Tag Archives: The Secret Theatre

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Urinetown: The Musical

Winner of three Tony awards and one of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. Performances start Thursday, January 10 and continue through Saturday, January 26 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Crane collapses in Long Island City, injuring seven

Seven workers suffered minor injuries when a crane collapsed at a Long Island City building site. Read more: Queens Courier

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings. Read more: Queens Courier

Seastreak Wall Street Ferry saw other problems before crash

The Seastreak Wall Street ferry that crashed in Lower Manhattan Wednesday has had a few minor incidents in recent years. Read more: CBS New York

Cheating teacher the answer man: probe

A Queens elementary- school teacher brazenly helped fourth-graders cheat on the state’s high-stakes English exams, even though there was a second proctor in the room, investigators found. Read more: New York Post

Breezy Point couple surprised with newly renovated home after it was destroyed by Sandy

An octogenarian Queens couple whose house was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy received a surprise gift on Wednesday — a brand new home. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Queens Native Will Likely Head Up Treasury Dept.

President Barack Obama is reportedly set to tap a native New Yorker to serve as the new head of the United States Treasury Department. Read more: NY1

NYC firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in Sandy aid

The New York City brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 terror attacks announced that it will “adopt” 19 schools in communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and will give each family in those schools $1,000 to spend as they see fit. Read more: AP

Queens’s Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 70. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low of 57. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Rent A White Guy: The Musical

A new multilingual musical tale about the life of foreigners living in China, Rent A White Guy: The Musical, makes its New York premiere at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City tonight. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York area cleans up after strong storms

Residents and municipalities across the New York viewing area are cleaning up after a September storm. Read more: ABC New York

With storm season looming, Broad Channel residents push city to move quickly on flood control plan

Broad Channel residents, facing the annual barrage of autumn storms and floods, say the city is dragging its feet on a plan to repair vulnerable streets. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Day care owners allegedly defrauded DOE

The owners of several day care centers in Queens are accused of defrauding the Department of Education out of more than $35,000. Read more: NY1

Body of missing scuba diver found

The body of a snorkeler who went missing last week was pulled from the water off Queens Tuesday morning, sources said. Read more: New York Daily News

F.B.I. criticizes officer’s role in a terror case

The undercover New York police detective at the heart of a case against a Queens man accused in a terror plot came under criticism from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his handling of an earlier terrorism inquiry, according to a legal document. Read more: New York Times

Romney refocuses as Obama decries ‘victim’ claim

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are moving the presidential campaign back to familiar ground, grappling over the proper role of government in a debate where clumsy, seemingly dismissive statements have made both men susceptible to caricature. Read more: AP

Prop master: Zoë Morsette’s creations bring magic to screen and stage


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Zoë Morsette’s studio is where the magic happens.

The prop goddess, who creates ice that won’t melt and feathery, oversized chicken costumes for “30 Rock” stars, houses the enchantment of the theatrical world inside her 21st Street space, where she creates props and costumes for Broadway productions and television shows.

On a damp, grey afternoon, Morsette sat at her work station, shaping plastic straight-razors crafted from melted hair combs with a handheld tool for “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the prequel to “Peter Pan.”

“They keep snapping,” she sighed, examining the instrument which had been redesigned after several of the shows’ actors repeatedly broke her original prototypes.

Overhead, a purple alien limb bobbed in the fan-fueled breeze, displayed like a prize-winning taxidermy marlin. She had made it, cost-free, for a science fiction production at The Secret Theatre. She was happy to help a local artistic organization.

“It was always magical for me when the house lights went down,” she said, reminiscing on a lifetime spent in show business.

A center-stage fixture during her youth, Morsette left her hometown of Cape Cod, Massachusetts to attend Skidmore College, where she studied dance and theatre. She moved to New York City immediately after graduation in 1973. While aggravated tendonitis in her foot prohibited her from dancing professionally, she remained active in the industry, working at the Colonnades Theatre — the downtown venue where big names like Jeff Goldblum and Rhea Perlman got their start. Morsette assisted in the costume department, learning to swatch fabric and assemble patterns. The company couldn’t afford to pay her, so instead of monetary compensation, they gave her free classes.

While working at the Colonnades, Morsette met her former husband, Cordell Morsette. The couple ventured west to North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Cordell’s hometown, where Morsette taught dance classes for a short time.

“It didn’t work out,” she said briefly.

When her marriage unraveled, Morsette returned to New York City. A friend, who worked in the costume department at Radio City Music Hall as a milliner for the Rockettes, offered her a job. Morsette fashioned headdresses and specialty outfits for the dance company — a job she loved.

