Saturday, November 21, 2009

White Plains Performing Arts Center Announces 2009/2010 Season


Westchester Arts NewsWhite Plains, NY – The White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC) has announced an exciting and varied Winter/Spring season which will be presented at its White Plains theatre, located on the third level of the City Center complex in downtown White Plains.


The productions appeal to a wide audience of children, families, serious music lovers and fans of the most beloved Broadway performers, shows, composers and lyricists.
For a jubilant, upscale celebration of the Holidays, a scripted and choreographed Holiday concert “We are Lights, ‘Tis the Season and More” is led by a large cast of Broadway, film and TV stars highlighted by the incomparable Tony Award Winner Melba Moore (Purlie, Hair, Les Miz), including Kevin Earley (A Tale of Two Cities), Liz Larson (Hairspray), Marsha Waterbury (Mamma Mia, Days of our Lives), Celina Carvajal (Tarzan), Kathy Deitch (Wicked), Jodie Langel (Les Miz),Jana Robbins (Gypsy),Cindy Robinson (Peter Pan) and the talented Craig Laurie, Chase Matthews and Elizabeth Torres.
Also returning to the White Plains theatre for this holiday show will be some familiar and favorite performers including Cris Groenendaal, Carlos Lopez and Nick Wyman, who will host.
Under the direction of Walter Winston O’Neil and music director Kim Douglas Steiner, the four performances run from Friday, December 11 through Sunday, December 13. An opportunity for local performers to join the Broadway stars on stage will be offered through auditions to be held at the Theatre later this month.

The always popular Family and Kids Series includes a selection of holiday shows beginning in early December.
“Mistletunes” focuses on the rich diversity of cultural traditions and the unique end of year holiday celebrations.
“Twas the Night before Christmas” is a hilarious musical view of a beneficent Santa.
The Calpulli Mexican Dance Company returns with their colorful and exhilarating performances on January 31. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the beloved children’s story, will be presented in American Sign Language and spoken English on April 24th by a cast of deaf and hearing performers.
The Westchester Philharmonic series of Sunday matinee chamber concerts will kick off with a Holiday brass quintet on Sunday, December 6th with music from baroque to pops to holiday favorites.
On Sunday, February 28th, the Philharmonic’s string quartet will chase away the winter blues with music of Mendelssohn and Haydn.
The series concludes on Sunday, March 28th, with jazz music led by renowned Philharmonic percussionist Jim Saporito.
The trio will perform selections from The Great American Songbook and jazz originals from their new CD.



Other offerings in the Broadway concert series include: “Mancini and Moonlight” starring Edward Watts and Jenn Gambetese (Tarzan and All Shook Up) on Saturday, February 13. “Musicals That Rock” is a must see for audiences who enjoy contemporary musical theatre presented by a star studded cast of Broadway veterans on Friday March 12 through Sunday, March 14. “Fascinating Gershwin” celebrates the music of George and Ira Gershwin with the incredible pianist Joseph Joubert, the stunning soprano Rosena Hill (last seen on the WPPAC stage in Ragtime) joined by baritone Nathaniel Stampley (The Lion King, The Color Purple) on Sunday, April 25.
“Rogers and Hammerstein Celebration” is presented on Sunday, May 9th, starring Teri Dale Hansen (The Boys from Syracuse) and Nat Chandler (The Scarlet Pimpernel). The final concert of the season, “Today’s Broadway” celebrates current Broadway musicals performed by stars of contemporary shows including Leah Hocking (Billy Elliott), Sarah Uriarte Berry (The Light in the Piazza) and Norm Lewis (The Little Mermaid) on Saturday, June 12th.

“Forbidden Hollywood”, a hilarious spoof of film classics in the vein of Forbidden Broadway”, runs on Saturday, May 15th.
For further information about these events, updated cast listings and additional productions being added to the season schedule, visit www.wppac.com or call 914-328-1600.

NY Review: 'Ragtime'
At the Neil Simon Theatre


Reviewed by David Sheward




In a season full of star vehicles, the revival of "Ragtime" rides onto Broadway with nary a box-office name and steamrollers its way to the top of the heap. Marcia Milgrom Dodge's stripped-down production, transferred from a hit engagement in Washington, D.C., imparts the musical's sweep of history and the intimate story of lives caught up in a ceaseless movement of events. The original 1996 production was a vast pageant on the enormous stage of the Ford Center (later renamed the Hilton Theatre).

