Archives For The Theater At Madison Square Garden

Even before a former first family took their grandchildren to see “Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party!” in the city, New Jersey native Ashley Budinick was raving about the crowds.

“The show’s been going amazing,” she told me over the phone last Friday, a few days before Bill and Hillary Clinton took in the production with their grandkids on coincidentally enough, Presidents’ Day. “The crowds and the energy from everyone at The Theater at Madison Square Garden have been awesome.”

Budinick, who hails from Brick, served as the show’s dance captain. It ran from February 9-19 inside the Theater at MSG.

“It was a brand new show,” she said. “I love starting everything from scratch and being a part of that process.

“To come back here to New York City and be able to perform for all of my family and friends and everybody else here who is coming to see the show is something I can’t even describe. I get choked up when I start talking about it because that’s something that you dream of as a kid.”

If there was any downside to it all, it might have been the amount of ticket requests Budinick received, but she handled that with a little assistance from her colleagues.

“I had to ask some friends to help me along the way and lend me some of their tickets as well so that I could accommodate everybody to come,” she revealed. “Everybody loves the show, because there’s so much dancing and there are so many interactive moments.”

She mentioned that at some points of the show, characters even come in to the audience. Thankfully, I’m guessing that if Big Bird and Elmo hadn’t passed Secret Service clearance, we would’ve heard about it by now.

Even before he won The GRAMMY for Best Remixed Recording, DJ/producer Latroit knew he would be taking home a gramophone of some sort.

“My mom made a GRAMMY statue cake,” he told me last Thursday during an interview for Westwood One’s coverage of music’s biggest night. “No matter what happens, I’m leaving with a GRAMMY statue! I can eat the one I have though.”

The artist, born Dennis White, hails from Detroit but noted that family from across the country had descended on New York for his first nomination. Latroit won with his remix of Depesche Mode’s “You Move.” The award was handed out during the Premiere Ceremony, which took place inside The Theater at MSG.

“My friend Jason Bentley was working on a project with (‘You Move’) and he is familiar with my sound and thought maybe something interesting would happen there,” Latroit explained. “He asked the band if they would like a Latroit remix, someone said yes, asked if I wanted to do it and I fell over because I wanted to do it.”

For Latroit, this was far from the average collaboration.

“There was a ton of pressure because I knew these guys were going to hear my interpretation of their song and their fans are devout fans,” he noted of Depeche Mode. “It was important to me to create something that really spoke to and rose to the occasion of Depeche Mode’s legacy.”

That legacy includes five GRAMMY nominations and now, a song that led to an awarded gramophone – of both the edible and non-edible varieties.

Harry Styles just dropped his new single, a throwback that recalls British artists of yesteryear entitled “Sign Of The Times.” He’ll perform it next weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”

I jokingly asked Michael Che, the SNL star who co-anchors the “Weekend Update” desk, if he is receiving any extra ticket requests due to the One Directioner’s forthcoming appearance.

“Well I’ll be honest with you, most of my family are African-American, so they’re not huge Harry Styles fans believe it or not,” the comedian quipped back. “There might be some!

“Nobody’s hit me up yet. It’s not like Drake!”

Che walked the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs comedy show benefiting Madison Square Garden’s Garden Of Dreams Foundation. He thought it was important to support ‘SNL’ cast-mate Leslie Jones along with some of his other friends, like Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan.

“Typically on a Tuesday we would be in the middle of writing and we wouldn’t come up for air until Wednesday, sometime in the daytime,” Che explained of the typical schedule during a show week. “SNL” had last week off; it returns this weekend with host Louis C.K. and musical guests The Chainsmokers. Jimmy Fallon takes over hosting duties next Saturday, when Styles is set to perform.

As for Che, he will tour behind his Netflix special “Michael Che Matters” this June, with the trek’s first stop in Boston. Some New Englanders weren’t exactly thrilled earlier this year when during a “Weekend Tonight” segment about the Super Bowl, the comedian referred to Boston as “the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”

“You know what’s so funny? I have so much fun in Boston as far as performing shows,” Che told me. “I love performing in Boston.”

Just two weeks ago he headlined a show at Boston University and according to the Boston Globe, refused to apologize for his remarks because, “I’m just trying to be more presidential.”

Ironically, you could call that a sign of the times too.

For Norman Reedus, one of the stars of “The Walking Dead,” his run on the hit AMC show has been rather unexpected.

“I didn’t know I was going to be on the second episode of the first season,” Reedus revealed to me on the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs charity event inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden last week. “I’m excited just to be here, you know what I mean?”

Now seven seasons later, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon has grown accustomed to walking around New York City and hearing adoring fans shout, “Don’t die!”

“I get a lot of police love and firemen love here,” he responded when I asked what fan interactions are like in the city. “(They talk) mostly about the show.”

And while Reedus talks about it comfortably, he admitted that there are some scenarios that he is not fully accustomed to.

“I just came back from Madrid and there were 10,000 screaming people in the streets and sometimes that’s overwhelming,” he admitted. “But it always feels good. I mean we work really hard on that show and we shoot it out in a bubble in the woods of Georgia so, when we come out of that and we get a lot of love it feels good.”

Sometimes he doesn’t even have to leave Georgia to feel the love. When I asked Reedus who the most surprising public figure was to tell him that they enjoyed “The Walking Dead,” he responded with Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I saw her in Savannah; she was there for a ‘Magic Mike’ after-party… I think they wrapped there,” he recalled. “She came up to me at a restaurant and said she really loved the show and I geeked out on her.”

Of course after Reedus’ story on “Fallon” about talk show host Sean Hannity sending endless shots of tequila to him and Dave Chappelle once, the Jada Smith run-in will only rank as the second most-random tale he’s told the media this year. Reedus probably encountered a few more TWD fans at The Garden Of Laughs stand-up comedy show. The event featured performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan and Sebastian Maniscalco. “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones and Bob Saget also performed at the benefit, which raised $2 million for The Garden Of Dreams Foundation to help kids through the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

Reedus has called New York home for almost 20 years; his son attends school in the city and his mother taught class in the Bronx and Harlem.

I was on the red carpet to cover arrivals at The Garden Of Laughs Comedy Concert, which benefited Madison Square Garden’s Garden Of Dreams Foundation, and spoke with actors Norman Reedus and Susan Sarandon along with performers Sebastian Maniscalco, John Oliver, Leslie Jones, Bob Saget and more.

The event raised $2 million for the charity, which helps kids throughout the tri-state area overcome obstacles. Other performers at the benefit included Chris Rock and a surprise set from Jerry Seinfeld.