Monday, November 30, 2009

Maureen Taylor, The Super Bowl, and Sondra Lee, OH MY!



Maureen Taylor brings her incredible show back to the Metropolitan Room!


TAYLOR MADE: BOB MERRILL is coming back to the Metropolitan Room on Saturday, December 5th at 5PM.
If you missed this show the last time around, don't miss it this time!
(34 West 22nd Street – 212.206.0440 – www.MetropolitanRoom.com )
Bob Merrill (May 17, 1921 – February 17, 1998) was an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter.
Merrill was born Henry Levan in Atlantic City, New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following a stint with the Army during World War II, he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a dialogue director for Columbia Pictures. He began his songwriting career writing tunes for Dorothy Shay. One of his first major hits was the 1950 novelty song "If I Knew You Were Comin' Id've Baked a Cake",co-written with Al Hoffman and Clem Watts and recorded by Eileen Barton.
You may not know him by name, but you’ll know many of his songs.
From “How Much Is That Doggie In the Window” to “People”, Bob Merrill’s vast amount of work spans the simple to the sublime.


Numerous chart hits, novelty songs, Tony Award, Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations!
Bob Merrill celebrated the “ordinary man”.
TAYLOR MADE celebrates the “extraordinary” Bob Merrill!!!

The show is directed by MAC Award winner Peter Napolitano , with musical direction by Matt Castle – accompanied by Joe Brent on guitar and mandolin.
Taylor met director Peter Napolitano, when she was asked to co- host at the Sunday Algonquin Salon. She met musical director, Matt Castle several years ago when he was coaching.


Metropolitan Room (34 West 22nd Street)
For reservations: call 212.206.0440 or online at- www.MetropolitanRoom.com.
There is a $20 cover charge plus 2 drink min.

$15 for MAC, Cabaret Hotline, AEA, AFTRA, SAG)


Visit: www.maureentaylornyc.com


Written by Roy Sander
"Taylor Made: Bob Merrill"

Metropolitan Room - October 25, 26, November 2, 9, December 5


If I had been asked a few weeks ago whether a good show could be created from a mix of songs of highly varying quality—some of them mediocre at best—I'm not sure what I would have answered. Having seen Maureen Taylor's program of the songs of Bob Merrill, I can say, perhaps with a little surprise, that the answer is a resounding yes—and not just a good show, but a truly excellent show, and one that is very entertaining.


As most of you know, Bob Merrill worked in two artistic arenas: the field of pop singles, and the more rarified world of Broadway musicals. As evidenced by the selections in this show, his pop songs were good stuff—quite frequently frothy novelty numbers; however, though he wrote a host of wonderful theatre songs, his output in this realm was more uneven. Directed by Peter Napolitano, with musical direction by Matt Castle, the show is superbly crafted, very smartly giving less time to the B-level material and more weight to Merrill's first-class work. "Why do the lesser work at all?" you might ask. For one thing, because these songs are mainly unfamiliar and, so, of interest to anyone with a curiosity about either obscure songs or Bob Merrill's writing.
For another, Taylor's interpretations are so insightful and so well realized that she makes it all land.
Another factor is the artful programming. For example, the first song, "Travelin'" from Breakfast at Tiffany's, is far from being one of Merrill's proudest accomplishments, but it works marvelously as an opening number. Also, in a few cases, songs are combined into segments that are stronger than some of their individual components.

Among the evening's pop numbers are the infectious "Mambo Italiano," the seductive "Make Yourself Comfortable," the appealing "Candy and Cake," and the catchy "Ooh Bang Jiggly Jang"—the last, complete with sound effects.
All of these are given model performances by Taylor and her accompanists (Castle on piano, Joe Brent on guitar, violin and mandolin), and all deserved to be the hit songs they were.
We also get a bit of "Arfie, the Doggie in the Window," written by Merrill as a response to his hugely successful "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"; it richly deserved not to be the hit it wasn't. But hearing it was fun.

Only a few of the theatre songs are well known: "The Music That Makes Me Dance" (music by Jule Styne) and "Take Me Along" are performed in severely truncated versions, mainly to set up the songs that follow, but Taylor gets to bring tenderness and warmth to ""Look at Him" from New Girl in Town. It may seem perverse not to have given us some of the exceptional songs from Carnival or other blockbusters from Funny Girl; however, Taylor does us a greater service by introducing us to several rarities, and while we can readily see why "I Did It on Rollerskates" was cut from Funny Girl, many of these discoveries are actually quite good—among them, "My Place in the World" from The Prince of Grand Street, "I Met a Man" from Prettybelle, "Kissed on the Eyes" from Hannah, 1939, and "When It Happens to You" from The Red Shoes (music by Julie Styne). Taylor gives all of them their full measure—even those that are performed in abbreviated versions, and a few times during the evening, Castle lends his pleasing baritone to the vocals.


