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The first Shakespeare performance, recorded by Edwin Booth

The plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, as the finest examples of the English written word, were also the first recorded sounds ever made.  The first recording ever made at Alexander Graham Bell‘s Volta Laboratory in Washington DC in 1881 was that of Bell’s very own voice reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Here’s another recording of Bell’s… Read More

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An ode to the early Bronx film industry

In 1910, D.W. Griffith made one of first films ever produced in Hollywood, CA, appropriately called In Old California. Before then, film production companies were scattered throughout the United States, with two of the most successful based here in New York City. The American Vitagraph Company, originally located at the Morse Building on 140 Nassau… Read More

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Joseph Papp vs. Robert Moses: The saga of Shakespeare in the Park

PODCAST The fascinating story of the Public Theater and Joseph Papp’s efforts to bring Shakespeare to the people. (Episode #85) What started in a tiny East Village basement grew to become one of New York’s most enduring summer traditions, Shakespeare in the Park, featuring world class actors performing the greatest dramas of the age. But… Read More

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Beyond Hamilton: A flurry of new stage shows take on Robert Moses, Black Crook, Wild Party and more

A string of New York City history related shows is hitting the stage this summer and fall, bringing interesting new interpretations to well-known historical events or revitalizing forgotten old shows in curious ways.  I’ve had so many recommended to me in the past couple weeks that I thought I’d share the list for those of you… Read More

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Mr. Wonderful: A 90th birthday tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.

Frank Sinatra‘s 100th birthday is December 12 but you probably didn’t know that his fellow Rat Pack cool cat Sammy Davis Jr. was also born on the second week of December, 90 years ago today in Harlem.     Davis was born on December 8, 1925, at Harlem Hospital on Lenox Avenue and 135th Street and… Read More

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Stage Magic: Oh-What-A-Beautiful History of the St. James Theatre

On Sunday The Bowery Boys join up with The Ensemblist to present a special cabaret event at 54 Below — a tribute to the great St. James Theatre! Perhaps some of you may be asking — why do a live show about a individual theater? The St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street) was prominently… Read More

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Podcast: Florenz Ziegfeld and the Ziegfeld Follies

PODCAST Cue the dancing girls, lower the props, raise the curtain 00” we’re taking on Broadway’s most famous producer, Florenz Ziegfeld! We give you a brief overview of the first days of Broadway, then sweep into Ziegfeld’s life from his early successes (both professional and personal) to his famous Follies. And find out how the… Read More

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The Bowery Boys — Live on Broadway! (well, for one night anyway)

Many of you have asked if we were ever going to do a live event in the near future. Finally you can see us live this September for one night only AND on Broadway! The Bowery Boys are pairing up with The Ensemblist podcast (hosted by wonderful Mo Brady and Nikka Graff Lanzarone) to present a one… Read More

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Fantasy’s weirdest writer brings ‘Tomorrowland’ to New York City

The new Disney film Tomorrowland which opens tomorrow will feature scenes set at the 1964-65 World’s Fair, one of the most popular historical destinations for blockbuster films in recent years.  But this is only the latest show called Tomorrowland to present a flashy, futuristic vision of America. The first actually arrived in New York City in 1905, courtesy one of… Read More

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Diamond Girl: How Mae West Brought ‘Sex’ and Scandal to Broadway

PODCAST Mae West (star of I’m No Angel and She Done Him Wrong) would come to revolutionize the idea of American sexuality, challenging and lampooning ideas of femininity while wielding a suggestive and vicious wit. But before she was America’s diamond girl, she was the pride of Brooklyn! In this podcast, we bring you the origin… Read More

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My debut on the Travel Channel, chatting about the Astor Place Riot

This past week I made my debut on the Travel Channel as a guest on Mysteries At The Museum hosted by Don Wildman.   The show explores history via actual objects is various museums throughout the United States.  The subject this time around was the Astor Place Riot.  The object in focus: A copy of Macbeth… Read More

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Happy 100th birthday Billie Holiday! Five ways to celebrate a century of music

                The great Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago today. This requires spending some of your day listening to a greatest hits album, I hope. But here are five other ways you can celebrate this icon’s life this week: 1) Watch Diana Ross in Lady Sings The… Read More

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Billie Holiday’s New York: Here’s to Swing Street, Harlem’s 133rd Street and other landmarks of jazz

PODCAST Grab your fedora and take a trip with the Bowery Boys into the heart of New York City’s jazz scene — late nights, smoky bars, neon signs — through the eyes of one of the greatest American vocalists who ever lived here — Billie Holiday. Eleanora Fagan walked out of Pennsylvania Station in 1929… Read More

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Maude Adams: Fashion icon and America’s first Peter Pan

Tonight NBC’s unveils its live theatrical experiment Peter Pan with Girls star Alison Williams in the cross-dressing role of the boy who never grows up. We can all have our debates about who’s been the greatest stage Peter Pan in history.  Most will say Mary Martin, a sizable minority will claim Sandy Duncan, and a… Read More

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Rudolph Valentino, the seductive, tragic idol of the Jazz Age

  PODCAST  Rudolph Valentino was an star from the early years of Hollywood, but his elegant, randy years in New York City should not be forgotten.  They helped make him a premier dancer and a glamorous actor. And on August 23, 1926, this is where the silent film icon died.   Valentino arrived in Ellis Island in 1913, one of… Read More