On August 12, Laura Osnes presented her Bandstand co-star and friend Corey Cott with his official caricature at Sardi’s, and remembering the moment she found out she’d be headlining the swing-scored, 1940s tuner alongside her friend brings joy to her heart. “[Director/choreographer] Andy Blankenbuehler called me up one day,” she said to the guests at the Sardi’s ceremony “and said ‘What do you think about Corey Cott?’ and I thought ‘Hallelujah!’”
Osnes sings the final word, in a reference to a line from the musical. She collaborated with Cott on his auditions for the show, working with him through the process. “Just to get to see him through that whole journey and now getting to see him lead this whole company so beautifully is really fulfilling,” she says.
Osnes and Cott have been friends for years. She remembers meeting him for the first time right before he joined Newsies and made his Broadway debut as Jack Kelly. They watched the show from the mezzanine, and Osnes recalls spending a lot of time with the cast as a self-proclaimed “fansie.”
However, Cott has a different memory of their first meeting. When he was a freshman in college at Carnegie Mellon, he visited New York, and a friend of his knew Osnes, who was in Grease at the time, and suggested they stop by her apartment for a visit. “I knew who Laura was obviously and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, okay!’” Cott remembers. “And we went over to her apartment, and she was so kind and served us hot chocolate, and it was super hot. And I was nervous so I spilled it all over her apartment and all over my pants.”
Now, that’s a moment they laugh about, and they both immediately effuse how they’re fans of the other, and having that friendship foundation has been helpful as they’ve developed and performed the characters of Donny Novitski and Julia Trojan. Donny is a World War II vet who comes back home with the promise to check in on his fallen comrade’s wife, Julia. The layered character relationship requires a certain closeness for the actors.
“Having known each other for so long and wondering if you’ll ever work together and it’s just the best when you work with your friends,” Osnes says. “There’s an immediate level of trust there.”
“It’s like a dream come true to work with someone that you trust and care about as a friend,” Cott says.
And it’s not your typical musical theater romance, Osnes points out. “It’s not like, oh love at first sight, the prince and the princess,” she says, as the characters harbor a secret between them: Donny witnessed Julia’s husband killed in battle. “The audiences knows that there’s something that’s connecting us but also hindering us from ever being in love or being in love without complications,” says Cott. “There’s so much baggage that we have to get through.”
Cott says the musical is more like a play in its construction, and he and Osnes relish partnering in the scenes, which feel different night after night. “In the past I feel like I’ve been known for my consistency and in this show, it feels like for the first time I’m able to see it differently every day, which is really cool,” she says. “And that’s probably a lot because of you.”
And real-life war wives and vets have identified with the actors portrayal of these flawed characters’ story. Osnes mentions a night when members of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), a nonprofit for people who have survived their partners being killed at war or due to PTSD, and a woman came up to Osnes after to share that after her fiancé died, she started dating the best friend, but it was too hard and they broke up. “That’s hard too with our show,” Osnes says. “We played around with versions where it maybe didn’t work out between them.”
“There’s a world where our show could have had us not ending up together in some way,” Cott adds. “There is a tradition of musical theater and storytelling that we wanted to adhere to. Not even that these people are okay at the end of the show—that’s not what it is—but that there is some sense of like joy and being able to move on.”
Cott and Osnes have enjoyed cultivating their friendship while co-starring int he show, and while the show closes on Sunday, they plan to stay close. The stars had semi-regular double dates on their days off with Cott’s wife Meg (and son Elliott) and Osnes’s husband Nathan, and they plan to continue the tradition after the curtain falls. They want to work together again and will always carry the lessons they learned from each other.
“Corey’s dedication to his craft puts mine to shame,” Osnes says, noting that Cott learned to play the piano for the part. “He’s always challenging himself and those around him to be better, go deeper, never settle. I seriously have never seen a co-star or cast mate pour themselves into a role and go for it the way Corey did with Donny. It’s utterly inspiring.”
Cott, for one, is inspired by Osnes’s attitude and demeanor and hopes he can absorb an ounce of her genuine nature. “Beyond being one of the most talented people I have ever met, Laura somehow finds a way to stay positive at all times—especially offstage,” he says. “I hope I can snag 5 percent of her positivity as I move on in my career.”
“The Onstage Lovers Game”
We asked Laura and Corey to answer the following questions for themselves and for the other person. Let’s see how well they did.
