If you’re a fan of song, dance, and circus arts, you’ll be amazed by The Ride’s latest venture, Eyes on New York, presented at Empire Outlets, located on Staten Island’s large natural harbor. If you’re not yet, you will be, after seeing this astonishing show!
Since the pandemic shutdown of live in-person events necessitated a suspension in The Ride’s award-winning theatrical bus tour in the heart of the Times Square area (which will resume in November, in time for the holiday season), producer Richard Humphrey decided to create a new experience for audiences with this summer’s long-awaited reopening of performance venues. So he and his team designed a new 150-seat dedicated space at Empire Outlets, created specifically for this world-premiere spectacular.
A free trip from lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry (which runs every 30 minutes, 24/7) delivers audiences right to the site, with sweeping views of NYC from both the boat and the expansive outdoor decks of Empire Outlets, which is now in the midst of its own reopening. Before and after the show, you can enjoy not only the vistas, but the shops, food, and beverages, including the open-air bar and table seating at Clinton Hall, across from The Ride’s theater.
Once inside (the theater opens fifteen minutes before the show begins), the one-hour family-friendly production, directed with humor and pizzazz by associate producer Richard Hankes, presents a fun-filled action-packed retrospective view of NYC over the past sixteen months of COVID-19, and a joyous beginning to the return of post-pandemic normalcy. Every seat in the intimate space is terrific, with the front row situated within inches of the platform stage, guaranteeing an up-close, personal, and unique circus-style experience like you’ve never had before in traditional large-scale arenas or big tops.
But this isn’t your usual circus; it combines a variety of popular circus arts with theatrical song, dance, and narrative, along with witty references to life in the city. The journey is led by an adorable clown/tourist (Jarrod Bates), suitcase and map in hand, who interacts with the audience and encounters an entertaining array of regular NYC occurrences and residents, including riding the subway, trying to cross the street, and walking through the park (all mimed to perfection), talented performers, first responders, a construction worker, and the Staten Island Pizza Rat (the infamous rodent that went viral when a video of it carrying a slice of pizza through the subway was posted on social media, which prompted fans to rename the borough’s minor league baseball team after it).
Along with Bates, the cast of characters is played by a super-skilled rotating troupe of diverse performers, featuring (on the evening I attended) the consummately graceful ballerina Violetta Komyshan, masterful contemporary dancer Patrick Pride, expressive and commanding Broadway hoofers Garth Bates and Abby DeReamer (leading the chorus-line finale of the Kander and Ebb classic “New York, New York”), and powerhouse singer Rachel Sim Webb (whose beautiful rendition of the jazz standard “Misty” by Erroll Garner spotlighted her outstanding vocal talents).
They were joined by the across-the-board breathtaking aerialist Kyla Ernst-Alper on silks, Randy Kato on the Cyr wheel, Ashlee Rose Montague (associate producer of the show, who also provided the engaging choreography) on the Lyra hoop, and contortionist Maria Pucciarelli – all of whom delighted and amazed with their fearless stunts, perfect control, and flawless agility. Each and every segment was a highlight, made even more gripping and impressive by the audience’s proximity to their dexterous acts.
The top-notch performances were enhanced by a dazzling artistic design, with sparkling costumes by Renato Dicent, colorful lighting by Michael Petre-Zumbrun, a set of movable mirrored panels by Paul O’Toole, familiar mood-setting sound effects by Charles DeChants, and an original pre-recorded rap song about the last “Sixteen Months” by Greg Mozian, with Alexis Qualls serving as production stage manager.
If you’re looking for a great way to spend a full day or evening, catch the ferry, walk around the area, do some shopping, grab something to eat and drink, and enjoy the phenomenal debut of this highly recommended exciting new show.
Running Time: Approximately sixty minutes.
Eyes on New York by The Ride plays Wednesdays-Sundays, at 1, 3, 5, and 7 pm, through September 6, at Empire Outlets, 55 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NYC. Tickets, priced at $19, $29, and $39, are available online.