By Scott Stiffler
After enjoying a successful year-long run in Paris, the romantic comedy “Encounters” has made its way to our shores. They haven’t managed to learn the language, though, so this production is in French with English subtitles. That’s OK, though, because everything sounds good when it’s spoken in the language of love. In playwright Constance Fichet’s world, starcrossed folks keep bumping into each other in the streets of Paris. Four vivid sketches see strangers becoming lovers — but not without the requisite struggles, misunderstandings and absurd capers. A cast of four francophone actors from France, Switzerland, Quebec and the United States will make you believe in love. From June 23rd to July 4th at Center Stage NY (48 W. 21st St., btw. Fifth and Sixth Ave.). For tickets, visit www.smarttix.com.
MAKE MUSIC HUDSON SQUARE
Explore the great outdoors (of Manhattan) on the first day of summer, when you attend “Make Music Hudson Square.” This daylong event is full of Hip Hop, pop, reggae and jazz performances happening throughout the Hudson Square district. It’s all part of the Make Music New York festival, and it’s all good. The likely highlights include a New Orleans-style Second Line Jazz Parade and a program called “Bridging the Gap — from Haiti to France.” It happens Mon., June 21st, with the first event starting at 9 a.m. and the last one beginning at 10 p.m. For details, visit www.hudsonsquarebid.org and/or check out the websites of each co-sponsor (The Jazz Gallery, SOB’s, The Greene Space at WNYC/WQXR and City Winery).
In “Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire,” author Robert Perkinson charts the history of racism and criminal punishment in America — from slavery to today’s prison-industrial complex. He’s sure to point out the shameful statistic that the land of the free imprisons its citizens at a higher rate than any other nation. Thurs., June 24th, 7 p.m. at Revolution Books (146 W. 26th St., near Seventh Ave.). For information, call 212-691-3345 or visit www.revolutionbooks.org. The event is free — but if you’re moved to do so, make a donation. The bookstore is experiencing tough times. It seems revolution, like the rent, don’t come cheap.
Live! At the Tenement
Any time you visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, you’re immersing yourself in history and taking a trip back in time. For this particular experience, however, they’ve ramped up that dynamic considerably. “Live! At the Tenement” is an interactive 60-minute tour during which you’ll see how families made a home in this historic tenement house. Along the way, you’ll discover how working-class apartments differ from what you might imagine and learn how culture and community affected how people lived. Thursdays, June 24th through July 29th, starting at 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. — at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (108 Orchard St. at Delancey). Tickets are $20 ($15 for children, students, seniors). To make reservations or get more info., call 212-982-8420 or visit www.tenement.org/tours.
Art in Odd Places — that annual NYC public performance festival that’s as odd as it is artful — presents “Sideshow.” This carnival-themed event takes over the three floors of 14th Street’s TheaterLab. Why? To entertain you, yes — but it’s also a fundraiser whose proceeds will support their flagship October event. Like any good theater/carnival/reality TV show, the audience gets their jollies from gawking at a collection of eccentrics who do their little monkey dance for your amusement. The bill of talented but troubled souls includes indie pop band Dinosaur Feathers, renowned Turkish musician Egemen Sanli & Friends, and the notorious High Line Park Renegade Cabaret. Tues., June 22nd, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at TheaterLab (137 W 14th St., btw. Sixth and Seventh Ave.). $5 gets you in the door. That’s a mighty cheap ticket as fundraisers go, so they probably won’t say no if you insist on donating more. For info., visit www.artinoddplaces.org.