What is your go-to drink?
Corey: Depends when – but Scotch
Corey for Laura: Wine
Laura: Lemonade (a margarita if it’s Sunday!)
Laura for Corey: Bourbon
How do you take your coffee?
Corey for Laura: Little milk
Laura: A splash of soy
Laura for Corey: Black (because of Whole 30)
What is your favorite food?
Corey: A great steak
Corey for Laura: Mexican. Chips. Guac. Tacos.
Laura: Mexican/Chips + salsa!
Laura for Corey: Pizza
What is your go-to outfit in a pinch?
Corey: Jeans. Hat. T-shirt.
Corey for Laura: A sensible dress
Laura: Summer dress
Laura for Corey: Jeans and a button down
What is your dream role?
Corey: Floyd Collins or Billy Bigelow
Corey for Laura: Maria in Sound of Music
Laura: Marian in The Music Man
Laura for Corey: Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar
Corey: Mediterranean yacht cruise
Corey for Laura: Isolated island with her hubby
Laura for Corey: Italy
Dream dinner date?
Corey: Pizza on the couch with my wife
Corey for Laura: Fancy tacos after performing somewhere fancy and then a fancy Instagram picture of her fro-yo
Laura: Beach, sunset, with Nate!
Laura for Corey: Grillin’ on the deck with Meg and Elliot
Styled by Tony Marion and Kayla Foster
Hair and Make-Up by Erin Acker
Ariana DeBose is an open book. Whether you’re a family member or a fan at the stage door, she’ll make you feel like you’re old friends with a shared history. In the last four years, she’s starred in four Broadway shows—Pippin, Motown: The Musical, Hamilton, and now, A Bronx Tale—and she’s showing no signs of stopping any time soon. We chatted with the star after our photoshoot to find out what makes her tick.
What’s the best thing about New York?
Its diversity—which manifests in everything! (FOOD)
Worst thing about New York?
The smell … and the MTA
One place you’ve never been you want to?
Favorite part of live theatre?
Favorite actor of all time?
Oh man—I couldn’t pick just one. Jan Maxwell, Judith, Hattie McDaniel, Meryl, Megan M, Morgan Freeman….
If you weren’t an actor what would you be?
Go to shower song?
Anything Phil Collins.
What’s your favorite holiday?
If you could invite anyone who would you invite to your holiday dinner?
Lady Diana Spencer
Favorite musical of all time?
Mamma Mia!—go ahead judge me.
If you were to write a musical what would it be about?
I can’t tell you that—what happens when I write it??!!??
Who is the most influential female in your life?
That’s quite the question. There are many…many of whom lead by example.
What’s one thing you wish you knew in high school?
I wish I’d known that $ was a lie.
What’s one thing you want yourself to remember 10 years from now?
“The best is yet to come”
Name three things in your bag you can’t live without?
Gum, credit card and a contact case.
Biggest fashion misstep?
My bra is always peeking out.
Favorite thing in your closet?
My Urban Outfitter overalls
Zoe Kravits & Diane Keaton
What’s the one thing that makes you happiest?
Dancing with someone I love.
Whats your favorite sound?
If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be?
I actually like silence so….
When do you feel most beautiful?
…. in nature
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Sadly, check my phone.
What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Say “Thank you”
What’s the title of your future memoir?
Divine Choreography: The Ariana DeBose Story. (Original, I know)
Styled by Kayla Foster
Hair & Make-Up by Austin Thornton
Clothing by Layana Aguilar and Reiss
How do you encapsulate a 60-year career? Make a musical about it. The legendary director and producer Harold Prince is a piece of living history, and Prince of Broadway is a tribute to one of the most renowned figures in the theatre’s historic contribution to the art form. The musical celebrated opening night on Thursday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, and celebrity guests attended to support the icon and his illustrious work. Watch the video below!]]>
How do you encapsulate a 60-year career? Put it into a musical. The legendary director and producer Harold Prince is a piece of living history, and Prince of Broadway is a tribute to one of the most renowned figures in the theatre’s historic contribution to the art form. The musical celebrated opening night on Thursday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, and celebrity guests attended to support the icon and his illustrious work. Check out photos from the red carpet and the afterparty below!]]>
Pessimism is an easy route to take in today’s world, but Celia Keenan-Bolger still counts herself an optimist. However, she enjoyed spending time in the shoes of someone with a darker view of the world, as Bee, a young woman who believes she can jump through space and time with the click of a button, in Bruce Norris’s A Parallelogram, which recently was at Second Stage Theater.