Finally, there is the remarkable dress Taylor wears for the show. Designed and made by her mother years ago, it is quintessential late-'50s/early-'60s—the period of Merrill's heyday. Like everything else about this enterprise, it reeks quality and class.

Confirming numerous rumors and magazine reports, The Who will perform at the Super Bowl XLIV Halftime Show this February.
As previously reported, the game will take place at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida on Sunday, February 7.
CBS will broadcast the event.


The Super Bowl has hosted classic rock veterans likes Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Prince, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney since Janet Jackson exposed herself at the event in 2004. The Who has not played a full show in the U.S. since 2008, though singer Roger Daltrey is currently on the road with his solo band.

A History Of Super Bowl Halftime Entertainment:
I: Universities of Arizona and Michigan Bands.
II: Grambling University.


III: “America Thanks” with Florida A&M University.
IV: Carol Channing.

V: Florida A&M Band.

VI: “Salute to Louis Armstrong” with Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt and U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team.

VII: “Happiness Is…” with University of Michigan Band and Woody Herman.

VIII: “A Musical America” with University of Texas Band.
IX: “Tribute to Duke Ellington” with Mercer Ellington and Grambling University Bands.


X: “200 Years and Just a Baby” Tribute to America’s Bicentennial.


XI: “It’s a Small World” including crowd participation for first time with spectators waving colored placards on cue.

XII: “From Paris to the Paris of America” with Tyler Apache Belles, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt.
XIII: “Super Bowl XIII Carnival” Salute to the Caribbean with Ken Hamilton and various Caribbean bands.

XIV: “A Salute to the Big Band Era” with Up with People.

XV: “A Mardi Gras Festival.”

XVI: “A Salute to the 60’s and Motown.”

XVII: “KaleidoSUPERscope” (a kaleidoscope of color and sound).
XVIII: “Super Bowl XVIII’s Salute to the Superstars of the Silver Screen.”

XIX: “A World of Children’s Dreams.”
XX: “Beat of the Future.”

XXI: “Salute to Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary.”


XXII: “Something Grand” featuring 88 grand pianos, the Rockettes and Chubby Checker.
XXIII: “Be Bop Bamboozled” featuring 3-D effects.

XXIV: “Salute to New Orleans” and 40th Anniversary of Peanuts’ characters, featuring trumpeter Pete Fountain, Doug Kershaw & Irma Thomas.
XXV: “A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl” featuring New Kids on the Block.


XXVI: “Winter Magic” including a salute to the winter season and the winter Olympics featuring Gloria Estefan, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill.



XXVII: “Heal the World” featuring Michael Jackson and 3,500 local children. Finale included audience card stunt.

XXVIII: “Rockin Country Sunday” featuring Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna & Naomi Judd.
Finale included flashlight stunt.

XXIX: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” featuring Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Arturo Sandoval, the Miami Sound Machine and stunts including fire and skydivers.
Finale included audience participation with light sticks.

XXX: Diana Ross celebrating 30 years of the Super Bowl with special effects, pyrotechnics and stadium card stunt.
Finale featured Diana Ross being taken from the stadium in a helicopter.

XXXI: “Blues Brothers Bash” featuring Dan Akroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi. Also featuring “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown and ZZ Top.


XXXII:“A Tribute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary” including Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Martha Reeves and The Temptations.

XXXIII: “Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing” featuring Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and tap dancer Savion Glover.
XXXIV: “A Tapestry of Nations” featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and an 80-person choir.

XXXV: “The Kings of Rock and Pop” featuring Aerosmith, *N’SYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly


XXXVI: U2
XXXVII: Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting

XXXVIII: Janet Jackson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Nelly and Justin Timberlake

XXXIX: Paul McCartney
XL: The Rolling Stones

XLI: Prince
XLII: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

XLIII: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

XLIV: The Who

SONDRA LEE - HAS SLEPT WITH EVERYBODY - IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING


She was the original Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. She was also the lead producer of Charles Busch's Shanghai Moon and is currently working on the production of a musical based on women of Appalachian.
She's had affairs with Baron Phillippe de Rothchilde, Italian film director Federico Fellini and Broadway impresario Billy Rose. She's coy about her sexual involvement with Marlon Brando saying; "let's just say he was my first love."

She didn't care for Frank Sinatra and she has some interesting stores about - a lot of bold names, which Sondra Lee has disclosed in her book I've Slept with Everybody: A Memoir.

Lee spoke with Broadway To Vegas about her 60-year career and the assorted - or sordid - affairs that went with it.
Born and raised in New Jersey her father was one-fourth Albino and her mother was "dark like a Gypsy and a walking time bomb."

A sickly child who had pneumonia on a regular basis, Sondra was given growth hormone injections because "my family was alarmed that I was so tiny."

She doesn't recall any side affects of the shots and feels she is "living proof that the shots don't work."

