Monday, August 18, 2014

There's No Place Like Home: Celebrating 75 years of The Wizard of Oz

There's no place like home; there's no place like home; there's no place like home...
        [Note: This line is ranked #23 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.]

What is the purpose of life? This question is as old as the human race itself. Some argue that our purpose is to find happiness. Others say our purpose is to love others, to become the best version of ourselves, or to follow God’s will. Still others say there is no purpose to life at all.
I'm always brought back to following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. My Emerald City was and still is New York City. Of course that imagery comes from The Wizard of Oz.This film premiered in Hollywood 75 years ago weeklast . Like many other classics, the film has become so much more than just a great piece of entertainment.
On this big anniversary, I celebrate what Oz has given us.
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The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, both released in 1939, stand together in the popular imagination as the two greatest Hollywood films, one ostensibly for children, the other for adults.
Ruby slippers. If I only had a brain. We’re not in Kansas, anymore. I’ll get you, My Pretty, and your little dog, too. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s just the tip of a pop-culture iceberg, a towering mountain of nostalgia and influence that rises above most movie fare in a time when the majority of entertainment seems fairly disposable.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name
The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation.
It's funny to think that a film that premiered 75 years ago would have  such an impact on my life. Are there any movies opening anytime around now or in recent memory that will affect so many people on such a level 75 years from today. I can answer that with a resounding "NO".

Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful will not become as iconic and enduring a part of our collective pop-cultural subconscious as the original 1939 Wizard of Oz movie and L. Frank Baum’s original novel. But one thing’s for sure: Over the years, both book and movie have fueled a number of elaborate theories as to the story’s deeper meanings. Some of these have been overtly political, some have been spiritual, some, um, monetary.Rad more about that HERE
A lot of it has to do with how this movie was presented to THIS baby boomer and so many others from my generation.
The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre 75 years ago this week (August 15th, 1939)!
It was a Tuesday night.
Dorothy Gale was swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarked on a quest to see the Wizard who could hopefully help her return home. She took us with her on this journey and has held us in her heart (as ours hers) ever since. 

It is interesting to note with the annual ritual that was part of my growing up years in the sixties and seventies with the annual television viewings, that it was not, as I assumed, isolated to our household.

Rather, MANY from my generation had the SAME experience! 

The Wizard of Oz has been part of American popular culture since
the first publication of L. Frank Baum’s children’s book The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Ever since, filmmakers, authors, and theatre producers have continued to return to Oz over and over again. However, while literally hundreds of adaptations of the
Wizard of Oz
story abound, a handful of transformations are
particularly significant in exploring discourses of American myth and culture: L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900); MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939); Sidney Lumet’s film The Wiz (1978); Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995); and Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Broadway musical Wicked (2003).
(Source: Alissa Burger - From The Wizard Of Oz To Wicked Trajectory Of American Myth (copyrighted book, review only).
Ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland’s character Dorothy in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. (Richard Strauss / NMAH, SI) Because of their iconic stature,they are now among the most treasured and valuable of film memorabilia.As was customary for important props, a number of pairs were made for the film, though the exact number is unknown. Five pairs are known to have survived; one pair was stolen in August 2005and has never been recovered.

"We dimmed the lights. In our pajamas, we huddled together under a blanket. The annual television broadcast of The Wizard of Oz was a national ritual when we baby boomers were kids.
It would be years before I saw the Technicolor land of Oz bloom outside Dorothy’s black-and-white farmhouse, as we didn’t have a color TV.
Years, too, before I would come up with the idea for a novel, Wicked, which inspired the Broadway musical."
-By Gregory Maguire, Smithsonian Magazine

When studying the metamorphosis of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the original chapter book by L. Frank Baum, to Wicked
by Gregory Maguire, there are three canonical works that stand above all other sequels, prequels, and remakes.

The work that started the entire journey, of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, released in 1900 is essential.

In 1939, the most famous adaptation of the original book was made.
The movie The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley, thrust the story into the limelight and made it a true household name.

The most radical adaptation is arguably Wicked, a novel by Gregory Maguire and released in 1995.

This novel turned the archetypal story of Glinda the Good Witch, The Wicked Witch of the West, and a lost gal from Kansas named Dorothy upside down. This prequel has gained much attention for its bold and risque images, along with its edgy and heady themes. For this reason, it must also be analyzed as a canonical work in the collection.

