Tag Archives: Theater

Hamilton in Puerto Rico

The 58th GRAMMY Awards - Photo by Theo Wargo/Wire Image

Do not throw away your shot to see the musical Hamilton… while on a Caribbean vacation…while contributing to rebuilding Puerto Rico.

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, knocking off power to the entire island, devastating homes and landscape, and creating a humanitarian disaster on the U.S. territory.

By August 2018, the death toll had risen to 2,975. (The number of casualties has since increased.)

But while the devastation was vast, Puerto Rico has been steadily rebuilding, reopening and reviving its tourism market. In an effort to continue his support for the island, Lin-Manuel Miranda will once again star in the title role of Hamilton, when the Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winning musical plays San Juan from January 12 to 27, 2019.

As expected, general ticket sales (which went on sale November 10) quickly sold-out, but limited tickets are still available through trip packages offered by Discover Puerto Rico. Additionally, premium tickets sold for $5,000 each, will raise money for Miranda’s Flamboyan Arts Fund, dedicated to strengthening arts on the island.

Puerto Rico wants visitors to know they are open for business. Remember the S.O.S. photo that went viral immediately following Hurricane Maria? The plea has evolved into an invitation and a message that we are “Bienvenidos” on the island. Catch a glimpse of the progress in the touching video below: 


You can play a role in the rebuilding effort merely by visiting. Be in the room where it happens and let the theatricality of Hamilton affect you while effecting positive change in Puerto Rico.

…And Peggy!

*For additional travel information, visit DiscoverPuertoRico.com.


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NYC: Glee Getaway

Cast of Glee in New York

The bright lights of Broadway have been seducing dancers, singers and actors since, well, the invention of the light bulb.  Recently, however, musical theatre has found new mainstream appeal thanks to the hugely popular television show, Glee.  Now, the latest generation of hopefuls can follow New Directions and relive the Glee season finale with the InterContinental Times Square’s “Gleekend Package.”  Yes, kids, the hotel setting of Mr. Schuester & Co. during Nationals can be your NYC home, just a time-step away from all the action.

The Gleekend Package includes:

  • Overnight accommodations in a Standard Room* (minimum two-night stay)
  • Daily breakfast for two at the hotel’s Ça Va Brasserie by Todd English
  • Two Gleekend Slushies at Ça Va Brasserie (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
  • Two Gleekend T-shirts
  • NYC map inspired by all the sites visited by New Directions
  • Picture frame with photo of Glee cast filming at the InterContinental New York Times Square

Additionally, the InterContinental Concierge team can arrange for Broadway shows, classes at the nearby Broadway Dance Center, guided tours of Lincoln Center, or one-on-one singing lessons.

Rates for the Gleekend package begin at $399/night and can be booked on the hotel’s website or by calling 1.877.331.5888

InterContinental New York Times Square

*In-room pillow fights not encouraged.

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From Cuba to PIFA

Commissioned by the Arden Theatre as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), the play Wanamaker’s Pursuit tells the story of a young Nathan Wanamaker’s arrival in Paris in search of the latest fashions for his family’s department store, and the unexpected discoveries of his journey. Though a work a fiction, the play is inspired by historical events and characters of early twentieth century Paris, and the story of Wanamaker’s, the first modern department store in Philadelphia and, arguably, in the United States.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the playwright, Rogelio Martinez, and learn about his own path to PIFA.

Traveling IQ:  First of all I’m very excited to chat with you because we are both from the same small town in Cuba.  For all I know we played together as children… Sancti Spíritus is not that big of a place.
RM:  Yes, it’s very rare.  I always tell people you may meet other Cubans, but I’m the only Cuban you will ever meet who admits he’s not from Havana.

Well, now there are two of us.  How old were you when you left?
I came (to the U.S.) when I was nine, but I can remember Sancti Spíritus very clearly.

At what point did you get interested in theatre?
My family settled in Union City, NJ.  At the time it had the second biggest Cuban population, after Miami.  I think I got interested when I actually went to the theatre for the first time, in New York.  I was always interested in film because as a little boy in Cuba I went to the movies all the time.  And suddenly I went to see a play and I realized I was much more interested in the live experience, in how audiences respond instantly.  You can go see a comedic movie and a lot of the laughter is held inside.  But you see a funny play and the laughter pours out.  There’s something about how the audience becomes one.  It’s one of those few moments where the world comes together.  And there’s nothing like it.

What was that first play?
Hmmm… That answer becomes progressively more embarrassing.  It was Speed the Plow by David Mamet.  And I’m not embarrassed because of David Mamet… I think he’s an amazing writer.  But the reason my mom took me was because Madonna was in it.  I didn’t know what I was walking into.  I just knew that Madonna was in the play.  And I walked out and my head was abuzz. Everything was like “wow.”  I’d just seen something remarkable.

So Madonna is responsible for getting you involved in theatre?
You know, often times we writers wonder why they bring someone from Hollywood. And I think we have to look at the positive side.  It gets people in the seats that would not otherwise have come.  And that creates new audiences—or you hope it does.  I’m not saying that everyone will venture out and see more theatre but some will.  And that’s important.

Well, that’s definitely one—good—way to look at it.
It’s a tough business and the only way to stay in it for a while is to remain positive… I think.

How did you get involved with PIFA?
Well, Terry (the director) and I met working on another of my plays and he asked if had any ideas for a piece about Paris?  The festival was celebrating 100 years, so I started exploring Paris 1911, and I found those limitations really interesting.  There’s something really exciting for a writer to have boundaries because you can walk right up to the ledge and push the boundaries of the play.

