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March 10, 2015


Filed under: Events,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 11:15 am

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Ciaravella 518-217-8282

Peck’s Arcade to Host Rock ‘N’ Roll Musical, March 17

Troy Civic Theatre Presents “Murder Ballad” in Real Bar

TROY, N.Y. — Troy’s newest restaurant will be the setting for a rock ‘n’ roll musical next week.

Cast of Murder Ballad at Lucas Confectionery. Photo by Jolana NicotinaOn Tuesday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Troy Civic Theatre will present “Murder Ballad” at Peck’s Arcade, located at 217 Broadway in downtown Troy. An off-Broadway rock musical sensation, “Murder Ballad” features a four-member cast who sing and act using wireless microphones along with a live house band.

Audiences at the Peck’s performance will be immersed in the story, set in a working bar in New York.

“Peck’s Arcade is the perfect venue for a show like this,” said Michael Ciaravella, managing artistic director, of Troy Civic Theatre. “This show was originally performed in a working bar in New York City and it will really come to life for audiences in a real tavern setting here in Troy.”

Actors in the one-night only performance at Peck’s will make use of the working bar on the first floor as their set and stage, while servers will provide limited table service to theatergoers during the show. (Showgoers can also order from the full Lucas Confectionery wine bar menu before the show and during intermission.)

**Please note: Peck’s Arcade is not normally open on Tuesdays and this event will be staffed by employees of the adjacent Lucas Confectionery wine bar. A limited food and drink menu with table service will be available during the performance, featuring wine, beer, sparkling water, meat and cheese and small plates by Lucas Confectionery. A credit card is required for table service during the performance. Theatergoers are encouraged to arrive early and enter through the Lucas Confectionery at 12 Second St. in downtown Troy.**


Murder Ballad is the dramatic story of a love triangle gone wrong centering on Sara, an uptown girl who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her.

Writing for the New York Times in 2012, critic Ben Brantley said of the show: “If you find yourself guiltily mesmerized by Lifetime killer-of-the-week movies, then ‘Murder Ballad’ should be just your ticket.”

Cast of Murder Ballad at Lucas Confectionery. Photo by Jolana NicotinaTHE CAST
For Peck’s Arcade, March 17

Peter Darling as “Michael”
Laura Tortorici as “Sara”
Ken Kasch as “Tom”
Lauren Kerr as “the Narrator”

The house band is Schenectady-based Knights Revival. Members include: Maurice Calis on drum; Ronald Mayfield on guitar; Domicik Petrocci on keyboard; and Carl “Dr. Funkathumpolus” West on bass.

Capital Region Bars Invited to Book Touring Performance

“Murder Ballad” is the theater group’s third consecutive show in a nonconventional performance space in Troy. Last spring the troupe performed Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” in Troy’s downtown Barker Park, a small pocket park at a busy urban intersection. This fall the group presented “Evil Dead: The Musical” in the Uncle Sam Atrium, an enclosed shopping mall in the heart of the city.

Now, Troy Civic is touring “Murder Ballad” throughout the Capital Region, with a future performance date to be announced, at The Rustic Barn in Speigletown.

Restaurant/bar owners are invited to contact Troy Civic Theatre to book performances at their venue.

“This is our first show available for touring,” said Ciaravella. “We’re wiling to go as far as people are willing to see it.”

Ciaravella said he’s particularly eager to find a venue in Schenectady, where the show’s house band, Knights Revival, is based.


Tickets for the March 17 performance of “Murder Ballad” at Peck’s Arcade in Troy are $15 for adults and $13 for students/seniors. Purchase at the door or online at:

Note: Patrons are encouraged to arrive early through the Lucas Confectionery wine bar at 12 Second St.


For information about “Murder Ballad” and to hear one of the songs from the show, visit:

For show specific information, contact Troy Civic Theatre at: 518-217-8282

The website for Peck’s Arcade is:


For high resolution publicity photographs by Jolana Nicotina, visit:


Michael Ciaravella 518-217-8282


March 9, 2015


Filed under: Business,Features,News,Troy NY — duncan @ 10:59 pm

Contact: Avner Ben-Natan

Spectacular Troy-Made Lamps Take Kickstarter By Storm

Patented “Iris” Design Inspired by Vegetable Steamers

TROY, N.Y. (03/05/15) — A Troy lighting company has raised more than $32,000 so far through Kickstarter to expand its production of unique lamps.

Handmade by Troy-based Lightexture, the “Iris” lamp has two apertures of overlapping metal leaves that can be adjusted to control the amount of light and reflections it casts. The patented design draws inspiration from a stainless steel vegetable steamer.

“At first, we used actual vegetable steamers in our Steam Light series line of lamps,” said Avner Ben Natan, who co-owns Lightexture with his partner Yael Erel. “After years of studying steamers, we developed the Iris shade using 30 stamped metal leaves that are assembled by hand in our Troy studio.”

As one aperture on the Iris lamp opens, the other closes. When the lower aperture is fully open, light shines directly down, casting textured golden light onto the surface below. When the upper aperture is open, patterned light shines upward and bounces off the ceiling to fill the space with a warm, indirect light. The transition between these two provides a variety of reflections and light atmospheres. The Iris lamps give the user the ability to charge the light and create the atmosphere in the room.

Ben-Natan and Erel have developed prototypes of four Iris lamp styles, available in brass or stainless steel: a floor lamp; a desk lamp, a small pendant; and a large pendant. Now the couple is seeking online funders to help take their production to the next level.

From now until March 23, these lamps can be pre-ordered online for a special discounted price through Kickstarter. After the campaign ends, the prices for these incredible lamps will rise 40 to 50 percent.