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Check out This Site Celebrating The Wizard of Oz

Be sure and Save The Date to see Jim Speake on October 11th as he celebrates Cy Coleman

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Rick Ewigleben is offering two more unforgettable characters from his PORTRAITS OF OZ series. This time it's that High Priest of Humbuggery, PROFESSOR MARVEL, and the malevolent MISS GULCH. 2- quality 8 1/2 x 11 reprints are only $20 (includes S&H). Also sold separately. Buy any or all, He will adjust the pricing accordingly. Please email him at

Check out his website!

Richard Skipper,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scott Drier and Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey at 54 Below

I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile, and I want to make people laugh. And that's all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.
Doris Day

54 BELOW, Broadway's Supper Club, presents Scott Dreier in Doris and Me on Wednesday, August 20th. DORIS AND ME is one man's quirky, lovable obsession with music and movie icon, Doris Day.
Read a recent review HERE.

Doris Day reached the impressive, landmark age of 90 earlier this year in April.
Is there anyone out there who doesn't know who Doris Day is? She is a singer and actress most popular in the 1950s and early-1960s. She starred in a television sitcom called "The Doris Day Show" from 1968-1973. For a mini video bio, click HERE.
Doris with Paul Brogan
She lit up movie screens and record charts in the '40s, '50s and '60s, and – as she turns 90 on April 3 – Doris Day remains one of America's Sweethearts.
I am in love with Doris Day. I have many of her songs on my Ipod (there are 7,000 songs!). I keep it on shuffle and a day does not go by in which I don't hear her voice. When her movies are shown on TCM and similar stations, I feel myself brought in once again. Anytime a new book comes out, if it is done with love, I purchase it. I also have a few degrees of separation with Doris. I have a friend, Paul Brogan, who has written a wonderful book, Was That a Name I Dropped?,  in which she is featured predominately.  

I also am friends with Jackie Joseph who appeared with Doris

Day on film and on television on Doris' series in the seventies (which I watched religiously). I now own the series on DVD.
John Dehner, Doris Day and Jackie Joseph
Bettmann/Corbis/ scene from “Pillow Talk” (1959).
My friends David Kaufman and Tom Santopietro have both written a biography of Doris.  When she made Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson, in 1959, Doris Day was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history. But after the death of her third husband a decade later, she devoted herself to animal-rights work, withdrawing more and more to her pet-filled Carmel estate in the wake of new financial and personal disappointments. In an excerpt from his biography of Doris, David Kaufman charts the divide between Day’s private struggle and the sunny, champagne-bubble glamour her fans adored.Read more HERE.
 Sir Paul McCartney and Doris Day might seem to come from different worlds -- he a giant figure in British pop since the Sixties, she a Hollywood icon with a wholesome image who starred in 39 films. Yet the former Beatle has long been a friend of hers, admiring not only her singing and acting but also her commitment to animal rights.  Read more HERE.
What accounts for the stupefying popular success of Doris Day? Like Elvis, she was generally underserved by her motion pictures, though her charisma and forthright personality always carried her through. She is the No. 1 female box-office star of all time, setting the record over three seismic decades — the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Did she embody McCarthyism or transcend it? As John Updike once said, “I’m always looking for insights into the real Doris Day because I’m stuck with this infatuation and need to explain it to myself.”
Here is the New York Times review of Tom's book, Considering Doris Day.
Jackie Joseph with Doris Day on the set of TV's “The Doris Day Show” in the 1970s.
Years ago, I even stayed at Doris' hotel, The Cypress Inn, in Carmel, with the hopes that our paths would cross so I could personally tell her what she has meant to me over the years. She is, for me, the ultimate holy grail! Interviewing her is at the top of my bucket list.
Earlier this year in celebration of her 90th Birthday, Doris surprised some of her fans by actually showing up at one of those celebrations.
It was exciting to see the photos and videos that showed up all over social media. She still looks and sounds great.
One of the people that was lucky enough to be at that party was Scott Drier. I thought I was a great fan, but
Scott takes it to a whole new level. There have been several shows celebrating Doris over the years.
 Day began her career as a big band singer in 1939.
Credit: Courtesy of Doris Day
Young at heart! Now entering her tenth decade, beloved actress and singer Doris Day made a rare public appearance this weekend, mingling with fans for the first time in more than 20 years. 
Her popularity began to rise after her first hit recording, "Sentimental Journey", in 1945. After leaving Les Brown and His Band of Renown to try a solo career, she started her long-lasting partnership with Columbia Records, which would remain her only recording label. The contract lasted from 1947 to 1967, and included more than 650 recordings, making Day one of the most popular and acclaimed singers of the 20th century.
In 1948, after being persuaded by Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne and her agent at the time, Al Levy, she auditioned for Michael Curtiz, which led to her being cast as the female lead in Romance on the High Seas. That was the beginning of a lustrous Hollywood career that included film, recordings, and television.

