Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Willy Chirino in Concert

Willy Chirino in concert
with special guests MAXIMA ALERTA

The Bergen Performing Arts Center presents the legendary Cuban singer Willy Chirino in Concert with special guests MAXIMA ALERTA on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 8:00 PM at the Bergen Performing Arts Center located at 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631.

Willy Chirino combines the musical traditions of Cuba with American rock and jazz, helping to create the “Miami Sound” of Salsa music. The Cuban-born and South Florida-based vocalist and bandleader boasts a musical repertoire of over 100 songs and 30 albums, making Chirino one of the most emblematic Tropical music acts around.

Maxima Alerta is one of Cuba’s best known and loved fusion bands, and one of the founders of Cubaton.  The group has recently moved to the US and it is now based in the NYC area.  It is known for its fusion of Cuban Music and other genres forming a fresh hip sound.  From son cubano to conga, from cumbia to merengue, from rap to ballads… all with a fresh modern sound taunting audiences on their feet to dance and have a good time. 

This promises to be a wonderful evening of Cuban music. 

Willy Chirino in concert
with special guests MAXIMA ALERTA
Saturday, March 9, 2019
8:00 PM

Ticket price:  $129 (post-show meet & greet), $69, $59, $39, $29

For tickets, call:
Bergen PAC Box Office:  201-227-1030

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Cuba: Punto X"... Latin Theatre at its Best

“Cuba: Punto X” came and went and made a significant statement as to how the Hispanic theatre has progressed and grown in New York City.  Placed in the future 2020 post-Castro Cuba, the play succeeded in transmitting a historical account of Castro’s revolution and its aftermath, albeit with a few inconsistencies.

The play takes place in 2020 in the mountains of Cuba where two revolutionaries from the Castro years are in hiding and awaiting being smuggled out of the island. After hiding for five years, the two main characters are found by an investigator working for the transitional government.  Within an hour and twenty-five minute time frame, much Cuban historical facts and the usual Cuban political propaganda are thrown around, nothing new to any play dealing with the Cuban subject matter.  Ultimately, the two fugitives in hiding are arrested by the investigator to face trial for their alleged abuses of human rights.

New York Hispanic theatre has historically been one of minimalist set designs and poor production values.  Usually a black backdrop, a table, a few chairs, and some folding window shades are used to transport the audience to a Caribbean or South American setting forcing the audience to exhaust their imagination, and leaving little to fully delve into the story line.  The production values of “Cuba: Punto X” pushed the boundaries of the a-typical Latino theatre experience. Although the small spaces at the Producers’ Club are not the most accommodating in the City, this production made the most of the space. The small stage was effectively designed to give a claustraphobic feeling, and transporting us to the densely forested Sierra Maestra mountains in Cuba.  The backdrop designed by artist Jesus Rivera added much dimension to the design.  The lighting, although simplistic, was very effective, except for the extremely long blackouts. The music design by Frank Rodriguez at times seemed overbearing and overdone.

Written and directed by Ivan Acosta, the play had rich dialogue, but some facts were a bit blurry; perhaps the casting added to the confusion of certain historical dates and facts. For example, the lead character of “Eulalio” supposedly had tortured many at the beginning of the Cuban revolution in 1959, that would have placed the character in the year 2020 at around 80 years old, however the actor playing the character was no more than 35 years old, with no attempt made to make him look older, this was extremely distracting. The same could be said about the character of “Yari”.  Such matters should have been addressed and resolved by Acosta.  The play lacked an inner heartbeat or rhythm.  The extremely long blackouts and the exorbitantly long unsupported dramatic pauses by the lead actress are the biggest culprits for the lack of rhythm.

The play was well acted by its three actors, although levels of experience was evident between the three.  Alfonso Rey “Eulalio” demonstrated much physical and vocal prowess, even though he seemed too young for the character of “Eulalio”. His emotional range is especially noteworthy.  The role of his lover “Yari” was played by Dalia Davi, an actress that demonstrated some potential, unfortunately, this role demanded much more experience and maturity, and therefore at this point in her career, the work seemed beyond her reach. The character of the investigator “Adrian“ was played effectively by Lucio Fernandez.  Although on stage for just two scenes, this experienced actor delivered fully with a multi-dimensional performance.

