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

TICKET GIVEAWAY: PBR UNLEASH THE BEAST AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Austin Meier on Robinson's Mac-Nett's El Presidente at NYC Times Square final five showdown PBR. Photo by Andy Watson.

The Professional Bull Riders will Unleash the Beast in New York City for annual season kickoff at the Garden (photo by Andy Watson/BullStock Media)

PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS MONSTER ENERGY BUCK OFF AT THE GARDEN
Madison Square Garden
31st - 33rd Sts. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
January 4-6, $28-$226 ($551 for PBR Elite Seats)
www.pbr.com
www.msg.com

There are a lot of traditions in New York City tied to the New Year, and one of the most exciting is the Professional Bull Riders opening its season at the World’s Most Famous Arena the first weekend of January. The sport’s twenty-sixth season, dubbed Unleash the Beast, gets under way January 4-6 with the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, as thirty-five riders attempt to hold on to hard-battling bulls for eight damn-tough seconds. Among the anticipated competitors are PBR legend and two-time world champion J. B. Mauney, a three-time MSG winner and all-around badass cowboy; 2016 world champ Cooper Davis, who we introduced you to three years ago; and 2017 Garden victor and world champion Jess Lockwood. Due to injuries — bull riding is one of the most dangerous sports on the planet — 2018 world champion Kaique Pacheco and 2018 MSG winner Gage Gay will have to sit out the contest.

PBR riders and bulls first invaded New York City in 2007, and the event keeps getting bigger and better, with pyrotechnics, cowboy hats worn the wrong way by Brooklyn hipsters, and a barrel of laughs from PBR “Exclusive Entertainer” Flint Rasumussen, who we interviewed in 2017. In addition to the competition, PBR will be hosting a Cowboy Brunch on January 5 at the Renaissance Hotel ($75, 10:00 am), with Rasmussen, such riders as Stetson Lawrence, and other special guests; you can also join PBR and Boot Barn as it rings the morning bell at the New York Stock Exchange on January 4 at 8:00 ($225), including a continental breakfast and photo ops with PBR CEO Sean Gleason and Canadian superstar Tanner Byrne, who we profiled with his brother Jesse two years ago. (Yes, we kind of have a thing for this crazy event at the home of the Knicks and Rangers.)

Fire and Pyro in the opening during the first round of the New York City Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson

Professional Bull Riders are all fired up for the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden January 4-6 (photo by Andy Watson/BullStock Media)

TICKET GIVEAWAY: PBR Unleash the Beast bursts through the gates of Madison Square Garden January 4-6, with such participants as Ryan Dirteater, Chase Outlaw, Dakota Buttar, Stetson Lawrence, and Keyshawn Whitehorse, which are their real, given names, and twi-ny has a pair of tickets to give away for free for Sunday afternoon’s finale. Just send your name and what your cowboy alias would be if you were insane enough to get on a one-ton bucking bull to contest@twi-ny.com by Monday, December 17, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.

TICKET GIVEAWAY — KENNEDY: BOBBY’S LAST CRUSADE

David Arrow plays Bobby Kennedy in one-man show he also wrote (photo by Russ Rowland)

David Arrow plays Bobby Kennedy in one-man show he also wrote (photo by Russ Rowland)

KENNEDY: BOBBY’S LAST CRUSADE
Theatre at St. Clement’s
423 West 46th St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Wednesday - Sunday through December 9, $55-$85 (use code KNDYGEN for discount)
866-811-4111
www.kennedybobbyslastcrusade.com
www.stclementsnyc.org

