Review: Veil’d

Front from left: Nikhaar Kishnani (Dima) and Christopher Reed Brown (Elliot); Background: Kayla Jackmon (Storyteller/UPS Guy/Speedo, the "Shark")

From left: Nikhaar Kishnani (Dima), Christopher Reed Brown (Elliot), and Kayla Jackmon (Storyteller/UPS Guy/Speedo, the “Shark”). Photo by Michael Dekker

Veil’d, now playing at the Astoria Performing Arts Center, is a show that positively sparkles with life while dealing with some heavy topics: Is the opportunity to be isolated from the problems of the world a blessing or a curse? How does what young women, particularly young Muslim women, choose to wear affect others’ opinions of them and their opinions of themselves?

The play follows Dima (Nikhaar Kishnani) a 16-year-old Afghani-American girl living in Brooklyn with her parents. Six years ago, Dima was diagnosed with a skin condition that forces her to stay inside her apartment twenty-four hours a day, safe from the prying eyes of the world and the painful rays of the sun. As additional protection, Dima also wears a burqa, a full-body covering worn by some Muslim women. Dima’s isolation has become an issue of some contention between her parents, Rhami (Sahar Bibiyan) and Amir (Rajesh Bose). Things become more complicated when Elliot (Christopher Reed Brown), a teenage boy who sells his poems on the street, begins tossing poems into her window. Throw Speedo (Kayla Jackmon), a talking nurse shark, into the mix, and Dima’s life is on a course she never dreamed possible.

Reed Brown brings an electrifying enthusiasm to the stage as teenage poet Elliot. Elliot’s humor and raw, unabashed enthusiasm for life emotionally invests the audience in the story. Jackmon, in a variety of roles including Speedo the shark, adds physical humor and compassion while simultaneously lending the story a semi-mystical quality. Bibiyan and Bose play off each other well, conveying the obvious love between them while also maintaining honesty about the pressures life has placed on them as refugees and parents of a child with a physical disability. Kishnani’s Dima is complex—withdrawn and outgoing, as well as curious and afraid of the world outside.

Special appreciation should be given to Claire DeLiso’s set design, which is literally multi-layered and dynamic, like the story. Christine Schisano’s puppet design perfectly bridges the gap between fantasy and reality. Monet Hurst-Mendoza’s script should be applauded for its loving portrayal of a Muslim family, not as foreign or fetishized, but as an ordinary American family living in extraordinary circumstances.

–Dan Rauchwerk

Veil’d – A World Premiere
Written by Monet Hurst-Mendoza
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Saturdays at 2pm
Through Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017

Astoria Performing Arts Center
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 Crescent St (at 30th Road), Astoria, NY 11102

Adult Tickets: $18
Student/Senior Tickets: $12
Reserve Tickets Here

What would you like to see on the next BOAST survey?

Hello there!

The next BOAST: Best of Astoria survey will be released soon, and we would like to know if you have any suggestions about which categories you would like to see that are not already on the site. You can take a look at the EAT, DRINK, and DO & SEE pages to see what’s there right now. You can comment, write to us using the CONTACT form, or email us at

The Queens Kickshaw is Closing


We just saw a message on The Queens Kickshaw website that it will be shutting its doors later this month. There will be a closing party Sunday, 8/27, 6-11pm, and in that space will be a completely different restaurant opening in early October. This is incredibly sad, as The Queens Kickshaw was such a unique and awesome place, and so ASTORIA. Its excellent combination of craft beer, specialty coffee and grilled cheese was terrific, and we were also huge fans of live music on Friday nights. We were also always impressed that the baristas/bartenders and servers were so friendly. To say we will miss The Queens Kickshaw would be a huge understatement, but that’s what we’re saying right now. Astoria is losing another good one.

WJOA Presents: A Songwriter’s Showcase


This Thursday, 8-11pm, at The Shillelagh Tavern (47-22 30th Ave, Astoria, New York 11103), FREE

Hosted by the Wandering Jews of Astoria, this free event will feature three local singer-songwriters, Sam Kestenbaum, Andrew Weiss, and Dan Rauchwerk, as they play songs that they’ve written and tell the stories behind them.

Andrew Weiss – 8:00
Sam Kestenbaum – 8:50
Dan Rauchwerk (w/ Special Guest Kat Quinn) – 9:40

APAC Summer Stars Program

[From Astoria Performing Arts Center]


Astoria Performing Arts Center, “Adventurous theater in Astoria,” The New York Times says about the award-winning Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC), a not-for-profit organization founded in 2001. APAC’s mission is to bring high-quality theater to Astoria, Queens, and to support local youth and senior citizens through community programs at schools, senior centers and our performance venue.

Astoria Performing Arts Center Summer Stars Program; the organization’s 15 year-old summer program welcomes Queens residents ages 8 –13 to learn the basics of musical theater, theater jargon, team building skills and best of all perform on stage in front of their family and friends at the end of the program – all for FREE!

APAC host a one day audition for Queens, NY based children. The audition is first come, first served. Children are encouraged to perform a song (non-musical is fine) of their choice.

Summer Stars takes place August 14 – 25; Monday – Friday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; parents must provide their children with their lunch/snack for the day. 

The big performance takes place Saturday, August 26 for all family and friends to see their little theater star! 

