NYC Best: Shepard’s ‘Heartless,’ Lyle Lovett, Quay Twins

Norbert Leo Butz
Norbert Leo Butz is performing two shows this weekend at the new club 54 Below. Butz won Tony awards for his work in the Broadway musicals "Catch Me If You Can" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." Source: Keith Sherman Assoc. via Bloomberg

Now’s your chance to see lots of off-beat musicals, comedies and dramas.

The 16th New York International Fringe Festival is under way, with nearly 200 plays in 20 downtown venues over the next couple of weeks.

How about “The Art of Painting,” which promises Nazis, child molesters and infidelity?

Or the musical “Danny Visconti is Hill-Bent,” tracing a night of booze, strippers and prank-calling Michele Bachmann following a chance meeting with the Secretary of State?


Saturday Outside

Lincoln Center Out of Doors finishes with a bang this weekend, presenting the “29th Annual Roots of American Music Festival.”

Today and tomorrow, concerts include a tribute to Laura Nyro, sets by Otis Clay, Tom Paxton, Taylor Mac, Aloe Blacc and a gala salute to Gil Scott-Heron.

At Damrosch Park and various other venues around Lincoln Center.

For sustenance, there’s barbeque and drinks.


Saturday Night

Singer-songwriter and road warrior Lyle Lovett brings his country-folk-inflected music to the Prospect Park Bandshell.

He appears with his Acoustic Group as part of Celebrate Brooklyn, and you can expect tunes from his most recent album, “Release Me,” as well as classics from his songbook.

Opening for the witty, raspy-voiced Texan is Aoife O’Donovan.

At 9th St. and Prospect Park West, Brooklyn. Information: +1-718-683-5600;

Stop for a glass of pinot noir and a prosciutto pizza with tomato, mozzarella and arugula at Bar Toto in Park Slope.

At 411 11th St. at 6th Ave., Brooklyn. Information: +1-718-768-4698.

Saturday Late

Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz adds cabaret to his resume with an eclectic, high-energy show at 54 Below.

Don’t expect Broadway standards from this expansively gifted performer. His personal touchstones include Tom Waits, Jimmy Webb and Alicia Keys.

Singer Lauren Kennedy and a terrific band add to the show’s bluesy tinge.

The club is serving well-priced small plates -- try the sliders with a cold one.

At 254 W. 54th St. Information: +1-646-476-3551;


Early in their careers, the twin Quay Brothers, Stephen and Timothy, designed an album cover for Blood, Sweat and Tears that portrayed the group standing around in a field -- all of them headless.

Before releasing it, Columbia Records put the heads back on.

Now you can see both versions at the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective devoted to the reclusive duo, in addition to their animation, film, drawing and other graphic-design work.

Also represented are recent site-specific pieces based on Bartok and Kafka.

“Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets” runs through Jan. 7 at 11 W. 53rd St. Information: +1-212-708-9400;

Sunday Evening

Head over to the Park Avenue Armory for a concert by the International Contemporary Ensemble, currently artists-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival.

“For the Birds” presents avian-inspired works ranging from Messiaen and Cage to world premieres by Marcos Balter and Suzanne Farrin. They’re played as musicians and audience migrate among the stunning rooms at the Armory.

At 643 Park Ave. Information: +1-212-721-6500;

Sunday Night

“Heartless,” a new play by Sam Shepard focusing on women is running at Signature Theater Company.

Julianne Nicholson stars as a Los Angeles resident with a mysterious past that erupts into her present life.

Also in the cast: Gary Cole and Lois Smith.

Daniel Aukin directed the world premiere production.

In previews at 480 W. 42nd St., for an Aug. 27 opening. Information: +1-212-244-7529;

Post-show, grab a banquette at Ca Va Todd English and settle in with an icy martini and the Maine crab salad.

At 310 W. 44th St. Information: +1-212-803-4545.

(Zinta Lundborg is an editor for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Lewis Lapham’s podcast and movie reviews.

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