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KaZoom Fest Brings Multicultural Stories to the Stage


Held at the Harlem School of the Arts (645 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY) KaZoom Fest takes three titles from KaZoom iStorybooks and turns them into one-act plays performed by the youngsters studying theatre arts at HSA. Running April 20 and 21, the shows will be bilingual (Spanish and English), incorporating music, original songs.

The stories being adapted at KaZoom Fest are Taking the E Train and Everybody Loves Cake by (Film Festival Traveler contributor) Lapacazo Sandoval, and Alyssa Marissa and Her Magical Hair by Angela Williams.(the authors will also be in attendance). These stories aren’t just designed to entertain, they also carry with them a mission as representing and immersing children of color in the arts is an aim that resonates deeply with both KaZoom and Harlem School of the Arts. "It does so much for children's confidence to see themselves in the stories they read. But finding those stories is not always easy for parents of color" explains Donna Beasley, founder, and CEO of Kazoom Kids Books. That is why the HSA has taken a keen interest in this project from KaZoom Books. "Harlem School of the Arts to me, has always felt like an extended family,” says Artistic Director Alfred Pressier. “Students and families come here, experience defining moments in their lives, and stay connected literally through successive generations."

To learn more, go to:

KaZoom Fest
April 20 - 21, 2018

Harlem School of the Arts
645 St Nicholas Ave.
New York, NY 10030

TimesTalks Festival: Giants of Art & Entertainment Live & Streaming


Bringing together minds from the arts, entertainment, news, and industry, the New York Times Timestalks Festival is an enlightening lecture series, performances and experiences, including a Smorgasburg pop-up, Strand Bookstore events and more.

Speakers include music legend Grace Jones, photographer Nan Goldin, Hamdi Ulukaya (founder and CEO of Chobani), Denzel Washington, and many more. While tickets for these talks are getting snatched up quickly, you don’t have to fret about missing out since the talks will also be streaming at

To learn more, go to:

TimesTalks Festival
April 13 - 14, 2018

242 W 41st St.
New York, NY 10036

Warren Carlyle: From "Hello, Dolly!" to "The Sting"


British-born choreographer/director Warren Carlyle says, “Every day I pinch myself. It’s a wonder I’m not black and blue. I can't believe it's not the dream I spent my life dreaming.”

He’s gone through several breathless months leading up to two huge openings and has quite an upcoming schedule. “I’m not getting much sleep,” he laughed over a hearty breakfast on the Upper West Side last week. “I’m up early, on the run, literally, like I’m in a marathon. I just keep moving. Now, I’m also commuting, mounting a new show, and get home much too late.”

Carlyle is working with Tony winning John Rando (Urinetown) choreographing the premiere of The Sting, which marks the return to the stage of Tony winners Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann (Tony nominated Urinetown).

CarlyleWTonyAwd14The musical, based on the classic film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, premiered March 29 at Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, NJ [and is set for a Broadway premiere next Fall]. Starring are Tony nominee Harry Connick Jr. (The Pajama Game revival) and, in bit of quite interesting casting, J. Harrison Ghee, a recent Lola in Kinky Boots , the first drag artist in the role. Connick is also contributing to the score.

Carlyle’s name is emblazoned on the Shubert marquee as choreographer of the blockbuster revival of Hello, Dolly! He won a 2014 Tony for his high-energy, high-stepping choreography for After Midnight.

“The last eight years have been filled with the greatest career rewards I can imagine,” he enthuses. “How magical to have Hello, Dolly! back and how beyond I got to choreograph it and work with the master of comedy, Jerry Zaks. This is something I never could have dreamt would happen.”

Carlyle says he likes to stay busy, which is quite an understatement. He’s became a hurdler, running marathon races. “I love the hustle and bustle. It keeps me moving – that’s great for a choreographer. It also keeps me young. Work is challenging, because it’s your ambition to keep coming up with something fresh, new.”
He explains that one of the wonderful things about his work choreographing and directing is that it’s something different every day. “Rarely does anything repeat itself.”

You wonder why he’s not getting a lot of sleep? In addition to The Sting, in early May he’s directing/choreographing Noel Gay’s Me and My Girl, Encores! 25th season closer (starring Tony winner Christian Borle), premiering a new work for New York City Ballet, and then directing/choreographing the revival of Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon’s The Secret Garden.

Carlyle says he was familiar with The Sting from seeing the film, which became one of his favorites. “We’re working with a truly wonderful concept by Bob Martin (Tony and Olivier-nominated as The Drowsy Chaperone’s Man in the Chair, and Tony-nominated as co-writer of the book; contributing writer, TV’s Slings & Arrows). It’s so much more creative when you start with a blank canvas.

“Choreography is based on emotion,” he continues, “so my mission has been to empathize it in the dance. John has kept the scenes very real, so I’m working with real people, with real problems. I had a lot of Damon Runyon and Guys and Dolls in my head.”

