Curtain Rises on NoHo Arts Center with Three Week Festival
By: Ellis Nassour
New York’s newest cultural initiative and arts complex in 35 years, the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture at 18 Bleecker Street, between Elizabeth and Mott Streets, will launch with a three-week festival, September 14 through October 4.
After a top-to-bottom renovation of what was a parish school by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, it’s a state-of-the-art complex boasting a 274-seat proscenium theatre equipped with five-camera HD livestream capability, a multi-track recording studio with 32 inputs, an 80-seat black box theatre, four rehearsal studios, and art gallery. In addition, there’ll be panels to discuss hot-button issues with celebrity guests.
It’s named in honor of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a native of Illinois. As Bishop Sheen he began on radio but segued to network TV where in the 50s and 60s he became a media star with his often controversial Life is Worth Living, where he out-rated Mr. Television, Milton Berle. With warmth, wisdom, humor, and often surprising bluntness, he was a master communicator who became one of the U.S.’ most respected religious leaders. He died in 1979.
The Sheen Center’s executive director William Spencer Reilly says, "This is a great addition to NoHo’s growing artistic community. It will be a home for dynamic programming in art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, and discourse.
"Our opening slate," he continues, "offers a signature mix of civil discourse on important issues, with fast rising talent in the visual and performing arts."
The Center’s goal is "to showcase works that affirm the highest values of the human spirit" through the performing and visual arts, symposia, lectures and exhibits.
"The Sheen Center and its mission is unique and without parallel in any diocese in the nation," says Cardinal Timothy Dolan. "Its programming will foster thought and dialogue while challenging and uplifting visitors intellectually, artistically and spiritually."
The inaugural programming includes: The NY premiere of Captive (Paramount Pictures); and a sneak peek of episodes of the TV Land series The Jim Gaffigan Show.
Captive screens September 14 at 6 P.M. The inspirational film, based on a true story, "explores themes of redemption, forgiveness, and finding purpose in life to face crossroads where despair and death intersect with hope."
It stars Kate Mara (Netflix’s House of Cards) as a recovering addict held hostage by an escaped convict played by Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Oscar-nominated Selma). The film opens September 18.
An Evening with Jeannie and Jim Gaffigan, September 15 at 7 P.M., an intimate family-friendly conversation with the comedian and his wife. There’ll be clips and a behind-the scenes look at Gaffigan’s TV series.
September 21, 7 P.M. — Step into the Light, a showcase of rising talent on Broadway directed by Ted Sperling (music director, LCT’s The King and I, South Pacific), featuring Aaron Lazar, Alysha Umphress (On The Town), and Analisa Leaming (The King and I).
September 27, 2 P.M. – Amore Opera: The Stars Align featuring acclaimed Met Opera stars Aprile Millo and Francesco Casanova, and rising European star Nicholas Tamagna with 15-piece orchestra.
Tickets are priced $19.50-$35 and $39.50 and available for purchase at www.sheencenter.org/events. Follow Sheen Center programming (dates, times) on the website and FB.
To ensure Sheen Center programming is accessible, the first 100 tickets for each event will be priced at $10.
The Festival will have seven free events, three live-streamed on the site.
The free events are: September 16, 6 P.M. — Pope Francis Comes to America: Thoughts on the Papal Visit; September 19, 8 P.M. — Audrey Assad and Vince Scheuerman in Concert, the Nashville-based Christian music artist and songwriter and vocalist guitarist and co-founder of band Army of Me; September 20, 10 A.M. – Bubble [Beatles tribute band] Do Beatles: All You Need Is Love; and September 26, 8 P.M. – concert pianist Elaine Kwon and friends in Savor Your Senses: An Evening of Music and Chocolate.
September 14 – 29 from 9 A.M.- 6 P.M., the free event Art Walk will featuring contemporary and sacred works, such as historic icons from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Christian Seminary in Crestwood, NY.
Though free, because of limited seating, reservations are required. Visit website.
September 18, from 6 – 11, there’ll be a reception, self-guided tour of the Center, and Art Walk: Seven Visual Artists in Five Spaces. Food from NY chefs Sara Bojarski, Danny Newberg, Rose McAdoo, and Eli and Max Sussman and beverages, provided by Pilot Kombucha, Brooklyn Brewery, NY Vintners and GuS Soda will be available for a nominal charge.