Sitting in the hair and makeup chair before her photoshoot, a few days before the play closed, Keenan-Bolger reflects on the show, as well as on her role as both a mother and an activist. “Bruce makes a case for being kind and he makes a case for being honest,” says Keenan-Bolger. “And for someone who generally leads with kindness, it’s been really interesting to see how being honest—if you’re also kind—can be an act of generosity in a way that I didn’t necessarily consider before. I thought particularly right now, at a time when it feels like there are a lot of worldviews, it’s the time to live in somebody else’s skin.”
One of the worldviews she’s particularly focused on cultivating is that of her 2-year-old son. Coming from Detroit, Keenan-Bolger doesn’t crave a creek and a backyard the way her husband does but still feels like New York City was something to work up to. “To think that he’s going to grow up with all of this access and all of this understanding is a weird slant of the world that I’m like, ‘This isn’t what the world is really like,’” she says. “And he’ll be like, ‘This is my only reference point.’ So that will be interesting.”
Keenan-Bolger believes exposing her son to political rallies, as well as culture and art are key experiences. “I feel like we go to a fair amount of protests,” she says. “And that’s a really important part of being a mother right now, especially to a white boy who is born into privilege. I think now more than ever we are having good discussions about what that actually means. Also trying to make sure that he understands from a young age what times we are living in and how that is going to affect his life and what part he can play in making a difference.”
The day before this interview, Keenan-Bolger and her son were at Grand Army Plaza before a performance to join the rally for Peace and Sanity. She was resisting white supremacy, the patriarchy, and hate while wearing her ‘The Future is Female’ shirt, and her son was dressed in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ onesie. “Clothes are becoming part of the resistance in a way that I feel like they weren’t necessarily before,” she says. “Obviously, it’s not enough to just buy the t-shirt but I do think when I look through my drawers these days I have a lot of political shirts. I have a lot of Ruth Ginsberg and Hillary and shirts that have political messages. If I’m walking through the streets these days I guess it is important that part of what I am trying to project into the world is political. Clothes are a way of doing that.”
Styled by Kayla Foster
Hair & Makeup by Austin Thornton
Clothing by Layana Aguilar & Nina shoes
If you had asked 18-year-old Alistair Brammer what his dream role would be, he’d have responded: Chris in Miss Saigon. And Brammer is just as excited as his younger self to be making his Broadway debut as the American G.I. in the musical at the Broadway Theatre.
However, when he found out he landed the role, first for the London production, he had to contain that excitement. Brammer was doing a matinee of War Horse on the West End, and he was in a group dressing room when his agent called. So Brammer did the only thing he could think to do—he went to the green room and just started “cleaning like Monica in Friends.” “I didn’t know how to get rid of the energy, I was ecstatic,” Brammer says. “It was genuinely a dream come true. When I was 18, that would be the pinnacle of my career, so now I don’t know what to do!”
Though “pinnacle” is a strong word for someone who certainly has a long career ahead of him. Enjoying a cup of black coffee at the secluded St Kilda in midtown, he’s dressed down in a grey t-shirt and flat-brimmed cap. Brammer’s blue eyes are inviting and his charm is irresistible, but he’s completely off the market.
His first wedding anniversary is coming up on August 28, and he talks about his wife Rachel as if the honeymoon never stopped. The couple met when Brammer was in War Horse, where she was the in-house physiotherapist. “She had a boyfriend for most of the time, so it was a no-go area,” Brammer recalls. “Then they broke up, and at the Christmas party I gave her a kiss, and the rest is history. We got engaged after eight months, and in just under two years we got married.”
And Brammer found out that he was going to Broadway with Miss Saigon when he was on his honeymoon. He had sent his agent an email because he was concerned about getting work lined up when he returned, and his agent hinted that there was something on the table that would calm his fears.
Brammer and his wife arrived in New York in January, his first time to the city, and their first night in the city, they just walked around Times Square. “We just spent the first week walking around to libraries. We went to the park. We went uptown and figured out which restaurants to go to,” he says. “We like Yum Yum Bangkok on 46th—great lunch deals. We’re basically on the hunt for New York’s best lunch deals! We’ve just been eating everywhere. There’s a great place that we like called Tea and Sympathy, which is downtown. It’s an English restaurant.”
