Saturday, June 27, 2015

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows



Pat Dwyer, left, and Stephen Mosher after exchanging vows in front of the Supreme Court. Credit Andrew Councill for The New York Times
"Fortune favors the BOLD who ACT with DECISIVENESS and CLARITY."
~Dan Kennedy


Marriage Equality: LGBT Pride 2015: Leave It to Beaverhausen by Charles Truenski
Happy PRIDE!
I hope all that sees this are doing well and celebrating YOU and US! This has been an amazing month with so much happening to remind us daily how precious we ALL are and how we are all interconnected regardless of race and or sexual orientation or gender. In the last week alone, Confederate flags are coming down across the south, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare subsidies, and marriage equality was enshrined as a constitutional right.
The Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare won't expand Medicaid to the poor in states where Republican governors and legislators have blocked it.
Simply put: This was an incredible week, but our work is far from over.
The highlight of these last few weeks for me was the Supreme Court ruling of yesterday.  Can you believe the ruling yesterday? In OUR lifetime! But our work isn't done.
 I very rarely talk about my personal life in my blogs beyond the events I attend and my personal views on people and certain events. I have written in the past about my beginnings. 
I grew up in South Carolina. I left home when I was eighteen right out of high school. My favorite movie growing up was The Wizard of Oz. I didn't realize until many years later that it was even a cult film.
A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following.  
Being a baby boomer and growing up in the sixties and seventies, I could only see it once a year. 
These, of course, were the days before DVDs, videos,DVRs, and/or any other devices to save copies. Everyone who knew me from my family, to my extended family, and beyond KNEW that this was my movie! 
Dorothy aka Judy Garland as I saw her on our black and white TV
I religiously looked through the TV Guide to see when it was going to air and when I found out, that day became a red letter day and was as important to me as my birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, or any other special holiday.

My world centered around that movie.
I don't know why The Wizard of Oz has become such an integral part of gay culture

I certainly did not know growing up that I was gay. 
As a matter of fact, I was probably the most asexual person to ever come out of the state of South Carolina. I was/am a fan of Judy Garland, but did not then, nor do I now, attribute that to being gay. I still don't understand why those connotations are there. 

Judy Garland is widely considered a gay icon. According to Wikipedia, the reasons frequently given for her standing as an icon among gay men are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles seemed to
mirror those of gay men in America during the height of her fame, and her value as a camp figure.
The tragic aspects of gay identification with Garland were being discussed in the mainstream as early as 1967. Time magazine, in reviewing Garland's 1967 Palace Theatre engagement, disparagingly noted that a "disproportionate part of her nightly claque seems to be homosexual.

Time then attempted to explain Garland's appeal to the homosexual, consulting psychiatrists who opined that "the attraction [to Garland] might be made considerably stronger by the fact that she has survived so many problems; homosexuals identify with that kind of hysteria" and that "Judy was beaten up by life, embattled, and ultimately had to become more masculine. 
Goldman at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo
Writer William Goldman, in a piece for Esquire magazine about the same Palace engagement, again disparages the gay men in attendance, dismissing them as "fags" who "flit by" chattering inanely.
He goes on to say that if [homosexuals] have an enemy, it is age.He goes on to say that homosexuals tend to identify with suffering.
To me, she was just Dorothy. As a matter of fact, Dorothy was just Dorothy until June 22nd, 1969. I didn't even know that I was considered a "friend of Dorothy: until much later! That was the day she transitioned. 
To me, she never died. I've written about this before, but I will revisit that day. 
It was a Sunday night and my Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Christine Lewis and their six daughters were coming over for dinner that night and my parents and Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Christine would play canasta after dinner. This was such a part of my childhood, when those cards came out, all of us kids were excited because it meant hours of unsupervised play!  