Now, in the relatively more intimate Neil Simon Theatre, Milgrom's staging focuses on the interactions of three families coping with rapid changes in the American landscape at the dawn of the 20th century.


Though that first production remains fresh in my mind, this edition finds new spark and vibrancy. The script by Terrence McNally and the lush and moving score by composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens eschew the cool, detached tone of the original novel by E.L. Doctorow for a somewhat sentimental flavor. As a result, this "Ragtime" makes a deep emotional connection with the audience.

That connection is strongest with Quentin Earl Darrington, a bear of a man with a soaring voice.

As the strong-willed Mother, Christiane Noll clearly details every step of this woman's journey from protected housewife to self-aware individual. During her intense delivery of "Back to Before" you can feel her uncertainty changing to conviction as she realizes her world has changed forever, and for the better.
Bobby Steggert captures the reckless passion of Mother's Younger Brother.
Ron Bohmer prevents the stuffy Father from becoming a stiff by remembering this convention-bound man loves his family and is confused by the seismic shifts of society.
Stephanie Umoh has the most difficult task, as she is battling the memory of the stellar Audra McDonald as the ill-fated Sarah, Coalhouse's lover.
While she does not reach the heights of McDonald's Medea-like performance, Umoh powerfully conveys Sarah's painful rejection by Coalhouse and gives a piercing rendition of "Your Daddy's Son," Sarah's aria of anguish.
There are also valuable contributions from Eric Jordan Young's earnest Booker T. Washington, Donna Migliaccio's steely Emma Goldman, Jonathan Hammond's dashing Harry Houdini, and Savannah Wise's delectable Evelyn Nesbit.
With the aide of Donald Holder's painterly lighting, Derek McLane's factorylike three-tier set becomes suburban New Rochelle, jazzy Harlem, the grimy Lower East Side, and breezy Atlantic City.

Santo Loquasto's detailed period costumes are characters in themselves and add the finishing touch to this rich tapestry of Americana.
Presented by Kevin McCollum, Roy Furman, Scott Delman, Roger Berlind, Max Cooper, Tom Kirdahy/Devlin Elliott, Jeffrey A. Sine, Stephanie McClelland, Roy Miller, Lams Productions, Jana Robbins, Sharon Karmazin, Eric Falkenstein/Morris Berchard, RialtoGals Productions, Independent Presenters Network, Held-Haffner Productions, HRH Foundation, and Emanuel Azenberg, in association with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at the Neil Simon Theatre, 525 W. 52nd St., NYC. Opened Nov. 15 for an open run. Tue., 7 p.m.; Thu.& Sat., 8 p.m.; Wed. and Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (No performance Thu., Nov. 26; additional performance Fri., Nov. 27 , 2 p.m.) (212) 307-4100 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Casting by Laura Stanczyk Casting.


What benefits lie within an art school education

By Nathan Elias



Before I enrolled at the University of Toledo’s Theatre & Film department to pursue my dream of motion picture making, I had a debate with myself regarding the importance of an art school education. For artistry, it is not exactly essential to have a degree to pursue that creative passion. At the time of my high school graduation I had attained, in one way or another, most of the essential tools and outlets for motion picture making on my own: a digital video camera, boom microphone, editing software and nothing but time.

“Having the arts as part of an undergraduate experience is necessary because the arts inform the wider consciousness of people,” said Angela Riddel, promotion specialist for UT departments of Theatre & Film, Music and Art.
“It explores how we think about things and address certain issues.”


According to Riddel, the three visual arts are a necessary part of learning how human beings connect.

“As far as the University’s structure, it offers three visual and performing arts departments: Music, Theatre & Film and Art,” she said.
“It’s essential to teach and expose that to students. If they are only exposed to whatever their major is, they won’t see their interconnectedness to other parts of life. The arts help with that immensely.”
Andrew Makadsi is a senior majoring in film and communications. For his Film I project, he directed a surreal film called “Stax.” Makadsi has also done reporting and anchor work for UTTV and currently does graphic design for UT:10.
“It’s so easy to go to New York or California and be artsy or see art,” Makadsi said. “In Toledo, this becomes a challenge as an artist. It’s difficult to see art in Toledo, which makes me more creative.
It makes me stronger when I have to search for art and the things people don’t usually see.”

