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CLOSING MAY 20: THE BOWERY WARS, PART 2 | A story of blossoming love between a boy and a girl caught in the middle of a West Side turf war? That urban interpretation of “Romeo & Juliet” is so 1950s. It’s about time for a Downtown take on this oft-told tale that always seems to end with somebody ingesting poison, somebody getting stabby with a dagger and two gorgeous young corpses. But before that grim ending, there’s plenty of compelling words and deeds — and in this version, rock music composed by Michael Hickey and performed by a company of 25 teen actors and musicians. Writer and director Ryan Gilliam’s script takes the audience to multiple outdoor sites as they witness this blend of history and fiction set in 1903 (when the Lower East Side was the most densely populated place on the face of the earth). Against the backdrop of two rival gangs fighting for control of the lucrative Bowery entertainment district, a young Italian and a young Russian Jew fall in love. Bring a hanky.
Through Sun., May 20, Sat. & Sun., 3:15pm. All performances are outdoors. Act I is performed as a 45-minute walking tour, which starts at 120 E. 2nd St. and ends at 19 E. 3rd St. Act II, seated, takes place outdoors, at 19 E. 3rd St.). For tickets ($15, $10 for students/seniors), visit downtownart.org.
THE 17th ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS | What are they going to outlaw next, our right to put on a damn good show? Not on the Lower East Side’s watch, buddy. To that end, Theater for the New City’s 17th Annual LES Festival of the Arts has adopted the theme “Legalize Freedom: Art is Activism.” Inside TNC and throughout the surrounding great outdoors, there will be entertainment from over 100 performing arts organizations, local and international celebrities, independent artists, poets, playwrights, musicians, puppeteers, filmmakers and uncategorizable entertainers — many of whom have deep roots in the neighborhood. The packed bill includes: aerial dance troupe Suspend Cirque, Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham, comedy duo Epstein and Hassan and talkshow host Joe Franklin — plus excerpts of works from La MaMa E.T.C., Horse Trade Theater Company and The Rod Rodgers Dance Company.FREE. In and around Theater for the New City (155 1st Avenue, btw. E. 9th & 10th Sts.), throughout Memorial Day weekend: Fri., May 25, 6pm-1am. Sat., May 26, noon-1am (noon-5pm: Cultural Fair, outside on E. 10th St., btw. 1st & 2nd Aves. Then, 2pm-5pm: Performances for kids and by kids, inside Theater for the New City). The festival concludes Sun., May 27, 6pm-1am. For info and a full performance schedule, call 212-254-1109 or visit theaterforthenewcity.net.
BENEFIT FOR THE WASHINGTON SQUARE MUSIC FESTIVAL | Greet old friends and make new ones. Savor sweets and belly up to the open wine bar. Enjoy music by cellist Lutz Rath, soprano Lucia Hyunju Song, members of the West Village Chorale and the Deep Sahara Band. All things considered, that “to do” list is a pretty easy sell. Now consider the fact that by the time you cross all those things off, you’ll have helped the Washington Square Music Festival present its 54th season of free classical and jazz concerts (Tuesdays at 8pm; July 10, 17, 24 & 31, in St. Joseph’s Church and Washington Square Park). Not convinced quite yet? Well, consider the fact that you just might walk away with a door prize, such as a private Metropolitan Museum tour by art educator Robert Friedman, $50 bar tabs from Wicked Willy’s and dinner for two at North Square & Cornelia Street Café.
The benefit, which they’re calling “A Perfect Way to Spend A Sunday Afternoon,” happens May 20, from 3-6pm, at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.; on the south side of Bleecker, btw. Thompson & Sullivan Sts.). For tickets ($200, $150 or $75, with $50 being a special price for music-lovers under 40), call 212-255-4460 or visit nycharities.org/events (and look for “A Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon”). For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquaremusicfestival.com.
– by Scott Stiffler