Saturday, July 25, 2009


Cy Coleman’s music has a way of sounding chipper even when the lyrics from one of his songwriting partners are scathingly sardonic.
This spritzy irony between words and notes is part of Coleman’s signature showmanship.
Just because you’re jangled and jaded doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an old-fashioned orchestra kick.

That brassy fullness is on dapper display in “The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman,” which is receiving its world premiere at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. A celebratory revue devised and directed by lyricist David Zippel, who won a Tony for the original score he and Coleman wrote for “City of Angels”, the production surveys Coleman’s catalog, plucking out glittering pop standards, sparkling Broadway tunes (including a few deliciously bawdy ones) and a number of songs Coleman completed before his death in 2004 that are being theatrically unveiled for the first time.
Popping in and out of musical theater attitudes, the performers reflect the various moods and styles of Coleman and his collaborators, who include such notables as Carolyn Leigh, Dorothy Fields (pictured) and Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Jason-Sally More choreographed than a cabaret yet less dramatically structured than a musical, the production spins about in a pleasant enough limbo.

Clearly, the performers would like it, to paraphrase Coleman and Fields' “Sweet Charity” classic, if their friends (including Liza Minnelli, who was in attendance on Sunday night) could see them now.

Those who don’t have to break a sweat to convey essentials fair best. Billy Stritch, parked behind his piano with a cabaret king’s imperturbability, seems to embody the very soul of Coleman’s cool as he leads the company in a bubbly opening rendition of “The Best Is Yet to Come.”
(Stritch’s singing, by the way, is as strong as his musical supervision and arrangements.)

Lillias White starts off slow yet simmers into a steady boil for “The Oldest Profession” from “The Life,” the Coleman-Ira Gasman show in which she won a Tony. Softly purring or belting at full blast, White seduces (wigged or wigless) with a readily available sassiness, which is put to good effect in "Never Met a Man I Didn't Like," from Coleman and Comden and Green's "The Will Rogers Follies."
Sally Mayes and Julia Murney deliver a bouncy version of Coleman and Zippel’s “What You Don’t Know About Women,” one of the many numbers diagnosing the darker side of love.

Jason Graae, who strains at moments with bug-eyed campiness, memorably croons “Witchcraft”, the indelible ditty Coleman wrote with Leigh. Graae is no Frank Sinatra, but he has a swanky voice that suggests the right amorous ambiance even when he’s signaling a mischievous smirk.

(Graae's understudy, Tom Lowe, will be filling in for him for the rest of the run, though Graae will return if the show extends beyond its scheduled Aug. 2 closing date.)
In the romantic lead department, there’s David Burnham, an eager-to-please charmer with a winsome air. He seems young and occasionally goofy, but he certainly makes beautiful music with Murney in “Only the Rest of My Life,” a song Coleman wrote with Zippel that’s bound to have a healthy posthumous life.

In "The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty," Wilfrid Sheed connects Coleman’s “master strategy for somehow staying both hip and out of date” with the eternal inspiration he found in “great old radio songs.”
Incorporating this kind of critical assessment could transform this buffet of musical appetizers into a more nourishing theatrical meal.
Thanks to Charles McNulty for the info on this show (based on his review)

“The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman,” Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Aug. 2. $39 to $65. (805) 667-2900. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

"Drop Dead Diva" is hands down summer's best new show thanks to its perfect cocktail of wit, charm, heart and brains. And it certainly doesn't hurt that "Diva" has lined up so many amazing guest stars, "Will & Grace" is crying in a corner over losing its crown.
The two biggest names lending their star power to the Lifetime series are Liza Minnelli and Paula Abdul.

The "American Idol" judgess appears as herself in a Sept. 13 dream sequence when Jane is feeling a little blue.
In swoops Paula, bringing along a few of the inspirational encouragements she perfected on the reality show. Here's hoping they have nothing to do with ripping off Jane's head and hanging it from her rear view mirror!
As for Liza, she continues her small screen hot streak -- "Arrested Development," "Saturday Night Live" -- as a sister-sparring psychic on Sept. 20. But they're just two of the amazing celebs crossing paths with our beloved Jane!

