City Pulse

By Meredith Clinton Bell

Ahh, the magnificence that is South Street Seaport: cobblestone walkways and restaurants with more than half a sidewalk of outdoor seating…it’s luxurious.

Unlike any other spot at the port: the Algonquin Seaport Theater. Nestled on the second floor of the Seaport mall at Pier 17, waaay in the east corner, sits an unassuming former shoe store turned black box theater in waiting. The real treat: floor to ceiling windows with gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“It’s breathtaking,” said Tony Sportiello, Artistic Director at the theater, of the nighttime views in particular.

By 2012 it’s slated to be a full, state of the art Off-Broadway theater. But in April, Algonquin Seaport Theater opened its doors for business, hoping to add some flavor to your summer nights.

“Right now we are just beginning our season, starting with one act plays which are set against the backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Sportiello. “We have done cabaret, jazz, rock, acoustic and bluegrass, as well as readings and small shows.”

Jazz Thursdays
On Thursday, June 23, the theater will present Jazz Thursdays with Sol Oso Ensemble performing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. as the theater transforms from day to night. I was lucky enough to catch their performance last month, and the music coupled with the scenery is magical – a must-see.

“Sol Oso is a tremendous jazz ensemble which has a core following. Their shows are electric,” Sportiello said. “And this week they have Tracy Newirth, a brilliant vocalist who will do about five or six standards.”

Catching up with the trombone player, Sebastian Isler, he elaborated on what’s it’s like to play in such a unique venue:

an incredible place to play music that is not completely premeditated,” said Isler. “The music allows us and the audience to journey from daylight to nighttime while watching the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the skyline undergo this transformative process.”

And be prepared for a laidback cabaret-style affair. Wine and beer will be served, and you’re encouraged to move where the music takes you.

“There is a relaxed atmosphere in which people can walk around or dance if they feel it, or simply sit and watch the world and all the shades of light transition while the music plays,” said Isler.

The Algonquin Seaport Theater provides the perfect backdrop for any performance, period. Whether you visit during the day, at night or at twilight, it’s a unique experience that seems to say this theater won’t be a hidden gem long.

Algonquin Seaport Theater
For more information on the Algonquin Seaport Theater, directions, and a full calendar of upcoming events, go to http://www.algonquinseaporttheater.org.

Jazz Thursdays: Sol Oso Ensemble
Thursday, June 23
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
$15 ($10 for students)
Wine & Beer Available for Purchase
Sol Oso consists of Sebastian Isler: trombone; Jason Candler: alto sax; Martin Wallace: piano; Dimitri Moderbacher; bass; and Shane Kerwin: drums; and special guest vocalist: Tracy Newirth. Find more information on Sol Oso on Facebook or at http://www.solosoensemble.com.

Originally published June 2011
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