Archives For Beacon Theatre

Stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco doesn’t take his success granted. His roots won’t allow it.

“It’s great to do (comedy) for a living now,” he told me. “I worked as a waiter and then I was selling satellite dishes out of a mall so to be doing comedy for a living and what I always dreamed of is fantastic.”

Maniscalco has been in the comedy game for 18 years and is currently experiencing a surge of popularity. His humor is centered on real-life family experiences that resonate with both millennials and baby-boomers. Maniscalco’s most-recent special, “Why Would You Do That?” was filmed in the iconic Beacon Theater on New York City’s Upper West Side. It premiered on Showtime last October and he’ll continue touring behind it until at least November. The Chicago-born comedian also appeared on all of the major late-night shows and perhaps most notably, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”

The next big dates in the Northeast for Maniscalco include a string of three shows at The Borgata in Atlantic City and a night headlining Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Don’t expect to find the comedian at a craps table though; he says gambling was left behind in his 20’s.

“Now I just go and perform and go out to dinner,” Maniscalco said of his casino show routine. “I love eating. My wife and I love cooking, entertaining, travel… so yeah, that’s kind of what we like doing.”

Sure beats waiting tables or working in a shopping mall.

Some news and notes from my fourth consecutive Tony Awards red carpet:

– There was a major scene change this year as the biggest night on Broadway moved uptown from 6th Avenue to… Broadway! The Tony’s were held at the venerable Beacon Theatre, the sister-venue of previous host Radio City Music Hall. Both buildings are managed by the Madison Square Garden Company. Instead of wrapping around the venue, this year’s red carpet simply stretched down two blocks from the front entrance of the theatre.

– It didn’t matter if you were Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. or the guy in charge of lighting… if you were a part of the hit musical “Hamilton,” everyone wanted to talk to you. The production nabbed 16 nominations in 13 categories and took home 11 trophies. Tickets are impossible to come by unless you’re willing to refinance your house. Alex Lacamoire, who won the Tony for Best Orchestrations thanks to the musical based on Alexander Hamilton, smiled when I asked about the amount of ticket requests he has received.
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“That’s wonderful because that means people want to see our show,” he said, in perhaps one of the bigger understatements of the evening. “So hey, no complaints.”

– Certainly Odom Jr. had zero complaints as he beat out his co-star Miranda for the Lead Actor in a Musical category. When I asked Odom if he and Miranda made a friendly wager over the Tony prior to the award show, he found the question so hilarious that he nearly spit out the water he was sipping.

– This was a first: two reporters next to me were hungry, so they decided to walk to a pizzeria, pick up a pie and bring the entire box, paper plates included, back to the red carpet. At least they shared (I did not indulge but they were very kind to offer).

– Neil Patrick Harris shouted, “Work!” when I asked him what inspired his new, shorter haircut. I was tempted to simply tell you that I asked him what his favorite Rihanna song was.

– Nice to see Sara Bareilles on the carpet; she said hello to me before her publicist dragged her inside so she wouldn’t miss the award ceremony. It has been a wonderful Broadway debut for the pop star: her musical “Waitress” nabbed four Tony nods including Best Musical and Best Original Score, which of course was penned by Bareilles herself.

– Of course, there are a lot of artists from all genres of entertainment on and/or involved with Broadway these days. The great Andrew Lloyd Webber offered an interesting response when I asked him about this.

“Providing that you’ve got the right people for the right roles, if that’s what you’re asking me, and they’re cast for the right reasons… that’s great,” the seven-time Tony Award winner, whose musical adaptation of “School of Rock” received multiple nominations, told me. “It really doesn’t matter who you have in a show. Like, ‘School of Rock’ doesn’t have a star, but at the same time it easily could. I mean, James Corden wouldn’t be bad in ‘School of Rock,’ would he?”

When Jerry Seinfeld plays venues like the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes Barre, PA, there is at least one problem he doesn’t have to worry about: friends and family asking for comp tickets.

That probably will not hold true as Seinfeld begins a residency, the first of his career, just blocks from his New York City apartment at the historic Beacon Theatre. The comedian will begin calling the Upper West Side venue his home minutes away from home starting January 7, with monthly gigs scheduled through the end of the year and planned for as long as the interest from both Seinfeld and the public holds. The exception is November, with no shows booked; there are two in October to make-up the lost date.

So why did Seinfeld, who is seemingly enjoying a semi-retirement of performing his stand-up routine across the country and filming the web series, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” want to do this? Beacon Theatre is managed by the Madison Square Garden Company, which hosts another iconic New Yorker every month at its main venue.

“When Billy Joel does ‘New York State Of Mind’ at The Garden, it’s different,” explained Seinfeld about seeing the Piano Man inside the World’s Most Famous Arena. “It sounds different; it feels different than when he does it in Charlotte.”

Seinfeld said during a press conference announcing the residency that the experience inspired him to reach out to James Dolan, Executive Chairman of MSG.

“Yes!” Dolan replied when I asked what his initial reaction to Seinfeld’s idea was. “Jerry Seinfeld wants to do anything with us, the answer is always ‘yes.’

“I’m not surprised,” Dolan later told me. “He’s all about New York, and obviously so is Billy. So it just makes perfect sense.”

Seinfeld even bought Joel’s Long Island home from him and joked during the media gathering that he was out to “sabotage” his career. All jokes aside, Dolan clearly views the two acts in a class of their own.

“It’s hard to say,” responded the executive when I inquired about residencies being a new trend for venues and live events. “Billy Joel and Jerry are both special and it’s not like any comedian could do this or any entertainer like Billy Joel could do this. There is a matchup between them, New York and the marketplace.”

Dolan also noted that his favorite “Seinfeld” character was the Soup Nazi, which didn’t seem to surprise the show’s star.

“Oh that’s funny,” Seinfeld said. “I get that. The Soup Nazi is all business, so is Jim.”

The comedian hasn’t had much of a “routine” from a professional perspective since the show ended, and his new gig really doesn’t alter that.

“There’s no specific day or week,” he explained regarding the schedule. “It’s just; if they have an open night and I’m free, we’re just going to do it like that.”

Tickets range in face value from $79 to $175 but good luck grabbing a seat at that; all shows for 2016 are already sold out. So what is Seinfeld going to do when friends start calling for comps?

“I’m not prepared at all,” he told me. “And, I don’t really know how I’m going to handle it. I think I may just lose some friends.

“No, there’s no question this could be a huge mistake! There’s no question about it.”

Photo: Kevin Mazur

Photo: Kevin Mazur