By Billy McEntee

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work at arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail and on Indiewire, Eclectica Magazine, HowlRound, and Brooklyn Magazine. He's often getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

A Fiery, Absurdist “Chamber Music” Now Playing at St. John’s

Members of the “Chamber Music” cast at St. John’s

“The chair recognizes Joan of Arc.”

It’s hard not to recognize her, in the theatrical sense — like the Joans we’ve seen, this one’s armor-clad, cross-bearing, and all-powerful. But is this Joan? Well, of course not; it’s merely a depiction.

But is the performer (a marvelously focused Bre Northrup) playing Joan, or a character who believes they are Joan? This is one of the central questions in Arthur Kopit’s Chamber Music, now playing through September 16 in the basement of St. John’s Lutheran Church (155 Milton Street).

Director Emily Moler makes dynamic use of her staging Kopit’s absurdist play, setting it in the round and utilizing the subterranean locale’s low-budget though ample space. In fact a church basement may be the unlikely, appropriate setting for Chamber Music: the play actually takes place in a mental institution, so a church (with its rigid mores) lends itself winningly to this story’s strict asylum. The “Joan of Arc” and other lady icons, from Osa Johnson to Pearl White, inhabit this jail, and their meeting of the minds feels echoed in the opening of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s feminist anthem. Continue reading

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Self-Help Gets a Lift in “The Protégé,” a New Play at Chez Bushwick


I hope you have the pleasure of meeting Caitlin Bebb, whose addictive and contagious luminosity makes her an ideal artist to write and perform in a show about self-help. Even if you don’t meet her personally, you may feel like you have after experiencing her intimate but wild new show, The Protégé, presented by Glass Bandits and playing June 23–26 at Chez Bushwick (304 Boerum St).

Personal development, therapy, and self-improvement can come with sticky stigmas; by nature, these tactics make us address, confront, and perhaps publicize our imperfections. But in her mysterious yet alluring solo show, Caitlin Bebb rejiggers these ignominies, breaking down the walls of what self-help can expound — well, perhaps not breaking them down, but certainly infusing them with spiritual rejuvenation, a genre-defying performance, and a dance party. Continue reading

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The Evolution of Jazz with Angela Morris

Angela Morris at Legion, photo by Peter Gannushkin.

If you’ve heard live music in Brooklyn, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the multi-hyphenate and chameleon performer Angela Morris. She often performs around North Brooklyn, playing places like Silent Barn, Trans Pecos, and Legion, among others, and also frequented the now-closed Sunview Luncheonette and Manhattan Inn. Blurring musical genres and marrying avant jazz with pop, her music is at once whimsy but wise, stirring yet relaxing. But labeling Morris’s style may be futile; her timbre shifts depending on the night and her role. Morris plays across various venues with almost as many bands — including Rallidae, TMT Trio, and Pep Talk — all the while conducting, singing, or playing the saxophone or violin. Here, she discusses her move from Toronto, Brooklyn’s evergreen music scene, and — despite the unspoken truths of an instrumental’s injury — what continually motivates her to share her music. Continue reading

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LoftOpera revives “Otello,” Rossini’s Seldom Produced but Timely Masterpiece

Cecilia Violetta López as Desdemona and Bernard Holcomb as the titular Otello. Photo by Jamie Santamour.

LoftOpera never shies away from its edgy adaptations. In its upcoming production of Rossini’s Otello—based on Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name—the challenge lies not in an overt modernization but in the score’s groundbreaking and complex music, and in the fact that this opera has not been produced in New York in more than 40 years. Loft’s reimagining of the classic tale of otherizing and political upheaval—themes still grappled with today—will play at LightSpace Studios (1115 Flushing Avenue) from March 16–27. We had the chance to speak to four-time Loft director John de los Santos and conductor Sean Kelly, a specialist in the bel canto technique.

GP: How have rehearsals been going?

JdlS: It’s an incredibly challenging piece but I’m very lucky to have Sean, the cast, and the incredible musicians, so it’s been going well.

SK: No one has sung this opera before, so it’s new for everyone, which is exciting. The Otello (Bernard Holcomb) we’ve technically been working with since September/October to prepare musically for the role.

GP: Rossini’s Otello has not been seen in New York in decades. Why this piece now?

JdlS: The last piece Sean and I did for Loft was Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and we had a great success with that, so it’s great to be working on one of his tragedies. This piece was an evolvement for him in his music as he was trying out some new things and really trying to push his audiences to accept and deal with topics that were pretty controversial in this period. Everybody’s familiar with the Verdi version of Otello and this one’s 70 years older. I think this version is superior; there are several things he does better than Verdi. Continue reading

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Food for Thought (and Humor) in The Bushwick Starr’s “[porto]”

“[porto]” at The Bushwick Starr. Photo by Marina McClure.