When fund seekers create Kickstarter campaign, they are required to set a financial goal and deadline. Pledges are only collected if the campaign reaches its goal before the deadline.

In less than two days, the Iris lamp campaign met its $12,000 goal, meaning that all pledges will be collected later this month. Yet supporters can still take advantage of the discounted prices for the next 17 days by visiting and searching for “Iris Lamps.” (Direct link: )

There you can also see photos of the lamps and watch video demonstration of how they work.

The Iris Lamp campaign has been selected as a “Kickstarter Staff Pick.”

“We were very moved by the support this project has been getting,” said Erel. “We never imagined we would reach our goal in only 31 hours.”


Ben-Natan and Erel are an architect and a lighting designer couple that started collaborating by making a lamp out of a vegetable steamer and loved it so much, they founded Lightexture in 2008. Ceramic artist Sharan Elran later joined the company. Lightexture is located at 2501 Fifteenth St. in Troy.

Erel is a licensed architect in New York and registered architect in Israel. She graduated with honors from The Cooper Union School of Architecture in Manhattan. She earned her masters in architecture with an Emphasis on lighting from RPI, and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, The Cooper Union, Columbia University and Pratt Institute. She is currently teaching at Rensselaer School of Architecture, where she received the 2015 Brown Travel Fellowship for her research project “Constructing Reflections.”

Ben-Natan has been working with light as material since the early 90′s in his work as a lighting designer in films and television. After he moved to New York, he began to extend the work with light into the design of light fixtures and environments for art and dance installations, residential and commercial projects. He earned a bachelors degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University.


For information about Lightexture, visit: or call (518) 274-0214.


Later this month, four Lightexture lamps and objects that project “light drawings” will appear in a group exhibition titled “Lit” at the Albany International Airport. The artistic installations are the product of Erel’s graduate research in architecture and light at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Architecture School. The show opens to the public on March 28 with a grand opening on April 10.

More information about Erel’s graduate project “Subliminal Transcriptions,” and a video, visit:


For high resolution images of the Iris lamps, Avner and Yael, visit the following Dropbox link:


Avner Ben-Natan



Filed under: Business,Features,News — duncan @ 10:45 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Alana Sparrow

Orvis Stocks Locally-Made Line of Soap for Dogs & People

Alana Sparrow’s Junie B Love Expands from Online to Brick & Mortar

COHOES, N.Y. (03/05/15) — Just months after launching an online store, Cohoes-based Junie B Love is breaking into the brick and mortar retail space with its “Dirty Dog Soap” and “Mountain Dog Soap.”

Dirty Dog Soap by Junie B LoveThe line of all-natural goat milk soaps, for both dogs and people, is custom made in the Rensselaer County Taconic mountains. The soap started appearing on the shelves at the flagship Orvis store in Manchester, Vt. on Feb. 25.

“This is exciting, to be expanding into physical brick and mortar retail,” said Alana Sparrow, owner of Junie B Love. “We are starting with the Manchester store. Then, as our company grows, we plan to expand into other Orvis stores that carry dog products.”

The soaps contain 100 percent raw liquid goat milk and use only essential oils and natural ingredients. There are no added colors, perfumes or fragrances.

As the owner of a Welsh Terrier, named Junebug, Sparrow wanted to create a soap that would be gentle on her dog’s sensitive skin as well as her own. But the special formula has other benefits for both dog and human as well.

Dirty Dog Soap by Junie B Love“Natural soap lathers very well, but it also rinses in about half the time as regular dog shampoo,” Sparrow said. “Dogs love water and swimming, but I don’t think they particularly like the shower spray because they’re not in control. A quicker shower time creates a more pleasant bathing experience for dogs and those who wash them.”

The gentle soap is also ph balanced for sensitive human skin and a bar typically lasts longer than regular soap, she said.

In addition to the Manchester Orvis store, the soap is available for purchase online now at:


Dirty Dog Soap by Junie B LoveEstablished this winter, Junie B Love is an online marketplace, headquartered in Cohoes, N.Y., that features handmade, organic and recycled items for dogs and those who love them. (The name Junie B Love is an homage Sparrow’s dog, Junebug.)

All of the items for sale are repurposed and/or handcrafted in order to reduce post-consumer waste, advance reuse and provide a sustainable livelihood for artisans around the world. More than 300 items include: fashionable doggie scarves, leashes, collars, beds, jewelry and natural deer antler dog chews. Products are made around the country and in locations including the United Kingdom.

A portion of all sales on Junie B Love benefits the Welsh Terrier Cares Rescue Services, a rescue service for lost Welsh Terriers.

“I like to describe our store as ‘Fine Fido ‘n Fem Freperie,’” Sparrow said. “In celebrating fashion, fun and the frivolous we are also connecting conscientious craft makers with conscientious customers.”


Alana Sparrow & Junebug

Alana Sparrow is a designer, artist and socially minded entrepreneur. She is an avid collector of vintage scarves, and a lover of dogs, with a particular fondness for Welsh Terriers.

Sparrow is also co-owner with her husband of The Foundry for Art Design + Culture a cultural enterprise in New York, that serves to inspire economic opportunities for individuals working in the creative sectors. The Foundry provides professional creative services including branding, print and web design, videography and photography, marketing, curatorial services and art leasing to corporate clients and works with artists and businesses to expand opportunities for creatives in order to fuel the creative economy.


For high resolution publicity images of “Dirty Dog Soap” and “Mountain Dog Soap,” Alana Sparrow and her Welsh Terrier Junebug, and more, visit:


For information visit:


Contact: Alana Sparrow