the traveler's resource guide to festivals & films
a site
part of Insider Media llc.

Connect with us:

Film and the Arts

Professional Bull Riders Bring “the Toughest Sport on Dirt” to MSqG


Want to ring in the New Year with a buck instead of a bang? Then the place to be is with the international Professional Bull Riders (PBR) January 5 – 7 at MSqG -- but, unless you are brave and wear chaps, the safest bet are seats on the sidelines. In addition to the winter chill, NYC will be getting a dust-up of brawn and bravado for three intense, action-packed performances,  as champions and want-to-be-champions mount and try to stay on monster bulls for a mere eight seconds. Sounds easy, you say! Not on your life!

The Monster Energy Buck Off lightweight vs. heavyweight edge-of-your-seat action is at 7:45 P.M. Friday, 7:45 P.M Saturday, and the New York finals at 1:45 P.M. Sunday.

The world’s Top 35 bull riders – including World Champion Cooper Davis, two-time champ J.B. Mauney, 2016 runner up Kaique Pacheco, and the youngest PBR World Champion and winner of the 2017 NYC Buck Off, five-foot-five, 130-pound cowboy, 20-year-old Jess Lockwood – battle foes 10 times their weight with only a rope wrapped around one hand.

PBRJBMauneyRookie Lockwood has had top-prize dollars and horrendous setbacks – but back he comes. In 2016, he soared to world No.1, holding that rank six weeks until suffering serious injuries, including broken ribs and being knocked unconscious in September [by world champion bull SweetPro’s Bruiser].      
Each day, the riders face one bull each. Following the final round, 15 riders with the highest cumulative scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

Going into MSqG at 499 rides, Mauney will be only the third PBR rider in 25 years to reach 500 qualified rides – if – and there’s always an “if” when dealing with raging mad 2,000 “beasts” – he completes a ride. The three days are a punishing competition in which one in 15 rides ends in injury.
This is a brutal sport where lives can change in an instant. Mauney has has every imaginable injury, including shattered eye socket, bruised kidney and spleen, lacerated liver, and muscle, tendons, and ligaments ripped clear off  bones [which required the rebuilding of a shoulder].
He and Lockwood live by the motto: “If you can’t take the pain, get out of the game.”

PBRJLockwoodIn each city, riders strive to win their share of the $140,000 event purse. The PBR has paid out more than $150-million, with 27 riders earning more than $1 million. In New York, more than $1.2-million has been awarded in the last decade.
The PBR, “America’s fastest growing sport” (according to Forbes), features the Durabull Fighters [similar to daredevil rodeo clowns], who jump into action to deflect the bulls as soon as riders are bucked off. It goes on until only one man’s left standing.
This is the 12th consecutive year in NYC for what’s called “the toughest sport on dirt.” The 18-state tour culminates with Las Vegas finals in October when the 2018 champion — the bull rider amassing the most season points, receives the World Championship belt buckle, gigantic trophy, and $1-million purse.

The PBR is a massive undertaking, traveling in 18-wheel rigs which contain the bulls’ luxury accommodations, the steel set, stalls, and, get this, 750 tons of dirt spread 8 inches deep. The Garden event opens a fierce 26-stop tour hitting Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis, St. Louis, and Sacramento.
The series, produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winning David Neal Productions, is a weekly high-rated TV series on CBS, CBS Sports, and networks worldwide.

For more information, go to

"Hamilton" Is Set to Take London’s West End by Storm

Production photos are by Matthew Murphy

After a problem-plagued delay, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning phenomenon Hamilton, opens December 21 on London’s West End at the historic Victoria Palace Theatre (Victoria Street, London SW1E 5EA) in Westminster in the shadow of the newly-renovated Victoria Station. Lead producer is Broadway’s Tony-winning Jeffrey Seller, with original director Thomas Kail helming.

The musical has been in previews since December 6, a slight rescheduling because of ongoing exterior construction. Performances have been met with pandemonium response from audiences. The musical is shaping up to be a bloody triumph, no doubt with a Royal Command Performance in its future.

HamiltonThe excitement of a London Hamilton has been building since the opening on Broadway in August, 2015.  The box office is booking through June 2018. When you might expect the new block of tickets to be a bit more expensive.
Starring in the acclaimed musical is Jamael Westman as Hamilton [with Ash Hunter in the role at certain performances]. Co-starring are Allado (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds), Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Hamilton), Tarinn Callender (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison), Michael Jibson (King George), Rachel John (Angelica Schuyler), Jason Pennycooke (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Cleve September (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton), Giles Terera (Aaron Burr), and Obioma Ugoala (George Washington).  Featured is an ensemble of 19.

