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The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts Blog Schimmel Center seeks to enrich and engage our audiences by bringing world-class talent to Lower Manhattan. Our programming features internationally-acclaimed talent in the areas of music, dance, film, cabaret and lecture.

11 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Looking Ahead to a New Year of Programming

We are just about two weeks into the New Year. The post-holiday blues are starting to fade and only a handful of us are still sticking to our New Year’s resolutions. In these early days of 2017 we look ahead to what the Schimmel Center has in store to ease those winter blues in February and March.

The SteelDrivers Photo Credit: Robert Rausch

The SteelDrivers
Photo Credit: Robert Rausch

Highlights include the acclaimed bluegrass group The SteelDrivers performing songs from their latest Grammy Award® winning album, The Muscle Shoals Recordings on Friday February 10. Speaking of bluegrass, The Hillbenders come to us straight from the South by Southwest Festival with their presentation of Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry on March 25. This engaging concert reinvents The Who’s classic Rock Opera with an all acoustic orchestration including banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass and guitar. I recently had the opportunity to see this concert live and this energetic group had the audience and myself in the palm of their hand. The group has an obvious passion for the piece which shows through in their performance. Their comic narration and original orchestrations bring a fresh outlook to the Rock Opera that has previously shown its age.

If you are looking to, “brush up your Shakespeare,” and tickle your funny bone, look no further than the New York premiere of The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s latest play William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged.) The hilarious production re imagines the Bard’s most famous characters, speeches and plot scenarios while hilariously combining them into an imaginary, newly discovered work. I remember seeing the group perform in college and on DVD’s of their classic PBS performances and their work never disappoints. Whether you are a Shakespeare aficionado or someone looking for a night of classic slapstick and physical comedy, this is the evening for you. The play runs Saturday February 11th– 12th.

We continue our reputation for showcasing dance with lauded companies such as Lula Washington Dance Theatre on February 24. The company is celebrating 35 years of choreography that both celebrates and examines African American heritage and culture. The Los Angeles based choreographer, Lula Washington was responsible for the choreography in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Disney Animators watched filmed footage of her choreography to animate famous musical numbers like the Academy Award winning song, “Under the Sea.” She later returned to the silver screen in 2009 when she choreographed the movement for James Cameron’s groundbreaking film Avatar.

The Lula Washington Dance Company

The Lula Washington Dance Company

Our world roster is incredibly strong this winter. Gypsy Flamenco dancer José Maya brings his latest work, Latente: A Flamenco Journey to our stage on February 17th. The piece is accompanied by legendary Gypsy singer Juana la del Pipa, powerhouse vocalists José Valencia and Manuel Tañé, and celebrated guitarist El Perla. It is a deeply personal piece for the artist and explores the soul of a Gypsy Flamenco dancer. We are ecstatic to present the Portuguese Fado singer Gisela João as she makes her New York debut on February 25th. This young artist has been making a name for herself in her native Portugal, drumming up an impressive line of rave reviews. Straight form Argentina, the incredible Che Malambo will heat up our floor boards on March 24th.  This exciting performance showcases the thrilling and unique South American cowboy tradition of the gaucho.

To see our full line up of exceptional programming which also includes Magic, Cabaret and Lecture, visit SchimmelCenter.org

05 December 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Celebrating the Art of Storytelling in Song- Inside the music of Tom Rush, Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier

American folk music is a broad term that encompasses many genres. The famous folk musician Mike Seeger once famously defined it as “all the music that fits between the cracks.” Gospel, bluegrass, Appalachian jug bands, blues and Native American music all fit within those cracks. The genres have two commonalities that tie them together; they are all uniquely American and they all rely heavily on the art of storytelling. It is that story telling that artists such as Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives and Susan Reed brought to the fore front in the great American Folk Revival of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. This weekend we are proud to have one of the greatest practitioners of American Folk music, Tom Rush, who helped shape the genre during the 1960’s along with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Judy Collins. He will be joined by new emerging artists who follow in his tradition by placing story telling at the forefront of their music; Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier.

James Taylor once said, “Tom (Rush) was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences.” It’s clear that Rush possesses many qualities that an artist like James Taylor would find inspiring; from his distinctive guitar styling to his warm, expressive voice. One would argue that the main quality that keeps audiences coming back is the wry humor and expressive story telling so distinct in his music.  The story telling is especially evident evident in his performance of “The Child’s Song,” seen below. The song so perfectly tells the story of a son leaving his family for the first time. The story not only comes out in the lyrics but in Rush’s soulful expression.

