Queens Courier Year in Review: A look back at Queens’ 2019 arts scene 

Photo by Ken Brown


Another year of amazing events over, and a new one just begun… 

A lot has happened, arts-wise, here in the ‘World’s Borough’ and as 2020 unfolds there’s tons more in store! 

“If Queens were a baseball player in arbitration with a team owner, it would be able to negotiate a huge contract. Put simply, we had a terrific year!” said Queens Economic Development Corporation Tourism Director Rob MacKay. “We hosted big-ticket, international events such as the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races, the U.S. Open, and the Hello Panda Festival. We hosted tremendous food events, such as Queens Taste. And we hosted a wide array of great theater, art, concerts, and other unique items, such as the Flushing Historic House Tour in December. 

“So much fun, and now we’re ready for a wonderful 2020!”

Here are some highlights:

Back in March, the ninth annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) shone a spotlight on a host of  boundary-breaking indie films.

Mexican Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, once said, “As artists, our job is to look where others don’t.” And like Cuarón, participating filmmakers shared their own compelling stories with audiences at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria.

“Thousand Pieces of Gold” and “Quiet Storm” were among the 200-plus local/global screenings that had something relevant, moving and worthwhile to say. The 2019 line-up included 79 films by women, 14 LGBTQ-themed works, and 15 by Asian filmmakers; also, 6 films were made by kids. Eyebrow-raising shorts included Academy Award-nominated “Marguerite.”

“We are finding that artists everywhere are reflecting the times we live in.” said QWFF Executive Director Katha Cato.

Los Angeles Lakers star Ron (also known as Metta World Peace) “was brave enough to take us through his life both on and off the basketball court,” according to filmmaker Jonathan Sweet, who is featured in his doc, “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story,” which helped kick down the doors for mental health acceptance in America.

An outrageous, mind-blowing comedy show set in Queens, explored celebrity, fame and religion.

Queens Theatre’s audiences loved “Relic, or, I Was Bubbie’s Favorite,” which premiered Mother’s Day weekend. Described as intelligent, with humor and heart, “Relic” explored the true meaning of family ties and took the audience on a surreal and hilarious, truth-finding journey from the Rego Park attic of Joel Feinman’s (Adam Green) bubbie — where he finds a mysterious ancient box that transforms his life – to the last scene in which he waxes poetic about circumcisions, Jesus Christ, and goats.

Director Will Pomerantz called it “an incredible tour-de-force for an actor” who plays 20 different characters with different accents.  

Performing together with Blondie, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy award-winning composer Elvis Costello & The Imposters brought the house down during their co-headlining performance at Forest Hills Stadium in July.

That memorable event marked the first time Blondie had graced the Forest Hills stage and a return for Costello, who last performed there about 35 years ago.

Queens’ musical theater lovers raved about Secret Theatre’s dynamic presentation of “Rent.” Its local success had surely done executive producer Richard Mazda and director Lauren Elder, proud.

“I’m so honored that this incredible cast of performers have given their time and hearts to our special production. I have loved helping them tell this beautiful story of how important life, friendship, and unconditional love are in this modern age,” Elder said. 

Evan Maltby (Mark) and the cast of ‘Rent.’

While a super-talented cast brought that memorable Broadway experience to LIC audiences, Queens Theatre kicked off their 31st season with a bang. Parsons Dance company showed off their moves back in September, and laughter filled the theater when Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” opened in November followed by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company’s electric holiday show, “Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas.”

“For more than 30 years, Queens Theatre has introduced audiences to innovative and exhilarating theatre, dance and family programming,” Executive Director Taryn Sacramone said. “We’re inspired by the diversity of our home borough, and the adventurousness of our audience members.”