Come to Oliver’s Astoria (37-19 Broadway, Astoria) on Sunday, March 3rd from 4–7pm to celebrate the BOAST: Best of Astoria 2018 winners! (Oliver’s Astoria is a winner for Best Bar for Sports.) We’ll have some snacks for you, and there will be a cash bar. ALSO, we will have live music. ALSO ALSO we will have a raffle. If you sign up by Friday, February 22, you will be automatically entered into the raffle. It’s $15 (+ fee) in advance, and $20 day of the event at the door. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go to boast.nyc/party to reserve your ticket, and you can RSVP on the Facebook event with this link.
Astoria Performing Arts Center’s 2019 season is upon us, as the play Queen runs January 31 through February 16 at The Black Box at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens. To give some insight into the play, the new season, and the new (old) location, we did a Q&A with Jesse Marchese, Executive Director at APAC.
What is your role at APAC? I work closely with APAC’s Artistic Director, Dev Bondarin, to program and facilitate our season of mainstage productions as well as our free community arts programs for local youth and senior citizens.
Can you tell us about APAC’s new location? Last year, after ten years of producing at our longtime performance space at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, we were forced to relocate as the church did not renew our lease. Our final mainstage production at the church was our NYIT Award-winning production of Follies by Stephen Sondheim, which we produced in May of 2018. We also produced our free spring and summer community programs—Senior Stars and Summer Stars—at the church, and we moved out of the space and into the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens at the end of August 2018.
We’re now settled at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, where we will be producing our 2019 mainstage season. Our return to the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens is a bit of a homecoming, as we produced here from 2006 to 2008. The Black Box is one of two performance spaces at the club, and this season we will adventurously take advantage of them both.
What is in store for APAC’s new season? First up, we will produce the New York premiere of Queen by Madhuri Shekar in the club’s flexible 75-seat Black Box theater from January 31 to February 16. Then, from May 2 to May 25, we will produce the beloved Tony-nominated musical Caroline, or Change in the club’s 99-seat Broccoli Drama Theater. The club is exciting as we have two different flexible and intimate spaces to make theater in. Plus, like APAC, it is a beloved community organization that serves local youth with their free after-school programs. We’re hoping the new space will expose our work to folks who are familiar with the club, but not yet APAC—and will help us to grow our audience!
Can you say a little about the current winter and upcoming spring productions? Our winter play, Queen by Madhuri Shekar tells the story of two female scientists, Sanam and Ariel, who have spent the past seven years researching vanishing bee populations across the globe. Just as they are about to publish a career-defining paper, Sanam stumbles upon an error which could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and friendship. Now, both women are confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way and save the bees—or tell the truth and face the consequences? J. Mehr Kaur directs APAC’s production which is the play’s New York Premiere!
Set in one of the most turbulent decades in America’s history, the Tony-nominated Caroline, or Change (our spring musical) tells the riveting story of a remarkable but uneasy friendship between a young Jewish boy and his family’s Black maid in 1963 Louisiana. The virtuosic score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), which blends blues, gospel and traditional Jewish melodies, creates a breathtaking tapestry for Tony Kushner’s (Angels in America) provocative and deeply moving libretto, which tells the story of a country on the brink of change. APAC’s Artistic Director Dev Bondarin will direct the production.
Why did APAC choose to do Queen and what about the story did APAC find interesting or compelling? APAC chose to produce Queen because it is both urgent and topical—but also compelling, personal and deeply human. We’re thrilled to be giving the play its New York Premiere. The play centers on a real and immediate ecological problem, which is colony collapse disorder, the dying honeybee population due to the use of pesticides (among other causes). This is just one small part of the overwhelming problem of climate change that we are currently facing. Plus the play explores the lives and friendships of two female scientists, posing questions about what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated field. Furthermore, the play brings together so many diverse voices. Two of the play’s characters are Indian-American—one character is from India and the other is of Indian descent but was born and raised in the United States. This leads to fascinating dynamics between the characters and reflects the remarkable diversity of this great country (and particularly our wonderful neighborhood of Astoria, Queens!). Finally, the ethical problem at the center of the play regarding truth and certainty is a fascinating one: Should the characters publish their study, even if the data doesn’t support their conclusion, if it will save the lives of honey bees? Or should they stick to their principles, not publish, and watch 7 years of hard work go down the drain as pesticides continue to kill the colonies? Do the ends justify the means? It is not an easy decision for our characters to make—but a riveting one for audiences to watch as they struggle with it.
Why should people come see this show? For all of those reasons, people should come see the show. I hope audiences walk away knowing more about the immediate dangers of colony collapse disorder and the amazing, heroic female scientists who are working to solve the problem. Plus it is a well-written yarn and a delightful evening of theater. It should leave folks with plenty to think and talk about!
The BOAST: Best of Astoria 2018 results have been published to the BOAST website, and you can see all the winners on the EAT, DRINK and DO & SEE pages. You can also view the winners by location on the LOCATION page with an interactive map broken into categories, with subway stop in parentheses. We have added new photos to the site, as well as new Featured BOAST Locations on the sidebar. (If you want to be a Featured BOAST Location, write to us at email@example.com.) We also have some new categories this year, including Best Bagels, Best Bubble Tea, and Best Massage. We want to thank those who filled out the survey, especially those who did write-ups, and give a special note of appreciation to businesses who donated prizes: a trucker hat from The Bonnie, a Duvel Gift box from Astoria Bier & Cheese, ticket vouchers from Astoria Performing Arts Center, a VIP pass from Q.E.D., a gift card from Astoria Coffee, and a gift certificate from Trattoria Ora.
