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Date with ‘Destiny’: A night of music, drinks, and Napoleon

Napoleon by night: Part of Nightcap Riot’s evening of entertaiment is a theatrical battle of wits between a young Napoleon (Ben Williams) and a Mysterious Woman (Ariel Reid).
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Be their guest!

A group of hotel and restaurant professionals are launching a smorgasborg night of entertainment inside a Greenpoint kombucha factory starting this weekend. “Nightcap Riot” aims to dazzle visitors with music, theater, drinks, and variety acts, creating the ultimate date night in one location, according to one of its producers.

“Instead of going from place to place, it’s a full evening,” said Alex Gruhin, who is also the show’s artistic director.

Each evening will starts with a short performance from a comedian or magician, followed by a tutorial on making cocktails with kombucha, a short play, a tea service, and a musical act. The musical acts and individual performers will vary during the event’s month-long run.

“Beyond the mixology and theater component, everything is only going for one night, which is kind of scary and fun,” said Gruhin.

The play, “Destiny and the Little Man,” is a brand-new adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “The Man of Destiny,” about a battle of wits between a young Napoleon Bonaparte and a mysterious woman who may be a Viennese spy. But the acrtress who plays the Mysterious Woman says that even those familiar with the witty comedy may be surprised by the streamlined version from Brooklyn playwright Jim Knable.

“The end of the play turns political in the Shaw version, which is quite frankly very boring, and he’s made it his own,” said Ariel Reid, who is also a producer of the event. “And we go out with a bang.”

Audiences will carry their drinks into a space transformed into an Italian tavern, and sit beside characters in the play.

“It will be performed amongst and amidst the audience, but in a non-intrusive way — we’re not going to pull them onstage,” said Bruce Levitt, the play’s director.

The night will also include some snacks to soak up the booze, but not a full meal, said Reid, adding, “It’s not dinner theater.”

The night’s final portion will be a music concert, with acts during the run that will include Broadway performers, acoustic singer-songwriters, and funk bands. The opening weekend will feature rhythm and blues performers JC Brooks and Jeremy Tromburg, of the Chicago act JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.

Gruhin says that the group’s background in hotels and restaurant service will help them to juggle all of the night’s moving parts.

“We have hospitality people involved who have knowledge of how to orchestrate table service and how to orchestrate events,” said Gruhin. “It’s really about creating pillars of an evening and making sure everything has transitions and everything will flow.”

Nightcap Riot at Magick City (37 Box St. between Manhattan Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint, www.nightcapriot.com). Shows Thu–Sat, Jan. 15–Feb. 14, with some Sunday shows. 8 pm. $50.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Standing tall: The Nightcap Riot entertainment series in the Mombucha kombucha factory in Greenpoint, will includes a performance of “Destiny and the Little Man,” a one-act play based on a work by George Bernard Shaw.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini