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Royalty is making a home in Queens. On April 25th, the Titan Theatre Company concludes its award-winning second season with a two-week run of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Queens Theatre. This innovative troupe, which performed at Long Island City’s Secret Theatre frequently during its first year, will give its take on this tragic family drama about an aging, increasing crazier British king who decides to step down from the throne and divide his estate among his three daughters. The end results are horrible for all, except the audience.

Details: King Lear, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, April 25 through May 11th, Sunday shows at 4 pm, other shows at 7 pm or 7:30 pm, $18 for general admission.

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04/18/14 1:00pm

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Decisions, decisions, decisions and decisions. Or to be more specific: science, kites, film noir and eggs. There are some great options for family fun, entertainment and enrichment in the borough tomorrow, April 19th. It’s probably easiest to list them in bullet form.

  • Doktor Kaboom! This loveable nut performs original interactive “science comedy” for audiences of all ages. Blending the dramatic with the wonders of scientific exploration, the Good Doktor (above) keeps the crowd riveted with interest and rolling with laughter going on a sidesplitting journey of increasingly spectacular (and often successful) experiments designed to involve, excite, educate, and entertain. Back by popular demand, he returns to Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) for 1 pm and 3 pm shows on Saturday$14 per ticket or $100 for a Family Series Flex Pass (10 tickets to use however you want.)
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite! It’s National Kite Month, and the King Manor Museum (150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica) is offering a chance to learn about these objects that can be used for scientific discovery, fun or design. Attendees will create, decorate, fly and take home kites. Noon to 3 pm, free.
  • Spring Egg-Stavaganza! Easter weekend at Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing) is known for two things: blooming flora and egg hunts. Due to popular demand, there will be two sessions that will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts and prizes. noon to 1:30 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm, $5.
  • The Real Mann! Hollywood legend Anthony Mann was one of the greatest directors of two genres that seem very disparate: film noir, featuring nocturnal and claustrophobic dramas; and the Western, with dramas set against wide-open landscapes. The Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) launches an eight-film retrospective on Mann with two movies on Saturday. T-Men at 4 pm is about treasury agents who go undercover to penetrate a gang of Los Angeles counterfeiters. Raw Deal at 7 pm tells the story of a woman who helps spring her boyfriend from a state prison so they can flee to South America. If these movies inspire, the museum will screen two more —  The Great Flamarion and Border Incident — on Sunday.

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04/09/14 1:00pm

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The word “LEGO” is a combination of the Danish words “leg godt,” which mean “play well” in English. The original toys were made of wood, but in 1958, the LEGO Group introduced the interlocking brick, which currently comes in various colors, shapes and sizes and has a cult-like following around the world, mesmerizing adults as well as children. On Saturday, these plastic playthings will begin a long run in Queens, when the Museum of the  Moving Image offers 60-minute LEGO animation workshops for children twice a day through April 22nd. Led by a master builder, participants will work in teams to plan and create a stop-motion animated film. The same Astoria venue will screen The LEGO Movie in Dolby Digital 3-D from April 14th through April 18th. This stop-motion animated feature tells the story of Emmet, a perfectly average LEGO mini-figure who is mistakenly identified as the “most special, most interesting, most extraordinary person” and the key to saving the world. Meanwhile, the Queens Theatre on April 13th will open Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, a display of World’s Fair structures inspired by expert builder Cody Wells. They will be on exhibit through November 2nd. The Flushing Meadows Corona Park theater will go for more on May 18th with Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, three sessions after which each participant will leave with a mini-model of the New York State Pavilion.

Details for Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria): Master Builder Lego Animation Workshops, April 12th – 22nd, 1:30 pm and 3 pm, daily, $5 materials fee; The LEGO Movie, April 14th-18th, 1 pm daily.

Details for Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park): Iconic Symbols of the 1964 World’s Fair Reimagined — in LEGOs, April 13th – November 2nd, free; Build It!: A LEGO Workshop, May 18th, 11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm, free.

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Top photo: Flickr (notenoughbricks); bottom photo: MMI

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It’s a photo op, historic tour and urban spelunking activity. It’s also a celebration of the exact 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair. On April 22nd, the New York State Pavilion (above and below) will open to the public for three hours. Individuals will be able to put on hard hats (which will be provided and required), enter this remnant of the 1964 World’s Fair, and take photos of the interior portion, where the Tent of Tomorrow once stood. The New York State Pavilion Paint Project Crew will be on site to answer questions and talk about the structure’s past, present and future. Later, the Queens Theatre will present When the World Came to Queens, an exhibit featuring rare photos with behind-the-scenes anecdotes written by Bill Cotter, who has the world’s largest private collection of World’s Fair images. Cotter, a frequent attendee during the 1964-65 run, has also written several books, which he will be selling and autographing.

Details: Open Gate Event, meet at north entrance to NYS Pavilion, near Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, April 22nd, 11 am to 2 pm, free.

Bonus details: When the World Came to Queens, Queens Theatre, 14, United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, April 22nd, 3 pm and 7 pm, free with $10 suggested donation. 

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Photos: People for the Pavilion FB

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“From the World’s Fair to the World’s Park.” Expect to hear this new slogan a lot over the next six months as part of a dual effort to rebrand Flushing Meadows Corona Park and celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs that took place there. Yesterday, Maspeth-based Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, who chairs the NY State Assembly’s Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports Committee, announced a $100,000 grant to the Queens Tourism Council to help it promote local World’s Fair commemorative events over the next six months. Cultural institutions such as the Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and New York Hall of Science are planning special activities related to these anniversaries, and NYC Parks is ready to host a World’s Fair Festival on May 18.  (Click here to see all the events.) Borough President Melinda Katz is also involved, co-chairing the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee with Assemblymember Markey and spearheading an effort to promote the Flushing green space as the “World’s Park.” These two elected officials will join other Queens leaders near the NY State Pavilion on April 22 to mark the exact 50th anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 1964 World’s Fair. The rumor is that they will sing the National Anthem.