“I see beautiful opportunities for film and art. The old West End is one of the most beautiful places in Toledo with all of the Victorian houses. Take the museum, for example. As a filmmaker, I’m very inspired by a lot of things they have there.”
Makadsi claimed to find inspiration and a better outlook on his work within other artists.
“However, you don’t have to go to museums to get your inspiration,” he said. “You can be in a hallway and be inspired.
But, getting in contact with artists and seeing what other people can do helps you shape your perspective on art and appreciate it.”
“We create art; art is not found,” he said. “We make art, we discover it from the given things in life.”



“Can you imagine yourself without movies, television or art?” he said. “The answer is ‘no’ because we’re human; we want to look at things, listen to things and feel things. That’s art.”

Megan Sciarini is a senior majoring in film. She spent a portion of her summer interning at Cannes Film Festival in France where she was able to share some of her film work.

“Cannes was interesting. I was introduced to it at school,” she said. “When I got there, it was not an art festival or a traditional film festival. They are there as a market; it is purely and simply all marketing.
It was an experience that taught me a side of the film industry I had never seen.”

“You can teach technique and new technology, but you can’t instill in someone what it is to be an ‘artist.”



“I went to art school because I wanted to discover different art and new ways of thinking,” she said.”


Sciarini emphasized how some of her teachers profess not to teach art but rather teach by expanding the thoughts of students and pushing them into newer ways of thinking. Pushing creativity, for example, may be beneficial in helping students understand that going to college will not promise them the life of an artist.
“You should be [an artist] by the time you get [to college] or at least have the passion for it,” she said.

“You have to realize that you have to start doing stuff on your own, not only in class.
Even though these assignments are meant to push us in the way of techniques or ideas, you have to realize that you have to find your own voice to pursue art.”

“All the arts and humanities have different elements to help us,” she said. “The cool thing about UT is that we have all these different things to help us.
Being an art student here is a little bit more challenging because you realize, ‘Well, I may not need to major in this subject because I already know how to do it.”

“Some kids who have that ungodly ability to motivate themselves and are actually talented, school may not be the right place for them,” she said.
“For me, without going to school I would not have made it; I would not have progressed.”

“I don’t think I would consider college a waste of our gusto; college motivated me to become more independent,” Sciarini said.

Sciarini also shot the videos used in “Machinal” the Department of Theatre & Film’s latest stage production.


“[Machinal] is not traditional theatre at all. UT is pushing more contemporary theatre right now.”




“You become an artist at a young age,” Teuber said. “It’s always something you’re aware of.”
“You have to have a passion if you want to go to art school,” Teuber said.
“I chose theatre because it’s a practical way to get my art seen,” Teuber said. “To put an abstract idea and transform it into a sculpture or installation and have it function as a theatre piece is amazing; to make something that is not just for the purpose of looking pretty but also can send a message to people.”

“Hopefully, students will realize that if they have the passion and the drive they can achieve whatever they want,” she said.
“Some kids don’t know why they’re artists but if they’ve got it deep down inside, they won’t have to question it. People shouldn’t go to art school because they’re pressured into it.”
“School tends to complicate outside work, but it’s ultimately beneficial to go,” she said. “You learn different themes, concepts and art history. It’s important to have that schooling behind you because it makes you a better artist.”

“Our culture tends to see art as an extra and not as an essential,” said Holly Monsos, director of Theatre & Film. “I disagree. I think it is essential. Through the arts we grapple with bigger pictures and we can think outside the day to day existence.”
“Art helps us answer the questions, ‘What is the meaning of life? What I am for here and what is my purpose? Art can provide access to our emotions and to understanding people who are different than us.”


“Playwrights and filmmakers are especially good at helping us understand the minds of people who are not ourselves,” Monsos said.


Attending art school is by no means essential to following artistic dreams. However, the question comes into mind, “What does it mean to be an artist?” Art school offers insight and experience in the field, however it depends on a certain level of creativity and discipline to make it as an artist. An education in art provides an essential means into analyzing the world around us which, in turn, helps us to become a better artists, regardless of what tools or networks we have available to us.

“We’re surrounded by the visual image,” Monsos said. “If we don’t understand how to critically analyze how those images then we’re just puppets being manipulated.”


