CHARLES R. HALE PRESENTS: A MUSICAL HISTORY OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE

Clockwise from upper left, Yuri Juarez, Mala Waldron, Ashley Bell, Charles R.Hale, David S. Goldman, Clare Maloney, and Alicia Svigals

Charles R. Hale has developed a reputation as a storyteller who blends imagery and performance art to create uniquely New York experiences. His show, “Jazz and the City” was a sold out success at the American Irish Historical Society last fall and he’s returning with another show, “A Musical History of the Lower East Side.”  

This special concert will present songs reflecting the historically rich ethnicity of the New York City’s Lower East Side. You’ll hear an all-star cast perform Irish laments, Yiddish and Ladino music, operatic and Neopolitan songs, German lied, jazz and blues, all representative of the ethnic groups who have passed through the Lower East Side. The show will also include images and historical narration provided by Charles.

“A Musical History of the Lower East Side” premiered at Rockwood Music Hall in 2015 to a standing-room-only crowd and has been performed at Lehman College and BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

The performers include Charles R. Hale, (Narrator, Writer); Ashley Bell, (Opera Singer); David S. Goldman, (Vocalist, Guitarist, Music Director); Clare Maloney, (Vocalist); Yuri Juarez, (Guitarist, Composer) Alicia Svigals, (Violinist) and Mala Waldron, (Vocalist, Pianist).

The show takes place on June 12, 2018. Showtime is 7:00pm and will be followed by a wine reception. The American Irish Historical Society is located at 991 Fifth Avenue (Between 80th and 81st) For tix and additional information CLICK HERE

 

 

“WOMEN WHO HAVE OVERCOME” at LEHMAN COLLEGE, MAY 10, 2018

Join Mala Waldron, Theresa Sareo, Connie Roberts and Charles R. Hale.    

On Thursday, May 10th, 12:30pm, Artists Without Walls, in conjunction with Lehman College’s City and Humanities Program, presents “Women Who Have Overcome,” a discussion with three women who, despite being presented with major obstacles at different points during their lives, have gone onto successful careers in the arts and education. 

Jazz pianist/vocalist Mala Waldron, poet Connie Roberts and singer/songwriter Theresa Sareo will be discussing their lives as well as sharing their talents with the audience. Charles R. Hale will moderate the event. Special thanks to Professor Joseph McElligott for sponsoring this program. 

The event will be held in the Lovinger Theatre at Lehman College. For directions to Lehman, click here

Photo montage by Mitch Traphagen. 

Theresa Sareo, Connie Roberts and Mala Waldron

CELEBRATING our TWENTY-FIFTH PERFORMANCE of “JAZZ IN THE CITY”

Once a month for the past two years, the David Raleigh Quartet and I have taken our audience on a journey…a musical journey, incorporating story and song. Our performance at the Duplex, in Greenwich Village, this past Thursday was our twenty-fifth performance of “Jazz in the City.” In addition to the Duplex, the show has been performed in New York City at The Cell, Lehman College, The American Irish Historical Society and the Triad.  

The show features the stories and songs of the artists and composers who for the past 375 years have paid homage to city they call home. Many of their songs were popularized in New York’s venues like the Village Vanguard where Miles, Mingus and Monk performed and venues that are long gone, such as Cafe Society where Billy Holiday debuted “Strange Fruit.” And then there are the stories and songs that I associate with New York through ancestral, familial and personal recollections.

I grew up listening to music of the sixties: The Ronettes, from uptown, the Crystals, from Jamaica, Queens, where I was born, Dion and Belmonts from the Bronx and the New York stylings of the Drifters. But there were always two radios on in my house: One in my room and the other wherever my mother was. My mother listened to WNEW, a station that showcased the tunes of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and George Gershwin.  Thus, I learned about and came to love the wonderful and enduring music of the “American Songbook.”