How was the Wanamaker connection born?
The Wanamaker name has always been synonymous with Philly.  So Terry and I started talking about the idea of a buyer for the store, a fictional heir that goes to Paris during the most exciting time.  And he meets Paul Poiret, one of the greatest designers of the twentieth century, along with Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso; and he meets them at a moment in time before we knew them, before they became who they’d eventually become.  And I think that’s also an exciting element of the play: you see people becoming iconic.

How did the city of Paris affect the character of Wanamaker?
It’s the story of learning new rules, new languages…understanding how cultures work. Here we have a young man arriving in Paris and the rules are completely different than what he is used to.  He is master of one world but here he’s in a world where he has no control.  And in a sense that’s the story of anyone who arrives here from a different country.  I think that’s what makes the play have a universal appeal.

Rogelio Martinez, playwright

*Wanamaker’s Pursuit runs March 31-May 22 at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. Click here for tickets.

For more information follow the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned to Traveling IQ for continued coverage, with PIFA’s support.

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PIFA: Paris… Philly

Photo courtesy of PIFA

How can one decade affect the course of history?  More than a century later, the arts—music, theatre, visual, dance, design—borne in Paris between 1910 and 1920 inspire a new art movement across the Atlantic.  From April 7 to May 1, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), introduced to Traveling IQ readers last week, draws on the collaboration, creativity and innovation of this artistically essential decade.

Nowhere are these principles more evident than in the tornado of talent known as the Ballets Russes.  By 1910, less than one year into its infancy, the Ballets Russes in Paris was preparing to launch some of the greatest artists of the past century.  In the eye of the storm, stood the company’s director, Serge Diaghilev, often called “the greatest theater producer who ever lived,” for his ability to recruit the most exciting artists of the time.  Imagine a company that can commission the music of Stravinsky, Ravel and Strauss, to be choreographed by Nijinsky, Balanchine and Massine, with sets and costumes designed by Picasso, Matisse and Chanel.

Inspired by the wave of collaboration and creativity rolling through Paris throughout this decade, PIFA welcomes a modern generation of artists to create a new cultural revolution.  “One hundred years ago, Paris was the epicenter of creativity,” says festival executive director J. Edward Cambron.  “What happened during that time shaped how we defined the arts throughout the 20th century, and now, Philadelphia’s cultural community is poised to fuel the same spirit of ingenious creativity.”

Stay tuned as Traveling IQ explores the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts through May 1, with PIFA’s support.

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Gay Daddy Day, NYC

Celebrate Father’s Day in New York City with your favorite Chorus Boy or Leather Daddy.   Sunday June 20th, offers colorful shows on each end of the gay spectrum.

First, those looking to “adopt” can enjoy some sexy razzle-dazzle at Broadway Bares 20: Strip-opoly.  This popular yearly event brings together some of the hottest male and female dancers from Broadway and beyond in a modern burlesque variety show.  Talent and beauty make a great combination; add philanthropy and you make your papa proud.  Bares is a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a non-profit organization commited for over 20 years to helping men and women living with HIV/AIDS.  Held at Roseland Ballroom in Midtown, the show—performed at 9:30pm and 12:00am—is a mostly club-style event with a limited amount of VIP seats.   From General Admission ($55) to Benefactor ($650), these tickets helped raise over $800,000 at last year’s show.  Swoon for a great cause as more than 200 beautiful Broadway Babies strip for charity.

If your favorite colors of the rainbow are Black & Blue, then spend the day at the largest outdoor leather and fetish street festival on the east coast, Folsom Street East.  Over the past 13 years, Folsom Street East has celebrated sexual diversity and expression, while raising money for organizations such as The LGBT Community Center, the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, and God’s Love We Deliver.  The block party held on 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue, between 2-8pm, promises to “bring the kink onto the streets of NYC.”  More for the brutish than the prudish, the $10 suggested donation allows you entry into… well, an outdoor fair of flesh, fetish and frolic with porn stars, musical performances, and lots of beer.  A bit apprehensive?  Don’t be.  Folsom Street East is an open-minded, friendly event for papas who don’t preach.

Photo by Michael Prestia

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A Theatre (Re)Grows in Brooklyn

(Photography by Chasi Annexy)

Abandoned for over 30 years, the Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn prepares for a Second Act.  In 1929, the theatre on Flatbush Avenue opened as Loew’s flagship theatre.   Architecturally influenced by the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House, the theatre boasts high curved ceilings, pink marble, and ornate plaster walls.  Originally a home for films and vaudeville acts, the 3,195-seat theatre closed in 1978, becoming a refuge for pigeons, vandals and squatters.

But intermission is over.  Last month, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that the Houston-based theatrical management and development company, ACE Theatrical Group, had been contracted to restore the theatre’s French Renaissance architecture and expand the stagehouse to accommodate the production needs of modern shows.  ACE boasts similar affiliations with the Boston Opera House and Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. and plans to present 250 productions yearly.  “Once completed, the restored Loew’s Kings will be the largest indoor theatre in Brooklyn, hosting concerts, plays, special events and graduations,” claims Markowitz.  “It will be nothing less than a combination of the Beacon and the Apollo in one architectural jewel of a building.”

Slated to reopen in approximately five years, the Loew’s Kings Theatre is ready for its encore performance.

Click here to see more pictures of the Loew’s Kings Theatre


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