Of course, he wanted to mind as much theatricality as possible. At the center of The Sting is an elaborate con game and Carlyle found a parallel to theater. “Let’s face it,” he smiles, “theater is a con. Our goal is to con audiences into believing what we’re doing is real. It’s a wonderful metaphor. Take tap dancing. What a con! And you can use it because while you’re looking at my feet, I’m stealing your wallet!”

Ninety-nine percent of the music, he points out is Kotis and Hollmann’s score, but there’s Joplin ragtime “and what better person do we have to play it than Harry!”  

He calls Connick “a dream come true, the real deal. Every director and choreographer would be blessed to work with him. There’s not another on the planet who’s more talented or works harder. It’s not an accident that he’s a superstar. He’s supremely gifted as a writer, musician, and actor. The role of Henry Gondorff is the right part at the right time and he’s certainly the right actor. It’s a perfect fit, and he’s got the statue and look to pull it off.”

CarlyleWHConJrJHGheeStingHe and Connick have bonded and found a way to compliment the other. “Harry’s teaching me music. I’m teaching him dance. He’s a great student, and absorbs everything so quickly. When I say he can do anything, it’s a fact.”

Everyone knows what Harry can do, but Carlyle says audiences are going to be surprised by J. Harrison Ghee. “The non-traditional casting – he’s black – certainly a big departure from the film, but it really works. The role of Johnny Hooker suits him to a capital T. Watch him! He’s a rising star.”

Among the show’s co-stars is Kate Shindel (A Christmas Story, Wonderland), Miss America 1998 and the president of Actors Equity. “Kate’s a beauty, which is only matched by her voice. She’s a great leading lady for Harry. “

Warren Carlyle’s siren call to dance came from a love of movie musicals.

When he was 10, his working-class parents outside Norwich, northeast of Cambridge, took him to the city to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat. "That was it! That's how I got hooked," he laughs. "I was mesmerized. It became my dream to dance. Fred, so debonair in top hat, white tie, and tails, flower in lapel, and cane. He was so smooth, he made it look so easy. I was on the edge of my seat during that huge Irving BerlinPiccolini' sequence with hundreds of people, or so it seemed, singing and dancing! I wanted to jump up and join them!”

From then on, it was a love affair with Hollywood musicals. In high school, Carlyle, who excelled in swim and track, soon became obsessed with tap, which proved quite strange to his mates. "I was bullied. It was awful, hurtful, and tough, but I discovered the best way to handle it was to ignore it. Somehow I had the mind to find my inner strength to do my own thing."

It didn't come as a shock to his parents when, upon graduating, he announced he was London-bound to attend ballet school. "I couldn't wait," he notes, "I had to go!"

He began dancing right out of university. He auditioned for Cats and in 1989 was cast as Alonzo. "I am very tall, which I considered an asset," he explains. "It turned out not to be. Since I towered over everyone, Gillian [Lynne] put me in the back or middle, but I kept feeling the urge to take a leap forward."

Then, he was hand-picked by Susan Stroman to be her associate choreographer on Trevor Nunn's 1997 Royal National Theatre production of Oklahoma!, starring Hugh Jackman.

"Working with Warren is a complete joy in every way," says Jackman. "We became great friends during Oklahoma! It was clear even then that Warren had big dreams, and a real joie de vivre. He was a born choreographer/director, and everyone knew he was going places."
When Stroman asked Carlyle to join her for the Broadway transfer [which starred Patrick Wilson], he was packed and raring to go. “They, whoever they are, say you learn from the best, and Susan is the very, very best, and a beloved friend.”

He choreographed and debuted as a director with A Tale of Two Cities (2008), segued right into the same duties with the Finian’s Rainbow revival (2009), Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway (2011) and After Midnight.

While working with Jackman, Carlyle choreographed a revival of Follies, followed by Chaplin and A Christmas Story [working with John Rando] and revivals of The Mystery of Edwin Droo, On the Twentieth Century, and She Loves Me. And, amazingly, somehow found time to work with the Rockettes.

“It’s been immensely satisfying working on Broadway,” Carlyle says. “I’m truly blessed to be doing what I love. Winning the Tony was the culmination of a life-long dream. Such an honor. I’m accomplishing my goals. My bucket list’s getting shorter, yet I feel I’m just beginning.”

MOCCA Arts Festival: Celebrate Spring With Sequential Art


Forget the crowds of NYCC, MOCCA is where it’s at for comic events in New York. Organized by the Society of Illustrators, and running April 7 - 8 at the Metropolitan West (639 W 46th St.), the MOCCA Arts Festival features indie comics legends alongside fresh faced newcomers and small-time ‘zine printers, plus panels and workshops.

This year’s guests of honor include Roz Chast, Liniers, Mike Mignola, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, and Featured Artists Yvan Alagbé, Nicole J, Georges, Dominique Goblet, Anna Haifisch, Jaime Hernandez, Rebecca Mock, Max de Radigues, Ann Telnaes, and JooHee Yoon.

To learn more, go to:

MOCCA Arts Festival
April 7 - 8, 2018

Metropolitan West
639 W 46th St.
New York, NY 10036

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