Scott Drier's press release states, "As the ultimate obsessed fan, Scott Dreier creates more than your typical tribute show–this is the celebration of a timeless artist, as Scott takes the audience with him on a sentimental journey to nostalgic times gone by. As he lovingly shares through classic treasured songs, personal anecdotes, humor, heart and many Doris Day stories and history, Scott never lets us forget how much he loves her and why he has become Doris Day’s biggest fan."
This special concert also benefits The Doris Day Foundation.

SCOTT DREIER heralds a fresh contemporary voice in the interpretation of the Great American songbook. Born and raised in Southern California, Scott’s early artistic influences stemmed primarily from his grandmother—the most ardent supporter of following his dream. Unlike the rest of Scott’s family to whom rhythm and pitch played no part of their everyday lives, music and art were integral to Marie Dreier, and she made sure Scott got a good dose of that ethic as well.

Robyn Spangler had a chance to catch up with him as he takes his show "Doris & Me" into 54 Below in NY after a successful run in LA at the NOHO Arts Center. Click HERE to read that interview.

With the recent passing of James Garner, Golden Age movie stars are an endangered species.
In a recent voiceover segment on TCM, Day talked with great love for her Thrill of It All and Move Over Darling co-star. Doris Day needs to be publicly fĂȘted. There simply aren't that many movie legends left. - Read more HERE.
 Opening night of Doris and Me at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo hosted many celebrities including actors who costarred with Doris Day.
Check out the photos HERE!
Doris Day is worth celebrating and Scott Drier is the one to do it! Click HERE for more details and to order tickets.
For more information on Doris Day, please visit

Thank you Doris Day AND Scott Drier for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Be sure and get Julie Budd's latest album
Julie Budd’s latest CD They Wrote the Songs is ready for purchase

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Richard Skipper,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

William Shuman: En Avant

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.
-Jessamyn West

Stage 72/The Triad presents EN AVANT! An Evening with Tennessee Williams-an acclaimed play about the creative forces and demons behind the genius of playwright Tennessee Williams, written and performed by William Shuman-with performances set for August 12-September 2nd (Four consecutive Tuesday Nights, all at 7PM).

EN AVANT! An Evening WITH Tennessee Williams began as a love letter to the genius that was Tennessee Williams and evolved into a play that affectionately, but honestly chronicles the life of this admittedly "wounded" man.
EN AVANT! An Evening with Tennessee Williams was first produced in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and has been presented subsequently at several other venues in Florida.

It was presented in New York City as part of the Abingdon Theatre Company's Sunday Series and in Rosarito Del Mar in Baja California, Mexico.Over the past three plus years, actor and playwright William Shuman-working with renowned director Austin Pendleton and other extraordinary theater professionals-has created a work that is both entertaining and enlightening.
 For four performances only, audiences will come to better understand Tennessee Williams, the man and the artist. 
Theatergoers will glimpse the impact of his family, follow the development of his early works, come to know his most important lovers, and sense the immensity of his demons.

Tennessee Williams has intrigued and inspired William Shuman from the moment he opened a copy of The Glass Menagerie in preparation for his initial foray into the world of the theater.
He began to wonder what it was that made this writer so different from the other great writers he had read or seen. William looked at his photos and was instantly struck by his infectious grin and the unmistakable twinkle in his eye. On February 25th 1983, the flame of life of America’s greatest playwright flickered and died. And over  the past 31 years that light that shone so brightly has inexorably dimmed.
Tennessee Williams was American Theatre for much of the 20th century. And though many of his master works continue to be produced, the legacy of the man himself is slowly being lost.

Not if William Shuman has anything to do with it.

He will be bringing Tennessee, the man, back to New York audiences on August 12th with his one man show celebrating the man, En Avant.Being a southerner myself, I am a huge fan of Tennessee's.
I even did a term paper on him in high school.
A profound understanding of the human condition lives in the dialogue of his characters and in the verses of his poetry and it is through examining the life that produced this dialogue and these verses that we can fully appreciate the great gift that was Tennessee Williams.
In anticipation of William's upcoming show, we sat  down recently to discuss the road that has led him to this point.

