November, 2016


Katha Cato gets back in the spotlight

For Katha Cato, looking to both the past and the future is essential. Comment

A classic musical gets a ‘loverly’ production

Social class, human behavior and the relationship between the sexes are the basis for the Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” the famed musical comedy based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” Theatre By The Bay, located at Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center, gave director Ovi Vargas the opportunity to turn the show into a hit for the company. Comments (1)

Finding the funny side of family relations

They’re sometimes referred to as the Sandwich Generation. Typically in their 40s or 50s, these selfless souls are sandwiched between two life stages: supporting their own children, while caring for their aging parents. And the challenges they face are extraordinary. Comment
“Evensong,” which is being given its world premiere by the Astoria Performing Arts Center, could not have a subject that is any more timely, provocative or pertinent to life in the so-called world’s borough. Comment

Noel Coward classic gets a spirited production

Playwright Noel Coward is in the house, or rather at the Zion Episcopal Church, where the Douglaston Community Theatre is performing his classic comedy “Blithe Spirit.” The plays center on Charles Condomine (Rich Weyhausen), a successful novelist who wants to learn about the occult for a novel he is writing. To do so he arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati (Joan Edward), to hold a séance at his house. Charles invites his skeptic friend Dr. George Bradman (Nick De Casare) and his wife, Violet (Annette Daiell), who finds the medium idea fascinating. Comment

Making Bell Boulevard Bayside’s theater row

Lon Blais is bringing live performance back to Bayside with encore performances of his one-man show “The Boy on the Bureau,” an autobiographical drama about the playwright’s experience as the “white sheep” of his family in Danvers, Mass. The Bayside resident took over a vacant shop at 41-23 Bell Blvd. for the premiere of the show in September and will be returning to the same location on Nov. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Comment

October, 2016

The Play’s the Thing

Royal Star Theatre brings joy to Jamaica Estates

If the never-ending and demeaning presidential campaign has got you down—and if it hasn’t, you haven’t been paying attention—then I have a remedy that is guaranteed to lift your spirits. It can be found in Jamaica Estates in the auditorium of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy where the Royal Star Theatre is about to open its production of “Spamalot”. Comment

September, 2016

Long Island City

At Secret Theatre, ‘The Underpants Godot’ works on many levels

From the moment you’re handed your program, it is clear that “The Underpants Godot,” currently running at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, is an unusual production. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

One man’s mission to bring Bayside culture

I’m over at Donovan’s off Bell Boulevard, enjoying a Malbec and burger and good conversation with Gregg P. Sullivan and an intriguing woman of mystery who must for now remain nameless. We’re talking about the way Bayside used to be and what it will take to revitalize it. And if anyone can do it, Sullivan is the man. Comments (5)

‘Wait Until Dark’ delivers suspense, scares

Following its stellar version of the Broadway muscial “La Cage aux Folles,” Rockaway Theatre Company has changed gears considerably with its new production, the well-known Frederick Knott drama “Wait Until Dark.” A popular movie version of play, starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, scared the beejusus out of audiences back in the 1960s. This new stage version makes a strong effort to do the the same for today’s audience. Comment
Long Island City

Secret Theatre places Shakespeare’s “Merchant” in post-WWII Italy

Two of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches are at the center of his “The Merchant of Venice.” Shylock’s “Hath not a Jew eyes?” addresses the undercurrent of racism that underlies the crux of the play, while Portia’s “the quality of mercy,” delivered in the heat of a courtroom battle, stresses the humanity that is needed to make an attempt at overcoming the effects of that racism. Comment

August, 2016


Broadway quality comes to the Rockaways

The story of “La Cage aux Folles” has moved back and forth between the stage and screen over the years. Starting out as a 1973 play, it was turned into a hit 1978 film. It made its way back to the stage in 1983, when the team of Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman transformed it into a Tony Award-winning musical. In 1996, it was remade as “The Birdcage,” a film which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, and changed the story’s setting from the French Riviera to Miami’s South Beach. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