I also have several memories of us watching The Wizard of Oz together. The memory that stands out the most is when they received their first color television set and Aunt Christine tried to adjust the color settings at the beginning because she KNEW this film was in color! 
I was so exasperated! Especially when the colors came on and they were distorted. 
Well back to June 22nd, 1969...the Lewis clan arrived at our home on Highway 544 in Conway, South Carolina for supper, canasta, and childhood frolic. I was eight years old. As soon as Patsy, the third in line of the girls, also my age, jumped out of the car, the first thing she blurts out is that Dorothy has died! I couldn't make heads or tails out of the fact that she was telling me that Judy Garland had died. Our three networks were not giving enough information for my satisfaction but I was obsessed on finding out how Judy Garland tied in with Dorothy Gale.
The next day, my dad dropped me off at Hazel Elvington's. She was baby sitting us that summer. Her son, Andy, was the real live Wicked Witch. 
He bullied and tortured me mercilessly! When I complained to my dad, I was simply told to fight back.
Well, the next morning, when we were dropped off, I asked Miss Hazel, as we called her, if she had the newspapers from the day before. 
She asked why and when I told her that I wanted to really find out if Dorothy had died, she helped me go through the papers. 
When we found the papers, I remember feeling numb. What did this mean? Would I never see The Wizard of Oz again? Would they stop showing it out of respect for her? I obsessed over this that day. I went home that night and broke down in our kitchen hysterically crying! Little did I know that I was not alone! That pain was real and was felt in New York on such a level that I will discuss in my next blog.
My mom yelled at me that I was crazy and that I didn't even know this woman!
Well, I was going to find out who she was. The earliest TV images I remember are several of the "concert" shows from her TV series started airing on late night television. I was two when the series ran and therefore missed those shows during their initial run. I also remember seeing Jim Bailey performing as Judy on the Ed Sullivan and Marilyn Michaels on the Kopykats. I also remember seeing the Sixty Minutes segment on Judy.
Then the books started pouring out. To be continued...
Thank you to all who paved the way for me and for the gifts they have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

 



 

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                
Garland with Tony Bennett in episode 5. Garland would shortly be instructed to stop touching her guests.

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Barbra Streisand Appears on Judy Garland's Variety Show (October 6, 1963)
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com
Julie Budd I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

















Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To The Tony Awards Producers: PLEASE celebrate ALL winners!

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have flax-golden takes to spin.
Come in! Come in!

The Invitation, Shel Silverstein

I think it's absolutely outrageous that the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award in the theatre is not deemed worthy of air time. And because I have worked with Tommy Tune and know firsthand what a true theatrical genius he is. He is not only a first-rate dancer and performer, he is a brilliant and innovative director. For shame!
Carole Monferdini NEW YORK, NY



CSU Archives—Everett Collection American stage actress and director Antoinette Perry, (1888-1946), c. 1910.
It is Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 and the Broadway season officially ended with this year's Tony Awards presented this past Sunday night.

Barbara Harris won  her Tony Award at The 21st Annual Tony Awards ceremony which was the Award ceremony's inaugural broadcast. HERE is her speech 
THE 69TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS, aired live from Radio City Music Hall, Sunday, June 7 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. After the ceremony, I was lucky enough to head to the annual Tonys Party at the Carlyle Hotel, hosted by O and M.
Thank you O and M, Ellen Easton, Peter Glebo, and Wayne Gmitter.

Those of you who follow me and my activities know that I have worked tirelessly over the past five weeks to ensure that nine time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune would receive his LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD during the telecast. I still stand behind my efforts.I am pleased to say that over 1600 people agreed with me and signed the petition as well. In addition to that, Michael Reidel, Liz Smith, Playbill.com, and several bloggers weighed in as well.
Throughout this blog, I will include comments from others they are weighing in. I want to begin by celebrating all the winners, the
Mickey Rooney appeared at the FIRST Tony Awards April 6th, 1947
nominees, and ALL that contribute to the theatre, both on and off stage and on both sides of the footlights. This year, Broadway had the highest attendance records in the history of the theatre. When people come to New York, they desire to see a Broadway show. I am tired of hearing people in the theatre say that people around the country don't know who certain artists are. Trust me, they know. If they don't, the Tony Awards is a perfect platform to educate them.
I want to thank the powers that be that work to bring us the Tony telecast. I also realize that is easy for all of us who are not part of the process to weigh in on what we like, what we dislike, and what we would change.