And how fortunate am I to be performing with four incredible musicians, David Raleigh, Tony Carfora, Danny Weller and Daniel Glass. What a wonderful experience. You can come out and share the experience at our next show at THE DUPLEX , in Greenwich Village in NYC on June 21, 7pm. For tickets and additional information CLICK HERE

Photos by Mitch Traphagen.

Danny Weller and Daniel Glass

 

David Raleigh, Tony Carfora and Danny Weller

 

David Raleigh, Tony Carfora and Danny Weller

 

Charles R. Hale

 

David Raleigh

 

Danny Weller

Tony Carfora and Danny Weller

THE EXPRESSIVENESS of SILENCE and SPACE in STORYTELLING, MUSIC and ART

 Here’s a story that I wrote, which was published a few years ago: 
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Recently, a few friends and I gathered in a local pub when the subject turned to “silence and space” in art. When one of my friends mentioned that he once heard Pete Seeger say, “It’s not what you put into a song, it’s what you leave out that counts,” the music of jazz great Miles Davis came to mind. When I began listening to Miles I was struck by his ability to do more with silence and empty space than any musician I had ever heard. Miles didn’t fill every second with sound. He understood the power of silence. Listen to “It Never Entered My Mind.”

Great artists have the ability to create with less, allowing us our own space to develop our own story: Francisco Goya, in his Tauromaquia series used blank canvas and shadings of grey and white to create the feeling of space. In this sketch, Goya uses empty space to dramatize the fury of a singular moment of horror during a bullfight.

Johan Sebastian Bach understood the power of silence and space as well. During Bach’s B Minor Mass, at the end of the section marked Crucifixus (Crucification), the music slowly sinks into silence, followed by a pause—a moment of contemplation, a moment of space—and then, an explosion of joy and revelation in the Et resurrext. (The Resurrection)

A year ago I received a note from a friend. “Would you read a story I wrote? Something’s missing. I’m looking for a word or words that will give the last few paragraphs more impact, more oopmh. Nothing seems to work.”  I read her story and while I claim no great editorial skills, I felt the character development was wonderful, the story had great pace, from the inciting incident, which created conflict, through the midsection’s rising tension, right up until the crisis point or conflict resolution. The ending was perfect. I sent my friend a note. “I could see your character in the last scene and I understood his problem. I knew his motivations and I was there with him. You didn’t have to tell me the character was desperate or frantic, you’d done all the heavy lifting earlier. Your shorter words and shorter sentences built a moment of high drama. Your writing shows great respect for your reader; you allow them the space to be creative; you allow them the space to furnish the emotion. Less is more. In my view, that’s what often makes for great storytelling.”

The power of space and silence were never more evident to me than when I spoke before a gathering of college students and their families a number of years ago. The subject was the value of family stories. I was undecided about including the story of my mother’s sister’s death, a baby who died seven hours after she was born, until the moment I began speaking. I feared that I’d have difficultly controlling my emotions, yet, within a few minutes—I don’t know why—I started telling the story.

As I feared, her death and burial, and the emotions that the story evoked in me, were still too raw. I bowed my head and my eyes filled with tears; I had no idea how I would go on. Finally, I looked up. I was astonished. The entire front row was crying. I regained my composure. I was able to finish my story.

The events of the day became clear to me later in the evening. During the story’s build-up a number of listeners were probably experiencing a bond with my grandmother, grandfather or me. They were sharing a powerful story and many may have assumed the role of one of the characters in the story. Other listeners may have experienced the same wound and so they filtered my story of the baby’s death through their past. When I paused, the listeners may have been provided the space in which they could explore their thoughts, furnish their own emotions, and develop their own stories.

Miles Davis once said, “‘It’s not about the space you play, but the space you leave.” Allowing for space and silence may be one of the keys to effective creative expression, not only for the artist, but the artist’s audience as well.