Liza Minnelli at 63 brings the magic back/ Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein Set for Post-Screening Discussion of Liza's at the Palace at Paley Center
(SOURCES: Eric Antoniou, Colin Dabkowski & Andy Propst)



Liza Minnelli will join Michael Feinstein in a conversation following the New York premiere screening of her upcoming television special based on the Tony Award-winning Liza's at the Palace... The event will be held at the Paley Center for Media on November 24 at 6:30pm.


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. Minnelli and Feinstein will discuss Minnelli's career, the production, the special, and Thompson.
For further information, visit: www.paleycenter.org.




It is no secret that Liza Minnelli began her life in the spotlight.

On March 12, 1946, the star was born to Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, then a happily married Hollywood couple at the height of their celebrity. Liza's screen debut came at the age of 3, when she starred alongside her mother in the movie musical "In the Good Old Summertime."

By the time she was 17, Minnelli was beguiling audiences in New York and London, prompting jealousy from her mother and adulation from a small but growing legion of fans.



Liza Minnelli performs a holiday concert in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts (UB North Campus, Amherst) at 8 p.m. next Sunday.
Tickets are $85 to $125, with proceeds to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo. For more information, call 645-2787 or visit www.ubcfa.org.

But the Liza Minnelli we know today — the energetic 63-year-old performer who divides her time between the tabloids and the stage — wasn't really born until 1965. That's when she starred in the Broadway musical "Flora the Red Menace," by Broadway songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Minnelli will perform a concert in the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts next Sunday, with part of the proceeds to benefit Ronald McDonald House.
By 1972, when Minnelli appeared in the famed televised concert "Liza With a Z" and the film version of "Cabaret," both conceived and largely written by Kander and Ebb, her name became synonymous with stardom.

If Minnelli's life belongs to the concert hall stage — and few would argue that it doesn't — her famous parents seem to matter less at this point than those two mild-mannered songwriters who penned "Liza With a Z" and the prophetic lyrics in the title song to "Cabaret."

Asked what she owes to the songwriting team, Minnelli said, simply, "Everything. Literally everything."
She continued: "Fred was so brilliant, and John's music is inspiring. Everything they've ever written I'm crazy about."

Next Sunday's concert, the first act of which mirrors her recent Broadway show, "Liza's at the Palace," is sure to contain its share of Kander and Ebb tunes. The second half, Minnelli said, will be comprised of a brand-new assortment of songs. "I kind of talked to all my friends and said, 'What do you like to hear?,'" she said.
The concert will mark Minnelli's second visit to the region in the last three years. A 2007 concert at the Niagara Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ont., preceded her successful Broadway run, which ended in January. Her career has been on a steady rebound since 2003, after she emerged from a bout with life-threatening viral encephalitis, a lifelong struggle with addiction and the unfortunate tabloid spectacle that was her brief marriage to producer David Gest.

Her most devoted fans view her as someone whose lineage is so strong, her struggles so public, her name so threaded through the annals of American culture that she has become a force far greater than the sum of its parts.

Locally, Minnelli certainly has plenty of acolytes.
Marc Sacco, a familiar face and voice on Buffalo's theater scene, recently performed a cabaret act titled "Marc With a C" at Buffalo United Artists, a show that took its inspiration and title song from Minnelli's seminal concert. Sacco rewrote the rapid-fire lyrics of Kander and Ebb's tune to fit his own name and disposition: "I'm Marc with a C / Not Marc with a K..." The reaction from the crowd — many a Minnelli follower among them — was overwhelming.
At 31, Sacco is too young to have lived through Minnelli's legendary performances. He allowed that he is not as devoted to the singer as many from prior generations, but called her performances in "Cabaret" and "Liza with a Z" inspiring.

"I really liked the format of it," Sacco said of the 1972 concert, which was released on DVD in 2006. "I liked that it was sort of this large-scale experience. Just to watch her energy was incredible."

Minnelli said she has no immediate plans to return to the Broadway stage in a musical. Her last appearance in a straight-ahead Broadway show was in 1997, when she played the title role in "Victor/Victoria."
"The wonderful thing about [being] in concert is you get to play so many different characters.
That's what I look forward to," Minnelli said. "It's literally becoming the person who is singing, so you have to do back story, or I do.
I treat it like a scene, and I try and make every song different."



