62 The Queens Courier • buzz • AUGUST 18, 2016 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.qns.com ‘GREEN CARD’ IS A GOLDEN MUSICAL A multinational cast tackles a controversial s buzz subject with exuberance and charm at the world premiere of “Green Card.” It’s a variation on a familiar theme in which a marriage for citizenship triggers unexpected twists and turns. Several outstanding performances are enhanced by clever musical numbers and original choreography. D i r e c t o r / p l a y - wright Dimo Hyun Jun Kim (with Ishmael Robinson) effectively turn a potentially divisive subject into a modern fable where love conquers all. The packed house on opening night proves the point. While one song warns against seeking a moral, it’s an unavoidably positive result. The young cast is energetic and bright from opening curtain to final black out. Garett Taketa as Han is likable as the student whose goals and relationships are potentially overwhelming. His girlfriend Kim (Yonji Ham) is long suffering as she desperately tries to forgive Han’s consistently poor judgment. Deli owner Cathy (Julia Lim) changes her outlook from scene to scene. As a result, her musical observations of modern politics in the second act are easier to swallow. A disarming performance by Paul Marquez and good support by Alex Notkin (as officers 1 and 2), Byron Clohessy (mugger), Liz Lindenmeier, Lina Lee, Joomin Hwang, Sam Franco, Oskerdavid Aguirre and the ensemble keep the action fresh and entertaining. The unmistakable breakout performance by Daniela Benitez as Mia is truly remarkable. She sings with unfettered energy and emotion. Benitez confidently navigates her role with both power and vulnerability. Clearly, her distinctive charisma justifies the story’s surprising conclusion. Brava! Choreography by Nelson Patino Jr. is creative and very watchable. The set (scenic design by Bo Ra Kwan) is a familiar one, where two floors of metal piping frame the other scenes. The orchestra unobtrusively remains onstage beneath the piping. Kudos to conductor/pianist Tek Goo Kang and musicians. Music and lyrics by Bryan Michaels with TaeHo Park are another of the musical’s strengths. Costumes (by Nayshaun Stokes) are bright and well defined—simple when expected and equally bold when the situation arises. Nods as well to Ashley Marinaccio, Bernard Johnson, Tae Jong Park, Seo Ha Park, Sean Beck, Isabella Peralta, So-Jeong Choi, Johnny Wang, So Ry Yun, Tony White and Namsik Kim. For information, surf to www.greencardmusical. com, call 866-811- 4111 or “like” them on Facebook. As always, save me a seat on the aisle. A VIEW FROM THE CLIFF BY CLIFF KASDEN Sci-fi author from Jackson Heights uses values learned while living in Queens to get first novel published By Anthony Giudice firstname.lastname@example.org @A_GiudiceReport The co-author of the science fiction novel set to hit bookstores this December, “Ocean of Storms,” has used the determination and hard work he has learned from living in Queens to finally get the book published, more than 10 years after it was written. Christopher Mari originally cowrote “Ocean of Storms” with his friend Jeremy Brown back in 2005, but they were hard pressed to find an agent or publisher who wanted to bring their story to the masses. More than a decade later, Mari and Brown scored a deal with 47North/Amazon Publishing to put out “Ocean of Storms,” and Mari credits his success to the values he attained while living in Queens. Mari grew up in Brooklyn, but moved into Queens around 15 years ago with his family, first living in Astoria, and then in Jackson Heights for the last 10 years. “You have a lot of diversity, you’ve got a lot of different kinds of people, but most people are the same,” Mari said of Queens. “Everybody’s got a similar goal: You’re just trying to make it. You’re trying to make a better life for yourself, for your kids. That’s what I’ve always loved about Queens. I never wanted to not be around that energy and hustle of lots of different people from different backgrounds trying to do something with their lives.” Queens even had an influence on one of the themes in “Ocean of Storms,” Mari said. The book centers around the need to go to the moon after an electric pulse knocks out all power on Earth. Rather quickly, world powers, like the USA and China, realize they need to work together in order to get to the moon and fix this worldwide problem as quickly as possible. As Queens is the most diverse borough in all of New York City, Mari noted, many different people all come together to make Queens great, much like the characters in the novel must do. “It wasn’t about planting the flag and celebrating American achievement, but it was about this idea that all of these different people can come together and do something not as individual groups, but as all representatives of the human race.” Mari used the very same energy and hustle he admires in his fellow Queens residents to tirelessly work to finally get published. That is when he teamed up with Brown to write “Ocean of Storms,” which got some interest, but didn’t get published. After writing his fourth novel, “The Beachhead,” Mari found an agent who aggressively marketed the book, which was picked up by 47North/Amazon Publishing. It was then that they looked at “Ocean of Storms” and wanted to do a two-book deal and publish both novels. “We’re just so glad that the book is finally getting its day in the sun. We tried to get it out there for years and no one would touch it,” Brown said. “To have finally found an agent and publisher that believe in this story as much as we do is incredibly gratifying. Now we just hope people will discover it, pick it up and enjoy it as well! It’s an inspirational story that shows how we all can come together in a time of crisis and accomplish impossible things.” You can find “Ocean of Storms” in bookstores starting on Dec. 1, or on Amazon, the Barnes & Noble website and on IndieBound. Photos courtesy of Christopher Mari Christopher Mari used the values he learned while living in Queens to finally get his sci-fi novel published.
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