“CROSSING BOROUGHS”: REVIEW by VINCENT NAUHEIMER

Crossing Boroughs appeared at the City Museum of New York on Jan. 28, 2108:

 

The audience at the Artists Without Walls’ presentation of “Crossing Boroughs,” which was written and created by Charles R. Hale, was treated to an outstanding mix of singing, dancing, music, and history last Sunday afternoon at the Museum of the City of New York. Weaving together the intricate blend of the music, dance, history and culture that defined each of New York City’s boroughs, “Crossing Boroughs” showcased the magnificent tapestry that defines New York City. Combining a superb narrative, slideshows, singing, dancing and monologues, the show transported the older members in the audience back to the days of their youth, while giving the younger folk a glimpse into New York City’s past.

Vocalists David Raleigh and Niamh Hyland

The opening slideshow presented visual snippets of New York City, which provided the backdrop for Niamh Hyland who sang “Midnight in Harlem” with enough soul to rock a congregation. Charles R. Hale picked up from there, narrating a brief history of Manhattan and its past, his words accenting and explaining the slides flashing across the screen. This background material led to a duet, “Manhattan,” a song written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and performed by Niamh and David Raleigh.

Jack O’Connell, while holding a Spalding, known as a “spaldeen,” recounted Brooklyn born Pete Hamill’s description of “stickball” as he knew it growing up in Brooklyn, including the fact that Spaldings were not manufactured during WWII because of the rubber shortage caused by the war effort. Growing up in the Bronx, I can attest to the fact that stickball was played with the same rules across boroughs.

“Crossing Boroughs” creator Charles R. Hale

Stickball transitioned to baseball when Charles shared a personal story…his father taking him to his first baseball game at Ebbets Field. It was his first chance to see the Dodgers and Charles recounted the game and the chance meeting with Jackie Robinson at a stoplight as Charles and his dad drove home from the game. This personal touch, acknowledging the importance of the father-son bonds that were formed over the game of baseball, drew the audience in as they reflected on their ties to baseball. To add to the realism of the baseball moment, midway through Charles’ story, Jack O’Connell, to the sounds of a ballpark crowd, walked down the aisles dressed as a ballpark vendor: “Peanuts, popcorn, cracker-jacks….getcha cold beer…cold beer here….soodaaa, soodaa.”

Actor Jack O’Connell

From Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, we were transported to Coney Island when Jack O’Connell (Man of a Thousand Faces) appeared as a carnival barker from the Midway where he pitched the various sideshows that were flashing on the screen behind him. This seamlessly transitioned into the story of another carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, from the 1945 Broadway show “Carousel.” Niamh Hyland once again wowed the audience with her rendition of “If I loved You,” Julie Jordan’s thoughts on her relationship with Billie

Moving from Brooklyn to Queens, Charles took the audience to the 1939 World’s Fair and the introduction of nylon stockings, which led to the opening dance number, “Nylon Stockings.”  David Raleigh sang the song, which featured  the very talented young dance duo, Laura Neese and Johnathan Matthews.

Dancers Laura Neese and Jonathan Matthews

Continuing through Queens, Charles once again brought the audience into his early life as he recounted his fond memories of Saturdays at one of the five New York Metro “Loew’s Wonder Theaters.” A short video depicted the grandeur of those theaters, which struck a solid chord with all who had the opportunity to spend time at those theaters, regardless of which borough they hailed from.

From Queens, the show moved over to the Bronx where once again, Laura and Johnathan traversed the floor in magnificent style, dancing the Lindy Hop to Dion and the Belmonts, “I Wonder Why.” The dance scene was followed by a fascinating narrative in which Charles combined the opening of the Triborough Bridge with the concurrent history of the Randall’s Island stadium, located beneath the Triborough, and the part it played in selecting the runners who represented the United States at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Every show has its highlight: This shows highlight was Niamh Hyland’s performance of the Etta James’ song “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Niamh nailed it, boxed it and delivered it to an audience that devoured every note. At the end of her song, thunderous applause spontaneously erupted as several members audience jumped to their feet paying tribute to the superb performance they had just witnessed.

Vocalist and music director Niamh Hyland, guitarist Shu Nakamura and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney

Once again, back in Manhattan at McHale’s Bar, Jack O’Connell took the stage to give us a sobering portrayal of a bartender speaking to an invisible customer (or the audience?) while reciting Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row.” A poem that perfectly describes the seedier side of life–desolation–in New York.

