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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: 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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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On the Culture Front: Feasts, Ruins and Discovering Gin on the Aegean

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2015 | 10:42 AM

I found myself back in Istanbul last fall after a memorable trip a few years back with my sister. I was immediately taken by the diversity and tolerance that echoes through the city as the "call to prayer" rings out on blocks where ads of scantily clad women plaster bus...

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On the Culture Front: London's Athenaeum Hotel and the Culture at its Doorstep

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2015 | 3:53 PM

I was more than a little excited when I found out that my schedule allowed for a few days in London last fall. The last and only other time I'd been was in high school for a theater trip that included seeing H.M.S. Pinafore at the storied Savoy and Simon...

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On the Culture Front: The (RED) Supper, Forbidden Root, The Yes Men, and More

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2015 | 4:27 PM

On a soggy evening on the last night of May under two large white tents set up on pier 26, I sat down with throngs of people at one endless table for the ambitious (RED) Supper. Hosted by Mario Batali in support of the influential AIDS organization, the...

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On the Culture Front: Ribera Y Rueda Tapas Crawl, BAM and WNYC's RadioLoveFest, and Sonia M'Barek

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 5:01 PM

Saul Steinberg's iconic 1976 "New Yorker" cartoon ("View of the World from 9th Avenue") depicting the world fading into the distance beyond the borders of the Hudson River satirizes a snarky mindset of exceptionalism while also acting as a love letter to a city that squeezes in more diversity and...

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On the Culture Front: Airline Highway, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and More

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2015 | 6:22 PM

Broadway to many means big dance numbers and actors hurtling outsized emotions into the rafters. While there are certainly plenty of tiresome revivals and knockoffs alike that make an all too vivid case for this, there are also bold producers remaking the landscape of commercial theater with subversive, challenging and...

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On the Culture Front: Bjork With Orchestra, Small Mouth Sounds and More

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 6:47 PM

Since I last wrote this column, one of my favorite bars and dinning experiences in the east village, Jimmy's No. 43, has had to temporarily close due to the massive fire on Second Avenue the other week that demolished three buildings and nearly missed what has become a central hub...

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On the Culture Front: Minton's, The Audience and more

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 11:51 PM

The best evening out that you probably haven't heard about is going on every Wednesday night at Minton's, an old-fashioned supper club with equal emphasis on both words. Upon entering through a narrow door on 118th street, you become enveloped in an atmosphere that's elegant yet inviting. JC Hopkins Biggish...

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On the Culture Front: A Day in Leipzig

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 12:16 PM

As I was discussing the riveting new doc "Citizenfour" with friends recently, I was reminded of a day I spent in Leipzig a couple of summers ago. The off-color brightly distorted halls of the East German city's former Stasi Headquarters are etched in my mind. Less a museum than a...

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On the Culture Front: Exploring Yellowstone and the Inaugural Beer Fest in the West

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 3:33 PM

Driving from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, it's apparent why Montana is referred to as "big sky country." It's as if the world has opened up a little wider to encompass the outsize expressions of nature -- towering waterfalls that flow into impossibly blue streams, expansive plains dotted with roaming bison,...

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On the Culture Front: Father John Misty, Pretty Filthy and More

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 1:05 PM

The Civilians have been working on "Pretty Filthy," their musical about the porn business, for a pretty, pretty long time. I first caught a glimpse of it years back when they performed a selection of songs cabaret style at Joe's Pub. What grasped me immediately was the complexity of emotions...

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On the Culture Front: Better Call Saul, Constellations, Tijuana Picnic, and More

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2015 | 5:32 PM

Last night, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Michael McKean took the stage at the 92nd Street Y to talk with moderator Cynthia Littleton about the highly anticipated "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul." I interviewed Banks the previous day for the Washington Post and avoiding spoilers felt like dodging carefully...

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On the Culture Front: Winter Jazzfest

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2015 | 6:02 PM

There aren't many things that excite me about winter. It usually creeps up far to early to squash a pleasant fall and overstays its welcome, lingering into spring. NYC Winter Jazzfest though turns those icy days into a bracing experience that allows savvy fans to binge on dozens...

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On the Culture Front: Trailing Darwin in Patagonia

(1) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 3:48 PM

Photo credit: Chris Kompanek

Some places have one season, and others all four, but there's almost no place on Earth that cycles through them on a daily basis. This is the magic of Patagonia. Situated in the southernmost remote area of South America and...

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On the Culture Front: The Happiest Hour, Battle of the Belgians, The Complete Last Waltz and more

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2014 | 10:49 AM

It hard to find the silver lining in the cold, blustery weather and increasingly shorter days that mark December in New York, but one thing is the guilt for staying indoors completely evaporates. If you step inside The Happiest Hour, a newly opened cozy and radiantly lit West Village bar,...

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