"At this time in my life, I find I am particularly drawn to songs about falling out of love," Minnelli told a concert audience earlier this year before launching into the piece.
"The choice made by the woman in this next song, I find to be careful, reasonable, emotionally honest and profoundly admirable."
Away from the concert stage, Minnelli has had a habit of popping up in unexpected places that have introduced her to new generations of fans — stints on "The Muppet Show" in the '70s and '80s, a guest appearance on the cult cable comedy "Arrested Development," and an upcoming appearance in "Sex and the City II," in which she dances to Beyonce's hit "All the Single Ladies."
"They were wonderful," Minnelli said of the "Sex and the City" cast. "We became quite close."




Minnelli, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a favorite subject of YouTube-dwellers, one of whom has memorialized her legendary laugh with a video compilation cut together from her 2006 interview with CNN's Larry King.



Does Minnelli have even the slightest idea of the infectious appeal of her laugh?



"No, I don't. Except I find a lot of things funny," the singer said, seeming genuinely surprised at the question and then issuing that unmistakable chuckle.

Minnelli, like many celebrities, speaks of her fans as family. But you get the sense that, whereas the likes of Usher or Taylor Swift make the comment hyperbolic ally, she genuinely means it.
In her 2007 concert in Niagara Falls, Ont., Minnelli told the audience, "The only people I'm ever married to are you."
The crowd, already caught up in the throes of ecstasy, practically swooned itself unconscious. Such is Minnelli's appeal, her innate ability to move masses of people — who knows how? — to unbridled paroxysms of fandom.
Asked about the audience's reaction to that statement, Minnelli laughed her trademark laugh, a throaty projection that seemed to require the energy of her entire body, and said, "You know, we're really a family. I mean, when they come into that theater, we have two hours to really get to know each other, and that's so important to me."

As the YouTube celebrity archives go, they don't get much deeper than Liza Minnelli's. Clips of her performances pop up everywhere on the site and document her performance career from the early 1960s until today. We've sorted through the digital constellation of Minnelli clips to draw out some of the highlights:
"Hello Dolly" with Judy Garland at the London Palladium, 1964: Minnelli shares the stage with her mother in an energetic performance of the title tune from Jerry Herman's "Hello Dolly."

New Plot Details of 'Sex and the City 2' Unveiled

November 17, 2009 07:49:25 GMT


Based on a leaked script of the movie, Carrie Bradshaw has an issue in her marriage, while two of her girl pals, Samantha Jones and Miranda Hobbes, will deal with economic problems.

Although Warner Bros. Pictures has not released an official plot of "Sex and the City 2", details of the storyline have been unveiled by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which claimed they have obtained a leaked script. Based on the copy of its script, it has been known what some of the major characters might be dealing with in the second film.
[SPOILER ALERT!] According to the publication, Carrie Bradshaw has a hard situation since her marriage with Mr. Big is put to a test after they lose everything in a financial scam. Seeking for a new job, Mr. Big ends up in London, where he's living in a rundown apartment, but cheats on Carrie - who dumps him before finding out she's pregnant.
Aside from her marriage problem, Carrie is looking forward to the wedding of her gay best friend, Stanford Blatch, to Anthony Marantino, one of Stanford's former enemies. As it has been mentioned in earlier news, during the ceremony, Liza Minnelli will make her cameo appearance to sing a cover of Beyonce Knowles' "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)".

Meanwhile, Samantha Jones, who is also hit hard by financial problem, has to downgrade her glam lifestyle. The script additionally reveals that another girl pal of Carrie, Miranda Hobbes quits her law practice after getting sued.
Moreover, the film will allegedly reflect global economic problem in the real world through the film's wardrobe choices. The publication further stated that an unnamed production insider said the costumes used by the movie's characters will be "less over-the-top but still stylish."
Serving as the follow-up to "Sex and the City", "Sex and the City 2" will see Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis reprising their roles as Carrie Bradshaw Preston, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbes Brady, and Charlotte York Goldenblatt respectively.
Directed by Michael Patrick King, the drama comedy movie is planned to be released in the U.S. on May 28, 2010.






Madame is a showbiz evergreen, PART TWO!

Madame (with an "E') is a showbiz evergreen

(SOURCE: TOM CHESEK)






There are legends, and there are Legends — so when a bona fide show business Legend consents to an interview by phone, well, that's a phone call you dress up for.