"I never gave my height any thought, because my size has never been a factor in the theater. They always use my size but basically I've never been cast because of my size," she declared.
As a teen-ager she crossed the river from New Jersey to New York and, in a fairy tale encounter, was almost immediately discovered by Jerome Robbins and catapulted into success.
"I auditioned for Allegro choreographer Agnes DeMille. I did a couple of real stupid things, because I was real young and silly," she admitted. It seems that a well meaning advisor had told Lee to always answer in the affirmative if anybody inquired about her dancing abilities.

When asked if she danced modern, Lee said she did. Then she was asked who she studied under. "I knew there was Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham. I said - Katherine Graham," related Lee who was immediately dismissed.

Jerome Robbins had a dark side
"I was walking down Shubert Alley. I saw these dancers hanging out. They said they had just auditioned for Robbins for High Button Shoes." Without a clue as to what they were talking about Lee entered the dark theater and demanded to know the whereabouts of Robbins.

"This guy said, 'I'm Robbins. Who are you?'" She told him she had just gotten dismissed from another group because, "I'm too short and I'm going home to commit suicide."
"He asked me to dance for him," related Sondra. "I danced with vengeance. A couple of weeks later I received a call to come to the finals. I didn't even know what finals were," she laughed. "I did some routine that was given to us. I saw Monty Prosier and Robbins in this heated discussion. I kept edging closer trying to hear. 'I want the kid. I don't want to the kid' - back and forth like that. I heard Jerry say 'I want the kid with the fat legs.'

I was the kid with the fat legs. Jerry won. I got the job. There were 10 boys and 11 girls that were chosen for High Button Shoes. And, I became a Broadway baby."


Lee was barely 17 when High Button Shoes opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre on October 9, 1947.
The production closed on July 2, 1949 after 727 performances.
Robbins has been reported to have had a dark side.

"He did have a dark side," confirmed Lee. "I was never really subject to his dark side because I never needed his approval. I was too young and I was too naive to know that I needed him to say - 'You're wonderful.'"

According to Lee when Robbins headed into a dark mood; "He actually turned dark - his eyes got blacker and it seemed that his skin even got darker. He would kick things. For me, his dark side was fascinating because I was never the center of it. I know people who were wounded by him, but not me. You got hurt by him if you really needed his approval - and a lot of actresses did."
Raising her voice into a high pitched, effervescent tone, she mimicked - 'Oh, Jerry, did you like this?'
Then you got skewered. Whatever that need was in those showgirls, it was something that he truly couldn't deal with."

Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were childhood friends. Cox died of a heart attack in 1973. Brando kept Cox's ashes in his closet, and when Brando passed away in 2004, both of their ashes were combined and scattered in Death Valley, California.
Marlon Brando was Lee's best friend and his intimate confident, confessing things only to her - a confidence that has long been confirmed by Brando biographers and friends.

"We remained friends until the day he died. In a way he took my virginity, I guess you could say that. Just say he was my first lover. There was something much deeper than just a physical relationship between Marlon, myself and Wally Cox," related Lee who shared a rooming house with Brando and Cox, who became famous starring as Mr. Peepers on the hit 1952-55 television series.
"Jimmy Dean was there at that time," Lee continued. "Jimmy really thought he was Marlon. He got a motorcycle. He even tried to go to the same analyst."

"I think Marlon Brando confided in me because I was young. I wasn't a threat. He was a very private person. There was a group of us - Maureen Stapleton, Billy Redfield, Wally Cox, Marilyn Gennaro, who eventually married Wally. We'd go out on motorcycles. Wally was making some money and he bought some land in Rockland County."

"We would go there and dig this big hole, fill it with twigs, put pieces of steak on long pointed sticks. We told each other stories about our families."

"At some point I think Marlon just elected me to be his younger sister. I knew his sisters, but I was like his kid sister."


Eventually that entire group became famous - each in their own way.

Sondra Lee rehearsing Tiger Lilly. 1954 photo by Bob Willowbe
Lee created the role of Tiger Lily, leader of the Never-Never-Land tribe.
Along with the late Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, who played Captain Hook, Sondra Lee, was one of the few cast members who appeared in the full Broadway run and all three television versions of Peter Pan.

The attention the Tiger Lily role cast upon Lee's career caused her to reassess her job opportunities.
"I wanted to continue my career as a serious actor and dancer, but people only wanted to see Tiger Lily. To this very day, I get fan mail for Tiger Lily."


Lee's dancing talents took her to Europe which is where she met Frank Sinatra.

"I was very young and I'm not a drinker at all. I was in France and I went to the bar and I saw ladies ordering Gibsons. I ordered a Gibson and immediately got dead drunk. Then I saw this little figure at the end of the bar," said Lee.


It was Ella Logan who was nursing her wounds from almost being booed off a London stage.

