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Great Comet‘s Dave Malloy On Epic Choral Songs, Hamilton, and Showing Tunes to a New Generation

(photo: Chad Batka)

Nowdays, the commercial and insular shell that is Broadway is feeling a little less untouchable. Of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is a major catalyst behind this shake-up, but the latest to breathe new life into the Great White Way has been Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, an “electro-pop opera” based on a drama-laden portion of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

The immersive show began at Ars Nova in 2012 and has gone through many iterations, including a funky stint in a pop-up tent in the Meatpacking District. Now, it’s landed at Broadway’s Imperial Theater, which has been totally restructured to accommodate the show’s 360-degree, immersive staging. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, it remains one of the most authentic transfers of a smaller, more experimental production to a Broadway stage I have observed.

I have seen every NYC production of this show now, and always maintained it was too odd and unique to ascend to the oh-so commercial realm of Broadway. Turns out I was absolutely wrong, and audiences and critics alike are gobbling it up with a voracious enthusiasm. (Singer Josh Groban is now in a starring role.) There is even fanart of the characters, so you know it’s real. The 12 Tony nominations don’t hurt, either.

Great Comet‘s original Broadway cast recording will be released tomorrow and is now available for first listen over at Vulture. We caught up with the show’s writer and composer Dave Malloy, fresh off his Broadway debut temporarily stepping back into the role of Pierre, to talk how the Broadway transfer has affected the show’s music and even got him a little closer to Bowie. Keep Reading »

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Bowery Presents Promises an ‘A+ Experience’ at Their New Venue, Brooklyn Steel

(Photo: Nicole DeMarco)

Yesterday dozens of construction workers milled about 319 Frost Street in Williamsburg, where The Bowery Presents has been turning a former steel fabrication plant into Brooklyn’s largest general admission venue. This Thursday, April 6, the first of five sold-out LCD Soundsystem shows will kick off a month of performances by bands like The Decemberists, PJ Harvey, The Pixies, Two Door Cinema Club and Tycho.

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Directors of Sour Grapes On Uncorking the Wine World’s Biggest Fraud

Rudy Kurniawan. (Photo: Richard Jennings)

Rudy Kurniawan. (Photo: Richard Jennings)

How did one man dupe some of the wine world’s wealthiest buyers and respected connoisseurs into buying over $20 million in fake “rare” wines? That’s the question tackled by Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell, the directors of the intriguing new documentary Sour Grapes, which follows the rise and fall of Rudy Kurniawan, an Indonesian conman who took the wine world by storm with his “rare” vintages, and was later convicted of fraud in 2013. Prosecutors said his scam involved more than $20 million in counterfeit wine. He’s currently serving a 10-year sentence in a California prison. Williamsburg-based filmmaker Atlas and British filmmaker Rothwell spoke to us about the film, showing tonight at Nitehawk Cinema (sorry, folks, the screening is sold out, but the film is available on Netflix).

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Queer Punk Duo PWR BTTM Is Here to Put Your Halloween Costume Together

PWR BTTM

Done up in the kind of dresses you envy and makeup looks that take years of practice to achieve, Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins are everything punk has been craving, but they’ll be the first to tell you their success was an accident. The duo met while attending Bard College and went on to form Brooklyn phenomenon PWR BTTM, your new favorite queer punk band if they aren’t already.

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How Bridget Everett Went From Face-Sitting at Joe’s Pub to Face Time With Seinfeld

(photo courtesy of New York Comedy Festival)

(photo courtesy of New York Comedy Festival)

Singer, cabaret artist, and comedian Bridget Everett has had quite a couple of years. The powerhouse performer is certainly memorable: her Chardonnay-soaked live act includes joyous, belted requests to raise one’s “titties” in the air and a catchy, matter-of-fact song that asks the universal inquiry: “What I gotta do to get that dick in my mouth?” There’s also plenty of audience engagement. Typical stuff, like sitting on crowd member’s faces. Brash though she may be, Everett has captivated America and become fast friends with comedian Amy Schumer, which has led to spots on Schumer’s television show, her film Trainwreck, and other screen appearances like a recurring role in Maria Bamford’s Netflix show Lady Dynamite, with more projects in the works for the future.

Though she’s appearing on bigger and bigger screens lately, she made a name for herself through shows at downtown staple Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street. For the recurring “alt-cabaret” fixture Our Hit Parade, she put unique spins on pop songs alongside fellow out-there performers like Neal Medlyn, Erin Markey, Kenny Mellman, and even Billy Eichner. There were also solo nights with her band The Tender Moments. We sat down with Everett at Caroline’s On Broadway ahead of her show at New York Comedy Festival to talk touring, creating, and of course, fanny packs. Keep Reading »

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Tim Murphy, Author of Christadora, On the East Village Then and Now

Tim Murphy (Photo: Courtesy of Edwin Pabon)

Tim Murphy (Photo: Courtesy of Edwin Pabon)

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the East Village in the 90s? Junkies passed out on Avenue A while runaway kids hung out in squats on St. Marks? CBGB and other classic punk bars still going hard, only to be priced out of their leases less than a decade later? Punk heads and artists sharing studios in derelict tenements? For Tim Murphy, the New York-based journalist and author of the new novel Christodora, it was all of these things, but above all it was the home for a community of diverse people from different backgrounds, sexual orientations, and experiences who were searching for a place that would accept them just as they are.