Editor’s Note: There was a pleasant surprise at yesterday’s Queens Tourism Council meeting at Queens Theatre. Mookie Wilson, a former Mets centerfielder who starred in the 1986 Worlds Series, passed by while taking a walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He joined the photo and is seen standing, second from extreme left. Assemblywoman Markey is standing in the exact middle.

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Last week, we asked you to comment on what the icon of Queens is, and almost unanimously the Q’Stoner audience said “Unisphere.” Accordingly, just yesterday, I went out to Flushing Meadows Corona Park to get some shots of this icon of Queens for you. Unfortunately, the fountains aren’t on yet, but it was sunset. I’m going to keep my mouth shut for a change, and let the photos speak for themselves.

From Wikipedia:

The Unisphere is a 12-story high, spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth. Located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City, the Unisphere is one of the borough’s most iconic and enduring symbols.

Commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age, the Unisphere was conceived and constructed as the theme symbol of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The theme of the World’s Fair was “Peace Through Understanding” and the Unisphere represented the theme of global interdependence. It was dedicated to “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.”

Check out tons of Unisphere shots after the jump! (more…)

03/25/14 1:00pm

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Forget the thermometer, the Queens calendar of events has declared that “Spring has Sprung!” The borough will host countless outdoor activities over the next month, starting with a few running, walking and peeping opportunities this weekend. The fun starts on Friday with the 5 Miles Marking 5 Decades Fun Run, a two-loop road race that starts and ends at the north end of Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake, at 4:30 pm. Organized by Queens Distance Runners, this event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair.

On Saturday, early risers can enjoy a bird walk through Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge led by American Littoral Society naturalist Don Riepe.  Meanwhile at 1 pm, attendees can combine a stroll with a nature lesson at Bayside’s Fort Totten, where Urban Park Rangers will discuss scientific concepts and weather phenomena, such as lightning, thunder, clouds, the water cycle, hurricanes and extreme storms.

On Sunday, the official Queens historian, Jack Eichenbaum, will guide a historic stroll through Flushing. He will take his troops to the 1964 Quaker Meeting House, the 1661 Bowne House and the (1774-1785) Kingsland Manor, where the Queens Historical Society is exhibiting Practicing Equality, Quakers in Queens. If that’s not enough, hardcore types can walk the winter-ravaged Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways and learn beach dynamics with American Littoral Society naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen. There will be plenty of flotsam and jetsam and the chance to learn about the area’s surprising wartime history.

Details (one): 5 Miles Marking 5 Decades Fun Run, Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake, March 28th, 4:30 pm, $25/$15 for members of Queens Distance Runners and the Queens Tourism Council/$8 for junior high and high school students.

Details (two): Early Spring Bird Walk, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, March 29th, 10 am. Free, but RSVP to NEChapter@littoralsociety.org or 718-474-0896.

Details (three): Exploring Clouds, Fort Totten, Bayside, March 29th, 1 pm, free.

Details (four); Quaker Flushing, meet at northwest corner of Main Street and 37th Avenue, March 30th, noon, $15/$20 with part of the proceeds going to the Queens Historical Society. RSVP required to Jack Eichenbaum at jaconet@aol.com.

Details (five): Spring Tide Walks, meet at parking lot near Jacob Riis Park’s Entry Pavilion, March 30th, 10: 30 am, free but RSVP to bmcohen2@gmail.com or 718-474-0896.

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 Top photo: Fort Totten FB; bottom photo: American Littoral Society

03/21/14 1:00pm

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Warning: If you see this show, you might start to believe in life after death. Actor Frank Ferrante’s interpretation of Groucho Marx is so good that Morrie Ryskind, who wrote some of the legendary comedian’s material, described him as the “only actor aside from Groucho who delivered my lines as they were intended.” In fact, Ferrante’s shtick is so good that Groucho’s son, Arthur, chose him for the title role in a play he co-wrote about his father entitled “Groucho: A Life in Revue.” Next weekend at the Queens Theatre, Ferrante will do four performances of his two-act comedy, which consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs, including “Hooray For Captain Spaulding” and “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” Attendees might end up part of the fun, too, as Ferrante likes to go into the audience and ad-lib in grand Groucho style.

Details: An Evening with Groucho, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, March 28th, 2 pm, March 29th, 2 pm and 8 pm, and March 30th, 3 pm, $42 for Friday’s performance and $49 for Saturday and Sunday performances, rear seating $25 (for all performances).

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03/18/14 1:00pm

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It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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This Saturday, March 22nd at noon, State Senator Tony Avella will hold a press conference in regards to the community’s lawsuit to save areas of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. A group of plaintiffs, residents, small business owners, park users, civic groups and legal advocates will meet at the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 114th Street in Corona, then march to a nearby location on Roosevelt Avenue overlooking the proposed site of the “Willets West” mega-mall. The group is protesting the loss of 47.5 acres for the mall, 13 acres for the proposed soccer stadium, and one acre for the expansion of the tennis center. You can read more details about the lawsuit and the coming press conference at the Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park website. Senator Avella has long spoken out against development proposals that take away parkland, the Willets Point project in particular.

More Info on the Willets Point Lawsuit [Q'Stoner]