Volume 22, Number 26 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 6 - 12, 2009

Under Cover

New theater for Canal
UnderCover got the first word this week on a new theater venue coming to the northwest corner of Tribeca.

Early next year, writer and former Broadway actor Kipp Osborne plans to open the Canal Park Playhouse in a building he owns at 508 Canal St. The playhouse will have a 55-seat theater and a 19-seat cabaret, hosting everything from music and plays to circus and classic vaudeville acts.

Osborne, who has lived in Tribeca since 1980, is eyeing a late-February or early-March opening for the playhouse, and he promised to reveal more details soon. For now, Sara Murphy, the playhouse’s managing director, told us the playhouse will showcase young playwrights and artists, and it will also host at least two theater companies in residence. The average ticket price will be $18 a show.

The theater will show “the work of high quality, early career artists in a sophisticated surrounding,” Murphy said.

The 1826 building, landmarked about 10 years ago, is on Canal St. near Greenwich St., close to Canal Park. The ground floor used to be home to a furniture business Osborne co-owned, called Osborne and Osborne, and before that it was Sweeney’s Bar and Grill.

The new theater will include a snack bar with pretzels, cakes, hot dogs, craft beer and wine, along with $2 popcorn made with real butter, assuming Osborne gets a beer and wine license.

Around the New Year, look for the Web site canalparkplayhouse.com to go live.

Mexican Yaffa
The tea has barely stopped pouring at Yaffa’s Mediterranean restaurant and teahouse, and already there are new plans for the Greenwich St. space.

As soon as this spring, Mary Ann’s Mexican restaurant will move a few blocks from W. Broadway over to Yaffa’s old space at 353 Greenwich St. The spot went vacant when Yaffa Faro shut down her eponymous cafe in September after running it for 24 years.

The closure turned out to be convenient for Mary Ann’s, which had to find a new home because its squat building next to the Cosmopolitan Hotel is going to be knocked down as part of the hotel’s expansion. After getting landmarks approval for the project this fall, the Cosmo’s owners said construction — including the demo of Mary Ann’s — could begin in spring 2010.

Two workers at Mary Ann’s confirmed the move over to Greenwich St., though they said they did not know when it would happen. The owners of the small restaurant chain, which started in Chelsea, did not respond to requests for comment.

When ‘Harry’ met Pace

With dreams of “Slumdog Millionaire” multi-millions, a new Indian indie, “When Harry tries to Marry,” has been shooting at Pace in Lower Manhattan. Grant Kretchik, a faculty member and graduate of the school’s Actors Studio Drama, has shot a few scenes with his students and will be flying to India to film some more. The story centers around a 22-year-old college student who surprises his assimilated Indian family by seeking an arranged marriage.

What puts Harry (Rahul Rai) off to love-based marriage? Could it be Pace students Julie Robles and Spencer Bazzano making out in City Hall Park for the movie? Or is it student Ginger Graham’s performance as “Stripper # 1?” On a Pace blog, Graham said she was not nude and did not wear anything “super revealing” for the role. The character “is nothing more than a humorous, outspoken girl who knows how to party,” Graham added.

Losing a shop
Chinatown activist Jan Lee tells us he’s closing his Mott St. furniture shop as soon as this week and moving the business to DUMBO.

Lee has owned Sinotique for 18 years and said his foot traffic never recovered after 9/11.

Even though Lee’s family owns the shop’s building, “The pressure has gotten too great for me,” Lee said. “It’s a very bittersweet end of one chapter and opening of another.”

Lee expects to lease the ground-floor space this week to Touchstone Health, an insurance company that he said is getting a deal at 10 to 15 percent below market. To find a tenant who would pay market rents or higher, Lee said he would have had to cut a deal with the illegal handbag dealers that swarm Chinatown.

Lee has long maintained a furniture workshop in DUMBO at 70 John St. and this summer opened an art gallery there. Now, in the space that is as close to Chinatown as you can get and still be in Brooklyn, Lee will reopen his furniture showroom.

“It’s very tough,” Lee said. “But I still live in Chinatown. I’m still going to be active in the community.”

Hate heckle
City Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin proved in September that an Asian could win in a majority white district, but that of course doesn’t mean she will be free from bias incidents. At a campaign rally this week in Chinatown the day before Election Day, a man wearing fatigues and claiming to be a homeless veteran heckled her saying “you’re not American,” while accusing her Chinese supporters of being racists. Chin, a good 10 inches shorter than the vet, stood her ground before a few of her supporters guided the man away. He shoved several of her supporters as he was leaving. The event was held in Chatham Square, ironically at the memorial to Chinese-American vets who were killed serving in the U.S. military.

B.P.C. booked
Is a medium with a 140-character limit a threat to books and libraries? We might have thought so, but the Battery Park City library branch has just set up a Twitter account in advance of its expected opening in the spring. Those tech-savvy bibliophiles scarfed up a primo Twitter name, BatteryParkCity, which surprisingly, was still available. Wonder what the Battery Park City Authority thinks about that?

We were flattered that “DowntownExpress” was among the library’s first followees and we of course responded in kind. BTW, if you like Facebook and believe Twitter is tearing away the essence of our society’s fabric (or you just don’t use it), you can read our tweets w/o ever giving Twitter the satisfaction by becoming a fan of Downtown Express on Facebook.

And lastly, if you’re a hard copy newspaper devotee, live long and prosper. Multiply too.





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