“Cuba: Punto X” succeeded in bringing Hispanic theatre to a new level of proficiency.  The wonderfully rich dialogue, the superb production values, and the high level of its actors made this play and extraordinary theatrical experience. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Death of April

April is dead... and she's coming your way!!!

Mojo Creative Group is putting out a new flick this Fall currently doing principal photography on the Jersey side of the Hudson. The film is written and directed by Ruben Rodriguez, and with Humberto Guzman serving as Director of Photography; and produced by Cesar G. Orellana, Brit Godish, Dan Lefante, and Lucio Fernandez.

The feature stars Katarina Hughes in the role of “Megan Mullen”.  In the film, Megan Mullen, freshly moved into her East coast home, keeps in touch with her friends through a video blog.  As her entries (and her life) become more complex and emotional, strange things begin to happen in her apartment: and the camera captures it all.

Told from the point-of-view of a wireless webcam mixed with documentary footage, The Death of April” explores the unsettling activity in an otherwise average teenage girl’s apartment and the mysteries that surround it.

The filmmakers promise that the flick will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.  I guess we'll need to wait till the Fall to see what lurks in Megan’s mind, or in her new home? 

Anyhow, It’s coming Fall 2012… get ready!!! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Algonquin's Oak Room Will Not Reopen

By Andrew Gans
02 Feb 2012 
The Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room, which has been the home of cabaret favorite Andrea Marcovicci for the past 25 years, will not reopen following its current renovations, according to the New York Times.

Among the performers who have recently graced the intimate club are Tony nominee Karen AkersKT SullivanEmily Bergl, Sandy Stewart and Bill Charlap, Steve Ross and Barbara Carroll.

Gary J. Budge, who is the general manager of the famed Manhattan hotel, said that despite "top-notch performers," declining audiences were responsible for the decision to close the supper club/cabaret, which has been in existence for decades.

About the closing of the room, celebrated singer-actress Marcovicci told, "I'm heartsick to hear of the closing of the legendary Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, my musical home and creative inspiration for 25 years. From my first entrance in 1987, a jumble of nerves, to my last encore just this past Christmas, I have been blessed with the finest, warmest audiences a performer could ever hope for, and the most beautiful room in which to entertain. Although this is indeed sad news, I will take away the happiest memories and hope to establish a new venue soon for myself and the other Oak Room artists who cherish the American Popular Song as much as I do." The Oak Room was also the launching pad for Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Feinstein.

The Oak Room Supper Club tradition, according to the Algonquin's official website, "began when friends petitioned owner Frank Case to open the room to an after-theatre crowd wishing to continue their merry-making until the wee hours of the morning. One of those friends was a charming Viennese chanteuse named Greta Keller, darling of such dashing chaps as the Prince of Wales and King Carol of Romania. Greta, who had starred with Peter Lorre and Marlena Dietrich in Vienna (and who reportedly taught the latter how to sing), became the first Oak Room cabaret star in November of 1939, to great acclaim. Cabaret was eclipsed as more of Case's—and The Algonquin's—resources went to the war effort. Its revival came during the 1980s when brilliant singer-pianist Steve Ross began charming audiences."

The hotel, which is located on West 44th Street, is expected to reopen in May following extensive renovations.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ghetto Klown

Stage and screen star John Leguizamo took a leap of faith this month in presenting his monologue "Ghetto Klown" performed entirely in Spanish at the Spanish Repertory Theatre as he warms up before he embarks on his first Colombian tour.

In Leguizamo’s trademark live performance style, his stage work usually explodes with energy taking audiences on a non-stop fever pitch adventure, as he heats up the stage with vivid accounts of where he’s been and the colorful characters who’ve shaped different facets of his life. In "Ghetto Klown" he takes the audience from his adolescent memories in Queens, New York, to the early days of his acting career and far beyond -- with stories of the outrageous 80’s avant-garde downtown theater scene and anecdotes from major movie sets and roles opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest film stars, John Leguizamo is contagious and heartfelt, laying it bare for anyone willing to come along for the ride.  Unfortunately, this performance falls a tad short.