Bringing necessary publicity to a theater scene

Every now and then, the time comes for me to re-introduce myself to the readers of this column. Many of you, I’d like to believe, have enjoyed my well-chosen words since my June 2007 debut in these pages, about 150 columns ago, and maybe you even learned something. Comment

Chain Theatre keeps the show going

In the slightly more than three years it spent at its location in Long Island City, the Chain Theatre put on a intriguing mix of theater, film and comedy. From its productions of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Hurlyburly” to the Unchained Festival, which featured a range of new and challenging works, the Chain was a distinctive presence on the borough’s cultural scene. Comment
Oakland Gardens

Shakespeare in the Park, free films to return to Cunningham Park

Shakespeare in the Park and free movie screenings will be returning to Cunningham Park for the month of August, courtesy of Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) and Friends of Cunningham Park. Comment

July, 2016


Forest Park hosts a rarely seen Gilbert & Sullivan gem

When you think of Gilbert & Sullivan collaborations, the most likely candidates are usually the three most popular of their 14 works: “The Pirates of Penzance,” “The Mikado” and “H.M.S. Pinafore.” Perhaps the most well-known songs from those operettas, “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” (Pirates), “A Wandering Minstrel” (Mikado) and “Now Give Three Cheers” (Pinafore) may come to mind as well Comment
The Play’s the Thing

Things get hopping at community theaters

I must admit to an unusual fondness for a particular great white rabbit. Comment

June, 2016

Long Island City

Korean Theatre Festival returns to New York

For the inaugural Korean Theatre Festival in New York 10 years ago, founder Du-Yee Chang performed an original one-man show based on one of Franz Kafka’s novels. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

You can take the memories of a community theater production with you

If you had been following the progress of the Parkside Player’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You” portrayed in my last three columns, you may want to know how it all turned out. Comment

Black Spectrum Theatre takes a look back

Queens’ community theatre is offering a summer of well-known plays, such as “You Can’t Take It With You,” “And Then There Were None,” “Side By Side By Sondheim,” “Follies” and “Guys and Dolls.” Comment

Borough theater groups earn our Kudos

For this third season of Queens Kudos awards, which recognizes the best in the borough’s theater scene, the TimesLedger decided to shake things up a bit. Comment

May, 2016

Long Island City

LaGuardia’s ‘Passing Strange’ explores an artist’s search for self

After runs at the Public Theater in Lower Manhattan and on Broadway, as well as a film adaptation directed by Spike Lee, the satiric comedy-drama rock musical “Passing Strange” has made its way to the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. Comment
Long Island City

You don’t have to be grad to attend this reunion

For many graduates, the thought of going back for one of those reunions on campus is enough to send them into a downward spiral of could’ves, should’ves and would’ves. Comment

‘Spelling Bee’ wins over audience with F-U-N

During the last decade—well, pre-“Hamilton”—Broadway developed a subgenre of seemingly lightweight musicals which touched upon surprisingly deep truths. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

Community actors do it for the love of theater

“You Can’t Take It With You,” the hit comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, opens in Forest Hills in a little more than two weeks. Comment

April, 2016


Little Neck performer brings one-man show to Bayside

If you’re looking for an antidote to the vitriol and acrimony that inflict us today, especially prevalent in the endless political campaigns, and if you’re appalled by the general lack of civility – you would be wise to seek out Mitchell Robert Glazer and his “Simply Me” one-man show. Comments (1)

APAC closes out its season with trip to ‘Putnam County’s Spelling Bee’

Take a half dozen sixth-grade students with strange characteristics, mix in three quirky adults, send the bunch to a competition, and then set the whole thing to music. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

Meet some of the cast from ‘You Can’t Take it With You’

Rehearsals are underway for “You Can’t Take It With You,” the Parkside Players’ spring production. Comment
Long Island City