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, an arts education service organization, today released results from two surveys, both attesting to the enormous contribution the city's cultural organizations make to arts teaching and learning in the city's schools.

The Roundtable's annual Impact Survey reveals that in aggregate New York's arts organizations spent more than 15% of their budgets on educational programs and raised tens of millions of dollars in 2007-08 for education programs in New York City public schools. The Roundtable's first-ever Teaching Artist Census indicates that teaching artists, who deliver instruction and programs in the schools for these groups, greatly outnumber licensed school-based arts specialists.
Recently, Johns Hopkins University sponsored a one-day Roundtable on Arts and the Brain, based on a report released by the Dana Foundation that demonstrates how the arts light up parts of the brain like nothing else does. This was followed in Washington, DC by the tenth annual conference on Learning and the Brain. The Roundtable was an invitation-only event and included 200 researchers, teachers, educational leaders, superintendents, principals, and policy makers.

According to Patrice Maynard, leader for Outreach and Development for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, who attended both events, one particularly moving presentation described the effects of music on the ability of the brains of children to receive and comprehend math concepts, offered by Dr. Elizabeth Spelke, from Harvard University. "Dr. Spelke stated that she has demonstrable evidence that in babies and young children the making of music (not the listening, but the singing, composing, playing an instrument) illuminates parts of the brain, as visible in fMRI imaging, that helps the comprehension of math to accelerate.
She emphasized that the use of the playing of instruments should not be a substitute for the teaching of math, but rather, that understanding math concepts is easier for children who play a musical instrument."

The Dana Foundation research report shows how arts activities influence cognition.
The results demonstrate levels of brain activity that reflect engagement or attentiveness during learning, including the kinds of arts activities (music, dance, painting, etc.) that hold children's attention.

The report validates scientifically what Waldorf educators observe on a daily basis in their classrooms: Artistic activity encourages motivation. Highly motivated children stay engaged in activities. Artistic activity stimulates both hemispheres of the human brain and deepens learning. The language of Waldorf teachers differs from that employed in the Dana report, but the report supports Rudolf Steiner's statements, made in the early part of the twentieth century, that modern science would catch up with his view of education and confirm the remarkable benefits it provides.

The difference between the approach of the Dana Foundation and Waldorf education is the difference between materialistic science and a spiritual - or anthroposophical - view of human beings. The first proceeds from cause to effect; the second begins with the wholeness of the child, which it allows to develop at its own pace, knowing that all learning must be digested artistically, and that the engagement of a child in education is essential.

Dr. Jerome Kagan, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, "made an impassioned plea for wholeness in human beings, ethical standards in child rearing and in the world, a remembrance of what real play was like, and less dependence on external things," states Ms. Maynard.
The Dana report includes suggestions for to how to improve test scores and increase brain capacity through use of the arts, supporting a current "outcomes based" approach to education. Waldorf educators might also use the report as scientific verification of their practices and continue the important task of enthusiastically approaching the human being as a mystery to unfold, not a product to generate. The arts are among the best educational means to assist in just that task.

For more information on Waldorf Education or to read more about the Dana Research Report, visit

About The Association for Waldorf Schools of North America
The Association for Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a not-for-profit membership organization that supports independent Waldorf schools, initiatives, and teacher training institutes, and promotes Waldorf education throughout North America.Waldorf education is a holistic and developmental approach that integrates academic, practical and artistic elements as it addresses the changing needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. Waldorf schools engage the heart and hands as well as the mind with a lively, experiential curriculum rich in the basics, literature, history, languages, the arts, the social and natural sciences and technology.
The Impact Survey data (copy attached) are based on responses from 61 cultural organizations, ranging in size from major Manhattan-based institutions like the New York Philharmonic and the Guggenheim Museum to smaller groups in other boroughs like Youth on Target in Queens and Ten Penny Players on Staten Island. Their aggregate 2007-08 budgets amounted to over $500 million dollars, out of which they provided approximately $35 million (7%) in services to New York City schools.
The organizations themselves raised $20 million for these education programs. The remaining $15 million was paid by the schools as fees to the groups.
In other words, these programs were subsidized by the providers at a rate of almost 1.5 to 1; thus, on average for every $1 a school paid for services from a cultural organization, it receive roughly $2.50 worth of services.

