iOS app Android app

Chris Kompanek
Chris Kompanek is a freelance arts, culture and travel writer whose work has appeared in The Financial Times, Washington Post, New York Post, The Onion's A.V. Club, American Theatre, Men's Health, The Daily, Theatermania, Flavorpill, All About Jazz, and Classical TV. He is a member of Theater Talk's critics panel. Contact him at

Entries by Chris Kompanek

On the Culture Front: Kiki and Herb and Wolf Parade Return, Hidden Restaurant Gem Salinas, and More

(0) Comments | Posted June 7, 2016 | 6:04 PM

Contrary to its name, Justin Kuritzkes' "The Sensuality Party" is anything but sexy. This intermissionless play recounts an orgy that was more harrowing than hedonistic. Each character is scarred by the experience in a different way and is given a monologue to purge their soul. The catch here is there's...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: American Psycho, The Father and More

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2016 | 1:32 PM

One of the more potent arguments made by people who don't like musicals is that it's hard to convey something truly terrifying through a medium steeped in song and dance. Until now, the most obvious rebuttal would be "Cabaret" and how Kander and Ebb used the very structure of the...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Happily Unhip in Bethany Beach

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 1:23 AM

Before I profiled Sam Calagione last summer, I decided to take a few days with my girlfriend in Bethany Beach, a quiet coastal community in Delaware that feels a bit like where people from Grovers Corners go to catch some sun. Dogfish Head was one of the first breweries that...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: The Effect, She Loves Me, RadioLoveFest, and more

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 2:22 AM

Lucy Prebble's "The Effect" asks both playfully and pointedly, "what's the difference between an emotion we feel organically and one that can be produced chemically?" Set in the clinical atmosphere of a new drug trial and focused on two of the participants, the structure feels very deliberate and focused. Under...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Music from the Underground, Part Five

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2016 | 12:43 PM

Album art for Nic Nassuet's "Eleutherios."

I love cross-genre explorations and their ability to make you rethink a song, an album and even artist's entire output. When Miles Davis took on Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" in the last few years of...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: NYC Winter Jazzfest, Lazarus and more

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 1:26 PM

When Richard Greenberg is at his best, his plays not only vividly illuminate a specific and intimate world but they compel the viewer to look inward and reflect on the arc of their own lives. This is the profound effect that I remember feeling when I first read "Three Days...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Music From the Underground, Part Four

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2016 | 3:50 PM

2016-01-27-1453931331-4353175-SOTH__Album_Cover.jpg "Spines of the Heart" album art by Bryan Deister

Bryan Deister's melancholic wail belies his Redondo Beach upbringing. The California native sings like he grew up under much gloomier skies. Currently a student at the Berklee College of Music, his two-disc album, "

Read Post

On the Culture Front: 10 Days in Queensland, Australia

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 3:59 PM

One of the highlights of Orpheus Island is getting there. The half-hour helicopter ride from the beach town of Townsville soars over countless tiny islands surrounding the Great Barrier Reef and massive swaths of water that gives the impression that the world is as vast and endless as portrayed in...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Jerry Seinfeld, Fiddler On the Roof and More

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2016 | 4:15 PM

Jerry Seinfeld took the stage last night at the Beacon Theatre for the first time in a long time. The excitement coursing through the audience was palpable. I found myself giddy with anticipation and when he appeared onstage after a theatrical post-opener blackout, it was hard to believe that he...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Music From the Underground, Part Three

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2015 | 5:04 PM

Album art by Austin Hinderliter

Nashville-bred musician Billy Crain is the consummate sideman who can effortlessly pick up a guitar and jump into many styles. He's shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and Allman Brothers band but also the...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Music from the Underground, Part Two

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2015 | 10:03 PM

Midwest Soul Xchange, photo by Michael Patrick Neary

Midwest Soul Xchange have an alternative Americana vibe that's reminiscent of The Decemberists - big twangy folk that appears to have emerged from a time capsule. Their newly released album, New American...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Henry IV, El Vy, The Civilians' War on Christmas, and more

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2015 | 5:00 PM

The immersion into Phyllida Lloyd's meticulously crafted reimagination of "Henry IV" begins before the audience steps foot into the new home of St. Ann's Warehouse. I was cutting it close on a recent evening and walking briskly to the theater as I noticed a chain gang of prisoners being led...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Tasting Barrel Strength Whiskey at Jack Daniel's and Absorbing the Culture in Nearby Nashville

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 5:54 PM

The first whiskey I ever had was Jack Daniel's, first as a shot in college and soon after in the eponymous Jack and Coke. The black bottle with white accent letters was long burned in my memory along with the myth of this mysterious man. The distillery in the oddly...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Music From the Underground, Part One

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2015 | 11:22 PM

Father and son duo Richard and Harry Grace along with bandmate Dave Needham make up Tumbler, a trio that barrels through several musical genres on their debut album, "You Said." The album cover features teenage Harry catapulting himself off a cliff in Portugal, and in many ways, this...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: The Food Film Festival, Old Times, Fool for Love, and More

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2015 | 5:04 PM

The heart of a Harold Pinter play beats between the finely crafted lines of dialogue in which characters obscure and contradict their desires. This makes watching one a bit of a verbal puzzle. The words dance together, fiercely syncopated, but their meaning lurks behind in the shadows of memory, doubt...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Germans Make Great Pizza and Other Observations

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2015 | 12:48 PM

As a New Yorker, it's hard to imagine anyone else making great pizza, save for the Italians (half of my ancestry, full disclosure). I agree with Jon Stewart that Chicago pizza is casserole, and I usually avoid pizza in general when traveling. That's probably why the first thing I crave...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: 'Hamilton,' 'Mercury Fur,' 'Fulfillment' and More

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 11:45 AM

Hamilton feels as if it's about to burst through the rafters of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, making its transfer from the Public Theater feel as natural as the Lin-Manuel Miranda's slick hip hop libretto. The lines roll off the actors' tongues with such ease but never feel that they're in...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: New Film Prince, Ciderfeast, Stacey Kent and More

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2015 | 4:21 PM

One of the great privileges about covering culture in New York is the constant opportunity for discovery. Stacey Kent is a Grammy-nominated jazz singer with more than twenty years experience, but I heard her for the first time the other week when she took the stage at Birdland. One thing...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Four Days in Belgium

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 2:37 PM

It was an unseasonably warm day last summer when I found myself climbing the towering steps known as "Montagne de Bueren" in the Belgian city of Liege. I had just arrived at my hotel and was feeling antsy, a little displaced and in need of some geographical cohesion. Armed with...

Read Post

On the Culture Front: Star Chefs Gather for Eli Kulp, The Gideon and Hubcap Show and more

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2015 | 12:48 PM

On Monday night, I joined friends of chef Eli Kulp, who gathered at Del Posto to raise money for his mounting medical bills after suffering a severe spinal chord injury when his Amtrak train derailed in May. That we live in a country where getting sick or injured can bankrupt...

Read Post