The people at Algonquin Arts certainly know the value of a Legend - which is why, when it came time to plan their first in a projected series of Celebrity Benefits events, they turned to one of the most iconic stars in the business — an evergreen by the name of Madame — to help raise funds for the restoration of the venerable Algonquin Theatre in Manasquan.




The polished performer with the brash, acerbic, tell-it-like-it-is persona was all over the tube in the 70s, from talk and variety shows to countless episodes of "The Hollywood Squares" and even her own syndicated sitcom, "Madame's Place." It was a grueling schedule for both Wayland and Madame, who recalls her TV heyday with, "one thing they don't tell you when you do a sitcom, is that sit-com doesn't include sit-down!"

"I did 75 episodes in one season," says Madame. "Poor Wayland was never off his back. That made two of us!"With Wayland's passing in 1988, Madame went into a self-imposed seclusion that only recently ended with her first tour of live shows in years.
"When I lost Wayland I lost more than a handler — he was my friend," recalls Madame in a rare serious moment.
"Sometimes I feel like he's still up there inside of me."


These days, Madame has a new man on her arm — handler Rick Skye, who's been known to do an acclaimed Liza Minnelli tribute (and who apparently put aside much of his solo stardom aspirations for a chance to work with Madame).
The duo brings their touring show "It's Madame—with an E!" to the Algonquin stage on Saturday, for an evening of songs, stories and smart talk that's said to include "something new, something borrowed, and something oh-so-very blue. So leave the little ones at home!"

While the Madame-Skye partnership has borne fruit for both performers, there's never any doubt as to who's the star of the show.

"Rick's gonna be in the dark — none of that upstaging for me when we're working together," declares Madame, who adds, "to even things out I let him write and direct!"


The ageless star, who claims to stay abreast of the latest trends in social networking ("I get so many Tweets it feels like I have vibrating panty hose") has found a renewed sense of purpose in her live appearances, with a mission to cheer up a nation that needs to "get together, get out there and have a good time."

"We're all too isolated these days — believe me, I know what it's like to live your life inside a box," she says. "There's no substitute for having a good time and laughing together.
That's what's been missing."
"It's Madame — with an E" plays at 8 p.m. Saturday, with a VIP champagne and dessert reception to follow onstage after the performance. Tickets ($30 for general admission, $50 for preferred seating and reception) and additional information can be obtained by calling 732-528-9211 or visiting www.algonquinarts.com.

Chance encounter led to enchanted evening with Carol Channing
(SOURCE:Barbara Neff_

In 2004, as I sat in the boarding area of the Little Rock Airport waiting for a flight that would take me to Dallas to connect with the flight that would take me home to Palm Springs, CA, the unmistakable voice of a funny woman rose behind me. She related that, since her friend's husband and dog had each been put on nearly identical diets by their doctors, wouldn't it make sense to whip up one batch of the special food daily and set two bowls on the floor, one for the dog and one for the husband?

I laughed. I was spellbound. Could it be?
I turned to look just as a handsome man passed en route to ask the gate agent a question. Our eyes met and he rolled his, as if to say, "She never stops."


I asked, "Is that Carol Channing?"


The handsome man replied, "Yes."

The man learned from the gate agent bad weather in Dallas would delay our take-off. He shared this as he returned my way. That exchange sealed our circumstantial friendship.
We began to chat.
Carol Channing, born in 1921, catapulted to super stardom on Broadway in 1948 and has remained a cultural icon since. Her look, her style and her raspy, sultry voice are uniquely her own.

The handsome man is Harry Killijian. He and Carol Channing married in 2003, though they had been classmates and sweethearts all the way back in middle school. Their story of puppy love lost and love found seventy years after is heartwarming.

Delay out of Little Rock, where Ms. Channing had performed at a benefit nearby, was only the beginning. Things unraveled upon landing at DFW. Weather worsened. Our connecting flight was switched to a gate far away. Our delay was estimated at several hours.

I huddled with Harry and Carol, just as we had huddled in Little Rock.
I requested an electric cart transport us to the new gate in the hinterlands. Once we reached our gate, hours of waiting loomed.
Spying a TGIFriday's, Harry asked me to join them for dinner.


The three of us spent our wait over food, cocktails, laughter and conversation. Carol Channing is, simply, nice. She is gracious, down-to-earth and, oh, oh-so-funny. She cracked wise about everything from air travel to restaurant food to being an entertainer. I was enchanted, secretly giddy. I played calm and gathered up the jewels this chance encounter tossed freely.