William is currently starring in Martin Halpern's No Moves Back at The Spiral Theatre Studio, directed by Paula J. Riley, which closed Monday, June 30th.
William is both an actor and a playwright. William Shuman made his NY stage debut in 1977 in Charles Dyer's Rattle of a Simple Man, having first appeared on stage in Boston as the Gentleman Caller in Northeastern University's production of The Glass Menagerie.
That was William's very first introduction to Tennessee Williams.
Since then, William has dome a number of stage performances in New York including Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, Terence McNally's Witness, Charles Dizenzo's The Last Straw. William is a founding member of The Abingdon Theatre Company in NYC which produced his play, The Most Important American Playwright since Tennessee Williams and held readings of several of his plays including Retirement Tango, Taking Selma’s Car, Seat of Knowledge and the Hibaku Piano.
He also produced one performance of En Avant as part of their Sunday series.

His short play The Lift has been presented at several venues. His screenplay Practice, Practice, Practice was optioned for production several times and his episode of LA Law was misplaced by its executive producer.
 William received a BA in English and Economics from Boston University and an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School but left the corporate world to pursue a life in the theatre.
William did not do a whole lot of acting through the '90s. He had a family to raise and support. He came back to acting in 2009.
In 2011, he played Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus. He played the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Show.

He did two roles in t. s. eliot's Murder in The Cathedral. His writing started to evolve culminating with his theatre piece celebrating Tennessee Williams. It was first produced in Ft. Lauderdale. The date was 11/11/11! Interesting side note in terms of numbers.
William made his stage debut on 7/7/77!   
Recently, William did a production of It's a Wonderful Life where he got to play Potter, the nastiest human being on the planet. That was a stretch for William because he normally plays nice guys. What truly makes William happy is knowing that he has impacted someone's day or their week. (He is not arrogant enough to say their life!). When he hears them laugh, when he can feel that they are moved from the stage, either as an actor or standing at the back of the theatre and he sees their immediate response to his words as a playwright. What he loves about theatre never changes.
That is its ability to impact people on an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual way.

What William loathes about what theatre has become is it's reliance on "celebrity". He finds the entire "cult" of celebrity to be abhorrent.
He feels that it wasn't always that way in the theatre. Of course, film and television has always been celebrity driven.
It can't help but be celebrity driven. If you know of someone or have an opinion of someone, you are more apt to respond to that person in one way or another. It seems that today's Broadway producers desire to attract a television name to their productions. The rise of the so called reality television has also impacted that. When we have people in "Louisiana" following these Duck Dynasty types and influencing our elections, that's a problem.
Why does William perform? "There is a myriad of reasons." One is to try and make a living. There is nothing wrong with that! Even more importantly is the satisfaction that William gets from the work.
It is always the work that is important. Reviews are nice. Standing ovations are nice. The work, in itself, is the reward. That...and a couple of bucks!
Tennessee Williams began keeping journals when he was twenty-six years old. Shortly after he started, he would end his journal entry with the French phrase, En Avant, which means forward or onward. Later in life, he also signed his letters with En Avant.
It was really his motto. He got "kicked in the balls" a lot. The reviews for Battle of Angels were such that he wanted to climb into a hole and not come out for some time. Later in life, his audience and reviewers turned on him.
He always felt the need to go forward. Not only was it Tennessee's motto, William has adopted it as his own.
William grew up in a middle class home. His dad was a physician. His mom raised four kids.William has two sisters and a brother. One brother is a world class pianist. His sister is a successful cellist. She was a physician's assistant and now a jewelry maker. He has a brother who is out in Chicago. He loves to play the trombone and loves to sing Karaoke. 
Neither of his parents could sing. In fact, his mother had "one of the worst voices on the planet." She loved to sing anyway. William won't even discuss his dad. What influenced William in terms of the arts and the creative world actually came from his father. He had an incredible sense of what is silly.
Now, William's girlfriend cannot stand his sense of humor because it is very silly and he is prone to try and make people laugh.
The family has evolved from non performer parents to children who love to get up in front of people.
If William had not pursed theatre, he thinks he would have been a fishing guide in the Bahamas or the Florida Keys.
Back to En Avant!, William last performed it in January of this year. He did three performances in Davie, Florida. Click HERE to see an interview with William.
The text of En Avant is fairly well set. He continuously makes minor adjustments.It is a very simple set design, but he makes minor adjustments and tweaks every now and then. He is constantly striving, as an actor, to make more impactful choices.
A favorite memory of the show for William took place when he did the show in Rosarito del Mar, Mexico. It was a community theatre in the truest sense of the word. They involve the community. They did five iconic scenes from Tennessee Williams' plays as the first act. The artistic director is a friend of Williams and also a wonderful actor/director by the name of Craig Schaefer. At the top of Act Two, he said, "Now, that you have sampled these plays, meet the author."
After each of the performances, William held a symposium taking questions from the audience as Williams talking about the process. He has done that a few times. He will not be doing that at The Triad.