"Ella had opened in London for Louie Armstrong and the audience didn't want to hear her.
She was a big star but they didn't want to hear her," reiterated Lee about the star who created the role of Sharon McLonergan in the original Broadway production of Finian's Rainbow, singing the show's most famous song, How Are Things in Glocca Morra?
"They wanted to hear Louie," recalled Lee about Ella's public humiliation.
"She had gone to Paris to emotionally recover."

Logan decided that a better balm might be found in Spain and took Lee along for the ride.
Frank Sinatra. Sondra Lee saw him with his legs dangling out a window and heard him insult Ella Logan, who originated the role of Sharon McLonergan in the original production of Finian's Rainbow, singing the show's most famous song, How Are Things in Glocca Morra?
"When we were in Spain, Sinatra was there. He found out Ella was there and invited her to his hotel room.
She took me along. That is how I met Sinatra. By that time he was a huge star. He was seated on the window sill of his hotel room with his legs dangling out the window.
He made some really unkind and snide comments to Ella. I have no idea if he was drunk. He was showing off. He said things to Ella which wounded her deeply, which she didn't need. Things like - 'Tell us about your big success in London. Did you sing Glocca Mora?'
It was snide and I thought he was a smart-aleck."

Sinatra excepted, Sondra Lee has fond memories of Europe. She co-starred in Les Ballets De Paris.

"The South of France is where I have spent some of my best times," said the pint size bundle of dynamite who had an affair with Baron Philippe de Rothschild. His vast holdings include the Chateau Mouton Rothschild vineyard. "He was an extraordinary man," she fondly recalled.

Lee had met him after he and his wife attended a show in which she was dancing.

"When I knew him he was a poet, a grandfather and one of the most successful vintners of the 20th Century. I met them and we had dinner first and then we went to the theater."

"Then we all went to Rumplemeyer's," she said referring to the once elegant cafe and ice cream parlor, which was on Central Park South near Fifth. "We were met by a bunch of people and it was - Oh, Philippe can you do this for me? Oh, Philippe can you do that for me? Then he turned to me and said, 'What can I do for you?'"
Lee asked him to write her a Haiku. He did.
"When I got home that evening the telephone was ringing and he was on the other end. He wanted to know if I was free on Saturday night. I said no, I'm not. He told me to 'break it'.
That's how it all began. I'm not a quick, hot affair type. The love affair lasted a long, long time."
Billy Rose was once married to Fanny Brice
"Billy Rose was one of my lovers. He was Billy Rose production, let me tell you! He was a fascinating man. He said he could buy anything. I never found him difficult. I found him amusing. And, someone to learn from."

"I met Billy at Virgil Thompson's," she said of the man who was an American composer and critic from Kansas City, Missouri.
He was instrumental in the development of the American Sound in classical music. "Thompson was like a magnet. There were painters, dancers and writers at his parties. I didn't know what Billy Rose was doing there. Billy wanted to know who everyone was and where they were from. One was from Spain. Another from New Jersey. I said - 'I just came from the Unemployment Office.' That's how it started. He said; 'What can I do for you?'

"I told him I'd love to go to the Ziegfeld Theater," recalled Lee about her reply to Rose in which she let him know that she had heard about his offices where he could see the stage from his window.


"That's where he took me," she fondly remembered.
Then there were her romps in the hay with Federico Feline whom she calls "extraordinary." Sondra had been living in Spain and was cast in the Feline flick LaDolce Vita.

"He was a special man. They were all special men," she hastened to add. "He was a totally different personality and read on life than Billy Rose. He was a cartoonist before he became a film director. He doodled big time. I found him a very special person."

Lee insists she has no favorite production, "but I have favorite people."

5-time Tony Award Winner Angela Lansbury is co-starring with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the revival of A Little Night Music at the Walter Kerr Theatre.


"Angela Lansbury. She is an antidote for a hundred evils. She is a consummate artist. I worked with her in Parasido. She was a gift in herself. She is one in a million," she said of the legendary performer who is currently co-starring with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the revival of A Little Night Music at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

Broadway To Vegas threw out some names of people Sondra Lee has worked with and she replied:


Paul Newman - "I knew him from the Actors Studio. He was just a terrific person and a wonderful actor, as well.
Just a good guy. There are very few people in the theater that you can say that about.
You remember their performance, but you don't really know them. He was a great guy."

Dustin Hoffman - "A very talented person. He is very amusing and very needy. He just needs attention. He is very childlike."

Donald Sutherland - "I liked him a lot and he is a good actor."