Eventually, we were called for departure. Ms. Channing asked if I could arrange to sit with them in first class. I could not.
After landing in Palm Springs past midnight, Carol and Harry waited so we could walk to baggage claim together. They offered to have their driver take me home so my husband could sleep, but my arrangements were set and I declined.


Ms. Channing told me of her upcoming performance at our local McCallum Theater in Palm Desert and made me vow to attend. She said my name would be on her guest list.
I told her I would see her there, and I was sincere. We hugged and parted.

Euphoria lasted long enough to share my story with all who would listen, but not long enough to carry me to her performance.
By then, I was appreciating having met Ms. Channing but leery of appearing a hanger-on. I lacked the confidence to show up at the McCallum Theater to pose as a friend.
I stayed home that night.
Learn more about Carol Channing, her life, her career and her enduring impact on the arts at:

www.carolchanning.org


Estelle Parsons takes stage in Hartford

By KEITH J. O'CONNOR

Broadway legend and Academy Award-winning actress Estelle Parsons brings her extraordinary talents to the national tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "August: Osage County," playing now through Sunday at The Bushnell in Hartford.
"August: Osage County" is a large-scale tragicomedy told with unflinching honesty and filled with 13 unforgettable characters. Parsons plays the role of family matriarch of the Weston family of Pawhuska, Okla.

Letts' gripping new play tells the story of the Westons, a large extended clan that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead after the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with Parsons' character Violet, a pill-popping, deeply unsettled woman at the center of the storm.






Parsons, who grew up in Marblehead where she performed in a children's theater troupe, played Violet in the Broadway production for one year beginning in June 2008.

The first female political reporter on network television during her five-year stint with "The Today Show" in the early 1950s, Parsons, 81, made her Broadway debut as a reporter in the Ethel Merman musical "Happy Hunting" in 1956. Her transition to film and her first Hollywood movie role as the shrewish Blanche in "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967 earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Her more recent theatrical triumphs include portraying Winnie in Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," as well as a recurring role as the busybody mother of Roseanne in the long-running ABC television sitcom "Roseanne."

"It's definitely been great learning from her (Parsons) ... she brings something new every night to the show, and it's cool to see her switch it up a lot with her character to whom she is really committed, and to not be afraid to try her a little differently," said Emily Kinney, who portrays Jean in the play.


"She inspires others, and shares her stories with us, and she is so sharp mentally and physically for her age, running and working out every day and performing eight times a week," added Kinney.

Nominated for seven Tony Awards and winning five, including Best Play and Best Director, along with Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, including Best Play, Best Director and Best Scenic Design, "August: Osage County" opened at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway on Dec. 4, 2007, to wide critical acclaim. Before heading to Broadway, the play had its premiere and was produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

Kinney, who has appeared in several off-Broadway plays, as well as on Broadway in "Spring Awakening," said she auditioned for the Broadway production of "August: Osage County" before landing a role in "Spring Awakening" instead.

"I can remember the first time I read the script when I was getting ready to audition for the Broadway production, and it just stuck with me." Kinney said.

"As an actor, you're always auditioning and looking for that next show. I don't always audition for tours, but I e-mailed my agent saying, 'Make sure I get in for this one if they are looking for someone again,'" she added.

Kinney describes her character, Jean, as a "14-year-ol
pothead who is the youngest member of a dysfunctional family."
"It's the third character I've played with the name Jean, and my mom's name is Jean, too. She's a really fun character to play ... taking in all of the dysfunctions and problems going on in the family and ignoring them by getting high and trying to turn her focus onto something she loves," said Kinney.

Originally from Nebraska, Kinney has a role in the new movie, "It's Complicated," starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.


"I'm in a little scene that occurs in Meryl Streep's bakery," Kinney said.
Kinney has also appeared in several television shows, including ABC's "The Unusuals," NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "GameKillers" on MTV.

This in from Fred Barton:
"Florence's act is bigger and better than ever.... backed by the 75-piece Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jack Everly, with orchestrations by Fred Barton, Martin Erskine, and others, and her longtime musical director Glen Roven at the piano.
Act One consists of Robert Russell Bennett's symphonic suites from "Oklahoma!," "South Pacific," "The Sound Of Music," and in a rare find, the original Overture and Entracte to "The Girl Who Came For Supper" (the orchestra parts were lost all these years, rediscovered by Jack Everly in a forgotten box in London.)
Florence's Act 2 begins with an 8-minute film retrospective -- musical comedy heaven, including rare clips of Florence in "Oklahoma!" with Gordon MacRae, Florence onstage in "Fanny" and "The Girl Who Came To Supper." Scenes from "Song Of Norway," "The Bell Telephone Hour," "The Florence Henderson Show," "The Brady Bunch," her Wesson Oil & Polident ads, and rare clips of her singing and dancing up a storm on "The Dean Martin Show."

Florence reviews the different stages of her life and career in song and story, including special material by Bruce Vilanch and Glen Roven, and songs from her career (including a sensational "Wonderful Guy," reprising her standout performance as Nellie Forbush in Richard Rodgers' revival of "South Pacific" -- when Florence starts to dance, the years fall away... and in a multigenerational tribute, she sings of her unusual mother and father (she was the 10th of 10 kids), and her own family of four children ("Me And My Baby" from "Chicago.")
She sums it all up with a beautiful "All The Lives Of Me" by Peter Allen."










Tommy Femia Continues at Don't Tell Mama With His JUDY GARLAND LIVE, Upcoming Guests Include Zachary James & More
BWW News Desk

Tommy Femia, the 7-time Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) Award-winning impersonator, continues the celebration of his 20th season at the popular midtown club Don't Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues), with his acclaimed portrayal of the legendary Judy Garland in "Judy Garland LIVE!" Shows continue through the end of the year on selected Saturdays at 8:30 PM: Saturdays, October 17 and 24; November 7 and 21; and December 5 and 19. Guest stars from Broadway, TV, and Cabaret will appear at each show. Christopher Denny and David Maiocco serve as musical directors for the show. Upcoming guest stars include Broadway's Zachary James, Christine Pedi (as Liza Minnelli) and Village Voice columnist and author Michael Musto.

Guest star for October 17, Zachary James, is at ease on an opera stage as well as a Broadway stage. Most recently he was seen in Lincoln Center Theatre's production of the Tony Award-winning revival of South Pacific. He goes into rehearsal shortly for the upcoming Broadway musical The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. James will portray Lurch, the tall, shambling, lugubrious manservant to the family.

There is a $20.00 cover charge and a 2-drink minimum per person (cash only). The reservation number at Don't Tell Mama is 212-757-0788 (after 4:00 PM daily) or on the web at www.donttellmamanyc.com.
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 on Friday! 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:
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, New Jersey




I had the honor of participating in a very special memorial concert for musician/composer Jim Fradrich who passed away in August. This wonderful evening was produced by Jim's partner Kevin McMullan and took place at the Actors Chapel on 47th St in Manhattan. Kicking off the concert was Richard Skipper who's amazing voice vibrated through the entire church..it was like a choir of angels. Jim was smiling down upon us I'm sure. Julie Reyburn, http://www.juliereyburn.com/


Hi Richard,
I am away at a Music Therapy Conference in San Diego but I wanted to thank you for last Wednesday night (11/11/09).
I think the show seems to be unique in that it offers singers the oppurtunity to perform Jazz, Broadway, comedy and even opera. Within that the diversity every performers uniqueness made it truly interesting and exciting. The talent seems to get better and better. More importantly the audience seems to feel comfortable and enjoying themselves which in turn makes the performers feel connected and good about what they are doing. Barry is also a joy to work with and you and Dana just know how to make everybody laugh and smile. As a singer, counselor and Music Therapist I feel you have created a show of diversity, comfort, talent and joy and that is what connects to people. I have no doubt you and Dana will continue to be a huge success.
And I a very grateful to be a part of your organization. Please tell me what I can do to be of further assistance.
Allegra Pigott, Stamford, CT



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC

Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have now 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.








Nov 25
7pm
IGUANA VIP LOUNGE, 240 West 54th Street, NYC
THANKSGIVING EVE AT THE IGUANA
Barry Levitt on keyboard & Morrie Louden on bass. PLEASE NOTE: SHOW STARTS AT 7PM - - - Tonight's guests include: Christopher Gerrard, William Blake, Jim Speak, David Vernon, Diana Templeton ... A few other surprises as well! Remember $10.00 Cover/No food or drink minimum!
Reservations a must (212) 765-5454


December 2nd: 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: Linda Fields, 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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