The annual survey was sent to 253 New York City arts and cultural institutions in May.
Responses from the 61 groups that completed the questionnaire were analyzed for the report. According to Roundtable analysts, a conservative extrapolation from the completed forms to the entire survey pool suggests that the cultural community raises more than $85 million annually for New York's schools.

The Teaching Artist Census represents the Roundtable's effort to determine the size of the cohort delivering arts instruction in the schools.
To date, 54 groups have responded to the census; the census shows that 1,976 unique individuals work as teaching artists for these groups. To avoid a duplicated count, groups were asked to report names rather than simply the number of teaching artists on their rosters. The Roundtable de-duplicated these reports.

This number compares with roughly 2,500 arts specialists currently teaching in the New York Public Schools.
In other words, these 54 groups alone employ almost the same of number of arts instructors as are currently employed by the entire school system. The census was sent to 243 groups. As additional reports are submitted, the data will undoubtedly show that the number of teaching artists working in the schools clearly outnumbers arts specialists by several multiples.

According to David Shookhoff, Chair of the Roundtable, "These two surveys clearly reflect the enormous impact the arts community continues to have on teaching and learning in the arts in New York City. Despite the economic downturn, the cultural community has remained steadfast in its commitment to bringing high-quality instruction and programs to the city's children."

Representatives of the Roundtable maintain that these reports constitute the most accurate, scientifically rigorous effort to date to capture this kind of data; indeed a teaching artist census has never before been undertaken in New York City. In addition to news organs, the Roundtable is disseminating its survey results to the Department of Education, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council Members, the Mayor's Office, and to other appropriate government offices and agencies. Education officials have used past surveys to advocate effectively for additional city funding for arts programs.

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is an information-sharing consortium serving arts organizations that provide arts education programs in the New York City schools and the community. In addition to its annual conference, Face to Face, the Roundtable regularly holds Educational Forums around topics of interest to the arts education field. It also sponsors seminars with narrower focuses, of interest to specific constituencies within the arts community. The Roundtable provides information about arts education to the media, government, and general public. Currently, 120 organizations hold full memberships in the Roundtable; an additional 32 organizations and individuals hold associate memberships.
For further information, contact Brad Raimondo, Roundtable Coordinator at or by phone at (212) 642-5979 or visit the organization's web site at Depp says his dream role is to play Broadway legend Carol Channing in a biopic -- and now Channing has offered her blessing.

"It is not a new concept to me,” Channing said. “Not at all. Men have been imitating me for as long as I can remember. In fact, most of the impersonations I have seen have had a five-o'clock shadow. I imagine, when or if Johnny should portray me, he will succeed. Because a true artist, such as himself, is one who loves his or her creation and therefore represents their honest view of that which they are creating. I think he is a gifted performer and I would be very proud, as well as interested in seeing what his vision of me would be. Johnny is someone I would very much like to help me and my foundation ( to bring the arts back into the public school system in America."
Depp said in an interview last week that he would love to play Channing. “I love her, I really do, she's amazing. With all the digital technology these days, I could probably pull it off!"

In its glorious opening tableau, "Ragtime" finds its purest, most exhilarating expression. To the Scott Joplin-style syncopation of the title song, the characters who compose the musical's three intertwining ethnic groups -- white Anglo-Saxons, blacks and immigrant Jews -- converge onstage to lay out the evening's conceptual thrust: the revolutionary changes coming to America circa 1906.
"The music," as the characters put it, "of something beginning."
For the Kennedy Center's stirringly intelligent revival of the 1998 show, this beginning is indeed auspicious. Director-choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge arranges the huge cast, nearly three dozen strong, in formations that snake with goosebump-raising authority around the Eisenhower Theater stage. They're on a conga line to the future, the new pieces of a patchwork nation dancing inexorably into place.