Below Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier continue the tradition of Storytelling in “The Ballad of Jenny Kane” and “Love is a Language” respectively. Each plays in their own distinctive style but they both harken back to Tom Rush’s example.

These three artists converge on the Schimmel Stage for one night only. Don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate this uniquely American art form with one of the best.

An Evening with Tom Rush and Matt Nakoa with Special Guest Seth Glier; Friday, December 9 at 7:30PM; Price $29 | $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/tom-rush

16 November 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Avoid the Mid-Town Grid Lock- Celebrating the Holidays in FiDi

The most joyous of seasons is upon us. It is that time of year when the city transforms into a magical wintery wonderland, capturing the hearts and minds of people around the world. While tourists from all over the globe descend on midtown in droves for the likes of the Rockerfeller Christmas tree, the windows at Saks 5th Avenue and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New Yorkers have other options right in Manhattan’s FiDi neighborhood. Let’s take a look at all the holiday activities taking place downtown.

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

Visit Santa

While many flock to 34th Street to visit Santa’s Village in the iconic Macy’s store, the lines can sometimes stretch on for hours. Luckily for families in FiDi, Brookfield Place has their own top-notch version of the North Pole. While you are waiting on line for your child’s opportunity to sit on the big guy’s lap, you can send up a wish through “touch-sensitive” wish lights which are a part of Brookfield Place’s “Luminaries,” exhibit. For more information click here.

The rink at Brookfield Place

The rink at Brookfield Place

Hit the Skating Rink

Ice skating is one of the most cherished of Holiday traditions. While the rinks at Rockerfeller Center and Bryant Park have made postcards for years, a new picturesque skating rink has sprung up at Brookfield Place. Located on the Hudson River waterfront, the rink is a one of a kind skating experience. The rink offers private skating lessons as well as public skating hours. For more information click here.

The Tree at South Street Seaport

The Tree at South Street Seaport

Visit the Christmas Tree at South Street Seaport

Yes, the tree at Rockerfeller is gorgeous but you can always watch it being lit on television from the comfort of your own home. There’s no real need to venture to mid-town for it. The beautiful South Street Seaport boasts a tree every year as well. Dressed up for the holidays, the seaport is a majestic coastal winter wonderland worth seeing.

Celebrate with Festive Holiday Music

This holiday season the Schimmel Center welcomes Emmy winner and Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Rob Mathes. Known for a storied career in music alongside names like Sting and Bruce Springsteen, Mathes leads an all-star band made up of musicians from Saturday Night Live, David Letterman’s Late Show, and Paul Simon’s band. Powerhouse vocalists Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Willams will sing holiday classics and new original songs with a funk, R&B and gospel twist. There is no better way to feel the holiday spirit than with the sounds of the season. Below is a clip of the classic carol, “Silent Night” performed by Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Williams in Mathes’ signature style.

The Rob Mathes Holiday Concert; Sunday, December 18 at 3:00pm; Price $29 | $39 | $55; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/rob-mathes

26 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

“I’ve got the song right here!” Inside the Music of Frank Loesser

This Saturday, October 29, the Fred Barton Orchestra and a cast of Broadway’s best will be back on the Schimmel stage to open its fifth smash season of American Showstoppers. This concert promises some of the very best of the American Musical Theatre and Songbook cannon; the work of the Academy®, Tony®, Grammy Award® and Pulitzer Prize winning composer and lyricist Frank Loesser. This musical genius’ repertoire includes the scores to Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella and the Pultizer prize winning How to Succeeed in Business Without Really Trying. His popular music also includes the piano standard, “Heart and Soul” and holiday tunes, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and “What Are You Doing New Years Eve.” Let’s take a musical journey through Frank Loesser’s greatest hits. 

“Baby It’s Cold Outside”

Perhaps the most covered of all holiday tunes, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was originally written as a private party tune for Loesser’s first wife, Lynn Garland. When the songwriter sold the song to MGM, it almost ended the couple’s marriage. Garland would later write, “I felt as betrayed as if I’d caught him in bed with another woman.” The song would be included in the Esther Williams’ vehicle, Neptune’s Daughter (1949). In recent years, the song has come under some criticism for lyrics that some determine to be misogynistic. While the song can be taken this way, the version featured in Neptune’s Daughter, features Betty Garrett singing the part that is traditionally sung by the male and Red Skelton singing the response, making the piece easier to stomach for a contemporary audience.