As we headed out to the final borough, Staten Island, footage from the Staten Island Ferry with the Manhattan skyline in the background filled the screen. Accompanying the visual, David and Niamh sang “Leaving New York.” The entire experience was made complete by the accomplished musicians who provided the musical accompaniment led by renowned guitarist Shu Nakamura, drummer Shirazette Tinnin, keyboardist Steve Okonski and bassist Mary Ann McSweeney.

The Band for Crossing Boroughs

For this Bronx boy, who has lived and worked in New York City most of his life, this was a terrific afternoon. It is not very often you see a show that skillfully combines New York City nostalgia, song, dance, music, and fun into one package. Kudos to Charles Hale Productions and everyone that contributed to making “Crossing Boroughs” a most enjoyable show.

Crossing Boroughs was created and written by Charles R. Hale. Charmaine Broad directs the show and Niamh Hyland, in addition to being the show’s lead vocalist, is its musical director.

Photos by Mitch Traphagen

THANK YOU TO A GREAT FRIEND, AND A GREAT FRIEND OF THE ARTS, TOM MYLES

We received a wonderful note from Tom Myles concerning Charles R. Hale Productions’ “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.”

“Congratulations, Charles, on the success of Charles R. Hale Productions.  It is no surprise. You are passionate about the performing arts and tirelessly work at producing and promoting great shows.

I also note that in addition to your hard work, you (and Niamh Hyland at Artists Without Walls) treat everyone who comes to your performances with respect, whether it is a longtime friend or someone who just walked in the door, whether it’s a person with deep pockets or a college student, whether it’s a seasoned professional or a nervous first-timer. You show an interest in all and warmly welcome them.

I have seen dozens of your shows. Talented people from across the globe joyfully work with you. There is no hierarchy and there is no favoritism. I would not keep returning if it were any other way. It’s a pleasure to be a small part of what you have accomplished. Continued success, my friend.”

Thank you, Tom, for your thoughtfulness, your generous support and your role as a co-producer of “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.” 

 

A GREAT FIRST YEAR: THANK YOU TO ALL THE PERFORMERS, PRODUCERS and FRIENDS

Charles R. Hale Productions’ first year has been a very rewarding one. In addition to performing my show “Jazz in the City: The New York Connection” fifteen times in a number of locations including The Cell, Lehman College, the American Irish Historical Society,  Triad and The Duplex, the series “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song,” headlined by Niamh Hyland, Miho Hazama and JP Jofre, Harriet Stubbs, Yuri Juarez, Annette Homann, Miho Hazama and M Unit, and Luba Mason was also a great success. Each of seven shows filled The Cell theatre and consistently offered superior performances to appreciative audiences.

Thank you’s abound: Thank you to the producers: Michael Fletcher, Joseph McElligott, John Moran, Tom Myles and Lisa Sullivan. Thank you to the subscribers who purchased tickets to all the shows. Thank you to Mitch Traphagen for graphics, photos and website assistance. Thank you to Alexander Wu for his special performance with Annette Homann and research assistance. Thank you to bassist Danny Weller who appeared  in both Niamh Hyland and Annette Homann’s show. (Danny is also the bass player in “Jazz in the City: The New York Connection.) Thank you to Vera Maura for her photos and never-ending support. Thank you to The Cell, particularly Sulei, Macenzie and Brian for all you do. And thank you to all the performers and their music-making friends. 

We’re looking forward to great 2018.

NEW SHOW! “CROSSING BOROUGHS” JANUARY 28, 2018

 
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“New York’s boroughs…where it was fancy on Delancey, stickball reigned supreme and nylon stockings were a hit. Where kids danced to doo-wop, spent Saturday afternoons at Loews…where there used to be a ballpark.
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“Right this way ladies and gentlemen…hurry, hurry, hurry into the pubs and clubs of yesteryear. Hold onto your hat…crossing bridges, boroughs and waterways will be the ride of a lifetime. Step right up.”
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“Crossing Boroughs,” an Artists Without Walls’ production, and part of Origin Theatre Company’s First Irish Festival, will be performed on January 28, 3pm at The Museum of the City of New York.