More successfully than the lavish Broadway original -- a muscular melody machine that delivered ably on the rich-as-a-milkshake score but still left some theatergoers cold -- Dodge manages to make the idea of a turbulently evolving America the star. Perhaps as we've rounded the corner on another century, and the country is experiencing an acutely stressful testing of both its resolve and its way of doing business, a musical tracing the nation's core values strikes an even more resonant chord.

But despite its prescient survey of such relevant topics as immigration, racism, celebrity and capitalism, the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's sprawling 1975 novel remains at times a victim of its own grand ambitions.

The musical's parade of octave-scaling ballads, for instance, may have a salutary effect on the applause meter.

And yet, this $4.4 million revival looks and sounds so good, the moments that prompt complaint are ultimately drowned out by sheer musicality.
It's the best-sung show the Kennedy Center has mounted in years, and the choral numbers, like the gorgeous "New Music" and gospel-inflected "Till We Reach That Day," fill the auditorium with harmonies nothing short of heavenly. William David Brohn's orchestrations, voluptuously rendered by conductor James Moore and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, spoil you for the evenings to come when you must endure the equivalent of 98-pound-weakling accompaniments.

Dodge's ensemble is exceptionally well balanced; the show has been cast without brand names. (The original featured Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell.) That's not meant to suggest the production is devoid of exceptional turns. The revelatory Manoel Felciano in the role of Tateh, the penniless Latvian Jewish immigrant who ends up inventing a signature American art form, unearths a heretofore unexplored depth and sensuality.
(Sarah Rosenthal, as his young daughter, strikes just the right mournful chord.) In the part of Mother, the archetypal frustrated suburban homemaker, Christiane Noll embodies a lovely sense of a trapped woman's awakening.
Christopher Cox, who plays her son, is a sharp little actor, too.) And Jennlee Shallow's Sarah, the story's martyred victim of racist brutality, proves to be a plaintive powerhouse.

For the in-the-spotlight role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. -- whose fiery reaction to Sarah's death propels the evening's central plot -- Quentin Earl Darrington has the necessary vocal artillery; he sings with Shallow a vibrant version of the crowd-pleasing "The Wheels of a Dream." Though he lacks some of Mitchell's menace and magnum-force magnetism, the deficit is turned to narrative advantage. "Ragtime" seems to work a bit better when the intermingling subplots, expertly knitted together by the librettist, Terrence McNally, are accorded equal weight. The notion of the musical's historical scope -- of individuals, fictional and real, caught up in the wave of the American Century -- gets more persuasive support.

The excellent efforts of set designer Derek McLane and lighting designer Donald Holder have ensured that this "Ragtime" evinces visual appeal.
The action occurs on and around a soaring piece of architecture that looks like the skeleton of a turn-of-the-century mansion, with an assortment of fixed and movable stairs and ladders. The actors, illuminated in Holder's captivating reds and violets, appear on any of the structure's five levels, reinforcing the idea of a great American beehive.

In the interwoven stories, black, white and Jewish, the musical chronicles a moment at which the dominant culture is losing its exclusive grip and the nation is loosening up, becoming truly polyglot. A culture immersing itself in new ways of thinking is emerging, too, symbolized by the presence of historical figures, from intellectual heavyweights such as Emma Goldman (Donna Migliaccio) and Booker T. Washington (Eric Jordan Young), to wizards such as Henry Ford (Aaron Galligan-Stierle) and Harry Houdini (Jonathan Hammond), to tabloid sensations like the scandalous Evelyn Nesbit (Leigh Ann Larkin). All the costumes, by the way, are from the closet of the original Broadway production.

The spareness of the portable set pieces aids Dodge in her fluid staging; it's all in service to an era that itself is picking up speed.
To lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty's period tempos, the actors perform in the unison of a newfangled assembly line, or dance the sensuous steps of a rag.
Because the myriad characters are drawn as emblems, it's a challenge to develop strong feelings for any of them. (A couple of numbers in the second act, like the comic-relief baseball number "What a Game!" come across as mere time-fillers.) In the major roles, Felciano is the most successful at conveying a flesh-and-blood personality. When he sings about his American success in "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay Inc.," the actor manages to pull back a curtain on the character's soul.