Audition, program and final performance will take place at:
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 Crescent Avenue (enter at 30th Road)
Astoria, NY 

Summer Stars 2017 Audition:
Saturday, July 29th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Summer Stars 2017 performance:
Saturday, August 26th


For questions, email

Enter to win dinner for two at Kurry Qulture


To promote its Spring/Summer menu, Kurry Qulture is offering six “Dinner For Two” gift certificates as part of a contest. Here is the link. You can enter until June 30, 2017, so get on it soon, and good luck! (If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip, even if you don’t win.)

Disrupted N/W subway service in Queens starts tonight

Heads-up: subways won’t be running in Astoria on N/W line for 8 non-consecutive weekends, from the end of May through September. This starts tonight at midnight! The hours are 12:01am on Saturday through 5am on Monday (or Tuesday if it’s a holiday weekend).

Affected weekends: May 20-22, May 27-30, June 3-5, Aug 12-14, Aug. 19-21, Aug. 26-28, Sept. 2-5, Sept. 9-11

There will be shuttle buses going to and from each stop. Here is more information from MTA. 

New Spring Menu at Kurry Qulture


Kurry Qulture has been on our radar for quite some time. We were finally able to check them out this week, and we were not disappointed. We tried a wide variety of excellent Indian cuisine. Located on 30th Avenue, it used to be the cocktail bar Bourbon & Vine. I visited Bourbon & Vine a few times, but always noticed that there was a large dining room in the back that never seemed occupied. Kurry Qulture has remedied this. Over the past year, I’ve always meant to go inside and check them out. After sampling a great number of dishes and some cocktails, I will definitely be returning as soon as possible.

The restaurant is still split into two sections—the bar area, and the main dining room. If you are looking just for a drink, they have a very unique and delicious cocktail menu. We tried the Phone on the Range (Tequila, Mango, orange liqueur) and the Blurry S.O.S (bourbon, blackberry syrup, soda). Both were delicious and refreshing. The dining room is very spacious and has candles at every table. As the night went on, it definitely took on a more romantic vibe—a welcome change. We tried a few of the appetizers next. The vegetable fritters came with a nice tamarind spread and were very tasty and filling. The chicken Bukhni Kabab were two chicken patties with spinach and a green pineapple sauce. They were delicious. The most interesting appetizer was the Dahi Bhalla (lentil dumplings, yogurt, tamarind chutney). Served cold, they had a great combination of sweet and salty flavors. 

For the entrée samplings, we were served Kohlrabi Subzi (tomato curry with peas and carrots). It was great mixing that with the basmati rice. The Shrimp Moilee was out of this world. The two different types of naan were great for dipping in the different sauces and curries—especially the garlic naan. It might be the best I’ve ever had. The Langar Wali Dal (black and yellow chickpeas, red kidney beans) was very tasty, and I’m not necessarily a lentil fan. I loved every bit of it. By the end of the meal, I had all of the different dishes on my plate while mixing them with the rice and dipping the naan in the sauces. 

That still wasn’t the end though! We were then given a bread pudding dessert as well as Galub Jamun (Indian donut holes). The bread pudding was amazing. It was a fried dough with a sweet and sugary topping. When I bit into it, it melted in my mouth. Crunchy and sweet. The Galub Jamun was in a sugary syrup that really took the sweetness to another level. The overall experience here was fantastic. The wait-staff included. I live close by to Kurry Qulture, so I will be returning quite often now. If you live in Astoria, or even not close by, you should definitely check it out. We left completely stuffed and satisfied with every single dish that was offered. A welcome surprise. 

Here is the new spring menu, and here is the wine and cocktails menu.

36-05 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 674-1212

Review of Raisin

L-R: Ebony Marshall-Oliver (Lena Younger), Sarita Amani Nash (Beneatha Younger), Brandi Knox (Ruth Younger) and Warren Nolan Jr (Walter Lee Younger)

L-R: Ebony Marshall-Oliver (Lena Younger), Sarita Amani Nash (Beneatha Younger), Brandi Knox (Ruth Younger) and Warren Nolan Jr (Walter Lee Younger)

Grasping for a Glimmer of Sunshine: Lisa Huberman on Raisin at Astoria Performing Arts Center

There’s something that is so comforting about jazz music on a rainy evening—the melancholy mixed with seductive combination of nostalgia and longing. Astoria Performing Arts Center’s deeply felt, soulful revival of Raisin left me warmed and transported on the misty Friday evening I saw it.

A 1974 musical adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Raisin brings us into the world of the Youngers, a working-class black family on Chicago’s South Side looking to expand their prospects and claim some of the American Dream for themselves. Opportunity comes in the form of an impending check from the late patriarch’s life insurance policy, with each member of the family having different ideas on how to invest it. Walter wants to invest his father’s money to invest in a liquor store, which will allow him to quit driving a taxi for rich white men and give his young son something to look up to. His mother Lena, on the other hand, has her sights set on a new house in a better neighborhood, while also putting some money aside for her daughter Beneatha’s medical school. Beneatha’s concerns, on the other hand, are less on the material and more on the cultural, finding herself drawn to the world of her Nigerian beau Joseph Asagi.

To be honest I am often dubious of musical adaptations of small, intimate plays or films. Sometimes a big score will overwhelm and drown out the stillness and subtlety of such a story. Happily, APAC’s production of Raisin under Dev Bondarin’s direction maintains the delicacy—expanding the emotional reach of the world just enough.

The songs by Judd Woldin and Robert Brittain, which range from jazz to Motown to African tribal music, are rarely used to convey exposition, but rather to reveal human moments of the main characters they can’t always share with others in their family. In a story of people with difficult lives, the jazz-inflected score injects a measure of joy and transcendence.  (more…)