Rachel is on a spouse visa while Brammer is starring in Saigon so she’s not allowed to work, but Brammer has most of his days off so the two of them spend their days together. “I have three meals a day with my wife. Who else gets to do that?” Brammer says. “And, it’s my new wife. It would be different if we were 12 years in and a bit sick of each other! We’re just loving spending all of our time together.”
The new Broadway star is getting a three-year working visa to do more performing in the States, but he says that the Brammer family is focused on Rachel after he wraps his stint in Saigon. “I am going to take a little bit of a backseat from theatre for a while, just because I’ve done it so much,” he explains. “I’ll probably do pilot season over here, and I’ve got a manager in L.A., so that’s good. But then we can move back and wait until the next thing comes in. It will be some time to put Rachel first and let her work.”
Plus, he’s got other dreams aside from Broadway. “I’ve got a real longing to be a writer—the problem is I don’t write anything!” he says with a laugh. “Romantically, I want to be one. I actually want to write a book, but it’s committing the time. I feel bad saying to my wife, ‘Okay, I’m going to go write for five hours. Bye.’ It’s not even that I feel bad; I don’t want to. I want to hang out with my wife. But as soon as she gets back to being employed, and I have eight hours a day where I’m doing nothing, I know that I will. I’ve got the idea in my head.”
Styling by Jake Sokoloff
Grooming by Megan Whalen
Shot on location at Paramount Hotel
Clothing by Calvin Klein, Todd Snyder, Polo Ralph Lauren, Daniel Buchler, Zara, TopMan
Eyewear by Allied Metal Works Sunglasses
Shoes by TopMan
Michael Urie and Talene Monahon star as con man Ivan Alexandreyevich Hlestakov and his betrothed Marya in Gogol’s 19th-century comedy of errors The Government Inspector. The Red Bull Theater production is running through August 20. Offstage, the actors are just as witty and full of laughs as their satirical Russian characters.
Broadway Style Guide corresponded with Michael and Talene by email, and they shared how they first met, the next show they’d love to do together, and why Michael is drinking Talene’s blood.
How did you meet? What was your first impression of the other person?
Talene Monahon: We met at the table read. I thought he had impeccable timing—and impeccable hair.
Michael Urie: Talene was hilarious in the table read, and I knew it’d be easy to fall in love with her. (And knew she’d be easy to seduce.)
When you were cast in these roles, did you do anything before rehearsals started or outside of rehearsal to get to know each other?
Talene: We were kind of coy for awhile. Sometimes we Facebook messaged each other pictures of Twilight characters.
Michael: Talene would NOT leave me alone.
What’s the secret to falling in love onstage?
Talene: Writing love poetry, building shrines, weird rituals involving a lock of the other person’s hair. Michael was trained at Juilliard, so he may have other methods, I don’t know.
Michael: Fake it.
Have you ever had any onstage mishaps during the show together?
Talene: Twice now, I’ve kissed Michael so hard that my mouth has started bleeding, and he’s inadvertently swallowed my blood.
Michael: She’s a vampire. I know because… now I am too.
What other show would you love to do together?
Talene: Pygmalion. Maybe Virginia Woolf, down the pipeline…
Michael: Much Ado About Nothing! A two-person Les Miz.
What is one thing you have to have on an perfect date?
Talene: Some LOLs.
Michael: Easy conversation. Left wanting more.
Michael, why is Talene easy to fall in love with? Talene, why is Michael easy to fall in love with?
Talene: Have you seen him? Michael is like Labradoodle puppy meets Prince Charming. Effortlessly adorable.
Michael: It’s a chore, honestly. Jk—she’s gorgeous, and I can lift her up several different ways. She’s an easy laugh, and hopelessly sweet.
Michael: Talene’s bloody mouth.
Michael: Must we?
The Stage Lovers’ Game
We asked Talene and Michael to answer the following questions for themselves and for the other person.
*Editor’s note: Michael saw Talene’s answers over email so instead of answering for her, he responds to her answers for him.
What is your go-to drink?