It's the soul of a nation, however, that "Ragtime" really wants you to see. And if your heartstrings are tugged by songs like "The Wheels of a Dream," it may be because this depiction of a young country struggling to overcome its flaws will have you too dreaming about better days to come.

Ragtime, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally. Directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
Costumes, Santo Loquasto and Jimm Halliday; sound, Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm; flying effects, Flying by Foy; music director, James Moore.
With Bobby Steggert, Ron Bohmer, Dan Manning, Sumayya Ali, David Garry, Mark Aldrich.
About 2 hours 50 minutes. Through May 17 at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Visit or call 202-467-4600.

In addition to round-the-clock show tunes, Playbill Radio offers the following special programming.

The schedule for the week of July 28-Aug. 3 follows.

Center Stage
July 28: Playbill Radio host Robert Viagas puts on some insulated boots this week to go inside rehearsals for the new Broadway dance revue Burn the Floor, featuring interviews with "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Carrie Ann Inaba and the international cast of the Latin and ballroom dance spectacular, which opens this summer at the Longacre Theatre.

Each week's new "Center Stage" show debuts at 7 PM ET Tuesday, with repeats scheduled for (all times ET) 2 AM Wednesday, July 29; 11 PM Wednesday, July 29; 2 PM Thursday, July 30; 11 AM Saturday, Aug. 1; 4 PM Sunday, Aug. 2.

Edited versions of the "Center Stage" programs are available as podcasts, including:
"The Tin Pan Alley Rag" stars Michael Boatman and Michael Therriault
The Magic of Disney on Broadway: Drew Seeley
Next to Normal orchestrator Michael Starobin and music director Charlie Alterman

First lady Michelle Obama addressed the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards Friday during a luncheon in the East Room of the White House. A transcript of her remarks, as provided by the White House, follow:

Thank you. Thank you, everyone. (Applause.) Good afternoon and welcome to the White House! (Laughter.) Tonight's house is a little warm in here. (Laughter.) But it is a pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Design Awards and to honor some of the country's most compelling innovators. And I got to meet them all. They are terrific, and we are just thrilled to have you with us today.

Congratulations to all of you -- our honorees and those of you just working hard getting the job done.

You are scientists and artists. Your work is both practical and poetic, educational and inspirational. You represent diverse fields of disciplines but you share the common thread of superior design.

What I love about design is the artistic and scientific complexity that also becomes useful: a laptop, a bridge, an outfit -- (laughter) -- a garden, all drawn from a thousand wells of inspiration and yet grounded in the basic principles of math or science.

Great designers also pursue a mission. Great designers design with mankind in mind. Building on the innovations of the past, you help to shape a better future. Like your lifetime achievement honoree Bill Moggridge, what would we do without our laptops! (Laughter.) My kids would die. (Laughter.) They'd be -- they wouldn't make it through the summer. I don't know whether to thank you, Bill, for that. (Laughter.)

But that future and our ability to solve the great challenges of our time will depend on how we educate and engage the current generation.

That's why the President has made such a strong commitment to ensuring access to high-quality education for all children, particularly in math and science.

And today the President and Secretary Duncan are announcing the "Race to the Top," which is a competitive grant to spur education reform across the country and encourage educators and leaders to embrace innovative approaches to teaching and to learning.
As part of the Recovery Act, Congress has allotted more than $4 billion for this competition -- funding that'll be used for competitive grants to states, school districts, and non-profit partners that are most successful at raising standards, improving student learning, and turning around struggling schools. That is very exciting.

But when it comes to innovation, you all know full well that an educational foundation is only part of the equation, right; that in order for creativity to flourish and imagination to take hold we also need to expose our children to the arts from a very young age.

Even Albert Einstein knew better, right? He knew that there is only so much that a good education could do. These were his words. He said, "I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination." "Imagination," he said, "is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." That's from Einstein, so I think he knew what he was talking about.

We need to ensure that our children have both -- knowledge and imagination. I know I want that for my girls. They deserve to have access to a good education and access to ideas and images that will spark their creativity.

And as First Lady, I have spent a lot of time trying to break down barriers that too often exist between major cultural establishments and the people in their immediate communities.