It serves pickled pomegranate, fried chickpea, and grilled sage.

No, it’s not the organic/gluten-free/farm-to-table market down the street; it’s the rustic gastropub in The Bushwick Starr’s (207 Starr St.) new play [porto] though based on Brooklyn’s artisanal food scene trends, these bites might soon appear on your go-to bar’s menu. And like those snacks, the play is a concoction of the satirical, savory, and flat-out strange.

[porto] is part of this year’s (and the second annual) Exponential Festival, a theatrical series promoting works created in New York and performed in Brooklyn. Kate Benson’s funny, meandering, and world-premiere play centers on Porto, a young woman for whom the hipness of Brooklyn’s cultural and foodie offerings has perhaps grown dull.

Continue reading

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Greenpoint’s Franklin Guesthouse is A Home Away From Home

franklin-guesthouse-greenpoint-living-room-01
Living room area in one of the rooms at Franklin Guesthouse. All photos: Julia Moak.

Greenpoint’s not the sleepy neighborhood it was ten years ago, but you’ll still get a good night’s rest at Franklin Guesthouse.

“We try to make the rooms like a home—apartment-style—and really give you a lot of amenities you don’t get in other hotels,” said Dana Schneider, vice-president of Franklin Guesthouse (214 Franklin Street) and its sister boutiques, The Box House and Henry Norman Hotels. Continue reading

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With Roots in Japan, Brooklyn’s Osakana is No Fish Out of Water

All photos by Kate Truisi.
Fish at Osakana. All photos by Kate Truisi.

It’s a fish market, but there’s no ice.

Instead, the tuna belly, king mackerel, and sea trout rest on pottery as colorful as their contents in a 39-degree glass case that controls temperature and humidity. At Osakana (290 Graham Avenue) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn flair meets Japanese tradition in a tasteful marriage of style and utility.

Osakana’s refrigerator is nearly empty—what’s on display is what’s up for grabs. “In the US we catch fish by the net, but in Japan they catch with a rod,” Osakana manager Emma Kramer said. It’s a reality her team must deal with—as a fishing and island nation, Japan will always have the upper fin, as it were. But it’s not a fact that will hinder Osakana’s near sacred handling of food. Continue reading

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Experience the nautical, inventive, and gorgeous world of “In a Sea of Faces”

"In a Sea of Faces" plays now through September 25 at Williamsburg's Cloud City venue.
“In a Sea of Faces” plays now through September 25 at Williamsburg’s Cloud City.

The hero’s journey often follows three simple steps: protagonist leaves home, protagonist faces challenges in the world, protagonist returns home, changed. But with In a Sea of Faces, composer and librettist Jahn Sood turns this adventure on its head, all the while achieving depths as great as the ocean from which his hero originates.

Sood’s new folk opera at Cloud City (85 N 1st Street) is as playful as waves, as theatrical as changing tides. In the wildly inventive world directed by Katie Melby, the ocean talks back, handheld flashlights articulate battle and shipwreck, and swaying sails cradle a wayward father’s song of homecoming. Continue reading

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Modernizing Mozart: LoftOpera to Present a Saucy “Così fan tutte”

Sarah Nelson Craft (left) and Megan Pachecano star in LoftOpera's "Così fan tutti" (photo by Jamie Santamour)
Sarah Nelson Craft (left) and Megan Pachecano star in LoftOpera’s “Così fan tutte” (photo by Jamie Santamour)

Was Mozart a feminist?

Reading Così fan tutte, where two young sisters are duped into betraying their fiancés in a seedy ploy to prove all ladies are infidels, it might not appear so. (The opera is often translated as “Women Are Like That.”) But if there’s any company that can dust off a passé story while still retaining its comedic sensuality, it’s LoftOpera.

“It’ll be different than your typical opera,” said Sarah Nelson Craft, the Park Slope-raised mezzo-soprano who’s playing Dorabella. “I’ve always been interested in what Loft’s doing, so I was really excited to be hired by them.” Continue reading

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OddFellows Ice Cream Co. Has it All: Strange, Savory, and Sweet

OddFellows Ice Cream Co. in Williamsburg
OddFellows Ice Cream Co. in Williamsburg. All images via oddfellowsnyc.com

As co-founder Mohan Kumar tells it, OddFellows in Williamsburg has an origin as sweet as its ice cream.

“When Holiday was pregnant Sam [Mason] brought over ice cream, and she loved it. At the time I was looking to get out of what I was doing in real estate finance and do something more entrepreneurial, more creative,” Kumar shared. “A couple days later, she said, ‘Why don’t you talk to Sam about opening an ice cream shop?’ I said, ‘That’s a great idea.’ I approached Sam about that over a beer, I had half a business plan already written out, and that’s how it started.” Continue reading

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