Talene: Vodka soda
Michael: Laprhoaig 10
Talene’s answer for Michael: Whiskey (or Diet Coke)
Michael’s response: Close, it’s scotch. And I’m trying to drink less Diet Coke after Arnie Burton told me it causes Alzheimer’s.
How do you take your coffee?
Talene: Milk and powdered chemicals
Talene’s answer for Michael: Iced, with milk
Michael: Hm, observant I DO like iced coffee sometimes…I would’ve guess Talene was a tea person…
What is your favorite food?
Talene: Greek yogurt
Michael: Peanut butter
Talene’s answer for Michael: Tex-mex?
Michael: Close, I do love Tex-Mex. For Talene—BANANAS! Hahahaha!!!! (She like HATES bananas.)
What is your go-to outfit in a pinch?
Talene: T-shirt, shorts, sneakers, baseball cap
Talene’s answer for Michael: T-shirt, shorts, baseball cap
What is your dream role?
Michael: It was Hlestakov, I just didn’t know it… :)
Talene’s answer for Michael: Hamlet? (He’s doing it!)
Michael: Yeah, that too… Her dream role is unwritten, but I would love to see her play Viola in Twelfth Night.
Talene: The English moors
Talene’s answer for Michael: New Zealand?
Michael: Are there bugs? I don’t like bugs. Or sharks.
Dream dinner date?
Talene: Terry Gross
Michael: Tennessee Williams
Talene’s answer for Michael: Ryan and Kinley and maybe the cat (though probably not).
Michael: Oh yeah, Ryan! Not Tennessee Williams… :)
Styled by Kayla Foster and Tony Marion
Clothing by Asos, Parke and Ronen, David Heart
Shoes by Nina Shoes, Gola
There’s a new dynamic duo storming the stairs of Moscow! Stepping into the shoes of Pierre and Sonya in the the much celebrated production of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 are Hamilton favorite Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan and multi-platinum recording artist Ingrid Michaelson.
Onaodowan and Michaelson sat down with Broadway Style Guide to discuss how they’re approaching the roles, onstage surprises, and what brought them to the Broadway stage.
What is the most unexpected thing you encountered while working on The Great Comet?
Ingrid Michaelson: For me it was the physicality, how it physically hurts your body. There’s a lot of stairs. During rehearsals, we were rehearsing in rooms where there are no stairs. They’re like, “This is where you’re going up these stairs. This is where you’re going down these stairs.” So for as many stairs as you see on stage and in the mezzanine, there’s also stairs backstage. You’re just constantly walking up and down stairs. It really takes a toll on your body.
Okieriete Onaodowan: One is no matter how old you are, whenever an actor interacts with you [as an audience member], you just turn into a six-year-old kid. So many times when Denée or someone looks at someone, you’re just like *sighs*—old man, old woman. It doesn’t matter where they come from.
Oak, a lot of people know you from Hamilton, what’s it like going from a supporting character to heading your own show?
Onaodowan: Honestly, it’s the same shit, you know. I just say different things.
Michaelson: Except you get all the applause when you come out onstage!
Onaodowan: Yeah! It’s more applause, and I say more words. But the approach of it, grounding [the characters] and making them real, it’s just more material to make a real person. For me personally, that’s the main difference—just having more time and more material to craft, work around, and create a really fully flushed out dude. It’s really great, and the applause doesn’t hurt at all.
Michaelson: He’s just so good! He brings a real vulnerability to the character. And this might be because I watch the show every night from certain points, but I really understand a lot of it and I really feel like this week you really came into, I don’t know, something. I was crying yesterday. I had a little hanky in my cleavage and I was [sniffling] in the corner.
Onaodowan: The same for you!
Onaodowan: But truly, with your work, and I said this in another interview, it’s inspiring to see how seriously you took coming to stage.
So what made you join a Broadway production?
Michaelson: Hearing “Sonya Alone.” I saw the show. I heard that song. And I was like, “That’s a pretty song. I want to sing that.” I also went to school for musical theatre. I just didn’t have the traditional Broadway voice, and a lot of people in the show don’t have a traditional voice.
Onaodowan: Yeah that’s true.
Michaelson: And I thought that maybe this could be something I could actually be part of. So I talked to the producers, and they said, “Let’s figure out a time that works,” and we found five weeks. And now I’m halfway through! It’s crazy.
It’s interesting that you just spoke about “Sonya Alone” because it’s one of the more memorable songs in the show. How are you putting your own spin on it?