"Stella Adler was my teacher. She was Marlon's teacher and he brought me to her. I taught for her for almost 15 years. She was one of the great influenced of my life. One day she called me very seductively and said; 'Darling, I want you to teach," said Sondra imitating Stella's affected vocal persona. "'I'd like you to teach style - because no one has it.'"
"One time Stella was in Tiffany's, or one of those stores, and the sales clerk asked her if she was English. Stella puckered up her lips and said; 'No darling, just affected.'"
Carol Channing, Sondra Lee who was Minnie Fay and Eileen Brennen, who portrayed Irene Molloy, at the original recording session
Sondra Lee was Minnie Fay in Hello, Dolly! alongside two famous Dollys - Carol Channing and Ginger Rogers.

She remembered a Christmas when Carol Channing was buying Christmas presents for the Hello Dolly! cast.

"It was before Christmas and Carol Channing asked everyone in the cast their initials - so we got all excited - thinking sterling. Then these boxes got delivered to our dressing rooms. One by one we all tore them open. The women got huge bloomers with our initials. The guys got these skinny ties which were stamped with their initials.

No, it wasn't a gag gift. It was the gift. Hello!"

"I went down to Carol's dressing room and I told her that I would keep them forever. She said; "Wonderful, wonderful," reported Lee imitating Channing's distinctive voice.


"I framed them and kept them in my bathroom!"

Richard Skipper as Carol Channing, Sondra Lee and Donna Hanover at the recent book signing and reading at Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble.
Several years ago Dancers Over 40 (DO40) partnered with Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble "as an opportunity and a way to make these B & N events more enjoyable - by supplying refreshments for the crowd - and the talent," according to DO40 President John Sefakis.
DO40 provided deserts and beverages Lee�s book signing. Referring to the presence of 'Carol Channing,' Lee explained, "When I am doing these presentation I ask Richard Skipper if he will come as Carol Channing. He is a very generous performer and an incredible person.
He does a lot besides Carol. He's an actor." The event was moderated by Donna Hanover.
Eileen Brennen created the role of Irene Malloy in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! which opened at the St. James Theater on January 16, 1964.

"Eileen and I were actually very close friends. But we shared a dressing room and you can get on each other's nerves.
She said - 'Well! I have exclusivity of the dressing. I said; 'Well, so do I?"

"So, they put up a curtain. But the curtain didn't work. It wasn't good enough. I was going to call my agent and she was going to call her agent. The producers told the theater to build a wall.
They did. They built a wall in this tiny, stupid dressing room.
The only thing is, she had the air-conditioner and I had the radiator. So, she froze in the winter and I was hot in the summer."
Matthew Broderick. For him the wall came tumbling down. Broderick is one of several celebrities who penned an endorsement for the back cover of Lee's book
"That wall lasted until Matthew Broderick was to have that as his dressing room. He tried to walk in and they had to take the wall down," she said of the dressing room Broderick used while starring in The Producers.

"Eileen and I have remained friends. She is a marvelous, wonderful person," emphasized Lee.

Broderick as well as Angela Lansbury, Jules Feiffer and Charles Busch have written book endorsements.

It was Sondra Lee that helped push Charles Busch into the well deserved spotlight. Lee produced Busch's famous show Shanghai Moon.

"Charles is a friend and I felt this particular show of his, which I was very familiar with, was great. I took it to a producer friend of mine who cocked around. Finally, I went to the Drama Department, which was an independent company. They said they would do it with me and that is how it got done."
"I'm going to produce something else very soon," she disclosed about Hillbilly Women, a drama with music by Elizabeth Stearns, based on the book by Kathy Kahn.
"It's a seven character musical play about the women of Appalachia. I think it has a great deal to do with America, especially in the 70's. These women are amazing.
Nothing much has changed," said Lee about the play which Samuel French, Inc describes as; "Based on interviews in Appalachia, this docu drama features seven women who reveal in song and narrative their personal stories of survival against incredible odds."

"They are poor and a lot of them are products of incest," continued Lee. "They made the Levi jeans. They have black lung disease. I think it is an important piece of American history.
I have music from The Judd's and Peter, Paul and Mary, old Union songs. Things that are meaningful."


"I'm a member of the Actors Studio and about 30 years ago I saw this play done - very differently - with very young actresses from The Actors Studio. This version is with much older actresses and it is just brilliant."

Most dancers don't get into The Actors Studio.

"I am a serous actress and also a serious painter," she explained. "You audition to get into Actors Studio.
In its heyday, was an elitist gymnasium for actors to work on their craft. I learned to direct and experiment and work from feed back."

Enzo Stuarti was in the flop Reuben, Reuben but went on to become a Las Vegas headliner

Lee reports no bad career experiences, "although there was one that was a huge flop - Reuben, Reuben by Mark Blitzstein. It's like if you have a child that isn't quite right and somehow it's you favorite of all your children."
"On opening night in Boston it was like being in Europe. People were booing and people in the audience turned on each other. I remember the Second Act opened in an insane asylum. Eddie Albert, who was the star, had the line - 'My God, I must have been crazy.'
Somebody in the audience said - 'You are! You are!'"