Congratulations to all the BOAST: Best of Astoria 2018 winners. These are the places that make Astoria great, and why we enjoy it so much.
Can you believe it’s already the end of 2018? We think this year completely flew by. The BOAST: Best of Astoria 2017 party at The Queen’s Room felt like it was just the other day, although it was in February! But with the end of the year comes the BOAST: Best of Astoria 2018 Survey! Please fill out the form and enter your name and email if you’d like a chance to win a prize. We always appreciate short write-ups about your favorite places, but keep in mind that there are 51 total categories, so answer as many as you’d like. The survey will be open until the last day of the year, December 31. There’s been a lot of change in the neighborhood in the past year, so we look forward to seeing what your favorites are right now. The link to the survey is boast.nyc/survey, and please share with anyone who knows and loves Astoria!
There will be performances of Luna Park on December 1 and 2.
[From Astoria Performing Arts Center]
Astoria Performing Arts Center Announces 2018-19 Season
Award-Winning Theater Presents 18th Season Featuring New York Premiere of Queen and Tony-Nominated Musical Caroline, or Change
Following an acclaimed 17th season that included sold-out performances, critical accolades, and multiple New York Innovative Theatre (NYIT) Awards for its record-breaking production of Follies, Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) returns for its female-driven 18th season, featuring a benefit concert of Luna Park: A New Musical and two mainstage productions: the New York Premiere of Queen and the Tony-nominated musical, Caroline, or Change.
Last season’s Follies also marked APAC’s final production at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Astoria, the company’s former home of ten years. APAC’s benefit concert of Luna Park will take place at the RIOULT Dance Center (34-01 Steinway Street) and APAC’s mainstage productions of Queen and Caroline, or Change will take place at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (21-12 30th Road) in Astoria.
“This season we are excited to be producing two shows which feature dynamic female characters, who, through sacrifice and struggle, reveal their humanity,” says APAC Artistic Director, Dev Bondarin. “In Queen, the careers and friendship of two women are put on the line as they grapple with the truth, while Caroline, or Change resonates anew with its tale of a Black woman navigating an America at a crossroads. We are also proud that with Caroline, or Change and our benefit concert of Luna Park we are presenting the work of two female composers. We are thrilled to continue providing high-quality professional theater to Western Queens audiences and glad to be producing at both the RIOULT Dance Center and Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.”
On December 1 and 2, 2018, APAC will produce a two-performance benefit concert of Luna Park by Hyeyoung Kim (Music & Additional Material), Michael Cooper (Lyrics & Additional Material), and Daniel F. Levin (Book) at the newly opened RIOULT Dance Center. Set in Coney Island at the turn of the century, the musical chronicles the birth of the most iconic and controversial amusement park in the world. Both performances will be followed by a Coney Island-themed post-show celebration for select ticket buyers. (more…)
The creative team behind Queens Comfort rolled out Comfortland in September. QC moved west on 30th Ave taking over the space formally housing Sugar Freak at 36-18 30th Ave. Comfortland took over the old QC location just east of Steinway on 30th Ave.
The sugary creations at Comfortland made by Montana D’Alessio Barbier and Jackie Legge will keep you coming back eager to try their new baked goods. Follow Comfortland on Instagram and you’ll be counting down the days/weeks/minutes ’til your next visit.
The cute donut shop ambience makes for a fun quick meal. The buttermilk biscuit sandwiches are divine. Pair it with the delicious truffle tots and take your donut to go.
Your reviewer is currently too full to eat the nutella creme brulee donut now, but can’t wait to sink her teeth in it in a few hours!
Sparrow Film Project 2018 is now in its 10th year with major sponsorship from Kaufman Astoria Studio. The Sparrow Film Project is a short film competition where filmmaking teams have three weeks to fully complete a three-minute film.
We are proud to announce will be hosting the signup for the 2018 installment of The Sparrow Film Project on the night of Sunday, September 9th, at The Letlove Inn.
Registration will begin at 7pm and will close at 10pm when the assignment will be announced and teams who are present may draw their specific details. For those unable to attend or stay through the drawing process, their assignments will be randomly selected and sent to the team contact via email the following day. Entry fee is $20 per team in cash, $25 when paid online.
We will once again offer online registration beginning on September 7th at sparrowfilmproject.com for those unable to attend.
Mike Vecchione, an Astorian comedian who recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, recently released his second comedy album, The Worst Kind of Thoughtful.
Recorded live on Long Island at Governor’s Comedy Club, this high-octane comedy album from one of NYC’s top comedians gives you over an hour and twenty minutes of autobiographical stand up comedy.
The Worst Kind of Thoughtful covers a wide range of personal topics including: growing up as an Italian-American in the rust belt with an overbearing father, becoming middle aged, failed relationships, dating in his 40’s, the pain and pleasure of Indian food, dealing with millennials, getting his car stolen and having to travel on a Megabus to perform his stand up comedy all while living under a train in Queens.