 

“Heart and Soul”

One of the most recognizable songs to anyone who has ever taken beginner piano lessons or knows someone who has taken beginner piano lessons, “Heart and Soul” is known mostly for its melody by Hoagy Carmichael. However, the lyrics belong to Loesser. The song was published in 1938, however, the most famous incarnation of the song belongs to the Clefftones who recorded their version in 1961. That version was later used in the 1973 hit film, American Graffiti.

 

“Luck Be a Lady”

Perhaps the biggest success of Loesser’s career was writing the music and lyrics to the Broadway classic, “Guys and Dolls.” The popular musical was based on the characters of short story writer and newspaper columnist Damon Runyon. While the score is filled with many standards, “Luck Be a Lady,” is indeed the most covered. While Marlon Brando as Skye Masterson sang the song in the 1955 film, it was the film’s other star, Frank Sinatra, who made the song a huge hit.

 

“I Believe in You”

How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying won Loesser a Pulitzer Prize. The show was a biting social commentary on the world of business. The main character, J.Pierpont Finch, works his way up the corporate ladder from the mail room to CEO of World Wide Wickets in the series of just two weeks. The show’s hit song “I Believe in You” became a standard and was covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Count Basie to Isaac Mizrahi in a Target ad. The following is the wonderful Michelle Lee in the very faithful 1967 film version.

 

“What Are You Doing New Years Eve?”

Not written for a particular movie or stage show, this holiday hit first charted at No. 9 on Billboard’s Best-Selling Retail Rhythm & Blues chart in December 1949 with the band, The Orioles. It has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Barbra Streisand to Barry Manilow. It was also featured in the hit movie When Harry Met Sally. Below is a charming duet of the song by Zoey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Their video version with banjo and guitar went viral on Youtube in 2011.

American Showstoppers: An Evening with Frank Loesser; Saturday, October 22 at 7:30pm; Price $29 | $39 | $55; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/an-evening-with-frank-loesser

11 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Ease on down to Schimmel!

Here at the Schimmel Center, we are aware that for the New Yorker that has never ventured below Houston Street or tries to avoid the financial district at all costs, the prospect of locating our theater may seem daunting. That is why we have taken some extra steps this season to make it even easier to find us amid the hustle and bustle of one of New York’s fastest evolving neighborhoods. We realize that Downtown Manhattan may not have as considerable a reputation for the performing arts as some of our surrounding neighborhoods but perhaps you didn’t know that we are located just blocks from the historic, cobblestone-clad Theatre Alley which is known as the birthplace of Performing Arts in Manhattan.

The street sign for the historic Theatre Alley in Downtown Manhattan

The street sign for the historic Theatre Alley in Downtown Manhattan

Did you realize that you can get to Downtown Manhattan in under 20 minutes from 20 major locations around the city and New Jersey? Are you visiting us from the Upper West Side? From the Columbus Circle subway stop, it takes a mere 16 minutes to reach the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub at Fulton Center. Our friends in Williamsburg Brooklyn can expect to enjoy an 18 minute jaunt to the lower edge of our borough. Those who reside in Hoboken, New Jersey can hop onto the Path train and arrive in just ten minutes. Below is a map produced by our friends at the Downtown Alliance with more stunning facts about traveling downtown.

downtown-alliance

Our website can be a wonderful tool for any visitor looking to find directions, parking or even nearby restaurants. Simply click on the Visit drop down menu at the top of our home page at SchimmelCenter.org. Whether you are traveling by bus, car or subway, our directions page has you covered. Our parking page has the top four most conveniently located parking garages in the area. Our partners page will be ever evolving offering a listing of local restaurants and businesses with exclusive deals for Schimmel Center patrons.

This season, we have amped up our signage around Pace University’s downtown campus to make it easier for everyone to spot. If you exit the 4,5,6, J or Z trains from the Brooklyn Bridge/ City Hall stop, you will be sure to notice our sign on the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row.schimmel-on-spruce

When exiting the Fulton Street subway stop at the corner of William Street, look for this sign to guide your way.

schimmel-directional

When you have reached this sign you have made it to the Schimmel.schimmel-season

When you have arrived, this handy sign may be a helpful tool when locating the box office.landing-sign

We look forward to seeing you at Schimmel Center!