Donna Solaway, ME, Eda Sorokoff
You know the expression about opinions. We ALL have them. That being said, let's ALL agree on one thing...the Tony Awards telecast should CELEBRATE the theatre...past, present, and future!
For many people, their only exposure to the theatre all year long IS The Tony Awards, which is terribly sad.
Instead of working to bring in a "new" audience, focus on the audience you have and make the primary goal be to give them what they want. Trust me, they know. 
As a kid, I use to watch the Tonys and dream of the day I would be part of THAT world. I'm not so certain THAT world exists any more. It's more about the bottom line and less about entertainment. At least entertainment, in the way that I knew it. When the Tony Awards first aired in 1967, it was in the days of the variety show and that was also the paradigm of the first show. It was only an hour and was produced by Alexander Cohen. Boy, do I miss him! He got it!
I have written in the past of my mentor when I was a teenager, Miss Epps. She instilled in me a love and a respect of what has gone before me and ALL of us in the arts.
Ethel Waters also appeared at the FIRST Tony Awards
When we would meet (once a week) for our lesson, she would mention the name of a great theatre actor, legend, or icon, if I didn't know who they were, our session would end!
I would be told to study up on these people to discuss their legacy at our next session. I would leave and go to the Conway Main Street Library, look up those names in the card catelogue, and check out as many books as I could find on them and excitedly be able to talk about them at our next lesson!
Imagine if I had had the internet!
Miss Epps told me that every time I walked out on stage, I was carrying the mantle of these great artists on my shoulders and that my goal should always be to make them proud. 
I NEVER forgot that! Perhaps that is my shows were  "lessons in my hagiography" as one critic once called it!
To this date, I don't know if he was paying me a compliment or an insult, but I'll take the former!
Carol Channing - Gypsy of the Year 2010 Opening

THAT is why I do what I do. My goal in life is to celebrate those that have paid the way for ALL of us in the arts.
Check out this great blog from Dave Lekowitz of Dave's Gone By for Stage Buddy:  Random Thoughts on the 2015 Tony Broadcast.

I want to concur with what Dave writes about the In Memoriam segment from last night! 
SHAME! SHAME!! SHAME!!! That segment was less about those that have passed on and more about Josh Groban.  The names flew by faster than you see credits run on TV for time constraints. These artists devoted their LIVES to entertaining us and their legacies are given less than five seconds. Please tell me WHY!
5/24/1964-New York, NY: Winning Broadway stars display their trophies at the 1963-64 Tony Awards presentation . Left to Right are: Sir Alec Guinness, best starring actor, drama for his role in "Dylan"; Sandy Dennis, best starring actress, drama, for "Any Wednesday"; Carol Channing, best starring actress, musical, for "Hello, Dolly," and Bert Lahr, best starring actor, musical, for "Foxy."

Carol Channing, Isabelle Stevenson, Carol Burnett
White Cherry Entertainment’s Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss have produced the Tony Awards ceremony and live telecast since 2003.
Carol Channing always referred to Gower Champion on Hello, Dolly! as a "benevolent despot". 
My advice for next year is to celebrate the past, present, and future of the theatre. Instead of giving audiences what YOU want to force feed them, give them what they have been asking for for years. Instead of going after a NEW audience, focus on entertaining the audience you have, theatre goers and losers. The reason that MANY people don't tune in is because they are disillusioned. 
Although I campaigned for Tommy Tune's LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD to be broadcast DURING the telecast, I believe ALL of the awards should be included. 
with Bryon Sommers at last night's Metropolitan Room Tony Party
IF the Tony Awards feel that one is worthy of an award, it should be included DURING the broadcast as well. If CBS (I hope you are listening Les Moonves) doesn't feel that it is unworthy of inclusion, I think it is time to do a LIVE stream over the internet. 
Sunday night, history was made. For the first time ever, the Best Musical winner was written solely by women – Fun Home‘s Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, who also won the awards for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. This year also marked the first time that an all-female writing team won the award for Best Original Score. Of course, no one knew what the end result was going to be. 
That being said, everyone KNEW that was a possibility. Sadly, those moments was lost on viewers around the world.
Our house in the theatre IS big: so let's invite EVERYBODY to be a part of it, no matter their ethnicity, their height, their weight, their shade or hue: If they have the craft, if they have the talent, they should have the opportunity!
-2015 Tony Award WINNER Lisa Kron
 