Trolling for answers in an online reality

Not long ago, trolling was a fishing term used to describe the practice of dragging a baited line behind a boat. Comment
The Play’s the Thing

So maybe you can take it with you

Do you want to be a star? Or perhaps more modestly, do you simply want to strut your stuff in community theater? Comment

Elementary my dear Watson

If Lucy Liu can play Dr. Watson on the TV show “Elementary,” then what is stopping someone from casting a woman to play Sherlock? Comments (1)

March, 2016


Titan Theatre serves up a delicious Caesar to end its season

To experience the cult of personality today, one need only stream the political drama “House of Cards,” or catch Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump expounding on whatever issue is getting traction with his followers that day. Comment

Homeless playwright brings his work to Manhattan stage

Garrett Buhl Robinson calls the two-star hotel where he lives in Jamaica the shelter. Comments (3)

Hillcrest students shine in theater competition

Hillcrest High School actress Benne McCants has conquered the New York stage, and now is on her way to take on the rest of the country. Comments (1)

York College tackles the L.A. riots in new theater production

The stage of York College’s theater is about to bring the sights and sounds of a city’s streets in turmoil to life. Comments (2)

Queens Kudos honors the best in community theater

Anyone who lives outside the New York City area may wonder why someone who is a Metro Card swipe away from Broadway would bother to see a production of “Seussical: The Musical” in Middle Village. Well, according to Queens theater buffs, skipping that show at the JC Players would have meant missing out on an incredible theatrical experience. Comments (2)
The Play’s the Thing

Community theater earns our Kudos

Today we celebrate community theater. Comment
Middle Village

Maggie’s Little Theater delivers big laughs with latest show

Director Erik Neilssen has a hit on his hands with the hilarious “Lend Me a Tenor” at Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village. Comment

New take on ‘West Side Story’ hits Knockdown Center

It won’t be just any night in Maspeth. Comment

Queens Theatre presents a musical murder mystery

Two actors take on 13 roles in a comedic mix of murder, mayhem and music in Queens Theatre’s next production “Murder for Two.” Comment

February, 2016

The Play’s the Thing

Diversity in casting is going to take some work on everybody’s part

The current controversy about the lack of diversity in acting nominations for the Oscars prompts me to revisit the subject of non-traditional casting in theater. Comments (1)

African Americans celebrated on stage

In honor of Black History Month, a couple of Jamaica performing arts centers are producing two very different plays that explore the African-American experience. Comments (1)

Astoria Performing Arts Center takes a look into its backyard

Northwest Queens takes center stage this week as the Astoria Performing Arts Center celebrates its 15th season with a slate of new works focused on its neighborhood. Comment
Long Island City

The Chain Theatre says goodbye for now

Long Island City

The Chain Theatre says goodbye for now

Long Island City’s The Chain Theatre went out with a bang not a whimper with its final performance Saturday night. Comment
It is no coincidence that “A Chorus Line” opens with the actors’ backs to the audience. Comments (1)

Voting for this year’s Queens Kudos has started

The nominations are in and now it’s time to cast your ballot for this year’s Queens Kudos, honoring the best in the borough’s theater community. Comment

January, 2016

Long Island City

The Chain Theatre plans to offer programming to the end

In a little more than three weeks, The Chain Theatre will shut the door for the last time on its 45th Road home. Comment
Long Island City

New play at Secret digs into New York’s desperate past

In his director’s note for Pamela Enz’s play “City Girls & Desperadoes,” now at the Secret Theatre, Richard Mazda writes that it “is not about drugs, sex or dealing,” but rather “is a play about relationships within that bankrupt yet thrilling late ’70s New York City world.” Comment
The Play’s the Thing

Let’s start the new year on a positive note

As we close the books on 2015, with a plague of pessimism infecting the populace, I give you an antidote — the positive, optimistic and upbeat Susan Stewart. Comments (1)



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