo
What: Annual events honoring adult and children’s book authors
Where: BookExpo Facebook
When: Wednesday, May 27, and Thursday, May 28, free, 5:30
Why: Two of the hottest tickets every year at BookExpo are the Adult Book & Author Breakfast and the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast. Because of the pandemic shutdown, the convention has moved online, and the breakfasts have become virtual dinners, taking place for free on May 27 and May 28 at 5:30. The adult celebration features Rebecca Roanhorse, author of Black Sun; Rep. Ilhan Omar (This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman); Carmen Maria Machado (The Low, Low Woods); Zerlina Maxwell (The End of White Politics — How to Heal Our Liberal Divide); and U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo (An American Sunrise). The participants for the children’s party are Oscar winner Natalie Portman (Natalie Portman’s Fables); ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland (Bunheads, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey); Raj Haldar, aka Lushlife, (No Reading Allowed); Marie Lu, (Skyhunter); Kwame Mbalia, (Tristan Strong Destroys the World); and Judy Blume, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. “This event showcases the diversity of genres, book types, authors, and publishers within the world of children’s and young adult literature,” BookExpo event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement. “We’re extraordinarily thrilled to have such a varied group of authors who will bring such unique and different perspectives to our show. We know all our attendees will walk away with valuable insights about how these books, and ones like them, can help their own bookstores, libraries, and retail shops.” BookExpo runs online May 26-29 with other free panel discussions, author talks, and showcases, followed May 30-31 by BookCon.



The American Museum of Natural History’s SpaceFest includes the live launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon

Who: Ruth Angus, Carter Emmart, Jackie Faherty, Neil deGrasse Tyson
What: Online celebration marking the first U.S. human mission to space in almost a decade
Where: American Museum of Natural History
When: Wednesday, May 27, free, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Why: On May 27, the SpaceX Crew Dragon will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center and head to the International Space Station. The American Museum of Natural History will celebrate the first U.S. human mission to space since the Atlantis in 2011 with SpaceFest, a trio of live family-friendly watch parties featuring special guests. Below is the schedule; attendance is free.

Wednesday, May 27
Scientists at Home: Imagining Space Exploration, with museum curator Ruth Angus and introducing the OLogy Challenge, 11:00 am

Field Trip: Spaceflight, virtual spaceflight with museum director of astrovisualization Carter Emmart and astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, 1:00

The Future of Space Exploration with Neil deGrasse Tyson, live launch with commentary from Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson and astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, 4:05


Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel will be joined by Lewis Black, Susie Essman, and Mary Karr for 92Y book launch event on May 25

Who: Alan Zweibel, Lewis Black, Susie Essman, Mary Karr
What: Online book launch with special guests
Where: 92nd St. Y online
When: Monday, May 25, $20, 7:30
Why: When television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and comic genius Alan Zweibel first announced his book launch for Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier (Abrams, April 2020, $27), it was going to be at the 92nd St. Y, titled “Alan Zweibel and Friends.” With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down public gatherings, the event is now taking place online, and the friends have been announced. On May 25 at 7:30, the Brooklyn-born, Long Island-raised Zweibel will be joined for a virtual reading and discussion with the inimitable Lewis Black, Susie Essman, and Mary Karr. In the book, Zweibel, who turned sixty-nine on May 20, takes a look back at his long career, working at Saturday Night Live, cocreating It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, collaborating with Billy Crystal on the Tony-winning 700 Sundays, and penning such novels as North and The Other Shulman. “I write. This is what I’m wired to do,” Zweibel notes in chapter eight, “Crashing and Burning in Another Genre.” He continues, “To awaken at 5:30 every morning, sit down with my vocabulary, choose words, and arrange them in an order that would not only hold a viewer or reader’s interest, but also afford them a laugh or two along the way. And if I succeed, well, mission accomplished. There’s no greater feeling. But if I fail, well, I’m sorry, but it’s not a war crime. I swear, I tried my best.” Crystal wrote the foreword for the book, which also includes interviews with Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, and Carl Reiner. Tickets are $20, with proceeds benefiting 92Y.



Who: Mikki Shepard, DJ YB, Mamma Normadien, Baba N’goma Woolbright, Charmaine Warren, Abdel R. Salaam, Karen Thornton Daniels, Sabine LaFortune, Coco Killingsworth, Farai Malianga, more
What: BAM’s DanceAfrica
Where: BAM online
When: Through May 29 (and beyond), free (some film screenings require small payment)
Why: One of our favorite ways of ushering in the summer season is by going to BAM’s annual DanceAfrica festival, a weekend of dance, films, a street bazaar, and more celebrating African culture. The forty-second annual event is taking place online, with livestreamed performances, film screenings, archival videos, interviews, classes, and a virtual bazaar. “The spirit of DanceAfrica has no boundaries, and will always find its way to the people,” Baba Abdel R. Salaam said in a statement. Below is the full schedule. And be prepared to shout “Ago!” “Amée!!” from the comfort of wherever you are sheltering in place.

Through May 27
FilmAfrica: Aya of Yop City (Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie, 2012), Mother of George (Andrew Dosunmu, 2012), Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018), Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (Chai Vasarhelyi, 2008), pay-what-you-wish to $4.99

Through May 29
“DanceAfrica Visual Art: Omar Victor Diop”

Through June 14
DanceAfrica Virtual Bazaar, with clothing, jewelry, home goods, food, and accessories

Monday, May 25
“DanceAfrica: The Early Years,” with Mikki Shepard, 11:00 am

DanceAfrica Dance Party, with DJ YB, 7:00

Tuesday, May 26
“DanceAfrica: Behind the Scenes,” with Abdel R. Salaam, Charmaine Warren, and Council of Elder members Mamma Normadien and Baba N’goma Woolbright, 6:00

Wednesday, May 27
“DanceAfrica: The Council of Elders,” with Stefanie Hughley and Council of Elder leaders Mamma Lynette White-Mathews and Baba Bill (William) Mathews, 6:00

Thursday, May 28
“Education and DanceAfrica,” with Karen Thornton Daniels, Sabine LaFortune, Coco Killingsworth, and Abdel R. Salaam, 6:00

Opens Thursday, May 28
FilmAfrica: A Screaming Man (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2010), Chez Jolie Coiffure (Rosine Mbakam, 2018), I Am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni, 2017), National Diploma (Dieudo Hamadi, 2014), prices TBD

Friday, May 29
“Bantaba West African Dance Class,” with Karen Thornton Daniels and Farai Malianga, RSVP required, 2:00

“DanceAfrica: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” with Coco Killingsworth, Charmaine Warren, and Abdel R. Salaam, 6:00