Michaelson: I really love the stage direction because I follow Denée, or whoever is playing Natasha, around the whole stage. I basically sing to her, and it takes the pressure off of you. You don’t have to do anything. And the song is just a sweet song of love, but it’s not romantic love. It’s unflinching, unrelenting love for, basically, your sister. She’s not my sister, but that’s how I feel.
I feel very protective of her so much that in a show last week, when she dropped her dress at one point and some male in the audience was like “whoo!” I got really weirdly protective. And when I walked out on stage, I had a look on my face. And one of the stage managers was like, “What happened!?” I’m like a guard dog. I would do anything to protect you even if it means the end of our friendship, which is what sort of happens in the end. And that’s real love. I don’t care if you hate me; I’m doing what I know is best for you.
Oak, how are you putting your own spin on Pierre, especially stepping in after the show’s writer Dave Malloy and Josh Groban?
Onaodowan: How I am as an actor, as an artist, is wildly different from Dave. It’s wildly different from Josh. So inherently, my version of Pierre is just wildly different, and it’s a bit more vulnerable. I really wanted to focus on him being as vulnerable as possible and being caught up in the whirlwind of his world around him. He’s seeing it and thinking there’s something wrong but doesn’t necessarily know how to approach it.
I think everyone can relate to that—to really wanting and trying to be somewhere but being stuck. Everyone has been stuck, and I think that it’s always compelling to watch the person who is fighting to get unstuck because their success, in a way, is kind of your success. You’re connected to that. The underdog story of someone striving or fighting.
Dave Malloy was inspired by pop and contemporary music. Ingrid and Oak, who are some singers and musicians that have inspired you?
Michaelson: This is what I listen to before I go onstage because I just love her. I just listen to Judy Garland all the time. Her story is so tragic to me, but her voice is just one of those voices. Her voice, to me, is not perfect and has weird moments in it. Those are my favorite artists—sonically, musically, even in the way you write. Everything. Where things aren’t perfect. And I think she really embodies that in her vocal approach. It’s just so twisty and turn-y. She’s like my vocal icon.
Onaodowan: It shifts and changes. Right now, it’s Ben Rector, who I love. He’s a storyteller and the message behind his music is kind of “take your time and appreciate the moments around you.”
I don’t know if I have any specific music inspirations. My mom and my family are my biggest inspiration across all mediums—just anyone who is tenacious and really attacks anything. It could be something as simple as a little kid I see on the train who’s adamant about something and his mom’s like “No. No, you can’t do it.” And he’s like, “No! I WILL do this.” That’s my inspiration for the day. That kid is like “This is something that I want, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to get it.” I’ll carry that for the rest of the day with me.
Onaodowan and Michaelson will be performing as Pierre and Sonya until August 13.
Styled by Kayla Foster
Make-Up by Megan Lanoux for Exclusive Artists using Oribe Haircare and Sisley Paris
Clothing by Narciss, Andreeva, Everlane, Scarci, Brave Gentleman
Jewelry by Scosha
Shoes by Nina Shoes
When we first walk into Native Ken, sunlight pours through the glass storefront, highlighting the stark contrast between the minimalist white shelving on the left and the burgundy brick wall on the right. A single frame is on each shelf, nestled between detailed design sketches. It’s Friday, July 21, and we’re celebrating the official launch of Native Ken’s “Made in the USA” eyewear line. Native Ken is a luxury eyewear brand with a brick-and-mortar in the heart of Chelsea.
Cofounder Chris Tsiplakos is standing behind the checkout table, which will soon transform into a food and beverage table. He’s attending to a walk-in customer who is interested in a pair of sunglasses. Off to the left, co-owner Adam Porter-Smith is surveying the nearby red carpet as his husband, Billy Porter, is perched atop a white counter fiddling with his iPhone. Porter jumps down to greet us and smiles.
By 7 p.m., a steady stream of guests begins to trickle in. Nathan Lee Graham, of Zoolander fame, is one of the first to arrive. He isn’t blue-steeling tonight, but he’s really into spinning for the camera. As the evening goes on, eyewear starts to disappear from the shelves as partygoers take pairs down to sport around the room.
Tsiplakos has built a loyal customer base over the years, and some of the guests are longtime customers. When he and his brother, Tom, first opened Native Ken in 2010, it was called Tina Catherine Eyewear. After joining forces with Porter-Smith, they launched the brand as Native Ken.
