Theater for the New City presents "Bliss Street," new Indie Rock musical.
Show traces the role of the club-owning Sub family in the making of New York's decade of punk, glam and glitter rock.
April 27 to May 20 2023
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City
April 27 to May 20: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM. PLUS ADED DATES: May 18, 19 & 20 at 8:00 PM (total: 17 performances).
$18 Gen. Adm., $12 Seniors & Students
Buy tickets: www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Running time 2:10 with intermission.
Previews April 27 & 28. Critics are invited on or after April 29 (opening date).
NEW YORK, April 21 -- "Bliss Street" is a new musical recounting a significant chapter of New York's iconic 70's Rock & Roll history. It documents the life and legacy of Paul Sub, who founded and ran a succession of New York music clubs in the 1970's. These included the short-lived Popcorn Pub (1972-3) and the more enduring Coventry on Bliss Street in Queens (1974-76), where artists such as Kiss, The Ramones and The New York Dolls debuted. Written by Abra Bigham from a concept by Rich Brotman, with songs by Charlie Sub, directed by Lissa Moira, it is both an homage to Paul and a coming of age story of his son, Charlie, who grew up in the "revolutionary" 60's and 70's in the gritty atmosphere of his father's clubs. Creatively stymied in his own musical career, Charlie moved to California to find his purpose but ultimately came back to NY and his father's milieu to find his Rock 'n Roll voice as leader of the band Charlie Sub & Sound Dogs. This rock 'n roll family story will be presented by Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., from April 27 to May 20.
The musical takes us back to a unique period of New York pop culture. Paul Sub and his wife Mina, Jews whose families had fled the Nazis (his from Austria, hers from Italy), met and married in New York. They had two sons, Charlie (b. 1954) and Seymour (b. 1960). In the 60's, Paul ran a chain of sandwich restaurants aptly named Subs. By the early 70's he had only two left in the gritty environment of Greenwich Village, where in addition to sandwiches, they offered live music, mostly folk rock. Bitten by the music bug, Paul sought bigger things and on 47-03 Queens Boulevard, near the Bliss Street subway station, he found a venue that could accommodate a long bar and two stages. An Irish pub/dance hall had failed there. He reopened it in 1973 as The Popcorn Pub but four months later, renamed it The Coventry (it sounded cool and British). Featuring only local bands, the venue attracted a hip crowd and became a nexus of the punk, glam and glitter rock scenes. Headliners included the New York Dolls, Dictators, Harlots of 42nd Street, Isis and The Brats. Kiss introduced their iconic Kabuki makeup there. Joey Ramone drank screwdrivers at the bar most nights. In the East Village, there was CBGB's but for once, the hip place to be for the bridge and tunnel crowd was across the river on the "far east side." When Charlie, one of Paul's two sons, opened his own rock club, Ethyl's, on the Upper East Side in 2016, it was built out of memories of Coventry and of growing up in the "revolutionary" 60's and 70's. It has survived even through the pandemic, along with a second, similarly-conceived haunt in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (founded in 2021).
In "Bliss Street," this family story of the Subs will be staged inside an intricate and powerful multimedia milieu designed by Andrew Levin of StageTrip Industries using virtual scenery by Carlos Almonte of MotionBlur. The idea is for audiences to be visually immersed in a unique era of the Big Apple's history as seen through the eyes of Charlie Sub, an introverted teenager whose true feelings were only expressed in his songs. Music is from the repertoire of Charlie Sub & Sound Dogs, played by the actual six-member band but re-imagined for theater, with lead vocals sung by the actors. The saga is narrated by Ethyl, an all-seeing character who is the dramatic personification of the spirit of the club.
Charlie's father, Paul Sub, is now 93 years old and still married to Charlie's mother, Mina. Charlie Sub is still rocking it around town with his band, Charlie Sub & Sound Dogs. Paul is a regular at Charlie's club, Ethyl’s (the one on the UES), and if you are lucky, you can see him many nights at the bar with a drink.
Charlie Sub is played in the musical by Blaize Adler-Ivanbrook. Paul Sub is played by Jef Canter. Ethyl is played by Marlain Angelides (and by Sarah MacDonnell on two nights, 4/28 and 5/13). The other actors are (alphabetically): JC Augustin, Ella Baldwin, Zach Birdsall, Thomas Deen Baker, Tyler Egesdal, Alisa Ermolaev, Patrick Kenner, Milo Longenecker, Amelia Sasson, Alyson Reim, Felice Rose, Toni Renee Taylor and Fang Tseng.
Director is Lissa Moira. Book and additional lyrics are by Abra Bigham. Music and lyrics are by Charlie Sub. Concept and story are by Rich Brotman and Charlie Sub. Music supervisor is Paul Guzzone. Set design is by Mark Marcante. Set decoration and props are by Litza Colon. Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff. Choreography is by Sage Buchalter. Musical director is Jonathan Fox Powers. Costume design is by Billy Little. Assistant Director/Production Stage Manager is Charles C. Casano. Virtual Scenery is by Carlos Almonte of MotionBlur. Video Production and Projection are by Andrew Levin of StageTrip Industries. Art Design is by Taylor Cardamone and Andrea Perry of Total Boar. Audio Support is by Nick Graci of Northstream Live. Assistant Stage Manager is Samantha Green. Video loops and image research are by Tommy James. Additional marketing is by Scott Bayer.
