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…)

Blink Fitness Turns Off the News for National Stress Awareness Month


[From Blink Fitness]

Americans are experiencing record levels of stress, according to an annual survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA). To raise awareness of the importance of mental health during National Stress Awareness Month, Blink Fitness today launched “Tune Out While You Work Out,” an initiative to encourage members to minimize stress and focus on themselves. 

Every Monday for the month of April, all Blink locations will be switching its television programming to mood-lifting and news-free content in all locations, while inspiring members to take a step back from social media and all of their daily stressors through exercise. The content will include comedy, entertainment, music and educational programming. This initiative is a part of Blink’s “Mood Above Muscle” philosophy, which celebrates the positive feeling you get from exercise, not just the physical benefits.

32-27 Steinway St, (718) 880-3620,

APAC “Homecoming” Benefit and Upcoming Show


On Monday, March 20, we attended Astoria Performing Art Center’s “Homecoming” Annual Benefit party at the Paper Factory Hotel. The night’s events included a buffet dinner, open bar, songs by APAC performers, a raffle, and ended with DJ music and dancing. This season APAC is exploring the meaning of home, so with that theme, the night celebrated all who have considered APAC home over the years.

The energy was high throughout the entire event, and people seemed genuinely excited to be there supporting APAC. The upcoming spring show is Raisin, which is a musical adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun, so two of the performed songs—“Booze” and “Measure the Valleys”—were from that show. The other songs were “Home” from Gumbo, “Home” from Resident Alien, and “For Good” from Wicked. James Higgins, the Music Director at APAC, played accompanying piano.

We spoke with Executive Director Jessica Bathurst about the upcoming season and what makes APAC unique.

She said she’s excited about Raisin opening soon (weekends May 4-27, with tickets available now on the APAC website), and mentioned that it hasn’t been in New York City since it won the Tony for Best Musical in 1975. Right now APAC is towards the end of its season, as Raisin will be the second main stage performance after Evensong in the fall. APAC’s season starts in August with Summer Stars, which is a program for kids. Then there is the fall play, followed by development work in the winter, the spring play, and then Senior Stars in June, which is a revue performed by people over 60 years old.

She says one thing that makes APAC unique is that performers who are part of the community also sometimes take part in the programming that’s offered, and that is rare among performing arts groups.

She is proud that APAC is bringing high-quality professional contemporary theater to the Western Queens community, and is making tickets affordable, including discounts for students and seniors.


THEATER | Good Shepherd United Methodist Church | 30-44 Crescent Street @ 30th Rd. | Astoria NY 11102

APAC OFFICE | Kaufman Astoria Studios, 34-12 36th Street, Rm 1/232, MB 40 | Astoria, NY 11106 | e: | p: (718) 706-5750


Photos by Michael Dekker courtesy of Astoria Performing Arts Center

BOAST’s Spring Soirée 2017


By popular demand, we are happy to bring you BOAST: Best of Astoria’s Spring Soirée, happening on Sunday, March 26, 7:30–10:30pm! We’re stoked that the location, Sek’end Sun, is a multiple BOAST winner (Best Bar for Atmosphere, Best Bar for Trivia Night, Best Happy Hour and Best Date Spot). We’ll provide light snacks, along with the live music until 8pm. Enjoy Happy Hour drink prices through the entire event ($2 off draft beer, wine, and well liquor drinks). Following the live music, we’ll have a more structured segment for getting to know people you don’t already know. Then we’ll have time at the end to chill and hang out with new and old friends. It will be $12 in advance, and $15 at the door. You can get tickets with this link. And you can RSVP on Facebook with this link.

We hope to see you there!

Spring is around the corner,
The BOAST Team

An Astoria Mystery


Does anyone know why there are no ads at Astoria subway stations? There haven’t been any since the end of 2016. If you know, comment on this post, email, or fill out the Contact form. We want to solve this mystery!

Astoria Brewhouse Has Closed


We are sad to report that former BOAST winner Astoria Brewhouse has closed. Its last day open was Super Bowl Sunday on February 5, and this was confirmed by someone who works at the sister location, Broadway Station. We heard rumors that the building was bought out, or that it was being leased to someone else.

We had some great times at the Astoria Brewhouse for Trivia, stand-up comedy, Happy Hour, hangouts with friends, watching sports, and eating tasty food. (The food wasn’t just good bar food, but it was good food in general.) The space was terrific, with the area in the back, and the location could not have been better (steps from the 30th Ave. subway stop). We will certainly miss it.

Valentine’s Day Specials at Kurry Qulture

(From Kurry Qulture)

valentinesKurry Qulture is offering a $40/pp four course Valentine pre-fixe complete with candlelight and chocolate truffles. The menu balances diner favorites, such as a “Home Style Chicken Curry”, along with dishes featuring known aphrodisiacs, such as “Salmon Tikka” and “Masala Arvi”, with taro root made tangy with dried mango powder.