"The people in the play were amazing, talented people," she said referring to Kaye Ballard, George Gaynes (pictured), Evelyn Lear, Karen Anders, Tony Dardell and Enzo Stuarti who would become a major Las Vegas headliner.
"The score was remarkable. I'll remember it for as long as I live. The subject matter was about lack of communication that never clearly communicated that to the audience," she laughed.

Reuben, Reuben opened in Boston on October 10, 1955, but closed without going to Broadway.


"I did a dance in it, sort of a modern version of Romeo and Juliet - long before West Side Story. There was a wonderful young dancer named Timmy Everett who was in Dark At The Top of the Stairs. We stopped the show cold. They came and got us in our underwear to come and take an extra bow."
Reuben, Reuben was reviewed by Stephen Arnold for the Tuesday, October 18, 1955 issue of The Harvard Crimson.


"Two facets of the production are excellent. The settings by William and Jean Eckart are ingenious and colorful.
They have overcome the common musical comedy problem of the transition from scene to scene by integrating the stage changes into the opening moments of each succeeding scene. The chorography, under the direction of Hanya Holm, is responsible for the best number in the show, a ballad sung by Reuben and pantomimed by an extraordinary pair of dancers, Sondra Lee and Timmy Everett. Miss Holm has also staged a wonderfully humorous street fight, as well as a terrifying yet lovely ballet in an insane asylum. But these redeeming features cannot rescue Reuben, Reuben from a disastrous fatc-sheer incomprehensibility."


How did Sondra Lee get into that disaster in the first place? Lee was already in another show when she auditioned for Reuben, Reuben which caused director Robert Lewis to question her reasoning.

"I told him I have to work with Mark Blitzstein," she said of the man most remembered for his libretto and English lyrics for the Off-Broadway production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht�s The Threepenny Opera, including Mack the Knife which became a standard. "Mark Blitzstein was there and heard me say that," she continued. "He said - 'She's in!'"

Generally Lee has gotten what she wants.

"Things have fallen into place."
Childless and twice divorced, Lee says her pupils are her 'children'. "At least the gifted ones are my children," she joked.

"I care about them and I care deeply about theater people."


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This workshop will focus on how to get you the attention that you need. My shows have been sell-outs. Other topics will include how to use the internet to your advantage in marketing; how to get your name "out there"; cold calling; creating a contract specific to your needs; how to create a press kit that shows you to your best possible advantage and more! Richard gets a sense of the various levels of each workshop and custom makes, on the spot, a class catering to the needs of the actual group in the room. He will ascertain YOUR agenda prior to the workshop beginning so that each participant will leave with all of their questions answered, so come prepared!


On board with me is graphic designer, GLEN CHARLOW, who brings over 15 years in the business to the participants of this class and who will discuss the concept of image; how to use the internet effectively and how your website "sells" you even before you pick up the phone. To read more on Glen Charlow please visit: www.gcdtp.com.
For general information on workshops or Career Coaching, please contact me directly at 845-365-0720 or Richard@RichardSkipper.com.



Always another stage on Liza Minnelli's horizon


By Jonathan Spicer

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Does a pure entertainer like Liza Minnelli, now 63 years old with 60 years of performing behind her, ever really retire?

"I'm a Minnelli, so there's always something to do," she said in an interview, adding that her career's greatest moment is yet to come.
"I'll think of something. I always do."

Minnelli first took to the stage at age three. Her latest hit was the Broadway show "Liza's at the Palace...!", which won a Tony Award for best special theatrical event this year, and was filmed for television.

"To receive Tony Awards throughout your life and then at this stage to get one? Come on!" she said with her signature belly burst of laughter, hours before a recent screening of her show. "I really was surprised."


The daughter of generations of performers, Minnelli's singing and acting career has spanned film, television, theater and nightclubs. The award for "Liza's at the Palace...!" was more personal, she said, because it was a tribute in part to her god mother, the late actress Kay Thompson.


"It's hard when you have a whole lifetime of memories, to think of what stories to tell, and how to describe them," Minnelli said of Thompson, whose nightclub show inspired the second act of "Liza's at the Palace...!"

"I saw it when I was two. I remember the stage came up to here," she said of Thompson's nightclub act, peering out over her hand. "I remember the whole thing, I remember seeing these legs flying around, and her energy."

Having won Tonys in 1965 and 1984, and a special award in 1974, Minnelli is no stranger to Broadway.
But ending up nearly a year ago at the Palace Theater, Broadway's vaudeville pillar, was a surprise, she said. Nobody thought we'd end up at the Palace, including me. But I was so passionate about this show, and my god mother, doing this," she said.

The entertainer who always has something to do can't talk about her next act -- a cameo on next year's Sex and the City film sequel -- offering only that the stars are "wonderful ladies, they really are talented, and generous."

