Featured Artist: Greg Cicchino

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Greg Cicchino
Greg Cicchino

Title\Occupation
Managing Director of Variations Theatre Group, Resident Artists of the Chain Theatre and a freelance director.

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve lived in Astoria (right across from the ORIGINAL Bareburger) for 5 years.

How did you get involved in theater?
My first play was in preschool. I played a bear. I was mad the zookeeper didn’t bring the popcorn to our cage. After that was 6th Grade. I played Dracula. I went to Syracuse University for acting, luckily for everyone I don’t do that anymore, but it is there I stumbled into directing.

What do you love most about Queens?
The variety. You can find anything within a few blocks. Whether its food, or different kinds of people, a busy street with cool stores and bars or a park – it’s all in walking distance.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Astoria Park or Socrates – especially in the summer when the farmers markets are in season.


Current/Upcoming projects?

I will next be directing What’s In A Name, a work that came through our Minor Variations Project at the Chain Theatre, written by Tim Nolan. I am also developing and directing Garbo Dreams, a one-woman show about the life of iconic film star turned recluse, Greta Garbo.

Featured Artist: Nora Vetter

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Nora Vetter
Nora Vetter

Title\Occupation
Actor/Playwright

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria – 6 years in June

How did you get involved in theater?
It all started in public school in Kearney, NE. I got the writing bug when I wrote (and co-performed) a puppet show for a talent show in 1st grade and the acting bug when I was cast as the Queen of Spain in a Columbus Day play in second grade. I will never forget the names of Columbus’ ships thanks to that role – “You may have the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.” (My only line.)

What do you love most about Queens?
The first word that popped into my head was “genuine”. I like that Queens isn’t Hipster Central and that it’s the home of the Mets. You don’t love Queens because it’s the cool, trendy thing to do. You love Queens almost because it isn’t the cool, trendy thing to do.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
I was using a Queens-Based Car Service (Olympic) to get to LaGuardia and the driver was asking me about where I was going. Then he told me about his travels and said that I needed to go to Greece. Adding in his endearing Greek accent, “You’ll fall in love.” Alas, I have not been to Greece yet so I’ve yet to see if he’s right. 😉

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?

Site (http://sitenyc.com/) – Love, love, love their Queens/Astoria inspired goods!
Soho Cafe & Grill (http://www.sottocafegrill.com/) – I’ve yet to find a better place than here for selection/quality of a “make your own” salad bar.  Astor Room (http://www.astorroom.com/) – The History! The Cocktails! The Brunch!
Greater Astoria Historical Society (http://astorialic.org/) – Worth stopping by to see their small display of artifacts and historic photos (some of which Soho Cafe has copies of on their walls) and then get on their email list as they host lots of great events throughout the year.  For the vistors to Queens I always recommend – Neptune Diner (although sadly some of it’s Neptune-themed charm was lost when they remodeled), Museum of the Moving Image (http://www.movingimage.us/), Bohemian Hall Beer Garden (http://www.bohemianhall.com/en/Index.php), Flushing Meadows Corona Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fmcp), Queens Museum of Art (http://www.queensmuseum.org/), Astoria Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/AstoriaPark/history) and Gantry Plaza State Park (http://nysparks.com/parks/149/).
And that is merely the tip of the iceberg of things to do and see in Queens…


Current/Upcoming projects?
A one-act I wrote, “The Note” will be a part of the LIC One Act Play Festival at The Secret Theatre, April 18th-21st and may advance to the finals but it will need your audience vote! 🙂  https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9768893

Featured Artist: Mariah MacCarthy

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Mariah MacCarthy
Mariah MacCarthy

Title\Occupation
Caps Lock Theatre Producing Director

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Astoria, for three and a half years (right around the corner from the beer garden).

How did you get involved in theater?
I went to a performing arts school growing up, and I just never got rid of the “bug.” My first role was as Baby Jesus in a Christmas pageant. I don’t remember that.

What do you love most about Queens?
I never get catcalled in Astoria. Like, ever. You can also eat (and drink) REALLY well for way less than you would in Manhattan. My favorite part, though, is probably my neighbor Kiki. She’s exactly the sort of neighbor you want to have when you lock yourself out of your apartment. It seems like she’s always giving stuff away, like wine and filet mignon.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
I guess I hadn’t seen Kiki in a while, but I was hugely pregnant and exiting my apartment and she saw me. She called after me, “Excuse me! Do you have a baby in there?” As though I was smuggling the baby under my shirt, or like I was going to say, “No, I just had a big lunch.” I guess it wasn’t so much a “Queens” moment as a hilarious neighborly moment, but I seem to have only had those hilarious neighborly moments in Queens..

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?