On June 6, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles during a presidential campaign stop. This month Bobby, the former US attorney general and, at the time of his death, New York senator, would have turned ninety-three. The new one-man show Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade honors the legacy of the man known as RFK upon the fiftieth anniversary of his murder. The world premiere at the Theatre at St. Clement’s was written by and stars David Arrow as Kennedy; “The Kennedys are a political dynasty and have had a lasting effect on America, and fifty years later the words of Bobby Kennedy need to be repeated so that we as Americans can remember that politics used to be about ideas and ideals, not about us versus them,” Arrow notes in a statement. The story focuses on Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign and is drawn from his public speeches and lesser-known private events; Arrow previously portrayed Kennedy in Jack Holmes’s solo show RFK, winning the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for his performance, topping Anna Deavere Smith, Steven Abbott, and Geoff Sobelle. The play is directed by Eric Nightengale, with set design by Jim Morgan and lighting by Miriam Crowe.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade runs through December 9 (with a November 8 opening) at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, and twi-ny has three pairs of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play involving a real-life politician to contest@twi-ny.com by Wednesday, November 7, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; three winners will be selected at random.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: MY PARSIFAL CONDUCTOR

my parsifal conductor

MY PARSIFAL CONDUCTOR: A WAGNERIAN COMEDY
Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA
10 West 64th Street
Tuesday - Sunday, September 25 - November 3, $67
866-811-4111
myparsifalconductor.com

The debates over whether German composer Richard Wagner was anti-Semitic have raged for more than a century, particularly since Adolf Hitler and the Nazis incorporated his music into their march for power. (Wagner died in 1883 at the age of sixty-nine.) One of his works that generates complaints of anti-Semitism is his final opera, 1880’s Parsifal, about the search for the Holy Grail. Writer, director, and producer Allan Leicht, who won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing for Ryan’s Hope and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for the TV movie Adam, explores the topic in My Parsifal Conductor: A Wagnerian Comedy, which was inspired by the real-life situation in which King Ludwig II of Bavaria commanded that German Jew Hermann Levi, the son of a rabbi, will conduct the inaugural performance of Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival in 1882. The cast features Eddie Korbich as Wagner, Claire Brownwell as Cosima, his wife, Geoffrey Cantor as Levi, Carlo Bosticco as King Ludwig II, Logan James Hall as Friedrich Nietzsche, Alison Cimmet as Dora, and Jazmin Gorsline as Carrie and Sophie. My Parsifal Conductor is directed by Robert Kalfin (Happy End, Yentl) and produced by Ted Snowdon (The Elephant Man, My Name Is Asher Lev).

The cast of My Parsifal Conductor (photo by Carol Rosegg)

The cast of My Parsifal Conductor readies for show about Wagner and anti-Semitism (photo by Carol Rosegg)

TICKET GIVEAWAY: My Parsifal Conductor runs September 25 through November 3 (with an October 11 opening) at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA, and twi-ny has two pairs of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play involving opera to contest@twi-ny.com by Friday, September 28, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; two winners will be selected at random.

THE COMPLETE JEAN VIGO: L’ATALANTE

Michel Simon has loads of fun as a somewhat decrepit first mate in Jean Vigo’s classic L’Atalante

Michel Simon has loads of fun as a somewhat decrepit first mate in Jean Vigo’s classic L’Atalante

L’ATALANTE (Jean Vigo, 1934)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
September 21 - October 2
212-727-8110
filmforum.org

French auteur Jean Vigo made only three shorts and one feature before his death from tuberculosis and leukemia in 1934 at the age of twenty-nine, but his wide-ranging legacy continues. Film Forum pays tribute to his lasting influence on cinema with “The Complete Jean Vigo,” new 4K restorations of all of his works in addition to a new bonus. In Vigo’s fourth and final film, L’Atalante, his only feature, Swiss actor Michel Simon is spectacularly hilarious as an aging, somewhat decrepit first mate with a peculiar lust for life and cats. After barge captain Jean (Jean Dasté) and Juliette (Dita Parlo) get married in her small, tight-knit country town, they head for the big city of Paris on the long boat, L’Atalante, that he captains as his job. First mate Père Jules (Simon) and his young cabin boy (Louis Lefebvre) come along for the would-be honeymoon, attempting to make sure it’s a smooth ride, which of course it’s not. Juliette wants to enjoy the Parisian nightlife, Jean is a jealous, overprotective stick-in-the-mud, and Père Jules — well, Père Jules is downright unpredictable, pretty much all id, living life footloose and fancy free even if he doesn’t have much money or many true friends. When a love-struck bicycle-riding peddler (Gilles Margaritis) tries to woo Juliette, Jean grows angry, and an emotional and psychological battle ensues. But through it all, Père Jules just keeps on keepin’ on, never getting too concerned, confident that everything will work out in the end, because that’s what happens in life.