The musicians of the Bliss Street Show Band are: Jonathan Fox Powers (Bandleader, Piano), Charlie Sub (Rhythm Guitar), Pat Branci (Bass), Richie Brotman (Keyboard), James Wormworth (Drums), Paul Jacobs (Guitar), Kevin Hunter (Lead Guitar) and Arno Hecht (Reeds).
Book writer Abra Bigham is an award-winning actor, singer, playwright, lyricist and poet, George London grantee, two time Heideman Finalist and veteran of America-in- Play, sometimes known as Georgia James. Her works include the film "White Lies" and the plays "Mary S." (a gothic chamber musical about Mary Shelley), "Stone Rabbit" (semi-finalist Beverly Hills Theater Guild/Julie Harris Award) and "The Last Battle of Olustee" (part of a triad that explores the aftershocks of the American Civil War in three different centuries). Other works have been staged at 78th Street Theater Lab, The Duplex, Westbeth, HOME for Contemporary Music and Art, HERE, Upstairs at O’Neill’s, Laurie Beechman Theater, Barrington Stage Company (MA), Moonwater Theater (TX), and National Musical Theater Network.
Director Lissa Moira is a playwright, screenwriter, director, artist and poet. Her last TNC production,"Who Murdered Love?" (February, 2023), which she directed and co-wrote with Richard West, was a Dadaist musical comedy. Front Row Center (Ed Kliszus) called it "a delight from start to finish." Steve DiLauro wrote in Village Sun, "Calling all commercial producers. This show has legs. Man, does it ever." Moira is two-time Jerome Foundation grantee and an OOBR Award-winning actress. She directed and was dramaturg of "Siren's Heart, Norma Jean and Marilyn in Purgatory" by Walt Stepp, which enjoyed a seven-week run at TNC in 2011 and then played 14 months Off-Broadway at the Actors Temple starring Louisa Bradshaw. The following year, she directed "Skybox," also by Walt Stepp, at TNC. Richmond Shepard (lively-arts.com) described Moira's "The Seduction of Time” (TNC, 2014) as "a fascinating mixture of text, music, song and dance exploring a personification of the mythic relationship between nature and time as they mate.” Her direction of "Cocaine Dreams" at the Kraine was described by the NY Post (Chip Deffaa) as "inspired."
Jonathan Fox Powers (Musical Director/Arranger) studied conducting with Juan Francisco La Manna at SUNY Oswego before moving to NYC, where he has enjoyed a multi-faceted musical career in the areas of piano, voice, acting, accompanying, and musical direction. Previous music directing credits include "Rappacini’s Daughter," "Out the Window," "Speakeasy" and "In Questionable Taste." He has performed extensively onstage at TNC, creating the roles of Mr. Darcy in a musical adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Blifil in Tom Jones, Smike in Nicholas Nickleby, and Johnny in Time It Is: To Music. He has performed roles with several NYC opera companies.
Sage Buchalter (choreographer) is a multi-hyphenate performing artist from St. John in the US Virgin Islands. She has worked with director Lissa Moira on two other projects at TNC: as Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain for "Who Murdered Love" and as Featured Ensemble in "Nicholas Nickleby." (www.SageBuchalter.com)
Paul Guzzone (Music Supervisor) is a performing songwriter and producer whose work ranges across pop, folk, rock and theater. He is best known as the long-time bass player and vocalist in The Bacon Brothers band, which features actor Kevin Bacon and composer Michael Bacon.
Rich Brotman (creative conceptualizer and theatrical coordinator) is a video and music editor, post-production specialist, documentary filmmaker, archivist and musician serving a variety of production companies, corporate accounts and not-for-profit foundations. He plays keyboards in the Bliss Street Show Band and a half-dozen Grateful Dead Tribute Bands and various original music recording projects that may live forever on YouTube.
Charlie Sub (concept and story), like a lot of young people coming of age in the early 70’s, was into music and playing in rock bands. While in high school, he helped out in the family business (The Coventry, a rock club in Queens), scraping the gum off the dance floor and getting his own band together. After a year of college, he relocated to Los Angeles. Creatively stymied in his music career, he worked in residential house renovation, flipping houses before it became trendy. Upon returning to the East Coast, he continued in real estate (retail residential commercial ownership and sales), developing sustainable housing near Harrisburg PA and summer camps for autistic children and young adults in MA, and gigging with his band, Charlie Sub & Sound Dogs. More recently he became a night life influencer, opening a 70’s-themed bar and restaurant, Ethyl’s, on the Upper East Side (2016) and opening Ethyl’s Williamsburg in Brooklyn (2021).
Abra Bigham (Book) writes, "When I found out I was going to have something of mine onstage here, I was over the moon. Crystal and TNC have lifted up so many unique and often risky voices. I’m honored, humbled and thrilled to be working at this iconic place that is known as a crucible for breakthrough theater. " Jonathan Fox Powers (Musical Director/Arranger) adds, "TNC is a very special venue which affords unique opportunities for artists and amazing variety for its diverse and savvy audiences. I've enjoyed singing, acting, and playing here immensely over the last decade. I also absolutely love bringing out-of-towners to shows here for a true New York experience they never forget!" Rich Brotman writes, "I am forever grateful to Theater for the New City for their receptiveness to our unsolicited original idea and taking the creative risk of shepherding this show to the stage."
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Critics are invited on or after April 29 (opening date).