So we've been sending a lot of role models out there in the far reaches of this city and then inviting kids to come back here to the White House. That's been a big part of the messages of every single event that we've done here at the White House. These kids who are living just inches away from power and prestige and fortune and fame, we want those kids to know that they belong here, too.
We want them to know that they belong here in the White House and in the museums, and in libraries, and laboratories all over this country.

And I want to thank you all today for helping carry that mission out by going out today into the community and making sure that kids know that they belong on the cutting edge of design just the same; that they belong in the world of discovery and science, reminding them that they belong in the presence of great art and beauty; that it is theirs just as much as anyone's in this nation.

And earlier today you shared your visions, your ideas, your experiences and expertise by leading workshops at Smithsonian locations across Washington D.C. And I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to make that happen. From type fonts to technology, from silks and satins to sustainability -- you brought science to life at these seminars. And I've heard glowing reviews about them, and I hope you found them fun, as well.

And I want to thank you for inspiring the next generation of artists and scientists, architects and engineers, innovators and educators and for your contributions to the advancement of design. Thank you so very, very much.

And as I mentioned, the crossroads of science and art, innovation and inspiration are what I love about design. So I'm honored to introduce a man who represents the combination of both.

Wayne Clough, the man who leads one of our nation's premier cultural institutions as Secretary to the Smithsonian, is a trained civil engineer. His years at Georgia Tech planted him firmly on the science and technology end of the spectrum. But here he is, ably leading, right -- he's doing a good job -- (laughter and applause) -- he is ably leading the organization famous for housing the treasures of both science and art, the wonders of nature and mankind, and the marvels of the heavens and the earth. He is the perfect example of the symbiotic character of science and art. And I am so honored to introduce him to you today, our wonderful guest, our host, someone who make my life easier as we explore the Smithsonians with my kids, Wayne Clough. Thank you all. (Applause.)

The one and only Liza Minnelli, an icon of stage and screen and winner of virtually every major award, including an Oscar, four Tonys, two Golden Globes, a Grammy and an Emmy, will present a holiday concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Tickets for her concert, which will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo, are $126.50, $111.50 and $86.50, and will go on sale at 10 a.m. on July 31.

Tickets will be available in the Center for the Arts box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at Ticketmaster outlets and, or may be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

For more information, go to

First lady Michelle Obama carried the president’s commitment to higher-quality education to an awards ceremony for prominent designers this afternoon, saying that design, though rooted in inspiration, is grounded in the basic principles of math and science.

“That future and our ability to solve the great challenges of our time will depend on how we educate and engage the current generation,” Mrs. Obama said just before President Obama unveiled the Race to the Top program honoring innovative schools. “That’s why the president has made such a strong commitment to ensuring access to high-quality education for all children, particularly in math and science."

The National Design Awards called the Oscars of the design world by a Smithsonian spokeswoman, celebrated its 10th anniversary with a series of seminars on interior, product, communication, landscape, and architecture design held at Smithsonian museums throughout Washington.

Mrs. Obama said these events are crucial for children living in the nation’s capitol because being in the presence of great art and beauty adds to their learning and development.

“These kids who are living just six inches away from power and prestige and fortune and fame,” Mrs. Obama said. “We want those kids to know that they belong here, too. We want them to know they belong here in the White House, and in the museums and laboratories all over this country.”
Bill Moggridge, who helped design the first laptop computer, was the day’s big honoree, receiving the Lifetime Achievement award.

“What would we do without our laptops?” Mrs. Obama asked to a chorus of laughter. “My kids would die. They wouldn’t make it through the summer.”

FLOTUS fashion watch: Mrs. Obama didn’t wear a design by honoree Fransico Costa for Calvin Klein, instead opting for a canary yellow Michael Kors ensemble -- a capped sleeved jacket and matching skirt.

And the victory-lap comments come from Malcolm Smith, Pedro Espada Jr. and John Sampson, in that order. As expected, the Senate expects to vote on the deal in a session “before school begins,” which probably means early to mid-Augist.