Film Forum honors Jean Vigo with 4K restorations of all four of his works, along with a bonus

Film Forum honors Jean Vigo with 4K restorations of all four of his works, along with a bonus

The son of anarchist Miguel Almereyda, who chose his last name because it is an anagram of the French phrase for “there is shit,” Vigo had been labeled a subversive for his first film, the twenty-five-minute À propos de Nice, and his third, the forty-one-minute Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct), had been banned. So he went a little more conventional, at least for him, with L’Atalante, rewriting with Albert Riéra an original script by Jean Guinée. The film is an insightful tale of love and romance, of wealth and poverty, of hard social conditions, focusing on a wacky man who has experienced a lot in his life, even though he looks like a bum, reminiscent of Simon’s brilliant portrayal of Priape in Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved from Drowning. Whether putting on a puppet show, displaying his tattoos, getting his fortune read, or walking around with cats on his shoulders, Père Jules is one of the most endearing and memorable characters in the history of cinema, a unique figure who surprises over and over again, and Simon’s portrayal is just amazing; it’s hard to believe that he was only thirty-nine when he made the picture.

The highly poetic film, featuring a lovely score by Maurice Jaubert, also echoes F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, only from a comic, often slapstick angle. After shooting was completed, Vigo’s already failing health took a turn for the worse, and a battle ensued over final cut involving the producers and editor Louis Chavance and cinematographer Boris Kaufman (Dziga Vertov’s brother, who went on to shoot such American classics as On the Waterfront and 12 Angry Men). Vigo died only a few weeks after L’Atalante was released. Film Forum is showing the restored director’s cut of L’Atalante from September 21 to October 2, along with “Vigo x 3,” consisting of À propos de Nice, the short documentary Jean Taris, and the restored director’s cut of Zéro de conduite. In addition, on September 30, Film Forum is screening Tournage d’hiver (Winter Shooting), a 2017 compilation of rushes and outtakes from L’Atalante and Zéro de conduite, narrated by film critic and historian Bernard Eisenschitz, who oversaw the restoration of L’Atalante.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR

lovely sunday

A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR
Theatre at St. Clement’s
423 West 46th St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Wednesday - Sunday through October 21, $55-$85 (use code LOVELYRED for discount)
866-811-4111
www.lafemmetheatreproductions.org

In a 2007 interview with The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, actress Charlotte Moore recounts the chaotic beginnings of Williams’s 1978 play, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, a companion piece with his 1970 one-act, The Demolition Downtown. She describes director Keith Hack fighting with Williams over rewrites, Williams talking distractingly in the audience during performances, and a cast change on opening night. “The opening night was nothing like the closing night at Spoleto. By the time it was over, it was pretty good!” she remembers. “Tennessee loved Creve Coeur. ‘It’s a bijou,’ he would say, ‘a bijou.’ A small jewel.” The rarely revived play, about four women trying to get by in Depression-era St. Louis, was one of six major works Williams wrote in the last four years of his life; it is now being brought back by La Femme Theatre Productions, running at the Theatre at St. Clement’s through October 21. (Opening night, which should be less hectic than the one at the Spoleto Festival nearly forty years ago, is September 23.) The impressive cast — the original featured Moore, Shirley Knight, and Jane Alexander — consists of Kristine Nielsen, Annette O’Toole, Jean Lichty, and Polly McKie, with the ubiquitous Austin Pendleton directing. “I think that A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is one of the gentlest, funniest, loveliest, and most moving of Tennessee’s later plays, actually of all his plays,” Pendleton said in a statement. “And they could not be better served than by our brilliant cast. These women know all about acting, about Tennessee, about life, and the idea of all four of them together makes me tingle.”