At least there are no plans to do that at the time of this interview. I asked William what he considered to be the lowest point of his career.
He said there are the usual aspects that all artists face. Allan Moyle, film director, who did Times Square and Pump Up The Volume, wrote a screenplay called Love Crimes.
They did a public reading of it. Two actors were asked to go forward with the project. The first was John Malkovich. The other was William!
Allan couldn't raise the money and he sold the screenplay.
William's part was cut out.
He's not sure that he wouldn't have been hired anyway because Allan wasn't doing the hiring.
That is probably one of his biggest disappointments in terms of his career. That, and those times in which William felt he could not get hired.
The first word that pops into William's mind when I mention Tennessee Williams is poetry, the lyric beauty of his writing is uppermost in William's thought's. Running a close second is the portrait of this deeply wounded man.
However, he persevered. His last major work was produced in Chicago in 1981. It was called A House Not Meant to Stand. Tennessee had problems dealing with the cast. He left rehearsals to go to Key West and returned for the opening. He had a suite at one of the Chicago hotels. He had to vacate the suite the morning after the opening because some bigwig had it reserved. 
Director and producer Greg Moser was concerned because Tennessee had a tendency to hurt himself some evenings and not be able to get up early the next day. Greg was pleasantly surprised the next morning at 9AM when he came by Tennessee's room. Tennessee's bags were outside the room already packed.
Greg opened the door and Tennessee was sitting at the table with a portable typewriter, which he always used and would always send out for one wherever he was. He never used an electric typewriter. Greg said to him, " Tennessee, we gotta get going." Tennessee looked up and said, "Not now, baby, I'm woikin'""
Gregory Moser wrote the forward to the published edition of A House Not Meant to Stand.
Theatre is such a diverse thing. From William's recent role in No Moves Back in The Spiral Theatre Studio, which is essentially a rehearsal studio converted into a theatre that seats 85 people to a 2500 seat venue in a Broadway house.
There is such an immense spectrum. In some ways, today's theatre is doing very well. Money and/or the lack thereof is the bane of everyone's existence.
The Abingdon Theatre Company which William has great reverence for, Jan Buttram, artistic director, is a very good friend and William knows first hand how they struggle for money. 
The Abingdon Theatre does really great work. They are presenting NEW American plays constantly.William, as do I, tends to look at Broadway primarily as a tourist institution.
There are very few really good new plays being produced. William mention's Harvey Feinstein's recent new critically acclaimed and Tony nominated (but short lived) Casa Valentina as an example.
It closed after a few weeks on the boards.
William, himself, has not attempted writing a full length play since En Avant! He does keep writing, and he attempts to write ten minute plays. That tends to keep him sharp.
There is also a place for them.
It would be wonderful if this led to making a living on an ongoing basis.
William actually has several full length plays. One, he would like to do some rewrites on. He has done readings of these. They are still in the formative stage.
The most important lesson that William has learned in this business takes us right back to Tennessee's motto, Keep going. En Avant!
The phrase "Illegitimi non carborundum" may look like Latin, but it doesn't exactly translate to "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down."
Carborundum is actually the name of an extremely hard mineral (silicon carbide) used for grinding.