“I’ve been coming in here for maybe five years,” says Jerome Brooks after he spent a good 20 minutes filming a moonwalking sequence. The musician happened to walk into the store one day. Brooks wishes he wore his Native Kens tonight, but they didn’t quite match his outfit. The frames he chose for the evening have a delicate gold frame that pair well with his hat and gold skull t-shirt. Brooks estimates he owns at least 30 pairs of glasses and looks for original designs that stand out. He walks off sporting a pair of Bond sunnies.
The Native Ken line is best described as vintage-inspired with a modern twist. The styles range from the Buddy Holly-influenced Rivingtons to what one guest described as “the Jeffrey Dahmer.” These titanium wire Bleekers are the frames that the Tsiplakos brothers imagined their uncle was born wearing. “Imagine a big Greek guy with his shirt buttons popped open,” Tsiplakos says with a laugh.
By 9:30 p.m., the store is crowded, as Broadway shows are letting out and more people are arriving. Kathryn Gallagher steps up to blow us some kisses. Adrienne Warren and Rafael Casal stop by. Kate Rockwell and Vanessa Ray gives us a few high fives and snaps. And Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller does the robot.
The next day, everything is different in the store. A large bar with shiny new taps stands where the red carpet was, and Tsiplakos is planning to serve coffee from Five for Coffee. “Sometimes people come and just want to hang out,” he explains. It’s just another way to cultivate the community that has served them well.
In the upcoming months, Native Ken plans on releasing a new line in collaboration with Porter. They plan on participating in Fall Fashion Week and hope to have another party to celebrate their new coffee bar. Native Ken also offers free eye exams and 30 percent off frames for Equity members.]]>
If you haven’t seen Michael Campayno don Fiyero’s white pants in Wicked, you should get your tickets now. The sexy star is scheduled to end his yearlong run with the musical about the good side of the green lady of Oz at the end of next week. But we couldn’t let him go without asking a few final questions.
Beer or cocktail?
I’m a whiskey man.
Velvet or tweed?
I love the antiquated look—tweed.
Cash, credit card, or Venmo?
Sneakers or Chelsea boots?
Ah, come on, you know I love shoes. But the boots.
Wallet or card holder?
Wet shave or electric?
Traditional tux or white dinner jacket?
There is nothing sharper than a black tux.
Town car or taxi?
Denim or leather?
I’m a sucker for leather jackets…haven’t tried the leather pants…yet.
New York or Los Angeles?
I’m a suburban boy. I would have to say L.A.
Paris or London?
Waiting to find the love of my life to go with :)
Musical or play?
Beyonce or Adele?
Favorite New York bar?
One of my favorite questions: On the Rocks.
Makers on the rocks
“Do I know what product I’m selling? No. Do I know what I’m doing today? No. But I’m here, and I’m gonna give it my best shot. Hansel” – Zoolander.
Favorite New York restaurant?
Saggio. Every single Sunday growing up, my mom would make the best pasta sauce in the world—so you know my recommendation is valid.
Favorite thing to collect?
Poems. I’m not the best at putting my feelings into words, so when I find a good poem I make sure to hold onto it.
Best lesson you’ve learned from a mistake you’ve made?
I wouldn’t call it a mistake, but I’ve spent countless hours judging, overthinking, or anticipating my life instead of being present with it. I’ve recently made a commitment to myself to live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. It’s a constant practice.
The one thing you must achieve on a first date?
Dating is always fun, and I try not to have expectations. I love getting to know people. But I need great conversation and to connect with their sense of humor in order to plan a second date ;)
What would you tell your younger self at this moment in your life?
Little Michael, you little people-pleaser you, it’s not about making everyone else happy—it’s about making yourself happy. It’s not your job to make people understand you. Believe, trust, and embrace your true self, and people will see your light.
What movie changed your life?
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. His magical realism style is so captivating to me, and I will always try to live life as passionately as his style of movies.
What book have you read more than once?
I keep a book called Consolations with me everywhere I go. It’s by a poet, David Whyte, and gives positive perspectives on different life events like heartbreak, friendship, etc. It’s a must have.
Fort Tryon Park
Someone puked on me once. I don’t want to talk about it…
Tuck that shirt in.
New York City