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur runs through October 21 at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, and twi-ny has three pairs of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite Tennessee Williams play to contest@twi-ny.com by Friday, September 21, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; three winners will be selected at random.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A BLANKET OF DUST

blanket of dust 2

Flea Theater Mainstage
20 Thomas St. between Broadway & Church St.
Monday - Saturday through June 30, premium tickets start at $67
866-811-4111
www.ablanketofdust.com
theflea.org

Richard Squires’s A Blanket of Dust, the political thriller opening June 12 at the Flea, begins on September 11, 2001, with Diana Crane on the phone with her husband, who is calling her from inside the North Tower as chaos mounts. After his death, she determinedly seeks justice but comes up against both the media and the government as she hunts for the truth. The world premiere, part of the Theater of Resistance, is directed by Christopher Murrah and produced by writer, actor, director, composer, and experimental gallerist Squires, whose previous works include Feathertop, The Fall of Albion, and the film Crazy Like a Fox. Angela Pierce stars as Diana, an Antigone-like figure who is the daughter of Sen. Walter Crane, played by Anthony Newfield, and the widow of 9/11 victim Sam Power. Alison Fraser is her mother, Vanessa, and James Patrick Nelson is her brother, Washington Post reporter Charlie Crane. Tommy Schrider plays bookstore owner Andrew Black, son of former CIA director Adam Black, who is portrayed by Brad Bellamy. The cast also features Brennan Caldwell, Joseph Dellger, Jessica Frances Dukes, Kelsey Rainwater, Peter J. Romano, and Peggy J. Scott.

Blanket of Dust

The cast of A Blanket of Dust rehearses before opening at the Flea (photo by Jeffrey Wolfman)

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A Blanket of Dust runs through June 30 at the Flea, and twi-ny has two pairs of premium tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play or movie involving 9/11 and its aftermath to contest@twi-ny.com by Wednesday, June 13, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; two winners will be selected at random.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK

A Letter to Harvey Milk

Retired kosher butcher Harry Weinberg (Adam Heller) remembers an old friend in A Letter to Harvey Milk (photo by Russ Rowland)

The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through June 30, $79
212-560-2183
www.lettertoharveymilk.com
www.theatrerow.org

On May 22, Harvey Milk would have turned eighty-eight. Instead, the San Francisco city supervisor and outspoken gay activist was assassinated on November 27, 1978, at the age of forty-eight. His moving life story has been turned into a nonfiction book (Randy Shilts’s The Mayor of Castro Street), an Oscar-winning documentary (Rob Epstein’s The Times of Harvey Milk), an opera (Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s Harvey Milk), a two-time Oscar-winning film (Gus Van Sant’s Milk, starring Sean Penn), a cantata by Jack Curtis Dubowsky, and several children’s books. And now comes A Letter to Harvey Milk, a stage musical about Milk’s legacy. It’s 1986, and Harry, a retired kosher butcher, has been given an assignment by Barbara, his senior center writing teacher: He has to write a letter to a deceased person from his past, and he chooses Harvey Milk. Based on the short story by Lesléa Newman, A Letter to Harvey Milk features a book by Jerry James, Cheryl Stern, the late Ellen M. Schwartz, and Laura I. Kramer, with music by Kramer, lyrics by Schwartz, and additional lyrics by Stern. Adam Heller stars as kosher butcher Harry Weinberg, Stern is his deceased wife, Julia Knitel plays Barbara, Michael Bartoli is Milk, and Jeremy Greenbaum, Aury Krebs, and CJ Pawlikowski play multiple ensemble roles. The ninety-minute show is directed by Evan Pappas, with sets by David Arsenault, costumes by Debbi Hobson, lighting by Christopher Akerlind, sound by David M. Lawson, and music direction by Jeffrey Lodin.

A Letter to Harvey Milk

A Letter to Harvey Milk honors the legacy of the San Francisco city supervisor and outspoken gay activist (photo by Russ Rowland)

TICKET GIVEAWAY: A Letter to Harvey Milk runs through June 30 at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, and twi-ny has three pairs of tickets to give away for free for performances June 1-23. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play or movie about an activist to contest@twi-ny.com by Tuesday, May 22, at 3:00 pm to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; three winners will be selected at random.