Brooklyn Bagel. Pretty much all the food at Sparrow, Sweet Afton, and Sugarfreak. Mosaic is chill, beautiful, generally pretty empty, and has lots of amazing beer and wine (and is literally less than half a block from me). Also, if you’ve never seen a show at the Secret, it’s an AMAZING venue. APAC does awesome work as well. Astoria Park is gorgeous and, if you go all the way to the water, you have an AMAZING view of Manhattan. I’m not really a runner, but Astoria Park makes me want to be one so I can go running there.


Current/Upcoming projects?

I’ve got a play being workshopped at the Players Theatre, called LYSISTRATA RAPE PLAY, in which American women decide to stop having sex with men until rape is eradicated. It’s a black comedy, probably my most ambitious play to date (which is saying something for me), and my cast and director are incredible. The workshop runs April 11-13. $15 tickets are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/920402/prm/ttpLRP.
I’ve also got a couple of amazing projects coming up with Caps Lock Theatre that are on the verge of being officially announced; sign up for the Caps Lock mailing list at capslocktheatre.com to keep up!

Mariah MacCarthy

Playwright

Featured Artist: Rich Ferraioli

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Rich Ferraioli
Rich Ferraioli

Title\Occupation
Artistic Director of Variations Theatre Group

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Long Island City – Since 2008

How did you get involved in theater?
I began my theatre career at the age of 4 when I played John Wesley in a church play where my shining moment was being carried out a window of a burning building. I knew at that point that theatre was and always would be a passion of mine. I went to college for acting and quickly discovered that I needed to direct instead. I have been directing ever since.

What do you love most about Queens?
I love Queens and especially LIC. Not only is it a city that is about to blow up but is one of the most convenient, eclectic, and energized neighborhoods. It has the hipsterness of Brooklyn with the convenience of Manhattan. I truly believe that LIC/Queens has some of the best restaurants and best residents in the 5 boroughs.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
Entertainment – Obviously The Chain
Food – I love Manducatis Rustica on Vernon an Fresco Tortilla on 36th Ave
Bars – LIC Bar will always have a special place in my heart as will The Shannon Pot
Sights – Nothing beats the Gantry at anytime especially before one of these reoccurring Hurricanes…just beautiful.


Current/Upcoming projects?

So many to count….visit www.chaintheatre.org for more information

Featured Artist: Rachel Dart

This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Rachel Dart on the East River Ferry (Queensboro bridge in the background)
Rachel Dart on the East River Ferry with the Queensboro bridge in the background)

Title\Occupation
Freelance director and occasional playwright

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I’ve lived in Long Island City since September of 2009.  So, three and a half years.  Math!

How did you get involved in theater?
I went to a high school for artsy weird kids that had a very adventurous theater department.  We did The Laramie Project and The Mystery of Edwin Drood and a weird interpretation of The Wizard of Oz where Glinda was some kind of swami and the Munchkins were baby chickens.  I acted (I played the Jim Norton role in Edwin Drood–OBVIOUS typecasting!) and stage managed and wrote plays and directed and it was all awesome.  Our drama teacher was very encouraging but also made us be professional, which I think held us all in very good stead.

What do you love most about Queens?
You can basically do anything in Queens: you can go to the beach, or go to a movie, or go to a play, or go to a beer garden, or go to a graffiti museum, or go to Costco.  And you never have to leave Queens!  Also, the 7 train is the subway line that feels most like the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland, once it goes above ground.

Do you have any “only in Queens” moments you’d like to share?
My boyfriend and I read the New York Times’ “36 Hours in Queens” and decided that we needed to try the Uzbek food they mentioned.  So we went to Forest Hills one night to a place called Cheburechnaya and had these amazing fried dough empanada-like things filled with potatoes and meat, and huge kebabs on skewers.  I think we were the only non-Uzbek people there.  And the TVs were playing YouTube videos of MMA fighters.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?

There are just so many good restaurants.  In LIC alone we have a bunch of favorites, including Cyclo (Vietnamese), Cafe Enrique (Mexican), Sage General Store (it was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!), Manetta’s, Manducati’s (both old-school family-owned Italian), and the Transylvanian Chimney Cake place (seriously, this exists!).  I recently went to Sik Gaek in Sunnyside (amazing Korean food in giant pots, and soju in a carved-out watermelon), and I love SriPraPhai (Thai food) as well.  Try the ribs.


Current/Upcoming projects?
I’m currently rehearsing a show for The 52nd Street Project: it’s a ten-minute play in an evening of one-acts written by ten-year-olds entitled Stand By Me: The Reliable Plays.  The play I’m directing is called Death of a Million, and features an FBI agent and a 9-year-old ghost.  The shows are fabulous and free!  And in April I start work on There’s a Light on Yonder Mountain, a brand new play at Under St. Mark’s produced by aMios (www.amiosnyc.org) and co-written by four amazing playwrights.