HamiltonLinManuel and SirCameronAndy Blankenbuehler returns to choreograph. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Alex Lacamoire. The musical is based on Alexander Hamilton by history biographer Ron Chernow.

 Previews were delayed two weeks, 16 performances, because of construction delays – including roof reconstruction, concerns over an ancient underground tunnel the theatre is built over, and city licenses and ordiances. 

Some 16,000 ticket holders were affected. Seller and Sir Cameron issued apologies for the inconvenience, which did little to assuage anger and disappointment and, in some cases, money down the drain for those with discounted preview tickets, and the lot flying in to be at the first performance and the announced opening. Not to mention, some who paid £2,800 [over $3,700] or more on the ticket resale market in spite of some safeguards the producers and Tickemaster put into place.

HamiltonSistersMMurphy“We are extremely sorry to disappoint patrons who we know expended time, effort and valuable resources to purchase tickets for our first performances,” said Seller. “But they will be given priority so that they can be reseated as early as possible.” Regarding compensation for out-of-pocket travel and hotel costs, a spokesman for Delfont Mackintosh promised that “patrons would be contacted by Ticketmaster to discuss specific circumstances.”

Miranda also expressed regrets, “I share the frustration of everyone who has to get re-seated. This was an unprecedented renovation of the Victoria Palace. I’m anxious to see it and get to know the British cast.” On a lighter note, he told the Telegraph, “I’m anxious to see how the comedic portrayal of King George III [the monarch who lost the American colonies] is received – especially since the theatre is in close by Buckingham Palace. He’s a favorite with every actor, every rapper. There’s something about the character that has him become an audience surrogate.” He added he didn’t think the fact that detailing another country’s history would be an impediment to enjoying the musical.

Lest anyone doesn’t know, Miranda’s musical with its score of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and traditional theatre, tells of America’s “Founding Father,” born out of wedlock in Nevis, in the West Indies. After the death of his mother and being abandoned by his father, he was sponsored to travel her for his education at King’s College [Columbia University]. When his study was interrupted by the British occupation, he joined a militia and was soon promoted captain. He came to the attention of Revolutionary War commander George Washington, to whom he became senior aide.

HamilttonKingGeorgeAfter the War, he shaped many of the foundations of the United States – including our Constitution and Treasury. He was often at odds with Jefferson and Burr. Ultimately, that latter conflict led to a duel in which Hamilton was mortally wounded.

 Hamilton captured 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
 The musical is still running strong at Broadway’s Richard Rogers, as well as in Chicago, and on tour.
The last show to play the Victoria Palace was Lee Hall and Elton John’s Billy Elliot (2005), which ran 11 years. The venue, part of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, has a capacity of 1,500. Last month, it turned 106. It was designed by renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham. Sir Cameron undertook an estimated £40-50-million [$50-60-million] top-to-bottom renovation and reconstruction. “I wanted it to be glamorous and contemporary,” he told media, “to be compatible with 21st-century production needs.”

The overhaul includes the restoration of the ornate marble lobby, murals, ornate plaster molding, boxes [with additional boxes, with private facilities], and the opulent Tudor Room; the “Lynne Promenade” [honoring famed Brit prima ballerina and Olivier and Tony-winning choreographer, and director Dame Gillian Lynne (Cats, Phantom of the Opera, The Roar of Greasepaint; the 2014 U.K. premiere of Jerry Herman’s Dear World].

HamlitonBurrThere’s plush news seating, a state-of-the-art sound system, and numerous additional loos [restrooms]. Backstage hasn’t been overlooked. There’s an artist’s green room for receptions and new dressing rooms with showers.

The producers [which include Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, the Public Theater and Sir Cameron] and Delfont Mackintosh are working to combat unauthorised profiteering of third party resellers and agencies. They have “pioneered” a paperless ticket system, powered by Ticketmaster. It appears to have had little effect. 

Official box office prices are £37.50, £57.50 and £89.50, with premium seating at £137.50 and £200. Performances are Monday – Saturday at 7:30 P.M. and Thursday and Saturday at 2:30 P.M.

For more information, visit, where there are details of the daily Hamilton West End £10 lottery via the official Hamilton app which can be downloaded from

Tribeca Virtual Arcade Takes You Inside the White House & Beyond the Stars

Zero Days

A far cry from the overbearingly overweight headsets and and unintentionally surrealist polygonal graphics of the 1990s, today’s virtual reality headsets have been attracting artists and game developers alike for the immersive worlds they create. Since 2012, the Tribeca Film Festival has been showcasing VR installations and now the Tribeca Virtual Arcade (November 10 - February 10) at Cinepolis Chelsea (260 W 23rd St, New York, NY) expands on that with interactive immersive experiences that take you to within the human spirit and beyond the stars.