As a young man who arrived to the city in 1991, the East Village represented a haven for an alternative gay scene that was way less polished and more grungy than the one in Chelsea and the West Village. “Courtney Love was the patron saint of the gay East Village in the ’90s,” Murphy told us with a laugh.

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Comedian Hits the Motherlode, Plays 16 Moms Onstage

(Photo: Courtesy of Carrie McCrossen)

(Photo: Courtesy of Carrie McCrossen)

Carrie McCrossen has moms on her mind. More specifically, she has about 16 moms on her mind. There’s hardcore career mom, there’s “overtly accommodating of her children” mom, and then there’s “still wants to be seen as a sexual creature but also is a bit nervous about that” mom. And she gets to play them all.

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Co-Owner of Glasslands Heir, Elsewhere, Talks Fixing DIY’s ‘Sustainability Problem’

(Image via Elsewhere/ PopGun Presents)

(Image via Elsewhere/ PopGun Presents)

Yesterday we told you what we know about Elsewhere, the new venue from the Glasslands crew set to open in East Williamsburg sometime this fall. As we speak, the owners are wrapping up a $3 million makeover on the 24,000-square-foot warehouse they’ve landed that, when complete, will boast a 5,000-square-foot music hall, among other performance spaces, all of them rigged with a superb sound system, plus a rooftop party zone, an art gallery called the “Skybridge,” a courtyard, even a “loft bar.”

It all sounds pretty grand, especially as a follow-up to Glasslands, which closed just as 2015 began, and in the course of its existence traded in and out some classic DIY features: homemade art installations (those clouds, tho), labyrinthine lofting, and swinging saloon doors between your bathroom break and the impatient line waiting behind you.

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The Knitting Factor: New Documentary Weaves a Tale of Yarn Artists

Olek's Yarn People (Photo: courtesy of Matt Hirsch)

Olek’s Yarn People (Photo: courtesy of BOND/360)

At what point does something stop being beautiful once it becomes functional? Can something you use every day be made into art? Does art need to hang in a gallery to be recognized? And, perhaps the biggest question of all, how much can sheep really contribute to the fine arts?

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Lakeside Lounge Owner Releases a Musical Homage to His Old Dive

Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Photo: Courtesy of Johan Vipper)

Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Photo: Courtesy of Johan Vipper)

When the Lakeside Lounge closed in April 2012, East Villagers mourned the loss of another quintessential dive bar in the rapidly changing neighborhood. For Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, a musician, producer, and the former owner of the Alphabet City bar, the venue’s departure from NYC’s live music scene was a symptom of the greater economic forces at play in redefining the character of the city’s neighborhoods, and served as an inspiration for his newly released solo album, Lakeside, which takes its spirit from Ambel’s bar-owning days. With Ambel playing a live show of his record at Hill Country Brooklyn on June 25, Bedford + Bowery caught up with him to chat about Lakeside Lounge and live music in New York.

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Unlocking the Truth About the Teen Metal Band’s New Album & Documentary

(Photo: Courtesy of Falco Ink)

(Photo: Courtesy of Falco Ink)

Since first gaining internet stardom as a precocious metal trio, Brooklyn’s Unlocking the Truth has gone through seemingly every loop on the rollercoaster ride of fame. They’ve gone from playing for change outside the subway to booking major festivals; they’ve recorded and now re-recorded their debut album; and, most of all, they’ve dealt with miles upon miles of corporate red tape.

Now, after months of delays, the band’s first full-length album, Chaos, is finally coming out this Friday through indie music distributor Tunecore. (Watch the video for “Take Control” below.) Plus, Breaking a Monster, the documentary by Luke Meyer that we caught at SXSW, is set to premiere later this month. (There’ll be a preview screening at Museum of the Moving Image on June 21, followed by a performance by the band.)  Keep Reading »

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Founder of PETA Talks Dangling Naked in a Meat Market and Other Victories

(Flyer via No Filter)

(Flyer via No Filter)

Later on tonight, you might be brushing your teeth and instead of that familiar googly-eyed likeness staring back at you (everyone has that problem, right?) you’ll see nothing less than an animal abuser, or perhaps even a slave owner if you choose to be really honest with yourself. Your French bulldog Greg will suddenly seem like a sullen prisoner in that skin-tight raincoat you force him to wear on the reg, even when it’s a cloudless, sweltering 90-degree July day and he’s emitting piercing, parrot-like screams as he struggles to escape. And those Bob Evans sausage griddles you chased with a tall glass of heavy whipping cream for dinner? Well, your Wienerwurst Wednesday tradition might seem, suddenly, very disgusting.

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