At the bar, Bo will be mixing up a “Lover’s Chocolate Martini” in addition to some of our potent favorites, including Thirstiest Avenue–with Anejo Tequila, Lillet Rose,and chocolate bitters.

Cuisine from the land of the Kama Sutra knows how to pleasure the mind and soul through all five senses, making Kurry Qulture a Valentine’s dining destination!

Reservations are available online at or by calling 718-672-1212.

Located on the bustling 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens, Kurry Qulture elevates the Indian dining experience with surprising-creative cuisine and attentive service in a chic yet casual ambience. Owner, Sonny Solomon, brings over 15 years of experience at some of NYC’s most notable fine dining establishments. Since opening in November, 2015, Kurry Qulture has won the title of “Best Indian Restaurant in Queens: 2017” from Best of Boro and is noted in the 2017 Michelin Guide. In addition, Kurry Qulture has been featured in numerous publications including Eater NY, Boro Magazine, Epoch Times, AM NY and by several local foodie bloggers. Five star online reviews rave about the cuisine and attentive commitment to the experience of every guest.

Review of Tikka Roll House

I sat down at the new Tikka Roll House this past week with a craving for good Indian cuisine. I was not disappointed. It’s been open for a few months now, and I’ve been curious as to how their rolls were, since I had never had this type of dish. I first decided to try a good old fashioned samosa. I ordered the Aloo Gobi Samosas, and they were delicious. Crispy enough on the outside, and soft and flavorful on the inside. Along with the samosas, I was given a fried lentil bread appetizer with three dipping sauces. These come complimentary, and the sauces were delicious. A tamarind sauce, a sweet onion sauce, and a spicy cilantro option. I made sure to try each sauce with my samosas, and with the Anda Burji Roll. The roll was tasty as well. It had an inner fried egg rolled inside, and it made the chicken and veggies taste even better. I had never eaten an Indian-style roll before, and it was almost like a mixture between a wrap and a burrito. I loved it though. For my main dish, I asked for the traditional Chicken Tikka Masala, which I have tried at other establishments in Astoria. My server Irfan told me that their Masala was the best in Astoria. After trying it, I am very inclined to agree. It was a thick, creamy, and savory masala sauce. I could tell that it was made just for my order, where other restaurants might seem to have a large stock of it that they make in bulk. I was also given Murgh Vindaloo chicken to try. It was spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The Vindaloo also came with soft potatoes in the sauce along with the chicken. The rice was a good-size portion, and it also came with a small salad in the same bowl. Next up, they gave me the Gulab Jamun, which are fried milk balls in a sugary clear syrup. They were very good. It came with two of the milk balls, and a good portion of the syrup for dipping. Lastly, they gave me a mixture of small confection candy mixed with fennel and other seeds. It was a nice little extra dessert to end the meal. Overall, I left stuffed and very happy that there is another quality Indian place in the heart of Astoria. They deliver and seem to do pickup orders as well. The decor is funny and interesting, with old Bollywood posters hanging on the walls. The service was timely and everyone was very pleasant. I will definitely return.

Tikka Roll House, 34-14 30th Ave, (718) 255-1085,

Blink Fitness Launches New Ad Campaign with REAL Members, NOT Models

(From Blink Fitness)


Blink Fitness, the premium-quality, value-based gym, is kicking off the New Year with the launch of its 2017 ad campaign featuring 16 of Blink’s very own gym members—not models. While the rest of the fitness industry touts images of six-pack abs and lofty weight-loss goals, Blink is redefining aspiration by showcasing the real, diverse range of people who derive joy and confidence from exercise. From Celestino, who regained the ability to walk again at Blink, to Amy, a working mother of three, who maintains her health—and sanity—by making time for fitness, each and every member in the campaign exudes self-confidence with their own unique inspirations for feeling good and getting healthy.

One out of the 16 gym members was from the Queens area representing Blink Roosevelt!

The final members were selected following a brand-wide casting call via social media (a first for a gym) and an audition in front of a panel of influential “casting agents.” The panel included body-positivity advocates and Blink members Dascha Polanco, known for her role as Dayanara Diaz on Orange is the New Black, former NFL punter Steve Weatherford, and Blink Fitness personal trainer Sabine Milien. To audition, the members shared their fitness journeys and explained why they believe feeling good is the new looking good.

The goal of the 2017 campaign is to challenge industry norms and expand on Blink’s unique Mood Above Muscle™ philosophy, which celebrates the positive emotions you get from working out, not just the physical benefits. A survey commissioned by Blink Fitness and conducted online by Harris Poll last month showed the following sentiments, which illustrates that Blink is onto something greater.

• Roughly 8 out of 10 Americans (82%) say their relationship with their body could be improved
• Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they find it discouraging to work towards unrealistic body images they see in the media.
• Almost 9 in 10 Americans (89%) who currently work out at a gym feel more confident about themselves when they leave the gym than when they first walk in.

Check out a sneak peak video for the Blink casting call here!