She produced custom window displays for Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys and Bloomingdales, including a topiary Jack Russell terrier for a Coach display that she grew particularly fond of.

In the mid-80s, Morsette began designing for Broadway shows. For “Les Miserables,” she crafted 40 dummies to litter the stage during a battle scene, playing dead soldiers. She granted each fake soldier a name, most after workers in the costume shop. For “Shrek the Musical,” Morsette made the show’s character Donkey.

Morsette’s most well-known piece — an advertisement for the New York Care’s coat drive, depicting a shivering Statue of Liberty huddled in the snow — lines the walls of countless subway cars and billboards.

In 2008, Morsette began designing props and costumes for “Saturday Night Live.” Her first assignment — a barrel costume for Will Forte to don during an episode of “Weekend Update” about the stock market crash – fell into her lap when a member of the show’s crew needed a barrel and knew Morsette had crafted one previously. She made it in less than 24 hours.

Through “Saturday Night Live,” Morsette received assignments for “30 Rock,” the show that gained momentum from former SNL stars, including Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis.

“To see your stuff on stage and on screen is very rewarding,” Morsette said.

For the past 11 years, Morsette has designed one-of-a-kind teddy bears for an auction hosted by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Her bears, dressed in costumes from various musicals including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Camelot” have raised $43,000 to help actors, crew members and productions in need.

LIC Arts Open puts Queens artists on the map


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The creative colony of Long Island City blazed with inspirational energy during the second annual LIC Arts Open – a 10-day extravaganza in which local artists welcome the public into their studios. Festival-goers experienced the cutting edge in painting, sculpture, photography, theatre and ceramics, crafted by many of the city’s most forefront and promising artistic talents. Hundreds participated in more than 200 exhibitions and performances – demonstrating the masterful skill and breadth of mediums Long Island City artists bring to the creative world.

“I’m delighted with how the festival went,” said Richard Mazda, LIC Arts Open director and artistic director at The Secret Theatre. “It’s definitely a higher quality festival than last year.”

The event began several years ago as a two-day, open-studio event, mainly showcasing visual artists. Mazda sought to transform LIC Arts Open into a multi-studio event, larger and more widely encompassing than ever before.

“The event mushroomed in size,” said Mazda. “It was kind of like a hit record. I knew it would be successful.”

This year’s festival brought art unseen at previous gatherings to the foreground, marking the debut of performance pieces at the LIC Arts Open. Mazda also revealed that sculpture, a medium he believed was underrepresented at previous festivals, was more abundant during this year’s celebration.

“It’s hard to present more sculpture, especially the larger pieces,” said Mazda. “It’s hard to transport them and display them. Painting generally gets shown more in galleries. Sculpture is a less accessible form of art.”

Ten years ago, Gotham Center at Queens Plaza was a desolate industrial hall. During the festival, hundreds of one-of-a-kind, 10 X 10 pictures lined the walls of the now-revitalized hub. The works, donated by both well-known and underground artists, were available to be purchased by browsing patrons. Half of the proceeds went to future LIC Arts Open events and the other half helped continue a program run by the Queens Council for the Arts.

Mazda remarked that many of the Gotham Center affair attendees had never seen an art exhibit before. He believed the event’s locale brought commuters passing through Queens Plaza station into the building, drawn by the crowd and the excitement.

“[This kind of event] makes art accessible to ordinary human beings,” said Mazda.

Photographer Orestes Gonzalez displayed his photo essay, “Portraits of Artists 2010-2012,”depicting LIC creatives in their studios.

“I think [the festival] went really well,” said Gonzalez. “We had twice as many participants this year. There was a lot more traffic as far as the public was concerned. There were a lot more interesting exhibits. It’s gaining force in other parts of the city as well.”

Gonzalez believes the LIC Arts Open publicizes a group of artists formerly flying under the radar.

“The festival is about making a statement about the artists of LIC,” said Gonzalez. “It puts the artists of Queens on the map. Everyone’s always looking at Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we have a huge amount of artistic activity here.”

Bertille De Baudiniere, a local artist whose works were on display during the LIC Arts Open, curated a contest where 780 kids from across the borough, ages five to 18, created postcards in line with the theme of De Baudiniere’s latest collection, “Green Earth.”

“It was perfect to do [the contest] with children because they will be the next generation to deal with Earth and these problems,” said De Baudiniere. “They can speak freely. The kids are very imaginative and full of ideas. They express themselves differently. It was very unique.”