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; editing by Patricia Reaney))

PHOTOFLASH: Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey at Paley Center's Liza's at the Palace Screening
By: Tristan Fuge · Nov 25, 2009 · New York

Joel Grey and Liza Minelli
(© Tristan Fuge)

(© Tristan Fuge)
Liza Minnelli was joined by former Cabaret co-star Joel Grey on Tuesday, November 25 at NYC's Paley Center for Media for a screening of the full cut of Liza's at the Palace, a recording of Minnelli's most recent show as it was performed at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre in Las Vegas, which will be broadcast on public television in December.

The screening was followed a discussion by Minnelli and Michael Feinstein. Other celebrities at the event included Billy Stritch and Arlene Dahl.

Minnelli opened her show at the Palace Theatre on December 3, 2008. In addition to songs that have long been associated with the performer, such as Kander and Ebb's "New York, New York," the show featured a tribute to her godmother, singer, actress and vocal arranger Kay Thompson. A DVD version of the full two-hour production will be available on February 2.

Minnelli received a 2009 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for Liza's at the Palace, as well as a special award from the Drama Desk Award for career achievement. She won additional Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for Flora the Red Menace and The Act, as well as a special Tony Award in 1974.
She was also Tony-nominated for The Rink and has starred on Broadway in Victor/Victoria and Chicago. She won the Academy Award for Cabaret and the Emmy Award for Liza With a "Z".



Not Shy in the Way She Works a LyricReview of Baby Jane Dexter

By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: November 25, 2009

Baby Jane Dexter, a singer with a mighty contralto, makes a persuasive case for uncovering new meanings in songs by wielding lyrics like blunt instruments. There is no beating around the bush for this longtime cabaret performer, whose new show at the Metropolitan Room is aptly named “All About Love” because it covers so many aspects. Her interpretations of everything from Bob Dylan to Rodgers and Hammerstein have the force of body blows.

Richard Termine for The New York Times

Baby Jane Dexter in her show “All About Love,” with songs by Stephen Sondheim and R.E.M.
Singing the plea “Lord above me/Make him love me,” from “I’ve Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good),” a prayer becomes an impatient demand. In her version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Not a Day Goes By” from “Merrily We Roll Along,” the layers of yearning and sadness that most singers put into it are stripped away to reveal a song whose narrator is in the hellish throes of a romantic obsession that she expects will haunt her for the rest of her life; her interpretation, with its hint of mental illness, is a little scary.

But because Ms. Dexter has a big heart and a broad sense of humor, her assaultive approach to songs, which she delivers in short, aggressive vocal bursts, feels less threatening than unapologetically dramatic and unfailingly honest.

Even more than in her previous shows, Ms. Dexter, accompanied by her longtime pianist, Ross Patterson, evokes an old-time blues and gospel belter before the age of melisma. The Bessie Smith standard, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” which gets a rough-and-ready treatment, inspires a monologue about her bad romantic choices. She used to prefer bad boys over nice guys, she recalls, and offers an amusing (possibly apocryphal) account of an experiment in bondage. She also confesses to a former dependency on the advice found in fortune cookies and newspaper horoscopes.

Ms. Dexter ended her show on Saturday with her signature song, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts,” belted with a fervency that wrapped the audience in a bear hug of compassion and good will.

Baby Jane Dexter continues through Dec. 19 at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, Flatiron district; (212) 206-0440, metropolitanroom.com.

Carol Channing Releases A New CD ( Source:Tommy Garrett)

HOLLYWOOD —With thousands turning out for Carol Channing’s new CD release titled “For Heaven’s Sake,” Miss Channing proves she’s not only one of Hollywood’s greatest icons but still relevant in a changing industry. If theatergoers were to be polled about what they felt was the most memorable scene in musical comedy, most would probably cite the moment when the curtains part atop the stairs of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and Dolly Gallagher Levi appears in her red Freddy Wittop gown and begins her descent to rejoin the human race.




Carol Channing's latest project, “For Heaven's Sake,” is a gift to the human race and includes many of the songs she came to know and love as a child with spirituals that she learned from her family. The CD features handpicked spirituals from Carol's childhood, taught to her by her father as well as hymns and rousing classic gospel tunes that southern gospel fans and people of all ages will know and love. “I remember touring the country in ‘Dolly’ and everywhere we went, they all knew these songs. It was incredibly unifying,” Carol tells Canyon News. The album produced by Larry Ferguson and John Wyatt was recently released by Daywind Records in association with Ferguson Music with major distribution in both secular and Christian retail through New Day and Word Entertainment Association a Warner Brothers Company.




Miss Channing officially launched the CD at the National Gospel and Quartet Convention in Nashville to an estimated crowd of thousands. Miss Channing graciously signed an uncalculated number of CD’s for the adoring crowd that had gathered to see the living legend, until the last possible moment before her hectic schedule required she move on. Channing has had 10 gold records, including the original cast recording for “Hello Dolly!” which bumped the Beatle’s out of the number one spot, but this is her first gospel recording. Within hours of the launch, Miss Channing was on her way to sold out engagements at The Derby Theatre in Clarksville, Ind. and The Dixie Carter Theatre in Huntingdon Tenn.


