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Public Theater Celebrates Revitalization of Astor Place with Free Block Party and Open House, 10/13

Public Theater Celebrates Revitalization of Astor Place with Free Block Party and Open House, 10/13

The Public Theater's $40 million revitalization of its downtown home at Astor Place will be unveiled October 4, 2012 and celebrated through a series of events designed to engage the entire New York community and marking a rededication to its founding principles. The eight weeks of community events will be anchored by a free block party and open house on Saturday, October 13, 12pm-5pm, during which Lafayette Street between Astor Place and East 4th Street will be partially closed to traffic and The Public's historic building will be open to all. A physical expression of The company's core mission of sparking dialogues, fostering artistic development and experimentation, and increasing public accessibility, the revitalization project opens up the landmark building to the street and community, and transforms the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences.

The block party will take place rain or shine and will include musical performances from popular Joe's Pub artists; a sneak peak at some new Public Theater musicals; and an array of New York City's favorite food trucks. Andrew Carmellini with Michael Oliver, his chef for The Public, will join the food fest with selections from their eclectic, New York-inspired menu like Kielbasa Sandwiches on a Soft Pretzel Roll with Whole Grain Mustard and Sauerkraut, and free Pizza Popcorn, which will be served inside The Public Theater's renovated building.

"The Public is open, and we're inviting everyone in the city to come take a look," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "Joe Papp believed that the theater belonged to everyone, and this renovation of our home building is designed to create a lively, welcoming center for people to meet, gather, and celebrate."

Music performances will be presented outdoors during the family-friendly block party and open house. The lineup includes sneak peeks from The Public's upcoming New York premiere of Giant by Sybille Pearson and Michael John LaChiusa; the world premiere musical Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim; the Public Lab production of Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron; as well as last season's Public Lab hit The Total Bent by Stew and Heidi Rodewald; Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess, the jazz and blues band specializing in American music reminiscent of The Ziegfeld Follies; Sasha Allen of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival HAIR; the revered American five-string banjo player Tony Trischka; and M.A.K.U. SoundSystem, an eight-member band from Colombia which takes its inspiration from traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms; among others.

A variety of New York's best-loved food trucks will be on hand, including Go Burger, Korilla BBQ, Rickshaw Dumplings, The Treats Truck, Valducci's Pizza, and others (subject to change). Carmellini and Oliver, new to the Joe's Pub Partners with the rededication, will join the brigade of food trucks street-side with selections from their eclectic, New York-inspired menu like Kielbasa Sandwiches on a Soft Pretzel Roll with Whole Grain Mustard and Sauerkraut and free Pizza Popcorn served inside The Public Theater's renovated building. The Public's new lounge, The Library at The Public, along with the bars at Joe's Pub and in the revitalized lobby, will be open serving their new selection of specialty cocktails, wine, and draft beer.

The Public's eight weeks of events, many of which are free, will also include a rededication ceremony on October 4; an afternoon discussion with award-winning Public Theater graphic designer Paula Scher; an exploration of the creative process behind the multi-media sculpture Shakespeare Machine with Ben Rubin; a series of Movie Nights celebrating The Public's legacy; and a series of Public Forum "Duets"-The company's celebrated series of lectures, debates, and discussions pairing an artist who has been important to the life of The Public and a leading voice from outside the world of theater. The full schedule is at www.publictheater.org.

The unveiling and rededication of The Public Theater at Astor Place caps off a milestone year for The company that has included the 50th anniversary of its free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater and the expansion of its Mobile Unit, which brings Shakespeare to underserved audiences at prisons, homeless shelters, centers for the elderly and other community venues throughout the five boroughs.

The Public's 2012-2013 season at its Astor Place home will begin this fall, starting with the world premiere of Colman Domingo's Wild With Happy beginning on October 9; the new musical Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron on October 17; the new musical Giant by Sybille Pearson and Michael John LaChiusa on October 26; Richard Nelson's Sorry on October 30; and the world premiere of Nathan Englander's The Twenty-Seventh Man on November 7. More information on all rededication events and the downtown season may be found at www.publictheater.org.

The revitalization of The Public Theater's downtown home at Astor Place will physically manifest The company's core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences by dramatically opening up its landmark building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. Designed by Ennead Architects and constructed by Westerman Construction, the project encompasses enhancements to the building's interior and exterior while preserving the historic structure. Key elements of the design include infrastructure updates to the 158-year old building, as well as construction of new exterior entry stair and glass canopy; installation of ramps for improved accessibility; an expanded and refurbished lobby; the addition of a mezzanine level with a new lounge, designed by the Rockwell Group; expansion and remodeling of restroom facilities; and comprehensive exterior restoration, ensuring stability of the landmark façade.

Joe Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater's precursor, produced Shakespeare free of charge at various venues-including churches, parks, and The company's mobile theater unit-beginning in 1954. The Delacorte Theater, The company's first permanent home, opened in 1962 with Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, directed by Joe Papp and Gladys Vaughan. On June 18 of 2012, The Public celebrated 50 years of its free Shakespeare in the Park performances at the Delacorte. During this time, more than five million audience members have experienced performances of Shakespeare, as well as other classical works and musicals, for free at the theater.