I want to get back to celebrating ALL the awards. My work is not finished until those that make those decisions will do the right thing!   Jersey Boys and Finding Neverland as well as some of the sight gags (and non nominated musicals) could also have been cut to make way for these awards.

Regarding the In Memoriam, they did the same thing to my friend Kevin Gray when he died (PHANTOM
Kevin Gray
(POTO on BROADWAY, KING (KING and I) on BROADWAY (only the 3rd actor to play the KING at that time),, SCAR (Lion KIng) BROADWAY, ENGINEER (Miss Siagon) BROADWAY,....but he wasn't even mentioned at the Memorium on the Tonys in 2013...Shameful!!!!.....SOOOO don't let them get away with this!!!...Frank Calamaro


 Tony Award: Good (acceptance speeches), bad (hosts) and ugly (In Memoriam)

I agree, Richard. I am so sick of hearing people complain about awards shows being too long, boring, etc. They could be 12 hours long for all I care. I don't know why the networks keep trying to make these shows more palatable to people who don't watch them, anyway. -Bill Ervolino 


"The Tonys" is the award show I most look forward to every year.  

All other awards shows are bloated and barely creep along under the weight of self-importance.  
And the acceptance speeches seem so authentic and heartfelt.  I DVR'd the show---like I do every year---and I watched it again this morning.  
When CBS offers up the likes of Chita Rivera, Helen Mirren, Bernadette Peters and Tommy Tune---one viewing isn't nearly enough.  Oh, and I thought Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenowith were adorable hosts.
LuAnn de Lesseps, with Tommy Tune's sister, Gracie, Tommy, and ME at The Carlyle after party (photo credit Stephen Sorokoff)
-Steve Kmetko

I love what I do and I don't need this, but now that I have it, I'm going to say a few things.-Kelli O'Hara

Why would you not televise the entire awards show, but especially the Lifetime Achievement Award winner?
Kevin Moore SAINT LOUIS, MO

Tommy Tune should have gotten fifteen minutes, not fifteen seconds! I guess we should be glad for
Fun Home wins Best Musical!
something!

-Frank DiCiovanni

Last night's Tony awards were a celebration of young outcasts coming of age and finding their way. Here's Michael Musto's report.

It's important that current audiences are aware of those who paved the way for all of us!
Autumn Browne SANTA ANA, CA

 After seeing that song from a certain show, I now understand why Peter Filichia mined it for his hosting of the Theatre World Awards at the Lyric....

I know a place where jokes are born
And jests get quite a hand
Just speak of starry flops
And the laughter never stops
"Finding Neverland"….

John Ellis
Winners Diahann Carroll, Robert Morse, Margaret Leighton and Paul Scofield at the 1962 Tony Awards.

Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill
My favorite moments tonight at the Tony Awards were all about Kelli O'Hara: listening to her sing, watching her win the Best Actress Award for The King and I and listening to her acceptance speech!!!
Frank Anzalone 
I thought, for the most part, they made too much fun of the whole event. I was slightly embarrassed all evening. All you had to do was look at the faces thatthe camera keep catching in the audience to see that I may not have been the only one who felt that way. To quote from another Broadway show, "Whatever happened to class?"
-Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, Tony nominee 1979, They're Playing Our Song 



Lee Roy Reams in his TONY nominated''42nd Street' performance.'

