On any given night, a guest at Blue Note might be pulled onstage to sit in on a jazz standard. This would merely qualify as another of the club’s charming eccentricities, were that guest not typically someone like Stevie Wonder, Liza Minnelli, or Quincy Jones. New York’s musical royalty frequents Blue Note to hear original, historical jazz, as well as the innovative genres that the club passionately supports. They look on approvingly as the rising stars of the soul, hip hop, funk, and pantomime scenes blaze sonic trails between the stage’s parted blue curtains. These performers fill the atmosphere with smooth sounds on most nights of the week, and their exquisite talents are matched by a menu of pan-roasted salmon, marinated skirt steak, and grilled baby-back ribs.
Murder mysteries should be anything but silly. That’s the view espoused by Live In Theater Productions, the brainchild of prolific actor and playwright Carlo D'Amore. Eschewing the goofy tone of some other shows, Live In Theater plunges participants into cases that take their immersive details from unsolved, historical murders in New York. Showgoers make their way along the city streets where the real crimes once took place, interrogating actors playing roles ranging from 19th-century Irish slumlords to strung-out 1970s junkies. Each event plays out differently as the amateur sleuths weigh evidence, pursue leads, and finally find some use for their pocket-sized polygraphs, creating a one-of-a-kind adventure that earned a 2012 Drama Desk nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience.
If New York City is the cultural capital of the world, then the historic New York City Center might be its artistic throne room. An arts hub since 1943, it serves as home base for Encores!, a Tony-recognized musical theater series, and the acclaimed Fall for Dance Festival. City Center also hosts world-renowned companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club. With its 2011 renovation and its ever-changing roster of artists, New York City Center might look a little different than it did 70 years ago?or even last week?but it retains a commitment to entertaining, arts education, and keeping its block of 55th Street from floating off into the air.
Laughter flows from the New York Comedy Club's corridors, freshly squeezed from audiences' giggle boxes by the club's on-hand comedians, visiting performers, and enthusiastic novices. Weekly shows, such as The Clayton Fletcher Show, lure up-and-coming NYC comedians to showcase their best jokes, brandish their best impressions, and analyze government tax-code legislation. On tri-weekly open-mic nights, amateur humorists test their slapstick mettle alongside host Dan Gutin. In addition to entertaining crowds, the New York Comedy Club hosts classes in tandem with Laughing Buddha Comedy, helping aspiring comics or court jesters to improve their stage presence and perfect their knock-knock jokes.
The first event held in Symphony Space was a signal of the venue's ambitions and its creative approach to programming. In 1978, Allan Miller and Selected Shorts public-radio host Isaiah Sheffer reopened the formerly decaying market-turned-skating-rink-turned-theater to the public with 12 straight hours of Bach, including a night's-end chorus of hundreds of amateur and professional voices singing the composer's Mass in B Minor. Today, Symphony Space continues to welcome a diverse community from the neighborhood and beyond for performances from established and emerging artists.
Although The Theater Center is one of the more frequented hotspots in the Off-Broadway scene, it's surprisingly intimate. As the home of the world's longest running musical (The Fantasticks) and New York's longest running play (Perfect Crime), most visitors would expect?a coliseum experience that requires extra-strength opera glasses. But thanks to The Theater Center's two 200-seat auditoriums, audiences get to savor some of the theater world's biggest treats without squinting.