The phrase originated during World War II and is attributed to British army intelligence. It was later adopted by US Army general "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell as his war-time motto.
Illegitimi suggests illegitimate, but it really has no meaning in Latin.
I asked William what his biggest vice and greatest virtue are.
William is 71 years old. When he was 30, he never thought he would make 40!
He thinks they may be the same thing!
William believes his single-mindedness, when he sets his mind to something, he will go through hell and/or high water to make it happen. He admits that the flip side of that is he doesn't always have a sense of when it is time to abandon the ship. He says that he is a really boring person when it comes to vices. He has been in a monogamous relationship for thirty-four years. He drinks one glass of wine with dinner. He doesn't smoke.
Tennessee's greatest virtue was his elastic poetic mind and his ability to see things in many different dimensions and the beauty of his writings at the same time. One of his contemporaries, Arthur Miller, was a wonderful playwright, but did not have the poetry of Williams.
O'Neill was a little earlier but is still considered a contemporary. Although he wrote brilliantly, there is something so poignant and powerful above the lyric content of Williams' writing. He described himself as a "wounded man, badly bandaged, a monster among angels or perhaps an angel among monsters...a box of questions shaken up and scattered on the floor." He needed the booze and the barbiturates to get through the day and it destroyed him ultimately.
William is looking forward to the upcoming four performances at Stage 72 at The Triad. There is a POSSIBILITY of additional performances at Baruch College in the early autumn.
There are a couple of other theatres interested as well. There are negotiations currently in progress for a couple of theatres upstate. There is also a theatre in Florida which is looking good for next spring for a run of four or five performances.
The show itself is 70 minutes and self-contained.
It is inexpensive to produce. It is very easy to move.
It is perfect for an upscale educated audience. It would also be perfect for high end cruise lines.Because of Tennessee's iconic stature in the gay community, this should is perfect for some of the upscale gay cruises as well. That is another area that William is attempting to break in to.
I asked William if he thought he was a pretty good student. He believes so. He has a degree in economics. He has a degree in marketing. He got bored very fast with the corporate world. He would rather fend for himself as a cab driver or try and make a few bucks as an actor and a writer than to ever go back to that world. He lived for a while on "option" money. He wrote a screenplay called Practice, Practice, Practice. It was optioned on four separate occasions, each time for varying amounts of money.
It's a lovely story about a failed executive who leads a group of Bowery bums and street musicians to play Carnegie Hall.
Aging in this business for ALL is a challenge.
William says that if he had a chance he would be younger. That being said, he embraces what is.
He gets up every morning and knowing he's alive because everything hurts!
William considers himself very fortunate. He is in relative good health. He does have Type 2 Diabetes which is under control. He tries and lives a "sane" life physically. He loves the perspective that being 71 gives him.
He loves the ability of being able to look back and see things as they really are, not as the way that one hopes they will be. William tries not to be cynical, even though that can certainly seep in. William looks forward to TODAY and what it holds. He also looks forward to tomorrow but he is more interested in today.
It is no surprise that Tennessee is William's favorite playwright by a very long stretch.
Although he considers Albee a great playwright and he loves much of his work and Tony Kuchner is an amazing playwright.
If you look at the breadth of the work, Tennessee wrote more than forty full length plays, fifty one act plays, fifty three published short stories, two books of poetry, a book of essays, two novels, two original screenplays. William admits he may have missed one or two here. The fact that his works are so consistently brilliant, it didn't always work...there are some huge failures there. His work is just so stunningly beautiful. Tennessee's favorite play is also William's favorite, and it is very rarely done, Camino Real.
As a writer, William would consider Tennessee a role model, as a human being, probably not.
When it comes to role models, William immediately thinks of his dad. Beyond that, he hasn't thought about role models in a long time.
William's dad was a general practitioner. We now call them internists or primary care physicians.
At age 48, he felt that the parade was passing him by. So he took a residency in radiology and became a radiologist.
He was willing to take that risk. William also has that gene. He left a $50,000 a year advertising job to purse something that "made no sense at all' from a financial or realistic point of view. He is a much happier human being as a result of that decision. His friends are all in or from the theatre and they have so enriched his life. His closest friend for over twenty-five years was the great actor John Spencer. The man that influenced William into becoming an actor was a man by the name of Lenny Baker.
Lenny was a year younger than William. William was fifteen when they met at a Boyscout camp. Baker's career was cut short by illness. His final television performances were in 1979, and he died on April 12, 1982. The official cause of death was listed as cancer.
He had won a Tony Award for the musical, I Love My Wife. He was a wonderful actor and a good friend.
These two men were role models because of their dedication to their craft.
I asked what note William would like to end this blog on and he threw me a curve ball. He said he has such a fondness for food. That is one thing that impacts everyone's life!
In closing, please note than En Avant! IS a play, not just a biographical sketch. It has a dramatic arc. It deals fairly substantially with the family, the seminal work, the loves, and the demons of this most amazing man. For more info CLICK HERE.

Thank you William Shuman AND Tennessee Williams for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Tennessee Williams and his partner Frank Merlo.

Be sure and get Julie Budd's latest album and catch her at The Dix Hills Performing Arts Center on July 25th
Julie Budd’s latest CD They Wrote the Songs is ready for purchase

Would LOVE to see you! Bring friends! It’s going to be star-studded party!
IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

I now have over 1,000,000 readers! Talk to me about sponsorship opportunities!
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates

Richard Skipper,