The exhbit features several ticketed experiences:

  • If Not Love
    A tragic account of the consequences of hatred and intolerance, written and directed by Rose Troche—the renowned film, television and new media writer, director, and producer behind the groundbreaking films Go Fish and The Safety of Objects, and the cultural touchstone, The L Word.

  • Invasion!Asterioids
    Directed by Eric Darnell (Antz and Madagascar), this interactive and animated film follows menacing aliens with vastly superior technology who come to claim the Earth and destroy anyone in their way. Despite incredible odds, Earth's citizens rise up and defeat the evil aliens. Surprisingly, these Earthly citizens are not humans but a pair of the cutest, meekest and cuddliest creatures of our planet -- two fluffy white bunnies.

  • The People’s House
    The People’s House takes you on a historic visit to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House. Through the transportive power of VR, the Obamas take you on an intimate journey inside the West Wing, Executive and Private Residences, reflecting on their time there, and recounting the building’s profound history since its creation over two centuries ago. **Winner 2017 Emmy Award.

  • Zero Days
    Based on the Oscar short-listed Participant Media documentary Zero Days, Scatter's award-winning, immersive documentary Zero Days VR visualizes the story of Stuxnet in a new way: placing you inside the invisible world of computer viruses, experiencing the high stakes of cyber warfare at a human scale.

To learn more, go to:

Tribeca Virtual Arcade
November 10, 2017 - February 10, 2018

Cinepolis Chelsea
260 W 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

Frozen Tickets Go On Sale Monday for Disney's Stage Adaptation 


Though the St. James Theatre box office will not be open until November 13, single tickets for the much-anticipated stage adaptation of Disney's Frozen go on sale Monday. Performances begin at the renovated St. James on February 22, with opening night planned for mid-March 2018.

The St. James box office will open on November 13, but you can purchase single tickets beginning Monday at or by calling the Disney on Broadway hotline, (866) 870-2717. If you wish to purchase tickets for a group of 20 or more, go to or call (800) 439-9000.

Based on the 2013 film written by a trio of Oscar winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score, Tony, OscarEmmy, and Grammy-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Book of Mormon) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit). The stage book is written by Jennifer Lee (films Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph), who wrote the screenplay and co-directed the blockbuster animated film (with Chris Buck).  

Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song (the chart-topping “Let It Go,” sung, of course, by Tony winner Idina Menzel) and Best Animated Feature. It also received BAFTA’s Award for Best Animated Film.

The roles of Princess/Queen Elsa of Arendelle and Princess Anna will be played, respectively, by Caissie Levy (a former Elphaba in Wicked; Les Miz; Ghost; Hair) and singer/dancer Patti Murin (Lyistrata Jones, Xanadu).

Co-starring in the cast of 40, which will be one of the largest ever on Broadway, in equally-coveted principal roles are Jelani Alladin (he-man Kristoff), Greg Hildreth (lively snowman Olaf), John Riddle (Prince Hans), Andrew Pirozzi (reindeer Sven), and Lion King, Little Mermaid, and Cagney's tough-guy tap dancer extraordinaire Robert Creighton (the scheming Duke of Weselton). Audrey Bennett and Mattea Conforti will portray young Anna); Brooklyn Nelson and Ayla Schwartz, young Elsa.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow QueenFrozen tells the story of a fearless princess (Anna) who sets off on a journey alongside a rugged iceman, his loyal pet reindeer, and a naïve snowman to find her estranged sister (Elsa), now the Queen, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

The stage musical is told in two acts and, according to Disney "is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators."  

In fact, the stage production features more than twice as much music as the film.  

Tony-winning director Michael Grandage (Red) helms the production. Grandage is also a three-time Oliver-winning director. Tony winner Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie; revivals, How to Succeed… and Evita;
 choreographer, Disney’s Cinderella film; TV’s Peter Pan and Sound of Music Live) and multiple Tony and Olivier is choreographer. Two-time Tony  winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor; Chris Montan, executive music producer); and Brian Usifer, music director.

Frozen is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. The show will join Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King on Broadway.

Frozen's design team includes scenic and costume design by two-time Tony and 
Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram; lighting by six-time Tony winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin; Hello Dolly!; An American in Paris);  Jeremy Chernick (Aladdin, upcoming two-parter Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), special effects: four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski, sound; Tony winner Finn Ross, video; and Michael Curry, puppet design.
Frozen begins its pre-Broadway tryout next week [through October 1] at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. For information on the Denver engagement visit

According to Disney’s press office: “Frozen will utilize a series of Disney Theatrical production consumer-friendly programs, such as flexible exchanges and verified resale via Ticketmaster. To combat fraud, print-at-home tickets will be completely replaced by Ticketmaster's mobile device entry technology.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Upcoming Events

No Calendar Events Found or Calendar not set to Public.