Like an aging Hollywood star, this Prospect Park landmark has been rehabbed and face-lifted multiple times. And because of all that cosmetic work, it’s still a knockout—a soaring, three-story clamshell with a sound system that packs a wallop whether you’re standing on the cement right up front or sprawled out under a tree on the lawn further out. Opened in 1939 as a meeting place for dances and public concerts, the amphitheater fell into disrepair during the fiscally challenged seventies. Extensive renovations throughout the next two decades helped pull crowds back; where once folks turned out to cheer on greats like Benny Goodman, they’re now gathering in the thousands for world-music legend Angelique Kidjo, modern jazz offspring Ravi Coltrane, indie-rock gods TV on the Radio, or even the homegrown Brooklyn Philharmonic. The perennial, summerlong Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is responsible for much of the entertainment which also includes film screenings and dance performances. The rest of the year, the bandshell stands largely empty, although skateboarders have been known to use its surrounding ramps and levels as a practice ground.
With her typically wry outlook and self-lacerating humor, veteran performer Hoffman returns to the stage with a new show about living in an ever-changing New York and her experiences as a straight Jewish woman aboard a gay cruise during the high holidays. More »