Award winners should be given honor's during the program, especially The Lifetime Achievement Award. Tommy Tune deserves that respect!
Diane Grove CHARLESTON, IL


I love Tommy Tune and also have loved theatre since seeing The Sound of Music on Broadway for my 9th bithday. I am 62.
Marylouise Henning BURLINGTON, NJ







The cheering, applause, standing 
Tommy Tune at the 2015 Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Reception
ovations, and good will for Tommy Tune and Kelli O’Hara at glorious Radio City Music Hall had to be Broadway’s equivalent of the response to American Pharoah’s winning the Triple Crown on Saturday. 

What a celebratory weekend for New Yorkers this was. And then there was the "tony" Tony party at The Carlyle Hotel
Every nook of this "grand hotel" was filled – ‘til past 4am -- with happy people who create and support theater. 
Broadway producer Daryl Roth and Tommy Tune
Who could ask for anything more?
-Vick Stivala

Richard, I commend you on your hard work to get Tommy Tune's award on the broadcast. I think you sort of won because they honored him in a charming way and then we got to see him. It seemed to be a compromise. I love that you supported Tommy so beautifully. Thanks for being a steadfast champion of this business!
-Ann Hampton Callaway


 Thank you, Richard. I was so moved to see Tommy on the show--so gracious, so classy and so worthy of being honored. I am so grateful to you for making this possible. You are, as Ann Hampton Calloway said, a true and "steadfast champion of this business!"
-Barbara Ann Davis

I am so happy Kelli O'Hara won her first Tony last night. What a gracious person. I shared a dressing
Kelli O'Hara at The Carlyle after party (Courtesy: Vick Stivala'sIphone!)
room with her at Joe's Pub not too long ago and had the best talk with her about Bridges Of Madison County. After I sang my song she said "Girl....I'm obsessed with your voice". What a classy , kind lady. And I thought her speech was so touching... " I love what I do and I don't need this, but now that I have it, I'm going to say a few things!". Amazing and inspiring.
-Marissa Mulder


Richard Skipper, you deserve applause for trying to get Tommy Tune, and future lifetime achievement recipients, their proper time and respect. Your petition was well received by so many members of our theater community. Thank you for bringing common sense and what should be the obvious to light. It was a poor decision
on the ATW's part to not air his segment. Less of the hosts throughout the night, would have made up for the time constraints. I hope your lobbying and others' will bring about a change for next year. Please don't give up. You have support.
Jen Klebanek


Photo Coverage: Tommy Tune Brings Home Lifetime Achievement Tony Award

Here is hoping that next year we get to celebrate ALL of The Awards ON AIR AND That Those that have38th Annual Tony Awards!
Fred Ebb was CELEBRATED at the 38th Annual Tony Awards
transitioned will get the respect that deserve! I'm ready, Tony Producers, if you need me. I'm all about celebrating ALL! Want to know how to do it? Go back and look at the

I just don't get the decision making process for the Tony Award telecast. It's a time to honor and celebrate the theatrical community but you devalue integral members of the creative team by excluding them from the live telecast. The whole Tommy Tune thing was embarrassing, actually disturbing, for someone who
has given so much to this community! I know it's about ratings
but really... disturbing!!!

-Sherie L Seff

To the producers of NEXT year's Tony's, imagine a musical montage celebrating your Life Time Achievement Award winner! Our history needs to be celebrated!

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 legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!

Ann Miller as Dolly Gallagher Levi (Kenley Players: http://www.callondolly.com/ann-miller)

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
           
 Please join Carly Ozard in NYC June 24th as she makes her Metropolitan Room DEBUT with her OWN show! Midler On The Roof

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

IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook


Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY



Jerry Herman: 2009 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
To contact Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com
1967: Barbra Steisand, John Kander [left] and Fred Ebb