When songwriters Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote “June is Bustin’ Out All Over,” could they possibly have foreseen what’s happening in Jackson Heights?
Thanks to a special month-long celebration called June in Jackson Heights, residents and visitors to the neighborhood are in for a wide variety of treats, ranging from theater and dance performances to art exhibitions, walking tours, and, of course, lots of food, glorious food.
The event was organized for the first time last year by Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who, while on the campaign trail, had run into many artists searching for spaces to hone their crafts, inspiring him to create a viable venue through which to share their talents.
Dromm said it was very successful last year and included special attractions such as an art gallery, housed in an empty store front, which drew over 1,000 visitors. This year the event seems to already have developed a following.
“People have communicated their appreciation for the arts,” Dromm said, indicating that many store and restaurant owners have been highlighting rotating exhibits throughout the year.
This year promises to have more artists and restaurants participating, and during June 20 to 25, discounts will be offered at many of the Colombian, Mexican, Polish, Italian, Thai, Indian and other ethnic specialty restaurants in the area.
As part of the June celebration, Theatre 167, a new ensemble named for the number of distinct languages that are spoken in the area, will present the first public reading of “How I Was Radicalized,” a new pop-rock musical by two Jackson heights-based artists.
Featuring the music and lyrics of Ben Morss with a book by Les Hunter, the show is a poignant exploration of youth, rebellion and activism.
According to its artistic director, Ari Laura Kreith, the production is a bit of a departure for the group, which is undertaking its first musical since its founding last year, with the idea of focusing on cultural intersections and boundaries, activism and social change.
“In addition to pretty incredible singers, the show is uplifting and inspiring. It’s about how we reconnect with that part of ourselves that is passionate about making a change,” Kreith said.
The show, which has been called a combination of “Spring Awakening” and “Hair,” is, nonetheless, appropriate for all ages.
The reading, which is free, will take place at PS 69, located at 77-02 37 Ave. on June 10 at 8 p.m. For reservations or further information, visit theatre167.org.
Another group involved in this year’s program is the Jackson Repertory Theatre, a nonprofit founded in 2008 with the aim of producing works for the diverse audiences of Jackson Heights.
For the June celebration, the group will present “Dances for a New Diagonal,” consisting of new works by SharkMother, an arts collective dedicated to the empowerment of both artist and audience, and De Facto Dance, a company which creates dance-theater works that are both spontaneous and skillfully crafted, featuring Jackson Heights dancer Meg Fry.
The performance will take place at PS 69 on June 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. For further information, call (718) 874-9431.
“We feel a lot of people have not experienced Jackson Heights,” Dromm said. “We want people to come out and experience the neighborhood. Jackson Heights is a multicultural artist’s colony.”
For further information on any of this month’s events, visit juneinjacksonheights.com.
June in Jackson Heights
When: Through June 30
Where: Community-wide. Visit juneinjacksonheights.com for complete schedule