The press release:

The New York State Senate Majority Conference has reached an agreement with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on New York City school governance. The Senate is expected to vote on and pass S.5887 with a chapter amendment designed to increase parental input, promote enhanced arts education, address concerns relating to school safety procedures and strengthen the oversight role of the community superintendents.

Senators Shirley L. Huntley and Martin Malave Dilan were instrumental in negotiating the terms of the chapter amendment, and provided critical leadership to resolve concerns of Members in the Majority Conference.
The draft chapter amendment to S.5887 includes four basic provisions:

* 1) Creation of a Parent Training Center: Increases the capacity of parents to participate and engage in the educational system through training and support programs.
* 2) Establishment of an Arts Advisory Committee: Advises, makes recommendations and issues an annual report on educational policy involving arts education.
* 3) Clarifies Review Process of Principals by Superintendents: Includes quality of curriculum and instruction as part of superintendent review of principals.
* 4) Requiring Schools to Hold Open Public Meetings Concerning School Safety: Directs each school to conduct meetings at least annually, open to parents, to discuss safety concerns including matters related to school safety officers.

“Delivering a quality education for all our children is a moral imperative,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith. “Establishing greater avenues for parental input in our schools will better prepare students to contribute as our next generation of thinkers, workers and leaders. The more engaged parents are, the better an education our children receive. We now have a system designed to serve their needs and provide the education our children deserve.”

“This agreement will hold Mayor Bloomberg accountable for the performance of the city’s public school system, and equally important it will provide greater parental involvement in their children’s education, increased curriculum oversight by senior officials, and decision-making input at the school level by superintendents, principals and parents on transportation, school safety, nutrition and other issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. “It will enhance areas that need improvement and further strengthen areas that have experienced success. This agreement, which creates a network of support for our children, will result in greater student achievement.”

“I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Shirley Huntley and Martin Dilan, as well as our partners in the education community for working together to improve the education of the City’s 1.1 million students,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. “To provide our children with the tools they need to succeed in life requires a partnership between parents, educators and policy makers. Today, we have taken a significant step toward realizing that goal.”

The Senate is expected to return to Albany to vote on the legislation before schools open. Also helpful in reaching a final agreement were Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Chris Serf, Randi Weingarten, President American Federation of Teachers and President United Federation of Teachers; Michael Mulgrew, Vice President, United Federation of Teachers; Jon Kest, Head Organizer NY ACORN (part of the Campaign for Better Schools); and Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education and Organizer with the Campaign for Better Schools.

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


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NEXT WEEK! July 29th: 2009 Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Debut: Deb Burman,
Kristopher Monroe, Jana Robbins, Maureen Taylor, and Susan Winter.

August 5th: Sandi Durell, Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn,
and Yaffa

August 12th: Arianna, Barbara Gurskey, Barbara Porteus, Rachel Stone and

August 19th: Helene Feldman, Helena Grenot, Jillian Laurain, Travis Moser,
Alan Palmer

August 26th Dana Lorge hosts! (Richard Skipper is out of town). Special Guest star Steve Depass!

SEPTEMBER 9th: Richard returns from Malibu! Special guest star: Jackie Draper, Sue Matsuki!

"What a bright, warm, funny host you are! Thank you so much for allowing me to jump up and enjoy my craft last night. Looking forward to the next one!” –Sierra Rein”

“That was a great evening, glitches or no glitches. My friend Deb Mayer (who I introduced you to, and is a fabulous actress) said she absolutely loved the format you have devised. XXXOOO Diana LaBlanc

“Such a deal!! 3 hours of excellent live entertainment for $10 deserves SRO every week!!!!” Carolyn Kalmus

“I just had to tell you what a great time we all had last night, July 22, with you, Dana, and so many other wonderful entertainers at The Iguana. Keep doing what you're was a smash. Will be there again soon to see what's up your sleeve next.”


  1. Thank you for mentioning the efforts of the Dana Foundation and the Waldorf schools to bring more arts into education. New York City schools are not providing students with even the minimum state required arts programming, and partner organizations and teaching artists can only remedy this with the support of large organizations like the Dana, and individuals like you spreading the word.
    Thank you!

  2. Thank you for posting! Richard Skipper 845-365-0720