It is true, that Miss Channing’s greatest focus is in her effort to secure a place for the arts back into the public school system, “It's got to be included in education because what it does, it fertilizes young minds. When they are exposed to the arts, they get brighter in everything else. That's what happened to me. We don't need to save the arts, we need to help the Arts save our children,” said Miss Channing. What began as a California based effort has grown with requests for Carol's help in other states including New York, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois. So in June of 2010 the Dr. Carol Channing/Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts will go national starting in Nashville. “Anything we can do these days to support our youth and encourage their education is too important to ignore. Without the arts, a child’s ability to create and to dream is stifled. We can't afford to shortchange our children and our future by denying an arts education for all students,” says Harry Kullijian, Carol's husband and foundation co-founder.



Miss Channing will be celebrating 89 years of age in January 2010, just weeks after her husband turns 90 and neither are showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, Channing has already scheduled recording sessions for her follow up CD [A patriotic collection] and has given the green light to the production of a documentary on the ultimate Broadway baby's life to multiple Tony Award® winning director and producer Dori Berinstein. Earlier this year, Miss Channing was selected as one of the leading ladies of stage and screen for the Smithsonian Institute's first permanent Entertainment Exhibit.

In addition, Stars are in the works for Walks and Walls of fame in both Palm Springs and New York, respectively. What may shock most fans of the perennial blond is that the Kennedy Center Honors has never given tribute the original Jazz Baby, and, in fact, has declined honoring her every year for the last 10 years that friends and colleagues have been submitting her. When asked about it, Miss Channing simply replied, “It would be nice and I would be extremely honored, but I’m not taking it personal. Every time they announce the list I couldn’t agree more with their selections.” A bigger than life personality with a heart to match, is it any wonder that screen icon Johnny Depp recently announced that his dream role was to portray the legend on film.
An idea that Miss Channing fully endorses and one that she hasn’t denied as being a possibility. “I can only report that we have been approached. Men have been impersonating me for years and I’m honored . Although, I confess I have often wondered if I come across as having some kind of hormonal imbalance.”


Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week! Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out next Saturday! Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper



HERE IS WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING ABOUT MY WORK:
Last night was a real pleasure. As an artist it means everything to perform for an audience that is attentive and engaged. Richard and Dana, you are such gracious and accommodating hosts. Barry Levitt and Morrie Louden are fantastic, I love working with you and hope to do so again very soon.
Peace, Love and Joy
David Vernon: http://www.myspace.com/davidvernonny





Richard, what fun! Tonight was my first time (uh, attending the show that is)and I had a blast. It was nice to meet both you and Dana and you work so well together (I guess you got good marks in school under the playing well with others category.) You were charming from the moment you helped me try to get a seat, during the performance with your humor and talent, and after the show thanking me for coming. It was a wonderful way to spend pre-Thanksgiving and made me even more thankful to get to know such talent and places to go to see such talent. Keep it up and THANK YOU for a wonderful and also an affordable evening. See you again soon and I'll spread the word for sure.
Mary Lahti, Riverdale, NY

You were fabulous! You made me cry when you recited the soliloqui from "Dolly". You look wonderful and are such a precious person all around. Keep on going ...pleease.... with your talent extraordinaire!!!! Sondra was a delight. I wish her the best of good fortune. Loved chatting with Donna Hanover. Our sons attended the same high school (not at the same time). She is so sweet and I am so glad she found happiness!
Thanks for letting me come.
Love,
Lozita Van, New Jersey



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC

Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge (http://www.iguananyc.com) in the heart of
NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA!



Barry Levitt on keyboard and Morrie Louden on bass!
on bass. Time: 8 - 11:00 p.m.

Cover: $10 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!

This is a nice night
out with the family! A
"throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with.
For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
212-765-5454. No one admitted before
7:30.










December 2nd: Raissa Katonah Bennett, Cynthia Crane, The debut of The Marquee 5 (Mick Bleyer, Adam Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, Sierra Rein, Julie Reyburn) singing selections from their upcoming revue, "We Can Make It...The Songs of Kander & Ebb" and Hector Coris!


December 9th: Richard Holbrook, Josh Zuckerman, Helena Grenot, Jillian Laurain, Jerry Wichinsky

December 16th: Jessee Luttrell and Susan Eichorn-Young


December 30th: Ritt Henn, Annie Hughes, Yvette Malavets-Blum, David Nathan Scott

January 20th: D'Yan Forrest and Scot Wisniewski
Keep checking http://www.richardskipper.com/schedule.html


February 17th: James Alexander!

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