The Public's downtown home at Astor Place is a cultural anchor of New York's Lower East Side neighborhood and has been since The company's first performance in the building in 1967. The first free public reference library in the United States, the Astor Library was commissioned by John Jacob Astor shortly before his passing in 1848 and opened six years later. Owned by the City of New York and made up of three independent buildings constructed over a 30-year period, the building operated as a free public library until it was consolidated into the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in the early 20th century. Prior to its use by The Public Theater, the building was acquired by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), was remodeled and served as a receiving station, aid center, dormitory and synagogue for newly arrived immigrants.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today The company engages audiences in a variety of venues-including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe's Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to its beloved, free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City's five boroughs. The Public's wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of The company's dedication to making theater accessible to all, new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, and a range of artist and audience development initiatives including its Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues explored in Public productions. The Public Theater is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

About Giant
Based on the classic novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna Ferber, Giant is a new American musical that spans generations in an epic chronicle of the state that's like no place else on earth: Texas. Amid a turbulent culture of greed, bigotry and money, a powerful cattleman, his new East Coast bride, their family and friends – not to mention their enemies – embrace and confront the joys and sorrows that loom as large as the state they call home. With a book by Sybille Pearson (the Tony-nominated author of Baby), music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa (the five-time Tony-nominated composer of The Wild Party and Hello Again) and direction by Michael Greif (the three-time Tony-nominated director of Rent and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide…), Giant will come to life in an appropriately huge production with a company of 22 actors and a 17-piece orchestra. Giant is a co-production with Dallas Theater Center and continues The Public's tradition of partnering with non-profit theaters around the country.

About Fun Home
From Jeanine Tesori, four-time Tony Award-nominated composer of Caroline, or Change; Shrek the Musical; and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Lisa Kron, Tony-nominated author of Well and 2.5 Minute Ride, comes an original new musical about fathers, daughters, cartoons, caskets, and love. Based on Alison Bechdel's acclaimed graphic novel and set in the family business, Bechdel Funeral Home, Fun Home charts Alison's quest to come to terms with her father's life and death by painstakingly reconstructing their shared but unspoken bond. Surprising, funny, and ultimately deeply moving, Fun Home is an exciting world-premiere Public Lab musical from some of New York's brightest theatrical talents.

About Here Lies Love
Within a throbbing dance club environment, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim deconstruct the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos and her meteoric rise and subsequent descent into infamy. This wholly immersive spectacle combines disco beats, adrenaline-fueled choreography, and a remarkable 360-degree scenic and video environment – to go beyond Imelda's near-mythic obsession with shoes and explore true questions of power and responsibility.

About The Total Bent
Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning Passing Strange, teamed up last season with director Joanna Settle for the new musical, The Total Bent, about a black gospel prodigy from down South and a white music producer from South London who meet in a recording studio just south of the Twilight Zone, as they both desperately seek their own versions of transcendence, salvation, and a hit record. Divine inspiration, fantastical visions, and one legendary music-producer father framed this electrifying Public Lab musical about the complicated space between the sacred and the profane.

About Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess
Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess is a New York City based ensemble specializing in American music from the late 1800s-1930s, primarily jazz and blues reminiscent of The Ziegfeld Follies, The Great American Song Book, and early Medicine Shows. The group features Jessy Carolina on vocals and washboard; Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton on piano, banjo, and vocals; Jordan Hyde on guitar; Jay Sanford on bass; Mario J. Maggio on clarinet and saxophone; and Satoru Ohashi on trumpet and trombone. www.jessycarolinahotmess.com

About Sasha Allen
Respected by many as one of the great voices of her generation, Sasha Allen is an American singer and actress with a career in the entertainment industry that spans over 10 years. Allen has made a career as a backing vocalist for the music industry's biggest stars, including Grammy Award winners Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Babyface, Usher, John Legend, and pop star Leona Lewis. Sasha played "Dionne" in the Tony Award-winning revival of the hit Broadway revival HAIR: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical on Broadway and continued with the original American cast to the Gielgud Theatre on the West End in London.

About Tony Trischka
Tony Trischka is perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 35 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. He was not only considered among the very best pickers, he was also one of the instrument's top teachers, and created numerous instructional books, teaching video tapes and cassettes. With his fearless musical curiosity as the guiding force, Tony Trischka's latest critically acclaimed release, Territory, roams widely through the banjo's creative terrain. Nine selections partner Tony with fellow banjoists Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Bill Evans, Bill Keith, Bruce Molsky, and 12 all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions, tapping the creative potential of America's signature musical instrument. www.tonytrischka.com

About M.A.K.U. SoundSystem
Comprised of eight members, hailing mostly from Colombia, M.A.K.U. SoundSystem makes big music that begins in traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms and ends somewhere in the punk-jazz stratosphere. Clarinet, trombone, sax, guitarra, and Latin percussion supplement a rambunctious, driving rock core, creating a sound familiar enough to be danceable but always surprising. www.makusoundsystem.com

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