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The Show Goes Downtown

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Every night brings a flashback to Times Square’s golden age: a girl on a trapeze swings from the rafters of a dive bar, a drag queen pulls a rabbit out of a hat, a silver-heeled Vassar grad strips down to a glittery bodysuit. In theaters and cabarets and storefronts on the Lower East Side and in Williamsburg, a live-performance scene is thriving, with a profusion and vitality not seen since the construction of the Cyclone. The new scene cross-pollinates vaudeville, opera, the circus, burlesque—often all on the same stage, and the growing audiences these shows attract confirm New York’s status as the city that, more than any other, loves its misfits, from seven-foot-tall Scotty the Blue Bunny, who dons a blue rabbit costume and heels, to the skinny boy self-remade into René Risqué, International Man of Pleasure, to the elf-eared girl in a polyester gown who calls herself Reverend Jen. Here’s our Who’s Who and What’s What of downtown’s wild, original, and very New York theater scene.


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