“Crossing Boroughs” was written by Charles R. Hale and stars Niamh Hyland along with Jack O’Connell, Laura Neese, Jonathan Matthews, David J Raleigh, Shirazette Tinnin, Maya Kornfeld, Mary Ann McSweeney and Shu Nakamura.

Charles R. Hale/Narrator.
Niamh Hyland/Music Director.
Mitch Traphagen/Graphics and Images

For tix and info CLICK HERE

New Show! Crossing Boroughs January 28, 2018

 

LUBA MASON: TRIANGLE–MAGICAL PERFORMANCE at THE CELL

“What a fantastic evening. Many thanks to Charles for wrapping up the season with this performance. Luba was terrific as was her accompaniment by both on the bass Luques Curtis/and vibraphone Felipe Fournier. Luba has a range in both her voice and music that made this an incredible evening.” Vince Nauheimer

“I had the incredible good fortune of seeing Luba Mason and her remarkable band perform twice on Thursday — once at Lehman College, thanks to Professor Joseph McElligott  and then later at the cell theatre in Manhattan thanks to Charles R. Hale and Charles R. Hale Productions. I can honestly still hear her voice. Stunning is too small of a word.” Mitch Traphagen

“Spectacular show this evening. Thank you Charles R. Hale Productions for bringing Luba Mason to the stage and to the attention of those who have not heard her live or in such an intimate setting with her trio. She is a true talent, with a singularly unique style of singing – heartclutching nuance and an extraordinary vocal range. Looking forward to hearing more from Luba and her wonderful trio!” Vera Hoar

“The “Luba Mason: Triangle,” including Luba, Felipe Fournier/vibes and Luques Curtis/bass proved to be a tightly knit trio whose fabulous music was enhanced by Luba’s witty, tender storytelling, perfectly reflecting the title of the series, “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.'” Charles R. Hale

Photos by Mitch Traphagen

Luba Mason, Luques Curtis /bass, Felipe Fournier/vibes

Luba Mason

Luba Mason and Luques Curtis

Luba Mason and Felipe Fournier

Luba Mason

Luques Curtis

Felipe Fournier 

Charles R. Hale, Luba Mason, Luques Curtis and Felipe Fournier.

 

CHARLES R. HALE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS “LUBA MASON: TRIANGLE”

On December 7th, 7:30pm, Charles R. Hale Productions will present its final show in the series, “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song.” The featured artist will be the enormously talented singer and actor Luba Mason. Luba, a native New Yorker born in Astoria, Queens and first generation American of Slovak descent, is a classically trained singer, pianist, dancer and actor who was nominated for the prestigious 2015 Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel theater awards as “Best Featured Actress in a Musical.” Luba also has an impressive Broadway pedigree, in no small part due to her stunning vocal range and extraordinary versatility as a performer.

Luba has headlined at Vibrato and the Cinegrill in L.A., Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Feinstein’s, Birdland, B.B. Kings, Iridium and the Metropolitan Room in NYC. In 2015 Luba and her husband, Ruben Blades, performed together on stage at Radio City Music Hall in Paul Simon’s sold out benefit for the Children’s Health Fund’s 25th Anniversary alongside Mr. Simon, Edie Brickell, Sting, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and numerous other luminaries. Last November, Luba joined her husband at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and his band in one of the highlights of the evening, Otis Blackwell’s “Fever”.

The show will be performed at The Cell Theatre, 338 West 23rd Street. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by clicking here .

Luba will be performing with Felipe Fournier/vibes and Luques Curtis/bass.

“A voice as big and rich as a star-filled sky.” – Jazz Times
“A Broadway veteran and omnivorous singer.” Billboard
“A force of nature. She goes deep and we want to dive with her.” Huffington Post