Saturday afternoon saw an East Village street party and Open Day to celebrate the renovations of the Public Theatre in Lafayette St.
This, of course, is the theatre started by Joseph Papp where A CHORUS LINE and HAIR first flourished
Papp's innovation Shakespeare in the Park is still an annual sell-out and Joe's Pub presents as many as three different cabaret shows nightly.
The foyer is now pristine white with a snack bar, smart new restrooms and an expanded box office
Here is the interior of Joe's Pub
We weren't allowed to see inside the theatres but we got a squiz at the restaurant/library which had a lovely relaxed vibe
Then it was back outside to the food trucks and the raffles and (my reason for coming) the Outdoor Concert!!!
I was delighted to see the supremely talented and handsome Jose Llana waiting to go onstage. He said he sometimes reads this blog so I should add that he is even more supremely talented and handsome than I just said he is.
Current artistic director Oskar Eustis emphasised that the Public Theatre is a public building so everyone should treat it as their own and use it frequently as a gathering space. He also pointed out that the East Village has always been known as a place where people come to reinvent themselves
and so the Public would continue to invent new innovative works from new artists.
First up was the ultra smooth Vondie Curtis-Hall (DREAMGIRLS) with a song called "That's Why He's Jesus and You're Not" from the upcoming new musical "The Total Bent" by Stew ("Passing Strange")
Jose Llana, handsome and talented as ever, plays the young Ferdinand Marcos in an upcoming "experiential" disco musical about Imelda. We're told to expect a cross between a disco dance floor and "Fuerzabruta"!!
Then came selections from the new musical version of Edna Ferber's GIANT by Michael-John La Chiusa and Sybille Pearson. And it looks pretty sensational.
Brian D'Arcy James as Bick got us all Yahoo-ing with a rip roaring "Did Spring Come To Texas?"
Miguel Cervantes and Mackenzie Mauzie (sorry, I missed the name of the other gent) sang "Jump", a song about shooting for your dreams.
Then came a young lady who was a total revelation to me, Katie Thompson, who plays Bick's dumped girlfriend Vashti. Her song "He Wanted a Girl" would be reason enough to buy tickets to GIANT. If you are as unfamiliar with Ms. Thompson's work as I was, check her out on YouTube. She's thrilling.
Brian D-J returned with the luminous Kate Baldwin as Leslie.
They sang "Heartbreak Country" where Bick describes the rough life on the land and rich girl Leslie promises she'll adapt and adjust if Bick will forgive her mistakes and love her as much as he loves the land.
All glorious and stirring stuff. Something epic to look forward to!
And speaking of glorious, I was most impressed with this West Village stoop determinedly doing Spring even as Winter chills the air.