Directed by Fisher Stevens, "Ghetto Klown" is a valiant attempt by this wonderfully talented actor into the world of Spanish language theatre.  Unfortunately, the demand placed upon him by the language left him half way in left field.  Due to his lacking ability to think and hence effectively communicate in his family's native tongue, the otherwise engaging actor was unable to wholly commit to his material.  The pacing of the show was sluggish and at at times disheartening to watch.  Not to say he did not connect with his fans, it's was just not at the caliber one has come to expect from such a talent. Which begs the question, why attempt such a feat? John
Leguizamo struggles, but gets back up... a sign of a true artist.  He's willing to lose in order to grow.  Very admirable indeed.

Monday, January 2, 2012

TheaterVox Top 10 Cabaret Show Picks for 2011

Marilyn Maye
It has been a busy year for us seeing and reviewing shows at some of New York’s finest venues. It has been especially gratifying to see performers up-close and personal in cabaret rooms throughout the City.  We certainly understand the difficulty and at times arduous obstacles in doing cabaret when in many cases the artist is the singer, actor, comedian, musician, writer, producer, or even the director.  And even with all this work done, you run the risk of having an audience of five or six; and if lucky some family and friends; and then you brace yourself and stand solo on that tiny stage to show what you can do. Finally, you pay all the bills from your own pocket, and hope that at least a few people enjoyed the work you put forth after six months of blood, sweat, and tears.

With an understanding of all that goes into putting together a cabaret act, it was extremely difficult to pick the "10 Best" for the year.  Even with the best of intentions to see everything, we’re certain we missed some great performances. However, here are our picks for the Top 10 of 2011.  (Please note, the order does not reflect preference; it is alphabetical.)

Laura Benanti “Let Me Entertain You”
Emily Bergl “Kidding on the Square”
Baby Jane Dexter “Still Bad, Still Blue”
Lucio Fernandez “Lucio ... Less Cuban Than Ever”
Rosemary Loar: “Rosemary Returns to Her Roots”
Marilyn Maye “The Best of Times is Now”

Billie Roe “Dangerous Women: Life In Film Noir”
Kim Smith “Misfit”

Edie Stokes “A New Ride on the Carousel”

Wesla Whitfield “Whistling Away The Dark” 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You!

“Be Careful!  The Sharks Will Eat You!”, currently playing at Stage Left Studio, is the real life story of writer and performer Jay Alvarez; with good direction by Theresa Gambacorta .

Alvarez is also the lone actor playing each of the family and friends in this one-man show about his frightening escape from Cuba in the middle of the night in March 1964, when he was just four and a half years old. Some of his other family members were already living in the US.
Since the time dictator Fulgencio Batista was over thrown by Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution in 1959, many Cubans have sought refuge in the United States, with many risking their lives trying to cross the ninety-mile stretch of dangerous water between Cuba and Florida, and where thousands have perished out to sea never to be seen again.  Out of desperation, a Castro terrorized nation risks everything to the shark-infested waters, just for a chance at freedom. This is the reality. A reality brought to the stage in this one-man play.

Alvarez transforms himself easily from character to character, from male to female, from young to old.  The characterizations are good and the Cuban sentiment and struggle are brought front and center.
The show is merely an hour in length, plenty for a one-person show, with a very well maintained pace by the actor.  It’s a small venue, which adds much to the intimacy of the work.  Production values are not that of a Broadway play, but it does have heart, and that's all that really matters. It’s good theatre and Alvarez does give it his all. 
The story is powerful, and one cannot help but to sympathize with all Cubans who have left behind their families and friends, and basically have sacrificed everything to find freedom and the prospect of a better life.
We highly recommend this play. Lighting is by Ellen Rosenberg with sound design by Kelly Ericson Harnett; it runs thru October 25th at Cheryl King’s Stage Left Studio, 214 W. 30th Street, 6th Floor, NYC.  Please note: the show has been extended several times and has been touring as well.  For more details on upcoming performances, visit: